Chapter-VI

 

Verse 11 is:

ראשו  כתס פז  קוצותיו  תלתלים  שחרות  כעורב[1]

(Ra’shu katam faz qawswahiv taltalis shahrut ka‘arab)

His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

The study of the clause ‘His head is like[2] the finest gold. (NKJV)’ of the verse is being undertaken in the next lines.

NIV has rendered it as ‘His head is purest gold.’

Matthew Henry has explained it as follows:

Christ’s head bespeaks [indicates; shows; as a sign of] his sovereign dominion over all and his vital influence upon his church and all its members. (...). Christ’s sovereignty is both beautiful and powerful. Nebuchadnezzar’s monarchy is compared to a head of gold (Dan.ii.38[3]).[4]

The word ‘head’ stands for the Hebrew word‘ראש’  (rô’sh/ra’sh). According to Strong’s Dict. it means:

The head, captain, chief, excellent, forefront, principal, ruler, top.[5]

It is the same word which, in Arabic, is ‘ra’s’. The second important word in this sentence is ‘gold’. It stands for the original Hebrew word ‘פז’ (paz), which means:

Pure (gold); hence gold itself (as refined): fine pure gold.[6]

Keeping in view the above meanings of the original Hebrew words of the Bible, the sentence would mean:

His excellent rule and authority[according to Matt. Henry ‘sovereignty’] is flawless, pure and refined’ [according to Matt. Henry: ‘both beautiful and powerful’].

The worthy commentator has explained that these words denote ‘beautiful and powerful sovereignty’ as the monarchy of Nebuchadnezzar has been analogized with the head of gold in the book of Daniel. The remarks of the commentator, i.e. ‘Christ’s head bespeaks his sovereign dominion over all (...). Christ’s sovereignty is both beautiful and powerful’ need no comments. Everyone who has studied the biography of Jesus Christ (pbAh), knows it of certain that he never achieved any sovereignty anywhere. The Jews had managed to obtain the death sentence against him and according to the gospels he was humiliatingly taken to the place of crucifixion. On the other hand this sentence presents a literal fulfillment in the person of the ‘Conqueror of Makkah.’

Jesus Christ (pbAh) never achieved power and authority (sovereignty) in his life whereas the Prophet of Islam (pbAh) enjoyed full power and authority of the state of Madinah and consequently the whole of the Arabian Peninsula (and full respect and love of the believers) and his decisions and commands in that position had always been pure and flawless. Now it is unto the reader to decide in whose person the words of the Bible find their exact and literal fulfillment.

According to KJV the next sentence of the verse is:

His locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

His ‘locks’ have been described as ‘wavy’ or ‘bushy’ in the translations of the Bible. The original Hebrew word for this ‘wavy’ is ‘תלתל’ (taltal), which, according to the Strong’s Dic., means:

A trailing bough (as pendulous[7]); bushy.[8]

It means that his hair was like a drooping (hanging or bending down) bough of a tree.

The second clause of the sentence is ‘and black as a raven.’ The original Hebrew for its first main word ‘black’ is ‘שחר’ (sahar), and according to the scheme of the Strong’s transliteration ‘shachar’. It is the same Arabic word which means ‘before daybreak, dawn’. The Strong’s Dic. explains:

7835, a primary root; [rather identical with 7836 through the idea of the duskiness of early dawn]; to be dim or dark (in color):- be black.

7836, to dawn, i.e. (figuratively) be (up) early at any task (with the implication of earnestness); seek (diligently) early, in the morning.[9]

The second main word of this clause is ‘raven’. The word used for it in the Hebrew Bible is ‘ערב’ (‘arab/‘areb etc). The Strong’s Dic. explains it as follows:

A raven (from its dusky hue).[10]

It may be noted here that ‘raven’ is not the literal meaning of the Hebrew word ‘ערב’. It is its figurative meaning in view of its ‘dusky hue’. It may also be noted here that Arabic and Hebrew are similar and sister languages of Semitic family of languages and have a lot of common points. Their basic alphabet consists of 22 letters (א, ב, ג, ד, ה, ו, ז, ח, ט, י, ךor כ, ל, םor מ, ןor נ, ס, ע, ףor פ, ץor צ, ק, ר, ש, ת; i.e. Aleph, Bayth or b, Geemel or j, dawleth or th as in then, hay or h, vawv or v, zayin or z, Hayth or h, tayth or t, yowd or y, kaaf or k, laamed or l, meem or m, noon or n, sawmek or s, ‘Ayin or , fay or f, tsawday or s, qowf or q, raysh or r, sheen or sh, tawv or t). In addition to these 22 letters the Arabs framed six more letters (th, kh, dh, d, z, gh) to accommodate their additional sounds, which do not exist in the Hebrew alphabet. The Arabic letter ‘ghayn’ (gh) is one of those six letters, which do not exist in the Hebrew language. Now, there are two words ‘orab/arab and ghurab in Arabic; the former for an Arabian person and the latter for a raven or crow. The Hebrew alphabet, having no letter for ‘gh’ sound, has only one word for both: ‘Arabian’ and ‘crow’. It has no separate and independent word for a ‘raven’ and uses the same word for an Arabian and for a raven or crow. As such it is difficult to ascertain for which sense the Hebrew word ‘orab/arab’ stands here. The translators of the Bible take it in the sense of a raven in view of dark colour of the hair, whereas actually it stands for an Arabian. Here is a study of some more meanings of this word/root. According to entry No. 6150 the word ‘ערב’ (‘arab) means:

A primary root [rather identical with 6148 through the idea of covering with a texture]; to grow dusky at sun down:- be darkened, (toward) evening.[11]

The same word, ‘ערב’ (‘arab), has been explained under entry No. 6152 as follows:

In the figurative sense of sterility; Arab (i.e. Arabia), a country E. of Palestine.[12]

It can also be ‘ערבי’ (‘arabiy), which, according to entry No. 6163 of the same Strong’s Dic., means:

An Arabian or inhabitant of Arab (i.e. Arabia).[13]

As to the word ‘as’ (in Hebrew ‘כ’ or ‘k’) in the phrase ‘black as a raven’, it is the result of some visual error. The Hebrew letters ‘כ’ (k=kaph) and ‘ו’ (wav=w) resemble each other and may be mistakenly interchanged due to some visual misperception, especially when some scribe may not have observed proper care and vigilance while writing. Thus the phrase ‘His locks are (…) black as a raven’ would actually mean ‘His locks are (…) black and he is an Arab’.

It can thus be appreciated that there remains no noubt in the fact that this verse is perfectly applicable to Prophet Muhammad (pbAh).

A fairly detailed lexical study of the sentence ‘His locks are bushy, and black as a raven’ has been undertaken in the above lines. The results of the study and some further relevant information is being presented hereunder:

1  Basically, in the verbal form, the word ‘ערב’ (‘arab), which has been translated here as ‘raven’, means: ‘to grow dusky at sun down:- be darkened, (toward) evening.’

2  It also bears the sense of ‘sterility’. ‘Arabia’ was given this name because of being basically a barren, sterile, and inarable land. It also implies ‘an Arabian or inhabitant of Arabia’.

3  Being void of the Arabic sound ‘gh’, the Hebrew language has only one word for both ‘a raven’ and ‘an Arab’.

4.  As to the word ‘bushy’ or ‘wavy’ the original Hebrew word is ‘תלתל’ (taltal), which, according to Strong’s Dic., means: ‘a trailing bough (as pendulous)’. Bushy or wavy is not its proper translation. ‘A trailing bough’ is not bushy or wavy. It rather has a curl only at its end.

It means that the hair of the Solomon’s ‘Praised One’ was not bushy or wavy; it was rather long which had a natural curl at its end. Sayyed Abu’l A‘la Mawdudi has drawn a beautiful picture of the hair of the Prophet of Islam from some authorities. He writes:

The hair of his head and beard was thick: neither intertwistingly curly like those of Negroes nor quite straight. It had rather a light touch of curl. Even in his last years hardly twenty hairs had grown white, and they too were visible only when he had not anointed (applied oil to) them. Sometimes the locks of his hair went to the middle of his ears, sometimes to their end and at times even longer.[14]

These details have not been given by Sayyid Mawdudi of himself. He has noted them from authentic sources:

Umm Ma‘bad reports:

ازج اقرن شديد سواد الشعار[15]

Long and black eyelashes, thin and intermixed eyebrows, bright black hair.

Ali was the first cousin of the Prophet of Islam (pbAh) as well as his son-in-law (and, as such, a competent and reliable observer of the qualities of his hair). His description is as follows:

كَانَ عَلِيٌّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ إِذَا وَصَفَ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلمقَالَ(...)وَلَمْ يَكُنْ بِالْجَعْد[16]الْقَطَطِ وَلَا بِالسَّبِطِ[17]كَانَ جَعْدًا رَجِلًا[18](...)قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى (...)قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ سَمِعْتُ الْأَصْمَعِيَّ يَقُولُ فِي تَفْسِيرِهِ صِفَةَ النَّبِيِّصلى الله عليه وسلم(...)وَأَمَّا الْقَطَطُ فَالشَّدِيدُ الْجُعُودَةِ وَالرَّجِلُ الَّذِي فِي شَعْرِهِ حُجُونَةٌ أَيْ يَنْحَنِي قَلِيلًا[19]

His hair was neither immensely curly (having much curl), nor quite straight and stiff. There was a slight curl in his hair and his hair was between curly and hanging down straight. It was only slightly curly.

Abu Hurayrah says that there was a slight bend in his hair.[20]

Qatadah reports that his hair was neither straight and stiff, nor interlocked:

حَدَّثَنَا قَتَادَةُ قال قلتُ لأنسِ بنِ مالكٍ كيف كان شعرُ رسولِ الله صلى الله عليه وسلمقال كان شَعَراً رَجِلاً ليس بالجَعدِ ولا السَّبطِ [21]

Anas says:

عن أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ (يَصِفُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَقَالَ) كَانَ (...) لَيْسَ (...)بِالجَعْدٍ القَطَطٍ وَلَا بِالسَّبْطٍ رَجِلٍ[22]

Both of the above traditions signify the following sense:

His hair was neither immensely curly (having much curl), nor quite straight and stiff. It means that: ‘His hair was between curly and hanging down straight and there was a slight bend in the Prophet’s hair’.

Bara’ bin ‘Azib says:

عَنْ الْبَرَاءِ بْنِ عَازِبٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَاقَالَ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلملَهُ شَعَرٌ يَبْلُغُ شَحْمَةَ أُذُنِهِ (...)قَالَ يُوسُفُ بْنُ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ إِلَى مَنْكِبَيْهِِ[23]

سَمِعْتُ الْبَرَاءَ يَقُولُ إِنَّ جُمَّتَهُ لَتَضْرِبُ قَرِيبًا مِنْ مَنْكِبَيْهِ(...)قَالَ شُعْبَةُ شَعَرُهُ يَبْلُغُ شَحْمَةَ أُذُنَيْهِ[24]

Both the above traditions mean, ‘His hair reached sometimes to the end of his ears and sometimes to the shoulders.’

5. The hair of Solomon’s ‘Praised One’ was extremely black and remained as such till the end of his life. In the hair of both his head and beard there were not more than totally twenty hairs white, as can be appreciated from the following tradition of Anas bin Malik:

عَنْ (...) أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ يَصِفُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلمقَالَ كَانَ (...)وَقُبِضَ وَلَيْسَ فِي رَأْسِهِ وَلِحْيَتِهِ عِشْرُونَ شَعَرَةً بَيْضَاءَ[25]

And he died and there were not even twenty hairs white in (both) his head and his beard.

Even those were visible only when he had not anointed (applied oil to) them, as is evident from the following tradition of Jabir bin Samurah:

عَنْ (...)جَابِرَ بْنَ سَمُرَةَ سُئِلَ عَنْ شَيْبِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلمفَقَالَ كَانَ إِذَا دَهَنَ رَأْسَهُ لَمْ يُرَ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ وَإِذَا لَمْ يَدْهُنْ رُئِيَ مِنْهُ[26]

When the Holy Prophet had anointed his head, nothing of these (white hair) could be seen in it; but when he did not apply oil to them, they were visible.

The Prophet of Islam used to keep his hair almost always anointed. He hardly ever let his hair remain dry, without oil as reported by Anas bin Malik:

عن أنس ابنِ مالكٍ قال كان رسولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلميُكثِرُ دَهنَ رأسهِ و تسرِيحَ لحِيَتِهِ ويكثرُ القِناعَ حتى كأنَّ ثوبَه ثوبُ زَيَّاتٍ [27]

The Prophet of Allah (pbAh) often kept his hair anointed and his beard properly combed. He often kept a handkerchief under his turban [which absorbed the oil whereby the turban remained safe from it] so much so that it seemed as if it was a cloth of an oilman.

On the other hand the head and hairs of Jesus were extremely white, as can be appreciated from the following excerpt of the Bible:

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.[28]

It can thus be appreciated that this part of the prophecy cannot be applied to Jesus whereas it exactly applies to the Prophet of Islam (pbAh).

6. ‘Black as a raven’ is not correct rendering of the Hebrew phrase. The Hebrew word used for raven is ‘Arab’, which means ‘an Arab, an Arabian, or an inhabitant of Arabia’, which has already been explained above. Therefore the proper translation of כערבשחרות   תלתליםקוצותיו (Qawswahiv taltalis shahrut ka‘arab) is:

There is a slight bend or curl in his locks and they are extremely black. He is an inhabitant of Arabia.

Keeping in view the above data, it is not difficult to ascertain whom do these words indicate: the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad of Arabia (pbAh) or Jesus Christ (pbAh)? But it is surprising to note how the Christian scholars interpret or, rather, manipulate this statement in favour of Jesus Christ (pbAh). Matthew Henry asserts:

(...) black as raven, whose blackness is his beauty. Sometimes Christ’s hair is represented as white (Rev. i:14), denoting his eternity, that he is the ancient of days; but here as black and bushy, denoting that he is ever young and that there is in him no decay, nothing that waxes. Everything that belongs to Christ is amiable in the eyes of a believer, even his hair is so; (...).[29]

The reader can easily appreciate the trickery of translation and interpretation in the above passage. How adroitly the ‘white’ has been proved to be ‘black’! Objective study is considered basic precondition for a just and impartial research. It demands that some theme should be presented faithfully in its actual form and it should be interpreted according to the requirement of the context and the intent of the writer without twisting or manipulating it to one’s own intent and purpose. But in the above passage the skill of interpreting a theme quite contrary to its actual sense has been exhibited freely and unhesitatingly. It is by no means a faithful interpretation. It is obviously an example of misinterpretation and corruption.

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