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Musaylima (Arabic: مُسَيْلِمَةُ; died 632) was an Arab religious leader who preached of a form of monotheism distinct from Islam during the time of Muhammad.[1][2][3]

Balami - Tarikhnama - The death of Musaylima at the hand of the Ethiopian Slave Wahshi (cropped).jpg
The killing scene of Musaylimah at the hand of Wahshi ibn Harb in Tarikhnama
Other names
  • Maslamah ibn Habib
  • Musaylimah Al-Kadhab
  • The Liar

Musaylimah was born in Yamama and belonged to the Banū Ḥanīfah tribe.[4][5] Raised a Christian, he renounced his religion and, after the advent of Islam, declared himself a prophet and made several unsuccessful attempts to control of Arabia. He claimed to receive divine revelations and presented them to the Muslims.

After Muhammad died, Musaylimah led a rebellion against caliph Abu Bakr (r. 632–634) during the Ridda wars. He was defeated and killed in the Battle of Yamama by the forces of Khalid ibn al-Walid. Musaylimah was regarded by Muslims to be a false prophet and give the name al-Kadhdhāb (Arabic: اَلْكَذَّابُ; lit 'the Arch-Liar').[6]


Some sources record his real name being Maslamah ibn Ḥabīb (Arabic: مَسْلَمَةُ بْنُ حَبِيبٍ), but Muslims altered his name to Musaylimah, which is the diminutive of Maslamah. It can be translated Maslamah the Small or Mini-Maslamah.[7]


Early lifeEdit

Musaylimah was born in Yamama to Habib, who was from the tribe Banu Hanifa, one of the largest tribes of Arabia that inhabited the region of Najd. The Banu Hanifa were a Hanafite Christian branch of Banu Bakr and led an independent existence prior to Islam.[8]

Among the first records of him is in late 9th Hijri, the Year of Delegations, when he accompanied a delegation of his tribe to Medina. The delegation included two other prominent Muslims. They would later help Musaylimah rise to power and save their tribe from destruction. These men were Nahar Ar-Rajjal bin Unfuwa (or Rahhal)[9] and Muja'a bin Marara. In Medina, the deputation stayed with the daughter of al-Harith, a woman of the Ansar from the Banu Najjar. When the delegation arrived at Medinah the camels were tied in a traveler's camp, and Musaylimah remained there to look after them while the other delegates went in.

They had talks with Muhammad. The delegation before their departure embraced Islam and renounced Christianity without compunction. As was his custom, Muhammad presented gifts to the delegates, and when they had received their gifts one said, "We left one of our comrades in the camp to look after our mounts."

Muhammad gave them gifts for him also, and added, "He is not the least among you that he should stay behind to guard the property of his comrades." On their return they converted the tribe of Banu Hanifa to Islam. They built a mosque at Yamamah and started regular prayers.

Proclaiming prophethoodEdit

After Muhammad gained many followers, Musaylimah declared his prophethood. He shared verses purporting them to have been revelations from God.[9] Musaylimah's tribe members started following him and soon after Musaylimah gathered an army of 40,000 followers. He also took to addressing gatherings as a messenger of God.

Musaylimah announced a divine 'prophetic partnership' with Muhammad.[10] He regarded his tribe Haniat and Muhammad's tribe Quraysh equal and proposed to share power over Arabia with Muhammad. In 631 CE (late 10 AH), he wrote a letter to Muhammad, saying that 'Half the Earth belongs to us [Banu Hanifa] and half to the Quraysh but the Quraysh are the people who transgress'.[10] Muhammad replied by calling Musaylimah al-Kadhāb, meaning the 'Arch-Liar', saying that the issue was the God-fearing and also said that the Earth belongs to God.[1] After this, Musaylimah referred to a biblical covenant between God and Abraham in which Isaac was promised the linage for the inheritance of the land of Canaan and Ishmael for unspecified kingdoms.[11]


It is reported that Musaylimah's followers were Sadakians, practiced a religion called Sadakiah, which survived in the 17th century.[12] At the Mughal ruler Akbar's council of religions, a discussion of Musaylimah religion also took place with the help of its priests. His teachings were almost lost but a neutral review of them does exist in Dabestan-e Mazaheb.[12] Muslim writers often portray Musaylimah negatively. But he gives a fascinating picture into 7th century Arabia where religious reformations were taking place and people were eager to accept new ideas, including that of Muhammad and his contemporary Musaylimah. It has been reported that in the 19th century, Musaylimah is still remembered as a prophet in Najd, Saudi Arabia.[13]

According to the account of Musaylimah in the Dabestan-e Mazaheb (authored mid-17th century[14]), he taught 3 daily prayers to God, facing any direction. He criticized Muslims for selecting the Ka'aba as the direction of prayers, arguing that God is not limited to one direction. Musaylimah declared that the Ka'aba was not the House of God, because an all-powerful God has no house. Musaylimah said fasting should be at night instead of daytime during Ramadan. He prohibited circumcision. Musaylimah considered men and women equal, and allowed premarital sex. Musaylimah prohibited polygamy and cousin marriage. Musaylimah declared that any slave who converted to his religion would become free. Musaylimah stated that Iblis did not exist, because a fair and merciful God would not allow a being like Iblis to throw people into error. Musaylimah also said it was wrong to include his name or any prophet's name in worship to God.[15]

Musaylimah, who is alleged as having been a skilled magician by Muslim historians,[16] dazzled the crowd with miracles. He could put an egg in a bottle; he could cut off the feathers of a bird and then stick them on so the bird would fly again; and he used this skill to persuade the people that he was divinely gifted.

Personal lifeEdit

During the Ridda wars which emerged following the death of Muhammad, Sajah bint al-Harith ibn Suaeed declared that she was a prophetess after learning that Musaylimah and Tulayha had declared prophethood.[17] 4,000 people gathered around her to march on Medina. Others joined her against Medina. However, her planned attack on Medina was called off after she learned that the army of Khalid ibn al-Walid had defeated Tulayha al-Asadi (another self-proclaimed prophet).[18] Thereafter, she sought cooperation with Musaylimah to oppose the threat of Khalid. A mutual understanding was initially reached with Musaylimah. Later, the two married and she accepted his self-declared prophethood. Khalid then defeated the remaining rebellious elements around Sajah, and then moved on to defeat Musaylimah.


Musaylimah refused to acknowledge caliph Abu Bakr (r. 632–634) and rebelled against him. Musaylimah gathered an army of 40,000 soldiers and fought in the Battle of Yamama against the 13,000 Muslim forces under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid. Commander Shurahbil created an aura of invincibility around Musaylimah.[19] During the battle, Musaylimah was killed by Wahshi ibn Harb.

Physical appearanceEdit

Musaylimah is described as being yellow-skinned and pug-nosed/flat-nosed.[20][21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Margoliouth, D. S. (1903). "On the Origin and Import of the Names Muslim and Ḥanīf". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 5: 467–493. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00030744. JSTOR 25208542.
  2. ^ Beliaev, E. A. (1966). Arabs, Islam and Arabian Khalifat in the middle ages (2nd ed.). Moscow. pp. 103–108.
  3. ^ Petrushevskii, I. P. (1966). Islam in Iran in VII–XV centuries. Leningrad. pp. 13–14.
  4. ^ Fattah, Hala Mundhir; Caso, Frank (2009). A Brief History of Iraq. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816057672.
  5. ^ Emerick, Yahiya (2002-04-01). Critical Lives: Muhammad. Penguin. ISBN 9781440650130.
  6. ^ Ibn Kathīr, Ismāʻīl ibn ʻUmar (2000). Ṣafī al-Raḥmān Mubārakfūrī (ed.). al-Miṣbāḥ al-munīr fī tahdhīb tafsīr Ibn Kathīr. Vol. 1. Riyadh, Saʻudi Arabia: Darussalam. p. 68.
  7. ^ "مسلمة الحنفي في ميزان التاريخ لجمال علي الحلاّق" (in Arabic). Elaph. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  8. ^ El-Badawi, Emran (2013). The Qur'an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 9781317929338.
  9. ^ a b The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 69
  10. ^ a b Deus, A. J. (2011-08-12). The Great Leap-Fraud: Social Economics of Religious Terrorism, Volume Ii: Islam and Secularization. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4620-2975-4. He claimed a divine, prophetic partnership with Muhammad while Musaylimah's teachings focused on the superiority of the Banu Hanifa tribe
  11. ^ Deus, A. J. (2011-08-12). The Great Leap-Fraud: Social Economics of Religious Terrorism, Volume Ii: Islam and Secularization. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4620-2975-4.
  12. ^ a b "The DABISTÁN, or SCHOOL OF MANNERS". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  13. ^ Parolin, Gianluca Paolo (2009). Citizenship in the Arab World: Kin, Religion and Nation-state. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 978-90-8964-045-1.
  14. ^ "DABESTĀN-E MAḎĀHEB, Encyclopaedia Iranica".
  15. ^ Dabestan-e Mazaheb, Chapter VII
  16. ^ The Life of the Prophet Muhammad [May Peace and the Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him] : Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 67
  17. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopedia of Islam, 1913–1936 By M. Th. Houtsma, p665
  18. ^ The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 36.
  19. ^ The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns.
  20. ^ "إسلام ويب - لسان العرب - حرف الفاء - فطأ- الجزء رقم11". (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  21. ^ Ibn Kathir. Al-Bidayah Wa Nihayah. Vol. v. 6. p. 358.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)