Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Muhammad: "Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders on the left side of his shoulder"?

Common Mole
Versus Uncommon Mole?
(Image from CosmeticSurgery.com)

I am currently looking into an issue that I initially broached on February 3, 2007. Here is part of what I posted at that time concerning the mole on Muhammad's back that was interpreted by some of Muhammad's contemporaries as the sign of his prophethood, literally understood as the seal of his prophethood:
The mole is mentioned in Sahih Muslim, Book 30: "The Book Pertaining to the Excellent Qualities of the Holy Prophet (may Peace be upon them) and His Companions (Kitab Al-Fada'il)":

Chapter 28: The Fact Pertaining to the Seal of his Prophethood, its Characteristic Feature and its Location on his Body . . .

Book 30, Number 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.
At the time of my post, I noted concerning the mole on Muhammad's back that "Abdullah b. Sarjis states that it is 'between his shoulders on the left side of his shoulder,' which sounds a bit odd, as if it were in more than one place."

I am still wondering about this point, and I know that some of my readers have knowledge of Arabic and of Muslim traditions. Was there some uncertainty about the mole's position?

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52 Comments:

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know absolutely nothing about this subject, but the reference sounds fairly clear to me: the mole was between his shoulder blade, but to the right of center--that is, to the left of his (right) shoulder (blade).

At least, this was how I interpreted it immediately upon reading it.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Charles, did you mean "between his shoulder blades"?

Anyway, your explication is probably correct and the problem one of translation.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, that's what I meant: "between his shoulder blades."

English be so confusing sometimes.

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Now, yuh talkin'.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:44 PM, Blogger aladdin said...

It is just a matter of sloppy translation. I checked the oringinal Sahih Muslim and the mole is located exactly at the prophet's left Naged, which is an archaic Arabic world that means, simply, shoulder blade.

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Aladdan. That's very helpful.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't own Sahih Muslim in Arabic language, so that route is closed to me. But I can add a few factlets:

1) It's not "mole", but "birthmark". Moles are pedestrian, slightly icky things, birthmarks are more of a sign, a stamp, or (in this case) a "seal of the prophets" (ghattam an-nabiyyun[??]). Birthmarks are un-icky and mysterious. Prophets and kings carry them. (David? Solomon? Joseph? I can't remember. Harun al-Rashid had one. And Mikhail Gorbatchev). Their form is interpreted and discussed. Moles are for dermatologists.

2) I vaguely remember that the fact that Mohammed carried this birthmark is an argument in the question about the nature of his prophethood. Was he the last prophet "so far" or "ever"? Does "final prophet" mean only "having the last word" (this is not cortroversial, I guess) or also "last one ever to appear" This question is still under discussion as far as I know, but I don't know the details. I don't even remember who holds which opinion and what currently counts as heretical.


3) I recall even more vaguely several stories about the form and origin of the "mole": Things like the boy Mohammad being "branded" by an angel (or a lion or something) in a fight or a desert or a cave or after his heart was put on a scale, or whatever. It't childhood lore, probably not even in the hadith. It all flows together. I think I was told that the birthmark (at least some birthmark, maybe it wasn't Mohammed's?) read "Hussain" -- which is certainly not what Sunnis would be told...
4) Now that I think about it: I believe there is some ambiguity in the Arabic phrase "ghat(a/i)m an-nabiyyin". It can mean "seal/stamp/sign of the prophets" or "last/final of the prophets", depending how it is vocalized.

 
At 6:55 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Erdal. That's an interesting distinction between "mole" and "birthmark" -- though I can imagine some ambiguity in whether a particular epidermal feature is one or the other.

I've seen both translations for the mark on Muhammad, so I wonder if the Arabic word itself is ambiguous (or differs according to the Hadith).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh, talk about posting prematurely...

a) apparently, even the question of mole vs. birthmark vs. "lump of flesh" is the subject of heated debate.

b) There is a batch of ahadith that tell the story of how the monk Bahira (in a desert) identified the boy Mohammed as being the last prophet of the Jews and Christians because of the mole (among other signs). Now I remember that, too, but I still believe there are additional stories out there about how he got the mole.

c) Some non-sahih narrations also state that the birthmark contained writing that said: "Muhammadun Rasulullah" and "sir fa'innaka mansur" = "Go forth for you shall certainly be granted victory." (http://www.livingislam.org/fiqhi/fiqha_e54.html)

d) There are also traditions that claim that the birthmark disappeared right after Mohammed died. (Lost the URL)

e) Abdallah ibn Masud counted precisely 3 hairs on the mole.

f)And I remembered the story about the birthmark that reads "Hussain": That was Ali's birthmark, which is now attached to the Kaaba wall and can't be erased or painted over. Also, Ali's mother Fatima walked through the wall of the Kaaba at this spot (to give birth to Ali inside). Stricly Shiite story of course.

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Erdal, thanks, these give me more leads. If you checked the earlier, linked post on Muhammad's 'mark', you'll see that I'm wondering about a mole of Don Quixote's back, "the mark of a strong man" -- specifically, I'm wondering if Cervantes was alluding to hadith about Muhammad's mark.

I'll have to check the Spanish at some point, too. Scholarships takes me rather far abroad, but I am, after all, a Gypsy Scholar...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when i was born a six point star was my birth mark on my left side wat r ur opinions on that

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My opinion?! Am I some expert on birthmarks? Okay, I'll hazard a guess. Maybe the Lion of Judah?

What's your opinion?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you check into the Tribe of Benjamine? There is something aobut a birthmark between the sholder blades. I have one and my Aunt had one in the same place. We know things others don't. I think it has meaning in most culturs but we in America have forgoten. I am just now learning about Muhammad haveing one. It is an amazing time where you can Google and find out so much.

 
At 6:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, thanks for the note. I'd never heard of this in connection to the tribe of Benjamin.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are welcome. Here is were it comes from and the link I found it at. Mine is raised and flesy not like your picture and I remeber my Mom hitting it when brushing my hair from a young age. I found out about it while doing a family geneology. It was said we were related to Royalty so I was just wondering and found it and of course it made me courious.

Deuteronomy 33 contains the blessing pronounced by Moses on
the patriarchs of each of the twelve tribes. Of Benjamin, Moses
says, 'The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and
the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell
between his shoulders.' (33:12) In other words Benjamin and his
descendants were singled out for a very special and exalted
blessing. That much, at any rate, was clear. We were, of course,
puzzled by the promise of the Lord dwelling 'between Benjamin's
shoulders'. Should we associate it with the legendary Merovingian
birthmark - the red cross between the shoulders?

 
At 4:02 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The verse is certainly puzzling. I'll have to look into it sometime.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prophet Muhammad's "mark" was neither a mole nor a birthmark. It was what we would call today a KEYLOID,a raised scar or puffed scar. which stood out and was the same color as his body, except that small areas of the keloid scar was dark. Also there were little holes in it from which hairs grew. It was not always the same shape as it change shapes over the years from a round lump to what resembled a hand with closed fingers, a foot, a myrt leaf, etc.

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, thanks for the comment. Do you have citable sources for your information?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everyone. Excuse me Anonymous but what is myrt leaf? Or anyone who knows ? Thank you very much! Bye :)

 
At 6:30 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'm guessing "myrtle" leaf was meant.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mark mentioned in Don Quixote was one and the same as the mark found on Muhammad. He was a "real one." I.E. It is real. Israel. Le Vrai Langue Celtique.

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Is this related to speculation on the British Israelites?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes hue ah Rggh write. Jesus was in the trade. Mona Insula:)

 
At 8:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I read somewhere that a tribe in Afghanistan claims descent from the ten lost tribes of the Israelites.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A quote from the journal of Delacroix:
God is within us: it is that inner presence which makes us admire the beautiful, which rejoices us when we have done right and consoles us for not sharing the happiness of the wicked. It is that, beyond a doubt, which constitutes the inspiration of men of genius and which warms them at the spectacle of their own productions. There are men of virtue as there are men of genius; the one group and the other are inspired and favored by God. And so also the reverse would be true: there would thus be natures in whom the divine inspiration has no effect, who coldly commit crime, who never rejoice at the sight of the honest and beautiful. And so there are men favored by the eternal Being (It). Misfortune, which frequently, too frequently, seems to attach itself to these great hearts, does not, happily, cause them to succumb during their short passage: the sight of the wicked laden with the gifts of fortune should in no wise overcome them; what do I say?


Jacob was of the eternal being. It is real, after Pineal. The basis vector of consciousness is the distinction between observer and observed (self/non-self etc.) The redundancy of the basis is known as language/thought etc. (the eternal being if you will). Von Neuman/Coppenhagen interpretations of quantum mechanics are equivalent. Terriblis est locus iste.

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Do you mean the Pineal gland? Descartes's seat of the soul?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pineal was the name of the angel with whom Jacob wrestled. Also the place.

https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/merovingians/merovingios_renneschateau06a.htm


chiaroscuro

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I thought that was "Penuel" (פְּנוּאֵל), but I'm not qualified to make an argument for this.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Here's your link:

Merovingians

Done manually.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chiaroscuro.. Chapel of the angels, the point of this post.

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, regarding the mark of a strong man. Before entering the house of a strong man, you must first tie up that strong man. Yet also, no man is a prophet in his own village.

 
At 2:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks again for the various suggestions.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:11 AM, Blogger nomoreneutrality said...

Occupying 'Between the shoulders', would 'assume the full support' of any load.

 
At 3:13 AM, Blogger nomoreneutrality said...

The heart lays between the shoulders. I'm just a layman.

 
At 5:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the suggestions.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yes , another devil speaks again but remember The Almighty God chooses whoever pleases Him hence He choose SAW as His last Prophet without asking nobody's opinion.
Who are you or me to take part in the decision making process of our creator?
Think before you reply?

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mr. Unknown, I don't know who you're talking to or what you're referring to, but if someone made some remark that you find objectionable, please be specific.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have this Mark myself it sets to the right as you stated,the seal isn't supposed to be know to everyone an in my case till later in life.The Marks meaning was shown to me by the Holly spirit .Every true profit in the Bible where murdered hence even the true setting between the shoulder blades where mislead to safe guard the next Mark barrier. My name is Mark an God choose me to carry this Mark and serve him Muhammed was mislead by a demion an muttered the message he was given that was meant to unite Islam and Christianity..This time God's choose profets cannot by any man's hand be killed ,even by his own hand can't he who has bin choose be silenced.I serve God a do his work till my time to go back home to heaven where we the children of light came from.....God wins at the end of all things as the Bible clearly stateI am the alfa the omega the beginning an the end.

 
At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mark wasn't supposed to be know to anyone other than the barrier who God shares its meaning to choosen barrier..Muhammed as I stated was mislead by a demion an his message that God intended to unite Islam an Christian s was muttered .This also explains the the reference of the seal was demion inspired to make know the Mark an try to find an stop later Mark barriers from spreading an magnifying Jesus message peace an love..The is the truth,the light and the way..The way is the way to salvation and in relation to Jesus return he knows the way back to heaven,we all came from heaven the children of light but the trip here which God showed me in a vision is very fast less than a moment nobody could find thier way back...Not even CHOOSEN ones that have bin touched by God hence the mark or seal on my back...

 
At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your close,I have this Mark it is a mole in the middle of the shoulder blades set the wright,I true Mark barrier has a birth Mark right beside it,Mine is shaped like this / ..This birthmark gives reference to stopped in the back,betrayed by those to scared to face the barrier of the seal or Mark..

 
At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Close I am Mark Gordon a Mark barrier it's as the sprite stated to me a big ROUND HAIRY MOLE,the barrier also has a birth Mark right beside the mole shaped like this/ lol God has a sence of humor..As I said My name is Mark Gordon a barrier of this Mark or seal an to go u one better all the world loves a superhero an the first ones name just happened to flash Gordon ,Tvs beloved show highway heaven that man whole roles with the angel Johnathon name was MARK GORDON LOL AS I STAITED GOD HAS A SENCE OF HUMOR.

 
At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus was with Mark in the garden when betrayed by judis,the, last super was in Marks upper room ,an in the book of revelations the Mark of the beast which is deliberate misleading statement to confuse evil ones in the last days,or the beginning for the chosen children of lght...hope yall got your eyes an ears open ,this is to help those who may have the mark,The Mark, is where God touched us in my case set me on my way to earth..I however having bin shown all things have but one question is thier other Mark barriers...

 
At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He wrestled with god,Hebrew means those who wrestle with God.

 
At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A profet is hated an slandered in his village,So as to discredit the profet win he is ready to give the message or in my case messages others.I a Mark barrier have a message or the answer to a life question to nearly everyone I meat.As to the saying don't kill the messenger This Mark or seal will bring evil ones who no nothing or why but must kill the barrier. THEY CANT KILL THIS PROFET ,THEY CANT CANT SLANDER MY NAME ANYMORE IN MY VILLAGE,I RETURNED AN THE WORK GOD SENT ME TO DO SILENCEED THEM..Jesus is soon to return stay awake as it says in the book of revelations, STAY AWAKE OR BE AWARE LOOK UP FROM YOUR PHONE AN SEE THEALL THATS GOING AROUND US....

 
At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muhammed was a real profet also thought to be last,but he was mislead by a demion muttering the message that God intended to unite Islam an Christianity ,I am a Mark barrier this message was given me by the spirit..

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thier 12 tribes an only one lost,the Ethiopians claim to be that lost tribe,I have never heard any references to Afghanistan as having dependents of the lost tribe.That was I am positive made up by Islamic extremists to act as if thier violence is backed by the bible which they don't read lol.Jesus died a violent death to set us free hence thiers no need for it,the debt bin Payed they can slaughter the world an not change the fact the GOD WINS IN THE END OF THIS...

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The barrier of the Mark or seal will have a birthmark beside the mark shaped like this / .I am Mark a Mark barrier it is a big ROUND HAIRY MOLE between the shoulder blades set to the right with a birthmark beside it between the shoulder blades mi e shaped like this /the two separate references to the Mark an a reference to a birthmark go together as shown by the one who barriers it which is me.

 
At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Sir it isn't raised at all,cuz it being elevated when mean it's abnormal, raised moles are often is caceris ,God would never make his Mark anything that resembles a cancer.It is a big ROUND HAIRY MOLE not raised, a Mark a elevated mole is a growth.Thr Mark is between the shoulder blades set to the right an will have a birthmark beside it set to the left. I have this true Mark I can upload a photo if yall would listen ,all yall halt truths and a hole lie, however all this confusion is protect the barriers of the Seal,those raised ones that are in one's family tree are a sign of the choosen by the one an only risen king jesus,Jesus, profet mole or seal has the birthmark besi

 
At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A true Mark barrier has thier birthmark beside the mark,it a birth right .All the true profets where murdered so God this time added the birthmark beside the seal to show rebirth ever lasting life...

 
At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get out of here with that neo-christian B.S

 
At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is no deity but God
and Muhammad is the Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets...

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't know if the commentator is "Neo-Christian," but the material does look like a mix of Christian and Islamic materials. So long as you're willing to remain on topic, you're free to post comments here.

Jeffery Hodges

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