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Archaeologist claims Prophet Muhammad had Egyptian roots

Egyptologist Wissam al-Sisi sparked controversy with claims that the Prophet Muhammad was of Egyptian, not Arab, origins.
Islam mosque

CAIRO — Recent statement by an Egyptologist about the origins of Prophet Muhammad have raised controvery in Egypt. 

In televised statements Aug. 22, Wassim al-Sisi, an Egyptologist, said, “Prophet Muhammad is the son of Abd Manaf, who hails from Egypt, which means that the Prophet has Egyptian roots, and Egyptians are his descendants.”

“Our Lord chose al-Kinana [the Land of Egypt], and then He chose Banu Abd Manaf , then the Quraysh [clan], and from Quraysh, He chose the Bunu Hashim. … Lady Hagar [a revered woman in Islam] is our daughter and our granddaughter,” he added in reference to the Egyptians.

Sisi’s statements sent social media into a flurry. According to some archaeologists who spoke to Al-Monitor, the Prophet hails from the Arabian Peninsula.

“Sisi’s claims are unfounded. This was not mentioned in the holy Quran or the Prophet’s Sunnah,” Ahmad Amer, an archaeologist and Egyptologist, told Al-Monitor. “If the Prophet were actually originally from Egypt, he would have returned to the land, as he did when he returned to Mecca al-Mukarramah. The Prophet had never mentioned or hinted that he had Egyptian roots.” 

Abdel Rahim Rihan, an Egyptian antiquities expert and a member of the History and Antiquities Committee of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Culture, told Al-Monitor, “According to the hadiths, the Prophet Muhammad’s lineage traces back to the Arabian Peninsula, without any doubt.”

“Al-Kinana that was mentioned in the noble hadith referred to the Banu Kinana tribe, to which the Prophet belonged. It was based in the Arabian Peninsula. Today, some of the tribesmen are present in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, and Palestine, and to a lesser extent in Tunisia, Morocco, Syria and Yemen,” Rihan explained.

He added, “The Quraysh clan was a branch of the Kinana tribe that was independent from the rest of Banu Kinana. By the nickname al-Kinani we mean Banu Abd Manat bin Kinanah, and Banu Malkan bin Kinana. As for al-Qurayshi, it means Bun al-Nadr bin Kinana. Al-Nadr are the Qurayshis bin Kinana. The Quraysh clan belongs to the Kinana tribe.” 

However, Fathia al-Hanafi, a professor of jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, argued, “It is possible to trace the Prophet Muhammad’s lineage to Egypt, giving the kinship with Prophet Ismail.”

She told Al-Monitor, “Lady Hagar, who was an Egyptian, was the wife of Prophet Ibrahim and the mother of his son Ismail, the Prophet’s grandmother. Prophet Ibrahim and Lady Hagar as well their son Ismail moved from Egypt to Mecca where they settled in an uncultivated valley by [what then became] Masjid al-Haram [Great Mosque of Mecca].” 

Sisi sparked off more controversy when he mentioned a "mural showing pharaohs falling to their chins in prostration, something that was mentioned in the Holy Quran in Surah al-Isra: ‘Believe in it or do not believe. Verily, those who were given knowledge before it — when it is recited to them, they fall upon their faces in prostration.’"

“The Quran mentioned that [worshipers] should lean on their chins rather than their foreheads in prostration,” according to Sisi.

Rihan, however, told Al-Monitor, “Sisi’s interpretation of the verse is strange and inaccurate. Archaeologists agree that the verse refers to the People of the Book [Jews and Christians as regarded by Muslims] during the time of the Prophet.”

He further explained that the expression “they fall to their faces — the original Arabic in the Quran is chins — is an exaggerated description of the people’s normal reaction to the words of the Quran. How they are humbled with the truth and knowledge and fall to their chins, or their faces, as this the meaning in the verse.”

For Amer, “There is no connection whatsoever between the pharaonic mural and the Quranic verse.”

“During the Islamic conquests and the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, there was no mention of such claims. Even the Quran did not mention the ancient Egyptian civilization, but it did mention the people of Aad, Thamud and the people of Lot, and the Persians as well,” Amer added.

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