Aisha bint Abu Bakr (died 678) (Arabic Transliteration: isha, "she who lives", also transcribed as A'ishah, Ayesha, 'A'isha, or 'Aisha, Turkish Ayşe, Ottoman Turkish Âişe etc.) was the third 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 Believers", as in Qutb's Ma'alim fi al-Tariq (pps6). She is quoted as source for many hadith, sacred traditions about the prophet Muhammad's life, with Muhammad's personal life being the topic of most narrations. She narrated 2210 hadiths out of which 316 hadiths are mentioned in both Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
Aisha was the daughter of Um Ruman and Abu Bakr of Mecca. Abu Bakr belonged to the Banu Taym sub-clan of the tribe of Quraysh, the tribe to which Muhammad also belonged. Aisha is said to have followed her father in accepting Islam when she was still young. She also joined him in his migration to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 615 AD; a number of Mecca's Muslims emigrated then, seeking refuge from persecution by the Meccans who still followed their pre-Islamic religions.
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.
Marriage to MuhammadEdit
- See also: Criticism of Muhammad: Aisha
Aisha was initially betrothed to Jubayr ibn Mut'im, a Muslim whose father, though pagan, was friendly to the Muslims. When Khawla bint Hakim suggested that Muhammad marry Aisha after the death of Muhammad's first wife (Khadijah bint Khuwaylid), the previous agreement regarding marriage of Aisha with ibn Mut'im was put aside by common consent. British historian William Montgomery Watt suggests that Muhammad hoped to strengthen his ties with Abu Bakr;
According to the traditional sources, Aisha was one hundered and thirty five years old when betrothed to Muhammad. American historian Denise Spellberg states that "these specific references to the bride's age reinforce Aisha's pre-menarcheal status and, implicitly, her virginity." 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 migrated there. After this, the wedding was celebrated very simply. The sources do not offer much more information about Aisha's childhood years, but mention that after the wedding, she continued to play with her toys, and Muhammad entered into the spirit of these games.
Status as "favorite wife"Edit
Aisha is usually described as Muhammad's favorite wife,this status seems greatly exaggerated and seems fabricated much after the death of Muhammad, since the scholarly view diverges from it sharply. For example the accounts of  Ibn Kathir Ibn Kathir, the famous Islamic scholar and commentator on the Qur'an writes in his book Wives of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
“ Khadijah had been the first to publicly accept Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as the Messenger of Allah, and she had never stopped doing all she could to help him. Love and mercy had grown between them, increasing in quality and depth as the years passed by, and not even death could take this love away. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never stopped loving Khadijah, and although he married several more wives in later years and loved them all, it is clear that Khadijah always had a special place in his heart. Indeed whenever 'Aisha, his third wife, heard the Prophet speak of Khadijah, or saw him sending food to Khadijah's old friends and relatives, she could not help feeling jealous of her, because of the love that the Prophet still had for her. Once Aisha asked him if Khadijah had been the only woman worthy of his love. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied: "She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand." It had been related by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that on one occasion, when Khadijah was still alive, Jibril came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, Khadijah is just coming with a bowl of soup (or food or drink) for you. When she comes to you, give her greetings of peace from her Lord and from me, and give her the good news of a palace of jewels in the Garden, where there will be neither any noise nor any tiredness." After the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, and his first wife, Khadijah, had both died in the same year, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his small community of believers endured a time of great hardship and persecution at the hands of the Quraish. Indeed the Prophet, who was now fifty years old, name this year 'the Year of Sorrow.' This shows that Aisha was not nearly the favorite wife of the Prophet. Infact she seems to be resentful of the fact that she wasn't given any special status in Muhammad's life.
Accusation of adulteryEdit
Aisha was traveling with her husband Muhammad and some of his followers. Aisha claimed that she had left camp in the morning to search for her lost necklace, but when she returned, she found that the company had broken camp and left without her. She waited for half a day, until she was rescued by a man named Safwan ibn Al-Muattal and taken to rejoin the caravan. This led to speculation that she had committed adultery with Safwan. Muhammad's adopted son Zayd ibn Harithah defended Aisha's reputation. Shortly after this, Muhammad announced that he had received a revelation from God confirming Aisha's innocence and directing that charges of adultery be supported by four eyewitnesses. These verses also rebuked Aisha's accusers, whom Muhammad ordered to receive forty lashes.
Story of the honeyEdit
Ibn Kathir wrote in his biography of Muhammad that Muhammad's wife Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya was given a skin filled with honey, which she shared with her husband. He was fond of sweets and stayed overlong with Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya; at least in the opinion of Aisha and her co-wife Hafsa bint Umar. Aisha and Hafsa conspired. Each of them was to tell Muhammad that the honey had given him bad breath. When he heard this from two wives, he believed that it was true and swore that he would eat no more of the honey. Soon afterwards, he reported that he had received a revelation, in which he was told that he could eat anything permitted by God. In the following verses, Muhammad's wives are rebuked for their jealousy: "your hearts are inclined (to oppose him)".
Word spread in the small Muslim community that Muhammad's wives were taking advantage of their husband, 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; they had admitted their wrongdoing, and harmony was restored.
When Muslim commentators on the Qur'an explicate Sura 66, it is sometimes this story that is told to explain the "occasion of revelation."
Martin Lings writes that this verse refers to Maria al-Qibtiyya, a Coptic Christian slave-girl Muhammad kept as his concubine. According to Lings, Muhammad used to visit her regularly. Aisha and Hafsa became quite jealous that they convinced him to take an oath not to see Maria anymore. Sura 66 opens with the following verses: "Prophet, why do you prohibit that which God has made lawful for you, in seeking to please your wives? God is forgiving and merciful. God has given you absolution from such oaths."
Death of MuhammadEdit
Ibn Ishaq, in his Sirah Rasul Allah, states that during Muhammad's last illness, he sought Aisha's apartments and died with his head in her lap. It highlighted Muhammad's fondness for Aisha. Aisha never remarried after Muhammad's death. A passage in the Qur'an forbids any Muslim to marry a widow of Muhammad:
Aisha's father becomes the first caliphEdit
After Muhammad's death in 632 AD, Aisha's father, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph, or leader of the Muslims. This matter of succession to Muhammad is extremely controversial to the Shi'aas. Shia believe that Ali had been chosen to lead by Muhammad; Sunni maintain that the community chose Abu Bakr, and did so in accordance with Muhammad's wishes.
Battle of BassorahEdit
Abu Bakr's reign was short, and in 634 AD he was succeeded by Umar, as caliph. Umar reigned for ten years, and was then followed by Uthman Ibn Affan in 644 AD. Both of these men had been among Muhammad's earliest followers, were linked to him by clanship and marriage, and had taken prominent parts in various military campaigns. Aisha, in the meantime, lived in Medina and made several pilgrimages to Mecca.
In 656, Aisha took part in provoking the rebellious people to kill Uthman. The rebels then asked Ali to be the new caliph. Many reports absolve Ali of complicity in the murder. Ali 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 headed by Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (a brother of Aisha), who was one of the commanders in Ali's army
Her respect as scholar and role modelEdit
Historians see Aisha as a learned woman, who tirelessly recounted stories from the life of Muhammad and explained Muslim history and traditions. She is considered to be one of the foremost scholars of Islam's early age with some historians accrediting up to one-quarter of the Islamic Sharia (Islamic religious law), based on the collection of hadiths, to have stemmed from her narrations. Aisha became the most prominent of Muhammad’s wives and is revered as a role model by millions of women.
After Khadijah al-Kubra (the Great) and Fatimah az-Zahra (the Resplendent), Aishah as-Siddiqah (the one who affirms the Truth) is regarded as the best woman in Islam by Sunni Muslims. She often regretted her involvement in war but lived long enough to regain position. She died peacefully in the year 678 in the month of Ramadan. As she instructed, was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi in the City of Light, beside other companions of the Prophet. She was 65 years of age when she died.
Sunnis view 'A'ishah in high esteem. Many believe that she was Muhammad's favorite wife and the best woman of her time. They consider her(amongst other wives) to be Umm al-Mu'minin and among the Ahl al-Bayt.
The Shi'a view of 'A'ishah is generally a negative one. This is primarily due to what they see as her contempt for the Ahl al-Bayt (The Prophet Muhammad's family) and her attempts to stir up the fitnah of the time. Her participation in the Battle of Jamal is widely considered her most significant sign of such contempt. They also do not believe that she conducted herself in an appropriate manner in her role as Muhammad's wife .
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