The Seal of the Prophethood of Muhammad is presented in many ancient and respected Islamic sources. Apparently, it was a protruding fleshy enlargement on his upper back somewhere between his shoulders. Classic Muslim scholars tells us that it was about the size of a dove’s egg, and it was marked by hair and warts or moles. Arabian physicians offered to treat and cure Muhammad’s physical deformity, but he declined their offers.
The quotations are taken from the works of Tabari, Ibn Sa’d, Bukhari, and Muslim without further comment. It is left to the reader to discern whether or not this physical defect necessarily means that Muhammad possessed the Seal of the Prophets. Apparently, some of his own learned Muslims followers, who were Arabian physicians, knew its true character and thought that it was a physical malady that ought be medically treated.
Nevertheless, Muhammad’s uneducated and superstitious followers believed it was a miraculous Seal of Muhammad’s prophethood. So, naturally, Muhammad would not allow it to be taken away. During ancient times, it was not uncommon for superstitious pagans to believe that babies born with birth marks, warts, moles, as well as other distinctive physical features, possessed special spiritual powers. Pagan influences were still very powerful during the lifetime of Muhammad who used them to his advantage. Although it is much less common today, on March 15, 2002 there was a news report on this superstitious phenomena in India where a Muslim baby boy was born with a tail. It was reported that the baby was being worshipped as the reincarnation of the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman. Like the learned Arabian physicians of Muhammad’s day, Dr. Sanjeev Bagai, a paediatrician in Chandigarh, said, “It is ridiculous to connect a genetic abnormality with the divine. The child requires surgical intervention.” 1
Ibn al-Muthanna—al-Dahhak b. Makhlad 1090 —’Azrah b. Thabit 1091 —’Ilba’ 1092 —Abu Zayd:1093 The Messenger of God said to me, “O Abu Zayd, come close to me and wipe my back,” and 1094 he uncovered his back. I touched his back, and then put my finger l095 on the seal and touched it. [‘Ilba’] states: I said [to Abu Zayd), “What is the seal?” He replied, “[It is] a collection of hair on his shoulders.”
Ibn al-Muthanna—Bishr b. al-Waddah Abu al-Haytham 1096 —Abu ‘Aqil al-Dawraqi 1097 —Abu Nadrah:1098 I asked Abu Said al-Khudri about the seal which the Prophet had, and he said that it was like a protruding lump of flesh. 1099
ACCOUNT OF THE SEAL OF PROPHETHOOD, WHICH WAS BETWEEN THE TWO SHOULDERS OF THE APOSTLE OF ALLAH, MAY ALLAH BLESS HIM 3
‘Ubayd Allah Ibn Musa al-‘Absi and al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn informed us; they said: Isra’il informed us on the authority of Simak: Verily, he heard Jabir Ibn Samurah describe the Prophet and said: I saw his seal close to his shoulders, like the egg of a dove, which resembled his body.
‘Ubayd Allah Ibn Musa informed us; he said: Hasan Ibn Salih informed us on the authority of Simak; (he said) Jabir Ibn Samurah related to me; he said: I saw the seal which was on the back of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. It was in the form of a wen, like the egg of a dove.
Abu Dawud Sulayman al-Tayalisi informed us: Shu’bah informed us on the authority of Simak Ibn Harb, he heard Jabir Ibn Samurah saying: I saw the seal which was like the egg of a dove at the back of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him.
Al-Dahhak Ibn Makhlad informed us: ‘Azrah Ibn Thabit informed us: ‘Ilba Ibn Ahmar informed us on the authority of Abu Rimthah; he said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said to me: O Abu Rimthah! come close to me and rub my back. Thereupon I came close to him and rubbed his back. Then I put my fingers on the seal and I felt it. We asked him: And what was this seal? He said: Thick hair near his shoulders.
Al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn informed us: [P. 132] Zuhayr informed us on the authority of ‘Urwah Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Qushayr: Mu’awiyah Ibn Qurrah related to me on the authority of his father; he said: I came to the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, with a group of the people of Muzaynah. I offered bay’ah to him. His shirt was not buttoned. I placed my hand inside the collar of it and touched the seal.
Ahmad Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Yunus and Khalid Ibn Khidash informed us on the authority of Hammad Ibn Zayd: ‘Asim al-Ahwal (squint eyed) Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Sarjis informed us; he said: I came to the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, while he was sitting amidst his Companions. I turned round behind him. He understood my object and removed the sheet from his back. I looked at the seal in a position near the shoulder resembling a fist. Hammad closed his hand and said: It was like this fist and round it there were moles as if they were warts. Then I came close and kissed it and said: May Allah pardon you, O Apostle of Allah. He rejoined: And also you. Some one said to him: Is the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, asking pardon for you? Thereupon he said: Yes. He recited the verse:
|فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنبِكَ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمْ وَمَثْوَاكُمْ سورة محمد ٤٧:١٩
“and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women”1
This is the version of Ahmad Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Yunus. But Khalid Ibn Khidash said: Then I came to him till I kissed it and said: O Apostle of Allah! ask forgiveness for me. Thereupon he said: May Allah pardon you. Then they gave the same version till the end.
‘Affan Ibn Muslim, Abu al-Walid Hisham al-Tayalisi and Sa’d Ibn Mansur informed us; they said: ‘Ubayd Allah Ibn Iyad Ibn Laqit informed us on the authority of Abu Rimthah; he said: I went with my father to the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. He (Abu Rimthah) said: My father observed something like a scar between his two shoulders. He said: O Apostle of Allah! I am a physician of the people, should I not give it a treatment? Thereupon he said: No! its physician is He Who created it.
Ya’qub Ibn Ishaq al-Hadrami informed us: Hammad Ibn Salamah related to me on the authority of ‘Asim, he on the authority of Ibn Abi Rimthah; he said: I went to the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and lo! there was like a camel’s dung or a dove’s egg between his shoulders. I asked: O Apostle of Allah! should I not give it a treatment, since I belong to a family, the members of which are physicians? Thereupon he said: He Who has placed it (here) will treat it.
Qabisah Ibn ‘Uqbah informed us on the authority of Sufyan, he on the authority of Iyad Ibn Laqit, he on the authority of Abu Rimthah; he said: I went to the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, and my son was with me. He asked me: Do you love him? I said: Yes. He said: May he not pity you and may you not pity him. I turned and lo! behind his shoulders there was some thing like an apple. I said: O Apostle of Allah! I shall give it treatment. So let me operate it and apply medicine. He said: Its physician is He Who has created it.
‘Abd Allah Ibn Ja’far al-Raqqi informed us on the authority of ‘Ubayd Allah Ibn ‘Amr, he on the authority of ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn ‘Umayr, he on the authority of Iyad Ibn Laqit, he on the authority of Abu Rimthah; he said: I went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him, and a son of mine was with me. Then I said: O my son! this is the Prophet of Allah. When he (son) saw him, he began to tremble, out of reverence. When I arrived, I said [P. 133] O Apostle of Allah! I am a physician and belong to the family of physicians. My father was a noted physician during the Jahiliyyah [pre-Muhammad times, literally, days of ignorance] days; we are famous as physicians. So permit me (to treat) what is between your shoulders. If it is a wound, I shall operate on it and Allah will cure His Prophet. Thereupon he said: There is no physician for it except Allah. It was like the egg of a dove.
Book LXX. The Book of Patients
Narrated As-Sa’ib: My aunt took me to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! My nephew is- ill.” The Prophet touched my head with his hand and invoked Allah to bless me. He then performed ablution and I drank of the remaining water of his ablution and then stood behind his back and saw “Khatam An-Nubuwwa” (The Seal of Prophethood) between his shoulders like a button of a tent. Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. VII, p 390. Number 574.
THE FACT PERTAINING TO THE SEAL OF HIS PROPHETHOOD, ITS CHARACTERISTIC FEATURE AND ITS LOCATION ON HIS BODY
(5790) Jabir. Samura reported: I saw the seal on his back as if it were a pigeon’s egg.
(5791) This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Simak with the same chain of transmitters.
(5792) As-Sa’ib b. Yazid reported: My mother’s sister took me to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Allah’s Messenger, here is the son of my sister and he is ailing. He touched my head and invoked blessings upon me. He then performed ablution and I drank the water left from his ablution; then I stood behind him and I saw the seal between his shoulders.
(5793) Abdullah b. Sarjis reported: I saw Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) and ate with him bread and meat, or he said Tharid (bread soaked in soup). I said to him: Did Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) seek forgiveness for you? He said: Yes, and for you, and he then recited this verse:” Ask forgiveness for thy sin and for the believing men and believing women” (xlvii. 19). I then went after him and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders on the left side of his shoulder having spots on it like moles. Sahih Muslim Vol. IV, p. 1251-1252. Numbers 5790-5793.