Muhammad's aorta

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to: navigation, search

This article analyzes the claim that Muhammad said before death that his aorta was cut, which was predicted in the Quran that it would happen if he was a fake prophet.


The Arabic word for "aorta" used in the Quran is وتين (wateen):


(69:44) And if Muhammad had made up about Us some [false] sayings,

(69:45) We would have seized him by the right hand;

(69:46) Then We would have cut from him the aorta (لَقَطَعْنَا مِنْهُ الْوَتِينَ, la-qata'anaa min-hu al-wateena).

The word wateen is not used anywhere else in the Quran. [1]


The tafsir Al-Jalalayn in Arabic explains that wateen (aorta) is niaat al-qalb (aorta of the heart) and irq (vein):

(69:44) And had he namely the Prophet s fabricated any lies against Us by communicating from Us that which We have not said

(69:45) We would have assuredly seized him We would have exacted vengeance against him as punishment by the Right Hand by Our strength and power;

(69:46) "then We would have assuredly severed his life-artery" - the aorta of the heart (نِيَاط الْقَلْب, niaat al-qalb) a vein (عِرْق, irq) that connects with it and which if severed results in that person’s death

Tafsir Al-Jalalayn [2]

The tafsir Ibn Kathir says the same thing:

(69:44) (And if he had forged a false saying concerning Us,) meaning, `if Muhammad forged something against Us, as they claim, and added or removed anything from the Message, or said anything from himself while attributing it to Us, then We would surely be swift in punishing him. And of course, Muhammad did not do any of this (as the disbelievers claimed).' Thus, Allah says,

(69:45) (We surely would have seized him by his right hand,) It has been said that this means, `We would seize him by the right hand because it is more stronger in grabbing.'

(69:46) (And then We certainly would have cut off Al-Watin from him,) Ibn `Abbas said, "It (Al-Watin) refers to the artery of the heart (نياط القلب, niaat al-qalb), and it is the vein (العرق, al-irq) that is attached to the heart. This has also been said by `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hakim, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Muslim Al-Batin and Abu Sakhr Humayd bin Ziyad. Muhammad bin Ka`b said, "It (Al-Watin) is the heart, its blood, and whatever is near it.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir [3]

We can also see from the tafsirs that "false sayings concerning us" means if Muhammad made something up and falsely claimed it is from god.


Muhammad uses the word ابهر (abhar), which is also translated as aorta:

Narrated `Aisha:

The Prophet (ﷺ) in his ailment in which he died, used to say, "O `Aisha! I still feel the pain caused by the food I ate at Khaibar, and at this time, I feel as if my aorta (أَبْهَرِي, abhar-ee) is being cut (انْقِطَاعَ, utqitaa'a) from that poison."

The ي (-ee) suffix means "my".

In Abi Dawud we can see it was before Muhammad's death:

Narrated Ibn Ka'b b. Malik:

On the authority of his father: Umm Mubashshir said to the Prophet (ﷺ) during the sickness of which he died: What do you think about your illness, Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)? I do not think about the illness of my son except the poisoned sheep of which he had eaten with you at Khaybar. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: And I do not think about my illness except that. This is the time when it cut off (قَطَعَتْ, qata'at) my aorta (أَبْهَرِي, abhar-ee).

Abu Dawud said: Sometime 'Abd al-Razzaq transmitted this tradition, omitting the link of the Companion, from Ma'mar, from al-Zuhri, from the Prophet (ﷺ), and sometimes he transmitted it from al-Zuhri from 'Abd al-Rahman b. Ka'b b. Malik, 'Abd al-Rahman mentioned that Ma'mar sometimes transmitted the tradition in a mursal form (omitting the link of the Companion), and they recorded it. And all this is correct with us. 'Abd al-Razzaq said: When Ibn al-Mubarak came to Ma'mar, he transmitted the traditions in a musnad form (with a perfect chain) which he transmitted as mauquf traditions (statements of the Companions and not of the Prophet).

Sunan Abu Dawud 40:4499 (sahih in chain)

And that he was poisoned by a jewish woman who wanted to test whether he is a real prophet:

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would accept a present, but would not accept alms (sadaqah). And Wahb bin Baqiyyah narrated to us, elsewhere, from Khalid, from Muhammad ibn Amr said on the authority of AbuSalamah, and he did not mention the name of Abu Hurairah: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to accept presents but not alms (sadaqah).

This version adds: So a Jewess presented him at Khaybar with a roasted sheep which she had poisoned. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ate of it and the people also ate.

He then said: Take away your hands (from the food), for it has informed me that it is poisoned. Bishr ibn al-Bara' ibn Ma'rur al-Ansari died.

So he (the Prophet) sent for the Jewess (and said to her): What motivated you to do the work you have done?

She said: If you were a prophet, it would not harm you; but if you were a king, I should rid the people of you. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then ordered regarding her and she was killed. He then said about the pain of which he died: I continued to feel pain from the morsel which I had eaten at Khaybar. This is the time when it has cut off (قَطَعَتْ, qata'at) my aorta. (أَبْهَرِي, abhar-ee)

The word abhar is not used in other hadiths. [4]

The words

Both the Quran and the hadith use some form of the word قطع (qata'a) for "to cut", but they use different Arabic words for "aorta". So do these two words refer to the same thing in Arabic? A problem is that the words وتين (wateen) and ابهر (abhar) don't appear in the Quran or the hadiths in other places. So we can't better understand their meanings by seeing them in different contexts in the same sources. We will have to use the dictionary.

Lane's lexicon

The word wateen is from the root وتن. According to the Lane's lexicon, this word refers to the aorta:

الوَتِينُ [The aorta: or the aorta descendens:] a certain vein [or artery] adhering to the inner side of the backbone all along, which supplies all the [other] veins [or arteries] with blood, and irrigates the flesh, being the river of the body: or a certain thick white vein resembling a cane: [this last is the description given by Zj in his “ Khalk el-Insán: ”] or [the aorta ascendens;] the نِيَاط of the heart: or a certain white vein within the back of the neck: it is said to draw up [its supply] from the heart, and in it is the blood. ― Also, the خِلْب, q. v.: pl. أَوْتِنَةٌ and وُتُنٌ: (M:) i. q. نِيَاطُ القَلْبِ. (Bḍ, and Jel, lxix. 45.) See أَبْهَرُ.

Lane's lexicon on وتين [5]

And the word abhar is from the root بهر. According to the Lane's lexicon, it refers to the aorta:

أَبْهَرُ [The aorta; so in the present day;] a certain vein [or artery], (Ṣ, A, Ḳ,) in the back, (Ḳ,) lying within, or at the inner side of, the back-bone (A'Obeyd, A, TA) and the heart, (A'Obeyd, TA,) the severing of which causes death: (A'Obeyd, Ṣ, A:) it is name given to each of two veins [or arteries, or the two portions of the aorta which are called the aorta ascendens and aorta descendens,] which issue from the heart, and from which then branch off all the other arteries: (Ṣ:) and, (Ḳ,) or as some say, (TA,) the وَرِيد [i. e. either the carotid artery or the external jugular vein] of the neck: (Ḳ:) and, (Ḳ,) or as some say, (TA,) [the vein in the arm called] the أَكْحَل: (Ḳ:) or, accord. to the more full description of IAth, a certain vein [or artery] arising from the head, and extending to the foot, and having arteries which communicate with most of the extremities and the body: what is in the head is called the نَامَّة; and hence the saying, أَسْكَتَ ٱللّٰهُ نَامَّتَهُ, meaning “God killed him,” or “may God kill him!” and it extends to the throat, and is there called the وَرِيد; and to the chest, and is there called [especially] the أَبْهَر [meaning the aorta ascendens]; and to the back, and is there called the وَتِين [meaning the aorta descendens]; and the heart is suspended to it; and it extends to the thigh, and is there called the نَسَا; and to the shank, and is there called the صَافِن: the ء in it is augmentative. (TA.) You say, قَطَعَ أَبْهَرَهُ [It severed his aorta]; meaning (tropical:) it (pain) destroyed him. (A.) ― Also The back: (Ḳ:) or the place of the vein [or artery] so called. (Aṣ, in art. خدع of the Ṣ.) One says, فُلَانٌ شَدِيدٌ الأَبْهَرِ Such a one is strong in the back: (TA:) or strong in the place of the vein [or artery] called the ابهر. (Aṣ, ubi suprà.) ― And The back of the curved part of the extremity of a bow: (Ḳ:) or the part between the طائِف and the كُلْيَة: (Ṣ, Ḳ:) in the bow is its كَبِد, which is the part between the two extremities of its string or the like; then, next to this, the كُلْيَة; then, next to this, the أَبْهَر; then, the طَائِف; then, the سِئَة, which is the curved part of the extremity. (Aṣ.) ― And A tent-pole. (JK.) ― And The shorter side of a feather: (Ḳ:) [or] so أَبَاهِرُ [which is the pl.]: (JK:) [or] the latter signifies the feathers (Lḥ, Ṣ) of the wing (Lḥ) of a bird (Lḥ, Ṣ) next after those called الخَوَافِى, (Lḥ,) [and] next [before] those called الكُلَى: (Ṣ:) the first of them are those called القَوَادِمُ, (Ṣ,) four in number, in the fore part of the wing; (Lḥ;) the next, المَنَاكِبُ, (Lḥ, Ṣ,) also four; (Lḥ;) the next, الخَوَافِى, (Lḥ, Ṣ,) also four; (Lḥ;) the next, الأَبَاهِرُ, (Lḥ, Ṣ,) also four; (Lḥ;) and the next, الكُلَى [which are also four]. (Ṣ.)

Lane's lexicon on أبهر [6]

Online English-Arabic dictionary Almaany

According to the online English-Arabic dictionary Almaany, this is the meaning of abhar (the Arabic part is translated in square brackets):

أَبْهَر ( اسم ): شِرْيانٌ أَوُرْطَى

[abhar (noun): artery aorta]

aorta - main artery through which blood is carried from the left side of the heart[7]

And this is the meaning of wateen:

وَتِين ( اسم ): شِرْيانٌ أوُرْطِيّ

[wateen (noun): artery aorta]


So both these words refer to the aorta.

If we search for the English word "aorta" we find exactly two translations to Arabic. And of course they are wateen and abhar:

aorta ( noun ): main artery through which blood is carried from the left side of the heart

أبْهَر ؛ وَتِين

[abhar, wateen][9]


Wateen is not abhar

One apologetic article quotes a 13th century scholar Ibn Athir, who says that wateen is a part of abhar. The article doesn't deny that according to some dictionaries wateen is synonymous with abhar.

Az-Zubaydee in his famous Arabic dictionary Taaj al-'Aroos min Jawaahir Al-Qaamoos cites the scholar Ibn Athir as saying:

الأبْهَرُ عِرْقٌ مَنْشَؤُه مِن الرَّأْس ويَمْتَدُّ إلى القَدمِ

The Abhar is a vein that originates from the head and extends to the feet.

He then proceeds to say after assigning names to specific veins and their respective locations in the human body:

ويمتدُّ إلى الظَّهْر فيُسَمَّى الوَتِينَ

And it extends to the back and is called al-wateen.

So here we observe that al-wateen is actually a part of al-abhar. This is why al-wateen is sometimes used synonymously with al-abhar in some dictionaries. It is because al-wateen is a part of al-abhar, however likewise can't be said vice versa, for Al-abhar doesn't necessarily refer to al-wateen.[10]

Firstly, if wateen is a part of abhar, then it is possible that when Muhammad said his abhar was cut, he meant the wateen part. And secondly, there is the question whether the difference in meaning of the words existed in the 7th century?

In conclusion, both the words refer to the same vein. The only difference is that maybe wateen refers to a smaller part and abhar refers to a bigger part of the vein. Which is not a big difference.

Cutting abhar is not meant literally

Cutting aorta could mean "to die", so maybe the Quran said Allah will cut his aorta, but Muhammad said his aorta is being cut only metaphorically.

Here the question is why couldn't the Quran be also metaphorical? Isn't the meaning of the verse that Allah would kill Muhammad? Both cutting abhar and cutting wateen can be understood literally and metaphorically.

There is also a claim that "cutting abhar" was a common phrase. But if "cutting abhar" was a common phrase, why couldn't the Quran just paraphrase it with wateen?

Abhar means shortness of breath / to be breathless

Abhar does not mean shortness of breath. The word buhir (بُهِر) means to be out of breath [11], but the word abhar (أَبْهَر) means aorta [12].


If abhar and wateen didn't both mean aorta, then how is it possible that so many professional translators translated the words as aorta? Did they not know what they are talking about? Maybe someone who has low knowledge of anatomy could make a mistake, but how could Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, who studied medicine [13], be unable to translate the word aorta? Muhsin Khan translated both the Quran and Sahih Bukhari and translated both words as aorta:

And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta)

Quran 69:46 (Dr. Muhsin Khan translation)

Here we can see that he used "life artery" and put aorta into brackets. This seems to indicate that the metaphorical meaning of the verse is that Allah would end Muhammad's life. This shows that the apologetic excuse "in the hadith it had a metaphorical meaning "to die", while the Quran meant literal cutting of aorta" is invalid, because the Quran can be also understood metaphorically.

In the hadiths, Dr. Muhsin Khan translated the word abhar as aorta:

Narrated `Aisha:

The Prophet (ﷺ) in his ailment in which he died, used to say, "O `Aisha! I still feel the pain caused by the food I ate at Khaibar, and at this time, I feel as if my aorta is being cut from that poison."
Sahih Bukhari 5:59:713 (Dr. Muhsin Khan translation)

Other translations of the Quranic verse 69:46:

And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart:

Quran 69:46 translated by Yusuf Ali

Thereafter indeed We would have cut (off) (his) aorta.

Quran 69:46 translated by Dr. Ghali

Then We would certainly have cut off his aorta.

Quran 69:46 translated by Shakir

And then severed his life-artery

Quran 69:46 translated by Pickthall

Then We would have cut from him the aorta.

Quran 69:46 translated by Sahih Intl


  • Muhammad claimed to receive a revelation from Allah, that if he was a false prophet, Allah would cut his aorta.
  • Muhammad before his death claimed his aorta was cut.
  • Islamic apologists point out that the Arabic word wateen is used in the Quran, while the hadiths use the word abhar, but it doesn't matter because both these Arabic words refer to the aorta.

See also


  • A version of this page is also available in the following languages: Czech. For additional languages, see the sidebar on the left.

External links