Mother of the Believers, Extensive Knowledge of Islam and Islamic Jurisprudence, Hadith Transmitter, and Social and Military Leader
Hijri 8-58 (AH); Common Era 614-678 (CE)
Mother of the Believers... Aisha bint Abu Bakr was the daughter of Abu Bakr, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s closest companions and the first Caliph after the Prophet’s death. Aisha was first betrothed to Jabir bin Mut’im at the age of five, which was common practice in the region. To strengthen the bond between the Prophet and Abu Bakr, Aisha, his daughter who was unmarried and born a Muslim, was betrothed to the Prophet at an early age although they didn’t consummate the real marriage until after she had reached puberty. One day, while in the desert, Aisha wandered off in search of her lost necklace, she was gone for a long enough time that the caravan had left with her husband and companions. Eventually, she was rescued by a young man and returned to safety. Because she had grown up in the public eye with the Prophet’s followers watching, she was on the receiving end of the troublemakers in the camp who leveled serious accusations against her character. She protested the rumors and declared her innocence but both her father and the Prophet remained silent leaving her despondent. Miraculously, she was cleared of all wrong-doing when the revelation in the Quran 24:12 came down. “Why, when you heard it, did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another and say, "This is an obvious falsehood"? Why did they [who slandered] not produce for it four witnesses? And when they do not produce the witnesses, then it is they, in the sight of Allah, who are the liars….” (Q 24-12) During their marriage, Aisha and the Prophet developed a very close relationship. To her great sorrow, she remained childless which enabled her to devote time and energy to acquiring knowledge. The Prophet had so much confidence in her he advised his community to learn half the knowledge of the religion from Aisha. Aisha was brave, but also known to be hot tempered. In 656, 24 years after the death of the Prophet, she led an army against Ali the Fourth Caliph for failing to bring the killers of the Third Caliph to justice. She was defeated at the Battle of the Camel, causing a deep rift in the Prophet’s family. Some male scholars use this incident as justification for undermining women’s leadership. For the remaining 24 years of her life Aisha continued to spread knowledge of Islam through the preservation of 2,210 hadith and is bestowed with an honorific title of Mother of the Believers.
“How could such a simple rescue agitate
the gossips? Thirty long days,
rumors curdled the milk in my bowl
The neighbors’ words