Hazrat Aisha Siddiqa(614–678 C.E.)
Aisha bint Abi Bakr was the favorite wife of the prophet Muhammad and signiﬁcant religious and political ﬁgure in early Islam. The daughter of Umm Ruman and one of the Prophet’s companions, Abu Bakr (the ﬁrst caliph of Islam after the death of the Prophet), she married Muhammad at a young age. Her intelligence, beauty, and spirited personality are well recorded in historical sources. The hadith tradition records a unique level of intimacy shared by the Prophet and Aisha. They bathed in the same water, he prayed while she lay stretched out in front of him, he received revelation when they were under the same blanket, and he expressed a desire to be moved to Aisha’s chambers when he knew his death was approaching.
Affection and playfulness also characterized their relationship. They raced with each other and enjoyed listening to the singing of Ethiopian singers together. The Prophet related that when Aisha was pleased with him, she would swear “By the God of Muhammad” and when she was annoyed with him she would swear “By the God of Abraham.” She regularly engaged the Prophet on issues of revelation and religion. Recognizing her intelligence and perceptiveness, he told the Muslims “Take two-thirds of your religion from al-Humayra,” the term of affection referring to the rosy-cheeked Aisha.
A scandal once surrounded Aisha, who was mistakenly left behind during a caravan rest stop on an expedition with the Prophet. She returned to Medina escorted by a young man who had found her waiting alone. Amid the ensuing gossip and speculation about Aisha’s ﬁdelity, one of the Prophet’s companions, Ali, advised Muhammad to divorce her. This caused her to bear deep resentment against Ali, which manifested itself in her later opposition to him as Muhammad’s successor. Finally a Quranic revelation exonerated her of all suspected wrongdoing, proclaiming her innocence. This same revelation established the punishment for false accusations of adultery.
In the lifetime of the Prophet she, together with Muhammad’s other wives, was referred to as “Mother of the Believers.” She is known to have transmitted approximately 1,210 traditions (hadiths), only 300 of which are included in the canonical hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim. She is said to have transmitted hadith to at least eighty-ﬁve Muslims, as well as to have corrected inaccuracies in the hadiths reported by some of the Prophet’s male companions.
After the death of the Prophet, she was critical of the third caliph, Uthman, but also called his killers to accountability during the caliphate of Ali. Together with the Companions Zubair and Talha, she mobilized opposition to Ali, culminating in the Battle of the Camel (656 C.E.). The name of the battle reﬂects the centrality of Aisha’s role in the conﬂict, seated on her camel in the middle of the battleﬁeld. This struggle over succession marked the development of a major civil war (called ﬁtna) in Islam, which ultimately contributed to one of the most signiﬁcant religious and political divisions in the Muslim world. The representations of Aisha in subsequent Shiite and Sunni polemics reﬂected some of the historical antagonisms between the two. Many Shiite Muslims reviled Aisha, whereas Sunni Muslims embraced her as a revered wife of the Prophet. Tradition holds that she was consulted on theological, legal, and other religious issues, and was also known for her poetic skills. She is buried at al-Baqi in Medina.
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