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==Aisha bint Abi Bakr==
[[File:Aisha.jpg|right|thumb|Aisha’s wedding day. Anonymous. Commissioned for Bluitgen, K. (2006). ''Koranen og profeten Muhammeds Liv'' (''The Quran and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad''). Copenhagen: Hoest & Soen.|300px]]
Aisha bint Abi Bakr claimed that she was Muhammad’s second wife<ref>{{Muslim|8|3452}}.</ref> but she was probably his third.<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 128}}.</ref> She is known as Aisha ''al-Siddiqa'' (“the Truthful”) to complement her father, who was also known as ''al-Siddiq''. This byname originally referred, not to Abu Bakr’s personal honesty, but to his “testimony to the truth” of Muhammad’s miraculous [[Night Journey]].<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 183.</ref> Muslims consider Aisha another major “witness to the truth” of Muhammad’s prophetic office. However, her life was characterised by a fearless readiness to speak her mind, which has bequeathed to the world a wealth of truth about the nature of Islam.
===Aisha’s Background===
Aisha was born in Mecca “at the beginning of the fourth year of prophethood,”<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:55.</ref> i.e., between 25 October 613 and 19 February 614.
Her father was the cloth-merchant Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhafa from the Tamim clan of the Quraysh. A wealthy man whose generosity had made him popular in the city,<ref>{{Bukhari|3|37|494}}.</ref> he was Muhammad’s best friend and head evangelist.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 161-165; Ibn Hisham note 918.</ref> By his first wife, Qutayla bint Abduluzza of the Amir ibn Luayy clan, he had a daughter, Asma, and a son, Abdullah.<ref>{{Tabari|39|p. 193}}.</ref> He later married his business partner’s widow, Umm Ruman (Zaynab) bint Amir; she was an immigrant from the Kinana tribe whose only relative in Mecca was her young son, Tufayl ibn Al-Harith.<ref>{{Tabari|39|p. 171}}.</ref> She bore Abu Bakr another son, Abdulrahman.<ref>{{Tabari||9|pp. 129-130}}; {{Tabari|39|pp. 171-172}}; Bewley/Saad 8:193.</ref> When Abu Bakr became a Muslim in late 610, Qutayla refused to convert, and he divorced her.<ref></ref> So Umm Ruman was the only wife in the house by the time she gave birth to Aisha. Aisha grew up as a youngest child among four much older siblings; although her father eventually took two additional wives and had a child by each, this was not until long after Aisha had left Abu Bakr’s house to marry Muhammad.<ref></ref>
Since Aisha was born after her parents’ conversion, she never knew any lifestyle other than Islam.<ref>{{Bukhari|3|37|494}}; {{Bukhari|5|58|245}}.</ref> She recalled that the ''ayah'' {{Quran|54|46}}, concerning the occasion when the moon was miraculously split in the sky, was first recited in Mecca when she was “a little girl at play,” about three years old. She did not, however, claim to remember the miracle i\tself.<ref>{{Bukhari|6|60|387}}; {{Bukhari|6|60|388}}; {{Bukhari|6|60|399}}; {{Bukhari|6|61|515}}</ref> When the Hashimites were blockaded, Abu Bakr considered joining the exiles in Abyssinia. But he found a protector who agreed to keep the neighbours from harassing him on condition he confined his religion to the privacy of his home and did not try to convert anyone else. Abu Bakr kept to the letter of the agreement, but he later found a way to break its spirit, for he built a mosque in the courtyard of his house. There he once again read the Qur’an out loud, and women and youngsters flocked to hear his preaching. When the men challenged his duplicity, he renounced his protection.<ref>{{Bukhari|3|37|494}}.</ref> But there is no record that the Meccans ever attacked their family.
Her brother Abdulrahman rejected Islam, and so Abu Bakr disowned him.<ref></ref>
When Aisha was six, the blockade against the Hashimites was cancelled, and the clan emerged from hiding in the mountain ravine. After that, Muhammad came to visit her father every day.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:55; {{Bukhari|5|58|245}}.</ref>
===Why Muhammad Married Aisha===
After Khadijah died, Muhammad was so distressed that his friends feared for him.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:54.</ref> After only a few days, Umar’s sister-in-law, Khawla bint Hakim, decided that he needed a new wife. She told Muhammad that she knew of both a maid and a matron whom he might marry and asked which one he would prefer. He immediately responded that he would take them both.<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 129}}.
The maid was Abu Bakr’s daughter. It is usually claimed that Muhammad married her “to reinforce the friendly relations already existing with Abu Bakr.”<ref>[http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Sabeel/sabeel6.htm/ ''Why Did Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Married Young Aisha Siddiqa (r.a.)?''].</ref> In one sense this is true: Abu Bakr was one of the few men in Mecca who would still have been willing to give him a daughter.<ref>For Muhammad’s unpopularity with his pagan neighbours, see Guillaume/Ishaq 191-194.</ref> But did Muhammad’s request to his friend reflect Khawla’s original intention? The oral traditions about Muhammad’s life were first put in writing long after his death,<ref>Siddiqi, M. Z. (2006). ''Hadith Literature: Its Origin, Development, Special Features and Criticism'', pp. 8-9. “''Hadith'' which thus spread throughout the vast Muslim dominions had been preserved for a century partly in writing (in the form of laws and letters dictated by Muhammad himself, and in the form of various ''Sahifahs'' ascribed to many of his Companions), and partly in the memory of those who had associated with him and watched carefully his words and deeds. After the death of Muhammad, Umar I intended to collect the ''Ahadith''. He gave the matter his careful consideration for one whole month, invoking the help of God in his decision, and seeking the advice of his friends. But he had to give up the great project for fear of the Qur’an being neglected by the Muslims.” Kuala Lumpar: Islamic Book Trust.</ref> and it could be that they have been distorted by narrators who had hind-knowledge of the events. It is not impossible that Khawla originally mentioned “Abu Bakr’s daughter” without giving the name, and that she had actually been referring to his elder daughter Asma. Regardless of whether or not Khawla was complicit in the eventual outcome, what happened was that Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, completely overlooked the 16-year-old Asma<ref>Al-Dhahabi in ''Siyar Alam al-Nubala'' vol. 2 p. 289. “Asma was ten years older than Aisha.” Note, however, that Al-Dhahabi elsewhere doubts this assertion and suggests Asma might have been even older than this.</ref> and asked instead to marry the six-year-old Aisha.<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 129}}; {{Bukhari|7|62|18}}.</ref>
It is also suggested that Muhammad “married Aisha for the benefit of Islam and Humanity … From her, 2210 Hadith have come... Many of her transmissions pertain to some of the most intimate aspects of personal behaviour which only someone in Aisha's position could have learnt.”<ref>[http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Sabeel/sabeel6.htm/ ''Why Did Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Married Young Aisha Siddiqa (r.a.)?'']</ref> This is absurd. If Muhammad had wanted the traditions about his life to be securely transmitted to posterity, he would not have relied on the hope that his young widow might later think of it; he would have arranged to have them committed to writing during his lifetime. He never did. Further, if he had believed that a wife was the best kind of chronicler, he would have chosen an adult spouse who knew how to write. Aisha could in fact read<ref>{{Bukhari|6|61|515}}; {{Muslim|37|6673}}.</ref> but she never learned to write.<ref></ref>
What Muhammad later said was that Allah had instructed him to marry Aisha. He said the angel Jibril had appeared to him in a dream, holding a veiled child and saying, “Messenger of Allah, this one will remove some of your sorrow. This one has some of the qualities of Khadijah.” Then he lifted the veil, revealing that the child was Aisha.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:54-55; {{Muslim|31|5977}}.</ref> In a second dream, Jibril showed him Aisha’s picture painted on silk, promising, “She will be your wife in Paradise.”<ref>{{Bukhari|5|58|235}}; {{Bukhari|9|87|140}}.</ref> If Muhammad really had any such dream, it is disturbing that he would act on it so literally.
There is little doubt that Muhammad’s choice of Aisha over Asma was influenced by Aisha’s personal qualities. That she was very pretty was conceded by people who had no vested interest<ref>{{Bukhari|6|60|435}}; {{Bukhari|7|62|145}}.</ref> as well as by those who might have been biased.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 495; {{Bukhari|3|48|829}}; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> She was slim and light-framed<ref>{{Bukhari|3|48|829}}</ref> with a fair, rosy complexion and perhaps also red hair<ref>Al-Nasa’i 5:307.</ref> that she wore plaited.<ref>{{Abudawud|1|241}}.</ref> Time would show that she was confident, spirited, strong-willed and highly intelligent – she had indeed “some of the qualities of Khadijah”.
===Marriage Contract===
Muhammad told the household of Abu Bakr, without mentioning his reason, “Take good care of Aisha and watch over her for me.” The family therefore gave Aisha a “special position.” A few days later, Aisha became upset with her mother and complained to her father. Abu Bakr was angry with both of them, and Umm Ruman vented her annoyance on Aisha. Aisha hid behind the front door to sob and was in this state of distress when Muhammad, arriving for his daily visit, asked what was wrong. She blurted out everything. Muhammad immediately confronted Umm Ruman, saying, “Didn’t I tell you to look after Aisha for me?” Umm Ruman tried to give her side of the story, but Muhammad retorted, “So what?” Aisha’s mother had to promise never to annoy her daughter again.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:55.</ref> As the important details have been omitted from this story, it is difficult to discern whether it was Umm Ruman who was an overbearing mother or Aisha who was a bratty child, or even whether it was Abu Bakr who abused both of them; but it is certain that Muhammad was interfering with another family’s affairs without any interest in knowing all the facts.
Soon afterwards Muhammad made his formal request for Aisha’s hand. Abu Bakr hesitated at first, saying, “Would this be suitable, since she is like my brother’s daughter?” But Muhammad said that their brotherhood was purely spiritual and did not preclude such a marriage.<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 129}}; {{Bukhari|7|62|18}}.</ref> Abu Bakr had talked about betrothing Aisha to young Jubayr ibn Al-Mutim, but breaking off these negotiations proved easy, as the pagan family no longer wished to risk that their son might convert to Islam.<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 129-130}}.</ref> So Abu Bakr married Aisha to Muhammad in May or June 620.<ref>Ibn Hisham note 918; {{Bukhari|1|7|88}}; {{Bukhari|7|62|90}}; {{Muslim|2|3309}}; {{Muslim|2|3310}}; {{Muslim|2|3311}}; {{Muslim|4|3309}}; {{Muslim|8|3311}}; Bewley/Saad 8:55; {{Tabari|9|pp. 130-131}}; Ibn Majah 3:1876; Ibn Majah 3:1877.</ref> Aisha did not know anything about it.<ref></ref>
That Aisha did not know that she was married was, of course, nothing unusual. Throughout history and in nearly every culture, betrothals have been arranged over cradles, and women in particular have been married without their knowledge, understanding or consent. The fact that Aisha was a child is barely an issue here; no woman of ''any'' age should be married without her own consent, whether she is six, 16, 36 or 60. However, it is unlikely that any seventh-century Arab grasped “informed consent” in the way the modern West understands it. Muhammad’s similar failure to grasp it betrays that he was no prophet or pioneer of human rights but was simply a normal product of his own culture.
Muhammad’s intentions for Aisha seem to have been sexual from the beginning. “Abu Bakr was very averse to the giving him his daughter so young, but that Mohammed claimed a divine command for it; whereupon he sent her to him with a basket of dates, and when the girl was alone with him, he stretched out his blessed hand and rudely took hold of her clothes; upon which she looked fiercely at him, and said, “People call you The Faithful [Al-Amin], but your behaviour to me shows you are a faithless one.” And with these words she got out of his hands, and, composing her clothes, went and complained to her father. The old gentleman, to calm her resentment, told her she was new betrothed to Mohammed, and that made him take liberties with her, as if she had been his wife.”<ref>Abdulrahman al-Hamdani, ''Al-Shabayat'', cited by Maracci (1698). ''Vita Mohametus'', p. 23. A translation by Simon Ockley (1708) is here.)</ref> Although Aisha heard her father’s words, she did not really understand them, for she had no consciousness of being married to Muhammad until the day of the consummation.<ref></ref>
Late in 622 Aisha accompanied her family on the emigration to Medina. She had an adventure on the way: “My camel broke loose. I was sitting in the ''howdah'' with my mother, and she started exclaiming, ‘Alas, my daughter! Alas, you bride!’ But they caught up with our camel after it had safely descended the Lift Valley.”<ref>{{Tabari|39|p. 172}).</ref> After the scorching heat of Mecca, the emigrants found Medina an uncongenially damp, cool climate, and several of them were struck by fever. Aisha was bemused by the delirious ramblings of two of Abu Bakr’s servants and asked Muhammad what it meant.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 413-414.</ref> Then Aisha herself became feverish for a whole month, and her hair fell out.<ref>{{Muslim|8|3309}}; Ibn Majah 3:1876.</ref>
After Aisha had recovered, “and my hair had grown back past my earlobes,”<ref>{{Muslim|8|3309}}; Ibn Majah 3:1876</ref> Abu Bakr approached Muhammad and asked him if he would like to consummate the marriage. Muhammad did not express the smallest outrage or disgust at this invitation; instead of correcting his friend’s morality, he merely confessed that he had no cash to pay the dower. Abu Bakr replied that he would provide this.<ref>{{Tabari|39|p. 172-173}}.</ref> The earliest source states that it was a sum of 400 ''dirhams''<ref>Ibn Hisham note 918</ref> (about £2,000), but others say 12½ ounces,<ref>{{Tabari|39|pp. 173, 189}}; {{Muslim|38|3318}; {{Abudawud|11|2101}}; Bewley/Saad 8:118.</ref> presumably of silver, which would have been worth 500 ''dirhams'' (or £2,500). The same weight of gold would have had ten times this value. It is not known why Abu Bakr suddenly lost his scruples over child-marriage and was now urging that the union be finalised; but Aisha’s illness had hinted at her mortality, while the flight to Medina must have altered the political landscape unrecognisably, so perhaps he felt the need to confirm his continuing importance in the Muslim hierarchy.
In April or May 623 Aisha, now aged nine, was playing on a swing with some friends when her mother called her over. Still breathless, Aisha was taken to the little house that had just been built into the wall of the mosque, a hut of unbaked bricks with a palm-branch roof, perhaps five metres by four in size.<ref>{{Tabari|39|pp. 172-173; Bewley/Saad 8:121; [http://www.soebratie.nl/religie/hadith/IbnSad.html#Book 65.3/ Ibn Saad, ''Tabaqat'' vol. 1:65:3].</ref> For some reason Umm Ruman then departed the scene of action, leaving Aisha indoors with some ''ansar'' women. They washed and combed her, dressed her up in a red-striped gown, put on make-up and perfume and wished her good luck. She still did not understand what the occasion was, even when her father’s friend Muhammad arrived and everyone else left; she was surprised but not afraid. Only when Muhammad sat her on his lap did she finally realise she was married.<ref>Ibn Hisham note 918; {{Bukhari|7|62|88}}; {{Bukhari|7|62|90}}; {{Muslim|8|3309}}; {{Muslim|8|3310}}; {{Muslim|8|3311}}; {{Abudawud|41|4915}}; {{Abudawud|41|4917}}; {{Tabari|9|pp. 130-131}}; Ibn Majah 3:1876; Ibn Majah 3:1877.</ref> The consummation was not marked by any kind of wedding party or public celebration: “neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered for me.”<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 131}}.</ref> This possibly indicates that, while the Muslim converts did not question Muhammad’s judgment, he knew only too well what his Jewish neighbours might think of his marriage to a child.
Aisha was always very proud of her position as the beloved of the Prophet and never recognised that she had been raped. She spoke calmly of the way Muhammad sucked her tongue<ref>{{Abudawud|13|2380}}.</ref> and took baths with her in the same tub,<ref>{{Bukhari|1|5|263}}; {{Bukhari|1|6|298}}.</ref> and of how she would then wash the semen off his clothes<ref>{{Bukhari|1|4|229}}; {{Bukhari|1|4|230}}; {{Bukhari|1|4|231}}; {{Bukhari|1|4|232}}; {{Bukhari|1|4|233}}.</ref> and anoint him with perfume<ref>{{Bukhari|1|5|267}}.</ref> (his favourite was ''dhikarat al-tayyib'', a blend of musk and ambergris<ref>Ibn Saad, ''Tabaqat'', 1:2:90:11.</ref>).
Muhammad allowed Aisha her playtime. At first Aisha’s playmates were shy of the Prophet and fled at his approach, but he called them back and played with them.<ref>{{Bukhari|8|73|151}}; {{Muslim|31|5981}}.</ref> Her collection of dolls included at least three shaped like female humans<ref>{{Bukhari|8|73|151}}; {{Muslim|8|3311}}; {{Muslim|31|5981}}.</ref> and a stuffed horse with wings. Muhammad teased her about this anomaly but he laughed when she reminded him that Solomon was supposed to have owned winged horses.<ref>{{Abudawud|41|4914}}.</ref> Strangely, neither of them mentioned that Muhammad himself claimed to have ridden a winged horse a few years earlier.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 182; {{Bukhari|4|54|429}}; {{Bukhari|5|58|227}}.</ref> She once beat him in a running race. Later, after she had put on weight, they raced again, and he won, remarking, “This pays you back for that other time!”<ref>{{Abudawud|14|2572}}.</ref> At festival time her friends sang badly and beat tambourines in her house; although Muhammad came to lie down there, he told the girls not to stop their play for him – which shocked Abu Bakr.<ref>{{Bukhari|2|15|70}}; {{Bukhari|2|15|72}}.</ref> Later that day, some Abyssinian guests put on a display in the mosque courtyard to demonstrate their prowess with shields and spears. Women were not really allowed, but Muhammad circumvented the regulation by standing in front of Aisha at her front door, shielding her with his cloak, so that she could watch the performance.<ref>{{Bukhari|2|15|70}}.</ref>
But what these “innocent” episodes demonstrate, above anything else, is that Aisha ''was'' a child. A grown woman does not play with dolls and swings. Aisha was just a little girl who, like any other little girl, was inconsiderate about noise<ref>{{Bukhari|2|15|72}}</ref> and could not cook.<ref>Al-Nasa’i 8917. {{Bukhari|3|48|829}}. Hanbal, ''Musnad'' vol. 6 p. 227.</ref>
Aisha’s acceptance of the situation does not alter the fact that a 52-year-old man should have known better than to engage sexually with a nine-year-old. Most cultures throughout history have understood that a girl should not be touched before puberty. The Jews in Medina most certainly understood it.<ref>Ezekiel 16:7-8; [http://www.jewfaq.org/marriage.htm/ “Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children”] in ''Judaism 101''.</ref> Muslim apologists have tried to plead that Aisha was an early developer for whom “it is most likely her puberty started at 8, and continued till she was 9, and once she was going through puberty and her menses, this made her a lady and not a girl anymore since she was fit for a baby therefore she is no child anymore.”<ref>[http://muslim-responses.com/Marriage_with_Aisha/Marriage_with_Aisha_/ Zaatari, S. (DATE). “A Detailed analysis of the Prophet's Marriage to Aisha”] in ''Muslim Responses''.</ref> But this is not correct. Aisha had still not reached menarche by the age of 14½, more than five years after the consummation of her marriage. She twice described her 14-year-old self as a ''jariya'' (“prepubescent girl”)<ref>{{Bukhari|3|48|829}} also refers to her light weight at the time of the raid on the Mustaliq tribe. {{Muslim|4|1940}} emphasises her “tender age” at the time of the Abyssinian sword-display, which must have happened after the Order of the Veil in March 627, since Muhammad had to disguise the fact that Aisha was watching. But they were not in Medina for that year’s festival, so the incident must have occurred in 628 or perhaps even in 629, just before the ''Umra'' journey, when Aisha was 15.</ref> and was at that age still playing with dolls, which were forbidden to adults but permitted to prepubescents.<ref>{{Bukhari|8|73|151}}.</ref> Although this could not have been predicted on her wedding day, she actually belonged to the 10% of girls who are latest in reaching puberty.<ref>The [http://www.mum.org/menarage.htm/ mean age of menarche] was 12½ years. This is quite similar to today, when the [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2733039/ standard deviation] is about 18 months. So probably only 2% of Aisha’s contemporaries would have been menstruating as young as age 9½, 25% by age 11½, 75% by age 13½ and 98% by age 15½.</ref> At nine, she would have been flat-chested and only three-quarters of her future height; nobody could have mistaken her for an adult. Unlike the informed consent issue, which simply reveals that Muhammad was a product of his culture, this act of paederasty betrays that Muhammad was morally inferior to his own culture. He rejected the moral norms of his wisest contemporaries and abused a little girl for no better reason than that Abu Bakr had made it easy for him to do so. He demonstrated for once and for all that he had no timeless, universal moral insight to offer the world – in short, that he was not a prophet.
Most of Aisha’s married life was very grim. Muhammad taught that women “have the right to their food and clothing in accordance with the custom.”<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 112-113}}. See also {{Abudawud|11|2137}}; Tirmidhi 276.</ref> But he did not provide much food for Aisha, and she was always hungry. She claimed she never ate barley bread for more than three successive days and often lived off dates and water for weeks on end because she had no flour.<ref>{{Muslim|42|7085}}; {{Muslim|42|7083}}; {{Muslim|42|7086}}; {{Muslim|42|7084}}; {{Muslim|42|7087}}; {{Muslim|42|7089}}; {{Muslim|42|7092}}; {{Muslim|42|7093}}; {{Muslim|42|7097}}; {{Muslim|42|7098}}.</ref> A neighbour once sent her a pudding. While Aisha was finishing her prayers, a cat came in and ate some of it, but she had no compunction in eating from the place that the cat had licked.<ref>{{Abudawud|1|76}}.</ref> She was underweight because she so rarely ate meat.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 494.</ref>
For the first five years, Aisha’s hunger was a simple result of Muhammad’s personal poverty. “The Prophet of Allah liked three worldly objects – perfume, women and food … He obtained women and perfumes but he did not get food.”<ref>Ibn Saad, ''Tabaqat'' 1:2:90:4</ref> After the conquest of Khaybar in July 628, Muhammad was no longer poor, and Aisha hoped that “at last we will eat our fill of dates.”<ref>{{Bukhari|5|59|547}}. See also {{Muslim|9|3506}} and {{Muslim|9|3510}}, dating from this period.</ref> But if her rations improved, she did not remember it afterwards. On the day Muhammad died, he was “King” of all Arabia, but Aisha’s barrel contained only one handful of barley.<ref>{{Muslim|42|7091}}; Jalalayn’s commentary on Q93:8.</ref>
Charity was a way of life for the Arabs, and of course the Prophet’s young wife had to set the example. On one occasion a beggar came to her door on a fast-day, and Aisha told her maid to give him their only loaf. The servant protested that there would be nothing to break their fast, but Aisha insisted.<ref>{{Muwatta|58|1|5}}.</ref> On another occasion, a widow with two daughters came begging, and Aisha’s larder was reduced to one date. She handed it over, and the widow divided it between the children without taking anything for herself.<ref>{{Muslim|32|6362}}.</ref> On one occasion, the Prophet had sacrificed a sheep, and Aisha was so generous in sharing the meat out amongst the poor that she had to confess to Muhammad that she had saved only the shoulder for themselves. He replied, “That is the only part that you have not saved, for whatever you give away in the name of Allah, you save, and whatever you keep for yourself, you lose.”<ref>Ibn Kathir, ''The Wives of the Prophet''.</ref>
The fact that Aisha had a servant does not indicate very much about the comfort-level of her home. Barira was a slave whom Aisha charitably bought for nine ounces of silver (about £1800) with the specific goal of immediate manumission. As it happened, Barira had nowhere else to go, so although she was free to leave, she chose to stay with Aisha as a domestic maid.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:181.</ref> Muhammad put up the silver, which only proves that (largely through the successes of his wars and robberies) he by now had some money in his coffer.<ref></ref> But he spent his wealth on arming his warriors,<ref></ref> bribing the double-minded<ref></ref> or assisting the poor.<ref></ref> Not much of his money trickled down to his own household, and hardly any of it translated to food. The servant Barira was an extra mouth for Muhammad to feed, and she must have been as hungry as her young mistress.
Aisha was to remain Muhammad’s favourite wife.<ref>{{Bukhari|3|47|755}}; {{Muslim|31|5984}}.</ref> He once told her that his love for her was as firm “as a knot in a rope,” after which she would often ask, “How is the knot?” and he would reply, “The same as ever!”<ref></ref> He claimed that Aisha was superior to all other women in the same way that a meat stew was superior to plain bread.<ref>{{Bukhari|4|55|623}}; {{Bukhari|5|57|113}}; {{Bukhari|5|57|114}}; {{Bukhari|7|65|329}}; {{Bukhari|7|65|330}}; {{Bukhari|7|65|339}}.</ref> When a companion asked him, “Whom do you love most in this world?” he replied, “Aisha!” When the young man protested that he had meant ''male'' persons, Muhammad corrected his reply to, “Her father.”<ref>{{Bukhari|5|57|14}}.</ref> As he once sat repairing his sandals, Aisha stared at him until he asked why. She replied, “Al-Huthali’s poem was written for you! He said that if you looked to the majesty of the moon, it twinkles and lights up the world for everybody to see.” Muhammad walked over to her, kissed her between the eyes, and said, “I swear to Allah, Aisha, you are like that to me and more.”<ref>Bayhaqi, ''Signs of Prophethood''.</ref>
But being the favourite was no substitute for the security enjoyed by an only wife. Aisha was jealous of Khadijah (whom she had never met). She complained: “Khadijah is always on your mind, and you speak as if she were the only woman in the world! Why do you still think of that toothless old woman who is long dead, when Allah has given you someone better to replace her?” Muhammad retorted, “No, I have never had a better wife than Khadijah!”<ref>{{Bukhari|5|58|164}}; {{Bukhari|5|58|165}}; {{Bukhari|5|58|166}}; {{Bukhari|5|58|168}}; {{Bukhari|7|62|156}}; {{Bukhari|8|73|33}}; {{Bukhari|9|93|576}}; {{Muslim|31|5971}}; {{Muslim|31|5972}}; {{Muslim|31|5974}}; {{Muslim|31|5976}}.</ref> Perhaps Aisha would not have minded about Khadijah if she had been less tormented by living rivals. Muhammad kept acquiring new women, and by March 630 he had eleven legal wives plus two official concubines. At one stage he announced a special revelation from Allah that he must not marry any more women “no matter how beautiful they are.”<ref>{{Quran||}}.</ref> Historians have found it difficult to date this particular ''ayat'' because there was no significant period (in Medina) when Muhammad stopped marrying. But the revelation is of no great importance for, as Aisha sadly reported, “It was abrogated.”<ref></ref>
Muhammad set up an orderly roster so that each wife would have an equal share of his attention. Every afternoon he paid a social call on all his wives before settling in the house where he intended to sleep.<ref>{{Bukhari|3|47|766}}. See also {{Bukhari|3|48|853}}; {{Muslim|8|3450}}; {{Muslim|8|3451}}; {{Muslim|8|3452}}.</ref> When he went on a journey, he cast lots among his wives to determine who would accompany him. But rosters and lotteries did little to secure fair turns, for all the wives knew about his preference. He was always pleased when the travelling-lot fell on Aisha and disappointed when it did not. When he the returned from a journey and had to start the roster from day one again, he always began with Aisha.<ref></ref> He said, “Aisha has a place in my heart that nobody else has.”<ref></ref> When he teased his wives by saying that he would give his favourite an onyx necklace, he waited for them to whisper that he would give it to Aisha before presenting it to his little granddaughter Umama.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:27-28.</ref>
Inevitably, Aisha was not always the wife who benefited from Muhammad’s favouritism. A revelation gave him special permission to postpone one wife’s turn if he had a sudden urge to be with another. Aisha responded, “It seems to me that Allah is very quick to grant your desires!”<ref>See {{Quran|33|51}}; {{Bukhari|3|47|766}}; [http://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=60&translator=1&start=307&number=311/ {{Bukhari|6|60|311}}]; {{Muslim|8|3453}}; {{Muslim|8|3454}}.</ref> Muhammad would ask the rostered wife’s permission before he skipped her, but Aisha never dared say no. She only told him: “If I really were free to say no, I would never allow you to favour another woman.”<ref>[ http://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=60&translator=1&start=307&number=312/ {{Bukhari|6|60|312}}].</ref> One night, when Muhammad left Aisha’s room, she assumed he had gone to visit one of the others out of turn. She was so angry that she ripped up his clothes. When he returned to find his cloak in ribbons, he asked: “What is the matter, Aisha? Are you jealous?” She retorted: “And why shouldn’t I be jealous? You give me good reason!”<ref>{{Muslim|39|6759}}; Ibn Hanbal, ''Musnad'' 6:115.</ref> Only a few days before Muhammad died, he asked Aisha, “Would you be upset if you died before me so that I might wrap you in your shroud and pray over you and bury you?” She replied, “After you had done that, I think you would return to my house and have sex right here with one of your other wives!” He smiled but he did not deny it.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 678-679.</ref>
Aisha was quick to emphasise her position as the “most important” wife. She enumerated among her distinguishing characteristics that she was the wife whom Muhammad loved the most, the only wife whom he married as a virgin, the only one who used to lie down in front of him while he was praying, the only one in whose bed he received revelations, the one whose innocence was revealed from Heaven, the one in whose house he suffered his final illness and in whose lap he died, and the one in whose house he was buried.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:46, 47.</ref> She also claimed that she was the first woman whom Muhammad married after Khadijah and that [[Sawda bint Zamaa]] was the second, i.e., that she had been Muhammad’s first choice.<ref>{{Muslim|8|3452}}.</ref> The evidence, however, is against her. The sources state that Muhammad married Sawda in Ramadan (the ninth month) and Aisha in Shawwal (the tenth month).<ref>{{Tabari|9|p. 128}}; {{Tabari|39|pp. 170, 171}}; Bewley/Saad 8:43, 55; {{Muslim|8|3312}}.</ref> Further, Aisha was not an eyewitness to her own marriage contract,<ref></ref> so her information about its date would have been acquired at second hand. It was probably a case of believing what she wanted to believe. One possible harmonisation of the conflict, however, is that Muhammad might have opened negotiations with Abu Bakr in Ramadan before he proposed to Sawda; but in the several days it took Abu Bakr to consent and then to tidy up his affairs with Al-Mutim’s family, Muhammad had time for his quick, uncomplicated wedding to Sawda.
Some Muslims, especially Shi’a, hold up Aisha’s “jealousy” as an example ''not'' to be followed.<ref></ref> Muhammad himself rebuked her that, “Jealousy is belief for a man [because he is protecting the chastity of the whole family] but it is unbelief for a woman [because she is selfish to demand her husband’s exclusive attention].”<ref> Nahjol Balagha, short maxims </ref> This tactic of “blaming the victim” is merely an attempt to deflect blame from the “perfect man” Muhammad. In fact he had no moral excuse for his polygyny (legalised adultery), for he knew very well that the set-up made women unhappy. When his son-in-law Ali considered taking a second wife, he sternly forbade it because, “What hurts Fatima hurts me.”<ref>{{Bukhari|7|62|157}}.</ref> He understood that there was nothing intrinsically unreasonable about Aisha’s hopeless dream of a normal monogamous marriage; but he made it very clear that this would never be an option.
===The Necklace Affair===
While travelling home from a raid in January 628, Aisha, then aged 14, lost a zafar necklace that she had borrowed from her sister. While she was searching for it away from the camp, the caravan accidentally departed without her, and she was left stranded in the desert for several hours. Eventually a young man, Safwan ibn Muattal, discovered her and gave her a lift on his camel until they reached the army’s next halt.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 494; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}..</ref> Gossip spread around the camp that Aisha and her rescuer must have committed adultery.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 495; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref>
Aisha was not aware of the rumours. She felt sick as they completed the journey to Medina and took to her bed as soon as they arrived. She was aware during her illness that Muhammad was not paying his usual attention to her comfort; but she knew that he had just acquired a new bride (this brought the total to seven)<ref></ref> and that he was busy with plans to force his way into Mecca;<ref></ref> she had no reason to assume that his coolness indicated that he was displeased with ''her''. She soon moved into her parents’ house so that Umm Ruman could nurse her. It was three weeks before she was well enough to speak to anyone outside the family, whereupon she discovered that she was suspected of adultery.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 495; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}</ref>
It is highly unlikely that Aisha was actually guilty: she was far too intelligent to betray Muhammad so blatantly and she had witnessed the stoning to death of adulterers.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 266-267; {{Bukhari|8|82|809}}; {{Bukhari|6|60|79}}; {{Bukhari|4|56|829}}.</ref> The necklace really did have an unreliable clasp, and there were hundreds of witnesses that she had already lost it in a separate incident just the previous day (see below); since it was borrowed, it was only natural that she would put considerable effort into searching for it. The more interesting question is why she was even accused. Four people who were not eyewitnesses and apparently had little in common with one another formed a spontaneous alliance to speculate on Aisha’s guilt and smear her character.
#'''Hamna bint Jahsh''' was the sister of another of Muhammad’s wives. She hoped that Aisha’s downfall would pave the way for her sister to become the favourite wife.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 495; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> Aisha did not mention that Hamna also had a more personal grudge against her. Hamna’s husband, Talha ibn Ubaydullah, had expressed open admiration for Aisha and had declared that he would marry her as soon as she was widowed.<ref></ref> Muhammad had responded to this affront with a revelation that his widows were never to remarry.<ref></ref> Although Talha was eventually married to a total of eleven women, Hamna was at this date his only wife. She cannot have relished the news that her husband intended to become a polygamist and that his first choice was a politically important and pretty girl twenty years younger than herself. Nevertheless, Hamna cannot have been the person who originally concocted the slander, for she had not travelled with the army, and the story was already underway before they returned to Medina. Having heard the speculation, however, Hamna made herself very busy in spreading it.
#'''Abdullah ibn Ubayy''' was not the author of the slander either. “The people propagated the slander and discussed it in his presence. He confirmed it, listened to it and asked about it to let it prevail.”<ref>{{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> His part in the scandal appears to have been to encourage other people’s gossip when it would have been more fitting to a leader among the people to forbid further mention of such idle tales – for Abdullah was the most important chief in Medina. Seven years earlier, he had been elected King. But before he could be crowned, a dissident faction announced their support for the prophet from Mecca. Abdullah had at first cooperated with the Muslims and had even instructed his own partisans to support Muhammad rather than fight over the leadership of the city.<ref></ref> But once he realised that Muhammad was a tyrant, he regretted the way he had facilitated the Muslim take-over.<ref></ref> His refusal to fight his Meccan friends at Uhud had contributed to the Muslim defeat, and Muhammad had labelled him the “chief hypocrite”.<ref></ref> Although Abdullah had nothing personal against Aisha, he must have hoped that the Muslims would quarrel among themselves so that Islam would crumble from within. So who were the people who speculated on Aisha’s chastity in his hearing?
#'''Hassan ibn Thabit''' was Muhammad’s poet.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 497; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> Like any tabloid editor, he made it his business to publish scandals. It is difficult to imagine that
But he would probably not have dared to attack the Prophet’s favourite wife unless he was
#'''Mistah ibn Uthatha''' was a poor relation of Abu Bakr’s,<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 495, 497; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}. His maternal grandmother was Abu Bakr’s maternal aunt, i.e., he was Aisha’s second cousin. Both his parents were the second cousins of Muhammad’s father.</ref> and his mother was horrified that he would attack their patron’s daughter.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 495; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> But it is not difficult to imagine that, after years of living at close quarters, Mistah might have come off second-best in a clash with Aisha, or just envied her more privileged life, and now had a score to settle.
Muhammad was furious that Aisha had embarrassed him by exposing herself to the accusation, and he barely spoke to her for the next month.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 495, 496; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> It has been suggested that the reason Muhammad took four weeks to decide what to do was that he was waiting to ascertain that Aisha was not pregnant.<ref></ref> This cannot be correct, as he knew she was not yet fertile.<ref>{{Bukhari|3|48|829}} refers to the day she lost the necklace, while {{Muslim|4|1940}} and {{Bukhari|8|73|151}} concern incidents that happened up to six months later.</ref> The general public, however, might not have been aware of such personal information. It is possible that Muhammad wanted some (unspecified) other persons to ''believe'' that he feared a pregnancy so that they would assume Aisha’s guilt. This public humiliation would punish Aisha and keep everyone else guessing about his intentions.
Even Aisha’s own parents did not dare speak a word in her defence but kept neutral until they could determine what Muhammad wanted to do about it.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 496; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref>
Ali, who perceived Abu Bakr as a rival for Muhammad’s favours,<ref></ref> hinted that there were “plenty more women out there.”<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 496; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> Perhaps he thought that Muhammad could be induced to divorce Aisha (and hence cut ties with Abu Bakr); he does not appear to have been bothered by the possibility that Aisha would have to be stoned to death. He suggested that Aisha’s servant Barira would know the truth. Muhammad sat without voicing a murmur of protest while Ali beat the servant for information. But no matter how he abused her, the worst story that Barira could produce against her mistress was that Aisha had once fallen asleep when she was supposed to be watching the rising dough, and so the pet lamb had eaten it (doubtless a hungry memory).<ref>{{Guillaume/Ishaq 496}}; {{Bukhari|3|48|829}}; {{Bukhari|3|48|805}}; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref>
In the end Muhammad announced a revelation: Allah declared that Aisha was innocent.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 497; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}.</ref> Hamna, Hassan and Mistah were sentenced to eighty lashes each;<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 497.</ref> but Abdullah was left unpunished so that Allah might deal with him in the Afterlife.<ref></ref> (Muhammad apparently lacked confidence that Allah’s law applied equally to such a powerful aristocrat.) The revelation also proclaimed that adultery could not be punished unless there were four male witnesses.<ref></ref> This excused Aisha even had she happened to be guilty, since she only had three and a half witnesses against her.<ref>{{Quran-range|24|11|20}}; {{Bukhari|3|48|829}}; {{Bukhari|5|59|462}}; {{Bukhari|6|60|274}}; {{Bukhari|6|60|281}}; {{Muslim|37|6673}}.</ref>
Muhammad never discerned the greatest irony of the whole sordid affair. On the same day as Aisha was alone in the desert, with nobody to verify whether she was looking for a lost necklace or committing adultery, Muhammad was sleeping with yet another new bride, and the whole community knew about it.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 629; Ibn Hisham note 918; {{Tabari|39|pp. 182-183}}; {{Abudawud|29|3920}}; Ibn Saad, ''Tabaqat'' 117; Ibn Hajar, ''Al-Isaba'' 4:265.</ref> But nobody ever accused him of adultery. The Prophet was not required to be faithful to a woman.
As a sad aside, it was only about three months after this scandal that Aisha’s mother died.<ref>Bewley/Ibn Saad 8:193.</ref> Umm Ruman had been a weak and under-protective parent but it would be wrong to claim that she did not love her daughter.
Guillaume/Ishaq 494.
When the apostle intended to go on an expedition he cast lots between his wives which of them should accompany him. He did this on the occasion of the raid on the Mustaliq tribe, and the lot fell on me, so the apostle took me out. The wives on these occasions used to eat light rations; meat did not fill them up so that they were heavy. When the camel was being saddled for me I used to sit in my howdah; then the men who saddled it for me would come and pick me up and take hold of the lower part of the howdah and lift it up and put it on the camel’s back and fasten it with a rope. Then they would take hold of the camel’s head and walk with it.
When the apostle finished his journey on this occasion he started back and halted when he was near Medina and passed a part of the night there. Then he gave permission to start and the men moved off.
I went out for a certain purpose having a string of zafar beads on my neck. When I had finished, it slipped from my neck without my knowledge, and when I returned to the camel I went feeling my neck for it but could not find it. Meanwhile the main body had already moved off. I went back to the place where I had been and looked for the necklace until I found it.
The men who were saddling the camel for me came up to the place I had just left and having finished the saddling they took hold of the howdah thinking that I was in it as I normally was, picked it up and bound it on the camel, not doubting that I was in it. Then they took the camel by the head and went off with it. I returned to the place and there was not a soul there. The men had gone.
So I wrapped myself in my smock and then lay down where I was, knowing that if I were missed they would come back for me.
By Allah I had but just lain down when Safwan ibn al-Mu’attal al-Sulami passed me; he had fallen behind the main body for some purpose and had not spent the night with the troops. He saw my form and came and stood over me. He used to see me before the veil was prescribed for us, so when he saw me he exclaimed in astonishment, “The apostle’s wife!” 1 while I was wrapped in my garments. He asked me what had kept me behind but I did not speak to him. Then he brought up his camel and told me to ride it while he kept behind. So I rode it and he took the camel’s head going forward quickly in search of the army, and by Allah we did not overtake them.
I was not missed until the morning. The men had
Guillaume/Ishaq 495.
halted and when they were rested up came the man leading me, and the liars spread their reports, and the army was much disturbed. But by Allah I knew nothing about it.
Then we came to Medina, and immediately I became very ill and so heard nothing of the matter. The story had reached the apostle and my parents, yet they told me nothing of it, though I missed the apostle’s accustomed kindness to me. When I was ill he used to show compassion and kindness to me, but in this illness he did not and I missed his attentions. When he came in to see me when my mother was nursing me (740), all he said was, “How is she?” so that I was pained and asked him to let me be taken to my mother so that she could nurse me. “Do what you like,” he said, and so I was taken to my mother, knowing nothing of what had happened until I recovered from my illness some twenty days later.
Now we were an Arab people: we did not have those privies which foreigners have in their houses; we loathe and detest them. Our practice was to go out into the open spaces of Medina. The women used to go out every night, and one night I went out with Umm Mistah bint Abi Ruhm ibn al-Muttalib ibn Abdmanaf. Her mother was the daughter of Sakhr ibn Amir ibn Kaab ibn Saad ibn Taym, aunt of Abu Bakr. As she was walking with me, she stumbled over her gown and exclaimed,
“May Mistah stumble,” Mistah being the nickname of Awf.
I said, “That is a bad thing to say about one of the emigrants who fought at Badr.”
She replied, “Haven’t you heard the news, O daughter of Abu Bakr?” and when I said that I had not heard she went on to tell me of what the liars had said, and when I showed my astonishment she told me that all this really had happened.
By Allah, I was unable to do what I had to do and went back. I could not stop crying until I thought that the weeping would burst my liver. I said to my mother, “God forgive you! Men have spoken ill of me (T. and you have known of it) and have not told me a thing about it.”
She replied “My little daughter, don’t let the matter weigh on you. Seldom is there a beautiful woman married to a man who loves her but her rival wives gossip about her and men do the same.”
The apostle had got up and addressed the men, though I knew nothing about it. After praising God he said: “What do certain men mean by worrying me about my family and saying false things about them? By Allah, I know only good of them, and they say these things of a man of whom I know naught but good, who never enters a house of mine but in my company.”
The greatest offenders were Abdullah ibn Ubayy among the Khazraj and Mistah and Hamna bint Jahsh, for the reason that her sister Zaynab bint Jahsh was one of the apostle’s wives and only she could rival me in his favour. As for Zaynab, Allah protected her by her religion and she spoke nothing but good. But Hamna spread the report far and wide opposing me (T. rivalling me) for the sake of her sister, and I suffered much from that.
Guillaume/Ishaq 496.
When the apostle made this speech Usayd ibn Hudayr said: “If they are of Aws let us rid you of them; and if they are of the Khazraj give us your orders, for they ought to have their heads cut off.” Saad ibn Obada got up – before that he had been thought a pious man – and said, “By Allah, you lie. They shall not be beheaded. You would not have said this had you not known that they were of Khazraj. Had they been your own people you would not have said it.”
Usayd answered, “Liar yourself! You are a disaffected person arguing on behalf of the disaffected.”1 Feeling ran so high that there was almost fighting between these two clans of Aws and Khazraj.
The apostle left and came in to see me. He called Ali and Osama ibn Zayd and asked their advice.
Osama spoke highly of me and said “They are your family 2 and we and you know only good of them, and this is a lie and a falsehood.”
As for Ali he said: “Women are plentiful, and you can easily change one for another. Ask the slave girl, for she will tell you the truth.” So the apostle called Burayra to ask her, and Ali got up and gave her a violent beating, saying, “Tell the apostle the truth,” to which she replied, “I know only good of her. The only fault I have to find with Ayesha is that when I am kneading dough and tell her to watch it she neglects it and falls asleep and the sheep (T. ‘pet lamb’) comes and eats it!”
Then the apostle came in to me. My parents and a woman of the Ansar were with me and both of us were weeping. He sat down and after praising God he said, “Ayesha, you know what people say about you. Fear God and if you have done wrong as men say then repent towards God, for He accepts repentance from His slaves.”
As he said this my tears ceased and I could not feel them. I waited for my parents to answer the apostle but they said nothing. By Allah I thought myself too insignificant for God to send down concerning me a Quran which could be read in the mosques and used in prayer, but I was hoping that the apostle would see something in a dream by which God would clear away the lie from me, because He knew my innocence, or that there would be some communication. As for a Quran coming down about me by Allah I thought far too little of myself for that.
When I saw that my parents would not speak I asked them why, and they replied that they did not know what to answer, and by Allah I do not know a household which suffered as did the family of Abu Bakr in those days.
When they remained silent my weeping broke out afresh and then I said: “Never will I repent towards God of what you mention. By Allah, I know that if I were to confess what men say of me, God knowing that I am innocent of it, I should admit what did not happen; and if I denied what they said you would not believe me.” Then I racked my brains for the name of Jacob and could not remember it, so I said, “I will say what the father of Joseph said: ‘My duty is to show becoming patience and God’s Aid is to be asked against what you describe.’” 3
Guillaume/Ishaq 497.
And, by God, the apostle had not moved from where he was sitting when there came over him from God what used to come over him and he was wrapped in his garment and a leather cushion was put under his head. As for me, when I saw this I felt no fear or alarm, for I knew that I was innocent and that God would not treat me unjustly. As for my parents, as soon as the apostle re-covered I thought that they would die from fear that confirmation would come from God of what men had said. Then the apostle recovered and sat up and there fell from him as it were drops of water on a winter day, and he began to wipe the sweat from his brow, saying, “Good news, Ayesha! God has sent down (word) about your innocence.”
I said, “Praise be to God,” and he went out to the men and addressed them and recited to them what
God had sent down concerning that (T. “me”).
Then he gave orders about Mistah ibn Uthatha and Hassan ibn Thabit and Hamna bint Jahsh who were the most explicit in their slander and they were flogged with the prescribed number of stripes.
My father Ishaq ibn Yasar told me from some of the men of the Al-Najjar clan that the wife of Abu Ayyub Khalid ibn Zayd said to him, “Have you heard what people are saying about Ayesha?”
“Certainly, but it is a lie,” he said. “Would you do such a thing?”2
She answered “No, by Allah, I would not.”
He said, “Well, Ayesha is a better woman than you.”“
Ayesha continued:
When the Quran came down with the mention of those of the slanderers who repeated what the liars had said, God said:
Those who bring the lie are a band among you.
Do not regard it as a bad thing for you; nay it is good for you.
Every man of them will get what he has earned from the sin,
and he who had the greater share therein will have a painful punishment,
meaning Hassan ibn Thabit and his companions who said what they said (741). Then God said:
Why did not the believing men and women
when you heard it
think good of themselves?
i.e. say what Abu Ayyub and his wife said. Then He said:
When you welcomed it with your tongues
and spoke with your mouths
that of which you had no knowledge
you thought it a light thing,
yet with God it is grave.
When this came down about Ayesha and about those who spoke about her, Abu Bakr who used to make an allowance to Mistah because he was of his kin and needy said, “Never will I give anything to Mistah again, nor will I ever help him in any way after what he said about Ayesha and brought evil on us.” She continued:
So God sent down concerning that:
And let not those who possess dignity and ease among you
swear not to give to kinsmen
and the poor and those who emigrate for God’s sake.
Let them forgive and show forbearance.
Do you not wish that God should forgive you?
And God is forgiving, merciful (742).
Abu Bakr said, “Yes, by Allah, I want God to forgive me,” so he continued the allowance that he was accustomed to give to Mistah, saying, “I will never withdraw it from him.”
Guillaume/Ishaq 498.
Then Safwan ibn al-Mu’attal met Hassan ibn Thabit with a sword when he heard what he was saying about him, for Hassan had also uttered some verse alluding to him and the Arabs of Mudar who had accepted Islam:
The vagabond immigrants have become powerful and numerous
And Ibnu’l-Furay’a has become solitary in the land.1
As good as bereaved is the mother of the man I fight
Or caught in the claws of a lion.
The man I kill will not be paid for
By money or by blood.
When the wind blows in the north and the sea rides high
And bespatters the shore with foam
‘Tis no more violent than I when you see me in a rage
Devastating as a cloud of hail.
As for the Quraysh, I will never make peace with them
Until they leave error for righteousness
And abandon al-Lat and Al-Uzza
And all bow down to the One, The Eternal,
And testify that what the apostle said to them is true,
And faithfully fulfill the solemn oath with God. 2
Safwan met him and smote him with his sword, saying according to what Yaaqub ibn Utba told me:
Here’s the edge of my sword for you!
When you lampoon a man like me you don’t get a poem in return!
Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Al-Harith al-Taymi told me that Thabit ibn Qays ibn al-Shammas leapt upon Safwan when he smote Hassan and tied his hands to his neck and took him to the quarter of the Al-Harith ibn Al-Khazraj clan. Abdullah ibn Rawaha met him and asked what had happened, and he said: “Do I surprise you? He smote Hassan with the sword and by Allah he must have killed him.”
Abdullah asked if the apostle knew about what he had done, and when he said that he did not he told him that he had been very daring and that he must free the man. He did so. Then they came to the apostle and told him of the affair and he summoned Hassan and Safwan.
The latter said, “He insulted and satirized me and rage so overcame me that I smote him.”
The apostle said to Hassan, “Do you look with an evil eye on my people because God has guided them to Islam?” He added, “Be charitable about what has befallen you.”
Hassan said, “It is yours, O apostle.” (743)
The same informant told me that the apostle gave him in compensation Bir Ha, today the castle of the Hudayla clan in Medina. It was a property belonging to Abu Talha ibn Sahl, which he had given as alms to the apostle,
Guillaume/Ishaq 499.
who gave it to Hassan for his blow. He also gave him Sirin, a Copt slave girl, and she bare him Abdulrahman.
Ayesha used to say, “Questions were asked about Ibn Al-Mu’attal, and they found that he was impotent; he never touched women. He was killed as a martyr after this.”
Hassan ibn Thabit said, excusing himself for what he had said about Ayesha:
Chaste, keeping to her house, above suspicion,
Never thinking of reviling innocent women;
A noble woman of the clan of Luayy ibn Ghalib,
Seekers of honour whose glory passes not away.
Pure, God having purified her nature
And cleansed her from all evil and falsehood.
If I said what you allege that I said
Let not my hands perform their office.
How could I, with my lifelong affection and support
For the family of the apostle who lends splendor to all gatherings,
His rank so high above all others that
The highest leap would fail short of it?
What has been said will not hold
But is the word of one who would slander me (744).
A Muslim said about the flogging of Hassan and his companions for slandering Ayesha (745):
Hassan, Hamna and Mistah tasted what they deserved
For uttering unseemly slander;
They slandered with ill-founded accusations their prophet’s wife;
They angered the Lord of the glorious throne and were chastised.
They injured God’s apostle through her
And were made a public and lasting disgrace.
Lashes rained upon them like raindrops
falling from the highest clouds.
Aisha reported. Whenever Allah's Apostle intended to go on a journey, he used to draw lots amongst his wives, and Allah's Apostle used to take with him the one on whom the lot fell. He drew lots amongst us during one of the Ghazwat which he fought. The lot fell on me and so I proceeded with Allah's Apostle after Allah's order of veiling (the women) had been revealed. I was carried (on the back of a camel) in my howdah and carried down while still in it (when we came to a halt). So we went on till Allah's Apostle had finished from that Ghazwa of his and returned.
When we approached the city of Medina, he announced at night that it was time for departure. So when they announced the news of departure, I got up and went away from the army camps, and after finishing from the call of nature, I came back to my riding animal. I touched my chest to find that my necklace, which was made of Zifar beads (i.e. Yemenite beads partly black and partly white), was missing. So I returned to look for my necklace and my search for it detained me. (In the meanwhile) the people who used to carry me on my camel, came and took my howdah and put it on the back of my camel on which I used to ride, as they considered that I was in it. In those days women were light in weight for they did not get fat, and flesh did not cover their bodies in abundance as they used to eat only a little food. Those people therefore, disregarded the lightness of the howdah while lifting and carrying it; and at that time I was still a young girl. They made the camel rise and all of them left (along with it). I found my necklace after the army had gone.
Then I came to their camping place to find no call maker of them, nor one who would respond to the call. So I intended to go to the place where I used to stay, thinking that they would miss me and come back to me (in my search). While I was sitting in my resting place, I was overwhelmed by sleep and slept. Safwan bin Al-Muattal As-Sulami Adh-Dhakwani was behind the army. When he reached my place in the morning, he saw the figure of a sleeping person and he recognized me on seeing me as he had seen me before the order of compulsory veiling (was prescribed). So I woke up when he recited Istirja' (i.e. "Inna lillahi wa inna llaihi raji'un") as soon as he recognized me. I veiled my face with my head cover at once, and by Allah, we did not speak a single word, and I did not hear him saying any word besides his Istirja'. He dismounted from his camel and made it kneel down, putting his leg on its front legs and then I got up and rode on it. Then he set out leading the camel that was carrying me till we overtook the army in the extreme heat of midday while they were at a halt (taking a rest). (Because of the event) some people brought destruction upon themselves and the one who spread the Ifk (i.e. slander) more, was Abdullah bin Ubayy ibn Salul."
(Urwa said, "The people propagated the slander and talked about it in his (i.e. 'Abdullah's) presence and he confirmed it and listened to it and asked about it to let it prevail." Urwa also added, "None was mentioned as members of the slanderous group besides ('Abdullah) except Hassan bin Thabit and Mistah bin Uthatha and Hamna bint Jahsh along with others about whom I have no knowledge, but they were a group as Allah said. It is said that the one who carried most of the slander was 'Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul." Urwa added, "'Aisha disliked to have Hassan abused in her presence and she used to say, 'It was he who said: My father and his (i.e. my father's) father and my honor are all for the protection of Muhammad's honor from you.").
Aisha added, "After we returned to Medina, I became ill for a month. The people were propagating the forged statements of the slanderers while I was unaware of anything of all that, but I felt that in my present ailment, I was not receiving the same kindness from Allah's Apostle as I used to receive when I got sick. (But now) Allah's Apostle would only come, greet me and say,' How is that (lady)?' and leave. That roused my doubts, but I did not discover the evil (i.e. slander) till I went out after my convalescence, I went out with Umm Mistah to Al-Manasi' where we used to answer the call of nature and we used not to go out (to answer the call of nature) except at night, and that was before we had latrines near our houses. And this habit of ours concerning evacuating the bowels, was similar to the habits of the old 'Arabs living in the deserts, for it would be troublesome for us to take latrines near our houses. So I and Umm Mistah, who was the daughter of Abu Ruhm bin Al-Muttalib bin Abd Manaf, whose mother was the daughter of Sakhr bin 'Amir and the aunt of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq and whose son was Mistah bin Uthatha bin 'Abbas bin Al-Muttalib, went out. I and Umm Mistah returned to my house after we finished answering the call of nature. Umm Mistah stumbled by getting her foot entangled in her covering sheet and on that she said, 'Let Mistah be ruined!' I said, 'What a hard word you have said. Do you abuse a man who took part in the battle of Badr?' On that she said, 'O you Hantah! Didn't you hear what he (i.e. Mistah) said? 'I said, 'What did he say?'
Then she told me the slander of the people of Ifk. So my ailment was aggravated, and when I reached my home, Allah's Apostle came to me, and after greeting me, said, 'How is that (lady)?' I said, 'Will you allow me to go to my parents?' as I wanted to be sure about the news through them. Allah's Apostle allowed me (and I went to my parents) and asked my mother, 'O mother! What are the people talking about?' She said, 'O my daughter! Don't worry, for scarcely is there a charming woman who is loved by her husband and whose husband has other wives besides herself that they (i.e. women) would find faults with her.' I said, 'Subhan-Allah! (I testify the uniqueness of Allah). Are the people really talking in this way?' I kept on weeping that night till dawn I could neither stop weeping nor sleep then in the morning again, I kept on weeping when the Divine Inspiration was delayed.
Allah's Apostle called Ali bin Abi Talib and Usama bin Zayd to ask and consult them about divorcing me. Usama bin Zayd said what he knew of my innocence, and the respect he preserved in himself for me. Usama said, ‘(O Allah's Apostle!) She is your wife and we do not know anything except good about her.' Ali bin Abi Talib said, 'O Allah’s Apostle! Allah does not put you in difficulty and there are plenty of women other than she, yet, ask the maid-servant who will tell you the truth.' On that Allah's Apostle called Barira (i.e. the maid-servant) and said, 'O Barira! Did you ever see anything which aroused your suspicion?' Barira said to him, 'By Him Who has sent you with the Truth. I have never seen anything in her (i.e. Aisha) which I would conceal, except that she is a young girl who sleeps leaving the dough of her family exposed so that the domestic goats come and eat it.'
So, on that day, Allah's Apostle got up on the pulpit and complained about Abdullah bin Ubayy (bin Salul) before his companions, saying, 'O you Muslims! Who will relieve me from that man who has hurt me with his evil statement about my family? By Allah, I know nothing except good about my family and they have blamed a man about whom I know nothing except good and he used never to enter my home except with me.' Saad bin Muaz the brother of Banu Abdulashhal got up and said, 'O Allah's Apostle! I will relieve you from him; if he is from the tribe of Al-Aws, then I will chop his head off, and if he is from our brothers, i.e. Al-Khazraj, then order us, and we will fulfil your order.' On that, a man from Al-Khazraj got up. Umm Hassan, his cousin, was from his branch tribe, and he was Saad bin Ubada, chief of Al-Khazraj. Before this incident, he was a pious man, but his love for his tribe goaded him into saying to Saad (bin Muaz). 'By Allah, you have told a lie; you shall not and cannot kill him. If he belonged to your people, you would not wish him to be killed.'
On that, Usayd bin Hudayr who was the cousin of Saad (bin Muaz) got up and said to Saad bin Ubada, 'By Allah! You are a liar! We will surely kill him, and you are a hypocrite arguing on the behalf of hypocrites.' On this, the two tribes of Al-Aws and Al Khazraj got so much excited that they were about to fight while Allah’s Apostle was standing on the pulpit. Allah’s Apostle kept on quietening them till they became silent and so did he. All that day I kept on weeping with my tears never ceasing, and I could never sleep.
In the morning my parents were with me and I wept for two nights and a day with my tears never ceasing and I could never sleep till I thought that my liver would burst from weeping. So, while my parents were sitting with me and I was weeping, an Ansari woman asked me to grant her admittance. I allowed her to come in, and when she came in, she sat down and started weeping with me. While we were in this state, Allah's Apostle came, greeted us and sat down. He had never sat with me since that day of the slander. A month had elapsed and no Divine Inspiration came to him about my case. Allah's Apostle then recited Tashah-hud and then said, 'Amma Badu, O 'Aisha! I have been informed so-and-so about you; if you are innocent, then soon Allah will reveal your innocence, and if you have committed a sin, then repent to Allah and ask Him for forgiveness for when a slave confesses his sins and asks Allah for forgiveness, Allah accepts his repentance.'
When Allah's Apostle finished his speech, my tears ceased flowing completely that I no longer felt a single drop of tear flowing. I said to my father, 'Reply to Allah's Apostle on my behalf concerning what he has said.' My father said, 'By Allah, I do not know what to say to Allah's Apostle .' Then I said to my mother, 'Reply to Allah's Apostle on my behalf concerning what he has said.' She said, 'By Allah, I do not know what to say to Allah's Apostle.' In spite of the fact that I was a young girl and had a little knowledge of Quran, I said, 'By Allah, no doubt I know that you heard this (slanderous) speech so that it has been planted in your hearts (i.e. minds) and you have taken it as a truth. Now if I tell you that I am innocent, you will not believe me, and if confess to you about it, and Allah knows that I am innocent, you will surely believe me. By Allah, I find no similitude for me and you except that of Joseph's father when he said, '(For me) patience in the most fitting against that which you assert; it is Allah (Alone) Whose Help can be sought.' Then I turned to the other side and lay on my bed; and Allah knew then that I was innocent and hoped that Allah would reveal my innocence. But, by Allah, I never thought that Allah would reveal about my case, Divine Inspiration, that would be recited (forever) as I considered myself too unworthy to be talked of by Allah with something of my concern, but I hoped that Allah's Apostle might have a dream in which Allah would prove my innocence. But, by Allah, before Allah's Apostle left his seat and before any of the household left, the Divine inspiration came to Allah's Apostle.
So there overtook him the same hard condition which used to overtake him, (when he used to be inspired Divinely). The sweat was dropping from his body like pearls though it was a wintry day and that was because of the weighty statement which was being revealed to him. When that state of Allah's Apostle was over, he got up smiling, and the first word he said was, 'O 'Aisha! Allah has declared your innocence!' Then my Mother said to me, 'Get up and go to him (i.e. Allah's Apostle). I replied, 'By Allah, I will not go to him, and I praise none but Allah. So Allah revealed the ten Verses:-- "Verily! They who spread the slander Are a gang, among you............." (24.11-20)
Allah revealed those Quranic Verses to declare my innocence. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq who used to disburse money for Mistah bin Uthatha because of his relationship to him and his poverty, said, 'By Allah, I will never give to Mistah bin Uthatha anything after what he has said about Aisha.' Then Allah revealed:--
"And let not those among you who are good and wealthy swear not to give (any sort of help) to their kinsmen, those in need, and those who have left their homes for Allah's cause, let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is oft-Forgiving Most Merciful." (24.22)
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said, 'Yes, by Allah, I would like that Allah forgive me.' and went on giving Mistah the money he used to give him before. He also added, 'By Allah, I will never deprive him of it at all.'
Aisha further said:." Allah's Apostle also asked Zaynab bint Jahsh (i.e. his wife) about my case. He said to Zaynab, 'What do you know and what did you see?" She replied, "O Allah's Apostle! I refrain from claiming falsely that I have heard or seen anything. By Allah, I know nothing except good (about 'Aisha).' From amongst the wives of the Prophet Zaynab was my peer (in beauty and in the love she received from the Prophet) but Allah saved her from that evil because of her piety. Her sister Hamna started struggling on her behalf and she was destroyed along with those who were destroyed. The man who was blamed said, 'Subhan-Allah! By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, I have never uncovered the cover (i.e. veil) of any female.' Later on the man was martyred in Allah's Cause.”
Aisha once claimed: “Allah’s Messenger never slapped a woman or a servant.”<ref>{{Muslim|30|5756}}.</ref> If this had been true, it would have been sufficiently explained by his 25 years as the husband of Khadijah. He would surely have never dared to strike her and thereby developed a personal habit of restraining his fists.
In fact “never” was an exaggeration, for Aisha herself had a contrary memory. One night Muhammad arose from her bed and she, suspecting that he intended to visit another woman, quietly followed him. As it happened, he only went to the nearby graveyard to perform a prayer-ritual, so she raced home before he could realise she had been spying on him. Unfortunately, Muhammad had spotted her, and he angrily demanded what she had been doing. When she denied that she had left the house, he thumped her chest. “That blow,” she said, “was very painful.”<ref>{{Muslim|2|2127}}; {{Muslim|2|103}}; Ibn Hanbal, ''Musnad'' 6:147.</ref>
If Aisha remembered Muhammad as a man who ''almost'' never beat her, she was probably comparing him with her father. Abu Bakr had no concept that his married daughter had ceased to be his property. The first time she lost her sister’s necklace, Muhammad indulgently held up the whole army to search for it. The warriors complained to Abu Bakr about the wasted time. That night, as Muhammad slept with his head in Aisha’s lap, Abu Bakr rebuked his daughter and punched her thigh “with a very painful blow” so that she would have been knocked flying if she had not taken care to keep still in order not to awaken Muhammad.<ref>{{Bukhari|1|7|330}}; {{Bukhari|7|62|177}}; {{Bukhari|8|82|827}}; {{Bukhari|8|82|828}}.</ref> It is nowhere recorded that Aisha complained to Muhammad or that Abu Bakr suffered any kind of rebuke or consequence for this assault. Aisha apparently had no concept that it counted as a serious problem. After one quarrel with Aisha, Muhammad suggested that they call in her father to arbitrate. Abu Bakr said that Muhammad should speak first, and Aisha agreed “so long as you tell the truth.” Abu Bakr was furious with Aisha’s suggestion that the Prophet might ever speak anything but the truth, and he slapped her face so hard that her skin broke and blood flowed all over her clothes. Muhammad swiftly intervened, giving Abu Bakr the near-rebuke: “We did not mean you to settle it that way!”<ref>Al-Hindi, Kanz al-Ummal 7:1020. Ghazzali, Ihyaa al-Ulum 3:2:35. Ghazzali, Mukashifat al-Qulub 94:328.</ref> But he did not require Abu Bakr to apologise to Aisha, let alone to undergo any of the terrifying punishments that he imposed on a thief or an adulterer.
He set a low priority on helping domestic violence victims within the Muslim community. When Tamima bint Wahb came to Aisha begging for help because she was covered with green bruises from her husband’s beatings, Aisha pleaded to Muhammad: “Her face is greener than her veil. Muslim women suffer more than any others!” Muhammad took no interest in Tamima’s bruises, let alone in the domestic violence that was rampant in the community that he was leading. He only attended to determining whose fault it was that her marriage had apparently never been consummated.<ref>{{Bukhari|7|72|715}}; Bewley/Saad 8:295.</ref> Another time, an outraged father asked for permission to punish his son-in-law for beating his daughter. Muhammad was on the point of agreeing to the request and instructing men not to hit their womenfolk when Umar complained that this would make wives too presumptuous. Realising that Umar spoke for his prize warriors, whom he needed to keep onside, Muhammad changed his mind. “We wanted one thing, but Allah wanted another. He says that if you suspect rebellion from your wives, reason with them, then send them to their rooms, then beat them.”<ref>{{Quran|4|34}}.</ref> The next day a crowd of beaten wives then flocked to visit Aisha with complaints. Muhammad proclaimed that women who complained about their husbands were bad Muslims<ref>{{Abudawud|11|2141}}</ref> and would probably go to Hell.<ref>{{Bukhari|1|1|301}}; {{Bukhari|1|2|161}}; {{Bukhari|1|7|125}}.</ref>
Muhammad’s final ruling on domestic violence was the reverse of helpful: “A man must not be asked why he has beaten his wife.”<ref>{{Abudawud|11|2142}}.</ref> In fact, there is no evidence at all that Muhammad believed that it was ''intrinsically'' wrong for a man to strike a woman, child or subordinate. In his Farewell Sermon he only cautioned against beating women “too hard” or without some reason.<ref></ref> He advised his disciples, “Hang your whip where the members of the household can see it, for that will discipline them.”<ref>Al-Tabarani 10:248.</ref> He appointed Abu Bakr as his successor and then Umar after him;<ref></ref> it does not seem to have crossed his mind that their violence rendered them unfit for leadership.
Later generations of Muslims have too often inferred from this that, although the Ideal Husband did not beat his wife, this was one of those impossible ideals to which no ordinary Muslim could reasonably aspire.<ref></ref>
===Aisha and Islam===
Aisha was expected to contribute to the ''jihad''. She was only eleven years old when Muhammad took her as an auxiliary to the Battle of Uhud. With her skirts hitched up above her anklets, she carried the water-skins backwards and forwards among the warriors while the bulk of the Muslim army fled, leaving Muhammad exposed to the enemy’s arrows.<ref>{{Bukhari|4|52|131}}.</ref> Arabs did not deliberately attack non-combatants,<ref>See the surprise of the Muslims in {{Bukhari|4|52|256}} and {{Muslim|19|4321}} when Muhammad said it did not matter if their night-raid resulted in the collateral deaths of women and children. Muhammad was clearly closer to the culturally normative warfare-ethics on the occasions when he instructed his men not to harm women, children, elders, invalids, animals, crops or buildings (REFERENCE).</ref> but it does not seem to have bothered Muhammad that Aisha might have been harmed in the cross-fire. He did not allow boys to fight before they were 15 years old,<ref></ref> but Aisha had to serve like a woman at eleven.
Two years later, Muhammad took Aisha to the Battle of the Trench. This was much less dangerous, for the “battle” was a stalemate siege with little actual fighting.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 454, 469.</ref> Aisha’s services were only required by night, when Muhammad was guarding the narrowest and most vulnerable point of the trench. Whenever he became overwhelmed by the bitter cold, he went into Aisha’s tent “to be warmed by her embrace.”<ref>Waqidi, ''Al-Maghazi'' Vol. 1 p. 463.</ref></ref> Since there was nothing that she could actively contribute to this campaign, it was an unnecessary hardship to impose on a 13-year-old.
At the Trench an Aws chief named Saad ibn Muaz was killed, and Muhammad announced that Allah’s throne had shaken when the doors of Paradise were flung open for him.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 468. This was the Saad ibn Muaz who had just pronounced the death-sentence on the men of Qurayza.</ref> Soon afterwards, Aisha was with Saad’s kinsman, Abu Yahya ibn Hudayr, when the news arrived that the latter’s wife had just died. He was overcome with grief. Aisha exclaimed: “Allah forgive you, O Abu Yahya! Will you weep over a woman when you have lost your [second cousin twice removed<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq pp. 204, 330. This was their patrilinear relationship; it is possible that they were more closely related in one of the female lines.</ref>], for whom the throne shook?”<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 468.</ref> Her astonishment over his attachment to his wife speaks volumes about her own experience of marriage.
The following year, Aisha’s brother Abdulrahman finally became a Muslim and was “reconciled” to his family. He reminded Abu Bakr: “Twice at the Battle of Badr, I had you under my sword, but I spared your life.” Abu Bakr replied, “If ''you'' had been under ''my'' sword even ''once'', I would have killed you.”<ref></ref> Although the Muslims had been the aggressors at this battle, Islam superseded all natural relationships.
Aisha’s personal contribution to the ''jihad'' was verbal. She was highly intelligent and had a sponge-like memory. She could quote apposite poetry at the drop of a hat.<ref></ref> She was interested in medicine and knew hundreds of herbal remedies.<ref></ref> She was good at arithmetic, so the Muslims used to consult her on dividing up an inheritance or profits.<ref></ref> She had memorised the whole Qur’an, not merely like a parrot, but with such comprehension that she could pull out a principle of Islamic law for every real-life situation.<ref>Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari 7:82-83.</ref> If she did not understand anything, she would ask Muhammad, and she was not afraid to debate him on possible inconsistencies.<ref>{{Bukhari|1|3|103}}.</ref>
Aisha’s student Urwa b az-Zubayr said, “I did not see a greater scholar than Aisha in the learning of Qur’an, obligatory duties, lawful and unlawful manners, poetry, literature, Arab history and genealogy” (Tazkira al-Huffaz). <ref></ref> Ibn Abi Malika said, “We should not be surprised by her authority in the matter of poetry since she was the daughter of Abu Bakr who was a very eloquent and a great literary figure.” <ref></ref> Whenever individuals came to Allah’s Apostle and discussed many remedies for illnesses, Aisha used to remember them. She was excellent in mathematics so the Sahabah used to consult her on the problems concerning mirath (inheritance) and the calculation of shares. Aisha had a very sharp memory and remembered the teachings of Allah’s Apostle very well. Ibn Hajar names 88 great scholars who learned from her and then says that there were a large number of others. (Ibn Hajar Fath al-Bari 7:82-83) She narrated 2210 hadith in all.<ref></ref>
It was inevitable that Aisha should become a teacher – she even had the clear, carrying voice<ref>{{Tabari|17|p. 65}}.</ref> required for public speaking. From the earliest times, Muslim women clustered around her in the mosque, and she would teach them Islam.<ref>Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari 7:82-83.</ref> Later she hung a curtain in her house so that she could sit behind it while men came to hear her teaching without seeing her.<ref>See for example {{Bukhari||68|473}}.</ref>
Yet there is no real evidence that Aisha “believed” Islam in the sense of giving intellectual assent to it. She complained when she felt Allah’s “revelations” were unfair. When a man mentioned that prayer was annulled by the passing of a dog, a donkey or a woman, she protested, “It is not good that you people have equated with dogs and donkeys.”<ref>{{Bukhari|1|9|490}}; {{Bukhari|1|9|498}}.</ref> EXAMPLE.<ref></ref> EXAMPLE.<ref></ref>
Her claim to have seen Jibril was doubtful. Aisha claimed to have seen Jibril.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:46, 47.</ref> On one occasion, the Prophet Muhammad said to her, “O Aisha, here is Jibril giving you greetings of peace.” “And on him be peace.” She said, “and the mercy of Allah.” When she was telling Abu Salama about this, she added, “He sees what I do not see.”<ref></ref>
Once she even accused Muhammad to his face: “You ''claim'' to be a prophet from Allah!”<ref>Ghazzali, ''Muashifat al-Qulub'' 94.</ref>
Aisha’s attitude to Islam seems to have been less about belief than acceptance of the inevitable. It was the way her world had always been run. When she tried to make the world a better place, she worked within the Islamic system without any real awareness than an alternative system was possible. EXAMPLE. EXAMPLE. EXAMPLE. These examples show that she knew that the system needed improvement. But she apparently assumed, or at least hoped, that the solution to improving the Islamic system was to implement Islam correctly. Fourteen centuries later, it is easy for an outsider to recognise that the “correct” implementation of Islam is exactly what has caused its problems, and that these problems will not be solved before the central tenets of Islam are abandoned. But it is doubtful that Aisha ever perceived this.
When Muhammad was taken ill in June 632, he lost track of his wife-roster and kept asking, “In whose house will I be tomorrow? And where the next day?” His wives realised he wanted to be with Aisha and agreed that he would pass his illness in her house.<ref>Guillaume/Ishaq 679.</ref> He lay for several days with his head in her lap while she recited over and over to him the last two ''suras'' of the Qur’an.<ref></ref> She chewed a toothpick for his last teeth-cleaning “so that my saliva mixed with his on his last day in this world and his first day in the next.”<ref></ref> He was still lying in Aisha’s lap when he died.
Aisha was then 18 years old.<ref>{{Muslim|8|3311}}; Ibn Majah 3:1877.</ref> She had no children<ref></ref> and she was forbidden to remarry.<ref>{{Quran|||}}.</ref> She lived for another 46 years. In that time she continued to recite the Qur’an and teach Islamic law.<ref>E.g., {{Bukhari|6|61|515}}.</ref> Musa ibn Talha says, “I did not see anyone more eloquent than Aisha.”<ref>Al-Hakim, ''Musadrak'' vol. 4 p. 11.</ref>
Aisha originally supported those who wanted to assassinate Uthman, agreeing that he had “become an unbeliever”.<ref></ref> However, after Uthman had been duly disposed of (656), it became clear that his replacement was to be Ali. Aisha detested Ali<ref></ref> and would do anything to keep him out of power. She abruptly denounced Uthman’s assassins,<ref></ref> for which another Muslim called her to task. <ref>{{Tabari|17|pp. 52-53}}.</ref> She then started a war to rid herself of Ali.<ref></ref> She lost. Ten thousand died at the Battle of the Camel.<ref></ref> Aisha survived and was officially forgiven by Ali.<ref></ref> She was sent back to her hut in Medina, effectively to live out her days under house arrest.<ref></ref>
Ali was murdered after only five years,<ref></ref> and Abu Sufyan’s family seized the caliphate.<ref></ref> Aisha was never quite as obscure as Ali would have wished. People still consulted her on all matters of Islamic law, for judicial decisions, for information about medicine and history, or simply for stories about Muhammad.<ref></ref>
Aisha died in July 678,<ref></ref> aged 64. She had once wished to be buried in her own house beside Muhammad, but there was no more room after Abu Bakr and Umar had been buried there.<ref></ref> So she was buried in the ''Jannat al-Baqi'' (Celestial Cemetery) in Medina beside nine of her co-wives.<ref></ref>
===See Also===
• [[Qur’an, Hadith and Scholars:Aisha]] (''primary and early sources about Aisha'')
• [[Aisha’s Age of Consummation]]
• [[Refutation to Muslim Apologetics against Aisha’s Age of Consummation]]
• [[Responses to Apologetics: Muhammad and Aisha]]
• [[Aisha and Puberty]]
• [[The Tragedy of Aisha]]
• [[A Refutation of ‘The Islamophobe’s Glass House’]]
• [[Rejecting Dr. David Liepert’s “Aisha Was Older” Apologetic Myth]] (''Essay'')
• [[Muhammad’s Wives]] (''Hub Page'')
• [[Polygamy]] (''Hub Page'')
• [[Islam and Pedophilia]] (''Core Article'')
• [[Forced Marriage]]
• [[Wife Beating in Islam]]
• [[Adultery]]
• [[Aisha (Farsideology)]] (''satire'')
{{Bukhari|7|71|658}}. Narrated Aisha. A man called Labid ibn al-Asam from the tribe of Zarayq worked magic on Allah’s Apostle til Allah’s Apostle started imagining that he had done a thing that he had not really done.
{{Bukhari|7|71|660}}. Narrated Aisha. Magic was worked on Allah’s Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not. Sufyan said: That is the hardest kind of magic as it has such an effect.
{{Ibn Saad, Tabaqat, Volume 1, Parts II.77.1.}} The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: Gabriel brought a kettle from which I ate and I was given the power of sexual intercourse equal to forty men.
Tabari 9:131. Aisha reached menarche in March 629, six years after the wedding, when she was 14 or 15.
Bukhari & Muslim. The Prophet and I [Aisha] used to do the ritual ablution together from one basin between me and him; we would take turns dipping our hands in the basin and he would take more than me until I would say, “Leave some for me, leave some for me.” She said, and they were both junub.
Bukhari 31:137. Ibn Umar narrated. The Prophet said, “We are an illiterate nation; we neither write, nor know accounts. The month is like this and this,” i.e. sometimes of 29 days and sometimes of 30 days.
She also claimed to be the only one whom he was instructed to marry by divine revelation, the only one whose parents were both emigrants, the only one who had ever seen Jibril and the only one with whom he shared his bath-water.<ref>Bewley/Saad 8:46, 47.</ref> But all these claims are false. Zaynab famously claimed that Muhammad married her after divine revelation; Hafsa’s parents were both emigrants; Hind claimed she had seen Jibril; Maymuna – and probably some of the others too – shared his bathwater.

Revision as of 09:51, 29 April 2013