THE POWERHOUSE OF INTELLIGENCE
‘Aisha bint Abi Bakr is a name that inspires awe in everyone, be it male or female. She is a well known personality who was a powerhouse of intelligence, knowledge, wit, dedication, love, devotion, compassion, sass, and patience. She was the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ most beloved wife, and her father’s favorite daughter. What a brilliant mind, and a remarkable memory she had. Furthermore, she was the authority for most of the Ahadeeth (2210 ahadeeth, to be precise. Seriously!). Add to this her immense wisdom and knowledge regarding matters of the Fiqh and Sharee’ah, which made her a highly trustworthy source of knowledge and a point of reference even for the sahaba.
All of these facts are what most of us have known. There were many sahaba as well as sahabiyya who were intelligent, reliable, devoted to the deen etc. Why then, is ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) so special? Why have there been several aayat of the Qur’aan dedicated to her? Why was she so loved?
This article will focus on the lessons we can draw from the life of ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها), rather that facts, bi idhn illah.
Firstly, she was raised in a household that was from among the best of that time, subhanAllah. With Abu Bakr and Umm Ruman (رضي الله عنهما) as her parents, one would expect no less. The Prophet ﷺ is quoted to have said as narrated by Ibn Abbas “Indeed if I was to take a friend from my nation, I would take Abu Bakr”. Likewise, he ﷺ is quoted to have said of Umm Ruman- “Whoever wants to see a woman from the women of Paradise, then let that person look at Umm Ruman.” SubhanAllah. It is common knowledge that parents form the foundation of their child’s future- their akhlaaq (mannerisms), priorities, and their practices, which often manifest in the child as they grow older. We know this, we’ve heard of this, and we’ve seen it around us. But to those of us who are parents, how conscious are we of how much effort we put in to make THAT foundation rock-solid? Not by material possessions, but by spiritual wealth. By keeping the child surrounded by refined akhlaaq, love for Allah in whatever we do, and an active sense of God-consciousness. If you are already there, Alhamdulillah al Khaaliq; but if not, shouldn’t you be rethinking your priorities in life?
Secondly, and I would like to emphasize on the fact that she didn’t just happen to have great devotion to the Deen and a passion for learning, with her amazing akhlaaq being the cherry on the cake, by being the wife of the Prophet ﷺ alone. It is important to remember that she was a daughter first, and then a wife. Her character was majorly sculpted by her parents and the household in which she was brought up. Having said that, let’s see whether the company parents keep impacts the children. What kind of people do you hang around with all day? Do you spend the day with friends who help you get closer to Allah? Or do they tempt you to forget about all that and engage in some mindless gossip for a while, in the presence of you children? We always pray for good companionship for our children, but do we ever pause and look at our own friends and think of how it could be impacting them?
On the authority of Imam al-Bukhari, ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) is reported to have said “And there was not a day except our family would be visited by Rasulullah in the morning and in the evening”.
Moving on, ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) joined the household of the Prophet ﷺ at the age of 9. This fact is especially a sore point for many non-believers, and they use it to sling mud at the Prophet ﷺ, na’oodhubillah. Now, some points that all Muslims need to keep in mind, in order to effectively argue to these accusations are as follows:
- ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) was previously engaged to a non-Muslim in Makkah called Jubair (yes, at an age younger than 9). However, following Abu Bakr’s acceptance of Islam, alongwith his family, he broke off the engagement in order to punish them. A little later, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ got engaged to her (رضي الله عنها). Muhammad ﷺ also got married to Zaynab Bint Jahsh, who was the divorcee of his adopted son Zayd bin Harithah. This marriage caused uproar among the Quraysh since marrying the divorcee of your adopted son was not the social norm at that time. But it must be noted that no such uproar had occurred after the Prophet’s marriage to ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها), indicating that it was the common at the time.
- Secondly, to all the people asking the question “How could anyone marry a child? A 9 year old child?!” let’s take a look at history. American history, to be more precise. Prior to 1886, the age of consent for sexual relations in marriage in the USA was 6 years old. Yes, you read that right. 6 years old. It was later moved up to 10, then 14 gradually, by the State of California first, followed by the rest of the USA.
- Angel Jibreel came to the Prophet ﷺ in his dream, and as is narrated by ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها): “Angel Jibreel (عليه السلام) brought my picture wrapped in the cover of green silk in his dream and said- ‘She is your wife in this world and hereafter’”. Subhan al-Hakeem! Their marriage was one fixed in the Heavens, undeterred by the opinions of the people living 1400 years ago, nor people living now.
This proves that the mud-slinging on the Prophet ﷺ, for something that was the norm 1400 years back, is totally unjustified. In spite of that, he continues to inspire people all over ﷺ.
“And we have exalted for you your remembrance.” (94:4)
THE EPITOME OF INNOCENCE
The relationship between the Prophet ﷺ and ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) was a beautiful, honest fairy tale. An example is beautifully illustrated in an equally beautiful hadith (which, by the way, is said to be of one of the highest levels of eloquence): Once, ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) was narrating to the Prophet ﷺ the story of 11 women who existed before the time of Prophet ﷺ (the hadith of Umm Zar’a). As she narrated the story of Umm Zar’a, who was the eleventh wife, she spoke of Umm Zar’a’s immense love for Abu Zar’a and how he treated her beautifully, but divorced her. He married another, and she married another man. Her second husband treated her well too, but said “Were I to gather everything that he had ever given me it wouldn’t equal the smallest utensil of Abu Zar’a”. ‘Aisha then said: “The messenger of Allah said to me, ‘I am to you as Abu Zar’a was to Umm Zar’a (another narration adds ‘…and I will never divorce you).’”
Truly beautiful. Boys, being verbally affectionate to your wives isn’t going to reduce your manliness. Take it from the greatest man to ever have lived ﷺ. And girls, affection need not be shown in a grand gesture only! It is the small things that make you treasure such moments. Were we to continue a discussion of the relationship between the two of them, we would have a novella on our hands, with much more to go, subhanAllah.
‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها)’s character was greatly influenced by the Prophet ﷺ. One of these traits was contentment with what she had, without wanting more. The Prophet ﷺ and his household, at times, had literally no food to eat, and would survive off barley and water. SubhanAllah. And how thankful are we for the food we eat? For the roof on our heads? Or are we constantly complaining and asking for a bigger, better house (I need to get out of this rat-hole!), or do we throw up a fuss when something we do not like has been cooked (Mom! Not again!)? We need to reflect, and internalize the changes we want to make in ourselves. Don’t proclaim them to the world. Work on yourself. Slowly, but steadily.
Another admirable trait she possessed was haya (modesty). It must be kept in mind that haya is of two types- one that is liked (modesty that boosts up your imaan), and one that is disliked (like, when you feel ashamed to say no to your friends to go to a club). Around us, we see a very twisted perception of modesty. We see girls and guys (with hijabs and all, don’t worry), hanging around- joking, laughing etc. Yes, you’re wearing the hijab which is a sign of modesty, but hijab is much more expansive than a mere piece of cloth! It’s a matter of how you behave and conduct yourself, the words you speak (ridding them of backbiting, swearing), and the way you dress. It’s in your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles, it’s how you are with those who know you and those who don’t. It’s how you are with your male cousins (who are of age), and how you are at weddings and parties. Let’s try and implement the very essence of the word ‘hijab’ in all aspects of our lives; not just on our heads, in sha Allah.
Apart from this, the most important incident that happened in the life of ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها), from which we can derive multiple lessons, is the incident of Ifk.
During an expedition for the Battle of Mustalaq, in which she had accompanied her husband ﷺ, ‘Aisha had gone to the restrooms to relieve herself, and on the way, her necklace had fallen off somewhere. She went searching for it, and by the time she got back, the entire caravan had left (all the men, women, and their carriages). ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) was extremely light, and so no one noticed she was missing. As she was resting in the middle of the desert alone (she kept her cool, since she knew they would come back for her), a companion of the Prophet ﷺ Safwan bin Mu’attal found her in her jilbab. They both returned back to the city, with minimal to zero interactions between them- her sitting on the camel, and him, leading it. As they entered the city, the leader of the hypocrites Abdullah bin Ubayy found this to be the perfect opportunity to wreck havoc. The Prophet ﷺ’s character was so good, that they couldn’t find any opportunity to defame Islam, but with this. So they decided to attack his family, and spread scandalous rumors about our mother ‘Aisha. She, on the other hand, fell ill soon after for nearly a month, and had no clue of the rumors that the city was abuzz with.
One night, she went out with Umm Mistah, the mother of the companion Mistah bin Aththathah. Umm Mistah suddenly stumbled and said “May Mistah be destroyed”. ‘Aisha immediately chastised her for backbiting about her son. SubhanAllah. Even in her weak state, she did not let a mother speak ill of her son. Umm Mistah then lifted the mist of ignorance around ‘Aisha, and told her of the rumors circulating within the city. Devastated and appalled, she turned to her parents’ home after seeking her husband’s permission, and asked them for confirmation Yet another gem in here- she gave the believers the benefit of the doubt. How many of us are quick to believe things others say about some others, without even bothering to confirm them? We need to work on making excuses for our brothers and sisters in Islam, until there is clear evidence against them. But nowadays, we are quick to jump to conclusions and accuse; our generation has turned into the ‘talk now, think later’ generation.
We take slander so lightly! It is one of the things that is explicitly forbidden by Allah in the Quraan. We slander or backbite, listen to others backbiting, and encourage them to backbite. Do we not realize it is an unforgivable sin? It is unforgivable unless the person who we slandered forgives us. It lessens our good deeds! Think about it- every time you backbite, you are handing over your deeds to that person you dislike! Do you prefer that? Or would you rather keep quiet and not let them near your hasanaat? I’m pretty sure we would all choose the latter.
Her parents tried their best to soothe their daughter, but her innocent mind could not comprehend how people could stoop to such depths. The Prophet ﷺ, was just as disturbed by the rumors surrounding his favorite wife! He consulted several people regarding the issue, and one of them was his wife Zaynab Bint Jahsh. Zaynab (رضي الله عنها) was the toughest competitior of ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها). And when she was asked by the Prophet about her thoughts on the matter, she said she only knew good of ‘Aisha. She had the perfect opportunity to defame her co-wife and get a shot at becoming the Prophet’s favorite! But no, her piety and fear of Allah held her back. Quick question- where are we in this regard? How aware are we of Al-Lateef wal Baseer, the one is the most Subtle and all-Seeing?
Muhammad ﷺ then visited ‘Aisha and gently told her to repent had she committed the sin, and that Allah would indeed forgive her. She chose to be silent and instead looked at her parents for support. When they both kept quiet, she finally turned to Rasulullah ﷺ and told him that if she claimed her innocence, no one would believe her and only Allah would help her. She quoted the answer of Ya’qub (عليه السلام) from Surah Yusuf
“So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah Whose help can be sought against what you describe.” (12:18)
What do we learn from this? Make Allah and His Kalaam your refuge. Whenever you have problems in school, or within your family, or financial issues, turn to Allah and the Quran. Understand the Quraan, and seek comfort in it. Converse with your Rabb through your duas, and try to understand what He’s trying to tell you in His Book. You’ll find your problems appear small, and gradually fade and disappear, bi idhn illah.
Promptly, an ayah declaring her innocence was revealed, to the Prophet ﷺ and he recited it to her, smiling. Her parents were overwhelmed with pride and joy for their daughter, and urged her to thank her husband ﷺ. And her response was as unique as could be expected. She said all her thanks were to Allah alone, for He was the one who has revealed her innocence.
Another important incident that took place was in the 9th year after Hijrah. The Prophet ﷺ and his family had been living in dire conditions with barely enough food and comfort. This caused some of his wives, who were used to being living in comfort prior to their marriage, particularly ‘Aisha and Hafsa () to pressurize him ﷺ, regarding materialistic issues. Such fitnah greatly distressed the Prophet and he secluded himself for around 29-30 days. Allah revealed an ayah to the Prophet ﷺ (Surah al Ahzab: 28-29), following which he came out to ‘Aisha’s apartment and asked her to choose between a life of comfort and a life with him which would be a life of hardship. She promptly chose the latter, turning down his offer of consulting her parents, and committed herself to Allah and his Nabi ﷺ.
We find a treasure-trove of lessons in this one incident. Firstly, as children, we are NOT to pressurize our parents in any way to get us materialistic things. That causes us to become a fitnah for them. But why shouldn’t we pressurize them? Emotional pressure aside, it causes them to feel burdened and may ultimate lead them to adopting haraam means to quench your thirst for materialism. They may be forced to take loans, and may eventually end up trapped in a web of debts and interests (which is haraam). They may also overwork themselves, abandoning the faraa’id, like Salaah, Zakat etc. Same goes for wives- if your husbands are in the initial stages of their career development, and your financial status is not very good, do not put enormous pressure on him. Support him, and don’t go around nagging him for things your neighbor has that you absolutely NEED to buy.
‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها) was blessed to have been the one in whose lap the Prophet ﷺ breathed his last.
Abu Musa (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said “The blessing of ‘Aisha compared to other women is like the blessing of thareed upon other foods”. SubhanAllah! Thareed is a specialty in the Gulf countries and is said to be a complete meal in itself. This hadith emphasizes her nobility and status in the ranks of Muslim women.
The Prophet’s beloved adopted a huge array of roles throughout her life- a scholar, a judge, a mufti (who passed fatawas), a mother to the needy, principal of her own school in her own house in Madinah, and so much more.
Under ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (رضي الله عنهما), ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنها)’s life blossomed- she grew in her knowledge, fame and wisdom tremendously. However, under the reign of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and Mu’waiyah bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنهما), her life took a difficult turn, and things became hard for her due to the political conflicts that followed the assassination of ‘Uthman (رضي الله عنه).
Her legendary status among the fuqaha’ and the ulama’, as well as in Arabic language and poetry tell us about the blessing of knowledge. In the entire Quran, knowledge is one thing that Allah has commanded us to ask an increase in: (و قل ربي زدني علما)
This brings us to one major issue our society faces nowadays- stopping the pursuit of knowledge. Why? There are a million excuses: university’s hectic, marriage, children, jobs etc etc. Are any of these excuses actually valid, now that you think about it? We see so many influential Muslims around us- male and female- who’ve been handling their service to the Deen in an exemplary fashion, along with the remaining aspects of life. How about you look at it this way- your seeking of knowledge of the Deen can be your form of shukr for all the blessings Allah has bestowed upon you: the blessing of a spouse, the chance to study in a university, the blessing of a child, the blessing of a job; Alhamdulillah!
And lastly, we ask Allah to increase us in our Imaan and make this article beneficial for us, to purify our intentions, and to accept all our good deeds!