Do you know what thareed was? It was a favourite dish of the Arabs, which they gave preferred over all other dishes. (Being the month of Ramadaan, you are probably wondering why I am speaking of food. Well it is definitely not because I want to make you feel hungry or count how many hours are left until iftaar.) The reason for discussing thareed is that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam said regarding the mother of piety who we are discussing today that her excellence over all women is like the excellence of thareed over all foods. Do you know she is?
She is one of the beloved Mothers of the Mu’mineen, one of the most beloved people to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, another lady who was greeted by the angel Jibreel alaihis-salaam and the most learned lady in history. Although she attended neither any university nor Dar-ul-Uloom, her eloquence, narrations, opinions on various juristic issues and many other aspects of her life are studied in such institutes. She is . . . ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha, the only virgin that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam ever married.
Like Khadeejah and Fatimah radiallahu anhuma, she also has many merits. Thus she would say: “I was blessed with nine specialities which were not bestowed upon any lady after Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imraan.”
A Special Marriage
Jibreel descended with a picture of her in his palm and commanded Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam to marry her. Showing Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam her picture, Jibreel said: “This is your wife in the dunya and the aakhirah.” This happened for three nights. Every time Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam saw her picture he said: “If this is from Allah, He will fulfill it.”
After the demise of Khadeejah radiallahu anha, Khawlah Bint Hakeem, the wife of Uthman bin Madh’oon radiallahu anhuma, asked Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, “Why do you not get married?” “Who should I marry?” he asked. She replied, “If you desire, a virgin. And if you desire, a widow.” “Who is the virgin and who is the widow?” he asked. “The virgin” she replied, “is ‘Aa-isha, the daughter of the most beloved person to you, and the widow is Saudah Bint Zam’ah; she has brought Imaan on you and follows you.” Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was pleased with both suggestions and thus sent Khawlah to propose to both of them on his behalf. When she discussed the issue with Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu, he asked: “Is she suitable for him; she is the daughter of his brother?” Khawlah returned to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam and mentioned Abu Bakr’s hesitation. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam dispelled his doubts saying: “I am his brother and he is my brother, yet his daughter is suitable for me (because we are brothers in Islam and not blood brothers).” Thus she went back to Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu. This time, however, Umm Rumaan (‘Aa-isha’s mother) hesitated saying that Mut’im bin ‘Adiy had already proposed to ‘Aa-isha for his son Jubair and that she could not breah her promise. Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu now went to Mut’im and asked him, “What do you have to say about this girl (‘Aa-isha)?” Instead of answering, Mut’im turned to his wife and asked her what she had to say. She looked at Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu and said, “If we marry this youngster to your daughter, you will probably enter him into your religion.” “And what do you have to say?” Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu asked Mut’im. “You heard what she has said.” he replied. Thus Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu went to Khawlah radiallahu anha and agreed to give ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha in marriage to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam.
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha was only six years old at the time of her marriage to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. This marriage is hence vehemently criticized by the enemies of Islam. Among the various answers Muslim scholars give to their objections is that such marriages were commonplace in Arab society at that time. This is supported by the following factors observed in the above narration:
1. Khawlah Bint Hakeem radiallahu anha was not aware that Jibreel had informed Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam that ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha would be his wife in this dunya and the aakhirah. Yet she suggested to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam that he could marry ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha.
2. When Khawlah radiallahu anha approached Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu in this regard, he initially hesitated because he regarded himself and Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam as brothers. The reason for his hesitation was not ‘Aa-isha’s age. Thus he happily married her to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam when he sallallahu alaihi wasallam explained that they were brothers in faith, not blood brothers.
3. By that time, Mut’im bin ‘Adiy had already proposed to ‘Aa-isha on behalf of his son Jubair.
Besides, the idolaters of Makkah leveled many allegations against Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. They accused him of being a poet, a liar and a sorcerer. However, they never criticized his marriage to ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha. Furthermore, the many narrations of ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha regarding her love for Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam and other aspects of her life with him leave no scope to doubt the feasibility of their marriage.
The Only Virgin
“Tell me” she one day said to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, “If you were to stop in a valley in which there is a tree whose fruit has been eaten and a tree whose fruit has not been eaten, where would you graze your camel?” Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam answered, “The tree whose fruit has not been eaten.” “Well” she added, “I am that tree.” What she meant is that she was the only virgin Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam ever married. He never married any other virgin.
Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam Love For Her
‘Amr bin ‘Aas radiallahu anhu asked Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam: “Who among the people is most beloved to you?” Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam replied that ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha was the most beloved person to him. Actually, this was quite well known among the Sahaabah radiallahu anhum. Hence they would only present their gifts to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam on ‘Aa-isha’s night (the night that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would spend with ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha). This displeased the rest of Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam other wives. They therefore said to Umm Salmah radiallahu anha (who was one of them): “The people wait for the night of ‘Aa-isha to send their gifts (to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam). We desire good as much as she does. Therefore tell Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam to send their gifts wherever he is (irrespective of whose turn it is).” Umm Salmah then raised this issue with Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam on three occasions. However, he sallallahu alaihi wasallam remained silent on the first and second occasions. On the third occasion he said to her: “O Umm Salmah! Do not annoy me regarding ‘Aa-isha because, by Allah, wahi never descends upon me while I am in the blanket of any of you women besides her.” Hearing this, Umm Salmah said: “O Rasul of Allah! I repent to Allah for annoying you.” The wives of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam thereafter asked Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam beloved daughter Fatimah radiallahu anha to intervene on their behalf. When Fatimah radiallahu anha tried, Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam asked her: “My daughter, do you not love what I love?” “I definitely do” she replied. Pointing at ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam then said to his daughter: “Then love her.”
Commenting on Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam statement to Umm Salmah “Do not annoy me regarding ‘Aa-isha because, by Allah, wahi never descends upon me while I am in the blanket of any of you women besides her”, Dhahabi writes: “This response of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam implies that Aa-isha’s excellence over the rest of his wives is based on divine injunction from Allah and not merely Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam love for her. In fact, this divine instruction is one of the reasons for Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam love for her.”
Like a Knot
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates that she would often ask Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, “How is your love for me?” Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would reply, “Like the knot of a rope.” “And what is the condition of the knot?” she would then ask. To this question Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would say, “As it was. (Just as the knot has not become loose, so too has my love for you not diminished.)”
Saudah and Safiyyah radiallahu anhuma
At one stage Saudah radiallahu anha feared that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam intended divorcing her due to her advanced age. Realising the severe consequences of such a divorce, she compromised with Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam saying: “Keep me as your wife and ‘Aa-isha can have my turn in exchange.”
One day Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam got angry with his wife Safiyyah radiallahu anha. She therefore went to ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha and said: “O ‘Aa-isha! Will you make Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam happy with me if I give you my turn? ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha accepted. When Safiyyah’s radiallahu anha turn came, she took a scarf that was dyed in saffron and sprinkled it with water so that its fragrance could permeate the air. She then wore it and went to sit next to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. “Aa-isha,” Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam said to her “Go away; it is not your turn.” “This is the bounty of Allah – He gives it to whomsoever He desires.” She responded. She then explained to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam her agreement with Safiyyah radiallahu anha. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was extremely pleased . . .
The Salaam (Greeting) of Jibreel
“O ‘Aa-ish! Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam one day told her, “This is Jibreel and he conveys salaam (greetings) to you.” This made her one of the only two women who were greeted by Jibreel. (The other was Khadeejah radiallahu anha.)
She narrates that she one day told Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam: “I saw you while you were standing and talking with Dihya Al-Kalbi. ‘Did you see him?’ he asked. ‘Yes’ I replied. ‘That was Jibreel (and not Dihya) and he conveys his salaam (greetings) to you.” This means that she was the only woman after Maryam, the mother of Eesa alaihis-salaam to see Jibreel.
“You are one of them.”
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha one day asked Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, “Who will be your spouses in Jannah?” He sallallahu alaihi wasallam replied: “You are one of them.”
She narrates that one day Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam spoke of his daughter Fatimah. “So I also spoke. Thus He sallallahu alaihi wasallam asked me: ‘Are you not pleased with being my wife in the dunya and the aakhirah?’ ‘Definitely’ I replied.”
“I am pleased that . . .”
There is a Hadith in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmed in which Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam is reported to have said: “I am pleased that I saw the whiteness of ‘Aa-isha’s palm in Jannah.” Commenting on this Hadith Hafidh Ibn Katheer writes in his Al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah that: “This is the epitome of love – that he sallallahu alaihi wasallam was happy because he saw the whiteness of her palms ahead of him in Jannah.”
“Maybe . . .”
Abu Qays, the freed slave of Amr, narrates that Abdullah bin ‘Amr sent him to enquire from Umm Salmah radiallahu anha whether Rasululah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would kiss his wives while he was fasting. Abdullah also told him that if her answer is negative, he should inform her that ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha is telling the people that Rasululah sallallahu alaihi wasallam used to do so. Umm Salmah’s answer was that maybe, due to his intense love for ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha, he would kiss her while he was fasting. However, he never did so to her. “Maybe” she replied, “He never constrained himself from her due to his love for her. However, he never did so with me.”
“Did you not hear the knock?”
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam came to her one night although it was not her turn. She heard his knock but delayed in opening for him. When she opened, he asked her: “Did you not hear the knock?” “I did” she replied, “But I wanted your other wives to know that you came to me out of my turn.”
“O Allah! Let a scorpion or snake bite me.”
‘Aa-isha and Hafsa radiallahu anhuma accompanied Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam on one of his journeys. During the nights Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam rode with ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha only. One night Hafsa said to ‘Aa-isha: “Why do you not ride my camel tonight and I will ride your’s?” ‘Aa-isha agreed. When the journey recommenced, Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam went to the camel of ‘Aa-isha not realizing that Hafsah instead of ‘Aa-isha was mounted on it. Having greeted his companion, he realized that it was Hafsa instead of ‘Aa-isha. Nevertheless he continued riding with her. ‘Aa-isha was upset – very, very upset. Thus when they halted to take a rest, she stamped her feet in the grass saying: “O Rabb! Let a snake or scorpion bite me. He is your Rasul and I cannot tell him anything.”
“Were you eating smelly gum?”
Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would visit all his wives every day after the Salaat-ul-‘Asr. One day he spent more time than normal with Zainab Bint Jahsh radiallahu anha and delayed in going to ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha. Upon enquiring, ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha learnt that the cause of the delay was that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam had been drinking honey which Zainab Bint Jahsh radiallahu anha had received from a family member. ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha also learnt that Zainab radiallahu anha still had some honey. She therefore struck an idea in order to avert too many more delays. She told Hafsah radiallahu anha that when Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam visits any of us tomorrow, she should ask him: “Were you eating maghaafeer (a smelly gum secreted from a certain tree)? I get the smell of maghaafeer from you.” She continued to explain that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam will obviously deny eating maghaafeer but acknowledge drinking honey. When he does so, tell him that probably the bees collected nectar from maghaafeer . . . Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam detested the emanation of a bad smell from his mouth. Thus the plan worked. When Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was asked if he was eating maghaafeer, he replied: “No, I drank honey by Zainab, but any way, I will not do so again. I swear not do so again. However, do not tell anybody.” Shortly thereafter the opening aayaat of Surat-ut-Tahreem were revealed to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam.
“I only omit your name.”
Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam once told ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha, “I know whether you are pleased or displeased with me.” “How is that?” she asked. He replied: “When you are pleased with me you say ‘In the name of Muhammed’ but when you are displeased with me you say ‘In the name of Ibrahim.” “Yes” she said, “I only omit your name.”
“Include me in you truce . . .”
One day Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu visited Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. As he entered he heard ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha raising her voice at Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. “O Daughter of so-and-so (referring to ‘Aa-isha’s mother)” he said, “You raise your voice at the Rasul of Allah!” Saying this he attempted physically reprimanding her. However, Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam prevented him from doing so. He therefore left without saying anything further. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam then spoke kindly to her until she got happy and began laughing. A little while later Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu returned. As he stood outside the door requesting permission to enter, he heard the laughter of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam and ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha. He thus said: “Include me in your truce just as you included me in your fight.”
“You better eat; otherwise . . .”
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha one day cooked hareerah (an Arab dish) and then took it to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam who was with Saudah radiallahu anha at that time. She therefore offered it to Saudah radiallahu anha also. Saudah radiallahu anha refused to eat it so ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha threatened her: “You better eat; otherwise I will smear it on your face!” Saudah radiallahu anha still refused. ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha therefore took some hareerah and smeared it on her face. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam laughed and then caught the hand of ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha and told Saudah radiallahu anha: “(Now) you smear her face!” She did so to the amusement of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. Suddenly they heard ‘Umar radiallahu anhu calling somebody outside. Thinking that ‘Umar radiallahu anhu was coming to visit him, ‘Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam told his two wives to get up and wash their faces. ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha says: “I always feared ‘Umar after that . . .”
“A plate for a plate . . .”
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates: “I never saw somebody make food like Safiyyah. She presented a plate of food to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. I could not control myself and therefore broke the plate. I later asked Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam about its compensation. He replied: “A plate for a plate and food for food. (Replace her with a plate and an equal amount of food.)”
Tit for Tat
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates that one day Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam raced her and she beat him. Later, when she had picked up some weight, Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam raced her again. This time he won. Thus he humorously remarked: “O ‘Aa-isha, this was in lieu of that.”
Divine Declaration of Her Innocence
In the fifth year after the hijrah (migration to Madinah) the hypocrites accused ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha of zinaa (adultery). A few days later Allah revealed aayaat wherein He declared her innocence and warned the Believers to distance themselves from all false accusations and slander. This caused her to be the only woman besides Maryam, the mother of Eesa alaihis-salaam whose innocence was declared from above the seven skies.
One of the aayaat revealed in this regard is:
الخبيثات للخبيثين و الخبيثون للخبيثات و الطيبات للطيبين و الطيبون للطيبات أولئك مبرؤون مما يقولون لهم مغفرة و رزق كريم
Unchaste women are for unchaste men and unchaste men are for unchaste women. (Similarly) chaste women are for chaste men and chaste men are for unchaste women. Such people are free from what they (the slanderers) say about them. For them is forgiveness and noble sustenance.
Besides confirming ‘Aa-isha’s radiallahu anha innocence, Allah is also promising her forgiveness and noble sustenance. Hafidh Ibn Katheer writes in his famous tafseer of the Qur’aan that this is a promise that she will be Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam wife in Jannah. ‘Urwah said: “If ‘Aa-isha had not other merit besides the slander, she would still enjoy excellence and nobility because (due to this whole incident) aayaat that will be recited until the Day of Qiyaamah were revealed regarding her.”
Later, when she would recount the slander and the events that led to the revelation of the aayaat that exonerated her, she would say: “. . . I knew that I was innocent and that Allah would expose my innocence. However, I never thought that Allah would reveal regarding me wahi which is recited (as part of the Qur’aan). I considered myself as too insignificant for Allah to mention in such a manner. Instead, I was hoping that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would see a dream wherein Allah would establish my innocence.”
The Aayah of Tayammum
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha accompanied Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam on another journey. They had stopped for the night at a place called Dhat-ul-Jaysh when she lost her pearl necklace. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam commanded his Sahaabah radiallahu anhum to look for it. They will still searching for it when the time for Salaat-ul-Fajr set in. Since there was no close source of water and they did not have any water with them, the Sahaabah radiallahu anhum began panicking. Fearing that Salaat-ul-Fajr would be missed, they went to Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu and complained of ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha. ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates that Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu came to her while Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was asleep with his head resting on her thigh. He began scolding her and poking her in her side. She says, “The only reason why I did not move was that Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam head was on my thigh.” . . . Thus the aayah of tayammum was revealed. In short, ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha was the cause for the revelation of the aayah of tayammum. It was in this regard that Usayd bin Hudayr radiallahu anhu, a member of the Ansaar, said to her: “This is not your first barakah (blessing), O family of Abu Bakr.” According to another narration he said: “May Allah grant you a good reward; nothing which you dislike happens to you except that Allah places for you some good in it.” Similarly, her father complimented her saying: “You are blessed; a concession has descended because of you.” A narration recorded by Imaam Ahmed in his Musnad states that he told her: “My daughter, I swear that I never knew that you are blessed. Allah has placed tremendous blessings and ease for the Muslims in you delaying them.”
The Aayah of Choice
The defeat of the Bani Nadeer and Banu Quraidha and the subsequent distribution of the booty saw a general increase in the life style of the general Muslim public. The wives of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam therefore thought that he sallallahu alaihi wasallam must have set aside a share for them too. Not realizing that they were going to upset Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, they approached him with a request for an increase in their allowance. In the course of their presentation to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam they mentioned that while they were suffering from poverty and hunger, the wives of the emperors of Rome and Persia wore expensive clothing and jewelry and had servants to assist them in their daily chores. This comparison upset Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. Had they failed to realize the difference between him and the kings and emperors of the world? Have they failed to understand the difference between the houses of kingdom and nubuwwah? This led to the revelation of the aayah:
يأيها النبي قل لأزواجك ان كنتن تردن الحياة الدنيا و زينتها فتعالين أمتعكن و أسرحكن سراحا جميلا – و ان كنتن تردن الله و رسوله و الدار الآخرة فان الله أعد للمحصنات منكن أجرا عظيما
“O Nabi! Tell your wives: If you desire the worldly life and its beauty then come, I will give you some provision and release you release you in an amiable manner.
And if you desire Allah, His Rasul and the Hereafter, then certainly Allah has prepared a tremendous reward for the chaste among you.”
This ayaah is known as the aayah of takhyeer (choice). ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam began with her. He said: “I wish to tell you something. However, do not be hasty in giving an answer until you consult your parents.” (She would later say that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam said this because he knew that my parents would never advise me to choose separation from him.) Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam then recited to her the above two aayaat. When Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam paused at the end of the second aayah, ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha said: “For what should I consult my parents? I choose Allah, His Rasul and the Hereafter. However, I implore you not to inform any of your other wives of my choice.” Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was pleased with her answer but did not accept her request. He said: “Allah did not depute me to harsh. Instead, he sent me as a softhearted teacher. Therefore, I will inform every one of them who enquires about your choice.” At that time Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam other wives were: Hafsah, Umm Habeebah, Saudah, Umm Salmah, Safiyyah, Maymoonah, Zainab Bint Jahsh and Juwairiyah radiallahu anhunn. They all made the same choice as ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha.
Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam Final Illness
In Rasulullah’s sallallahu alaihi wasallam final illness he repeatedly asked his wives, “Where am I going to be tomorrow? Where am I going to be tomorrow?” He eventually told them: “It is (now) difficult for me to rotate among you. Therefore grant me permission to stay by just one of you.” Umm Salmah radiallahu anha spoke on their behalf. “We know what you desire” she said, “You desire (to be with) ‘Aa-isha. We grant you permission.” Thus Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam passed away in her house. Referring to this and her other merits in this regard, ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha would add:
When Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam passed away, his head was on her chest.
She was alone with Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam when he passed away.
Her saliva mixed with the saliva of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam shortly before he passed away. Her brother Abdur Rahman had come to visit Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. He had a miswaak in his hand. ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates: “I saw him (Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam) looking at it (the miswaak). I knew that he loved using the miswaak. ‘Should I take it for you?’ I asked. He nodded affirmatively. I gave it to him but it was too hard for him. ‘Should I soften it?’ I asked. He nodded affirmatively.” She thus softened the miswaak with her teeth and then gave it to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam . . .
The blessed grave of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam is in her house.
‘Aa-isha’s steadfastness and forbearance in this most critical moment is most remarkable. In this regard, she proved to be stronger than all the Sahaabah radiallahu anhum – male and female – excluding her father, Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu.
The news of the demise of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam shattered the Sahaabah radiallahu anhum. Bewildered, they did not know how to react. Many seniors including ‘Uthman radiallahu anhu wept incessantly and ‘Umar radiallahu anhu drew his sword threatening to behead anybody who said that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam had passed away. “This is merely a condition that befalls him at the time of wahi” he said. However, the moment Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu received news of the demise of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, he went to the house of ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha. He opened the face of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, kissed him between his eyes and said: “You are too noble in the court of Allah for Him to give you two deaths.” He then said: “By Allah, Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam has passed away.” At that moment ‘Umar was in the masjid telling the people that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam had not passed away and that he would not pass away until he amputates the hands and feat of the hypocrites. Thus Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu went to the Masjid, ascended the mimbar and addressed the crowd saying: “Whoever worships Allah should remember that Allah is alive and will never die. Whoever worships Muhammed should know that Muhammed has passed away.” He then quoted the aayah “Muhammed is only a Rasul (and not a deity). Many Rusul passed before him. Would you retreat on your heals if he dies or is killed? Whoever retreats on his heals will never harm Allah at all – And Allah will compensate those who are grateful.” ‘Umar radiallahu anhu would later say: “It was as if I only read this aayah on that day.”
Are the two thousand two hundred and ten ahaadith which she transmitted to the Ummah not sufficient proof of her knowledge? What about the scores of ‘ulamaa who were her students. Which scholar of Hadith has not heard of ‘Urwah bin Zubair, Qaasim bin Muhammed and ‘Amrah Bint Abdur Rahman? They were graduates of the madrasah of ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha. Other prominent personalities who were her students are: Saalim bin Abdullan bin ‘Umar, Sa’eed bin Musayyib, Ataa bin Abi Rabaah, Muhammed bin Sireen and Ibrahim An-Nakha’i. A number of Sahaabah including Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas, Abdullah bin ‘Umar, Abdullah bin Zubair and Abu Hurairah radiallahu anhum also narrated from her.
Nevertheless, the following quotations underline her academic status.
1. Abu Moosa Al-‘Ash’ari radiallahu anhu said: “Whenever any Hadith was not understood by us, the companions of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, and we asked ‘Aa-isha about it, we would find by her knowledge regarding it.”
2. Somebody asked Masrooq rahimahullah “Did ‘Aa-isha have mastery over al-faraa-id (inheritance)?” He replied: “I swear by Allah that I saw senior Sahaabah questioning ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha about issues related to al-faraa-id (inheritance).”
3. Az-Zuhri rahimahullah said: “If the knowledge of ‘Aa-isha was compared to the knowledge of the rest of the wives of Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasallam and all other women, the knowledge of ‘Aa-isha would be more.”
4. ‘Urwah narrates that he once said to ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha: “Mother, I am not astonished at your (vast) knowledge of fiqh (jurisprudence); I say that you are the wife of the Nabi of Allah and the daughter of Abu Bakr. I am (also) not astonished at your (vast) knowledge of poetry and the history of the Arabs; I say that you are the daughter of Abu Bakr – he was the most knowledgeable of people (in this regard). However, I am amazed at your knowledge of medicine! How and from where did you attain it?” She explained: “Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would take ill towards the end of his life. Arab delegations from all frontiers would visit him and prescribe various remedies which I would use to treat him. That is how . . .”
5. Once somebody complimented ‘Urwah’s knowledge of poetry. “You narrate so mush of poetry!” he said to ‘Urwah. “What is my narration (of poetry) in comparison to that of ‘Aa-isha?” said ‘Urwah, “She would cite a poem for everything that happened to her.”
6. Sha’bi rahimahullah narrates that ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha used to say that she knew one thousand couplets of the famous poet, Labeed.
7. When Sha’bi rahimahullah would speak of ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha and her vast knowledge and understanding, he would remark:
ما ظنكم بأدب النبوة
“What do you expect from the training of Nubuwwah?”
(After all, she was trained by none other then the Nabi of Allah, sallallahu alaihi wasallam.)
8. Moosa bin Talha rahimahullah, a Taabi’ie, says that he never saw anybody more eloquent than ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha.
9. Ahnaf bin Qais rahimahullah, another prominent Taabi’ie, said: “I heard the sermons of Abu Bakr, Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali and the khulafaa after them. However, I never heard from the mouth of any creation more splendid and eloquent speech than what I heard from the mouth of ‘Aa-isha.”
‘Urwah bin Zubair rahimahullah narrates from his father that ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha used to fast throughout the year (excluding the days wherein fasting is impermissible).
Qaasim bin Muhammed rahimahullah narrates: “When I would leave my house in the morning, I would first go to the house of ‘Aa-isha in order to greet her. (He was her nephew.) I went to her one morning and found her standing in nafl salaah and reading the aayah ‘Thus Allah showed mercy on us and protected us from As-Samoom (Jahannam).’ She was making du’aa, crying and repeating the aayah over and over again. I stood waiting for her until I got tired. I therefore went to the market to purchase my necessities. When I returned she was still standing like that; in salaah and crying.”
Fear of Allah
She once sold a house that belonged to her and then distributed the proceeds (one hundred thousand dirhams) among the needy. When Abdullah bin Zubair radiallahu anhu learnt of this, he became furious and said: “One hundred thousand dirhams! By Allah! ‘Aa-isha must stop selling her assets otherwise I will interdict on her from doing so.” When ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha was informed of this, she took an oath to never speak to Abdullah bin Zubair again. Abdullah bin Zubair was her nephew and hence deeply distressed by this. He asked many different people to intercede with her on his behalf and convince her to break her oath and speak to him. They all tried but none of them succeeded. Later, citing the Hadith that it is impermissible for a Muslim to sever ties with his brother for more than three days, Miswar bin Makhramah and Abdur Rahman bin Aswad were able to persuade to change her stance. She resumed to Abdullah bin Zubair and freed forty slaves as kaffaarah (atonement) for breaking her oath. After that, whenever she recalled this oath, she would cry so bitterly that her scarf would get wet.
Eesa bin Dinaar says that he asked Abu Ja’far about ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha. “Make du’aa for her forgiveness” he said, “Do you not know what she used to say: If only I was a tree. If only I was a stone. If only I was a mud clod.” “Why would she say that?” I asked. “Taubah (repentance).” he replied. She was also heard saying: “I wish I was a leaf on this tree” and “I wish I was a plant from the plants of the earth; something nobody spoke about.” At the time of her death she said: “I wish that I was not even created. If only I was a tree that engages in tasbeeh (glorification of Allah) and fulfilling its duties.”
“He is your uncle . . .”
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha had a foster uncle by the name of Aflah. (His brother’s wife had suckled her in her infancy.) He one day visited her but she did not permit him to enter her house. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was not at home at that time. When he sallallahu alaihi wasallam returned, she related to him what transpired earlier. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam responded: “Your uncle may enter your house.” She was too sure whether Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam understood her correctly. Thus she asked: “Only the woman suckled me, not the man.” To this Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam answered: “He is your uncle and may therefore enter your house.”
“Your menses is not in your hand.”
Once, while Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was observing i’tikaaf in the masjid, he asked ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha to pass him a small mat from inside her room. She was menstruating at the time. Due to her wara’ (cautiousness), she hesitated whether it would be permissible for her to stick her hand into the masjid in this state. Thus she said: “I am in my menses.” Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam replied: “Your menses is not in your hand.”
“. . . I can see you.”
Another example of her wara’ (cautiousness) is her observing hijaab in the presence of a blind man. “Do you observe hijaab from me whereas I cannot see you?” he asked. She replied: If you cannot see me, surely I can see you.”
“It is merely my husband and my father.”
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha narrates: “I used to enter the room in which Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam and my father are buried without my outer garment (which is only worn when leaving the confines of the house and in the presence of strange men). I would say: “It is merely my husband and my father.” However, after ‘Umar was buried (in the same room), I never entered the room without covering myself with my (outer) clothes due to my shyness for ‘Umar.” This is probably the most glaring example of her wara’.
Mu’aawiyah radiallahu anhu sent her a necklace worth one hundred thousand dirhams. Do you know what she did with it? She distributed it among the other wives of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam.
On another occasion Mu’aawiyah radiallahu anhu sent her one hundred thousand dirhams. Before nightfall, she spent the entire amount in charity. In the evening her slave-girl told her: “You could have purchased for us meat with one dirham.” She responded: “Why did you not tell me (earlier)?” There is a similar narration regarding a gift of one hundred thousand dirhams which she once received from Abdullah bin Zubair radiallahu anhu.
Her nephew ‘Urwah bin Zubair narrates that she once spent seventy thousand dirhams in charity while she was wearing patched cloths.
Summarising her generosity, Dhahabi says:
كانت أم المؤمنين من أكرم أهل زمانها و لها فى السخاء أخبار
“Umm-ul-Mu’mineen was among the most generous people in her time. There are many accounts of her generosity.”
Qasim bin Muhammed narrates that when Umm-ul-Mu’mineen (The Mother of the Believers) got used to wearing an old, worn out garment, she would dislike discarding it.
Abu Sa’eed narrates that she was stitching a hole on her garment when somebody visited her. Surprised that she wears patched clothes, he asked her, “Did Allah not give us abundant goodness?” She replied: “Leave me alone; one who does not have old clothes will not appreciate new clothes.”
“Urwah bin Zubair narrates from ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam told her: “If you wish to join me (in the Hereafter), suffice with an amount of the Dunya that could be likened to the provision of a traveler, avoid sitting in the company of the wealthy and do not regard a garment as worn out unless you have patched it.”
The Battle of Jamal
‘Aa-isha’s journey to Basrah and her subsequent involvement in the battle of Jamal is known to many. She later regretted this entire episode and repented to Allah for her participation. It thus narrated that thereafter, whenever she read the aayah “And remain in your homes…” she would cry so profusely that her scarf would get wet with her tears. Furthermore, at the time of her death she said: “I used to tell myself that I would be buried in my house (next to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam). However, I committed something (referring to her journey to Basrah) after the demise of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. Therefore bury me with the rest of his wives.” Thus she was buried in the Baqee’ (the cemetery of Madinah).
“Go away, may you be cursed!”
When ‘Ali radiallahu anhu sent ‘Ammaar radiallahu anhu to Kufah to muster support for his army, the latter heard somebody criticizing ‘Aa-isha radiallahu anhu. He reprimanded that person saying: “We definitely know that she is the wife of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam in the dunya and the aakhirah. However, Allah is testing you; are going to follow him or her.”
The narration of Tirmidhi states that he told this person: “Go away, may you be cursed! Do you harm the beloved of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam?”
Ibn Abbaas’s Last Visit
Ibn Abbaas radiallahu anhu visited Aa-isha radiallahu anha in her final illness. She initially hesitated giving him permission to enter. “I fear that he is going to praise me” she said. “O Mother!” her nephew interceded, “Ibn Abbaas is one of your pious sons. He (merely) wants to greet and bid you farewell.” “Then give him permission if you desire” she said . . . Ibn Abbaas sat down and said: “Be happy!” She asked: “Why?” “Because” he replied, “I swear by Allah that there is nothing left before you meet Muhammed sallallahu alaihi wasallam and your other loved ones besides the separation of your rooh (soul) from your body. You were the most beloved of women to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam and he sallallahu alaihi wasallam would never love anything impure. On the night of Abwaa your necklace fell . . . Thus Allah revealed ‘Then make tayammum with clean soil’. This concession which Allah had bestowed on the Ummah was due to you. Then Allah revealed your innocence from above the seven skies. Thus your innocence is recited day and night in every single masjid in which the name of Allah is mentioned.” “Leave me alone, Ibn Abbaas!” she said, “By Allah, I wish I was totally forgotten.”
According to one version, when Ibn Abbaas radiallahu anhu sat down he asked her, “How are you?” She replied, “Fine, if I exercised taqwa.” “Then you will be fine, Insha Allah. You are the wife of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam; he never married another virgin besides you. (Furthermore) your innocence was revealed from the sky.” A little while later Abdullah bin Zubair radiallahu anhu came to visit her. She told him of Ibn Abbaas’s visit and said, “. . . and he praised me. However, I wish that I was totally forgotten.”
‘Aa-isha radiallahu anha passed away after the Salaat-ul-Witr on the 17th of Ramadaan 57AH. Adh-Dhahabi says that such a large crowd attended her janaazah that never was such a large crowd seen in Madinah than on that night. The salaat-ul-janaazah was led by Abu Hurairah radiallahu anhu and she was laid to rest by her nephews Abdullah bin Zubair, Urwah bin Zubair, Qaasim bin Muhammed, Abdullah bin Abdur Rahman and Abdullah bin Muhammed bin Abdur Rahman bin Abu Bakr. When Umm Salmah radiallahu anha received news of ‘Aa-isha’s radiallahu anha death, she said: “By Allah! She was undoubtedly the most beloved of people besides her father to Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam.”
Abdullah bin ‘Ubaid bin ‘Umair narrates that his father asked a man who was in Madinah at the time of ‘Aa-isha’s radiallahu anha death: “How was the people’s grief over ‘Aa-isha?” He replied that they were extremely grieved and that “only such a person is grieved by her death who regards her as his mother”. He meant that every Believer was grieved by her death.
In conclusion, we beseech Allah to fill our hearts with love for all his pious servants and to raise us on the Day of Qiyaamah in their noble companionship. Aameen!
و آخر دعوانا أن الحمد لله رب العلمبن
Abu Hudhaifa Muhammed Karolia
24 Ramadaan 1431 \ 04 September 2010