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Sahaba / Sahabiya

Ayshah bint Abu Bakr

‘Ayshah was born in 614 CE, she had claims to noble birth from both sides of the family. Her mother was Umm Roman and her father was Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.

She said that there were nine blessings of Allah which distinguished her from all other women in the world except Maryam bint ‘Imran, the mother of ‘Issa.

The Angel Jibril had presented her portrait wrapped in green silk to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and told him that this was the picture of the lady chosen by Allah, to be his consort both in this world and the next.

She was the only virgin to have become the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

When the Prophet passed away, he was resting in her lap and was buried in her apartment.

Many times angels encircled her apartment with love and respect.

Very often divine revelation would come to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) when they were lying together resting in peace and tranquility.

She was the daughter of a true friend of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.

Ayat had descended from the heavens from Allah proving her innocence.

She was born a Muslim and had been brought up in a pure environment, and spent her formative years with the best of creatures, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Allah, the Lord, the Sustainer of the Universe promised her Divine Forgiveness and abundant bounties.

As a girl she used to play with dolls, Once Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) visited her father, he saw her playing with a winged horse; she was barely five years old at the time. When he inquired she said it’s a horse. He smiled and answered that horses didn’t have wings! She promptly retorted that the Prophet Sulaiman had winged horses, which showed even at this tender age she was intelligent on religious and historical matters. At the age of 8 years, she experienced an historic move, when the first Islamic state was on rise, she was able to recall all the minor details. Next year she joined the household of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Small rooms were constructed around the Prophet’s Mosque, and Ayshah occupied one of these, on the eastern side of the Mosque it had earthen walls with a roof made of leaves and twigs. It was covered with a blanket to prevent rainwater from seeping through and the roof was so low that a person standing upright could touch it. The door never closed and a blanket hung as curtain. Close to the room, on a slightly higher level was another small room. A mat, a thin mattress, a pillow filled with the bark of trees, a water bag, a small plate for dates and a glass for drinking water were all the things in the room. This sparse little room was filled with spiritual treasures.

When the whole of Arabia was under authority of Islam, huge quantities of grain and cash flowed into the central treasury. But on the day that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) passed away, there was not even food for a single day in his household. Ayshah maintained this tradition up to her last days.

Ayshah was very charitable, all money that came her way was given away as soon as possible One day a beggar came to her and asked for food. She told her maid to give the lady the piece of bread they had. The maid answered that there was nothing else with which she could break her fast. ‘Ayshah said help the hungry woman and the evening would take care of itself. By the blessings of Allah in the evening someone sent her a dish of cooked meat; She also sold the house she owned to give the price in charity.

She loved her sister’s son, ‘Abdullah bin Zubayr, very deeply. He loved her and always looked after her needs. Once he remarked that her generosity needed to be restrained. ‘A’ishah was upset when she heard this; she swore she would never to talk to him. Finally, when she calmed down and made up with him, she freed several slaves as penance for breaking her oath.

‘Ayshah was soft-hearted. On one occasion when a beggar carrying two children came to her door; Ayshah had only three dates in the house. These she gave her; the woman gave one each to the children and started eating one herself. One of the children ate his share quickly and started looking at his mother eating her date. The woman could not bear her child’s hunger and took the date from her mouth, broke it into two halves, and gave a piece to each of the children. When ‘Ayshah saw this heart-rending scene she could not control her tears.

In the month of Sha’ban, Ayshah accompanied Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who led the Muslim army towards Qadid, where a minor battle started with tribe of Banu Mustalaq. Several hypocrites were also part of the army during this particular battle. She had borrowed a necklace from her sister Asma’. On the way back the army camped in the desert, and Ayshah went far into desert to relieve herself. Suddenly she realized that the necklace dropped along the way. She found it after a long search. When she reached the site, the caravan had left, the normal procedure was that the ladies, who were segregated from the men folk, would get into their litter and draw the curtains. Then the camel drivers would place the litter on the camel’s back. Since ‘Ayshah was very light no one realized her absence. She lay down, waiting for her companions to return.

Safwan bin Mu’attil had the responsibility of checking the camp site for things which might have been left behind, at daybreak he arrived to find someone lying down in a Jilbab. When ‘Ayshah heard him she woke up, and got on to the camel. He then walked leading the camel by the bridle.

At noon when the caravan had just reached the next camp site to rest, they saw ‘Ayshah arriving with Safwan. Madinah was flooded by loose talk that ‘Ayshah was a loose woman and her character was suspect, led by ‘Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. Hasan bin Thabit, Hamnah bint Jahash, and Mastah bin Athathah who joined the hypocrites. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was extremely disturbed when he heard this talk, but ‘Ayshah was blissfully ignorant of all this.

One night when she went out with the mother of Mastah bin Athathah. The lady tripped and started cursing her son. ‘Ayshah said that he was a Companion of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who fought in the Battle of Badr and deserved respect. The old lady retorted that ‘Ayshah was ignorant of the fact that he was involved in an awful plot; she revealed what had been taking place behind her back. On returning home, she took the permission of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and went to visit her parents. She was heartbroken, her sympathetic and loving parents advised her to be patient and everything would be cleared up. But she could not accept the fact that people could descend to such cruel depths. After two days and nights of continuous weeping she fell ill.

On the third morning, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to see her. He told her very gently that if she erred she should ask Allah for His forgiveness. She said to her husband that if she denied she was guilty, nobody would believe her; but she was innocent and only Allah knew it. The best answer to these accusations was to quote the answer of the father of Yusuf,

“So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe.” [Noble Quran 12:18]

At precisely this moment, the Ayat announcing her innocence were revealed. When the revelation ended he then turned to ‘Ayshah with a smile and started reciting the Ayat,

“Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. Unto every man among them will be paid that which he earned of the sin, and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be a great torment. Why then, did not the believers, men and women, when you heard it (the slander), think good of their own people and say: “This (charge) is an obvious lie?” Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they (the slanderers) have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah they are the liars. Had it not been for the Grace of Allah and His Mercy unto you in this world and in the Hereafter, a great torment would have touched you for that whereof you had spoken. When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great. And why did you not, when you heard it, say: “It is not right for us to speak of this. Glory be to You (O Allah)! This is a great lie.” Allah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever, if you are believers. And Allah makes the Ayat plain to you, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not. And had it not been for the Grace of Allah and His Mercy on you, (Allah Would have hastened the punishment upon you). And that Allah is full of kindness, Most Merciful. O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaytan. And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan, then, verily, he commands Al-Fahsha’ (illegal sexual intercourse), and Al-Munkar (evil and wicked deeds). And had it not been for the Grace of Allah and His Mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins. But Allah purifies (guides to Islam) whom He wills, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” [Noble Quran 24:11-21]

Her parents were proud and relieved; pride that their daughter had been honored with a Quranic revelation, and relief that she was acquitted of any wrongdoing. They asked their daughter to rise and thank her husband, ‘Ayshah promptly replied that she was grateful to her Allah for He had revealed Quranic Ayat in her honor. This episode is known in Islamic History as the Event of Al-Ifk.

After this incident the Prophet’s respect for ‘Ayshah increased even more. ‘Amr bin ‘Aas once asked Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who he loved most in this world, and he replied that he loved ‘Ayshah more than anyone else. Then he asked him about the men folk. And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) answered that he loved Ayshah’s father the most. On one occasion ‘Umar told his daughter Hafsah not to try and compete with ‘Ayshah as Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) valued her very highly.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) loved to listen to ‘Ayshah talking and always smiled when she spoke. On one ‘Eid day there were some Africans displaying their skill with spears; ‘Ayshah wanted to watch, so the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stood in front of her so she could enjoy and not be seen. And he did not move until she tired of it.

But all this pleasant entertainment could not distract Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) from his duty to Allah. When the Mu’adthin’s call to prayer would be heard, he immediately would rise and prepare to go the mosque, the love for Allah had priority over all other affections and interests.

Once they camped at a place in the desert and again ‘Ayshah’s necklace fell off. Some of the companions were sent to find it. When the call for morning prayers was given, there was no water for ablution. The Companions were worried about the morning prayers, and held Ayshah responsible. Her father rebuked his daughter for creating a situation, which might lead to the prayers being missed. Exactly at this moment this Ayat was revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him),

“And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no water, perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your face and hands. Truly, Allah is Ever Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving.” [Noble Quran 4:43]

The people expressed their thanks for such a great favor Allah granted because of her. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq had not realized until that moment how pleased Allah was with her.

By the ninth year after Hijrah, Islam had spread over most of Arabia. Madinah became a flourishing state. Some wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) requested a increase in allowances. This disturbed the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and he declared that for one month he would separate himself from his wives, and he went into seclusion.

After 29 days he came to ‘Ayshah’s apartment, and told her to make a choice after consulting her parents; choose him and a life of hardship, or leave him and lead a life of ease. ‘Ayshah had no doubt in her mind; she immediately answered that she and her parents would sacrifice their lives for him if need arose, there was no need to consult her parents and she would prefer life with him to the world and its attractions. A beautiful smile lit his face. And then Allah revealed the following,

“O Prophet Say to your wives: ‘If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, them come! I will make a provision for you and set you free in a handsome manner (divorce). But if you desire Allah And His Messenger, and the Home of the hereafter, then verily, Allah has prepared for the good-doers among you an enormous reward.” [Noble Quran 33:28-29]

All the wives took the same decision as ‘Ayshah.

In two recorded incidents Ayshah saw Jibril personally.

On one occasion, ‘Ayshah saw the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) talking to a rider of a horse. When she inquired about the stranger, he was surprised that she saw him and told her it was the Angel Jibril as human and sent greetings to you. She prayed that Allah give reward to the honored guest and to noble host.

Anas narrates: Once Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was praying in ‘Ayshah’s apartment, she saw someone standing outside the door. When he finished his prayers she informed him. It was angel Jibril. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) invited him inside but he replied that they don’t enter where there were dogs or pictures. When Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) looked around he saw a puppy in a corner of the room; when he was chased out then the angel entered.

‘Ayshah attained a lofty status because of her knowledge. Everyone consulted her on the finer points of religion. Many Hadiths originated from her 2210 in number.. She was among the top seven companions who narrated thousands of Hadiths.

Imam Dthahabi wrote that she was a theologian of the highest order. She imbibed divinely inspired knowledge and wisdom from the very fountainhead of Prophethood and an eyewitness to problems and their answers by divine revelations. Her apartment was the centre where Ayat were revealed by the divine Mercy of Allah. Thus she was given the title of ‘Horizon of the Ladies of Islam’.

During the time of Khulafa-u-Rashidin, her Fatwas were accepted. Once someone asked Masruq if ‘Ayshah had mastery over Shari’ah laws regarding inheritance. He swore that he had seen Companions asking her questions about the finer points of the laws of inheritance. ‘Urwah bin Zubayr, her sister Asma’s son often visited her to discuss religious issues with her. Other Companions envied him as he could freely approach her at any time.

Once the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and ‘Ayshah were not feeling well. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that if she died before him he would bathe her and shroud her and lower her into her grave and pray for her. She light heartedly replied that it seemed as if he would celebrate her death; and she told him that in case she died before him, he should bring a new wife into her apartment. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) smiled at this.

Her brother, ‘Abdur-Rahman came in during his last moments with a Siwak in his hand; the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) looked longingly at it. ‘Ayshah understood and asked him if she could offer one to him. When he nodded, she took it and softened it with her teeth and offered it to him. He cleaned his teeth; and dipping his hand frequently in water, he kept wiping his face again and again, repeating the words,

“There is none worthy of worship but Allah. Verily, death has pains.” Then he pointed upward with his hand and said, “Toward the best friend”

Ayshah once had a dream that three moons descended into her apartment. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed away he was buried in her apartment. Her father told her that part of her dream came true that day – the first moon irradiated her apartment. Later, her father and then Umar Al-Khattab was buried next to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) which fulfilled the prophesy of her dream.

Imam Dthahabi quoted a saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that a Prophet’s soul leaves its body in the place that it likes the best. Thus it is proven he died in his favorite place, the apartment of ‘Ayshah.

She left this earthly existence for Paradise in the year 58 Hijrah on the 17th of Ramadhan at the age of 66.

She was buried in Jannatul Baqi’. with Abu Hurairah leading the funeral prayers.

Source: “Great Women of Islam” – by Dar-us-Salam Publications