25 An Attempted Assassination and the Bloodcurdling Cry
Bob: Who had the nerve to try to poison the Prophet during dinner?
Uzza: A woman of course.
Gerry: Why a woman?
Uzza: I believe women are more willing to risk their lives to protect those they love, or, in this instance, avenge those they loved.
Archie: Nothing like a woman scorned.
Uzza: The attempt on Muhammad's life had nothing to do with the pettiness of a woman scorned. After his victory over the farmers of Khaybar most of the leadership of the city and their sons were beheaded and their wives and daughters place into captivity until they could be allocated to a deserving believer by Muhammad, as was initially done with Safiyyah.
Archie: I take some satisfaction in knowing that the leaders who are going to get us all killed will be the first to go.
Gerry: Archie, quit interrupting.
Uzza: Many of the leading Jews of Mecca were tortured before being put to death in the hope they would reveal the location of non-existent buried treasure. One of those who died in agony was a fellow by the name of Kinana who is believed to have been the father of Zaynab, the woman who tried to poison Muhammad. Also beheaded that day were her husband and uncle.
Archie: Another Zaynab.
Uzza: [ignoring him] Zaynab, who was reputed to be the best cook of Khaybar was asked to prepare that fateful meal after all the bloodletting. She put poison in a carcass of lamb, some say it was goat, she prepared for Muhammad and his companions. They all started eating when one of them keeled over dead. Muhammad, who never misses a thing, told everyone to quit eating and called in the cook and asked her point blank why she had poisoned the meat.
Bob: The Prophet knew she had poisoned the meal?
Archie: For Christ's sake Bob, the dead guy was a dead giveaway.
Uzza: Perhaps, but it is not what Muhammad told Zaynab when she asked him how he knew. Muhammad said a leg he held in his hand informed him, but not before he had taken a bite.
Bob: We are taking about a fully cooked leg of lamb?
Archie: Or a goat.
Uzza: The Koran, in its description of Judgement Day, is full of talking limbs, who, what do you say, spill the beans. In this instance, Muhammad may have been speaking metaphorically. Perhaps the taste of the meat was off because of the poison and that is what he meant when he said the meat spoke to him.
Gerry: Muhammad obviously survived the attempt on his life.
Archie: But not the cook, and I do understand why he would have had her killed.
Uzza: But he didn't, maybe!
Archie: What’s with the maybe?
Uzza: One account has Muhammad pardoning her and sending her on her way. In another, she is strangled to death. It is not clear if that is what Muhammad intended. A witness only revealed that Muhammad "ordered regarding her and she was killed."
Archie: It seems clear to me that it is what the Prophet intended, that she be killed.
Uzza: When informed of the murder of the cook, Muhammad said that her killer would not be rewarded for what he did. This indicates to me that he did not intend for her to be killed for the attempt on his life and the murder of at least one companion.
Gerry: Why not give him the benefit of the doubt.
Uzza: Thank you.
Bob: Celebrations over, it's onto Mecca, right?
Uzza: Not just yet. Mecca's morning would have to wait until Muhammad concluded a few more alliances and an opportunity arose to break the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, which the Koran gave him the right to do if he suspected treachery.
Bob: What do you mean by "Mecca's morning"?
Uzza: The believers usually attacked in the morning following the Fajr prayer, the dawn prayer. The signal for the believers to swarm the enemy's defenses was usually Muhammad shouting a warning intended to send shivers down the spines of defenders, in this instance the farmers of Khaybar, "Allahu Akbar! Khaybar is ruined, for whenever we approach a nation then it will be a miserable morning for those who have been warned." And a miserable morning it was.
Bob: Is that why suicide bombers shout out Allahu Akbar; to warn those around them that they are about to ruin their lives and make that of the survivors miserable?
Uzza: When Muhammad said it, it was to instill fear in his enemy before a battle but, in the case of the suicide bomber, I suspect it is more to endear themselves to Allah one last time before they meet Him in person to claim their reward.
Archie: There sure is a lot of sucking up to Allah these days.
Uzza: Unlike at Khaybar.