What Is the Correct Understanding of the Two Complexions of Prophet ‘Isa in the Hadith of Bukhari?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


The Qadiyani movement claims their figurehead is the son of Mary by citing two Hadith in Sahih Bukhari stating the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) described Sayyiduna ‘Isa (peace be upon him) as having two different complexions in two separate hadith.

Therefore, they say that since one refers to Isa (peace be upon him) and the other son of Mary, their figurehead is also the son of Mary. So why are there two separate complexions attributed to ‘Isa (peace be upon him)?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

The summary is Prophet ‘Isa (Allah be pleased with him) was seen by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in varied facial complexion and reported varyingly by the companions. This does not indicate in any way pointing to someone else other than Prophet ‘Isa, who had few titles, Ibn Maryam being one of them (peace be upon him).

Prophet’ Isa in Red Complexion

Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas, The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “I saw Moses, Jesus, and Abraham (on the night of my Ascension to the heavens). Jesus was of red complexion, curly hair and a broad chest. Moses was of brown complexion, straight hair and tall stature as if he was from the people of Zut.” [Bukhari]

This hadith is narrated by Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), and he narrates from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that he saw Prophet’ Isa (peace be upon him) of a  red complexion.

Prophet’ Isa in Brown Complexion

Salim narrated from his father, No, By Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not tell that Jesus was of red complexion but said, “‘While I was asleep circumambulating the Kaaba (in my dream), suddenly I saw a man of brown complexion and lank hair walking between two men, and water was dropping from his head.’ I asked, ‘Who is this?’ The people said, ‘He is the son of Mary.’ Then I looked behind, and I saw a red-complexioned, fat, curly-haired man, blind in the right eye, which looked like a bulging out grape. I asked, ‘Who is this?’ They replied, ‘He is Dajjal.’ The one who resembled him among the people was Ibn Qatar.” (Zuhri said, “He (i.e. Ibn Qatan) was a man from the tribe Khuza’a who died in the pre-Islamic period.”) [Bukhari]

This hadith is narrated by Abdullah Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him), and he has narrated from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that he saw Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him) of a brown complexion.

The Physical Appearance of Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him)

Many hadiths have given a clear description of Prophet ‘Isa’s complexion and appearance. Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim have narrated some hadith mentioning He was a reddish-white man with lank hair.

Some hadiths describe a brown complexion, the most handsome that could be seen of such a color of men.

Imam Bukhari has recorded this description on four different occasions. Imam Muslim has also recorded three hadiths giving the exact description of Jesus.

Reconciling between the Two Color Complexions

This difference of Prophet ‘Isa having lank or curly hair is similar to whether he was brown or red-skinned. Red in the speech of the Arabs means fair-complexioned with a reddish undertone, and the term ‘adam denotes brown wheat complexion. The two descriptions may be reconciled by saying that he had reddish skin for a reason such as fatigue, but he was normally brown-skinned. [Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]

Few Titles of Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him)

These are a few titles given to Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him), which are only indicative of him only, and no one else in the future, and Ibn Maryam was one of them:

  • Al-Masih: This is his most famous title – it means ‘The Messiah.’ When Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him) touched or wiped (in Arabic, masaha) those afflicted with an illness, they would be healed by Allah’s permission. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
  • Ruh: This means he was ’a spirit’ from Allah. [Quran, 21:91]
  • ‘Abdullah and Mubarak: He was ‘a servant of Allah’ and ‘blessed’. [Quran, 19:30-31]
  • Aya and Rahma: He was ‘a sign’ and ‘a mercy.’ [Quran, 19:21]
  • Kalima and Wajih: He was ‘a word’ from Allah and ‘highly honored.’ [Quran, 3:45]
  • Ulu al-‘Azm: Five messengers were called ‘those of determination’ – Nuh (peace be upon him), Ibrahim (peace be upon him), Musa (peace be upon him), ‘Isa (peace be upon him), and of course, their leader and our master, Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). [Quran, 46:35]
  • Ibn Maryam: This means the son of Maryam (peace be upon him), also known as Mary. Like Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), ‘Isa (peace be upon him) had no father. Moreover, his mother’s high standing with Allah is well-known – she has an entire Sura named after her in the Quran, and she was visited and addressed by the Angel Jibril (peace be upon him): And remember when the angels said, “O Mary! Surely Allah has selected you, purified you, and chosen you over all women of the world. [Quran, 3:42]

Why not begin your search for knowledge by signing up for a course on
SeekersAcademy (seekersguidance.org)

I pray this helps with your question.

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.

He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.

He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.