From pages 251, 252 of Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat:

….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.".......(bold and capital emphasis mine)

From this narration some polemical detractors came up with an argument. They claim that this is proof that the Prophet SAW was making up revelations (Nauzubillah) and had actually tasted the poison same as Bishr. Is it authentic? Can anyone help address it?


1 Answer 1


There's fabrications included in Kitab al-Tabaqat. Best to ask a hadith scholar about the authenticity of this particular report. But authenticity aside, this report still does not disprove the Prophet (ﷺ)'s Prophethood.

Their argument is driven by a deductive fallacy. Even if the food tasted bad to both of them, there are many reasons that food can taste unpleasant so the anti-polemic assumption that they had to have known it to be specifically poison based on the taste alone is not a logical conclusion. These are not exclusive.

Additionally, it's not like the Prophet (ﷺ) had any other indicators like symptoms (nor medical expertise had there been symptoms) or past experience with tasting poison to be able to form that conclusion himself. The only reason he could know and say that the food was poisoned was by being informed. Even the Jewess herself was shocked and asked, "who told you?!" because she didn't expect it to be detected.

As for Bishr (RA) saying, per the English translation of this alleged report, "I discovered it" .... it's like someone suspecting something was strange [not knowing what exactly] and then upon hearing someone else confirm it is X,Y,Z exclaiming "I knew it!" (even know they didn't literally know what it was exactly). So at best [if the report is true, which has not been established yet], Bishr (RA) suspected something was strange and realized it when the Prophet (ﷺ) announced that the food was poisoned.

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