By Arif M Khan
In Hadith literature, more than 2,210 narrations are attributed to Ayesha, thus placing her in the top bracket with three others who have given credible reports of the holy Prophet’s actions and sayings. What is interesting is that in many cases, she did not hesitate to question the authenticity of the version given by some of her prominent contemporaries, and proffered both her own version and context in which the Prophet had made an observation, to set the record straight.
The Prophet Mohammed married Ayesha Siddiqa after the death of his first wife Khadija. One account claims that she was betrothed at the age of six and married when she was nine, but later studies have established beyond doubt that she was more than 19 years old at the time of marriage. She lived with her husband in Medina till he breathed his last; a period of ten crucial and formative years in the history of the new religion.
All biographical accounts of Ayesha show that her personality was a rich combination of beauty and brains. She possessed an inquisitive mind and showed great aptitude for learning not only the religion and its laws but was equally interested in literature, poetry, history and medicine. Islamic law recognise Quran and Sunna, including Hadith (Prophetic actions and saying), as the main sources of religious law and morality and Ayesha is reputed to have been proficient in both.
In Hadith literatures, more than 2,210 narrations are attributed to her, thus placing her in the top bracket with three others who have given credible reports of the holy Prophet’s actions and sayings.
What is interesting is that in many cases, she did not hesitate to question the authenticity of the version given by some of her prominent contemporaries, and proffered both her own version and the context in which the Prophet had made an observation, to set the record straight. In such cases, she used to preface her version with the sentence, “I do not say that these persons are lying, but often ears make a mistake in hearing.”
These soothing words ensured that those whose version was questioned felt no offence. Some people told Ayesha that Abu Huraira (the most prolific reporter of Hadith) relates that the Prophet had said “inauspiciousness consists in three: in women, horses and houses”.
Ayesha said that this was not correct and Abu Huraira had heard only a part of the statement.
The statement of the Prophet was: “The Jews say that inauspiciousness consists in three things, in women, in horses and in houses.”
Likewise when she heard that Abu Huraira had said that if a donkey, dog or woman crosses in front of the man saying prayers, the prayers are annulled Ayesha protested strongly saying that she was often in the room, and near him when the Prophet was praying. Once Abu Huraira came and sat beside the apartment of Ayesha and began to narrate prophetic traditions which annoyed Ayesha, who was offering her prayers. Abu Dawood (1638) records how she scolded him publicly for his quick and vague narrations. Then she recalled the manner of speech of the Prophet and said that he was so measured that if someone wanted to count the number of his words, he could do so.
Bukhari (5.316) has reported that Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas, on the authority of Caliph Umar, related a prophetic saying that “the dead person in punished on account of the crying and lamentation of his family”. When this was reported to Ayesha, she denied it and said that what the Prophet had said was “the dead person is punished for his crimes and sins while his family cries over him”. Aisha further added, “The Quran is sufficient for you to clear this point, as Allah says: ‘Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s buredn’ (35.18)”.
Ayesha possessed not only great Qualities of mind but used her charm and wit to win the love of her husband. Once she asked him: How strong is your love for me? He replied that it was like a rope’s knot, implying it was strong and secure. Later she would often tease him: How is the knot? And he would affirm “ala halihi” meaning “as ever”.
Source: The Sunday Guardian