The Role of Aishah in the History of Islam (volume 1)

Some Remarks About Ibn Abi Al-hadid Al-mu'tazili

Fatimah was deeply annoyed with 'A'ishah, since the women of Medina reported to her the offending words of 'A'ishah.Ibn Abi al-Hadid 79. Musnad of Ahmad 6/150 and 154, narrated by Musa ibn Talhah.

  1. Musnad of Ahmad 6/117, Traditions of at-Tirmidhi p. 247, Traditions of Ibn Majah 1/315, al-Bukhari 2/177, 4, 36 and 195, al-Isti'ab on Khadijah's life, Musnad of Ahmad 6/58, 102, 202 and 279, History of Ibn Kathir 3/128, Kanz al-'ummal 6/224, Tradition Nos. 3973 and 3974.

Next to the remarks of Imam 'Ali about 'A'ishah's long-standing rancor towards him, we now hear the words of Ibn Abi al-Hadid about this matter. He says: When I was studying theology, I read out this sermon of the Imam in the presence of my master, ash-Shaykh Abi Ya'qub Yusuf, son of Isma'il al- Lama'ani (may God save him), and asked him to explain the philosophy behind Imam's utterance. He complied with my request and gave an elaborate explanation, whose summary I quote here. I cannot remember all his words, so I must confine myself to this brief account. A part of it comprises his own words, while the rest is mine based on his own ideas. Shaykh Abu Ya'qub says:

A step-mother for Fatimah

The hostility between 'A'ishah and Fatimah began when the Prophet married 'A'ishah upon Khadijah's death, and she took her place. It was natural for Fatimah to be dissatisfied at having a stepmother, and also natural for a woman to be vexed at her husband's affection for this daughter of his former wife and for the second wife too.

Similarly a daughter dislikes her father's attention to another woman who is a rival of her mother, even though she is no longer alive. Even if Khadijah were still alive and 'A'ishah entered the Prophet's house, their quarrel would be more noisy and violent. Now that she was dead, this hostility would be transferred to and inherited by her daughter. Moreover, it is said that the Prophet loved 'A'ishah very much81 and showed her favour. So the more the Prophet showed affection to the new wife, the more uneasy became Fatimah and was more deeply hurt.

Fatimah as the Prophet's darling

The Prophet loved Fatimah more than people expected, and respected her much more than men show affection to their daughters. This went beyond the limit of a parent's love for his child. The Prophet had repeatedly and on different occasions declared in both private and public meetings that "Fatimah is the lady of all ladies in the world, and she is the equal of Mary, daughter of Imran."82 On the day of Resurrection when Fatimah walks on, the herald of the Empyrean will proclaim: "Turn your eyes down, for, Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, is passing."83 These are all traditions about the truth of which there is no doubt. It is also 81. The said affection of 'A'ishah is based on the statements of 'A'ishah herself, and we will discuss this matter in its proper place. 82. Kanz al-'ummal 6/219, tradition 3853, 3854 and 3855, and p. 218 tradition 3834 and 3836.

  1. al-Mustadrak 3/153 and 156, Kanz 6/218, tradition 3830, 3831 and
    1. al-Mustadrak 3/158-159, Kanz 6/218, tradition 3834 and 3836, p. 291 tradition 3864.

stated that the marriage of Fatimah and 'Ali was solemnized in heaven and testified by favorite angels.84 The Prophet often used to say: "What pains Fatimah pains me, and what angers her angers me. She is a part of me, and her anxiety makes me worried and anxious."85

These and similar matters roused the envoy and uneasiness of 'A'ishah, and to the same extent that the Prophet honoured and endeared Fatimah, 'A'ishah's jealousy became intense. But we know that even more trifling matters can produce rancor and envy in human hearts.

But to the same extent that 'A'ishah suffered from the respect shown to Fatimah by the Prophet, Imam 'Ali felt pleased, and Fatimah became dearer to him. It often happens that women create enmity in the heart of their husbands, and as the proverb says, "They are companions of the night." Fatimah often complained of 'A'ishah when some women of Medina and her neighbors came to her and reported the latter's words. Then the same women went to 'A'ishah and told her Fatimah's remarks. As Fatimah complained to 'Ali about 'A'ishah, that lady, too, complained of Fatimah to her own father, since she knew that the Prophet, her husband, would not pay heed to her complaint of Fatimah.

Multilateral rancours

This matter, in its turn, had an undesirable effect on Abu Bakr's spirit and pained him. When he saw that the Prophet spared no chance to praise 'Ali and had become very intimate with him, the former, too, felt envious of 'Ali and his closeness with the Prophet, while in his capacity as the Prophet's father-in-law, he regarded himself superior to 'Ali.

Talhah, 'A'ishah's cousin, too, was not free from this envy and mental anxiety, and 'A'ishah often went to her father and cousin to listen to their words of expectation and complaint, while they, in turn, paid attention to hers. Thus they exchanged with each other their feelings of hostility towards 'Ali and Fatimah, and hardened their hearts towards them. I cannot exonerate 'Ali from engaging in these matters either.

Moreover, during the Prophet's lifetime there had occurred some altercations between 'A'ishah and 'Ali, each of which was enough to rouse latent feelings, and cause mischief.

It is narrated that one day the Prophet was strolling and talking with 'Ali, and their private conversation lasted for quite some time.86 'A'ishah who was 85. Kanz 6/210, tradition 3866, Biography of Fatimah and Khadijah in Tabaqat Vol. 8, al-Isabah, al-Isti'ab, Usd al-ghabah, Hilyat of Abu Nu'aym, Tahdhib al-kamal.

  1. Historians state that this private talk took place at the time of the battle of at-Ta'if, and when it became lengthy the people commented on its elongation. A narration says that when Abu Bakr commented on its elongation to the Prophet, he answered: "I was not in communion with him, but it was from Cod." Refer to Sahih of at-Tirmidhi 2/200, History of al-Khatib 7/402, Kanz 6/159 and 399, Usd al-ghabah 4/27. following them unawares, suddenly came upon them and said: "What matter of importance has engaged you two for such a long time?" It is said that the Prophet became angry at this interruption. It is also narrated that some food was brought for him and he ordered his servant to throw it down; a reaction which is commonly shown by a husband or wife.

The Prophet's intense affection for Fatimah's children

On the one hand, Fatimah had given birth to several male and female children, whereas 'A'ishah had none, and more painful than that, from her viewpoint, was the fact that the Prophet regarded Fatimah's children as his own and called them thus: "Bring my child...Don't stop my child...What is my son doing?" How would a woman feel who had no children of her own, and saw that her husband called his grandchildren as his own children, showed them a fatherly affection, and loved them deeply? Would she, too, love them and their mother? Or would she dislike and even hate them? Would she wish them a happy life or would she desire their annihilation?

The most painful of all was the fact that the Prophet ordered to shut the entrance of her father's house facing the mosque while he allowed the door of 'Ali's house leading to the mosque to be left open.87 It was also hard for 'A'ishah to tolerate the fact that the Prophet replaced Abu Bakr with 'Ali in the mission of taking Quranic chapter Bara'at to Mecca and reading it to the infidels after having initially assigned this task to him.88 When God gave Ibrahim to the Prophet by his wife Mariyah, 'Ali did not abstain from expressing his joy, and offered more willing help to her than he had done for the other ladies of the Prophet. When Mariyah was accused of a blunder, it was 'Ali who did his best to exonerate her and prove the baselessness of the charge in such a tangible way that it left no room for babblers to utter another word.

All these events filled 'A'ishah's heart with rage and hatred of 'Ali and made her more determined for vengeance.

With the death of Ibrahim, a great sorrow was felt by Mariyah, and there came an end to sarcasm and wounding words. Both 'Ali and Fatimah, too, became deeply sad at Ibrahim's death, since they preferred Mariyah to 'A'ishah and wished her to remain superior to other wives of the Prophet in having a son. But destiny did neither realize their wishes nor those of Mariyah. 87. Musnad of Ahmad, Kanz 6/154, Tradition 2495 selection of Kanz 5/29 al-Mustadrak 3/125, Sahih of at- Tirmidhi 13/176.

  1. Musnad of Ahmad 1/331, al-Mustadrak 3/51 and 52, Musnad of Ahmad 1/2 from Abu Bakr, 1/351 from 'Ali, al-Khasa'is of an-Nisa'i 20.

'Ali and the issue of caliphate

'Ali had no doubt that after the Prophet, the caliphate would belong to him and there would be no rival.89 It was owing to this assurance that when his uncle al- 'Abbas at the Prophet's ablution ceremony said to him: "Give me your hand that I may swear allegiance to you so that the people would say that the uncle of the Prophet has sworn allegiance to his cousin. This would benefit you and no one would oppose you any longer," he answered: "O uncle! Is there anyone beside me who covets the caliphate?" He answered: "You will see soon enough."

'Ali said: "I have no wish to see the issue of my caliphate being settled behind closed shutters and I want all people to participate openly in it, and vote for me." Then he remained silent. When the Prophet's sickness became serious, he ordered the Usamah army to depart90 and told Abu Bakr and other Emigrant and Ansar leaders to take part under that commander in this expedition. If this had taken place and the Prophet passed away, 'Ali's caliphate would be certain. 'Ali himself supposed that with the passing away of the Prophet, Medina would be devoid of a rival to his caliphate, and the people would easily show allegiance to him, and it would be impossible for his rivals and opponents to disagree with it, thus compelling them to obey him. But Abu Bakr receiving a message from 'A'ishah about the approaching death of the Prophet, left Usamah's army and returned to Medina.

Abu Bakr's performance of prayer with the people

As far as I know, 'Ali has introduced 'A'ishah herself as the factor responsible for this scene. It was she who ordered Bilal, his father's slave, to tell him to perform his prayer with the people; for the Prophet is said to have stated that someone should perform the morning prayer with the people without naming that person. But after issuing that order, the Prophet in his last moments while he was leaning on the arms of 'Ali and al-Fadl ibn al-'Abbas, came out and stood at the altar and after performing the prayer, returned home and his last at sunrise.

'Umar considered Abu Bakr's readiness and standing for prayer with the 89. This statement belongs to Ibn Abi al-Hadid and is not true. Refer to the book of 'Abd Allah ibn Saba' 1/106 on the caliphate candidates.

  1. Ibn Sa'd writes in his Tabaqat: All the Emigrant and Ansar leaders were ordered by the Prophet to take part in the Usamah's army, including Abu Bakr, 'Umar, Abu Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas etc. Some of them protested against the choice of such commanders and said: "Why is a boy given command while there are Emigrant and Ansar leaders?" When the Prophet heard this, he climbed the pulpit in anger and after praising God, said: "What is this I hear about Usamah's command?" These words were uttered on Saturday and he died on Monday the same week. Tabaqat Vol. 2, 1/136, Vol. 4, 1/46, Tahdhib of Ibn 'Asakir 2/391, Kanz 5/312, Selection of Kanz 4/108.

people as a sufficient reason and merit for being chosen as caliph and said: "Which of you allow yourself to be superior to him who has been given precedence in prayer by the Prophet?" The fact that the Prophet came Out of the house and personally performed the prayer with the people was not taken as an act to check Abu Bakr's Imamate for the people, as only it was said that the Prophet desired to perform that task personally to the possible extent.

Thus, on the basis of this incident and subject, they showed allegiance to Abu Bakr, while 'Ali accused 'A'ishah of being the main element behind that scene and its originator. He repeatedly described this matter in the gatherings of his friends and said: It was not without reason that the Prophet told this to Hafsah and 'A'ishah: "You are the little friend of Yusuf!" In this way, he wanted to show his dislike of what they had done, and indicate especially his anger with 'A'ishah, for, there were Hafsah and 'A'ishah who took advantage of the Prophet's order to take the lead in sending their fathers to act as Imam of the prayer. As the Prophet was aware of their intention, he left the house in a sickly state and by taking Abu Bakr's place at the altar, he himself acted as Imam of the ummah to the last moments of his life. With this action, he wanted to nullify 'A'ishah's role in paving the way for his father's caliphate.

Nevertheless this act of the Prophet in countering the efforts and extensive propaganda of 'Umar and his friends for making possible Abu Bakr's caliphate, did not succeed, especially as 'Umar and his accomplices had already taken preliminary steps for the domination of Abu Bakr as caliph, and had already won the approval of a number for this action. A number of Emigrant and Ansar elites had joined them in favour of this plan, and it seemed that time and heavenly destiny, too, assisted them.

These happenings were the most painful and shattering of all for 'Ali - a great calamity which hurt his spirit, for which he blamed none but 'A'ishah. He often spoke of this to his intimate friends and asked God for judgment. Above all, he suffered much and bore many discomforts in refusing allegiance to Abu Bakr until they forced him to submit to it.91

From the moment of the death of the Prophet till the burial of the sick body of his daughter, Fatimah, a short time afterwards, 'A'ishah regularly cut biting remarks at Fatimah, and both 'Ali and Fatimah could do nothing but remain patient, and only disclose their complaint and suffering with God. 'A'ishah benefited from the support of her father and other authorities of the caliphate, and was shown greater respect every day, whereas 'Ali and Fatimah were regarded as vanquished ones, driven away from the center of power and influence. They seized Fadak from her and despite all her efforts she could not 91. Refer to the book of 'Abd Allah ibn Saba', Chapter as-Saqifah.

get it back.92 Meanwhile, the women who visited Fatimah, repeated 'A'ishah's harsh words for her and badly hurt her feelings. The same women carried the remarks of her husband and herself back to 'A'ishah and fanned up the fire of rancor and hostility between both sides.

But there were great differences between the two sides, namely the victor and the vanquished, the ruler and the ruled. Under such a situation, the stings and sarcasm of the victor is most painful for the vanquished and obviously such mental tortures inflicted by the enemy are much more terrible than any other calamity.

Here I interrupted the words of the ash-Shaykh and said: "Do you affirm this too? The Prophet did not appoint anyone for leading the prayer, and it was 'A'ishah who waywardly took steps for sending her father on this mission." In answer, the ash-Shaykh said: "I do not say so; it is 'Ali who says so, and his account is not mine. He himself was involved with the matter and was a witness. But the reports I have received show that the Prophet had appointed Abu Bakr for the prayer, whereas 'Ali's evidence is based on his own knowledge of the affairs, and he has witnessed the center of this activity or has at least strongly suspected it." Then the ash-Shaykh continued: Eventually Fatimah died, and the Prophet's wives took part in the funeral ceremony except 'A'ishah who did not only pretend sickness and abstained from attending the mourning ceremony of the Prophet's daughter, but also her words of gladness about this happening were reported to 'Ali.

After Fatimah's death, 'Ali pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr and it is said that following 'Ali's allegiance 'A'ishah openly expressed her joy that no rival or opponent was left for her father's caliphate and 'Ali's claim of caliphate proved of no avail.

Conditions remained the same until 'Uthman's caliphate, but the old rancor continued to exist and blood continued to boil. As time passed, 'Ali's sufferings increased and his mental pressure became more intense until 'Uthman was assassinated. 'A'ishah herself played an effective role in rousing people's antagonism for 'Uthman as she stubbornly opposed him and in encouraging people to kill him, she said: "May God kill 'Uthman!" The reason why she rose against him and instigated people to kill him, was the fact that she hoped that with the death of 'Uthman who came from the Umayyads, caliphate would once more return to her own house namely Taym tribe and in order to attain that goal, she had, in anticipation nominated Talhah, her cousin, for the position of caliph.

But when 'Uthman was killed, the people, contrary to 'A'ishah's

  1. Tabaqat of Ibn Sa'd, Edition 2, 2/86, Sahih al-Bukhari Chapter in the battle of Khaybar Sahih Muslim 1/72 and 3/153 quoting the words of the Prophet, Ibn Kathir 6/285 to 286, and Ibn 'Abd Rabbih 3/64, Musnad of Ahmad 1/4, 6, 9, 10, 14 and 2/353.

expectations chose 'Ali as caliph and swore allegiance to him. When 'A'ishah heard the report, she cried out involuntarily: "Pity for 'Uthman! He was innocently killed!" It was thus that 'A'ishah showed her old hostility towards 'Ali, worked hard in rousing the opportunists against the Imam, and finally started the battle of "al-Jamal" in the way we have already described. This was a brief account of the remarks of ash-Shaykh Abu Ya'qub who was neither a follower of the faith of the Prophet's household nor did he support the Shi'ah.

We have given the main but brief account of the writing of Ibn Abi al-Hadid in describing the Imam's sermon wherein 'A'ishah's old rancor has been explicitly described. Scholar Ibn Abi al-Hadid has clearly and impartially ex- plained the ambiguous points of 'A'ishah's life during her marital life, her relations with the near kins of the Prophet and her actions after his death. We merely confine ourselves to what we have already stated about other aspects of her life; for, if we were to engage in further research about various periods of her life and her influence on the Islamic society (which would in itself require the compilation of a separate book) it is feared that this task might deviate us from our main purpose which is a discussion and investigation of her traditions.


What we have described in this chapter briefly shows that 'A'ishah was a very stubborn and envious woman. The examples of her character may be seen in her marital life with the Prophet, and her conduct towards other wives and members of his family.

Moreover, as we have only briefly narrated the events in this chapter, we will elaborate upon them in the following pages to denote that she showed the same intense ardor and attachment to preserve the interests of her own relatives, family and party93 and was deeply prejudiced. This, coupled with violence, made her commit horrible deeds and utter sharp, biting and insulting words. 93. 'A'ishah had formed a party for herself, and she said: "The Prophet's wives were divided into two groups, one party included myself, Hafsah and Sudah, and the other consisted of Umm Salamah and other wives of the Prophet." The tradition shows that Fatimah, the Prophet's daughter, was in the second group. Refer to Sahih al- Bukhari's book 2/60. But outside the Prophet's house, as you will see in the following pages, 'A'ishah spent all her life promoting the interests of her relatives and party.