Banu Asfar: Jadd B. Qays And The ‘Blonde Women’ Claim

Donate To Discover The Truth

Kaleef K. Karim

In this article, we seek to once again analyse the Banu Asfar (Byzantine) affair in connection with Surah 9:49.

In the first piece we argued and presented historical evidence that the Tabuk expedition took place as a result of the impending army of the Banu Asfar, who were prepared and came southwards, intending to overthrow the power in Madinah and kill Muslims.

In the second piece, we responded to some false reports, some tried to attribute to Prophet Muhammed (p). When we analysed those so-called ‘evidence’, we found that early scholars rejected the narrations, and a man by the name of Yahya al-Hamani, was called a “liar”, by the classical scholar Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.

In this third piece, we seek to analyse and give further proof that Prophet Muhammed (p) did not ‘entice’ any man to join the Tabuk expedition to enslave women. The reports we will bring forth in this article, are some of the earliest and authentic.

The exegesis that we responded too, showing that it was rejected by early scholars, some of the critics used that, claiming that Muhammed ‘enticed’ his Companions to join him on the expedition – promising them that they will ‘seize blonde’, ‘blue-eyed white women’. We showed that those two reports mentioned were rejected as a result of one man by the name of ‘Yahya al-Hamani’ was deemed to be “weak” narrator by earliest scholars. The scholar Imam Ahmad rejected him and called him a “liar”.

We mentioned the above small information so we get a better understanding of the following reports that are going to get presented.

When Prophet Muhammed (p) asked his people to join the Tabuk expedition, it was done so for their own safety and well-being. So that they could defend their homeland and their lives against the aggression and the army that was going to try and destroy them.

Prophet Muhammed did not ask Jadd b. Qays to join in order for him to grab Banu Asfar women, as we have refuted this malicious lie in the second piece. The real and true words that came out of Prophet Muhammed’s mouth was that he had asked him (and others) to join the Tabuk expedition to defend the Muslim community. To fight as a soldier in battle, that is all.

One of the earliest sources that we have on Jadd b. Qays’s incident is from Ibn Ishaq. It tells us that Prophet Muhammed (p) had asked Jadd, “would you like to fight the Banu Asfar”? Ibn Ishaq’s (704 – 768 AD) report:

“One day when he making his arrangements the Apostle said to Jadd b. Qays of B. Salima: ‘WOULD YOU LIKE TO FIGHT THE B. ASFAR, Jadd? He replied, ‘Will you allow me to stay behind and not tempt me, for everyone knows that I am strongly addicted to women and I am afraid that if I see the Byzantine women I shall not be able to control myself.’ The Apostle gave him permission to remain behind and turned away from him. it was about him that the verse came down, ‘There are some who say Give me leave (to stay behind) and do not tempt me.” (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation Of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah [With Introduction and Notes by A. Guillaume, Oxford University press, 2004], page 602 – 603)

We see from one of the earliest reports on this event that Muhammed (p) had asked him to join and he declined because if did go to the Tabuk expedition, Jadd wouldn’t hold himself back if he had seen Banu Asfar women. The Prophet (p) excused him from joining the expedition. There is no mention of Muhammed (p) enticing Jadd about any ‘woman’, as some claim.

Ibn Ishaq’s report is corroborated in Tarikh al-Tabari (838 – 923 AD):

“…Everyone transmitted what he had learned about the expedition to Tabuk and some people reported whats others did not. All the reports agree, however, that the Messenger of God ordered his companions to prepare for the military expedition against the Byzantines. This was a season when people were hard pressed; the heat was oppressive and the country was passing through a dry spell. At the time, fruit was ripe and shade was dearly sought. People love to stay where they have shade and fruit [trees], and find leaving them distasteful. The Messenger of God would seldom go out on a military expedition without alluding to a destination and announcing [publicly] that he meant [a place] other than that intended.
The Tabuk expedition was the exception, in that he explained [the particulars of the expedition openly] to the people. This was because of the long distance, the difficult season, and THE ENEMY’S NUMERICAL SUPERIORITY. He wanted the people to be fully prepared, so he ordered them to make ready and informed them that his objective was the Byzantines. They prepared themselves despite their dislike for that approach and what it entailed, as well as their respect for the Byzantines and their fighting ability. One day, while the Messenger of God was making preparations for this expedition, he said to Jadd b. Qays, brother of the Banu Salimah: ‘WOULD YOU LIKE, O JADD, TO FIGHT THE BANU ASFAR THIS YEAR?’ He said: ‘O Messenger of God, please excuse me [from this] and do not tempt me. By God my folk know no better admirer of women than I. I fear that if I see the women of the Banu of Asfar I shall not be able to control myself.’ The Messenger of God turned away from him saying, ‘I excuse you.’ It was about al-Jadd that the following verse was revealed:
‘Among them is a man who says, ‘Grant me exemption [to stay at home] and tempt me not [into trial].’ Have they not already fallen into trial? Indeed hell encompasses the unbelievers.’ [‘Tempt me not’] meant that he feared temptation from the women of the Banu Asfar. But was it not [also] temptation that he had fallen into, by staying behind [while] the Messenger of God [went to battle]? By falling prey to human desires, he had fallen into a greater temptation. Indeed, hell is at his back. (History of al-Tabari (‘Tarikh al-Tabari’): The Last Years Of The Prophet – [Translated And Annotated By Ismail K. Poonawala, Suny – Series in Near Eastern Studies, University Of California, Los Angeles – State University of New York, 1990], volume 9, page 47 – 48)

Here in Tarikh al-Tabari, we see once more that Prophet Muhammed (p) had asked him to join in fighting the Banu Asfar (Byzantines). The Prophet (p) made no mention of slave-women waiting there.

Ibn Ishaq and Tarikh al-Tabari is further verified in another report, cited in ‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’ (1301 – 1373 AD):

“…The Messenger of God (SAAS) ordered his men to make an expedition against the Byzantines. This was at a time when there was considerable suffering from poverty, extreme heat and drought. The fruit was now ripe and people wanted to enjoy it in the shade; they hated the idea of leaving right away at that season.
‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) rarely went forth on an expedition without disguising its purpose. The expedition to Tabuk, however, he fully explained because of the great distance, the severity of the season and the LARGE SIZE OF THE ENEMY FORCE HE INTENDED TO BATTLE; he gave this explanation so that his men could make proper preparations. He ordered them to ready their equipment, telling them he was going to attack the Byzantines.
‘The Messenger of God (SAAS), while reading his own equipment, asked Jadd b. Qays, a man of Banu Salama, ‘Jadd, WOULD YOU LIKE NOW TO ATTACK THE BANU ASFAR, the yellow skins?’ HE replied, ‘Messenger of God, do excuse me and not tempt me; I swear by God, my people well know there is not a man more attracted to women than myself. I fear that if I saw the Banu asfar women, I’d not be able to restrain myself!’
‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) turned away from him, saying, ‘I excuse you then.’” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 2 – 3)

So far, we have seen three of the earliest reports telling us that what some critics accuse the Prophet (p) of saying to Jadd B. Qays is not supported historically. Those three above reports thoroughly refute the malicious lie they have been on our Noble Prophet (p).

To further show that the words that came out of Prophet Muhammed (p) was and asked Jadd to join him in fighting the Byzantines (Banu Asfar), are the following classical exegesis for Quran 9:49.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 CE):

“(Grant me leave), to stay behind,
(and put me not into trial.), if I go with you and see the women of the Romans. Allah, the Exalted, replied, (Surely, they have fallen into trial) because of the statement they uttered. Muhammad bin Ishaq reported from Az-Zuhri, Yazid bin Ruwman, `Abdullah bin Abi Bakr, `Asim bin Qatadah and several others that they said, “The Messenger of Allah said to Al-Jadd bin Qays from Bani Salimah, ‘`WOULD YOU LIKE TO FIGHT THE YELLOW ONES (ROMANS) THIS YEAR’ He said, `O Allah’s Messenger! Give me permission (to remain behind) and do not cause Fitnah for me. By Allah! My people know that there is not a man who is more fond of women than I. I fear that if I see the women of the yellow ones, I would not be patient.’ The Messenger of Allah turned away from him and said, (I give you permission.) In Al-Jadd’s case, this Ayah was revealed, (And among them is he who says: “Grant me leave and put me not into trial.”) Therefore, Allah says that the Fitnah that he fell into because of not joining the Messenger of Allah (in Jihad) and preferring his safety to the safety of the Messenger is worse than the Fitnah that he falsely claimed to fear.” It was reported from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and several others that this Ayah was revealed in the case of Al-Jadd bin Qays, who was among the chiefs of Bani Salimah. It is also recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah asked, (Who is your chief, O Bani Salamah) They said, “Al-Jadd bin Qays, although we consider him a miser.” The Messenger of Allah said, (There is not a disease worse than stinginess! Therefore, your chief is the white young man with curly hair, Bishr bin Al-Bara’ bin Ma’rur.) Allah said next, (And verily, Hell is surrounding the disbelievers.) and they will never be able to avoid, avert, or escape from it. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir – Surah 9:49 – online source)

 

Ibn Juzayy (1294 – 1340 CE):

“(Among them are some who say, ‘Give me permission to stay. Do not put temptation in my way”) When THE PROPHET CALLED ON PEOPLE TO TAKE PART IN THE EXPEDITION TO TABUK, al-Jadd ibn Qays, one of the hypocrites, said, “Give me permission to stay behind and do not tempt me by the sight of the Greeks. I will not be patient without their women.” (Have they not fallen into that very temptation) i.e. into the temptation from which they were fleeing.” (Tafsir Ibn Juzayy – Surah 9:49 – Online source)

 

Tafsir al-Jalalayn (16th-century exegesis):

“And there are some of them who say, ‘Grant me leave, to stay behind, and do not lead me into temptation’: this was al-Jadd b. Qays, to whom the Prophet (s) said, ‘WILL YOU DO BATTLE AGAINST THE BYZANTINES?’, and to which he replied, ‘I am infatuated with women, and I fear that if I were to see these Byzantine women, I shall not be able to stay away from them and be led into temptation’. God, exalted be He, says: Surely they have [already] fallen into temptation!, by staying behind (a variant reading [for saqatu, ‘they have fallen’] has [the singular form] saqat, ‘he has fallen’). And surely Hell shall encompass the disbelievers, for whom there shall be no escape therefrom.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn – Surah 9:49 – Online source)

We see from all these early sources, mentions nothing of Muhammed going to war enslaving ‘blonde women’, as the critics claimed in their false, and rejected citation(s).

Furthermore, towards the end of these quotes, after the Prophet (p) asked Jadd b. Qays to join fighting against the Tabuk, if as the critics claim Muhammed enticed Jadd and others, why didn’t Jadd join? Surely, if this was ‘permissible’ as they like to us to believe, why didn’t Jadd go? Don’t these reports actually backfire on them, with the false claims they have made?

If as the detractors claim that rape of Banu Asfar women was allowed, why would Qays say that he didn’t want to go, as it may lead him to touch women – that he (Qays) wouldn’t be able to hold back from the women if he joined the expedition? Doesn’t these reports show that rape was forbidden, for why would Qays not be willing to join the expedition if this heinous act was permissible/allowed?

The false claim that has circulated that Muhammed (p) went to and ‘enticed’ his men to this expedition solely for ‘blonde women’, has no historical backing from the authentic reports we have shown in this article.

With the foregoing in perspective. Let’s now look at who the Banu Asfar were i.e., what type of skin tone did they have. Were they ‘white’, ‘blue-eyed’ with ‘blonde hair’?

Banu al-Asfar

To the earliest of Muslims, the Byzantine was referred to and known in Arabic as ‘Banu al-Asfar’, the ‘yellow’ ones. Some have interpreted ‘yellow’ to reference ‘blonde hair’. The name ‘Banu al-Asfar’ referred to yellow skin colour. An example would be, similar to interracial marriages – when a Roman lady marries an African man, what type of kids would they produce? It would be yellow, golden skin colour.

The evidence that ‘yellow’ does not refer to hair comes from an early report in Ibn Kathir’s ‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’ (1301 – 1373 AD):

“…The Messenger of God (SAAS) ordered his men to make an expedition against the Byzantines. This was at a time when there was considerable suffering from poverty, extreme heat and drought. The fruit was now ripe and people wanted to enjoy it in the shade; they hated the idea of leaving right away at that season.
‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) rarely went forth on an expedition without disguising its purpose. The expedition to Tabuk, however, he fully explained because of the great distance, the severity of the season and the LARGE SIZE OF THE ENEMY FORCE HE INTENDED TO BATTLE; he gave this explanation so that his men could make proper preparations. He ordered them to ready their equipment, telling them he was going to attack the Byzantines.
‘The Messenger of God (SAAS), while reading his own equipment, asked Jadd b. Qays, a man of Banu Salama, ‘Jadd, would you like now to attack the BANU ASFAR, the YELLOW SKINS?’ HE replied, ‘Messenger of God, do excuse me and not tempt me; I swear by God, my people well know there is not a man more attracted to women than myself. I fear that if I saw the Banu asfar women, I’d not be able to restrain myself!’ ‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) turned away from him, saying, ‘I excuse you then.’” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 2 – 3)

This is also verified in Sirah al-Halabiyyah:

“The Byzantines (Ar-Rum, the ‘Romans’) were called Banu Asfar because they were descendants of Rum ibn Al-Ais Ibn Ishaq the Prophet of Allah. He was called al-Asfar because HIS SKIN HAD A YELLOWISH TONE (Asfar yellow). Or it was said that it was his father, Al-Ais, who was yellowish in COLOUR. (As-seerah Al-Halabiyyah, 3/150) “ (Atlas on the Prophet’s Biography – Places, Nations, Landmarks (Al-sirah Al-Nabawiyah) [Darussallam, first edition, 2004] by Dr. Shawqi Abu Khalil, page 196)

One of the earliest scholar’s (Ibn Al-Anbaari) expounds and tells us that they were called Banu Asfar because the Banu Asfar’s (Byzantines/Romans) land had been conquered by the Abyssinians (Africans). When the Abyssinians conquered the land they intermarried with the Romans (Byzantines) and had ‘yellow-skinned’ children i.e., mixed race:

An-Nawawi may Allaah have mercy upon him said: “The Banu Asfar are the Romans. Ibn Al-Anbaari held that they were known as the Banu Al-Asfar (children of the the yellow one) because an ABYSSINIAN ARMY ONCE CONQUERED THEIR LAND AND SOME ABYSSINIAN MEN MARRIED ROMAN WOMEN WHO GAVE BIRTH TO YELLOW-SKINNED CHILDREN WITH THE DARKNESS OF ABYSSINIANS and the whiteness of the Romans. …” (Fatwa – online source)

 

This statement is verified by the two quotes that we cited previously to this one when they referred to the skin colour being ‘yellow’. So we see the Banu Asfar were not white and blonde as some have claimed. These people were mixed with African Abyssinians.

Furthermore, if the claim was that they were ‘white’, European white, they would have most probably referred to them by the original word in Arabic, not ‘yellow’. In Arabic white skin colour is referred as ‘abyad’ (white). There are a number of reports on Prophet Muhammed (p) being called (‘abyad’):

“He had white complexion, his WHITENESS being imbued with redness (abyad musharraban bayaduhu humrah) and his iris was black (awsad).”(Dalail al-Nubuwwah lil-Baihaqi, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah Beirut 1405 A.H. vol.1 pp.212-213)

 

Sunan Nasai:

“It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said: “While we were sitting in the Masjid, a man came on a camel and made it keneel in the Masjid, then he hobbled it and said to them: ‘Which of you is Muhammad?’ The Messenger of Allah was reclining amid his Companions, and we said to him: This WHITE MAN who is reclining.’ The man said to him: ‘O son of ‘Abdul-Muttalib.’ The Messenger of Allah said: ‘ I have answered you.’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 3, Book 22, Hadith 2094, Sahih Darussalam)

 

This is also reported in Sahih al-Bukhari:

“Narrated Anas bin Malik:While we were sitting with the Prophet in the mosque, a man came riding on a camel. He made his camel kneel down in the mosque, tied its foreleg and then said: “Who amongst you is Muhammad?” At that time the Prophet was sitting amongst us (his companions) leaning on his arm. We replied, “This WHITE MAN reclining on his arm.” The man then addressed him, “O Son of `Abdul Muttalib.” The Prophet said, “I am here to answer your questions.” The man said to the Prophet, “I want to ask you something and will be hard in questioning.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 1, Book 3, Hadith 63 (Eng. ed))

Another report on the skin tone of Muhammed (p):

Abu Juhaifa reported: I saw Allah’s Messenger that he had WHITE COMPLEXION and had some white hair, and Hasan b. ‘Ali resembled him.
حَدَّثَنَا وَاصِلُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الأَعْلَى، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ فُضَيْلٍ، عَنْ إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنِ أَبِي خَالِدٍ، عَنْ أَبِي جُحَيْفَةَ، قَالَ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَبْيَضَ قَدْ شَابَ كَانَ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ يُشْبِهُهُ ‏. (Sahih Muslim Book 30, Hadith 5786, (Eng. ed))

Conclusion:

The conclusion that can be drawn from all this is that Muhammed (p) and his companions set out to the expedition of Tabuk, to repel the impending army of the Banu Asfar (Byzantines). The claim that they were ‘enticed’ for the women, has no historical truth to the incident, in connection to Surah 9:49.

Furthermore, the ‘yellow’ ones referred to the skin colour of the people, these people as we seen from the evidence – were mixed, African and Roman, their children would have had golden skin tone. They were not blond(e) haired Europeans, as some claimed.

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and Twitter. PLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

imr

Advertisements

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter

%d bloggers like this: