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What is the explanation for these ahadeeth regarding the spoilage of meat related to the Israelite? How where they responsible for the fact of food rotting or becoming stale?

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, as per Sahih Al-Bukhari:

"Were it not for Bani Israel, meat would not decay; and were it not for Eve, no woman would ever betray her husband."

(Bukhari 60/72)

As per Sahih Muslim:

Hammam b. Munabbih said: These are some of the ahadith which Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrated to us from Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), and one of these (this one): Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: Had it not been for Bani Isra'il, food would not have become stale, and meat would not have gone bad; and had it not been for Eve, a woman would never have acted unfaithfully toward her husband.

(Muslim 17/84)

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There are numerous commentaries on this hadith. I am providing below the commentaries by Al-'Asqalani and Al-Nawawi.

Were it not for Bani Israel, meat would not decay

In Fat'h Al-Bari (Arabic: فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري) by Ibn Hajar Al-'Asqalani (Arabic: أحمد بن علي بن حجر العسقلاني), the commentary on this hadith says that there are two possible interpretations. After the exodus, when Banu Isra'il were in the Sinai peninsula, Allah sent down to them quails (see Qur'an 2:57), which they were ordered not to store. However, they disobeyed and stored the meat of the quails:

  • First interpretation: As a punishment for doubting Allah's promise of regularly sending down quail (so they have no need to store it), meat became rotten when stored [under room temperature] from that point onwards. This is the opinion of Qatada ibn Al-Nu'man and Al-Qurtubi, too, among others.
  • Second interpretation: People used to eat only fresh meat at the time, without storing it, but Banu Isra'il were the ones to store meat till it went rotten. Had they not started the habit of storing meat, no meat would not have rotted. This is the opinion of Wahb ibn Munabbih and Abu Nu'aym Al-Asfahani, too.

Were it not for Eve, no woman would ever betray her husband

In the same commentary on this hadith, Ibn Hajar Al-'Asqalani says that Eve accepted what Iblis had adorned about eating from the tree, and she in turn talked to Adam about it. This is her betrayal, and her offspring of women resembled her. It does not mean that her betrayal was committing any other immoral act apart from her desire to eat from the tree, and talking to Adam about it. Betrayals coming from her offspring of women varied by individual.

In Sahih Muslim bi sharh al-Nawawi (Arabic: شرح النووي على مسلم), Al-Nawawi (Arabic: يحيي بن شرف أبو زكريا النووي) in his commentary on this hadith, he quoted Qadi 'Ayyad saying that this meant the daughters of Adam (women) resembled their mother, Eve, as what happened in the story of Iblis tricking Eve into eating from the tree, so she told Adam, and they both disobeyed Allah and ate from the tree.

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