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Famous Women of Islam: Hadrat A'ishah

by Aisha Alam

One of the most famous women of Islam was Aisha , the daughter of Abu Bakr Siddiq . Aisha was born in the month of Shawwal, four years after Apostlehood. Her mother’s name was Zainab, and she belonged to the tribe of Ghunaim bin Malik. The marriage of Aisha with the Messenger of Allah ended the Arab notion that a man could not marry the daughter of his adopted brother. The wedding also took place in the month of Shawwal, which repudiated the Arab custom of not marrying in the month of Shawwal, as plague had broken out in ancient times during this month.

Many incidents that culminated in Quranic revelations are linked to Aisha . These incidents alone make Aisha one of the most prominent Muslim women in the history of Islam. History records some of these incidents as follows.

During the Battle of Mustaliq in the 5th of Hijra, Aisha accompanied the Messenger of Allah . On the return journey, her necklace fell down somewhere and the whole caravan had to halt while she searched for it. When it was time for prayer, all the Companions of the Messenger of Allah became worried as water was not available anywhere. When the Messenger of Allah came to know about it, the verse regarding Tayyumum dry ablution was revealed. All of them were delighted at this special concession. Sayyid bin Hudair said, “ O’ progeny of Abu Bakr! You are a source of blessings for the people.”

In another incident, the Messenger of Allah led a very simple and ascetic life. Sometimes fire was not lit in the hearth for months and the whole family went without food every now and then. Although the wives of the Messenger of Allah held a venerable position among the people due to their status as wives of the Messenger of Allah , they also belonged to the human race and thus could not completely banish all human weaknesses. The conquests and expansion of Islam, and the feeling that a small portion of the booty which fell to the Muslims in the battles could have provided them with ease and comfort,induced them to demand more money for household expenses. On the advice of Abu Bakr and Umar their daughters, Aisha and Hafsa agreed not to bother the Messenger of Allah . The other wives, however, stuck to their demand. This incident affected the peace of mind of the Messenger of Allah so much that he resolved not to see his wives for one full month. After one month, the Messenger of Allah went to Aisha’s house. She was waiting for the Messenger of Allah anxiously. She said: “You had made a covenant not to see us for one full month and now only twenty-nine days have elapsed.” The Messenger of Allah replied: “Sometimes a month is of twenty-nine days.” Thereupon, the verse Takhayyar was revealed ordaining the Messenger of Allah to tell his wives that there were two alternatives before them. The incident is reported in history as follows. The Messenger of Allah came to Aisha and said, “You may consult your parents and then give a reply to my question.” “What is that question”, Aisha asked. The Messenger of Allah recited the following verses from Surah Ahzab of the Holy Qur’an: “O Prophet! say to your wives, if it be that you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek Allah and His messenger, and the home of the hereafter, verily Allah has prepared for the well-doers amongst you a great reward.” 33:28-29. On hearing this, Aisha said, “O Prophet of Allah, why should I consult my parents? I prefer Allah, His Prophet and the Hereafter over all mundane comforts.” The Messenger of Allah was pleased with Aisha’s reply and said that he will put the same question to all his wives. Aisha requested that her reply may not be disclosed to the others. The Prophet agreed and repeated the same question to all of his wives and all of them said what Aisha had said previously. The above mentioned verses from the Holy Qur’an are called the verses of Takhayyar.

Another significant incident linked to Aisha was that of Ifk. The details of Ifk are as follows. Once Aisha was accompanying the Messenger of Allah in a caravan. During the journey, the caravan stopped for a night’s stay. Aisha went out of her camp to relieve herself and lost her precious necklace somewhere along the way. As she came to know of this loss, she started searching for her lost necklace. In the meantime, the caravan moved on its journey. Aisha did not know that the caravan had moved. When she came back to her camp, she found the caravan had moved and she was left alone. She wrapped herself in a cloth sheet and waited to be rescued. Soon she was approached by Safwan , son of Muattal, whose duty was to trail behind the caravan to collect the leftovers and to join the caravan afterwards. He recognized Aisha and asked her to ride on his camel while he walked alongside. By noon, they joined the caravan. This incident fueled the fire for mischevious people, and gave them an opportunity to create a lot of misconceptions. These hypocrites started malicious propaganda against Aisha and accused her of adultery. The Messenger of Allah said, “If Aisha is innocent, Allah will defend her.” After quite a few days, the Messenger of Allah’s prediction proved true. In Surah Al-Noor, Allah confirmed the innocence of Aisha in the following verse: “Those who brought forward a lie are a body among yourselves; think it not to be an evil in you; On the contrary it is good for you; to every man among them will come the punishment of the sin that he earned and to him who took on himself the lead amongst them, will be a Chastisement grievous.” 24:11 Aisha’s mother asked her to bow in thanks before the Messenger of Allah , and she promptly replied, “No, I am only grateful to my Allah.”

The Messenger of Allah died in Aisha’s apartment. It is one of the outstanding merits of Aisha that her sacred apartment became the last abode of the Messenger of Allah .

In addition to the aforementioned incidents which make Aisha one of the most prominent Muslim women in history, the fact that she memorized so many hadith is an other quality by which she is remembered. She reported more than 2,000 hadith.

Aisha lived to be sixty-three years old. A few moments before death, she said, “Bury me in Jannat-ul-Baqi graveyard for common Muslims of Madinah where the rest of the Messenger of Allah’s wives are buried.” She had made a will that she should be buried at night, so she was buried in the night that she died, after her funeral prayers, in Jannat-ul-Baqi. Her funeral prayers were led by Abu Huraira . Earlier, when Umar was on his death bed, he had sent his son to Aisha with a request for being buried by the side of the Messenger of Allah . Aisha replied, “I had chosen this place as my grave but I would sacrifice it for Umar .” This act demonstrates her generous nature, and we can all benefit from reflecting upon all of the events of her life.


Published: June 1993

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756