The legacy of Aisha
"I did not see anyone more eloquent than Aisha (r.a.)" -Musa Ibn Talha (r.a.)
Two years had passed since the death of Khadija, and the Messenger of God was living alone with his three daughters. One day a lady by the name of Khawlah came to Prophet Muhammad and asked: “Do you not want to marry?” The Messenger of God was fifty years old, feeling the sadness of Khadijas death, he responded: “Alright with whom” Khawlah replied “it is Aisha daughter of Abu Bakr. Prophet Muhammad asked Khawlah to find out Aisha’s opinion.
Khawlah went to the house of Abu Bakr and spoke to his wife Umm Ruman: “The Messenger of God sent me to ask for your daughter Aisha’s hand in marriage.” Umm Ruman was speechless with pleasure. But she remembered something that threatened to overshadow her joy. She remembered Abu Bakr had made a promise for Aisha to be married in the household of Mut’im ibn Adiy. Umm Ruman suggested they wait for Abu Bakr to return home. When Abu Bakr arrived home and heard the news he was so happy that his eyes overflowed with tears. However, He had not forgotten the promise. He went to the house of Mu’tom to be relived of a promise that would have caused him misery. As Abu Bakr had thought, it was clear that they expected no betrothal.
Khawlah and Umm Ruman each took a deep breath when they heard the news.
It was the month of Shawwal( I0th month of the Islamic lunar calendar) in the twelfth year of revelation and an engagement was made between the Prophet and Aisha. She was going to become the wife of the Prophet which meant she would get intimate knowledge that no one else could reach.
Aisha was aware of her responsibilities. The process of revelation, which she had followed carefully until that day, would now be approached even more meticulously, recording every event like a photograph in her mind.
Aisha’s mother, Umm Ruman felt a heavy burden on her shoulders because her daughter was going to become the wife of the Prophet. She became very sensitive to her daughter’s energetic behaviour. When she saw something she did not like, she reprimanded Aisha. God’s Messenger, who came to visit after such an incident had taken place, felt the chilly atmosphere in the home. Umm Ruman was embarrassed but explained what had happened. The Prophet turned to Umm Ruman and said: “O, Umm Ruman, treat Aisha properly and preserve her rights, please, for my sake!”
Aisha continued to reside in her parents’ home. During that time, the Messenger of God visited tribes and invited them to Islam. After sometime the persecution of the muslims reached such heights that the Prophet migrated to Medinah with Abu Bakr.
Three months had passed and yet there was no news of Abu Bakr and the Prophet. One day, Aisha and Asma saw their brother Abdullah happily coming towards them. Instantly, they understood and ran to him in joy. Their father Abu Bakr had sent a letter which invited the family members to Medina.
Aisha who had migrated with her family, had naturally settled in her father’s home. Then Aisha fell ill. Her body was weak and the conditions of the journey and Medina were difficult for her. She had lost a lot of weight and her hair had started to fall out. After a month of sickness had passed, Aisha started to feel better and she even gained some weight as a result of her mother’s special attention. By this time, the Prophet’s Mosque had been constructed and the civilisation that would grow around it started to flourish in Medina. Angel Gabriel brought the message of God: “Marry her, since she is your wife” Then Abu Bakr came and asked too: “O Messenger of God, is there a reason preventing you from staying with Aisha?” The Prophet understood and marriage was completed with a bridal gift of money. They had a small and unadorned house, but spiritually, the house was large enough to enlighten the world.
“The messenger of God and I were engaged in the month of Shawwal (Islamic month) and again, we married in the month of shawwal. Now tell me, who among his wives is loved more by the Messenger of God” Ayesha (sahih Muslim)
The famous classical historian of Islam, Ibn Jarir Tabari, wrote in his ‘History’:
“In the time before Islam, Abu Bakr married two women. The first was Fatila daughter of Abdul Uzza, from whom Abdullah and Asma were born. Then he married Umm Ruman, from whom Abdur Rahman and Aisha were born. These four were born before Islam.”
Being born before Islam means being born before the Call.
2. The compiler of the famous Hadith collection Mishkat al-Masabih, Imam Wali-ud-Din Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Khatib, who died 700 years ago, has also written brief biographical notes on the narrators of Hadith reports. He writes under Asma, the older daughter of Abu Bakr:
“She was the sister of Aisha Siddiqa, wife of the Holy Prophet, and was ten years older than her. … In 73 A.H.… Asma died at the age of one hundred years.”
This would make Asma 28 years of age in 1 A.H., the year of the Hijra, thus making Aisha 18 years old in 1 A.H. So Aisha would be 19 years old at the time of the consummation of her marriage, and 14 or 15 years old at the time of her nikah. It would place her year of birth at four or five years before the Call.
Historians have considerable difficulties to overcome the cultural views of their own time regarding both the age of consent and the age of marriage. Traditionally, across the globe, the age of consent for a sexual union was a matter for the family to decide, or a tribal custom. In most cases, this coincided with signs of puberty, menstruation for a woman.
In Ancient Rome, it was very common for girls to marry and have children shortly after the onset of puberty.
The first recorded age-of-consent law dates back 800 years: In 1275, in England, as part of the rape law, a statute, Westminster 1, made it a misdemeanor to "ravish" a "maiden within age," whether with or without her consent. The phrase "within age" was interpreted by jurist Sir Edward Coke as meaning the age of marriage, which at the time was 12 years of age.
The American colonies followed the English tradition, and the law was more of a guide. For example, Mary Hathaway (Virginia, 1689) was only 9 years old when she was married to William Williams. Sir Edward Coke (England, 17th century) made it clear that "the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband's estate was 9.
Biblical historians suggest The Virgin Mary was aged between 11-14 when she gave birth to Jesus.
From then on, there was Aisha, a woman in the Prophets household who would follow the Prophet closely when he was apart from society and attain dicisions for mankind. She was a woman for her time, who helped things progress, a brilliant mind who followed incidents and understood them, a wonderful narrator who explained what she had seen and heard in the home of the Prophet.
The women of that society had been second-class citizens, the result of many centuries of traditions (pre-Islam). Aisha allocated most of her time to women aimed at providing solutions to these age-old traditions. In the age of ignorance, women were generally treated with contempt, they were barely even considered human. Through many were converting to Islam, the old attitudes in society were not entirely erased overnight. Many women had neither rights nor value and remained in a state worse than slavery. However, women now had an influential representative at the side of God’s Messenger. Aisha was like a consultant for women; confessing their personel problems, they returned home with solutions.
Aisha wanted to spend all her time with the Messenger of God. One night, When the Messenger of God was going to bed, he left his sandals near it and hung his clothes nearby, as if he would be getting up and leaving immediately. Normally he got permission from his wives even to get up for the night prayer, considering other people’s rights over him as essential. He was acting differently that day and Aisha did not understand why. He started to rest. After some time had passed, the Messenger of God slowly got up from his bed. He walked quietly on tiptoe, in order to not awaken Aisha. But Aisha was not sleeping; she was watching him with curiosity. The Messenger of God put on his sandals and clothes, then opened the door and left. Aisha was upset now that he was leaving. She rose up got ready and left, then she followed God’s Messenger to the graveyard (janatul baqi). He went to the Medina Cemetery and raised his palms to the heavens and started to pray with longing. When his arms grew tired he lowered them, and then a little while later, raised them to continue praying.
Then the time came to leave the cemetery and he started to return home. Aisha rushed home in order to hide herself.
She arrived home before God’s messenger, but she was out of breath. She laid down immediately trying to pretend she had never left the room.
But when the Prophet came in soon after, he noticed her agitation and asked:
“what happened to you O Aisha?”
She replied “nothing”
As Gods messenger, he knew better so he asked:
“Are you going to explain yourself or do you want God the All-knowing and the Gracious to tell me?”
Turning to the Prophet she said: “O Messenger of God, may my parents be sacrificed for you.” It was an indirect way of confessing. The Messenger of God asked: “were you the indistinct figure in front of me as I returned home?”
“Yes,” she confessed.
This and numerous other examples show us that the Messenger of God was beyond reproach. Her love for him ran so deep that she could not allow anything negative to be said about him. One day, someone said: “May God grant death over you.”
When Aisha heard this she stood up immediately and said: “May God curse you and give you death” The Prophet understood her sensitivity and appreciated her motives, But as a Prophet, he needed to consider everyone. So the Prophet said “Be calm, O Aisha! God the Almighty is the most gentle (Rafiq) and He loves us to be kind in all matters, He does not bestow His blessings to those who act without kindness.”
“The best among you is he who behaves best towards his wife.” Prophet Muhammad
On one occasion Amr ibn al- As, came and asked the Messenger of God: “whom do you love most among people?” Without hesitation, Gods Messenger replied: “Aisha.”
Amr ibn al-As replied “out of the companions oh Prophet” (meaning out of the men). The Prophet said “Her father.
Once the Prophet (Peace & Blessings Be Upon Him) was sitting in a room with Aisha (May Allah Be Pleased With Her) and fixing his shoes. It was very warm, and Aisha (May Allah Be Pleased With Her) looked at his blessed forehead and noticed that there were beads of sweat on it. She became overwhelmed by the majesty of that sight. She was staring at him long enough for him to notice. He asked, “What’s the matter?”
She replied, “If Abu Bukair Al Huthali, the poet, saw you, he would know that his poem was written for you.”
The Prophet (Peace & Blessings Be upon Him) asked, “what did he say?”
She replied, “Abu Bukair said that if you looked to the majesty of the moon, it twinkles and lights up the world for everybody to see.”
So the Prophet (Peace & Blessings Be upon Him) got up, walked to Aisha, kissed her between the eyes, and said, “Wallahi (By Allah) ya Aisha, you are like that to me and more.”
When the Prophet Muhammad (Peace & Blessings Be upon Him) would have a meal with Aisha (May Allah Be Pleased with Her), they would both eat from the same plate and drink from the same cup as each other. What the Prophet (Peace & Blessings Be upon Him) would do is, turn the cup where Aisha’s lip marks were left and would drink from that side of the cup. He would also make eye contact with her and then drink.
‘Aisha (May Allah Be Pleased with Her) would often ask The Prophet (Peace & Blessings Be Upon Him) about his love for her.
“How is your love for me?” she once asked.
“Like the rope’s knot,” he replied, meaning that it was strong and secure.
Many times after that she would ask, “How is the knot?” and he would reply:” ‘Ala haaliha” “The same as ever!”
The stories of their deep rooted love, affection and their closeness are too numerous to record here, we wish to capture a glimpse of their relationship, moreover, the reader soon discovers that it was a partnership all couples dream of.