Could you give information about the illness of the Prophet before his death and the fact that they wanted to poison him?

The Details of the Question

- It is said that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had a disease before he died, what disease was it?
- I also remember reading that before his death he was poisoned by the food he ate in the house of a Jewish woman. Could you enlighten us regarding the issue?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Our Prophet (pbuh) was afflicted with a severe malaria disease before his death. Due to the severity of the disease and the high fever, the Prophet could not lie comfortably in his bed. He turned to the left and right constantly. The people at the bedside said to him,

“O Messenger of Allah! If one of us displayed that he was suffering to such an extent, you would certainly reproach us.”

The Messenger of Allah explained his situation as follows:

“My illness is not like the illnesses you know; it is very difficult. Allah sends His righteous and believing servants the most severe of problems, illnesses and misfortunes. However, through that problem, illness and misfortune, He raises the degree of that believing righteous servant and eliminates his sins.”

Aisha (ra), our mother, says,

“Indeed, we have never seen an illness more difficult or more severe than the illness of the Messenger of Allah.”

Ibn Mas’ud Narrates

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (ra) expresses the severity of our Prophet’s illness as follows:

“I entered into the presence of the Prophet (pbuh) when his body was severely shaken by the heat of the fever.

I said, “O Messenger of Allah! You suffer greatly due to the fever! “O Messenger of Allah! This fever has double the pain, and of course it has double the reward for you.”

“The Messenger of Allah confirmed me by saying, ‘Yes.’ Then, he said:

‘There is no Muslim who is afflicted with a disease whose sins Allah does not shed like a tree sheds its leaves.”

The Jews’ Attempt to Poison the Prophet (pbuh)

Despite all the goodwill and good treatment of the Prophet (pbuh), the hatred and enmity that the Jews nurtured in their hearts against Islam never ended. It was almost as if they had formed the habit of responding to every good treatment with a bad move and treacherous conspiracy.

Khaybar was conquered and the Prophet (pbuh) started to rest with his Companions. The Jews could not defeat the Messenger of Allah in the war; thereupon, they prepared a treacherous plan. They decided to poison him. Zaynab, the wife of Sallam bin Mishkam, the famous Jew, took over the task. According to the plan, Zaynab roasted a female goat and spread some effective poison over it. In addition, she asked and learned that the Prophet (pbuh) liked the arm and shoulder blade of the goat more; therefore, she spread more poison over those parts.

The deceitful Jewish woman brought the roasted poisonous goat and said, “O Abul-Qasim! I give this to you as a present.” She put it in front of the Prophet (pbuh).

While the woman was leaving them, the Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions who were present there prepared to eat the meat that was placed in front of them. The Messenger of Allah took a bite from the shoulder blade part of the meat but before swallowing it, he said to the Companions, “Hands off! This shoulder blade informs me that the meat has been poisoned.”

Everyone withdrew their hands. Only Bishr bin Bara had swallowed the bite he took in his mouth. The meat was so poisonous that the body of Bishr suddenly turned purple and he was instantly martyred.

When this attempt of the Jews, who took pride in killing the prophets and performed poisoning better than any other nation, failed, the Prophet (pbuh) summoned Zaynab, who was the doer of that act, to his presence. Zaynab confessed her crime. The Prophet asked, “Why did you do it?” She gave the following answer:

“If you were truly a prophet, you would be informed; so, you would not be harmed. If you were a ruler and not a prophet, I did it to save ourselves and people from you!”

According to some narrations, the Prophet (pbuh), who did not have the feeling of taking personal revenge on anyone, did not kill the woman; he pardoned her. According to some other narrations, it is stated that he had her killed. According to investigative people, the Messenger of Allah did not have her killed, but he gave her to the heirs of the martyred Bishr; and they killed her in retaliation.

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