Ramadan Kareem brothers and sisters, May Allah bless us all.
Today we are going to talk about the unsung warrior princess of the
Battle of Bassorah – Ā’ishah bint Abī Bakr.
Aisha had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Muhammad’s life and after his death. In Islam, Aisha is thought to be scholarly and inquisitive. She contributed to the spread of Muhammad’s message and served the Muslim community for 44 years after his death. She is also known for narrating 2210 hadiths, not just on matters related to the Prophet’s private life, but also on topics such as inheritance, pilgrimage, and eschatology. Her intellect and knowledge in various subjects, including poetry and medicine, were highly praised by early luminaries.
Aisha was born in late 613 or early 614. She was the daughter of Umm Ruman and Abu Bakr of Mecca, two of Muhammad’s most trusted companions. Aisha was the third and youngest wife of Muhammad.
Aisha is described as Muhammad’s most beloved or favored wife after his first wife, Khadija bint Khuwaylid, who died before the migration to Medina took place. There are several hadiths, or stories or sayings of Muhammad, that support this belief. One relates that when a companion asked Muhammad,
“who is the person you love most in the world?” he responded, “Aisha.”
Others relate that Muhammad built Aisha’s apartment so that her door opened directly into the mosque, and that she was the only woman with whom Muhammad received revelations. They bathed in the same water and he prayed while she lay stretched out in front of him.
There are also various traditions that reveal the mutual affection between Muhammad and Aisha. They were close enough that each was able to discern the mood of the other, as many stories relate. It is also important to note that there exists evidence that Muhammad did not view himself as entirely superior to Aisha, at least not enough to prevent Aisha from speaking her mind, even at the risk of angering Muhammad. On one such instance, Muhammad’s “announcement of a revelation permitting him to enter into marriages disallowed to other men drew from her [Aisha] the retort,
“It seems to me your Lord hastens to satisfy your desire!”
Furthermore, Muhammad and Aisha had a strong intellectual relationship. Muhammad valued her keen memory and intelligence and so instructed his companions to draw some of their religious practices from her.
Aisha remained Muhammad’s favorite wife throughout his life. When he became ill and suspected that he was probably going to die, he basked for Aisha’s company only. He remained in Aisha’s apartment until his death, and his last breath was taken as he lay in the arms of Aisha, his most beloved wife.
After Muhammad’s death, which ended Aisha and Muhammad’s 9 year-long marriage, Aisha lived fifty more years in and around Medina. Much of her time was spent learning and acquiring knowledge of the Quran and the sunnah of Muhammad.
Aisha had her own script of the Quran written after Muhammad’s death.
Aisha’s importance to revitalizing the Arab tradition and leadership among the Arab women highlights her magnitude within Islam. Aisha became involved in the politics of early Islam and the first three caliphate reigns: Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman.
During a time when women were not expected, or wanted, to contribute outside the household, Aisha delivered public speeches, became directly involved in war and even battles, and helped both men and women to understand the practices of Muhammad.
When Muhammad married Aisha in her youth, she was accessible “…to the values needed to lead and influence the sisterhood of Muslim women.” After the death of Muhammad, Aisha was discovered to be a renowned source of hadiths, due to her qualities of intelligence and memory. Aisha conveyed ideas expressing Muhammad’s practice (sunnah). She expressed herself as a role model to women, which can also be seen within some traditions attributed to her. The traditions regarding Aisha habitually opposed ideas unfavorable to women in efforts to elicit social change.
According to Reza Aslan:
The so-called Muslim women’s movement is predicated on the idea that Muslim men, not Islam, have been responsible for the suppression of women’s rights. For this reason, Muslim feminists throughout the world are advocating a return to the society Muhammad originally envisioned for his followers. Despite differences in culture, nationalities, and beliefs, these women believe that the lesson to be learned from Muhammad in Medina is that Islam is above all an egalitarian religion. Their Medina is a society in which Muhammad designated women like Umm Waraqa as spiritual guides for the Ummah; in which the Prophet himself was sometimes publicly rebuked by his wives; in which women prayed and fought alongside the men; in which women like Aisha and Umm Salamah acted not only as religious but also as political—and on at least one occasion military—leaders; and in which the call to gather for prayer, bellowed from the rooftop of Muhammad’s house, brought men and women together to kneel side by side and be blessed as a single undivided community.
Not only was Aisha supportive of Muhammad, but she contributed scholarly intellect to the development of Islam. She was given the title al-Siddiqah, meaning ‘the one who affirms the truth’. Aisha was known for her “…expertise in the Quran, shares of inheritance, lawful and unlawful matters, poetry, Arabic literature, Arab history, genealogy, and general medicine.” Her intellectual contributions regarding the verbal texts of Islam were in time transcribed into written form, becoming the official history of Islam. After the death of Muhammad, Aisha was regarded as the most reliable source in the teachings of hadith. Aisha’s authentication of Muhammad’s ways of prayer and his recitation of the Qur’an allowed for development of knowledge of his sunnah of praying and reading verses of the Quran.
During Aisha’s entire life she was a strong advocate for the education of Islamic women, especially in law and the teachings of Islam. She was known for establishing the first madrasa for women in her home. Attending Aisha’s classes were various family relatives and orphaned children. Men also attended Aisha’s classes, with a simple curtain separating the male and female students.
During the time of the third caliph Uthman, Aisha had a leading part in the opposition that grew against him, though she did not agree either with those responsible for his assassination nor with the party of Ali. During the reign of Ali, she wanted to avenge Uthman’s death, which she attempted to do in the Battle of the Camel.
She participated in the battle by giving speeches and leading troops on the back of her camel.
She ended up losing the battle, but her involvement and determination left a lasting impression. Afterwards, she lived quietly in Medina for more than twenty years, took no part in politics, became reconciled to Ali and did not oppose caliph Mu’awiya.
Aisha died of disease at her home in Medina on 17 Ramadan 58 AH (16 July 678). She was 64 years old. She and the Prophet (PBUH) stay in the Lord’s house nowadays.
The best women are the women of the Ansār, for their modesty does not prevent them from learning about their religion.
نِعمَ النَّساءُ نِساءُ الأنصار لـَم يَمنَعهُنَّ الحَيَاءُ أنْ يَتَفَقَّهْنَ فِي الدِّين