|Full Name||Aisha bt. Abi Bakr|
|Teknonym||Umm Abd Allah|
|Well-known Relatives||the Prophet (s) (husband), Abu Bakr (father)|
|Place of Birth||Mecca|
|Places of Residence||Mecca, Medina|
|Burial Place||Al-Baqi' cemetery|
|Known for||Wife of the Prophet (s)|
|Activities||Participating in the Battle of Jamal|
|Name||Date of Marriage|
|Sawda||(before Hijra/before 622)|
|Aisha||(1,2, or 4/622, 623, or 625)|
|Zaynab (bt. Khuzayma)||(3/624)|
|Zaynab (bt. Jahsh)||(5/627)|
|Juwayriyya||(5 or 6/626 or 627)|
|Umm Habiba||(6 or 7/627 or 628)|
ʿĀʾisha bt. Abū Bakr (Arabic: عائشة بنت ابي بکر, d. 58/678) was the third wife of Prophet Muhammad (s), who married him after the demise of Lady Khadija (a) and after his marriage to Suda. There is a disagreement among historians as to her age at time of her marriage with the Prophet (s). The Incident of Ifk was a prominent event in Aisha's life. When after an incident, she was accused by some people, some verses of Qur'an 24 were revealed, in which God reprehended the accusers.
Of the wives of the Prophet (s), she has gained more fame due to her political activities and positions and the role she played after the demise of the Prophet (s). She tried her best to pave the path for the caliphate of the first and the second caliphs, and she helped them strengthen their positions by citing hadiths about their virtues. During Uthman's caliphate, she supported him at first, but later she turned away from him and orchestrated a riot against him which led to his murder. After the murder of Uthman, Aisha rioted against Ali (a) to avenge Uthman. With the help of some companions, she started the Battle of Jamal against Ali (a).
Sunni scholars appeal to certain hadiths to show the virtues of Aisha and her being favored by the Prophet (s). However, the Shi'a reject such evidence, pointing to her contemptuous behaviors and jealousy. The Shi'a have leveled many criticisms against her behavior and conduct because of perturbing the Prophet (s), her stances during the caliphate of Imam Ali (a), and her role in initiating the Battle of Jamal.
Lineage, Teknonym, and Epithet
It is said that the Prophet (s) referred to, and addressed, her as al-Humayra'. There is a well-known hadith in which the Prophet (s) told her: "talk to me, O Humayra'". The hadith was first cited by al-Ghazali in his Ihya' 'ulum al-din, but it is not cited in any earlier sources. Al-Fattani, a Sunni scholar (d. 986/1578-9) writes: what is cited by al-Ghazali has no origins. Sayyid Murtada 'Askari, a Shiite scholar, also believes that the hadith is totally groundless, taking it to be fabricated and wrongly attributed to the Prophet (s), by al-Ghazali.
Marriage to the Prophet (s)
Aisha was one of the wives of the Prophet (s). She married him after the death of Lady Khadija (a) and after the Prophet's marriage to Suda, the daughter of Zam'a b. Qays. Her marriage with the Prophet (s) lasted nine years and five months. It is widely agreed that the marriage took place after the demise of Lady Khadija (a). However, there is disagreement about whether it occurred two or three years before Hijra. On some accounts, Aisha's marriage to the Prophet (s) preceded his marriage to Suda. However, according to most hadiths, the Prophet's marriage to Suda preceded his marriage to Aisha. It is said that Khawla, Uthman b. Maz'un's wife, went to Abu Bakr and proposed the marriage to Aisha's father. The Prophet (s) married Aisha in Shawwal of 11th after bi'that . The mahr for their marriage was four hundred dirhams.
Aisha's Age at the Time of Marriage
There is disagreement about her age at the time of marriage. Her age at the time of marriage and consummation is reported between six to eighteen. According to popular history sources, Aisha was around six or seven years old at the time of her marriage to the Prophet (s). The consummation of their marriage took place a few years later after the migration to Medina when Aisha was nine years old.
Al-Sayyid Ja'far Murtada al-'Amili denies that Aisha was underage at the time of marriage. He argues that she was between thirteen and seventeen at the time of 'aqd (the Marriage formula). He cites Ibn Ishaq's account, according to which Aisha was one of the people who converted to Islam early after Bi'tha; in fact, she was the nineteenth Muslim. Al-Sayyid Ja'far Murtada al-'Amili draws on this to show that if she was, say, seven at the time of Bi'tha, then she must have been seventeen at the time of marriage and twenty at the time of Hijra unless it is claimed that she was younger than seven when she converted to Islam.
Incident of Ifk
- Main article: Incident of Ifk
According to narrations that appear under the exegesis of certain verses of Qur'an 24, it is related that in the year 5/626-7, on the return from the Battle of Banu l-Mustaliq when the caravan had halted for rest, Aisha distanced herself from the caravan to relieve herself. When she found her necklace to be missing, she went looking for it. The caravan, unaware that she was missing, left carrying her palanquin with them, assuming she was inside it. Upon returning to the place the caravan was pitched and finding it vacant, she stayed there until a man named Safwan b. Mu'attal came to her and gave her his camel, and escorted her to her caravan. This incident caused some companions of the Prophet (s), who according to Islamic texts were hypocrites, to defame Aisha. They accused Aisha of unchaste behavior, and consequently, the aforementioned verses of the Qur'an announced slander of chaste women to be a grave sin.
Sunnis believe that the revelation of these verses exhibits a virtue for Aisha. Thus, they quoted Aisha herself and her close companions as saying that she was superior to other wives of the Prophet (s); for example, the quote that the most favored woman for the Messenger of God was Aisha. However, some Shiite scholars, while admitting that the verses were revealed about Aisha, deny that they constitute a virtue for her because they only acquit Aisha of adultery.
After the Prophet (s)
In the Period of al-Shaykhayn
During the period of the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar, Aisha did not directly interfere in political matters despite being the wife of the Prophet (s), the daughter of the first caliph, occupying a high social status and being well served by the first two caliphs. According to a group of Shi'a authors, Aisha played an important role in making Abu Bakr accede to the caliphate, and on the last days of the Prophet's (s) life, strove to pave the ground for her father's caliphate. Likewise, she narrated traditions from the Prophet (s), mentioning Abu Bakr and Umar's virtues to help establish and legitimize their caliphate. some accounts relate the first two caliphs offering gifts and reaching out to Aisha and extending continuous help and offerings to her much more compared to the other wives of the Prophet (s). These reports have caught the attention of the Shi'a and have been regarded as a form of unfairness.
In the Period of Uthman
Aisha's relation with Uthman was cordial during the first few years of his caliphate but soured during the end. However, in the second half of his caliphate, their relationships tended to hostility, cultivating in her leadership of riots against and murdering, Uthman. Based on accounts of the dispute between Aisha and the third caliph, it was grounded in Uthman's poor administrative performance, tribalism, and corruption. Moreover, political disputes between Aisha and Uthman was fueled by his injustice to companions such as 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud, 'Ammar, Abu Dhar, and Jundab. In her sermons, as well as in her encounters with Uthman in the Mosque of Medina, she seriously criticized the caliph. In response, Uthman likened her to the wives of Noah (a) and Lot (a) who betrayed their husbands and entered the Hell. Aisha strongly reacted to the response and shouted, "Kill the stupid old man, because he has become an unbeliever", thus announcing that Uthman deserved death.
Also See: Murder of Uthman
In the Period of Imam Ali (a)
- Main article: Battle of Jamal
The role Aisha played in stimulating a massive uprising against the caliphate of Imam Ali (a), which led to the Battle of the Camel, was a huge indicator of her enmity towards him. Some Sunni writers believed her to be under the influence of instigative evil-doers. They supposed her gathering of an army to be for the revenge from Uthman's killers and not an act of opposition to Imam Ali (a). They considered this an error in ijtihad for which Aisha herself was later repentant.
Aisha, who was amongst the opponents of Uthman and was present in Mecca at the time of Uthman's murder, on hearing the news of Imam Ali's caliphate, remained in Mecca. After a while when Talha and Zubayr reached Mecca, the three after gathering an army of Arab tribes journeyed to Basra and claimed to avenge the blood of Uthman. After conquering this city, they deployed their army against that of Imam Ali's (a). The battle that ensued thereafter was named the Battle of the Camel because of Aisha's presence in it as she sat on the top of a Camel. This was the first battle to take place between the Muslims themselves.
According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, because of her position as the wife of the Prophet (s) and the daughter of the first caliph, Aisha was able to boost the chances of Imam Ali's opponents to rage a war against him. When the Battle ended, Imam Ali reprehended Aisha, whose face was slightly injured. He then ordered Muhammad b. Abi Bakr to check his sister's condition, and she was then respectfully returned to Medina.
In the Period of Mu'awiya
Although some people believe that Aisha was silent in the Umayyad period, others have shown that she was a supporter of the Umayyad dynasty. Although her brother, Muhammad b. Abi Bakr was tragically murdered at the command of Mu'awiya and she reprimanded Mu'awiya for murdering Hujr b. 'Adi and his companions, she made a compromise with him after the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a). Mu'awiya also tried to become closer to Aisha by sending her gifts. It is said that he sent her one hundred thousand dinars and paid off eighteen thousand dinars of her debts.
Episode of Burial of Imam al-Hasan's Body
Amongst the issues that sustained the Shi'a's criticism of Aisha was her not allowing the burial of Imam al-Hasan's (a) body next to the grave of the Prophet (s). The resting place of the Prophet (s) was in Aisha's house and, after that, had been the burial place of the first two caliphs too. With the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (a), his brother Imam al-Husayn (a) initially intended to bury him next to the grave of the Prophet (s) in accordance with his will. Still, Aisha, with the help of the governor of Medina, prevented its fulfillment. To avoid discord, Imam al-Husayn (a) resigned from it.
Aisha died of a natural death on Shawwal 10, 58/August 5, 678 (or 57/677) at the age of 66 in Medina. Abu Hurayra led her funeral prayer and she was buried in the al-Baqi' cemetery. Some said she died on Ramadan 17, 58/ July 13, 678.
There is a disagreement about why Aisha died. Some people believe that she died a natural death. Others appeal to certain sources to show that Mu'awiya had a role in killing Aisha by digging a hole and throwing her in it, because she had criticized him for forcing people to pledge their allegiance to Yazid. People who believe that Aisha was killed date the event to the late Dhu l-Hijja/ October 678.
Sunni sources of hadiths and history provide detailed and exclusive accounts of Aisha and her virtues. They characterize her as a person of knowledge and literature, as she was educated by her father, and as someone familiar with medicine. She is also said to be knowledgeable of revealed verses of the Qur'an, divine rulings, Islamic traditions, poems, Arabian battles, judgeship, and genealogy. It is quoted that Aisha was the only wife of the Prophet (s) who had not been married earlier. Sunni Muslims cite many accounts indicating the Prophet's (s) great affection for her to the extent of calling her the Prophet's (s) most beloved wife.
Shi'a scholars consider the reports present in Sunni works about Aisha to be fabricated and exaggerated. They cite reports that mention her actions to have caused the Prophet (s) to become angry and unhappy or quote the Prophet (s) to complain about her account. Likewise, they cite reports mentioning Aisha's jealousy towards the Prophet's other wives and her vicious actions against them.
According to the Shi'a, Aisha's jealous acts against other wives of the Prophet (s) were repugnant. This is shown by historical accounts of her jealousy towards other wives of the Prophet (s), particularly Lady Khadija (a). Evidence is abundant for this characteristic in Sunni sources. She is quoted as saying that she felt jealous when the Prophet (s) repeatedly mentioned Khadija (a). There are also accounts of her jealousy of Mariya al-Qibtiyya when she gave birth to a child. According to sources, the Prophet (s) was upset by her jealous acts.
On the claims that Aisha was extremely beautiful and favored by the Prophet (s), the Shi'a believe that since most of these accounts go back to Aisha herself and her nephew, 'Urwa b. Zubayr, they are not reliable. They provide several pieces of evidence to show that, to the contrary, she was not beautiful and not favored by the Prophet (s).
When Yasir al-Habib, the Kuwaiti Shiite clergyman based in London, cursed Aisha, a number of Shiite scholars in al-Ahasa in Arabia inquired Ayatollah Khamenei's view about insulting and cursing the Prophet's wife. In response, Ayatollah Khamenei wrote, "It is forbidden to insult the symbols of our Sunni brothers, including the denunciation of the Prophet's wife [Aisha]. This includes the wives of all prophets (a) and in particular the head of prophets, our great prophet Muhammad (s)". This fatwa attracted the attention of the world and Islamic media.
Role in the Narration of Hadith
Aisha was among the narrators of the words and the life of the Prophet (s). The number of traditions related to her exceeds 2210. Parts of the reports narrated by her, which are present in hadith sources, have been subject to research and criticism by the Shi'a researchers and academics.
Many books have been written about Aisha in different languages throughout years by many Shiite and Sunni scholars, including:
- Ahadith umm al-mu'minin A'isha, written by Sayyid Murtada 'Askari.
- A'isha dar dawran-i Ali (a), written by Sayyid Murtada 'Askari.
- Naqsh-i A'isha dar tarikh-i Islam, written by Sayyid Murtada 'Askari.
- A'isha dar sihah-i sitta, written by Husayn Tayyibiyan.
- A'isha dar hayat-i Muhammad, written by Sibihruz Mawludi.
- Verses 11 to 26
- Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 46; Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 409.
- Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 2, p. 368.
- Ibn Ṭūlūn, al-Aʾimma al-ithnāʿashar, p. 131.
- Dīnawarī, al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, p. 83.
- Fattanī, Tadhkirat al-mawḍūʿāt, p. 196.
- ʿAskarī, Aḥādīth um al-muʾminīn ʿĀʾisha, p. 25-26.
- Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1881.
- Ibn Ḥazm, Jawāmiʿ al-sīra al-nabawīyya, p. 37.
- Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 23, p. 235; Ibn Ḥajar, al-Iṣāba, vol. 8, p. 232.
- Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 46; Dīnawarī, al-Maʿārif, p. 133-134.
- Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 2, p. 368.
- Suhaylī, al-Rawḍ al-unuf, vol. 7, p. 534.
- Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 23, p. 291; Ibn Ḥajar, al-Iṣāba, vol. 8, p. 232.
- Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 47-48.
- Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 47-48; Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 644.
- ʿĀmilī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-nabīyy, vol. 3, p. 285-287.
- Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 297-302; Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 5, p. 223-227.
- Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 8, p. 68.
- See: Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 97-105.
- ʿĀmilī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-nabīyy, vol. 12, p. 320-326.
- Wāridī, Naqsh-i hamsarān-i rasūl-i khudā, p. 114.
- Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 53.
- Taqīzāda Dāwarī, Taṣwīr-i khāniwāda-yi Payāmbar, p. 115-116.
- ʿAskarī, Naqsh-i ʿĀʾisha dar tārīkh-i Islām, vol. 1, p. 150.
- Taqīzāda Dāwarī, Taṣwīr-i khāniwāda-yi Payāmbar, p. 120.
- Ibn Aʿtham, al-Futūḥ, vol. 2, p. 421.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 459.
- Mufīd, al-Jamal, p. 426.
- Nadwī, Sīrat al-sayyidah ʿĀʾisha, p. 189-192.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 448.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 4, p. 459.
- Dīnawarī, al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, p. 71-73.
- Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 180-181.
- Mufīd, al-Jamal, p. 334.
- Mufīd, al-Jamal, p. 226-227.
- Mufīd, al-Jamal, p. 160-169, 369-382.
- Taqīzāda Dāwarī, Taṣwīr-i khāniwāda-yi Payāmbar, p. 126.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 105.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 5, p. 257.
- Dīnawarī, al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol. 1, p. 205.
- Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 7, p. 136-137.
- Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 7, p. 136.
- Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī, Maqātil al-ṭālibīyyīn, p. 82.
- Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 225; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 44, p. 141.
- Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 3, p. 520; Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 4, p. 164.
- Maqrīzī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 6, p. 42.
- Bayāḍī, al-Ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm, vol. 3, p. 48.
- Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, p. 402.
- Sayyid b. Ṭāwūs, al-Ṭarāʾif, vol. 2, p. 503.
- Ibn Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. 6, p. 189-191; Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, Fatḥ al-bārī, vol. 7, p. 83.
- Ibn Ḥanbal, Musnad Ibn Ḥanbal, vol. 6, p. 67.
- Dhahabī, Siyar aʿlām al-nubalāʾ, vol. 2, p. 183.
- Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 409.
- Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 8, p. 68; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 8, p. 99.
- Ibn Ṭāwūs, al-Ṭarāʾif, vol. 1, p. 290.
- ʿĀmilī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-nabīyy, vol. 3, p. 291.
- Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, vol. 4, p. 1889.
- Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 87.
- Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 278-279.
- ʿĀmilī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-nabīyy, vol. 3, p. 289-291.
- Maqrīzī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 6, p. 43.
- Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī, ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn. Maqātil al-ṭālibīyyīn. Edited by Aḥmad al-Ṣaqar. Beirut: Dār al-Maʿrifa, [n.d].
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- ʿAskarī, Sayyid Murtaḍā. Aḥādīth um al-muʾminīn ʿĀʾisha. Beirut: Majmaʿ al-ʿIlmī al-Islāmī, [n.d].
- ʿAskarī, Sayyid Murtaḍā. Naqsh-i ʿĀʾisha dar tārīkh-i Islām. Translated to Farsi by Sardārnīyā. Tehran: Majmaʿ-i ʿIlmī Islāmī, [n.d].
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