Many questions can be asked about the motivations of those who wrote down the ‘hadiths’ (traditions) in the centuries after the life of Muhammad. It is clear that some of those who constructed the history of Islam had political aims to further or personal scores to settle. Many of them then back-projected their views into the mouth and actions of the ‘prophet’. Bizarrely, however, it seems that at least some of those who wrote even some of the most respected hadiths had nothing less than the undermining of the prophetic authority of Muhammad as their goal. Don’t believe me? Read on.
According to the official Muslim historical records Muhammad was deserted (during his ‘prophetic’ ministry) by his scribe, Ibn Abi Sarh. At issue was the charge that Muhammad allowed Abi Sarh to make changes to the Qur’an causing him to become disillusioned about how easily the supposedly eternal word of Allah could be changed. These events could obviously cause serious damage to Muhammad’s reputation. As a means of damage control Allah sent down another one of his many ‘convenient revelations’ (i.e. revelations designed to get the ‘prophet’ out of a sticky situation). According to Allah: “…if the messenger were to invent any sayings in Our name. We should certainly seize him by his right hand, And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart (aorta)” (Qur’an 69:44-46)
So the Qur’an here makes a rather stark, and utterly unique, claim: If Muhammad dies through the cutting of his aorta, he is a false prophet.
How did Muhammad, in fact, die according to the most venerable Islamic traditions? The widely accepted details of Muhammad’s death are very well known. He was given poisoned meat by a Jewish lady as revenge for his actions against her people at the Battle of Khaibar. Interestingly, she placed the poison in the meat as a test of his prophethood, stating “If he was a prophet he will be informed of what I have done.” What is even more interesting, in the context of Qur’an 69:44-46, is that there are several strong traditions that state that Muhammad died through the cutting of his aorta:
- “The Prophet in his ailment in which he died, used to say, “O Aishah! 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.” (Sahih Bukhari 5:59:713);
- “He then said about the pain of which he died: I continued to feel pain from the morsel which I had eaten at Khaibar. This is the time when it has cut off my aorta.” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4498)
Strange isn’t it? What do we have here? Perhaps yet another disillusioned scribe wreaking posthumous revenge of the prophet?
For more penetrating questions about the truth-claims of Islam please see my book ‘Questioning Islam – Tough Questions and Honest Answers About the Muslim Religion’