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Virtues of ‘Aishah as mentioned by Allah

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Imam Ahmad recorded that

Az-Zuhri said: Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, `Urwah bin Az-Zubayr, `Alqamah bin Waqqas and `Ubaydullah bin `Abdullah bin `Utbah bin Mas`ud told me about the story of `A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet , when the people of the slander said what they said about her, and Allah declared her innocence. Each of them told something about the story, and some of them knew more details than others or had memorized more than others. I learned the story from each of them, who had heard it from `A’ishah herself, and what one told me confirmed what the others said. They mentioned that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the Prophet , said: “When the Messenger of Allah wanted to go on a journey, he would cast lots among his wives, and the one whose lot was drawn would go with him.” `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “So he drew lots among us with regard to a campaign he was going out on, and mine was drawn, so I went out with the Messenger of Allah . This was after the commandment of Hijab had been revealed, so I traveled in my howdah and stayed in it when we camped. We traveled until the Messenger of Allah completed his campaign, then we returned. As we were approaching Al-Madinah, we paused for a while, then they announced that the journey was to be resumed. When I heard this, I walked quickly away from the army to answer the call of nature, then I came back to my howdah. Then I put my hand to my chest and noticed that a necklace of mine that was made of onyx and cornelian had broken, so I went back and looked for it, and was delayed because of that. In the meantime, the people who used to lift my howdah onto my camel came along and put it on the camel, thinking that I was inside. In those times women were more slender and not so heavy, they only ate mouthfuls of food. So the people did not think anything of the howdah being so light when they lifted it up, as I was a young woman. They set off, and I found my necklace after the army had moved on. Then I came back to the place where we had stopped, and I saw no one to call or answer. So I went to the place where I had been, thinking that the people would miss me and come back for me. While I was sitting there, I fell asleep. tSafwan bin Al-Mu`attal As-Sulami Adh-Dhakwani had rested during the night behind the army. Then he set out just before daybreak and reached the place where I was in the morning, where he saw the outline of a person sleeping. He came to me and recognized me when he saw me, as he had seen me before Hijab was made obligatory for me. When he saw me and said `Truly, to Allah we belong, and truly, to Him we shall return,’ I woke up, and covered my face with my Jilbab (outer garment). By Allah, he did not speak a word to me and I did not hear him say anything except `Truly, to Allah we belong, and truly, to Him we shall return,’ until he brought his camel and made it kneel so that I could ride upon it, then he set out leading the camel until we caught up with the army at Zuhr time.

There are people who are doomed because of what happened to me, and the one who had the greater share therein was `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. When we came back to Al-Madinah, I was ill for a month, and the people were talking about what the people of the slander were saying, and I knew nothing about it. What upset me when I was ill was that I did not see the kindness I used to see on the part of the Messenger of Allah . When I was ill; he would just come in and say,

«كَيْفَ تِيكُمْ؟»

(How is that (lady)) That is what upset me. I did not feel that there was anything wrong until I went out after I felt better, and Umm Mistah went out with me, walking towards Al-Manasi`, which is where we used to go to relieve ourselves, and we would not go out for that purpose except at night. This was before we had lavatories close to our houses; our habit was similar to that of the early Arabs in that we went out into the deserts to relieve ourselves, because we considered it troublesome and harmful to have lavatories in our houses. So I went out with Umm Mistah, who was the daughter of Abu Ruhm bin Al-Muttalib bin `Abd Manaf, and her mother was the daughter of Sakhr bin `Amir, the paternal aunt of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. Her son was Mistah bin Uthathah bin `Abbad bin Al-Muttalib. When we finished what we had to do, the daughter of Abu Ruhm Umm Mistah and I came back towards my house. Umm Mistah stumbled over her apron and said, `May Mistah be ruined!’ I said to her, `What a bad thing you have said! Are you abusing a man who was present at Badr’ She said, `Good grief, have you not heard what he said’ I said, `What did he say’ So she told me what the people of the slander were saying, which made me even more ill. When I returned home, the Messenger of Allah came in to me and greeted me, then he said,

«كَيْفَ تِيكُمْ؟»

(How is that (lady)) I said to him, `Will you give me permission to go to my parents’ At that time I wanted to confirm the news by hearing it from them. The Messenger of Allah gave me permission, so I went to my parents and asked my mother, `O my mother, what are the people talking about’ My mother said, `Calm down, for by Allah, there is no beautiful woman who is loved by her husband and has co-wives but those co-wives would find fault with her.’ I said, `Subhan Allah! Are the people really talking about that’ I wept throughout the whole night until morning. My tears never ceased and I did not sleep at all, and morning came while I was still weeping. Because the revelation had ceased, the Messenger of Allah called `Ali bin Abi Talib and Usamah bin Zayd, and consulted with them about divorcing his wife. As for Usamah bin Zayd, he told the Messenger of Allah about what he knew of his wife’s innocence and his fondness for her. He said, `O Messenger of Allah, she is your wife, and we do not know anything about her but good.’ But `Ali bin Abi Talib said, `O Messenger of Allah, Allah has not imposed restrictions on you, and there are plenty of other women besides her. If you ask her servant girl, she will tell you the truth.’ So the Messenger of Allah called Barirah and said,

«أَيْ بَرِيرَةُ هَلْ رَأَيْتِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ يَرِيبُكِ مِنْ عَائِشَةَ؟»

(O Barirah, have you ever seen anything that might make you suspicious about `A’ishah) Barirah said to him, `By the One Who sent you with the truth, I have never seen anything for which I could blame her, apart from the fact that she is a young girl who sometimes falls asleep and leaves her family’s dough unprotected so that the domestic goats come and eat it.’ So then the Messenger of Allah got up and (addressed the people) and asked who could sort out `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul for him. While he was standing on the Minbar, the Messenger of Allah said,

«يَامَعْشَرَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مَنْ يَعْذِرُنِي مِنْ رَجُلٍ قَدْ بَلَغَنِي أَذَاهُ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي، فَوَاللهِ مَا عَلِمْتُ عَلَى أَهْلِي إِلَّا خَيْرًا، وَلَقَدْ ذَكَرُوا رَجُلًا مَا عَلِمْتُ عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا خَيْرًا، وَمَا كَانَ يَدْخُلُ عَلَى أَهْلِي إِلَّا مَعِي»

(O Muslims, who will help me against a man who has hurt me by slandering my family By Allah, I know nothing about my family but good, and the people are blaming a man of whom I know nothing except good, and he has never entered upon my family except with me.) Sa`d bin Mu`adh Al-Ansari stood up and said, `O Messenger of Allah, by Allah I will deal with him for you. If he is from (the tribe of) Al-Aws, then I will cut off his head, and if he is from our brothers of (the tribe of) Al-Khazraj, tell us what to do and we will do it.’ Then Sa`d bin `Ubadah stood up. He was the leader of Al-Khazraj, and he was a righteous man, but he was overwhelmed with tribal chauvinism. He said to Sa`d bin Mu`adh, `By Allah, you will not kill him and you will never be able to kill him.’ Then Usayd bin Hudayr, who was the cousin of Sa`d bin Mu`adh, stood up and said to Sa`d bin `Ubadah, `You are lying! By Allah, we will kill him, and you are a hypocrite arguing on behalf of the hypocrites!’ Then the two groups, Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj, started to get angry and were about to come to blows, with the Messenger of Allah standing there on the Minbar, trying to calm them down until they became quiet, then the Messenger of Allah also fell silent. On that day I kept on weeping so much, my tears never ceased and I did not sleep at all. My parents thought that my liver would burst from all that weeping. While they were sitting with me and I was weeping, a woman of the Ansar asked for permission to see me. I let her in, and she sat and wept with me. While we were in that state, the Messenger of Allah came in, greeted us and sat down. He had never sat with me since the rumors began, and a month had passed by without any revelation coming to him concerning my case. The Messenger of Allah recited the Tashahhud when he sat down, then he said,

«أَمَّا بَعْدُ، يَا عَائِشَةُ فَإِنَّهُ قَدْ بَلَغَنِي عَنْكِ كَذَا وَكَذَا،فَإِنْ كُنْتِ بَرِيئَةً فَسَيُبَرِّئُكِ اللهُ، وَإِنْ كُنْتِ أَلْمَمْتِ بِذَنْبٍ فَاسْتَغْفِرِي اللهَ ثُمَّ تُوبِي إِلَيْهِ، فَإِنَّ الْعَبْدَ إِذَا اعْتَرَفَ بِذَنْبِهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ، تَابَ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ»

(Thereafter, O `A’ishah, I have been told such and such a thing about you, and if you are innocent, then Allah will reveal your innocence, but if you have committed a sin, then seek Allah’s forgiveness and turn in repentance to Him, for when a servant confesses his sin and repents to Allah, He accepts his repentance.) When the Messenger of Allah finished what he had to say, my tears stopped completely and I not longer felt even one drop. Then I said to my father, `Answer the Messenger of Allah on my behalf.’ He said, `I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah.’ So I said to my mother, `Answer the Messenger of Allah on my behalf.’ She said, `I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah.’ So even though I was just a young girl who had not memorized much of the Qur’an, I said: `By Allah, I know that you have heard so much of this story that it has become planted in your minds and you believe it. So now if I tell you that I am innocent — and Allah knows that I am innocent — you will not believe me; but if I admit something to you — and Allah knows that I am innocent — you will believe me. By Allah, I cannot find any example to give you except for that which the Prophet Yusuf’s father said,

[فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ وَاللَّهُ الْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَى مَا تَصِفُونَ]

(So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe) [12:18]. Then I turned my face away and lay down on my bed. By Allah, at that point I knew I was innocent and that Allah would prove my innocence because I was innocent, but by Allah, I did not think that Allah would reveal Qur’an that would be forever recited concerning my situation, because I thought of myself as too insignificant for Allah to reveal anything concerning me. But I hoped that the Messenger of Allah would see a dream in which Allah would prove my innocence. By Allah, the Messenger of Allah did not move from where he was sitting and no one left the house before Allah sent down revelation to His Prophet , and he was overtaken by the state that always overtook him when the revelation came upon him, until drops of sweat like pearls would run down him, even on a winter’s day; this was because of the heaviness of the words which were being revealed to him. When that state passed — and the Messenger of Allah was smiling — the first thing he said was,

«أَبْشِرِي يَا عَائِشَةُ، أَمَّا اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَقَدْ بَرَّأَكِ»

(Be glad O `A’ishah, Allah has declared your innocence.) My mother said to me, `Get up and go to him.’ I said, `By Allah, I will not go to him and I will not give praise to anyone except Allah, may He be glorified, for He is the One Who has proven my innocence.’ So Allah revealed:

[إِنَّ الَّذِينَ جَآءُوا بِالإِفْكِ عُصْبَةٌ مِّنْكُمْ]

(Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you.), until the ten Ayat. Allah revealed these Ayat concerning my innocence. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who used to spend on Mistah bin Uthathah because he was a close relative and because he was poor, said, `By Allah, I will never spend anything on him again after what he has said about `A’ishah. ‘ Then Allah revealed,

[وَلاَ يَأْتَلِ أُوْلُواْ الْفَضْلِ مِنكُمْ وَالسَّعَةِ أَن يُؤْتُواْ أُوْلِى الْقُرْبَى]

(And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give to their kinsmen.) until His saying:

[أَلاَ تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ]

(Do you not love that Allah should forgive you And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful) [24:22]. So Abu Bakr said, `By Allah, certainly I love that Allah should forgive me.’ So he resumed spending on Mistah as he had spent on him before, and he said, `By Allah, I shall never stop spending on him.’ The Messenger of Allah asked Zaynab bint Jahsh about my situation, and said,

«يَا زَيْنَبُ مَاذَا عَلِمْتِ أَوْ رَأَيْتِ؟»

(O Zaynab, what do you know and what have you seen) She said, `O Messenger of Allah, may Allah protect my hearing and my sight. By Allah, I know nothing but good.’ She is the one who used to compete with me among the wives of the Prophet , but Allah protected her (from telling lies) because of her piety. But her sister Hamnah bint Jahsh kept on fighting on her behalf, so she was doomed along with those who were doomed.” Ibn Shihab said, “This is as much as we know about this group of people.” It was also by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in their Sahihs from the Hadith of Az-Zuhri, and by Ibn Ishaq also from Az-Zuhri. He also said: “Yahya bin `Abbad bin `Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr told me from his father, from `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and `Abdullah bin Abi Bakr bin Muhammad bin `Amr bin Hazm Al-Ansari told me from `Amrah, from `A’ishah, (a report) similar to that quoted above. And Allah knows best.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah An-Nur