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This article discusses the death of Prophet Muhammad in 632 AD and the circumstances surrounding it. According to traditional accounts in Sunni hadiths, Muhammad's death was attributed to a poisoning that had occurred four years earlier after the battle of Khaybar in 628 CE. Historian Stephen Shoemaker says that "Western scholarship has persistently dismissed this tradition as unhistorical; in particular, the four year interval between the attempted poisoning and Muhammad's sudden, fatal illness renders the story highly unlikely."
Poisoned by a Jewess
According to the hadith, Muhammad was poisoned by a Jewish woman, following the conquest of Khaibar, where he took Safiyah as a wife, and ordered the torture and beheading of her husband Kinana, the chief of the Jews at Khaibar.
According to biographies, the reason behind her action was the killing of her people and family by Muhammad.
Ibn Ishaq records that one of Muhammad's companions, Bishr, ate of the poisoned lamb and died immediately whereas Muhammad spat it out, later feeling again the pain from the poison when he eventually became ill and died. He was considered to have died as a martyr:
Marwan b. 'Ithman b. Abu Sa'id b. al-Mu'alla told me: The apostle had said in his illness of which he was to die when Umm Bishr d. al-Bara' came to visit him, 'O Umm Bishr, 'this is the time in which I feel a deadly pain from what I ate with your brother at Khaybar.' The Muslims considered that the apostle died as a martyr in addition to the prophetic office wiht which God had honoured him.
It was no secret among the wives, that Aisha was Muhammad's favorite, and he made this clear as death approached.
Died in the Arms of Aisha
Even from his death-bed, Muhammad continued issuing military orders and cursing Christians and Jews.
On the 8th of June, 632 AD Aisha watched Muhammad finally die, slumped on her bosom.
Ali ibn Abi Ṭalib, the fourth Rightly-guided Caliph of Islam (and also Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin) and some others took charge of washing Muhammad, but unlike others, he was washed with his cloths remaining on his body.
By Allah, we did not know whether we should take off the clothes of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) as we took off the clothes of our dead, or wash him while his clothes were on him. When they (the people) differed among themselves, Allah cast slumber over them until every one of them had put his chin on his chest.Then a speaker spoke from a side of the house, and they did not know who he was: Wash the Prophet (peace be upon him) while his clothes are on him. So they stood round the Prophet (peace be upon him) and washed him while he had his shirt on him. They poured water on his shirt, and rubbed him with his shirt and not with their hands...
Ibn Hisham observed, “The apostle’s body did not present the appearance of an ordinary corpse.” (pg. 688) Aisha also noted that If she had known beforehand what she found out later, "none would have washed him except his wives".
Tabari notes that Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Rightly-guided Caliph of Islam, initially refused to believe Muhammad had died.
Once cleaned, they covered him with triple shrouds.
Finally, after a delay, he was buried quietly in the house in which he died, near the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.
- Muhammad's Death - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Muhammad's Death
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- Was Muhammad poisoned by his two wives Aisha and Hafza? - Shi'ite viewpoint from Shaykh Yasser Al-Habib
- Stephen Shoemaker, "Death of a Prophet", p. 301 footnotes 72 and 75.