AISHA bint Abi Bakr
Gradually the Muslims who remained in Mecca left the city and traveled to Medina to join their beloved Prophet, and amongst them was a little girl called ‘A’isha, the daughter of Abu Bakr. Soon after arriving in Medina, ‘A’isha, who was now nine years old, as married to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who was now fifty-four years old. It was at this point that she left her family’s household and joined that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). ‘A’isha later reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had told her that Jibril came to him and showed him a picture of her on a piece of green silk and said, “She is your wife in this world and in the next world.” About her wedding, she related that shortly before she was to leave her parents’ house, she slipped out into the courtyard to play with a friend. “I was playing on a seesaw and my long streaming hair became disheveled,” she said. “They came and took me from my play and made me ready.” They dressed her in a wedding dress made from fine red striped cloth from Bahrain and then her mother took her to the newly built house where some women of the Ansar were waiting outside the door. They greeted her with the words, “For good and for happiness, may all be well.” Then, in the presence of the smiling Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) a bowl of milk was brought. The Prophet drank from it himself and then offered it to ‘A’isha. She shyly declined it, but when he insisted she drink as well and then offered the bowl to her sister Asma’ who was sitting beside her. The others who were present also drank from it, and that was all there was to the simple and solemn occasion of their wedding.
Her marriage to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not change ‘A’isha’s playful ways, and her young friends continued to regularly come to visit her in her own room. “I would be playing with my dolls,” she once said, ‘with the girls who were my friends, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would come in and they would slip out of the house and he would go out after them and bring them back, for he was pleased for my sake to have them there.” Sometimes he would say, “Stay, where you are,” before they had time to leave, and would also join in their games. “One day,” ‘A’isha said, “the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came in when I was playing with my dolls and said, “‘A’isha, whatever game is this?’ ‘It is Solomon’s horses,’ I replied, and he laughed.” On another occasion, during the days of the Id al Adha, two young girls were with ‘A’isha in her room, singing a song about the famous battle of Bu’ath and beating a tambourine in time. “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came in,” said ‘A’isha, ‘and lay down with his face turned away. Then Abu Bakr came, and scolded me, saying, ‘What is this musical instrument of Shaytan doing in the house of the Messenger of Allah?’ The Messenger of Allah turned towards him and said, ‘Leave them alone, for these are the days of the ‘Id.'”
After a while, ‘A’isha asked the girls to leave, and the Prophet asked ‘A’isha whether she would like to watch the Abyssinians who were giving a fighting display with their weapons in the mosque and she said yes. “By Allah,” said ‘A’isha, “I remember the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) standing at the door of my room, screening me with his cloak, so that I could see the sport of the Abyssinians as they played with their spears in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He kept standing for my sake until I had enough and then I went back in, so you can well imagine how a young girl enjoyed watching this display.”
Some might have viewed the marriage of Muhammad and ‘A’isha as an exceptional marriage, but then the two partners were exceptional people. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the last of the Prophets and the best of creation; and ‘A’isha was a very intelligent and observant young girl with a very good memory. ‘A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) spent the next nine years of her life with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and she grew into womanhood, she remembered all that she saw and heard with great clarity, for to be the wife of the Prophet was even more than extraordinary. So much happened around him – the Quran continued to be revealed, ayat by ayat, and people’s hearts were constantly being turned over and transformed, including hers and she was a witness of so much of all that took place. It is not surprising, therefore, that a great deal of the knowledge that we still have today, about how our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) lived and behaved, was first remembered and then taught to others by ‘A’isha. It is thanks to this exceptional marriage, between a man nearing the end of his life and a woman still near the beginning of hers, that we know so much about the both of them, and this is what makes it so much easier for those who wish to follow in their footsteps to try and follow their example.
Whereas Khadijah was already a wise and mature woman when she married the Prophet Muhammad, ‘A’isha was a spirited young girl who still had a great deal to learn when she married the Prophet, (may Allah be pleased with her, and peace be upon him) she was very quick to learn, however, for she had a clear heart, and a quick mind and an accurate memory. She was not afraid to talk back in order to find out the truth or make it known, and whenever she beat someone else in argument, the Prophet would smile and say, “She is the daughter of Abu Bakr!” Musa ibn Talha once said, “I have not seen anyone more eloquent than ‘A’isha.” ‘A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) became so wise that one of her contemporaries used to say that if the knowledge of ‘A’isha were placed on one side of the scales that of all other women on the other, ‘A’isha ‘s side would outweigh the other. She used to sit with the other women and pass on the knowledge that she had received from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and long after he had died, and as long as she lived, she was a source of knowledge and wisdom for both women and men. Abu Musa once said, “Whenever a report appeared doubtful to us, the Companions of the Prophet, and we asked ‘A’isha about it, we always learned something from her about it.”
On one occasion, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to her, “O ‘A’isha, 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 (meaning the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ) sees what I do not see.” As well as being extremely intelligent, ‘A’isha became a very graceful young woman. When she first came to live in the Prophet’s household as a young girl, a strong and lasting friendship grew up between her and Sawda, and Sawda took care of her along with the rest of the household. When ‘A’isha grew up, Sawda, who was by then an old woman, gave up her share of the Prophet’s time in favor of ‘A’isha and was content to manage his household and be Umm al Mumineen – ‘The Mother of the Believers’ – a title of respect that was given to all of the wives of the Prophet, (may Allah be pleased with them), which confirmed what the Quran clearly states that no man could marry any of them after they had been married to the Prophet for:
The Prophet is closer to the believers than their ownselves, and his wives are as their mothers. (Qur’an: 33:6)
O you wives of the Prophet, if any of you is openly indecent, the punishment for her will be doubled – and that is easy for Allah. And whoever of you submits to Allah and His Messenger has right action, We shall give her a reward twice over and We have prepared a generous provision for her. O you wives of the Prophet, you are not like any other women. If you are fearful of Allah then do not be soft in yspeech, lest someone whose heart is sick is attracted to you, but speak words that are wise. And stay quietly in your houses, do not make a dazzling display like that of the time of ignorance before and establish prayer and pay the Zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Surely Allah wishes to remove impurity far from you, O People of the House, and to purify you completely. And remember that ayahs of Allah that are recited in your houses and the wisdom. Surely Allah is Alpervading, All Aware. (Quran 33:30-34)
It is sometimes difficult to picture what life must have been like for the wives and the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) because the light that emanated from him and through them was so unique. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had no shadow because he was light and this light illuminated the hearts and minds and understanding of his followers, giving them insight without blinding them. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was truly a mercy to all the worlds, and no one with a clean heart could possibly forget this, least of all the Prophet himself.
O Prophet, surely We have sent you as a witness and as a bringer of good news and a warner; and one who calls the people to Allah by His permission, and as a shining light. (Quran 33:45-46)
It is said that people were awed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when they were in his presence, and that they sat and listened to his words with their eyes lowered, as if they had birds perched on their heads, and that they would do anything for him, so great was their love for him. It was because of the perfection of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that everyone was commanded to ask blessings on him:
Allah and His angels pray blessings on the Prophet; O you who believe! Pray blessings of him and ask for peace for him. (Quran 33:56)
It was because of the Prophet Muhammad’s unique station with Allah that his wives and his Companions were expected by Allah to behave with such respect and courtesy towards the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); and that his wives could not possibly marry anyone else after having been married to him:
When you ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a screen. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. It is not for you to cause injury to the Messenger of Allah, or ever marry his wives after him. To do that would be something dreadful in the sight of Allah. (Quran 33:53)
During the nine years that ‘A’isha was married to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) she witnessed many of the great events that shaped the destiny of the first Muslim community of Madina al Munawarra: It was during the course of their marriage that she direction of the qibla was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca, thereby more clearly distinguishing the Muslims from the Jews and the Christians, and it was during the course of their marriage that she must have listened to many of the Jews and the Christians an the idol worshippers who came not to listen to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) but to argue with him, in the hope that they could find a plausible excuse to justify their rejection of him. It was through exchange such as these that ‘A’isha learned to distinguish what was true from what was false. As the prophetic guidance continued to be revealed through the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), ‘A’isha’s way of life – along with that of all the Muslims – was gradually reshaped and refined: It was during the course of their marriage that drinking alcohol was finally forbidden, that it was made clear what food was halal and what food was haram, that it became necessary for women to wear the hijab in public and when praying, that the guidance as to how to fast was revealed, that paying the Zakat became obligatory on all Muslims, and that all rites of the hajj were purified and clarified.
In fact every aspect of life, from birth to death and everything that happens in between, was illuminated by the way in which the Prophet behaved – and it was this way of behavior, the Sunna, that ‘A’isha helped to preserve and protect, not only by embodying it herself, but also by teaching it to others. ‘A’isha was once asked to describe the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and she replied that he was ‘the Quran walking’, meaning that his behavior was the Quran translated into action. She did all that she could to do likewise. Thus she not only knew and embodied the Sunna, but also she memorized the Quran by heart and understood it. It was during the course of their marriage that, amongst others, the battles of Badr, and Uhud, and Al-Khandaq (the Ditch) were fought. These were the three major battles against the Quraish, that shifted the balance of power out of the hands of the kafirun and into the hands of the Muslims. Although she was still very young, ‘A’isha participated in them all, bringing water for the Muslims warriors, and helping to look after the wounded. She witnessed life, and she witnessed death – both in the way of Allah and in the way of the kafirun – and she understood both. Indeed one of the meanings of her name, ‘A’isha’, is ‘life’.
It was during the course of their marriage that the Jews plotted and tried to kill the Prophet on more than one occasion, without success, and were punished for this. First the Banu Qayunqa and then the Banu Nadir were expelled from Medina; and then Banu Qurayza – who had broken their agreement with the Muslims during the battle of al-Khandaq and conspired to exterminate all of them – were subjected to the punishment that was decided by the man whom they themselves had chosen to judge their actions, Sa’id ibn Mu’adh. In accordance with the commands contained in their own book, the Torah, all the men were killed – with the exception of four who accepted Islam and all the women and children were taken as slaves. It was after this event that another tribe, the Banu al Mustaliq began to prepare to fight the Muslims, and accordingly the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) led an army against them. Often when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went to war, he took one of his wives with him. He did not choose anyone in particular, but simply drew lots and took the wife whose name came out. When he went to fight the Banu al-Mustaliq, the lot fell to ‘A’isha, and she it was who traveled with him.
‘A’isha who was now thirteen years old, was small, slim, and graceful, so that it was difficult for the men who carried her litter to know for certain whether or not she was actually inside it when they lifted it up. On the way back to Medina, after the Banu al Mustaliq had been subdued, the Muslim army stopped for a rest, but then the Prophet unexpectedly ordered the army to continue the march back. Unknown to everyone else, ‘A’isha had stepped out of her litter for a few minutes and had left the camp, seeking some privacy. On her way back she had noticed that her onyx necklace was missing and so she retraced her steps to try and find it. When she had at last found it finally returned to the camp, it was to find that everyone had gone. The men who had been carrying her litter had thought she was still in it, and had picked it up, strapped it to the camel and marched on. ‘A’isha, who trusted completely in Allah, sat down, and waited, hoping that someone would notice her absence and come back for her. Fortunately she did not have long to wait, for a young Muslim man named Safwan ibn al-Mu’attal, who had fallen behind the army after taking a rest, reached the camp during the night and found her lying fast asleep. Safwan immediately recognizing her, because he had seen her in the early days before Allah had commanded Muslim women to wear the hijab.
“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un!” – “Surely we come from Allah and surely to Him we return!” he exclaimed in surprise, waking ‘A’isha up with the loudness of his voice. He did not say anything else, and a’A’isha put the scarf that had fallen off her head while she was asleep back on, Safwan made his camel kneel down close to her so that she could climb up on to it; and then, leading the camel with his hand, he set off on foot after the army, hoping that they would soon catch up with it which they eventually did later the next morning, since the army had halted for a rest during the hottest part of the day. Unfortunately, some hypocrites who had seen Safwan and ‘A’isha arrive alone together began to gossip and spread slanderous lies about them. Eventually the story reached the Prophet himself (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and by then the whole community was talking about what might or might now have happened before the two young Muslims. Naturally the muminun were certain that noting bad had happened, but the munafiqun thought otherwise and were not afraid to insinuate that was the case.
As a result of all this gossip, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his household came under a great strain, and in fact ‘A’isha herself fell ill, not because she was aware of what the hypocrites were saying about her, but because the Prophet did not seem to care for her as much as he had done before the campaign against the Banu al Mustaliq. Finally, someone told her what some people were saying. This made ‘A’isha even more ill, so with the Prophet’s permission, she went to stay at the house of her parents. When she arrived, she said to her mother, Umm Ruman, “Mother! What are the people saying?” She replied “O my daughter! Do not make too much of the business. By Allah, seldom has there been a woman of beauty with a husband who loves her and who has co wives but that people say a lot against her.” A’isha said, “Glory be to Allah! The people have really been saying this?” ‘A’isha said, “I have spent the entire night until morning unable to stop weeping and could not sleep at all. Morning found me still weeping.” In the meantime, when Safwan was confronted with the allegations that had been made, he replied, “Glory be to Allah! By Allah, I have never removed the veil of any woman!” Since there had been no revelation to clarify the matter, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked Barira, who was ‘A’isha ‘s maid servant, if she had seen anything in ‘A’isha’ s behavior that was at all doubtful. “By Him who sent you with the truth,” she replied, “I have not seen nothing wrong with her, other than that she is a young girl and sometimes she falls asleep while she is kneading the dough and a lamb comes along and eats it!” Some of the companions who were present scolded Barira and told her to come to the point. “Glory be to Allah!” she replied. “I know as much about her as a jeweler knows about a piece of pure gold!”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also asked Zaynab bint Jahsh for her opinion, since he valued it highly. Although she and A’isha were frequently at odds with one another and Zaynab’s sister Hamna, was the one of those who were actively gossiping and spreading the rumor, she replied without hesitation, “O Messenger of Allah,” she said, “I will not repeat anything that I have not heard with my own ears and seen with my own eyes. By Allah, I find nothing in her but goodness.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then tried to vindicate A’isha’s honor by calling everyone to the mosque and publicly defending her reputation, but the hypocrites who had started the trouble in the first place only made matter worse, so that arguments broke out all over the mosque, and people had almost come to blows over the matter before the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) calmed them down and silenced them.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then came to Abu Bakr’s house, where A’isha had been crying her heart out, and in the presence of her parents said the shahada, and then continued, “If you are innocent, then Allah Himself will protect your honor, and if by accident there has been a lapse on your part, then seek the forgiveness of Allah and He will pardon you, for when a slave admits a fault and turns to Him in repentance, then Allah also turns and accepts that repentance.”
A’isha said, “When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) finished what he was saying, my tears stopped so that I was not aware of a single tear. I said to my father, ‘Answer the Messenger of Allah for me regarding what he has said.’ He said, ‘By Allah, I do not know what to say to the Messenger of Allah,’ I said to my mother, ‘Answer the Messenger of Allah for me regarding what he has said.’ She said, ‘By Allah, I do not know what to say to the Messenger of Allah.'”
A’isha said, “I am a young girl who does not yet recite much of the Qur’an. By Allah, I know that you have heard this story that people are saying and it has become fixed in yourself and you have believed it. If I were to say to you that I am innocent, you would not believe me. If I were to confess to something to you and Allah knows that I am innocent you would believe me. By Allah, I can only say what the father of Yusuf said, Patience is beautiful, and Allah is my protection against what you describe. (Quran 12:18)” Then I turned over on my bed, Allah knowing that I was innocent and hoping that Allah would proclaim me innocent. However, by Allah, I did not think that any relation would be sent down regarding me. I thought too little of myself that something would be said in the Qur’an regarding me, however I hoped that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would have a dream in which Allah would exonerate me. She had hardly finished speaking when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) received a direct revelation of some more ayahs of the Qur’an, and when it was over, he smiled and said, “Do not worry, ‘A’isha, for Allah has revealed proof of your innocence.”
A’isha’s mother, who had been standing next to her, said, “Get up and thank him.”
“By Allah,” exclaimed A’isha, whose title, ‘Siddiqa’, means ‘the truthful one’, “I will not thank him and praise him but rather Allah Who has given the revelation that has protected my honor!” Then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went to the mosque and recited what had just been sent down:
Surely those who fabricate the lie are a group from among you. Do not think it is bad thing for you; no it is good for you. Every man will receive what he has earned for this sin, and whoever had the greater part in it will have a great punishment. Why did the men and women believers, when they heard it, not think good in their selves and say: ‘This is clearly a lie?’ Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they did not produce witnesses, they are certainly liars in the sight of Allah. If it were not for the grace of Allah, and His mercy on you in this world and in the next world, an awful doom would have overtaken you for what you repeated. Since you received it with your tongues, and repeated what you did not know anything about with your mouths, you thought it was a trifle, but in the sight of Allah it is serious. Why, when you heard it, did you not say: ‘It is not for us to repeat this, Glory be to You (O Allah), this is a serious rumor.’ Allah warns you to never repeat anything like this again, if you are indeed believers and Allah makes the signs clear to you; and Allah is Knowing, Wise. Surely those who love to spread around slander about those who believe will have a painful punishment in this world and in the next world; and Allah knows and you do not know. (Quran 24:11-19).
A’isha forgave those who had let themselves be caught in the slander and in later years would not hear anything bad said about them. The fact that A’isha’ s honor and reputation had been protected by a revelation from Allah could not be ignored by anyone, and from then on everyone was more aware of her high station with Allah. It was also during the course of A’isha’s marriage with the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that the Muslim commexpanded so rapidly that Mecca was eventually conquered by the Muslim army, and preparations were made for the first of the many battles that were successfully fought against the Greeks and the Persians after the letters from Muhammad inviting Heraclius and Choroes to embrace Islam and worship Allah alone had been contemptuously ignored.
This extraordinary expansion – even the idea of which would, at the time of Khadijah’ s death (may Allah be pleased with her) have seemed like a wild dream was heralded, in 6 AH, by the treaty of Hudaybiyya, by virtue of which peace was declared between the Quraish and the Muslims for ten years, and the right of the Muslims to enter Mecca and do ‘umra unharmed was recognized by the Quraish.
Although the Muslims had to wait for a year before they could do umra, that year was not long in passing, and in the interval the Jews of Khaybar, who like the other Jews around Madina had attempted to destroy the Muslim community by breaking their peace agreement with the Muslims and supporting the idol worshippers were fought and defeated. After the Jews of Khaybar had been defeated, a Jewess managed to serve the Prophet some poisoned meat, which itself informed him that it had been poisoned, so that he only had a small taste of it. Even though one of his companions who had already eaten some of the meat subsequently died, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forgave the Jewess and let her go free.
The Jews of Khaybar were permitted to stay on their land provided that they paid a yearly tribute to the Muslims. As a result, some of the Muslims began to grow more wealthy than they had been in the past. Indeed on one occasion, the Prophet’s wives, led by ‘A’isha and Hafsa, asked him for some money that he did not have for there was never one night that he lay down to sleep with any money in his possession. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was distressed by this not because he did not have the money to give to them, but rather because it was this that apparently they desired.
At this time, both Abu Bakr and Umar visited him and they found the Messenger of Allah seated, surrounded by his wives who were all silent. Abu Bakr said to himself, “By Allah, I will say something to cheer up the Messenger of Allah!’ So he said, “Messenger of Allah, if I were to see the daughter of Kharija asking me for money, I would strike her on the neck!” The Messenger of Allah smiled and said, ‘These ones you see around me have asked me for money.” SO Abu Bakr went to grab A’isha and Umar went to grab Hafsa, both exclaiming, “DO you ask the Messenger of Allah for something he does not have!” The women said, “By Allah, we would never ask the Messenger of Allah for something he does not have!”
This was not the only marital problem which he experienced at this time. There was a great deal of rivalry between some of the wives and also Hafsa had told A’isha something which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had told her not to disclose because it was something which would increase the friction between the wives. Some sources say that he had told her that Abu Bakr and Umar would rule after him. In any case, he stayed away from them for a whole month, during which many of his Companions began to think either that he was going to divorce them or that he had already done so.
IT is related by Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that he went to visit the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who was staying alone in a small upper room, in order to find out what was happening. First of all he visited his daughter Hafsa, who was weeping, and asked her if the Prophet had divorced his wives. “I don’t know,” she sobbed. Then he went and asked to see the Prophet. After he had been given permission to enter, Umar climbed up the ladder and into the small room: “I visited Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he was lying on a mat. I saw down and he drew up his lower garment over him. He had nothing else on, and the mat had left its marks on his sides. I looked around at what stores Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had, and saw only a handful of barley equal to one sa’ and an equal amount of mimosa leaves in the corner of the room and tanned leather bag handing nearby, and I as moved to tears. HE said, ‘Ibn al Khattab, what is making you cry?’ I replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, how can I not cry? This mat has left marks on your sides and I can only see what I have seen of your stores. Caesar and Chosroes are leading their lives of plenty, while you are the Messenger of Allah, His Chosen One, and look what you have!’ ‘Ibn al Khattab,’ he answered, ‘isn’t it enough for you that for us there is the next world, and for them there is this world?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. Then I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what has happened with your wives? If you have divorced them, then truly Allah is with you, and His angels, Jibril and Mika’il, and Abu Bakr and I and the believers are with you.’ And seldom have I talked like that and hoped that Allah would testify to the words that I uttered. And so it happened that the ayahs of choice were revealed:
If you both turn to Allah in repentance, then that is what your hearts desire; and if you help each other against him then surely Allah Himself is his protector, and Jibril, and the righteous from among the believers, and as well as that, the angels will help him. It maybe, if he divorces you, that his Lord will give him wives who are better than you, who submit, who believe, who are devout, who are repentant, who worship, who fast, whether they have been previously married or are virgins. (Quran 66:4-5)
In fact the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never divorced any of his wives, and as we grow more aware about how they lived, may Allah be pleased with all of them, it is clear that they possessed all of the qualities of the women described in the last ayat. Perhaps this ayat served as a reminder to them, a reminder that they would remember for the rest of their days which for most of them lasted long after the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) death.
Returning to Sayyiduna Umar’s account of his visit to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) during the month of separation from his wives, Umar then asked, “O Messenger of Allah, have you divorced them?” and he replied, “No.” So after talking for a while longer and how in Mecca the men tended to dominate the women, whereas in Medina the women tended to dominate the men, which is what the womenfolk from Mecca had learned to do after they had made hijrah to Medina – Umar climbed down and stood at the door of the mosque and called out at the top of his voice: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has not divorced his wives!” After the month was up, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) first went to A’isha’s room. She was delighted to see him, but grew more serious when he said that some ayahs had been revealed to him which required him to put two options before her. “Do not make a hasty decision,” he said, “and consult your parents first.” He then recited these verses:
O Prophet, say to your wives: ‘If you desire the life of this world and its adornments, then come, and I will make you content, and I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the next world, then truly Allah has prepared an immense reward for those of you who do good.’ (Quran 33:28-29)
“Is there any need to consult my parents?” replied A’isha. “Indeed I desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the next world.” And her response was followed by all of his other wives. A’isha remained true to her word both during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and afterwards. Once, when the Muslims were favored with great wealth, she as given a gift of one hundred thousand Dhirhams. She was fasting when she received the money, and distall of it to the poor and needy, even though she had no provisions in her house. Shortly after that, her maid servant said to her, “Couldn’t you have brought a dirham’s worth of meat with which to break your fast?” “If I had thought of it,” she replied, “I would have done so!”
After a year had passed following the treaty of Hudaybiyya, the Muslims traveled to Mecca and they were able to complete all the rites of the umra, doing everything as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did it. In accordance with the terms of the treaty, the Muslims left after three days, when their umra had been completed. Not long after this, the Prophet sent an army of three thousand Muslims northwards to the borders of the Byzantine territories in what is now Palestine to chastise the tribes there for killing the messengers whom he had sent to call them to Islam. The tribes called on the Emperor Herclius for support, and when the Muslim army arrived at Muta, they found themselves facing an army of two thousand men. Many of the Muslims died as shahids on the day of the battle, but thanks to the tactics of Khalid bin Walid, the Greeks withdrew the next day, and so the Muslims were able to return to Medina relatively unscathed. When the news of the battle of Muta finally reached Mecca, the Quraish mistakenly believed that the Muslims had been thoroughly defeated by the Greeks and decided to renew their opposition to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In doing so, they deliberately broke their treaty that they had made at Hudaybiiya, by allowing their allies to attack and kill some of the allies of the Muslims who lived near Mecca.
Accordingly the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) marched on Mecca at the head of an army of ten thousand Muslims. Despite everyone’s fears, he conquered it with hardly a drop of blood being spilled. As always, the mercy and forgiveness that he displayed towards those who had relentlessly opposed him for so many years changed people’s hearts, and many of the people of Mecca now embraced Islam as a result. Having pardoned all of the Quraish, with the exception of four men who had all committed murder for personal reasons, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) smashed all the idols and destroyed all the paintings that had been placed inside the Ka’ba by the idol-worshippers. The sanctity of the sanctuary of Mecca had been restored, and at long last the Muslims were free to come and go in Mecca as they pleased.
In the midst of the peace and rejoicing, however, news came that the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif were preparing to attack the Muslims. The Muslim army that had conquered Mecca, swelled to twelve thousand by some of the men from the Quraish who had just embraced Islam, marched to a place called Hunayn. For the first time in their experience, the Muslims actually outnumbered the enemy, of whom there were only about four thousand. This nearly proved to be the Muslims’ undoing, for many of them felt secure because of their large numbers rather than because of the reliance on Allah. When the enemy suddenly attacked at dawn, showering down arrows from the hills, the Muslims were taken by surprise and many began to flee. A small group stood firm with the Prophet, one of whom was Umm Sulaym bint Milhan, the wife of Abu Talha. Although she was pregnant at the time, she had armed herself with a dagger to use against the kafirun.
Fortunately the strong Muslims rallied round the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and although there were only six hundred of them, their concerted effort, fighting valiantly in the way of Allah, turned the tide of the battle until those who had turned away in the initial panic and confusion had returned and the battle was won. After the battle of Hunayn, the only continued resistance to the Muslims was from the north and north-east, from the Byzantine and Persian Empires. Having heard that the Greeks were preparing a huge army of thirty thousand men and marched out in the heat of the late summer to do battle with them. After a long, hard, hot march, the Muslim army reached Tabuk, and here they learned that the Greeks had retreated back to their own territory. Accordingly, having made peace treaties with all the border tribes, the Muslims returned to Medina, in time for many of them to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Those who had made weak excuses in order to avoid going on the expedition to Tabuk now felt great shame and regret.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself did not go on the pilgrimage this year, for people were coming to Medina from all over the Arab lands to embrace Islam and to pledge allegiance to him. It was this year that came to be known as ‘the Year of the Delegations’, during which, at one point, the Prophet became so exhausted from seeing people that he had to pray sitting down. So instead, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) led the pilgrims. It was during this hajj that the ayat in the Quran that forbade the idol worshippers from ever entering the sanctuary of Mecca again were revealed; they were made public during the hajj by Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) who was sent straight from Medina to Mecca as soon as they had been revealed, so that as many people as possible would hear them. The following year, when the time for the pilgrimage drew near, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) announced that he was going on the hajj, and as a result everyone wanted to do it with him. The Muslims who did not live in or near Medina either first traveled to Medina in order to accompany him on the journey to Mecca, or else traveled to Mecca from every part of Arabia and joined him there.
Amongst the people on what has become known as ‘the Farewell Pilgrimage’ of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was A’isha, for the Prophet asked all of his wives, may Allah be pleased with them, to accompany him, to ensure that they all fulfilled this particular obligation that every Muslim owes to his or her Lord. It was an extraordinary pilgrimage. There never had been, and there never has been, and there never will be, another hajj quite like it, for at its heart was the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and around him were his family and Companions, may the blessings and peace of Allah be on them, and during it the ayat of the Qur’an was revealed:
This day I have perfected your deen for you and have completed My blessing on you, and have chosen Islam for you as your deen. (Quran 5:3)
It was also during this hajj that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave his famous Farewell Khutba, whose words still ring in our ears and echo in our hearts all these centuries later. When he had finished speaking to the thousands upon thousands of Muslims who were gathered around him on the plain of Arafa, he raised his voice slightly and asked, “My Lord, have I delivered the message?” And thousands upon thousands of voices from all around him answered his question: “Yes, you have.” And many of those who were present passed on that message to those who ere not present, and so it has continued, right up until today. And one of those who was present was A’isha, of whom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once said, “Learn some of your deen from this red haired lady.” Meaning A’isha.
This is not surprising, for she is one of the four people who have transmitted more than two thousand hadiths, the others being Abu Hurairah, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Anas ibn Malik. Many of these are about some of the most intimate aspects of personal behavior and hygiene which only someone in A’isha’s position could have learned. It was during the course of his marriage with A’isha that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married several other wives, usually to strengthen ties between important families and tribes, or to relieve the hardship of a woman who had been unexpectedly divorced or widowed, or in order to clearly demonstrate whom it wapermissible for a Muslim to marry, but above all because all of his marriage had been decreed by Allah, and because all of his wives were exceptional women.