Aisha, AyeshaGeneral Information
Aisha, b. 614, d. July 678, was the third and favorite wife of Muhammad and daughter of the caliph Abu Bakr. After the Prophet's death in 632, she opposed the fourth caliph, Ali. When her army was defeated by him in the "Battle of the Camel" (656), she retired to Medina.
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Aisha or Ayeshah (circa 614-78), favorite wife of the Prophet Muhammad after the death of his first wife, Khadija. In order to strengthen ties with Abu Bakr, his chief adviser, Muhammad married Aisha, Abu Bakr's daughter, when she was about nine years old. (He was about 53 years old at the time.) Even after subsequent marriages of the Prophet, she remained devoted to him; she is known among Muslims as Mother of the Believers. After the death of Muhammad in 632, Aisha, a childless widow of 18, helped her father become first caliph, or ruler, of the Muslims. She remained politically inactive during his caliphate (632-34), but she later opposed the succession of Ali as fourth caliph (656-61) and incited an unsuccessful revolt against him.
"Aisha" is a common misspelling of Ayesha
Aisha bint Abu Bakr (Arabic: عائشة ʿāʾ 'isha, "she who lives", also transcribed as A'ishah, Ayesha, 'A'isha, or 'Aisha) was a wife of Muhammad. In Islamic writings, she is thus often referred to by the title "Mother of the Believers" (Arabic: أمّ المؤمنين umm-al-mu'minīn), per the description of Muhammad's wives as "Mothers of Believers" in the Qur'an (33.6), and later, as the "Mother of the Faithful", as in Qutb's Ma'alim fi al-Tariq (pps6). She is quoted as source for many Hadith (traditions about Muhammad's life), with Muhammad's personal life being the topic of most narrations.
Aisha is a controversial figure because of differing portrayals of her in Shia versions of Islamic history and her role in the First Fitna (first Islamic civil war) at the head of an army against Ali ibn Abu Talib in the Battle of Bassorah.
According to the early Islamic historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Aisha's father tried to spare her the dangers and discomfort of the journey by solemnizing her marriage to her fiance, Jubayr ibn Mut'im, son of Mut‘im ibn ‘Adi. However, Mut’am refused to honor the long-standing betrothal, as he did not wish his family to be connected to the Muslim outcasts. The emigration to Ethiopia proved temporary and Abu Bakr's family returned to Mecca within a few years. Aisha was then betrothed to Muhammad.
Aisha was six or seven years old when betrothed to Muhammad. She stayed in her parents' home until the age of nine, when the marriage was consummated. The marriage was delayed until after the Hijra, or migration to Medina, in 622. Aisha and her older sister Asma bint Abi Bakr only moved to Medina after Muhammad had already fled there. Abu Bakr gave Muhammad the money to build a house for himself. After this, the wedding was celebrated very simply. After the wedding, Aisha continued to play with her toys, and Muhammad entered into the spirit of these games.
Word spread in the small Muslim community that Muhammad's wives were tyrannizing him, speaking sharply to him and conspiring against him. Umar, Hafsa's father, scolded his daughter and also spoke to Muhammad of the matter. Muhammad, saddened and upset, separated from his wives for a month. By the end of this time, his wives were humbled and harmony was restored.
When Muslim commentators on the Qur'an explicate At-Tahrim, Sura 66, it is usually this story that is told to explain the "occasion of revelation."
There is a similar but alternative explanation of this chapter, also involving Aisha. In this story, Aisha and her co-wives were unhappy because Muhammad was infatuated with Maria al-Qibtiyya, the Coptic Christian woman who bore Muhammad a brief-lived son. (Some accounts say that she was a slave, some that she converted to Islam, was freed, and was taken as a wife.)
Nor is it right for you that ye should annoy God's Apostle, or that ye should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is in God's sight an enormity.
In 656 Uthman was killed by rebellious Muslim soldiers. The rebels then asked Ali to be the new caliph. Many reports absolve Ali of complicity in the murder. He is reported to have refused the caliphate. He agreed to rule only after his followers persisted.
Aisha raised an army which confronted Ali's army outside the city of Basra. Professor Leila Ahmed claims that it was during this engagement that Muslim slaughtered Muslim for the first time. Battle ensued and Aisha's forces were defeated. Aisha was directing her forces from a howdah on the back of a camel; this 656 battle is therefore called the Battle of the Camel.
Ali captured Aisha but declined to harm her. He sent her back to Medina under military escort. She lived a retired life until she died in approximately 678 under the reign of Muawiyah I.
Shia historians believe that Ali should have been the first caliph, and that the other three caliphs were usurpers. Aisha not only supported Umar, Uthman, and her father Abu Bakr, she also raised an army and fought against Ali, her stepson-in-law. Shia believe that she did wrong in rebelling against Ali.
Muslim documentation of her earliest life.
Narrated Aisha: The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.
Narrated 'Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house at the age of nine. She further said: We went to Medina and I had an attack of fever for a month, and my hair had come down to the earlobes. Umm Ruman (my mother) came to me and I was at that time on a swing along with my playmates. She called me loudly and I went to her and I did not know what she had wanted of me. She took hold of my hand and took me to the door, and I was saying: Ha, ha (as if I was gasping), until the agitation of my heart was over. She took me to a house, where had gathered the women of the Ansar. They all blessed me and wished me good luck and said: May you have share in good. She (my mother) entrusted me to them. They washed my head and embellished me and nothing frightened me. Allah's Messenger (, may peace be upon him) came there in the morning, and I was entrusted to him.
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old.
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: When we came to Medina, the women came to me when I was playing on the swing, and my hair were up to my ears. They brought me, prepared me, and decorated me. Then they brought me to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and he took up cohabitation with me, when I was nine.
At other times, they use an Arabic culture defense by claiming that no one has the right to judge Oriental culture by Occidental norms. Now, this is a strange defense to make, since Muslims frequently criticized Western culture as being morally decadent. If another culture cannot be morally evaluated, then other cultures must not be judged as morally decadent. But, this conclusion is not acceptable to Muslims, since they argue that an Islamic culture is the better culture. So, we must conclude that cultures may be evaluated morally, or that, someone is hypocritically judging others while not permitting themselves to be judged by the same standard.
However, if hypocrisy is not a good alternative, then it is concluded that cultures may be evaluated morally. In fact, it is permissible, and even desirable, to have moral discussions on cultural issues. Moral discussions on cultural issues occur in many different cultures.
So, the problem of Muhammad marrying a child cannot be defended on Eastern cultural grounds. The issue remains as to whether or not Muhammad acted rightly in marrying a six year old. Certainly, it is wrong according to the natural order of Allah's creation. In fact, many nations of the world list such behavior as a crime against nature. Thus, it must be concluded that Muhammad committed a grave moral sin against the moral order of Allah's creation. And, his behavior is a reprehensible example for others to follow. It is tragic to read news reports of old men marrying children in some Islamic countries, because they seek to follow the example of Muhammad who married a child. Muhammad had such an interest in fondling young girls, he criticized even the lawful marriage union of two grown adults.
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: When I got married, Allah's Apostle said to me, "What type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron' He said, "Why, don't you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?" Jabir also said: Allah's Apostle said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?'
In the classic history of "The Life of Muhammad" (Sirat Rasul Allah) by Ibn Ishaq, there is an account in which Muhammad expressed a marital interest in a crawling baby. This event seems to have occurred around the time of the Battle of of Badr which would have made Muhammad approximately 55 years old. He had married Ayesha two years earlier, when he was 53 years of age.
So, Muhammad's interest in young girls extended beyond Ai'sha ('Ayesha). Why would anyone think that Muhammad's sexual interest in babies be "the timeless expression of the Will of Allah?" How does such a prurient desire support Muhammad's claim to be a prophet of Allah? Such a desire by an old man is contrary to nature, and it is a perversion against the moral order of Allah's universe.
Yet, according to Islam, Muhammad is the perfection of humanity and the prototype of the most wonderful human conduct. He married a nine year-old and leaves an enduring legacy for old Muslim men to fulfill their carnal desires contrary to natural law and to the life-long devastation of young girls.
1 Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, Translated by A. Guillaume, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, (Re-issued in Karachi, Pakistan, 1967, 13th impression, 1998) 1955, p. 311.
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
Sawda bint Zama*
Aisha bint Abi Bakr*
Hafsa bint Umar
Zaynab bint Khuzayma
Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya
Zaynab bint Jahsh
Juwayriya bint al-Harith
Ramlah bint Abi-Sufyan
Rayhana bint Amr ibn Khunafa**
Safiyya bint Huyayy
Maymuna bint al-Harith
* succession disputed
** status as wife or concubine is disputed
We are aware of a specific situation in Saudi Arabia, where a Judge decided that he could not Annul a marriage in 2008, between a 58-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl. Sadly, that is not an unusual situation, as the girls and their parents have virtually no rights against a man who claims to be husband, and therefore, owner, of any woman or girl. Many Muslim countries officially declare that the Age of Consent of a girl is generally around 12 or 13 years old, but local Tribal Jurisdiction often overrides any National guideline on this, and 'wives' who are 7 or 8 or 9 years old are not uncommon. And, like in the Saudi Arabia Court Case, the man is accepted as husband, the girl virtually never has any rights at all. This seems to even extend to life and death, where a man with several wives apparently does not even need to present any cause to murder one or more of his wives. It seems more common that they decide to keep them as wives but to throw battery acid in their faces to make the girl/woman so ugly that no man would ever want to even talk to her.
Many people have tried to find ways of helping such girls and women over many decades, but the Tribal Authority in many Muslim countries is considered to be of religious basis, thereby automatically superceding any governmental authority. It is hard to see how such girls and women are ever likely to have any rights at all.
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