Biography of Aisha Bint Abi Bakr (R.A.)
The Quran describes the wives of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) as "the mothers of the believers." (Surah Ahzaab: 33:6)
Aisha (R.A.) was third and youngest wife of Prophet (S.A.W.). She was the daughter of the closest man to the Prophet (S.A.W.) i-e Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.). She showed the world how the woman could be more knowledgeable than men, politician or warrior fourteen centuries ago. She had a brilliant mind and a remarkable memory. She contributed to the spread of Prophet’s (S.A.W.) message and served the Muslim community for 44 years after the death of Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). She was involved in religious matters and political events as well. She is also known for narrating 2210 hadiths.
Her Early Life:
Aisha bint Abi Bakr (R.A.) was born in Makkah in 613 or early 614 CE, three or four years after Messenger of Allah’s (S.A.W.) prophet-hood. Her mother was Umm Roman Zainab (R.A.) and her father was Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.), two of the most trusted Companions of Prophet (S.A.W.). There is little known about Aisha's (R.A.) childhood years.
Aisha’s (R.A.) favorite pastime, as a girl, was swinging and playing with dolls. Once on a visit to her father Abu Bakr (R.A.), Prophet (S.A.W.) saw her playing with a winged horse. She was barely five years old at the time. He (S.A.W.) asked her what it was. She (R.A.) replied it was a horse. He (S.A.W.) smiled and answered that horses did not have wings! She (R.A.) promptly retorted that the Prophet Sulaiman (A.S.) had winged horses. This incident reveals several things about her. First, she (R.A.) was intelligent, brilliant, well-informed on religious and historical matters. Also, at such a tender age, she (R.A.) had a memory like a computer, which never seemed to fail her. She hardly ever forgot something once she heard it. At the time of Hijrah, (migration from Makkah to Madinah) of the Prophet (S.A.W.), she (R.A.) was barely eight years old, yet she remembered years later even minor details about that historic and momentous move, when the first Islamic state was on the rise.
Her Marriage with Prophet (S.A.W.):
As narrated by Aisha bint Abu Bakr (R.A.), who said:
‘Allah's Messenger (S.A.W.) said (to me), "You were shown to me twice in (my) dream. Behold, a man (Angel) was carrying you in a silken piece of cloth and said to me, "She is your wife, so uncover her,' and behold, it was you. I would then say (to myself), 'If this is from Allah, then it must happen. " ' (Sahih Bukhari: 7011)
It shows that Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) married her according to Allah’s command. Prophet (S.A.W.) engaged her and Sawda bint Zama (R.A.) at the same time but he (S.A.W.) married the latter, who stayed with him for three years until he got married to Aisha (R.A.) in Shawwal after the Battle of Badr. The young bride, then, moved to the new house of the Prophet (S.A.W.), which consisted of a room beside the Masjid-e-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Madinah and the house was built of clay and palm-trees. The room was furnished with a mattress of palm-leaves beneath which there was nothing but a mat. As for the door it was just a curtain of hair. In such a modest room, Aisha (R.A.) started her marital life which became the speech of the world.
Aisha (R.A.) herself reported that:
“Allah's Messenger (S.A.W.) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.” [Sahih Muslim: 1422 (b)]
Blessings of Allah which distinguished her from all other women:
Following are some of many blessings from Allah which distinguished Aisha (R.A.) from all other women in the world except Maryam bint Imran, the mother of Prophet Esa (A.S.):
1. The Angel showed her image wrapped in green silk to Prophet (S.A.W.) and told him (S.A.W.) that this was the picture of the lady chosen by Allah to be his consort both in this world and the next.
2. Aisha (R.A.) was the only wife of the Prophet (S.A.W.) who had not been previously married.
3. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) died in her house/room, on her day, in her arms and he (S.A.W.) was buried in her house/room.
4. She (R.A.) was the daughter of the loyal and true friend of the Prophet (S.A.W.), Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.).
5. She was born a Muslim and had been brought up in a pure environment and spent her formative years with the purest and best of all creatures i-e Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.).
6. Among her unique characteristics is that the Prophet (S.A.W.) did not receive Revelation in the bed of any of his wives apart from Aisha bint Abi Bakr (R.A.).
Hadith narrated by Amr bin Al-A’as (R.A.), who said:
‘I once asked the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.): "Who is the most beloved of the people to you?"
He (S.A.W.) said: "'Aishah."
I, once again, asked: "From the men?"
He said: "Her farther. (Abu Bakr Siddiq)"
An ideal Wife:
As a wife of the Prophet (S.A.W.), Aisha (R.A.) adopted a great position. She became a model for all women anywhere and in any time, she was an ideal wife. She relieved the Prophet's (S.A.W.) grief when he (S.A.W.) was suffering the hardship of life and whenever he (S.A.W.) faced opposition in spreading the message of Allah.
She endured poverty and hunger with the Prophet (S.A.W.). According to many sources, it is said that they both spent two or three months without cooking. All what they feed on were just dates and water.
She (R.A.) was an ideal wife who was interested in learning from the Prophet (S.A.W.). Therefore, she became so knowledgeable that she was able to teach men and was a source of authorization and documentation in hadith transmission.
The Incident of ‘Al-Ifk’ (false imputation):
A group of ‘munafiqs’ (hypocrites), who seemed to be Muslim but in fact were not, always looked for the things/incidents to disturb the life of Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) and his companions on every possible occasion. They could even dare to insult and malign his clean private life.
The Incident of Ifk is the slander by Abdullah bin Ubai, the leader of the hypocrites, against Aisha bint Abi Bakr (R.A.). When the march for return from Banu Mustaliq was ordered, Aisha (R.A.) was not in her tent, having gone to search for a necklace she had dropped (which was given to her by her Mother). As the chamber, in which she was travelling, was veiled and her absence was not noticed until the army reached the next stop for rest. When Aisha (R.A.) found that the army convoy had gone, she stayed there and sat down to rest, hoping that someone would come back to fetch her when her absence was noticed. It was night and she fell asleep. Next morning, she was found by Safwan ibn Al-Muattal (R.A.), who always stayed behind the army and checked if there was anything left behind and then took those things to the army. He put her on his camel while leading the camel on foot and started to walk quickly to catch up with the army. They could not catch up with the soldiers for a long time.
Finally, Safwan (R.A.) brought her back to Prophet (S.A.W.) at the army's next camp. This presented an occasion to the Prophet's (S.A.W.) enemies to raise a malicious scandal against Aisha (R.A.) ‘Mother of Believers’. Abdullah ibn Ubai, along with other hypocrites, wanted to make use of this simple incident. He expressed his evil intention by saying, “By God, neither Aisha nor Sawfan will be saved from the punishment.” He uttered many other mean sentences. He spread false rumor among the soldiers of the army and the army was shaken up by the rumor.
When army and convoy reached Madinah, Aisha (R.A.) fell terribly sick with fever. Aisha (R.A.) was in extreme pain and anguish for an entire month because of the slander that was spread about her. Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W.) and Aisha’s (R.A.) parents also heard about the event but they never told her anything.
In fact, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) knew very well that Aisha (R.A.), his wife, was free from such slander. However, he (S.A.W.) was depressed that such false, sly and planned slander spread among people. The speech that he made in the mosque expressed it clearly:
“O Muslims! Who will help me against the man who has harmed me by slandering my wife? By Allah, I find nothing in my wife but goodness and the person whom the people have mentioned in this connection is thoroughly a pious person.” [Sahih Muslim: 2770 (a)]
Aisha (R.A.) was neither afraid nor worried about these rumors. She (R.A.) knew that she was innocent and that Allah would not treat her unjustly. Her parents were very scared because they were worried that the rumors would be confirmed by Allah. [Ref. Sahih Muslim: 2770 (a)]
Allah sent Revelation to the Prophet (S.A.W.):
The Prophet (S.A.W.) showed the signs of receiving revelation like sweating and he (S.A.W.) began to sweat because of the burden of words of Allah as they descended upon him even during the winter season and there fell the drops of his sweat like silvery beads. When the state of revelation ended, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) was smiling happily.
He (S.A.W.) said to Aisha (R.A.), “Glad tidings O Aisha! Allah acquitted you and stated that you were free and away from that slander.” [Ref. Sahih Muslim: 2770 (a)]
Allah clearly declared in the verses of Quran (Surah Nur-24: Verses 11-20) that Aisha (R.A.) was innocent. Thus, Allah told His Messenger (S.A.W.) in these verses that what was said about Aisha bint Abi Bakr (R.A.) was nothing but slander.
Once Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) was asked about the interpretation of the verses related to Aisha (R.A.), he explained them as follows:
“Allah acquitted four people of four things and freed them from the slanders. One of them was Aisha bint Abi Bakr (R.A.) through the magnificent verses of the glorious Quran, which will be preserved until the Doomsday; this last acquittal has had no match. Look and see the difference between this acquittal and the others.”
Her parents were overpowered by a proud sense of relief; pride that their daughter had been honored with a Quranic revelation, and relief that she was acquitted of any wrongdoing. Aisha (R.A.) was grateful to Allah for He had revealed Quranic verses in her honor and these would be recited until the Day of Judgment.
As per different Islamic sources, all of Aisha's (R.A.) accusers were subjected to punishments of 80 lashes.
Death of Prophet (S.A.W.):
When Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) became ill, after returning from the farewell pilgrimage, he felt that he was about to die. He (S.A.W.) began to ask his wives whose home/room he (S.A.W.) was to stay in next. ‘The mothers of faithful’ eventually figured out that he (S.A.W.) was trying to determine when he (S.A.W.) was due with Aisha (R.A.) and they then allowed him to retire there.
The Prophet (S.A.W.), then moved to Aisha's (R.A.) home/room who took care of him day and night. She would like to sacrifice herself for him as saying:
"I sacrifice you with my father and mother, O Messenger of Allah."
At the last moment of the Prophet's (S.A.W.) life, his head was placed on Aisha's (R.A.) knees and his last breath was taken as he (S.A.W.) lay in the arms of Aisha (R.A.).
Al-Dhahabi quoted a saying of the Prophet (S.A.W.) that a Prophet's soul leaves its body in the place that he likes the best. Thus it is proven he (S.A.W.) died in his favorite place, the apartment of Aishah (R.A.).
The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) was buried where he (S.A.W.) died, in Aisha’s (R.A.) home/room.
After the death of Prophet (S.A.W.):
After Messenger of Allah’s (S.A.W.) death, which ended their fourteen-year long marriage, Aisha (R.A.) lived, as per different sources, 47-48 more years, mostly in Madinah. Much of her time was spent learning and acquiring knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah. Aisha (R.A.) was one of three wives of the Prophet (S.A.W.) who was ‘Hafiza’ of Quran (memorizer of Quran). The other two ‘Hafiza’ are Hafsa bint Umar (R.A.) and Umm Salama (R.A.).
Her role during Caliphate:
Due to her knowledge of Quran and Sunnah/Hadith, Aisha (R.A.) became involved in the politics of early Islam and the first three caliphate reigns. During a time in Islam 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 the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.).
During Caliphate of her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.), Aisha (R.A.) was honored with titles ‘Al-Siddiqa bint Al-Siddiq’ (the truthful woman, daughter of the truthful man).
During Caliphate of Umar Ibn Khattab (R.A.), Aisha (R.A.) continued to play the role of a consultant in political matters.
During Caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan (R.A.), Aisha (R.A.) had little involvement with him for the first couple years but eventually she found a way into the politics of his reign.
During the Caliphate of Ali ibn Talib (R.A.), Aisha (R.A.) retired from her public role in politics and became a teacher in Madinah.
Her Knowledge of Quran and Sunnah:
Aisha (R.A.) was known as an intelligent woman who debated law with male companions.
Az-Aubairi said: "If we compared Aisha's knowledge to all women, Aisha would surpass them.”
Hisham lbn Urwa (a prominent narrator of hadith) said:
‘I have never seen anyone who could have knowledge of an ayah (Quranic verse), an obligatory act, a Sunnah act, poetry, history, lineage, judgement, or medicine better than Aisha (R.A.). I once asked her, "What about medicine? How did you learn it, aunt?"
She (R.A.) answered, “When I was sick, the Prophet (S.A.W.) prescribe (treatment) for me as did he when the people became ill. I also heard the people prescribing treatment to each other. Thereby I memorized such prescriptions.”
Aisha (R.A.) died at her home in Madinah on 17 Ramadan 58 A.H. She was 66-67 years old. She was buried in ‘Jannat-ul-Baqi', the graveyard in Madinah (next to Prophet’s Mosque). Abu Hurairah (R.A.) led her funeral prayers.
May Allah have mercy and be pleased with her. AMEEN