For over a month the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been fighting to get Huffington Post Arabic to take down an “antisemitic” blog post:
New York, NY, January 12, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today voiced disappointment over the failure by editors at HuffPost Arabi to remove a blatantly anti-Semitic blog after it was first brought to their attention several weeks ago. The Arabic-language blog promotes a conspiracy theory blaming Jews for the death of the Prophet Mohammed.
“It is troubling that an anti-Semitic screed cleared The Huffington Post’s editorial review process and that our concerns so far have been ignored,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We call on The Huffington Post to immediately remove this offensive entry and to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place so that the Arabic site is free of anti-Semitism and incitement against Jews.”
The blog, initially titled “’Arsenic’ The poison, which a Jewish woman put in the food of the Prophet, peace be upon him,’” has been live on The Huffington Post’s Arabic language web site since it was first published on Nov. 29. It claims that a Jewish woman used arsenic to poison the Prophet Mohammed and includes other offensive anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
ADL initially reached out with a letter to the editor of HuffPost Arabi on Dec. 7 and issued various tweets in Arabic and in English directly at site’s editor in chief, but has not received a response. Following ADL’s outreach, the headline of the blog was edited to read, “Did the Prophet Die From Being Poisoned With Arsenic?” However, the blog’s anti-Jewish message remains the same.
The ADL are calling the story that a Jewess poisoned Mohammed a “conspiracy theory”. I’d say that is highly insulting to a great many Muslims. I’d go so far as to say the ADL was being “Islamophobic” if I thought that word had any useful meaning.
The blog post itself is interesting in its own right. I can only read it via automatic translation, but even then it’s clear what the main thrust is. The post accepts as fact that Mohammed was poisoned by a Jewess (named Zainab) and she was captured at the famous battle of Khybar where Jews were slaughtered by Mohammed and his followers and about which many Muslims sing with pride to this day. What the post discusses is the possibility that the specific poison used was arsenic:
other symptoms that accompanied the Prophet during the illness of flight after the poison was headache, fever, came in for some professional knowledge: first his illness was a headache, and it seems that he was with a fever, the fever intensified in his illness, was sitting in the pigments and poured water on him from seven near the not analyzed Ookihn Whitbread this, and it was like amaranth were fever heat infect put his hand on him from above, was said to him about it? and he said: I am well we emphasize scourge multiplies us pay, and said: I Ooek as Aoek two men of you, and the intensity and beer had fainted in his illness and then wake up.
This so-called “conspiracy theory” is deeply implanted in some very authoritative Islamic sources on the biography of their prophet. These sources usually differ in whether the meal was mutton or goat. That a Jewess poisoned Mohammed is beyond doubt. What is uncertain is if this poison killed him as these events occurred some years before his death. The answer the woman gave when confronted on her deed is also deeply Jewish: she had sought to test his prophethood which is a very Jewish detail (From Ibn Sa’d page 249):
She replied, “I wanted to know if you are true; in that case Allah will surely inform you, and if you are a liar I shall relieve the people of you.”
You can, if you wish, plough through rebuttals of whether the woman’s poison actually killed Mohammed, but the act of the poisoning remains pretty much undisputed. It is the efficacy and specific detail of which poison was used which the HuffPo blog post addresses and which the ADL has decided to get upset about.
More important, however, than whether any of this happened as described is what do many Muslims teach their kids. And in this there is little doubt. The story of Mohammed being poisoned by a Jewess is commonly told and commonly believed.
In fact I’ve always seen huge parallels between this story from the life of Mohammed and the stories the Palestinians tell about the poisoning of Arafat with Polonium. Trying to invoke a story about Muhammed and attach it Arafat is a deliberate bid to invoke Islamic piety. Not least because the most probable cause of death for Arafat of an AIDS-related infection is so horribly embarrassing for a man who sent so many on suicidal murder missions.
I can’t see how the ADL can explain why Huffington Post should take down something that invokes orthodox Islamic scholarship.
Here are the original sources from various biographies (Hadith) about how Mohammed died:
PART A – THE POISONING OF MUHAMMAD
From Bukhari’s Hadith 3.786:
Narrated Anas bin Malik: A Jewess brought a poisoned (cooked) sheep for the Prophet who ate from it. She was brought to the Prophet and he was asked, “Shall we kill her?” He said, “No.” I continued to see the effect of the poison on the palate of the mouth of Allah’s Apostle.
From Bukhari’s Hadith 4.394: Narrated Abu Huraira: When Khaibar was conquered, a roasted poisoned sheep was presented to the Prophet as a gift (by the Jews). The Prophet ordered, “Let all the Jews who have been here, be assembled before me.” The Jews were collected and the Prophet said (to them), “I am going to ask you a question. Will you tell the truth?” They said, “Yes.” The Prophet asked, “Who is your father?” They replied, “So-and-so.” He said, “You have told a lie; your father is so-and-so.” They said, “You are right.” He said, “Will you now tell me the truth, if I ask you about something?” They replied, “Yes, O Abu Al-Qasim; and if we should tell a lie, you can realize our lie as you have done regarding our father.” On that he asked, “Who are the people of the (Hell) Fire?” They said, “We shall remain in the (Hell) Fire for a short period, and after that you will replace us.” The Prophet said, “You may be cursed and humiliated in it! By Allah, we shall never replace you in it.” Then he asked, “Will you now tell me the truth if I ask you a question?” They said, “Yes, O Abu Al-Qasim.” He asked, “Have you poisoned this sheep?” They said, “Yes.” He asked, “What made you do so?” They said, “We wanted to know if you were a liar in which case we would get rid of you, and if you are a prophet then the poison would not harm you.”
From Ibn Sa’d page 249:
Verily a Jewish woman presented poisoned (meat of) a she goat to the apostle of Allah. He took a piece form it, put it into his mouth, chewed it and threw it away. Then he said to the Companions: “Halt! Verily, its leg tells me that it is poisoned.” Then he sent for the Jewish woman and asked her; “What induced you to do what you have done?” She replied, “I wanted to know if you are true; in that case Allah will surely inform you, and if you are a liar I shall relieve the people of you.”
From Ibn Sa’d page 249: [different narrator]
The apostle of Allah and his companions ate from it. It (goat) said: “I am poisoned.” He [Muhammad] said to his Companions, “Hold you hands! because it has informed me that it is poisoned!” They withdrew their hands, but Bishr Ibn al-Bara expired. The apostle of Allah sent for her (Jewess) and asked her, “What induced you to do what you have done?” She replied, “I wanted to know if you are a prophet, in that case it will not harm you and if you are a king, I shall relieve the people of you. He gave orders and she was put to death. [SEE NOTE 1]
From Ibn Sa’d page 250: [different narrator]
Verily a woman of the Jews of Khaibar presented poisoned (meat of) goat to the apostle of Allah. The he recognized that it was poisoned, so he sent for her and asked her, “What induced you to do what you have done?” She replied, “I thought if you are a prophet, Allah will inform you, and if you are a pretender, I shall relieve people of you. When the apostle of Allah felt sick, he got himself “cupped”. [SEE NOTE 2]
From Ibn Sa’d pages 251, 252: [different narrator]
….When the apostle of Allah conquered Khaibar and he had peace of mind, Zaynab Bint al-Harith the brother of Marhab, who was the spouse of Sallam Ibn Mishkam, inquired, “Which part of the goat is liked by Muhammad?” They said, “The foreleg.” Then she slaughtered one from her goats and roasted it (the meat). Then she wanted a poison which could not fail. …. The apostle of Allah took the foreleg, a piece of which he put into his mouth. Bishr took another bone and put it into his mouth. When the apostle of Allah ate one morsel of it Bishr ate his and other people also ate from it. Then the apostle of Allah said, “Hold back your hands! because this foreleg; …informed me that it is poisoned. Thereupon Bishr said, “By Him who has made you great! I discovered it from the morsel I took. Nothing prevented me from emitting it out, but the idea that I did not like to make your food unrelishing. When you had eaten what was in your mouth I did not like to save my life after yours, and I also thought you would not have eaten it if there was something wrong.
Bishr did not rise form his seat but his color changed to that of “taylsan” (a green cloth)……….The apostle of Allah sent for Zaynab and said to her, “What induced you to do what you have done?” She replied, “You have done to my people what you have done. You have killed my father, my uncle and my husband, so I said to myself, “If you are a prophet, the foreleg will inform you; and others have said, “If you are a king we will get rid of you.””……
The apostle of Allah lived after this three years till in consequence of his pain he passed away. During his illness he used to say, “I did not cease to find the effect of the (poisoned) morsel, I took at Khaibar and I suffered several times (from its effect) but now I feel the hour has come of the cutting of my jugular vein.”
From Tabari Volume 8, page 123, 124:
When the messenger of God rested from his labor, Zaynab bt. al-Harith, the wife of Sallam b. Mishkam, served him a roast sheep. She had asked what part of the sheep the messenger of God liked best and was told that it was the foreleg. So she loaded that part with poison, and she poisoned the rest of the sheep too. Then she brought it. When she set it before the messenger of God, he took the foreleg and chewed a bit of it, but he did not swallow it. With him was Bishr b. al-Bara b. Marur, who, like the messenger of God, took some of it; Bishr, however, swallowed it, while the messenger of God spat it out saying, “This bone informs me that it has been poisoned.” He asked, “What led you to do this?” She said: “How you have afflicted my people is not hidden from you. So I said, “If he is a prophet, he will be informed; but if he is a king, I shall be rid of him””. The prophet forgave her. Bishr died of the food he had eaten.
From Tabari Volume 8, page 124: [different narrator]
The messenger of God said during the illness from which he died – the mother of Bishr had come in to visit him – “Umm Bishr, at this very moment I feel my aorta being severed because of the food I ate with your son at Khaybar.” [See NOTE 3]
NOTE 1: There is disagreement over whether of not Muhammad had the women who poisoned him put to death. In short, he had her put to death for the death of the other Muslim – Bishr, who quickly died from the poisoning. See the reports by Ibn Sa’d, p. 250.
NOTE 2: Cupping is essentially drawing a small amount of blood from your body. Muhammad believed that bleeding oneself was “the best of medicines”.
NOTE 3: The note on quote A8 states that the expression, “it severed his aorta” need not be taken literally; it is used metaphorically for extreme pain.