Islamophobes and Hadith rejecting cultists use a particular narration to malign Islam and to put to doubt the entire Hadith treasure respectively.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "A group of Israelites were lost. Nobody knows what they did. But I do not see them except that they were cursed and changed into rats, for if you put the milk of a she-camel in front of a rat, it will not drink it, but if the milk of a sheep is put in front of it, it will drink it." I told this to Ka'b who asked me, "Did you hear it from the Prophet ?" I said, "Yes." Ka'b asked me the same question several times.; I said to Ka'b. "Do I read the Torah? (i.e. I tell you this from the Prophet) (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 3060)
Reality of the matter:
Commenting on the Hadith from Sahih Bukhari Hafiz Ibn Hajr wrote:
“And majority has responded to this saying that the Prophet –may Allah bless him- said this before the revelation came to him about the reality of this matter. And for this reason there is no dogmatic assertion from him on this, but it is there in the denial of this as found in Ibn Mas’ud’s narration.” (Fath al-Bari 11/166)
Towards the end of a long Hadith reported by Ibn Masu’d –may Allah be pleased with them both- we read that the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him- said: “Verily, Allah did not cause the race of those which suffered metamorphosis to grow or they were not survived by young ones …” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 4815)
The Missionary haters of Islam will never share this Hadith in its due perspective while discussing this topic.
The case of the Hadith from Sahih Bukhari is very much like the case of narrations about the event of fecundation of palm-trees and the one about al-Ghila. The Prophet –may Allah bless him- said the thing about rats based on his observation that rats did not drink milk of a she-camel as Jews did not deem it lawful for them. So it was just his guess based on an observation as clear even from the tone of the narration.
It’s not the question of contradiction even. We must remember what the Messenger of Allah –may Allah bless him- said:
“So, do not cling to me in my guess. But when I tell you something on behalf of Allah, take it firm, because I shall never tell a lie on behalf of Allah.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 4356)
One may however try to contrast the above with the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
“Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed,” (53: 3-4)
“The verses tell us that it is absolutely impossible for the Messenger –may Allah bless him- to forge lies and impute them to Allah. Nothing he utters is of his own wish or desire. He only conveys to the people what he was commanded to convey, in its entirety, without additions or deletions.”
Along with the kinds of revelation –i.e. the one included in Qur’an and the one which is not- at times the Prophet –may Allah bless him- made ijtihad (i.e. personal analogy etc.)
“In this there does exist the possibility of mistake of judgment. But it is the characteristic of the Messenger –may Allah bless him- and other Prophets –may Allah bless them all- that if they commit any error of judgment, Allah sends down a revelation to amend it, so that they do not unwittingly persist in their erroneous conclusions.” (Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi’, Ma’arif al-Qur’an, English Translation vol.8 p.202)
For a relatively detailed discussion on Ijtihad of the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him- see Dr. Muhammad al-Saduqi’s work al-Imam Muhammad bin Hassan al-Shaybani wa Athruhu fil Fiqh al-Islami, Darul Thaqafah, Doha, 1987 pp. 16-20 (Online Source)
Indeed Allah knows the best!