Fatwa: # 15061
Category: Jurisprudence and Rulings...
Country: India
Date: 14th April 2007


Did Rasulullah (SAW) belong to any caste?


Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu,

1)There are different subcastes in islam like KHAN,PATHAN,SHAIK etc.so now what i want to know is who made these castes or who divided the people in these castes.since people says with proud that they belong to highest subcastes?

2)our prophet muhammad(saw) belongs to which subcastes?

Allah Hafiz


In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

1) Allah states in the Holy Quran:

“O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female and made you into races and tribes, so that you may identify each other.  Surely the noblest of you, in Allah’s sight, is the one who is most pious of you.  Surely Allah is All-Knowing, all-Aware.”

[Surahtul Hujurat ]

The Quran in this verse has made it clear that Allah has created all mankind from a single mother and a single father, and made them into a single brotherhood.  But He has divided them into different tribes, nations, races, lineage and language-speakers/linguistic groups.  The underlying Divine wisdom in such a division is mutual identification. 

For example:

  • If there are two people bearing the same name, they could be differentiated by family name.
  • It can also show the near and remote relations.  Their Shar’i rights can be fulfilled on the basis of near and distant lineage.  It is incumbent to determine the near and remote agnate heirs when applying the law of succession or dividing the estate of a deceased. 

In short, reference to one’s lineage for the purpose of identification is not deemed to be pride and conceit.

The current verse of Surah Hujurat proceeds to set down the basis of an all-comprehensive and all-pervading principle of human equality.  It has firmly laid the axe at the false and foolish notions of superiority, born of racial arrogance or national conceit.  All men have been created from a single male Adam Alayhis salaam and a single female Hawwa Alayhis salaam as human beings.  Therefore all people are the descendants of Adam and Hawwa Alayhis salaam and have been declared equal in the sight of Allah. 

No one is allowed to take pride or degrade others on the basis of his skin, wealth, rank, social status, descent or pedigree, but by his moral uprightness and the way he discharges his obligations to Allah and man.  The entire human race is but one family.  Division into nations, tribes and sub-tribes of all sizes, and races is meant only to give a better identification of one another.

Cause of Revelation (Shaani Nuzul)

This verse was revealed on the occasion of the conquest of Makkah.  When it was time for prayer, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam asked Sayyidna Bilal Radiyallhu anhu to call the adhan.  One of the pagan Quraish cynically remarked: Thank God my father died before this happened, and he did not have to see this bad day.  Harith Ibn Hisham remarked:  could Muhammad not find anyone better than this black crow to sound the adhan in the Sacred Masjid!  Abu Sufyan said: I do not wish to utter anything for fear that the master of the heavens will inform him.  Thus Jibrail Alayhis salaam came down and informed the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam about this conversation.  The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam called them and asked them about it.  They admitted.  At this, the current verse was revealed.

Taqwa of Allah is the basis of Honour

This verse made it plain that human beings can earn honour on account of their faith and righteousness.  The immediate application of the verse was to Sayyidina Bilal Radiyallahu anhu, and therefore the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said to those people: “You are empty (i.e. you have no moral leg to stand on.)  Sayyidina Bilal Radiyallahu anhu, on the other hand, is equipped (with high moral qualities); and he is better and more honourable than any of you.”  Sayyidna Abudullah Ibn Umar Radiyallahu anhu reports that on the day when Makkah was conquered, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam performed tawaf (circumambulation of Ka’bah) in the state of riding on his she-camel, [so that all the people could see him].  Then having completed his tawaf, he delivered a sermon in which he said:

“O people! Allah has removed from you the pride of Jahiliyyah and its arrogance.  People are of two types: a man who is righteous, fearful of Allah and he is honourable to Allah; or a man who is sinful, wretched, and he is disgraced and little to Allah.” [Tirmidhi and Baghawi]

Then he recited the current verse.

Sayyidina Ibn Abbas Radiyallahu anhu says: For people “honour” lies in wealth, whilst in the sight of Allah it lies in righteousness.

Overall, people needed a way to introduce and recognize each other all along in the history of mankind.

Looking back in history, we can see how mankind divided into subcastes:

  1. Nuh Alayhis Salaam had three sons- Sam, Ham, and Yafith.
  2. The children of Ham are ‘Haamiyun Nasl’- e.g. mostly the Middle Eastern tribes.
  3. The children of Sam are ‘Saamiyun Nasl’- e.g. the tribes of ‘aad and thamud, etc.
  4. The children of Yafith are the ya’jooj ma’jooj (Gog Magog).

We can also see how certain tribes are popular with certain qualities.

For example:

A tribe that consists of pious people who practice good akhlaaq and deeds will become known as “a good tribe.” 

Moreover, knowing reference to a tribe can help us draw some conclusions. 

For example: 

A family may be known for good hospitality and one can expect it from them. Another family may be known for bravery, and so on. 

I.e. Knowing the tribe can help us get a clue about what a person may be like. 

However, it is clear from the Quran that the underlying Divine Wisdom of the lineal, national and linguistic division of mankind is identification.  Therefore, no one should be given preference just because of sub caste.  Respect should be given because of ilm and taqwa. 

2) Our Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam was from the respected tribe of Quraysh, and from the most honoured family of Banu Hashim.

And Allah knows best

A Female Alima from USA
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa

DISCLAIMER - AskImam.org questions
AskImam.org answers issues pertaining to Shar'ah. Thereafter, these questions and answers are placed for public view on www.askimam.org for educational purposes. However, many of these answers are unique to a particular scenario and cannot be taken as a basis to establish a ruling in another situation or another environment. Askimam.org bears no responsibility with regards to these questions being used out of their intended context.
  • The Shar's ruling herein given is based specifically on the question posed and should be read in conjunction with the question.
  • AskImam.org bears no responsibility to any party who may or may not act on this answer and is being hereby exempted from loss or damage howsoever caused.
  • This answer may not be used as evidence in any Court of Law without prior written consent of AskImam.org.
  • Any or all links provided in our emails, answers and articles are restricted to the specific material being cited. Such referencing should not be taken as an endorsement of other contents of that website.
The Messenger of Allah said, "When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen."
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]