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His­tor­i­cal and Med­ical Evi­dence : The Death of Muhammad

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Few fig­ures in reli­gious his­to­ry have left as sig­nif­i­cant a lega­cy as the Prophet Muham­mad (ﷺ), whose teach­ings pro­found­ly shaped Islam­ic civil­i­sa­tion. Nev­er­the­less, per­sis­tent mis­con­cep­tions, often stem­ming from mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Quran­ic vers­es and hadiths, seek to chal­lenge his integri­ty. Among these is the notion that divine ret­ri­bu­tion befell the Prophet (ﷺ) for alleged false­hoods, as pur­port­ed by some cit­ing Surah al-Haqqah (69:44 – 46).

The cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the pass­ing of the Prophet (peace be upon him) have sparked debate, with crit­ics fre­quent­ly point­ing to alleged poi­son­ing as evi­dence against his prophet­hood. This arti­cle seeks to scru­ti­nize these asser­tions by metic­u­lous­ly ana­lyz­ing his­tor­i­cal and med­ical evi­dence. A rig­or­ous exam­i­na­tion of pri­ma­ry Islam­ic sources and con­tem­po­rary med­ical insights aims to elu­ci­date the truth behind such claims, pro­vid­ing clar­i­ty and reaf­firm­ing the Prophet’s unblem­ished integri­ty and prophet­ic authenticity.

Quran­ic Analy­sis : Surah al-Haqqah (69:44 – 46)

A. Con­tex­tu­al Interpretation

The vers­es in ques­tion from Surah al-Haqqah state :

وَلَوْ تَقَوَّلَ عَلَيْنَا بَعْضَ الْأَقَاوِيلِ ﴿٤٤﴾ لَأَخَذْنَا مِنْهُ بِالْيَمِينِ ﴿٤٥﴾ ثُمَّ لَقَطَعْنَا مِنْهُ الْوَتِينَ ﴿٤٦
Wa law taqawwala alaynā ba‘ḍa al-aqāwīli (44)
La’akhaẓnā min’hu bi-al-yamīn (45)
Thum­ma laqaṭa‘nā min’hu al-watīn (46)

Trans­la­tion :
And if Muham­mad had made up about Us some [false] say­ings, We would have seized him by the right hand ; Then We would have cut from him the aor­ta.1

Crit­ics often mis­rep­re­sent these vers­es to sug­gest that Muham­mad (ﷺ) made up divine rev­e­la­tions. How­ev­er, a clos­er look shows the hypo­thet­i­cal nature of the clause, mak­ing it clear that this sce­nario did not and could not have occurred. The rhetor­i­cal con­struct serves to empha­size the absolute truth­ful­ness and divine pro­tec­tion giv­en to the Prophet (ﷺ). This severe hypo­thet­i­cal con­se­quence is a tes­ta­ment to the sanc­ti­ty and integri­ty of the divine mes­sage he conveyed.

More­over, the Quran itself states that the Prophet had com­plet­ed his mission :

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا
Al-yaw­ma akmal­tu lakum dīnakum wa atmām­tu alaykum ni‘matī wa raḍī­tu laku­mu-l-Islā­ma dīna

Trans­la­tion :
This day I have per­fect­ed for you your reli­gion and com­plet­ed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islām as reli­gion.“2

Giv­en this dec­la­ra­tion of the com­ple­tion of the reli­gion of Islam, the log­ic of claim­ing that he died due to the threat in Surah al-Haqqah (69:44 – 46) is flawed. The com­ple­tion of his mis­sion con­tra­dicts any asser­tion that his death was a result of divine ret­ri­bu­tion for falsehood.

Hadith Analy­sis : The Prophet’s Suffering

The suf­fer­ing of the Prophet (ﷺ) due to the poi­soned meat he con­sumed at Khay­bar is well-doc­u­ment­ed in Islam­ic sources. Crit­ics often mis­in­ter­pret these accounts to sug­gest a con­nec­tion with the Quran­ic warn­ing in Surah al-Haqqah, but a clos­er exam­i­na­tion reveals a dif­fer­ent nar­ra­tive. The hadiths reports high­light the Prophet’s immense resilience and the metaphor­i­cal lan­guage used to describe his suf­fer­ing, rather than imply­ing any divine retribution.

A. Sahih al-Bukhari and Sunan Abi Dawud

The hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari reports3 :

يَا عَائِشَةُ مَا أَزَالُ أَجِدُ أَلَمَ الطَّعَامِ الَّذِي أَكَلْتُ بِخَيْبَرَ، فَهَذَا أَوَانُ وَجَدْتُ انْقِطَاعَ أَبْهَرِي مِنْ ذَلِكَ السَّمِّ
Ā’ishah ! Mā azālu ajidu ʾalam aṭ-ṭa‘ām allaḏī akaltu bi-Khay­bar, fa-hād­hā awānu wajad­tu inqiṭā‘a abharī min dha-l-samm.

Trans­la­tion :
O Aisha ! I still feel the pain caused by the food I ate at Khaibar, and at this time, I feel as if my aor­ta is being cut from that poison.”

Anoth­er rel­e­vant hadith in Sunan Abi Dawud4 pro­vides fur­ther context :

حَدَّثَنَا وَهْبُ بْنُ بَقِيَّةَ، عَنْ خَالِدٍ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقْبَلُ الْهَدِيَّةَ وَلاَ يَأْكُلُ الصَّدَقَةَ ‏.‏ وَحَدَّثَنَا وَهْبُ بْنُ بَقِيَّةَ فِي مَوْضِعٍ آخَرَ عَنْ خَالِدٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ وَلَمْ يَذْكُرْ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقْبَلُ الْهَدِيَّةَ وَلاَ يَأْكُلُ الصَّدَقَةَ ‏.‏ زَادَ فَأَهْدَتْ لَهُ يَهُودِيَّةٌ بِخَيْبَرَ شَاةً مَصْلِيَّةً سَمَّتْهَا فَأَكَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مِنْهَا وَأَكَلَ الْقَوْمُ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ ارْفَعُوا أَيْدِيَكُمْ فَإِنَّهَا أَخْبَرَتْنِي أَنَّهَا مَسْمُومَةٌ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَمَاتَ بِشْرُ بْنُ الْبَرَاءِ بْنِ مَعْرُورٍ الأَنْصَارِيُّ فَأَرْسَلَ إِلَى الْيَهُودِيَّةِ ‏”‏ مَا حَمَلَكِ عَلَى الَّذِي صَنَعْتِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَتْ إِنْ كُنْتَ نَبِيًّا لَمْ يَضُرَّكَ الَّذِي صَنَعْتُ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ مَلِكًا أَرَحْتُ النَّاسَ مِنْكَ ‏.‏ فَأَمَرَ بِهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقُتِلَتْ ثُمَّ قَالَ فِي وَجَعِهِ الَّذِي مَاتَ فِيهِ ‏”‏ مَا زِلْتُ أَجِدُ مِنَ الأَكْلَةِ الَّتِي أَكَلْتُ بِخَيْبَرَ فَهَذَا أَوَانُ قَطَعَتْ أَبْهَرِي ‏”‏ ‏.‏
Had­dathanā Wah­bu bnu Baqiyyah, an Khālid, an Muḥam­mad bni Amr, an Abī Salamah, an Abī Hurayrah, qāla kāna Rasūlu-llāhi ṣal­la-llāhu alay­hi wa sal­lam yaqbal al-hadiyyah wa lā ya’kul aṣ-ṣadaqah. Wa had­dathanā Wah­bu bnu Baqiyyah fī mawḍi‘in ākhara an Khālid, an Muḥam­mad bni Amr, an Abī Salamah wa lam yad­kur Abā Hurayrah, qāla kāna Rasūlu-llāhi ṣal­la-llāhu alay­hi wa sal­lam yaqbal al-hadiyyah wa lā ya’kul aṣ-ṣadaqah. Zāda fa-’ahdat lahu yahūdiyyah bi-Khay­bar shāh maṣliyah sam­mathā fa-’akala Rasūlu-llāhi ṣal­la-llāhu alay­hi wa sal­lam min­hā wa akal al-qawm fa-qāla irfa‘ū aydiyakum fa-’innahā akhbar­tanī annahā mas­mūmah.” Fa-māta Bishr bnu al-Barā’ bnu Ma‘rūr al-Anṣārī fa-’arsala ilā al-yahūdiyyah mā ḥamala­ki alā allad­hī ṣana‘tī?” Qālat in kun­ta nabiyyan lam yaḍur­ra­ka allad­hī ṣana‘tu wa in kun­ta malikan araḥ­tu an-nāsa min­ka. Fa-’amara bihā Rasūlu-llāhi ṣal­la-llāhu alay­hi wa sal­lam fa-quti­lat thum­ma qāla fī waja‘ihi allad­hī māta fīhi mā zil­ta ajidu mina al-aklah allati akaltu bi-Khay­bar fa-hād­hā awān qata‘at abharī.”

Trans­la­tion :

Nar­rat­ed Abu Hurairah :

The Mes­sen­ger of Allah (ﷺ) would accept a present, but would not accept alms (sadaqah)… So a Jew­ess pre­sent­ed him at Khay­bar with a roast­ed sheep which she had poi­soned. The Mes­sen­ger of Allah (ﷺ) ate of it and the peo­ple also ate. He then said : Take away your hands (from the food), for it has informed me that it is poi­soned. Bishr ibn al-Bara’ ibn Ma’rur al-Ansari died. So he (the Prophet) sent for the Jew­ess (and said to her): What moti­vat­ed you to do the work you have done ? She said : If you were a prophet, it would not harm you ; but if you were a king, I should rid the peo­ple of you. The Mes­sen­ger of Allah (ﷺ) then ordered regard­ing her and she was killed. He then said about the pain of which he died : I con­tin­ued to feel pain from the morsel which I had eat­en at Khay­bar. This is the time when it has cut off my aor­ta.”

These hadiths pro­vide cru­cial con­text for under­stand­ing the nature of the Prophet’s suf­fer­ing and its metaphor­i­cal impli­ca­tions. They reveal the Prophet’s (ﷺ) resilience and the intense phys­i­cal pain he endured, reflect­ing his human vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty while empha­siz­ing his stead­fast faith and divine mission.

B. Metaphor­i­cal Lan­guage and Misinterpretations

These hadith nar­ra­tions describe the Prophet’s (ﷺ) suf­fer­ing due to poi­soned meat he con­sumed at Khaibar. Crit­ics mis­in­ter­pret these texts to align with the Quran­ic warn­ing in Surah al-Haqqah, sug­gest­ing false­hood. How­ev­er, the lan­guage used in these hadith is metaphor­i­cal, depict­ing the intense pain the Prophet expe­ri­enced rather than imply­ing divine retribution.

The poi­son had imme­di­ate­ly killed the Com­pan­ion, Bishr ibn al-Bara’, but the Prophet (ﷺ) sur­vived for three years, indi­cat­ing he did not die from the poi­son­ing direct­ly . His­tor­i­cal sources affirm that the Prophet passed away due to a high fever,5 not from poi­son­ing, fur­ther dis­cred­it­ing the claim that he died from the poison.

The Jew­ess respon­si­ble for the poi­son­ing acknowl­edged that had Muham­mad (ﷺ) been a false prophet, he would have per­ished from the poi­son. Her state­ment and the Prophet’s sur­vival affirmed his divine pro­tec­tion and true prophethood.

Addi­tion­al­ly, it should be not­ed that the Prophet (ﷺ) lived for approx­i­mate­ly three more years after the inci­dent, main­tain­ing a healthy and active life. He par­tic­i­pat­ed in bat­tles, con­tin­ued his dai­ly wor­ship, and exhib­it­ed no sig­nif­i­cant changes in his rou­tine. It is irra­tional to assert that a fever and migraine expe­ri­enced three years lat­er were the direct effects of the poison.

Fur­ther­more, the trans­la­tion of aor­ta” in Eng­lish for both al-Watīn” and al-Abhar” is not entire­ly accu­rate and fails to cap­ture the pre­cise anatom­i­cal and metaphor­i­cal nuances intend­ed in the orig­i­nal Ara­bic. More accu­rate trans­la­tions would be vital artery” for al-Watīn” and major artery” for al-Abhar,” a dis­tinc­tion which we will elab­o­rate upon in a sub­se­quent section.

His­tor­i­cal Con­text and Sir­ah Sources

A. Chronol­o­gy of Events

The poi­son­ing inci­dent at Khaibar occurred three years before the Prophet’s pass­ing. As record­ed by Ibn al-Qayyim :

Indeed, the Prophet ate the meat (poi­soned) and he lived for three years (after the event) until he got sick and passed away due to that.“6

Had the Quran­ic warn­ing intend­ed an imme­di­ate death as a con­se­quence of false­hood, the Prophet’s three-year sur­vival post-poi­son­ing inval­i­dates the crit­ics’ alle­ga­tions. This his­tor­i­cal con­text is cru­cial for under­stand­ing the tim­ing and nature of the Prophet’s suffering.

B. Con­fir­ma­tion from Biographers

Promi­nent biog­ra­phers such as Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham doc­u­ment that the Prophet’s death was due to a high fever, not poi­son­ing. These accounts are con­sis­tent across mul­ti­ple his­tor­i­cal sources, affirm­ing that the Prophet lived an active life until his final ill­ness, dur­ing which he con­tin­ued to lead prayers and ful­fill his responsibilities.

Med­ical Per­spec­tive : Watīn and Abhar

A. Anatom­i­cal Clarifications

Under­stand­ing the terms al-Watīn” (الوتين) and al-Abhar” (الأبهر) is cru­cial in the con­text of Quran­ic and hadith lit­er­a­ture. These terms refer to sig­nif­i­cant blood ves­sels with­in the human body, and their cor­rect iden­ti­fi­ca­tion is nec­es­sary for accu­rate inter­pre­ta­tion of the texts.

thoracic aorta
The tho­racic aor­ta, viewed from the left side.7

Al-Watīn” is com­mon­ly trans­lat­ed as the aor­ta, par­tic­u­lar­ly the tho­racic aor­ta. This trans­la­tion is mis­lead­ing as it does­n’t ful­ly cap­ture the essence of the term. The tho­racic aor­ta is the main artery that car­ries oxy­genat­ed blood from the heart to the rest of the body. In mod­ern med­ical ter­mi­nol­o­gy, the tho­racic aor­ta includes the ascend­ing aor­ta, the aor­tic arch, and the descend­ing tho­racic aor­ta. How­ev­er, the term Al-Watīn” more accu­rate­ly refers to the vital artery that, if sev­ered, results in imme­di­ate death. A more pre­cise trans­la­tion would be the life artery” or vital artery” to con­vey its crit­i­cal impor­tance to survival.

abdominal aorta
The abdom­i­nal aor­ta and its branch­es.8

Al-Abhar,” on the oth­er hand, refers to sig­nif­i­cant veins or arter­ies, par­tic­u­lar­ly those in the back or deep with­in the heart. In mod­ern med­ical terms, it could refer to the abdom­i­nal aor­ta, which is the con­tin­u­a­tion of the tho­racic aor­ta as it pass­es through the diaphragm into the abdomen. The abdom­i­nal aor­ta sup­plies oxy­genat­ed blood to the low­er body and vital organs. Rec­og­niz­ing these dis­tinc­tions clar­i­fies the appro­pri­ate con­texts in which these terms are used in the Quran and hadith. The term al-Abhar” should be trans­lat­ed more accu­rate­ly as the major artery” or prin­ci­pal artery” to bet­ter reflect its anatom­i­cal significance.

Ibn al-Athir explains the term al-Abhar” as fol­lows9 :

فِيهِ « مَا زَالَتْ أكْلَةُ خَيْبَرَ تُعادُّني فَهَذَا أوانُ قَطَعَتْ أَبْهَرِي » الأَبْهَر عِرْقٌ فِي الظَّهْرِ، وَهُمَا أَبْهَرَان. وَقِيلَ هُمَا الْأَكْحَلَانِ اللَّذَانِ فِي الذِّرَاعَيْنِ. وَقِيلَ هُوَ عرقُ مُسْتَبْطِنُ الْقَلْبَ فَإِذَا انْقَطَعَ لَمْ تَبْقَ مَعَهُ حَيَاةٌ. وَقِيلَ الأَبْهَر عِرْقٌ مَنْشَؤُهُ مِنَ الرَّأْسِ وَيَمْتَدُّ إِلَى الْقَدَمِ، وَلَهُ شرايينُ تَتَّصِلُ بِأَكْثَرِ الْأَطْرَافِ وَالْبَدَنِ، فَالَّذِي فِي الرَّأْسِ مِنْهُ يُسَمَّى النّأمَةَ، وَمِنْهُ قَوْلُهُمْ: أسكَتَ اللَّهُ نَأْمَتَهُ أَيْ أَمَاتَهُ، وَيَمْتَدُّ إِلَى الْحَلْقِ فَيُسَمَّى فِيهِ الْوَرِيدَ، وَيَمْتَدُّ إِلَى الصَّدْرِ فيسمَّى الأَبْهَر، وَيَمْتَدُّ إِلَى الظَّهْرِ فيسمَّى الوَتِينَ، والفُؤَادُ معلَّقٌ بِهِ، ويمتدُّ إِلَى الْفَخِذِ فيسمَّى النَّسَا، وَيَمْتَدُّ إِلَى السَّاقِ فيسمَّى الصَّافِنَ. وَالْهَمْزَةُ فِي الْأَبْهَرِ زَائِدَةٌ. وَأَوْرَدْنَاهُ هَاهُنَا لِأَجْلِ اللَّفْظِ. وَيَجُوزُ فِي « أَوَانُ» الضَّمُّ وَالْفَتْحُ: فَالضَّمُّ لِأَنَّهُ خَبَرُ الْمُبْتَدَأِ، وَالْفَتْحُ عَلَى الْبِنَاءِ لِإِضَافَتِهِ إِلَى مَبْنِيٍّ، كَقَوْلِهِ:
Fīhi « mā zālat aklatu Khay­bar tuʿād­dunī fahād­hā awānu qaṭaʿat abharī » al-abhar ʿirq fī al-ẓahr, wa-humā abharān. Wa-qīla humā al-akhalān allad­hān fī al-dhirāʿayn. Wa-qīla huwa ʿirq mustabṭin al-qalb fa-idhā inqaṭaʿa lam tabqa maʿahu ḥayāh. Wa-qīla al-abhar ʿirq man sha’uhu min al-raʾs wa-yam­tad­du ilā al-qadam, wa-lahu sharāyīn ta-tṭasil bi-akthar al-aṭrāf wa-al-badan, fa-allad­hī fī al-raʾs min­hu yusam­mā al-naʾmah, wa-min­hu qawluhum : aska­ta-llāhu naʾ­matahu ay amā­tahu, wa-yam­tad­du ilā al-ḥalq fa-yusam­mā fīhi al-warīd, wa-yam­tad­du ilā al-ṣadr fa-yusam­mā al-abhar, wa-yam­tad­du ilā al-ẓahr fa-yusam­mā al-watīn, wa-al-fuʾād muʿal­laqun bihi, wa-yam­tad­du ilā al-fakhidh fa-yusam­mā al-nasā, wa-yam­tad­du ilā al-sāq fa-yusam­mā al-ṣāfin. Wa-al-hamzah fī al-abhar zāʾi­dah. Wa-awrād­nāhu hāhunā li-ajli al-lafẓ. Wa-yajūzu fī « awānu » al-ḍam­mu wa-al-fatḥ : fa-al-ḍam­mu li-annah khabaru al-mub­tadaʾ, wa-al-fatḥu ʿalā al-bināʾ li-iḍā­fati­hi ilā mab­nīn, ka-qawlihi : 

Trans­la­tion :
In it : The effects of Khaybar’s meal have con­tin­ued to affect me, and now is the time when it has sev­ered my abhar.’ The abhar is a vein in the back, and they are two abharān. It has also been said that they are the akhal veins in the arms. It is also said to be a vein deep with­in the heart that, if sev­ered, life can­not con­tin­ue. It is also said that the abhar is a vein orig­i­nat­ing from the head and extend­ing to the foot, with arter­ies con­nect­ing to most of the limbs and body. The part in the head is called the naʾmah, and from this comes the phrase aska­ta-llāhu naʾ­matahu,’ mean­ing may Allah silence his naʾmah,’ that is, cause his death. It extends to the throat where it is called the warīd, extends to the chest where it is called the abhar, extends to the back where it is called the watīn, and the heart is con­nect­ed to it. It also extends to the thigh where it is called the nasā, and extends to the leg where it is called the ṣāfin. The hamzah in al-abhar is extra. We men­tioned it here because of the word itself. In awānu,’ both ḍamm and fatḥ are per­mis­si­ble : ḍamm because it is the pred­i­cate of the sub­ject, and fatḥ based on its addi­tion to a con­struct­ed word, like in the saying :

عَلَي حينَ عاتبْتُ المشيبَ عَلَى الصِّباَ … وَقُلْتُ ألمَّا تَصْحُ وَالشَّيْبُ وَازِعُ

And from the hadith of Ali : He will be thrown into the void with his two abharān severed.’ ”

Addi­tion­al­ly, accord­ing to Al-Firuz­aba­di10 :

من القَوْسِ والقِرْبَةِ: مُعَلَّقُهُمَا، ومُعَلَّقُ كُلِّ شيء، أو عِرْقٌ غليظٌ نِيطَ به القَلْبُ إلى الوتينِ
Min al-qaws wa-al-qir­bah : mu‘allaquhumā, wa-mu‘allaqu kul­li shay’, aw irq ghalīẓ nīṭa bihi al-qal­bu ilā al-watīn.

Trans­la­tion :
From the bow and the water skin : their sus­pen­sion mech­a­nism, and the sus­pen­sion mech­a­nism of every­thing, or a thick vein to which the heart is con­nect­ed to the watīn (the main artery).”

These descrip­tions clar­i­fy that al-Abhar” can refer to var­i­ous sig­nif­i­cant veins or arter­ies, includ­ing the abdom­i­nal aor­ta, while al-Watīn” specif­i­cal­ly refers to the aor­ta, the main artery essen­tial for survival.

B. Mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions and Metaphors

The Quran­ic verse in Surah al-Haqqah uses al-Watīn” metaphor­i­cal­ly to empha­size the sever­i­ty of divine pun­ish­ment for false­hood, imply­ing the sev­er­ing of the life source. This term is often mis­trans­lat­ed as aor­ta,” but a more pre­cise trans­la­tion would be vital artery,” reflect­ing its crit­i­cal role in sus­tain­ing life. The vital artery” reflects its neces­si­ty for sur­vival, align­ing with its func­tion as the main artery that sup­ports sys­temic circulation.

Con­verse­ly, the hadith’s use of al-Abhar” metaphor­i­cal­ly describes the Prophet’s intense pain from the poi­soned meat. The trans­la­tion of al-Abhar” as aor­ta” is not entire­ly accu­rate ; it more close­ly cor­re­sponds to a major blood ves­sel or artery, poten­tial­ly the abdom­i­nal aor­ta. This mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion fails to cap­ture the anatom­i­cal speci­fici­ty and metaphor­i­cal depth intend­ed in the orig­i­nal Ara­bic. The major artery” empha­sizes its sig­nif­i­cant role in the cir­cu­la­to­ry sys­tem with­out the same imme­di­ate life-or-death impli­ca­tion as the vital artery.”

This use of metaphor­i­cal lan­guage is con­sis­tent with Ara­bic rhetor­i­cal tra­di­tions, which con­vey the grav­i­ty of phys­i­cal suf­fer­ing through vivid expres­sion. Thus, trans­lat­ing both al-Watīn” and al-Abhar” as aor­ta” in Eng­lish texts is a mis­trans­la­tion. More accu­rate trans­la­tions would be vital artery” for al-Watīn” and major artery” for al-Abhar,” ensur­ing the pre­cise anatom­i­cal and metaphor­i­cal nuances are preserved.

Expla­na­tion of Kinayah

A. Def­i­n­i­tion and Application

In Ara­bic rhetoric, kinayah (كناية) denotes a form of metaphor­i­cal expres­sion where a phrase or word con­veys a mean­ing indi­rect­ly, often imply­ing some­thing deep­er or more nuanced than the lit­er­al inter­pre­ta­tion. Kinayah is exten­sive­ly used in Ara­bic lit­er­a­ture and speech to illus­trate con­cepts, emo­tions, or con­di­tions with vivid and emphat­ic clar­i­ty. This rhetor­i­cal device is also com­mon in the Quran and hadith, enhanc­ing the depth and impact of the message.

B. Spe­cif­ic Usage in Hadith

In the hadith describ­ing the Prophet’s suf­fer­ing, the phrase قطع أبهر” (cut­ting of the abhar) func­tions as a kinayah, express­ing the intense pain and suf­fer­ing he endured. It is not intend­ed to be under­stood lit­er­al­ly as the cut­ting of an anatom­i­cal part but rather as a pow­er­ful depic­tion of his agony. The use of kinayah in Ara­bic serves to con­vey the seri­ous­ness or inten­si­ty of a sit­u­a­tion, adding lay­ers of mean­ing to the narrative.

Prophet­ic Truthfulness

A. Quran­ic Affirmations

The Quran itself attests to the unwa­ver­ing truth­ful­ness of Prophet Muham­mad (ﷺ):

وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ
Wa mā yanṭiqu ani-l-hawā.

Trans­la­tion :
Nor does he speak from [his own] incli­na­tion.“11

B. His­tor­i­cal Testimonies

The Prophet’s char­ac­ter as Al-Amin (The Trust­wor­thy) was acknowl­edged even by his adver­saries. A well-doc­u­ment­ed inci­dent involved the Prophet call­ing the Quraysh tribes to Mount Safa, ask­ing if they would believe him if he warned them of an impend­ing attack, to which they affirmed his truth­ful­ness12 :

صَعِدَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى الصَّفَا فَجَعَلَ يُنَادِي ‏”‏ يَا بَنِي فِهْرٍ، يَا بَنِي عَدِيٍّ ‏”‏‏.‏ لِبُطُونِ قُرَيْشٍ حَتَّى اجْتَمَعُوا، فَجَعَلَ الرَّجُلُ إِذَا لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ أَنْ يَخْرُجَ أَرْسَلَ رَسُولاً لِيَنْظُرَ مَا هُوَ، فَجَاءَ أَبُو لَهَبٍ وَقُرَيْشٌ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ لَوْ أَخْبَرْتُكُمْ أَنَّ خَيْلاً بِالْوَادِي تُرِيدُ أَنْ تُغِيرَ عَلَيْكُمْ، أَكُنْتُمْ مُصَدِّقِيَّ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالُوا نَعَمْ، مَا جَرَّبْنَا عَلَيْكَ إِلاَّ صِدْقًا‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَإِنِّي نَذِيرٌ لَكُمْ بَيْنَ يَدَىْ عَذَابٍ شَدِيدٍ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالَ أَبُو لَهَبٍ تَبًّا لَكَ سَائِرَ الْيَوْمِ، أَلِهَذَا جَمَعْتَنَا
Ṣa‘ida an-nabiyyu ṣal­lā-llāhu alay­hi wa sal­lam ala aṣ-Ṣafā fa-ja‘ala yunādī Yā Banī Fihr, Yā Banī Adī!” li-buṭūni Quraysh ḥat­tā ijtama‘ū, fa-ja‘ala ar-raju­lu idhā lam yas­taṭi‘ an yakhru­ja arsala rasūlan li-yanẓu­ra mā huwa, fa-jā’a Abū Lahab wa-Quraysh fa-qāla ara’aytakum law akhbar­tukum anna khay­lan bi-al-wādī turī­du an tughyra alaykum, akun­tum muṣad­diqiyya?” Qālū na‘am, mā jarrab­nā alay­ka illā ṣidqan. Qāla fa-innī nad­hīrun lakum bay­na yaday adhābin shadīd.” Fa-qāla Abū Lahab tab­ban laka sā’ira al-yaw­mi, a‑lihādhā jama‘tanā

Trans­la­tion :
When the Verse : And warn your tribe of near-kin­dred,’ was revealed, the Prophet (ﷺ) ascend­ed the Safa (moun­tain) and start­ed call­ing, O Bani Fihr ! O Bani Adi!’ address­ing var­i­ous tribes of Quraish till they were assem­bled. Those who could not come them­selves, sent their mes­sen­gers to see what was there. Abu Lahab and oth­er peo­ple from Quraish came and the Prophet (ﷺ) then said, Sup­pose I told you that there is an (ene­my) cav­al­ry in the val­ley intend­ing to attack you, would you believe me?’ They said, Yes, for we have not found you telling any­thing oth­er than the truth.’ He then said, I am a warn­er to you in face of a ter­rif­ic pun­ish­ment.’ Abu Lahab said (to the Prophet) May your hands per­ish all this day. Is it for this pur­pose you have gath­ered us?’ ”

The­o­log­i­cal Implications

A. Divine Pro­tec­tion and Prophet­ic Integrity

The Quran­ic verse in Surah al-Haqqah rein­forces the Prophet’s authen­tic­i­ty by pre­sent­ing a hypo­thet­i­cal sce­nario that nev­er occurred. The con­cept of divine pro­tec­tion (ismah) in Islam holds that prophets are safe­guard­ed from sin and false­hood, sup­port­ing the argu­ment against these base­less allegations.

B. Com­par­i­son with Bib­li­cal Cri­te­ria for False Prophets

The Bible out­lines spe­cif­ic signs of false prophets, including :

False Prophe­cies

But a prophet who pre­sumes to speak in my name any­thing I have not com­mand­ed, or a prophet who speaks in the name of oth­er gods, is to be put to death.” (Deuteron­o­my 18:20)
When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and the thing does not hap­pen or come true, that is a mes­sage the Lord has not spo­ken.” (Deuteron­o­my 18:22)

Lead­ing Peo­ple Astray

If a prophet, or one who fore­tells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or won­der, and if the sign or won­der spo­ken of takes place, and the prophet says, Let us fol­low oth­er gods’ (gods you have not known) and let us wor­ship them, you must not lis­ten to the words of that prophet or dream­er.” (Deuteron­o­my 13:1 – 3)

Immoral Behav­ior

But the prophet who speaks pre­sump­tu­ous­ly in my name any­thing I have not com­mand­ed, or a prophet who speaks in the name of oth­er gods, that prophet shall die.” (Deuteron­o­my 18:20)

Incon­sis­ten­cy with Pre­vi­ous Revelation

To the law and to the tes­ti­mo­ny ! If they do not speak accord­ing to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” (Isa­iah 8:20)

Prophet Muham­mad (ﷺ) does not fit any of these cri­te­ria. His prophe­cies were accu­rate, he led peo­ple to the wor­ship of the One God, his char­ac­ter was impec­ca­ble, and his mes­sage was con­sis­tent with pre­vi­ous revelations.

Con­clu­sions

The mis­con­cep­tion that Prophet Muham­mad (ﷺ) suf­fered before his death due to lying is a gross mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Quran­ic and hadith texts. His­tor­i­cal con­text, lin­guis­tic analy­sis, and the­o­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples affirm the Prophet’s unwa­ver­ing truth­ful­ness. The Quran­ic verse in Surah al-Haqqah and the hadith describ­ing the Prophet’s suf­fer­ing are dis­tinct in their con­texts. The Prophet’s impec­ca­ble char­ac­ter, val­i­dat­ed by his­tor­i­cal records and acknowl­edged by his adver­saries, refutes these base­less allegations.

A detailed look at the Bib­li­cal cri­te­ria for false prophets fur­ther sup­ports the authen­tic­i­ty of Prophet Muham­mad (ﷺ). His accu­rate prophe­cies, adher­ence to monothe­ism, moral integri­ty, and con­sis­ten­cy with pre­vi­ous rev­e­la­tions align with the true char­ac­ter­is­tics of prophets.

And most cer­tain­ly, only God knows best !

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Appen­dix : Poten­tial Poi­sons and Their Effects

Giv­en the his­tor­i­cal con­text and the poi­sons avail­able in 6th cen­tu­ry Ara­bia, the most like­ly poi­son used by the Jew­ess at Khay­bar was prob­a­bly a type of plant-derived tox­in. The specifics of the poi­son­ing inci­dent are record­ed in hadith lit­er­a­ture, which indi­cates that the poi­son had imme­di­ate, severe effects but did not kill the Prophet (ﷺ) instantly.

Poten­tial Poisons

Aconite (Aconi­tum)

Aconite is a high­ly tox­ic plant known for its use in ancient times as a poi­son. It caus­es symp­toms such as vom­it­ing, diar­rhea, and car­diac arrest with­in a few hours of inges­tion. Aconite’s rapid action would align with the imme­di­ate severe symp­toms expe­ri­enced by those who ingest­ed the poi­soned meat. How­ev­er, its effects are typ­i­cal­ly fatal with­in hours, mak­ing long-term sur­vival unlike­ly if a sig­nif­i­cant dose was consumed.

Hem­lock (Coni­um mac­u­la­tum)

Hem­lock is known for its neu­ro­tox­ic effects, lead­ing to paral­y­sis and res­pi­ra­to­ry fail­ure. Death usu­al­ly occurs with­in a few hours to days. While hem­lock is a plau­si­ble can­di­date due to its avail­abil­i­ty and his­tor­i­cal use as a poi­son, its rapid action does not align with long-term survival.

Arsenic

Arsenic can cause both acute and chron­ic poi­son­ing. Acute poi­son­ing results in severe gas­troin­testi­nal symp­toms, shock, and death with­in hours to days. Chron­ic expo­sure leads to mul­ti­sys­temic effects over months or years. Although arsenic can cause long-term health issues, chron­ic arsenic poi­son­ing would like­ly have shown con­tin­u­ous symp­toms over the years rather than a delayed acute response after sev­er­al years.

Giv­en the types of poi­sons known in the 6th cen­tu­ry and their typ­i­cal effects, it is high­ly unlike­ly that any poi­son could have lin­gered in the body for three to four years before caus­ing death. The absence of med­ical and his­tor­i­cal evi­dence for such a poi­son sup­ports the argu­ment that Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) death was not due to the poi­son admin­is­tered at Khay­bar but was due to nat­ur­al caus­es, as doc­u­ment­ed by his­tor­i­cal sources. This fur­ther refutes the mis­con­cep­tion that his death was a result of divine ret­ri­bu­tion as sug­gest­ed by mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Quran­ic vers­es and hadith.Endmark

  1. Surah al-Haqqah, 69:44 – 46[]
  2. Surah al-Ma’i­dah, 5:3[]
  3. Sahih al-Bukhari, 4428[]
  4. Sunan Abi Dawud, 4512[]
  5. Welch spec­u­lates that Muham­mad’s death was caused by Med­i­nan fever, which was aggra­vat­ed by phys­i­cal and men­tal fatigue. See : Frants Buhl, & Alford T. Welch (1993). Muḥam­mad”. Ency­clopae­dia of Islam. Vol. 7 (2nd ed.). Brill. pp. 360 – 376.[]
  6. Ibn al-Qayy­im. Zad al-Ma’ad, 3.298[]
  7. Fig­ure 530 : Anato­my of the Human Body,Bartle­by.[]
  8. Fig­ure 531 : Anato­my of the Human Body, Bartle­by.
    []
  9. Kitab al-Nihayah fi Gharib al-Hadith wa al-Athar, 1.18)[]
  10. Al-Qamus al-Muhit, 691[]
  11. Surah al-Najm, 53:3[]
  12. Sahih al-Bukhari, 4770[]

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