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White and Black Faces on Judgment Day: Is This Racism?

Does the Quran Support Racism?

In light of recent riots and police brutality, some Islamophobes have brought in a Quran translation that seemed to suggest that the Quran has certain racist verses.

The translation is for (Aal-Imran 3:106) which reads, according to their online source:

“On that day some faces will be white and some faces will be black.”

The also quote the translation of (Az-Zumar 39:60):

“On the Day of Judgment, those who lied against Allah their faces will be turned black.”

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How did Dr. Yasir Qadhi respond to these allegations that the Quran seems to have this notion of faces being black if they’re bad and faces being white if they’re good?

The Response

Dr. Yasir Qadhi started his response by stating that the translation the islamophobes quote is a great egregious translation error that might even be intentional.

Dr. Yasir Qadhi wonders how can anybody accuse the Quran of being a racist book. This clearly demonstrates that this person either, has an evil intent, or most likely has no clue what the Arabic actually says.

It is true that the Quran does mention the words tabyaddu and taswaddu.

However, these verb tenses have nothing to do with skin colors. There is no racial element being implied at all. Anybody who really understands Arabic will understand this. The problem comes that most of the people who translate the Quran are not qualified to translate it.

Linguistic Forms

The words tabyaddu, taswaddu or muswadah, are linguistic forms that have nothing to do with the color of one’s skin. Hence, any person who understands Arabic would never associate these verbs with human skin color.

The word tabyaddu is in fact associated with the brightness of the day, optimism and hope.

The word taswaddu or muswadah is associated with darkness of the night and worrying times.

English Equivalent

These connotations of night and day are found in the English language. For example, we say ‘the rise of a new dawn’ when we intend optimism. Also, we say ‘dark stormy clouds’ when we intend something that is terrifying.

When we say the rise of a new dawn, does anybody think of the skin color, white? No, it is the Sun. It is optimism. So, this is what the notion of the words tabayydu and taswaddu is about.

Literal Meaning

In Surat Yunus verse 27, the word ‘muzhlim’ (so dark) is explicitly linked to the issue of the night and has nothing to do with skin colors. Allah says:

{It will be as if their faces are covered with pieces of the night – so dark.}

What do the words tabyaddu and taswaddu really mean?

📚 Read Also: The Issue of Translation of the Quran

The issue of whiteness and darkness is a huge mistranslation. The Quran is actually describing the people of Paradise by the word tabyaddu. This means their faces will be optimistic and beaming with joy.  That’s how it should be translated. There is nothing to do with whiteness whatsoever.

The word taswaddu means that the faces of the people of the hellfire will be gloomy with fear and trepidation. Again there is nothing to do with one’s color.

Taqwa: Criteria of Superiority

White, brown and black mean nothing for the issue of salvation. In Islam, there is no superiority of a white over a black or of an Arab over non-Arab except with taqwa (piety).

People of all skin colors who are righteous, their faces will be described with the word tabayydu. Those that are not righteous, they will be described with the word taswaddu.

We ask Allah the Almighty to make all of us, no matter what our skin colors are, of those whose faces will be bright with happiness and glory.

Source: Dr. Yasir Qadhi Channel