The Position of 'A'isha
Of the Prophet's wives in Medina, (may Allah be pleased with all of them), it is clear that it was A'isha that he loved the most: From time to time, one or another of his Companions would ask him who it was that he loved the most, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not always give the same answer to this question, for he felt great love for many - for his wives, for his daughters by Khadijah, for their children, for Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and Sayyiduna Umar and Sayyiduna Uthman and Sayyiduna Ali, and for many of his Companions and community - but of his wives the only one whom he named in this connection was A'isha. She too loved him greatly in return and often would seek reassurance from him that he loved her. "how is your love for me?" she once asked. "Like the rope's knot," he replied, meaning that it was strong and secure. Many times after that she would ask, "how is the knot?" and he would reply: "Ala haliha" "The same as ever!"
Since A'isha loved the Prophet so much, she could not help being jealous if his attention were directed towards others more than what seemed enough to her. She once asked him, "O Messenger of Allah, tell me about yourself. If you were between the two slopes of a valley, one of which had been grazed, while the other had been grazed, on which slope would you pasture your flocks?" "On the one that had not been grazed," replied the Prophet. "Even so," she said, "and I am not like any of your other wives. Every one of them had a husband before you, except myself." The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) smiled and said nothing.
It is clear that in spite of his wives' high station with Allah, (may Allah be pleased with them) they were still human, and at times rather jealous of each other. Thus, for example, it had been related by A'isha that the Prophet usually visited his wives every afternoon, after the Asr prayer. On one occasion he stayed longer than usual in the room of Zaynab bint Jahsh, for someone had given her some honey, of which the Prophet was very fond. "At this," said A'isha, "I felt jealous, and I, Hafsa, Sawda, and Safiyya agreed between ourselves that as he visited each of us, we would tell him that there was a funny smell coming from his mouth from what he had eaten, for we knew that he was particularly sensitive to offensive smells." Everything went as planned, and as a result, the Prophet vowed that he would never eat honey again, only to be reprimanded by the revelation of the following ayat:
O Prophet, why do you forbid what Allah has made lawful for you, in seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Forgiving, Compassionate. (Quran 66:1)
Allah made the whole matter known to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he confronted the one whose idea it had been with the truth:
So when he told her about it, she said, 'Who told you this?' He said, 'I was told by the Knowing, the Aware.' (Quran 66:3)
This incident indicates the extent of the Prophet's submission to Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the means by which Allah taught the Muslims their deen in every moment and situation. What might have seemed an innocent bit of fun to his wives, (may Allah be pleased with them), was not permitted by Allah to result in any alteration to the hudud of Allah, to what is permitted and what is forbidden by Allah, for if the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had never eaten honey again, then many of his Companions and followers might have done likewise.
On another occasion, when one of the Prophet's other wives, Umm Salama (may Allah be pleased with her) complained on their behalf about the fact that more presents were being given to the Prophet on the day that he was with A'isha than on the days when he was with his other wives, he replied, "O Umm Salama, do not trouble me by harming A'isha, for by Allah, the Divine inspiration never came to me while I was under the blanket of any woman amongst you except her." "I turn to Allah from troubling you, O Messenger of Allah," she said.
However the Prophet's other wives were still not content, and asked Fatima to speak to the Prophet on their behalf. When she raised the subject, he said, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) "O my daughter, do you not love those I love?" "Yes." She said. "Then love her." He replied.
On another occasion, A'isha was on a journey with the Prophet and some of his Companions. She had borrowed a necklace from her sister Asma and during the journey she discovered that she had mislaid it. The journey wa delayed while some of the Companions looked for it, and after a while the time for the prayer came. There was no water with which to do wudu, so they became very agitated about that. They went to Abu Bakr and said, "Do you see what A'isha has done! She has caused the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to stop at a place where there is no water!" Meanwhile, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had fallen asleep with his head resting against A'isha's leg. Abu Bakr went up to A'isha and started to poke her and upbraid her for holding up the people when they did not have any water. She did not move because she did not want to disturb the Prophet's sleep. The Prophet soon woke up and the ayats about tayammum were revealed, making it clear to everyone what should be done when a Muslim on a journey needs to do wudu, but has no water.
Usayd ibn Hudayr said to Abu Bakr, "This is not the first blessing to have come from your family." And to A'isha, "May Allah reward you with good! By Allah, whenever you have difficulty, Allah relieves you of it and gives a blessing to the Muslims by it as well!"
When they were about to resume their journey, A'isha' s camel rose to its feet, and there was the necklace. The camel had been lying on it all the time! Being the daughter of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, who on one occasion had given away all his wealth to be spent in the way of Allah, and the wife of Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with her) who kept nothing for himself, A'isha was very generous. On one occasion, the Prophet had sacrificed an animal, and A'isha was so generous in sharing the meat out amongst the poor, that she found that she had left nothing for the Messenger's large household except the shoulder of the animal. Feeling a little distressed, she went to the Prophet, and said, "I've only been able to save this." "That is the only part that you have not saved," smiled the Prophet, "for whatever you give away in the name of Allah, you save, and whatever you keep for yourself, you lose."
It is sometime forgotten that the Prophet Muhammad and his wives and Companions, may the blessings peace of Allah be on him and his family and his Companions, led very simple lives. It has been related that sometimes there was no smoke to be seen coming from the Prophet's home for weeks at a time meaning that there was not even flour to bake bread, let alone meat so that all there was to eat was dates and water, dates that came from palms whose roots the Prophet said were in the Garden.
On another occasion, a beggar asked A'isha for some food while she was fasting, and there was only a loaf of bread in her house. She said to her maid servant, "Give it to him." "But you will not have anything to eat when you break your fast." Protested the servant. "Give it to him," repeated A'isha. So she did so. When evening came, the people of the house of a man who did not usually give to them, gave them a sheep and some food to go with it. A'isha called her servant and said, "Eat from this. This is better than your loaf of bread!"
It has been related by A'isha, that once when it was the Prophet's turn to spend the night with her, he quietly got up towards the end of the night and slipped out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him. A'isha was curious to see where he was going, thinking that he had waited until he thought she was asleep. Quickly she got up, covered her head and silently followed him until he came to the graveyard ofal Baqi. "He stood there," said A'isha, 'and he stood for a very long time. Then he lifted his hands (in prayer) three times, and then turned to go, so I turned, He quickened his step, so I quickened my step. He began to run, so I began to run. I got back before he did, and entered my room and lay down. He came in and said, "Why are you out of breath, A'isha?"
"It's nothing." I said. "Tell me, or the One Who is All Pervading and All Ware will tell me." "Messenger of Allah," I said, "May my father and mother be a ransom for you." And then I told him. "Was it you who I saw running in front of me?" he said. "Yes." I replied, and he hit me on the chest and it hurt. "Did you think that Allah and His Messenger would treat you unjustly?" he asked. "Whatever anyone conceals, Allah knows it." I replied. "When you saw me leaving," the Prophet explained, "it was because Jibril had come to me. He called me without you knowing it and I replied, but without you knowing it, because you were not fully dressed. I thought that you were asleep, and did not want to awaken you in case you were frightened. He (Jibril) said, "Your Lord has commanded you to go to the people of Al Baqi and to ask forgiveness of them." "I said, "How should I pray for them?" "Say; Peace be on the people of this place (the graveyard), from among the believers and the Muslims, and may Allah have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and on those who will follow later; and inshAllah we will join you."
As the day of his own death approached, it is clear that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wished to die in the company of A'isha, for it is reported that during his final illness, which was probably the result of the poisoned food that he had been given at Khaybar, he inquired, "Where will I be tomorrow, where will I be tomorrow?" since he was hoping it would be A'isha's turn to be with him. In fact the Prophet asked his wives ' permission to remain in A'isha 's room during his illness, and his other wives, (may Allah be pleased with them all), agreed to forego their turns. For much of the time during his last few days on earth the Prophet lay on a couch with his head resting on A'isha's breast or lap. She it was who repeatedly recited the last two surahs of the Qur'an, the two surahs of seeking protection, and then blew her breath over him, just as he had taught her to do in the past, and then passed his hand over his body. It is related by A'isha that she used his hand rather than her own, because she knew that his had had greater healing in it than her hand.
She was the one who took a toothstick from her brother chewed it soften it and then gave it to the Prophet. Despite his weakness, he rubbed his teeth with it vigorously. "So," said A'isha some time later, "Allah made my saliva mix with his saliva on his last day in this world and his first day in the next world." Not long afterwards, he lost consciousness and A'isha thought it was on the onset of death, but after a while, he opened his eyes and murmured softly, "The Highest Company." A'isha remembered that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had been in good health in the past, he had said, "No prophet is taken by death until he has been shown his place in the Garden, and then offered the choice, to remain in this world or go to the Next World."
Remembering these words, she said to herself, "Then he will not stay with us." Then she heard him murmur, "O Allah, forgive me and have mercy on me and join me with the Highest Company, the people whom Allah has blessed from among the Prophets and the truthful ones, and the martyrs, and the righteous ones and the best of company are they." (Quran 4:69)
It was then that A'isha knew that he had been given the choice, and that he had made it. Again she heard him murmur, "O Allah, with the Highest Company," and these were the last words she heard him speak. Gradually his head grew heavier upon her breast, and gently she laid it on the pillow. Her beloved husband, the Messenger of Allah, the Seal of the Prophets, the Best of Creation, had died in her arms. At the time of his death, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was sixty three years old, and A'isha was eighteen.
At first the Prophet' s Companions were not sure where he should be buried, but then Abu Bakr as Siddiq remembered what when he was alive, the Prophet had said that the Prophets were always buried where they had died, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was buried in A'isha's room where he had died. A'isha has related that during his final illness, Umm Habiba and Umm Salama mentioned that when they had been in Abyssinia they had seen a church which had pictures in it. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, "When one of their righteous people die, they build a place of worship on his grave and then decorate it with such pictures. In the sight of Allah they will be the worst of people on the Day of Judgment."
A'isha has also related that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Allah has cursed the Jews and the Christians because they made the graves of their Prophets and righteous ones places of worship." A'isha continued, "If it had not been for this, his grave would have been in an open place ,but it could not be so, due to the fact that it might become a mosque."
In the passage of time, the Prophet's mosque in Medina was enlarged again and again, so that now his grave is no longer next to the mosque, but inside it. However, although the hearts of the millions of Muslims who visit Medina every year are filled with love, for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) they are always careful to direct their worship towards Allah alone, perhaps remembering the words of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr when he first spoke to the Muslims who could not believe that their beloved Prophet had actually died:
"Whoever worshiped Muhammad, Muhammad is dead, and whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is the Living, and does not die." Then he quoted the ayat;
Muhammad is only a Messenger, whom other Messengers have preceded. Will it be that when he dies or is killed, you will turn your back on your heels? And whoever turns back on his heels will not harm Allah in the least, and Allah will reward the thankful. (Quran 3:144)
Thus it was that the family and Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had to accept the inevitable, even though no loss ever had been or ever would be as great as theirs. It has been related by Anas ibn Malik that after the death of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Sayyiduna Abu Bakr said to Sayyiduna Umar, "Let us visit Umm Ayman (who had looked after the Prophet when he was a small boy), for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to visit her." When they came to her, she was weeping, and they said to her: "Why are you weeping? What the Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has now a better than this." "I am not weeping because I am unaware of the fact that what the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has now a better than this," she replied, "but I am weeping because the revelation that used to come from the heavens has ceased." This moved both of them to tears, and they began to weep with her.
A'isha Siddiqa (may Allah be pleased with her) once said, "O would that I were a leaf on a tree!" lived on for another fifty years after him after the Prophet's death, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dying at the age of sixty eight, in 58 AH (may Allah be pleased with her)
During that time she saw many changes, not all of which were pleasant ones, for with the expansion and the conquests that the Muslims experienced, there came wealth, and with the wealth came disagreements and power struggles, and as we all know, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "I do not fear poverty for my community, but I fear wealth for them, for it destroy them as it destroy the people before them."
A'isha, however, like all of the Prophet's wives, (may Allah be pleased with all of them) remained detached from this world and longed to be reunited with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the next; but while she was alive, she passed on her knowledge and wisdom to everyone who came to her. Much of what she transmitted was recorded in written form, and so countless Muslims have continued to benefit form it right up until today.
Abu Musa reported that Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "There have been many men who have reached perfection, but no women, have reached perfection except Mary, the daughter of Imran, Asiyya, the wife of Pharaoh, and the excellence of A'isha as compared to the other women in that of tharid (meat or vegetable stew, which was the Prophet's favorite food) over all other foods."
Qadi Iyad relates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Recognition of the family of Muhammad is freedom from the Fire. Love of the family of Muhammad is crossing over Sirat. Friendship for the family of Muhammad is safety from the Fire."
One of the ulama said, "Recognition, in this case means recognizing their place in relation to the Prophet. Recognition of that brings with it recognition of the rights and respect that are due to them because of it."
Qadi Iyad also wrote, "Cursing the people of the Prophet's house, his wives and his Companions, and disparaging them is haram, and the one who does it is cursed.'
Abdullah ibn Mughaffal said that the Messenger of Allah said, "Allah, Allah, my Companions! Do not make them a target after me. Whoever loves them, it is by my love that he loves them. Whoever hates them, incurs my hate by doing so. Whoever harms them has harmed me. Whoever harms me has harmed Allah. Whoever harms Allah is about to b e seized." (At- Tirmidhi)
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Do not curse my Companions. Whoever curses them, the curse of Allah and the angels and all people is on him. Allah will not accept any recompense or counterweight from him."
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Do not curse my Companions. A people will come at the end of time who will curse my Companions. Do not join them and do not join with them and do not marry with them and do not sit in their assemblies and if they are ill, do not visit them."
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Whoever curses my Companions, beat him."
Th Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) reported that cursing and harming them harmed him. It is haram to harm the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He said, "Do not harm me in respect of A'isha." HE said about Fatima, "She is part of me. What harms her, harms me." The best known position with respect to speaking ill of the Companions is that adopted by the school of Malik.
Malik said, "Whoever reviles the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is killed. Whoever reviles his Companions should be disciplined."
Qadi Iyad also wrote: It is related from Malik that anyone who curses Abu Bakr is flogged whereas anyone who curses A'isha is killed. He was asked, "Why is that?" He said, "Whoever attacks her has opposed the Quran."
Ibn Shaban related this from Malik because Allah has said, "Allah wishes that you should never repeat the like of it again if you are believers." (24:18) ; so whoever does repeat the like of it has disbelieved.
Qadi Iyad also wrote: There are two positions regarding someone who curses one of the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) other than A'isha. One position is that he is killed because he has cursed the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) by cursing his wife. The other is that she is considered to be like the other Companions. He is flogged with the hadd for slander. Ibn Shaban takes the first position.
Abu Musab related from Malik that someone who curses someone who is connected to the House of the Prophet is given a painful beating and imprisoned for a long time until his repentance is clear because he has made light of what is due to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
And may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon the Prophet Muhammad, and on his family and on his Companions, and on all who follows him and them in what they are able with sincerity, until the Last Day. AMEEN!