Can You Explain This Hadith “Were It Not for the Children of Israel, Meat Would Not Spoil…”

Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle


A hadith mentions that the “Children of Israel are why meat goes off, and Eve is why women betray their husbands.” Please explain.


In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Most Compassionate

The Hadith

As you correctly cited, the hadith says, “Were it not for the Children of Israel, meat would not spoil; and were it not for Eve, no woman would ever betray her husband.” [Bukhari; Muslim]


The ulema explains that the hadith means that the inconvenience of meat going off only became a problem once the Children of Israel left the path of abstinence (zuhd) and started to hoard meat, not that mean never used to go off before their time. [Takmilat Fath al-Mulhim, Muhammad Taqi Usmani]

Misconstrued as Misogyny

As for the issue of Eve, it doesn’t mean that our grandmother Eve cheated on Adam (upon whom be peace). God forbid! It means that men should be weary of women’s innate characteristic inherited from Eve of being more easily pulled by whims, whether that leads to sin itself or merely to the suboptimal.

The husband, as the moral leader of the household, is being told to acknowledge this part of the nature of his wife and not let it bring the moral standards of the household down, should it arise. [Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani]

This is not a way of labeling women as essentially wrong or morally weak. The fact that the Quran praises religious women in general and speaks of certain pious females, in particular, is sufficient evidence.

Reading in Context

In Sahih Muslim, the hadith comes directly after the chapter on getting on well with one’s wife by acknowledging the differences between men and women and not trying to change them. It is then followed immediately by the chapter on divorce. Read in context, it is as though the message is that men should not overreact if they should happen to see certain traits in their wives that might alarm them. Still, they should know that just as men have a certain tendency to have certain vices, so do women have certain tendencies to have others.

After all, the husband-and-wife communion is there to cover each other’s faults: “They are a garment for you, and you a garment for them.” [Quran, 2: 187]


The hadith is not saying that meat never went off before the time of the Children of Israel, nor that  Eve is to blame if ever a woman cheats on her husband.

I pray this helps.

[Shaykh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language