‘Aisha: Revisted

Bismillah. When doing my An-Nawawi series, I had done a short post on ‘Aisha in the section about the narrators. I wasn’t satisfied with it then, and I’m still not.  A few months back, I attended a halaqah by a shaykh about ‘Aisha. It was a very nice halaqah and I learned a lot of new things about her. I hope you’ll enjoy the few gems I grabbed from it. I’ll try to cite what I can. Most of the hadith and stories are from Men and Women around the Messenger.

A Love Story

Anas ibn Maalik said, “The first love in Islam was the love that the Messenger of Allah had for ‘A`isha. May Allah be pleased with her.”

The Angel Gabriel showed her to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a piece of silk and told him, “This is your wife in this world and the Hereafter.”

‘Aisha, as all Muslims know, was the only virgin that the Prophet (peace be upon him) married. Every other wife that he married was a widow, a divorcee, etc. Every other wife he married for a reason – to bring two people/tribes closer, to strengthen his ties with another sahabi (companion), divine revelation, etc.

Khadeejah and ‘Aisha were different. The Prophet (peace be upon him) married them because he loved them.

In Islam, marriage is when there is physical and mental maturity. In general, women reach maturity much earlier than men, as we know – both physically and mentally.

If we look at Western society today, even young kids are sexually active. It’s really sad, if one looks at the statistics. I don’t need to mention them here. This society is extremely over sexualized and kids lose their innocence so early. If a young girl doesn’t have a boyfriend, then her parents will tell her, “Oh, it’s ok, honey. I’m sure you’ll find someone soon.”

On the flip side – if a girl marries young or “underage,” that is looked down upon and it’s thought of as strange. How sad. A relationship in which a woman is cared for, honored and loved is looked down upon. What a backwards culture.

These days in general, I feel, people stay immature longer. Or…they never quite mature 🙂 I have met some teenagers that are mature enough to be married, and I’ve met married folks with kids who are still stuck in immaturity. Your age or marital status do not translate into maturity or immaturity. May Allah help us raise mature, responsible children. Ameen.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) consummated his marriage with ‘Aisha, she was physically and mentally mature. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is often attacked by enemies of Islam because he married ‘Aisha at such a young age. We should not shy away from saying that yes, she was very young when he married her. We should educate ourselves on the matter and be able to defend the Prophet (peace be upon him).

I didn’t know this, but learned at a lecture. Look back to the enemies of Islam during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They used every tactic they could think of to attack him – but did any one of them ever use his marriage to ‘Aisha as an attack? Nope. Isn’t that interesting? Do you know why that was? Such  humongous age gaps were very common during that day. Rabbis and Priests used to marry such young girls at that time as well; it was not considered strange or blameworthy.

Aside from all of those things – we have to remember that this was the Prophet of Allah. He was the kindest to his wives and he was the best human being to walk the face of this earth.

The Messenger’s Sweetheart

The people used to send presents to the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he had his turn to stay at ‘Aisha’s house. The other wives gathered in the house of Umm Salamah and said to her: “O Umm Salamah! By Allah, the people choose to send presents on the day of ‘Aisha’s turn and we too love the good (i.e. presents, etc) as ‘Aisha does. You should tell Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to tell the people to send their presents to him wherever he may be, or whereve his turn may be.” Umm Salamah relayed their message to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He turned away from her. Umm Salamah repeated what she said when he turned back to her. And when she said it a third time, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“O Umm Salamah! Don’t trouble me by harming ‘Aisha, for by Allah, the Divine Inspiration never came to me while I was under the blanket of any woman amongst you except her.”

The wives actually sent Faatimah to talk to the Prophet (peace be upon him) concerning this issue as well. The Prophet said to her: “O daughter, don’t you love whatever I love?” She said, “Yes.” He then said, “You should love this (lady).”

This is not to say that he treated ‘Aisha better as compared to the others. He treated all of his wives equally. The Prophet (peace be upon him) made du’aa` to Allah and said, “O Allah, this is my division in that over which I have power. Do not blame me for that over which You have power and I have no power.” He was asking Allah not to hold him accountable for what he could not control in his heart. Allah is the Turner of hearts and He turns the hearts as He wishes.

Mufti #1

‘Aisha was very  knowedgable. I didn’t realize just how much until I attended this halaqa. The shaykh said that no one at that time had more knowledge than her – not even her father, Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq! SubhaanAllah. We already know how awesome the sahabah were – ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, ‘Umar ibn al Khattaab – and she knew more than all of these giants of Islam? Amazing.

The shaykh went on to say that if we combine the knowledge of all of the other sahabah (with the exception of Abu Hurayrah), her knowledge was more!

She spent only 9 years in the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from her marriage until his death, and she learned a lot in those few years. Her young age really helped her soak up the knowledge from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and she educated many of the Sahabah from what she learned. Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of the most knowledgable companions. She was his teacher! Ibn ‘Abbass’ teacher! She was the teacher of the majority of the sahabah.

Abu Moosa al ‘Ashari (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Whenever a hadith was unclear to us – we the Companions of Allah’s Messenger – and we asked ‘Aisha about it, we always gained knowledge about that hadith from her.”

Al-Haakim said, “One fourth of the rule of shari’a was narrated on the authority of ‘Aa`isha.”

Az-Zuhri said, “If ‘Aisha’s knowledge is compiled and compared to the knowledge of all women, her knowledge will surely excel theirs.”

He also said: “The first person to remove distress from the people and explain to them the Sunnah regarding that was ‘Aisha.”

And there are many, many more quotes from scholars and sahabah about the knowledge of ‘Aisha.

For the Muslims, there has always been only one mufti at a time. For example, when Abu Haneefah went to Umrah and people asked Malik questions, he would say, “There is no mufti when Abu Haneefah is here.” Likewise, when  Abu Haneefah was asked, he said, “There is no mufti in Madeenah except for Malik.” (Not from a book – Don’t quote me on this!)

The point is, there is a mufti for the Muslims of every time. And who was the mufti of the Sahabah? ‘AISHA. subhaanAllah. I was so happy when I first heard this. ‘Aisha was the first ever mufti of the Muslims – and of the sahabah, at that! A woman. When the people came to the big sahabah and asked them questions, the sahabah would say, why are you asking us when ‘Aisha is still amongst us?

In the history of Islam, there was no other woman appointed as mufti. She was the first mufti ever and the only female mufti in the history of Islam. The most precious position in our deen is that of the mufti, and ‘Aisha was the first to have that honor.

Don’t Talk Trash about ‘Aisha!

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) would go on a journey and travel, he would draw lots amongst his wives and take the one on whom the lot fell. Once, it was ‘Aisha’s turn. The order of veiling had come down by this time, so she sat in a hawdaj on a camel. When they took a rest stop, ‘Aisha noticed that she lost a necklace and began to search for it. The people who carried the hawdaj onto the camel didn’t realize she was missing because she was young at that time and very light, as most of the women at that time were light in weight. So the caravan proceeded without her. ‘Aisha, thinking they would miss her, sat and waited for them, eventually falling asleep.

Safwan ibn al-Mu’attil as-Sulami adh-Dhakwani was behind the army and he recognized her when he saw her sleeping there because he used to see her from before the hijab was ordained. He said, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon” when he saw her. ‘Aisha woke and covered her face. He did not speak one word to her after that. He made his camel kneel for her and then led the camel until they reached the army.

Upon their return to Madinah, ‘Aisha fell sick. This is when the slander about her spread. And here, I want to quickly point out the distinction between backbiting and slander. They are both haram, of course. Backbiting is when you say something behind someone’s back that they would not like to hear to their face – and this includes things which may be true. So, a person could have been a complete jerk to you, but if you repeat it behind their back, it is backbiting. Slander, on the other hand, is when you lie about a person behind their back.

So these rumors are spreading, and ‘Aisha doesn’t know about them intially. When she finally did come to know if it, she asked her mother. She wept the night until the morning 😦

The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Bareerah, her slave girl, about ‘Aisha. And Bareerah’s response was: “By Allah Who has sent you with the truth, I have never seen anything regarding ‘Aisha which I would blame her for except that she sometimes sleeps and leaves the dough of her family unprotected so that the domestic goats come and eat it.” That was her only criticism of ‘Aisha – that she was careless about the foods sometimes and animals would come eat it!

Zaynab was also asked about ‘Aisha. And though Zaynab competed with ‘Aisha for the Prophet’s attention, her piety made her tell the truth. She said to him, “O Allah’s Messenger! I protect my hearing and my sight (by refraining from telling lies). I know nothing but good (about ‘Aisha).”

The Prophet came to visit her. He recited the tashahud and then said, “Thereafter, O ‘Aisha! I have been informed such and such a thing about you; and if you are innocent, Allah will reveal your innocence, and if you have committed a sin, then ask for Allah’s forgiveness and repent to him, for when a person confesses his sin and asks Allah for forgiveness, Allah accepts his repentance.”

At this point, ‘Aisha had reached the peak of her pain. When she asked her mother and father to respond to the Prophet (peace be upon him) for her, they would not respond. Even the Prophet (peace be upon him) – her husband – doubted her!

‘Aisha continues her story in the hadith: I was a young girl and did not have much knowledge of the Quran. I said.

“I know, by Allah, that you have listened to what people are saying and that has been planted in your minds and you have taken it as a truth. Now, if I told you that I am innocent and Allah knows that I am innocent, you would not believe me and if I confessed to you falsely that I am guilty, and Allah knows that I am innocent you would believe me. By Allah, I don’t compare my situation with you except to the situation of Joseph’s [Yusuf] father (i.e. Jacob [Ya’qoob]) who said, ‘So (for me) patience is most fitting against that which you assert and it is Allah (Alone) whose help can be sought.'”

Then I turned to the other side of my bed hoping that Allah would prove my innocence. By Allah I never thought that Allah would reveal Divine Inspiration in my case, as I considered myself too inferior to be talked of in the Holy Qur’an. I had hoped that Allah’s Apostle might have a dream in which Allah would prove my innocence. By Allah, Allah’s Apostle had not got up and nobody had left the house before the Divine Inspiration came to Allah’s Apostle. He said, ‘Aisha! Thank Allah, for Allah has declared your innocence.’ My mother told me to go to Allah’s Apostle . I replied, ‘By Allah I will not go to him and will not thank but Allah.’ So Allah revealed: “Verily! They who spread the slander are a gang among you . . .” (24.11)

(see the full hadith here)

Verses were revealed in the Qur’an to defend her honor, and they shall be recited for the rest of time. What an honor ‘Aisha received.

‘Aisha is the only one that the scholars agree that if someone says anything bad about her, then they are out of the fold of Islam. That is because they are rejecting the verses of Allah.

A Political Leader

‘Aisha was the first political leader in our history.

Just a side note – women are obviously allowed to be leaders in Islam. The only position of leadership they cannot have is that of khalifah, an Imam (duh!), or a criminal judge (that specific kind of judge which gives out the punishments of hudood). Otherwise, she can hold any position.

I don’t really want to get into the story of the Fitna, since her becoming a political leader happened at that time, but I’ll try to give the gist of it. So, basically, up until the khilaafah of ‘Uthmaan, Islam was expanding very fast. Boat loads of people were becoming Muslim and Islam was spreading like wildfire. So, all of a sudden, Islam had all of these new Muslims who were not properly educated about Islam. A lot of them didn’t even know the language that the Qur’an was revealed in properly. They were from different nationalities and backgrounds. Remember, also, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had been out of the picture for a long time. You can see how all of these factors are recipe for some loony bins.

And so the crazies come out of the woodwork and people arise that cause dissent and clash between the Muslims. None of these trouble makers are sahabah, mind you. They are new to Islam, and obviously don’t know much about it. They cause problems to such an extent that they murder the khalifah, ‘Uthmaan.

Once our beloved sahabi is murdered….there is no successor for him. The Muslims face a dilemma now – should they avenge ‘Uthmaan’s death first or should they appoint a khalifah first? A group of Muslims form – ‘Uthmaan’s relatives – who want justice to be bought to the killers. (In Islam, it is the family’s right to demand justice for the murdered). And leading this group of people who are trying to bring justice to the killers is ‘Aisha, the Mother of the Believers. She bought such great sahabi such as Az Zubayr ibn Al Awwaam and Talha (the Prophet’s hawariy, or disciple). Both of those sahabah were promised Jannah. She was the leader of all of these people as she was trying to bring justice for ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan. And that is how she became the first political leader in Islam.

But, in case you’re wondering what happens in the story… 🙂

Things get so out of the hand, that two battillions of Muslims meet to fight. Both have many righteous people, and both sides contain companions that are promised  Jannah. Alhamdulillah, before any fighting breaks out, they work things out.

But then….something happens.

The troublemakers start a fight, seeing that things are working out, and battle breaks out because of them. Many companions are killed on both sides. It was a sad day in Muslim history. Later on, ‘Aisha and ‘Ali (who of course went on to become khalifah) made amends and kept strong ties, alhamdulillah.

*                     *                     *

Let’s look back at all of the things ‘Aisha accomplished and what sort of a woman she was. She was extremely intelligent. She was the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this life and shall be his wife in the hereafter. She was the teacher and mufti of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). She was the first political leader in Islam. She was a brilliant, strong woman and the best role model for all women.

“You can have hayaa` and still be a leader in Islam, sister.” I loved that line from the shaykh. “Just look at ‘Aisha.”

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