Explaining the hadith ‘the abdomen of your brother has lied’


Waqar Akbar Cheema

It is argued that the following Hadith ignores reality and asks to blindly believe in God even when it (apparently) contradicts reality.

عن أبي سعيد، قال: جاء رجل إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال: إن أخي استطلق بطنه، فقال: «اسقه عسلا» فسقاه فقال: إني سقيته فلم يزده إلا استطلاقا، فقال: صدق الله وكذب بطن أخيك

Narrated Abu Said: A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘My brother has got loose motions. The Prophet said, “Let him drink honey.” The man again (came) and said, “I made him drink (honey) but that made him worse.” The Prophet said, “Allah has said the Truth, and the abdomen of your brother has told a lie.”[1]

Another version has the following addition towards the end;

«اسقه عسلا»  فسقاه فبرأ

“‘Let him drink honey.’ So he made him drink honey and he was cured.”[2]

Some have alleged that it goes against all reason and to say that “abdomen has lied” suggests failure to offer a reasonable explanation. Even some Muslims find it difficult to make sense of.

Explaining this hadith Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani writes:

إن أهل الحجاز يطلقون ((الكذب)) في موضع الخطأ، كما قال الخطابي، يقال: كذب سمعك ،أي زلَّ، فلم يدرك حقيقة ما قيل له، وفي قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((كذب بطن أخيك)) إشارة إلى أن هذا الدواء نافع له، وأن بقاء الداء ليس لقصور الدواء، بل لقصور بطن أخيك لإشتماله على الكثير من المادة الفاسدة، وإن مقدار الدواء النافع إنما يكون بحسب شدّة المرض وخفّته، فإن كان المرض شديداً، فلا ينفع إستعمال الدواء في مدة قليلة، وإنما يحتاج إلى معاودة وإستمرار، ولذا فأمره رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بمعاودة شرب العسل

“The people of Hijaz use the word kizb (lit. lie) to mean mistake/error (as well). This is as al-Khattabi has pointed out that they say, ‘Your hearing has lied’ i.e. he has erred and has not understood what was said to him. And in the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): ‘The stomach of your brother has lied’ is an indication that this medicine (in the form of honey) is beneficial for him. The persistence of disease is not for the ineffectiveness of the medicine rather for the problem with the stomach of your brother that it has a lot of infectious matter while the quantity of the medicine benefits when it is taken according to severity of the disease. If the disease is severe the use of the medicine for a short duration does not benefit and it requires repetitive and consistent intake. For this reason the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordered him to drink honey again.”[3]

With this explanation all questions and queries about the hadith are answered. All praise be to Allah!

[1] al-Bukhari, Muhammad bin Isma’il, as-Sahih, Translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Riyadh: Maktabat Dar-us-Salam, 1997) Hadith 5716

[2] ibid., Hadith 5684

[3] Usmani, Muhammad Taqi, Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 2006) vol.4 p. 313

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Waqar Akbar Cheema

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