Is there any reason why people are referred to as ‘احمر’ and ‘اسود’ as in the following Hadith?
بعثت إلى كل أحمر وأسود
This is another version of the narration wherein Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) mentioned his specialities over the other Ambiya. Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) has recorded these specific words.
(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 521. See the full Hadith here)
The part in question translates as ‘I was sent to every red and black person.’
Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was making the point that he was sent to the entire humanity, which includes red skinned people, dark skinned people and all other races, regardless of their ethnicity. This is clearly understood from an alternate version of the Hadith recorded in Sahih Bukhari (Hadith: 438) and Sahih Muslim (Hadith: 523), wherein Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘بعثت إلى الناس كافة/أرسلت إلى الخلق كافة’ [I have been sent to all of mankind, whereas other Ambiya were sent to their nations exclusively].
‘Allamah Nawawi (rahimahullah) states that red/red skinned and dark skinned could refer to the following:
- Red skinned refers to light skinned Non-Arabs and dark skinned refers to ‘Arabs as many ‘Arabs are tan/dark skinned
- Dark skinned refers to Africans and red skinned refers to all other races, Arabs and non Arabs
- Red skinned refers to Humans and dark skinned refers to Jinns
(Sahih Muslim with Al Minhaj, Hadith: 1163)
These were basically the different usages of these terms by the Arabs in those days.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar