Mother of the Believers – Hazrat ‘A’ishahra
Part 2 OF 3
by Hafiz Muzaffar Ahmad
Translated from the Urdu by Murtaza Ahmad
The lives of the Prophet Muhammadsa, his wives and the women of early Islam are often portrayed by numerous Western historians and scholars largely based on ina
ccurate historical material or without consulting original sources. This misinformation has been disseminated in the media, magazines and news reports forming an adverse image of the women of early Islam to the world. The Review of Religions has commissioned a special series on the wives and female Companions of the Holy Prophetsa to present the true life stories of the noble women of early Islam. Our purpose is not to individually respond to such historians, but only to present the actual history and to let our readers make up their own minds.
This article details the life of Hazrat A’ishahra.
Incident of Calumny
During the lifetime of ‘A’ishahra, a very unfortunate incident took place that proved to be a severe trial for her and for the Muhammadsa. The incident in question shook the people of the Prophet’s household to the core and also life in Madinah. The details as narrated by ‘A’ishahra illustrate both her simplicity and innocence as well as the agony and pain which she felt, after a grievous charge of calumny was brought against the household of the Prophet and that of Abu Bakr. ‘A’ishahra displayed extraordinary steadfastness during this ordeal. However, ‘A’ishahra was exonerated by God the All-Knowing and the All-Aware. Indeed God testified to her lofty status and chastity, absolving her from all possible accusations forever, elevating her to the lofty status of Siddiqah (the Truthful). The incident also permanently averted the conspiracies of the hypocrites who spread rumours in Madinah.
The details then of this account are that during the Ghazwah Banu Mustaliq, (which is also called Ghazwah Mursee), Hazrat ‘A’ishahra lost her necklace on two occasions. ‘A’ishahra states that when women undertook journeys in those days, they would be lifted on the howdah (a carriage placed on the back of an animal) and placed on the camel. On this particular journey just before the caravan was due to set off at Fajr (morning prayer) time, she went out to answer the call of nature. Upon her return, she noticed her necklace was no longer around her neck. In anxiety, she decided to go back and started searching anxiously for the necklace until daybreak. Although she found the necklace, the caravan had already left by the time she got back. She states:
“I was extremely worried; all alone in the wilderness, as I lay down my eyes closed; they only opened upon hearing somebody say loudly, ‘Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Alaihi Raajiun [surely to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return].’”
That person was a companion of Muhammadsa, Safwan bin Mu‘attalra. According to the instructions of Muhammadsa, he would follow behind the Muslim army on a camel for security to check for danger and to see if any of the caravan’s belongings had been left behind. He had suddenly caught sight of Hazrat ‘A’ishahra who was asleep on the ground. Spontaneously, the words that left his mouth were, “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Alaihi Raajiun.”
Upon hearing this, ‘A’ishahra awoke and sat up. She relates:
“This companion of the Messenger of Allahsa recognised me because he had seen me prior to the revelation of the veil commandment. Immediately, I drew my veil.”
‘A’ishah’sra own testimony regarding Safwanra was:
“Safwan was a noble person; he did not utter a single word. He only brought his camel and made it sit in front of me and held onto the reins, while I mounted onto the camel.”
By now the caravan procession had learnt that ‘A’ishahra was missing. They became extremely worried and camped at the next resting place. Safwanra, with Hazrat ‘A’ishah’sra on his camel, caught up with them at Zuhr (afternoon prayer) time. By now rumours had started to spread and the chief of the hypocrites, ‘Abdullah bin Ubayy and his counterparts, availed the opportunity to make all sorts of allegations and created discord and dissention. Nevertheless, ‘A’ishah’sra simplicity and innocence had a world of its own. She states that:
“When I arrived at Madinah, I was not aware of the types of rumours and allegations that were being hatched from within. Coincidentally, during this time I fell ill. One day, I went out with Umme Mistah when suddenly my foot slipped; she exclaimed ‘May Mistah [her son] be destroyed.’ I asked her, why do you say bad things about this son of yours who fought in the Battle of Badr? She responded, ‘Do you not know what kind of allegations he is levelling against you?’ For the first time, I realised then that such things were being said.”
‘A’ishahra states that:
“Only one thing troubled me; the Holy Prophetsa no longer showed the same love, affection and attention as he did before. He would come home and enquire about how I was and then leave. Eventually, I also asked leave from the Holy Prophetsa to go to my parents’ house, owing to my illness. I went to my mother and asked her in shock, ‘My mother! What kind of things are they saying?’”
Her mother (who was well-aware of her daughter’s innocent disposition) comforted her and told her not to fear, because she said that wherever there is more than one wife, such things were said. However, despite this, the burden of Hazrat ‘A’ishah’sra heart was not lifted. She stated that:
“I cried throughout the whole night; I could not sleep nor would my tears stop flowing due to the pain of the allegations that were hatched against me. Be that as it may, the days of trial were still to continue.”
During this time the Holy Prophetsa started to consult some of his companions about the sensitive situation. Even prior to the testimony given by Allah the Exalted regarding the innocence of Hazrat ‘A’ishahra, people who had observed her at close quarters testified to her purity and virtue. Hazrat Usamah bin Zaidra, who was so close to the Prophet’ssa family that he was like a member of the Ahle-Bait (household) of the Holy Prophetsa, spoke extremely highly of her virtuousness. ‘A’ishah’sra servant, Hazrat Bareerahra, who always remained by her side, related:
“O Messenger of Allah! I know this much that when Hazrat ‘A’ishah kneads the flour, a goat comes and eats it. Apart from this minor act of negligence, I have never observed any bad trait in her.”
Thus the only flaw the maid servant could find in ‘A’ishah’sra character was an act of slight carelessness whilst preparing flour.
The Holy Prophetsa gave his own testimony to an assembled gathering about this incident:
“People! Give me a suggestion concerning those who have levelled allegations upon my wife. And By God! Till this very day, no negative trait of my wife has ever come to my knowledge. Moreover, they have made allegations about such a man regarding whom, by God, I have never known anything negative about either. Moreover, Safwan has never been to my house except while I was present myself. And nor have I ever been on any journey, except that he has always accompanied me.”1
“My condition was such that I was crying until the next day. I continued crying due to grief for a day and two nights. So much so, that my parents worried that I would cry myself to death. The Holy Prophetsa came on the third day. And in this whole period of trial, the Holy Prophetsa spoke to me openly for the first time. Then my eyes stopped shedding tears.”
Muhammadsa put the whole situation before ‘A’ishahra with utmost justice and said:
“You know the kind of things that are being said in the air of Madinah. If any such thing has happened, then tell me honestly. Man is prone to err; however, if he repents, Allah the Exalted may accept his repentance.”
‘A’ishahra relates that when the Holy Prophetsa asked this question, her tears stopped flowing; however, the shock was far greater than her first one. Now even her reliable husband, holy consort and master, was enquiring about the allegation. Then, she stated:
“O Messengersa of Allah! You have all heard so many of these allegations that it has become firm in your hearts that if I were to now admit it, you will say that this is the truth and if I deny, you would not be ready to believe. My example is that of the father of Hazrat Josephas who stated: So now comely patience is good for me. (Ch.12:V.84).
That is, “I have no option other than to exercise Sabrun Jameel. Concerning this matter, Allah is the One from whom Help may be sought from that which you say.”
At that moment, the Holy Prophetsa was overcome by a state of revelation. And despite cold weather, he became drenched with sweat. When the revelation finished, the Holy Prophetsa exclaimed, “A’ishah! Congratulations! Allah the Exalted has exonerated you.”
Upon this occasion, these verses were revealed:
‘Verily, those who brought forth the lie are a party from among you. Think it not to be an evil for you; nay, it is good for you. Every one of them shall have his share of what he has earned of the sin; and he among them who took the chief part therein shall have a grievous punishment.’
‘Why did not the believing men and believing women, when you heard of it, think well of their own people, and say, ‘This is a manifest lie?’2
After the clear exoneration by Allah the Exalted, Muhammadsa ordered two men and a woman to be given 80 lashes each for their false allegations, as a punishment for breaking the boundaries of Islam.3 ‘A’ishahra explains:
“During this incident, I knew that my Lord would surely clear me of the charges, since I was innocent. Moreover, my belief was that the Holy Prophetsa would surely see a dream or a vision. I could not even imagine that for the exoneration of a humble being like me, Qur’anic revelation would be revealed which would be read till the day of Judgement. Subsequently, upon the announcement of these glad tidings, my mother said to me: ‘‘A’ishah! Get up and thank the Holy Prophetsa.’ I replied, ‘I shall only thank my Allah.’”4
This was the story of the truthfulness and innocence of Hazrat ‘A’ishahra, which elevated her status of Sidiqiyyat (of being Truthful) immensely.
Informal Domestic Atmosphere
In the close relationship of a husband and wife, there is mutual trust but also certain mutual expectations; as a result complaints often arise. In the domestic environment, it is quite natural for grievances to arise between a couple by staying together all the time. Or it is a natural tendency to temporarily fall out and feel upset on disagreeable matters. In the case of having more than one wife, these natural tendencies would multiply. Owing to the disposition of human emotions, it becomes an important and challenging feat to do justice to this sensitive relationship. It is not possible for everyone to negotiate it. The excellence of the high morals of the Holy Prophetsa never left occasion for an insoluble complaint or an on-going quarrel to arise. Even if such problems were to arise in the atmosphere of his pure house, he would resolve them in a very gentle and beautiful manner. Once, Muhammadsa said to ‘A’ishahra, “O ‘A’ishah! Whenever you feel upset with me, I come to know.” She asked, “How?’ He replied, “When you are pleased and happy with me, in the course of our conversation you say “Rabb-e-Muhammad” – I swear by the Lord of Muhammad! The matter is this…However, whenever you are displeased with me you say, ‘And I swear by the Lord of Abraham…This is the matter…’”
“O Messenger of Allah! It is true, but I swear by God! At that time, I leave only your name; but my love for you does not leave my heart.”5
The excellence of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa also lay in the manner in which he made Hazrat ‘A’ishahra an admirer of his excellent morals. Once within their home, Hazrat ‘A’ishahra was speaking to the Holy Prophetsa in a sharp tone. Meanwhile her father, Hazrat Abu Bakrra, entered. Upon seeing the situation, he was unable to restrain himself and he came forward to hit his daughter, in view of the way she spoke to the Messenger of Allahsa. The Holy Prophetsa intervened between the father and daughter and thus saved Hazrat ‘A’ishahra from Hazrat Abu Bakr’sra chastisement.
Once Abu Bakrra had left, the Holy Prophetsa said jokingly:
“Did you see how I saved you from your father today!”
A few days later, Abu Bakrra paid another visit and noticed that Muhammadsa and ‘A’ishahra were speaking to each other cheerfully. Abu Bakrra commented, “You see…you involved me in your quarrel, now why don’t you include me in your happiness as well?”6
‘A’ishahra relates that the Prophetsa’s morals were such that he was extremely soft, compassionate and honourable; he would always smile; never once did he raise his hands at any of his servants or his wives. At home, she relates his lifestyle was so open that he would mingle informally with everyone. He would take part in their activities of interest.
One day, Muhammadsa related a story to his wives about thirteen women who exposed the bad qualities of their husbands. Each woman revealed what her husband was like. After the Holy Prophetsa talked about a couple; the story was about a man called Abu Zar‘ah and his wife called Umme Zar‘ah. The Holy Prophetsa stated that this couple – Abu Zar‘ah and Umme Zar’ah – were a very good and exemplary couple. He stated that it was rather difficult to find a husband like Abu Zar‘ah, who took such care and bore so much respect for women and in every way created ease for his wives. Although Abu Zar‘ah had divorced Umme Zar‘ah and married someone else, she openly praised him, saying that he had endowed her with all comforts and had given her plenty to eat, and had said for her to eat herself and also to send food to her parents. Then the Holy Prophetsa said, “The similitude of Abu Zar’ah and Umme Zar‘ah is like that of ‘A’ishah and I. You are my Umme Zar‘ah and I am your Abu Zar‘ah.”7
Another narration cites that once ‘A’ishahra expressed great pride for the wealth and riches acquired by her father Abu Bakrra during the Jahliyyah (age of ignorance) period, and she said that he had amassed many hundreds of thousands of Dirhams. Muhammadsa said, “O ‘A’ishah! Give it a rest! I am to you just as Abu Zar‘ah was to Umme Zar‘ah in the story.” Upon this, ‘A’ishahra stated, “O Messenger of Allah, No! You are to me far better than Abu Zar‘ah.”8
Hazrat ‘A’ishahra referred to a rather informal gathering that took place within the premises of the home. Mention was made about a man who mistreated the family or the relatives of the Holy Prophetsa. Meanwhile, the same man came to pay a visit and sought permission to enter. The Holy Prophetsa met him very warmly. ‘A’ishahra states, “I said that ‘O Messenger of Allah! You met the man you were talking about and who mistreats our family, so courteously, and took care of him.’ The Holy Prophetsa replied eloquently: “O ‘A’ishah! Have you ever found me to have dealt with anybody harshly?”
It is as if the Holy Prophetsa was saying, “Since he is not changing his nature, why should I change mine?”
The Messenger of Allah’s Prayers
Hazrat ‘A’ishahra states that whenever she was angry, the Holy Prophetsa would place his hand upon her shoulder and pray, “O Allah! Forgive ‘A’ishah’s sins and rid her from the anger in her heart and save her from trials!” The other narration cites that once ‘A’ishahra became angry and Muhammadsa lovingly held on to her nose and said, “O my dear ‘A’ishah! Offer this prayer: ‘O Allah! Lord of the Prophet Muhammad! Forgive me my sins and get rid of my anger and save me from trials which lead astray.’”9
Hazrat ‘A’ishahra relates another incident where she saw the Holy Prophetsa in a good mood and asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Please pray for me.” There and then Muhammadsa prayed for ‘A’ishahra: “O Allah! Forgive all of ‘A’ishah’s sins which have preceded and her future sins and her hidden mistakes and her apparent ones as well.” ‘A’ishahra states that she felt so happy that she laughed as she laid her head upon the lap of the Holy Prophetsa. She said: “My laughter was out of astonishment; today I made the Holy Prophetsa offer such a big prayer of forgiveness for me.” Upon noticing this he stated, “O ‘A’ishah! Has my prayer pleased you greatly?” She replied, “O Messenger of Allah! This is a matter to be pleased with. You have offered such a big prayer for me.” The Holy Prophetsa replied, “‘A’ishah! I offer this prayer for my Ummah [the Muslim community] everyday.”
The Excellences of Hazrat ‘A’ishahra and the Holy Prophet’s Relationship of Love
The relationship of love ‘A’ishahra enjoyed with Muhammadsa can be discerned from the following incident: Once she asked him, “Explain what kind of love you have for me through an example.” He answered, “‘A’ishah! My love for you is like a tight knot in a rope.” ‘A’ishahra said, “O Messenger of Allah! It has suffered no change even with the passage of time.”
The fact is that Muhammadsa conducted the relationship with ‘A’ishahra like that of a secure knot throughout his life. Once, the Holy Prophetsa said, “I saw ‘A’ishah in heaven and I remember the scene vividly. I can recall the whiteness of ‘A’ishah’s palm, even now.” This vision indicated that Hazrat ‘A’ishahra would be granted companionship with the Holy Prophetsa in heaven.
Once the Holy Prophetsa was asked, “Who is most beloved and dear to you among the people?” He answered, “Abu Bakr.” Then the Prophet was asked, “Who after him?” He replied, “The daughter of Abu Bakr.”
The Holy Prophetsa contrary to the customs of that time, would take greater care of his wives during their menstrual periods. He would rest with them in the bed and would not let his affection wane in the slightest. Hazrat ‘A’ishah ra says:
“Even during the menstrual periods, many a time it would happen that while having food with me the Holy Prophetsa would take the bone or meat from my hand and would lovingly place it in his mouth and would eat from the spot where I had eaten. Many a times, I drank water from utensils and would hand it over to the Holy Prophetsa; the Holy Prophetsa would find the spot where I had drunk water from and placed his mouth on the same spot.”11
Justice with Wives
Muhammadsa had particular love for ‘A’ishahra due to her piety, righteousness, intelligence, excellent oratory and exemplary services to Islam. He was completely just as he tried to treat all his wives in an excellent and fair manner. The Holy Prophetsa tried not to allow any variances in discharging the rights of all his wives. As he set off to fight battles in self-defense, he would cast a lot to take one from among his wives along with him. Whoever’s name was drawn, he would take her along.12 Albeit according to the verse (Surah Al Ahzab:V.52), the Holy Prophetsa had the option to postpone the turn of any one among his wives and allow whoever he wished a place with him; despite this, he never used this right even once – as he thought that why should there unnecessarily be even a slight variance in the regular turns? Hazrat ‘A’ishahra in her special manner of love, used to state: “If I had this option, I would have only used it in his favour.”13
The fact is that Muhammadsa had been elevated to the lofty and bright status of righteousness. Many a time, the thought arose in him that there was no control over the feelings of the heart and natural inclinations; therefore, if after having exercised the equal rights of all his wives, there was ever a natural inclination towards any of them, he would fear lest his God became angry. After dispensing such sincere justice and his duties in equal share, he would pray, “O Allah! You know and can see that as far as is humanly possible, I have (distributed my duties) in equal share and I have absolved myself from using my right. And my God! I have no control over my heart. If my heart overly inclines towards any qualities or worthy distinctions, please forgive me.”14
Edited by Sarah Waseem
Series continues in the next Edition.
1. Musnad Ahmad, Volume 6 pp. 59.
2. The Holy Qur’an, Ch.24:Vs.12-13.
3. Musnad Ahmad, V.6 p.35.
4. Bukhari Kitabul Maghazi, Bab-ul-Ifk.
5. Bukhari Kitaabul Nikaah Baab Ghairatun-nisaa.
6. Abu Daud Kitaabul Adab Bab Ma Ja’a fil mazaah.
7. Bukhari Kitaabun Nikaah babu husnul mu ‘aashirat ma’a ahlehi.
8. Majmaul-Zawaid by hethmi ,V.4 p.317.
9. Al Wafaa biahwaal al mustafaabay Ibnul Jawzi, p.674 Beirut.
10. Bukhari Kitaabul Faazailus sahaabah bab Fadle ‘A’ishah.
11. Abu Daud Kitaabul Tahaarat bab fi Muwakilatil Khasais.
12. Bukhari Kitaabul Jihaad bab Hamlul Rajul Imratuhu fil ghazwa.
13. Bukhari Kitaabul Tafsir Surah Al-Ahzaab.
14. Abu Daud Kitaabun Nikaah filqismi bainanisaa.