e. Her Knowledge of History

d. Her Knowledge of Fiqh and Fatwa
August 6, 2021
f. Her Knowledge of Language, Poetry, and Rhetoric
August 6, 2021

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e. Her Knowledge of History

 

Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha had her finger wrapped around history, the significant events of the Arabs, and the biography of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She lived in the time of all four Khalifas and a major portion of the reign of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Hisham ibn ‘Urwah[1] announces:

 

ما رأيت أحدا من الناس أعلم … بحديث العرب ولا النسب من عائشة

I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable about the history of the Arabs and lineage than Aisha.[2]

 

Many reports are narrated from Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha which describe the conditions of the people during the Period of Ignorance—their habits, their public news, their rituals and customs, the manner of divorce, matters pertaining to marriages, worship, war, etc. To cite an example, the different types of marriages prevalent among to the Arabs appears in this narration:

 

عن عروة بن الزبير أن عائشة زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أخبرته أن النكاح في الجاهلية كان على أربعة أنحاء فنكاح منها نكاح الناس اليوم يخطب الرجل إلى الرجل وليته أو ابنته فيصدقها ثم ينكحها ونكاح آخر كان الرجل يقول لامرأته إذا طهرت من طمثها أرسلي إلى فلان فاستبضعي منه ويعتزلها زوجها ولا يمسها أبدا حتى يتبين حملها من ذلك الرجل الذي تستبضع منه فإذا تبين حملها أصابها زوجها إذا أحب وإنما يفعل ذلك رغبة في نجابة الولد فكان هذا النكاح نكاح الاستبضاع ونكاح آخر يجتمع الرهط ما دون العشرة فيدخلون على المرأة كلهم يصيبها فإذا حملت ووضعت ومر عليها ليالي بعد أن تضع حملها أرسلت إليهم فلم يستطع رجل منهم أن يمتنع حتى يجتمعوا عندها تقول لهم قد عرفتم الذي كان من أمركم وقد ولدت فهو ابنك يا فلان تسمي من أحبت باسمه فيلحق به ولدها لا يستطيع أن يمتنع به الرجل ونكاح الرابع يجتمع الناس الكثير فيدخلون على المرأة لا تمتنع ممن جاءها وهن البغايا كن ينصبن على أبوابهن رايات تكون علما فمن أرادهن دخل عليهن فإذا حملت إحداهن ووضعت حملها جمعوا لها ودعوا لهم القافة ثم ألحقوا ولدها بالذي يرون فالتاط به ودعي ابنه لا يمتنع من ذلك فلما بعث محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم بالحق هدم نكاح الجاهلية كله إلا نكاح الناس اليوم

‘Urwah ibn al Zubair reports that Aisha, the wife of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, informed him that marriage in Jahiliyyah was of four types. One marriage was the marriage of people nowadays. A man proposes to another man for his relative or daughter who takes permission from her and then marries her off.

The second type: A man says to his wife after she attains purity from her menses, “Go to so and so and get a child from him[3].” The husband would separate from her and not touch her until her pregnancy became clear from that man from whom she sought a baby, after which he [the husband] would have relations with her whenever he wished. They would only do this desiring a noble child. This marriage was the marriage of al istibda’.

The third type was when a group of less than ten have intercourse with a woman. After falling pregnant, delivering the child, and waiting for a few nights thereafter, she would call for them. No man from them would dare to refuse. After they gathered by her, she would tell them, “You are well aware of what you did and I have delivered a baby. It is your son, O so and so, naming the person she wished.” The child would be attributed to him and the man would not be able to refuse.

The fourth type of marriage was when many men would have intercourse with a woman without her preventing anyone who came to her. These were the prostitutes. They would erect flags by their doors as signs. Whoever desired them would enter upon them. When any of them fell pregnant and gave birth, they [the men who had intercourse with her] would all gather and the qafah[4] would be invited. The qafah would attribute her child to the one they deemed the father and the child would be called his son[5], and he would not be able to refuse.

After Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was sent with the truth, all forms of marriage of Ignorance were terminated besides the marriage of people currently.[6]

 

Here is her report concerning Hajj during the Jahiliyyah Period:

 

كانت قريش ومن دان دينها يقفون بالمزدلفة وكانوا يسمون الحمس وكان سائر العرب يقفون بعرفات فلما جاء الإسلام أمر الله نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يأتي عرفات ثم يقف بها ثم يفيض منها فذلك قوله تعالى ثُمَّ أَفِيْضُوْا مِنْ حَيْثُ أَفَاضَ النَّاسُ

The Quraysh and those who adhered to their religion would make wuquf at Muzdalifah which they called al Hums. The rest of the Arabs would make wuquf at ‘Arafat. After Islam was established, Allah commanded His Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to travel to ‘Arafat and make wuquf there before departing from there. These are Allah’s subhanahu wa ta ‘ala words: Then depart from the place from where [all] the people depart.[7] [8]

 

The War of Bu’ath between the Ansar is another glaring example. Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha reports:

 

كان يوم بعاث يوما قدمه الله لرسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقدم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وقد افترق ملؤهم وقتلت سرواتهم وجرحوا قدمه الله لرسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم في دخولهم في الإسلام

The Day of Bu’ath was an event that Allah advanced for His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam arrived after their notables were divided, their chiefs[9] were slain, and they were injured. Allah advanced it for His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for their entry into Islam.[10]

 

Thanks to her enthusiasm to learn and her courage to ask the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about aspects unknown to her, she reports to us some details of the Ka’bah and its construction which she gathered from her conversation with the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She narrates:

 

سألت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عن الجدر أمن البيت هو قال نعم قلت فما لهم لم يدخلوه في البيت قال إن قومك قصرت بهم النفقة قلت فما شأن بابه مرتفعا قال فعل ذلك قومك ليدخلوا من شاؤوا ويمنعوا من شاؤوا ولولا أن قومك حديث عهدهم بالجاهلية فأخاف أن تنكر قلوبهم أن أدخل الجدر في البيت وأن ألصق بابه بالأرض

I asked the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whether the Hijr[11] was part of the House.

He replied, “Yes.”

“Why did they not just included it in the House then?”

“Your people were short of funds,” he explained.

“What is with its door being raised?”

“Your people did this so only those could enter whom they allowed and they could prevent whom they wish. Had it not been for your people’s recent Jahiliyyah and for the fear that their hearts will turn sour, I would have included the Hatim in the House and brought the door close to the ground.”[12]

 

Other examples are plentiful.

Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha had shed light on and disclosed many aspects of the life and biography of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from the inception of revelation until his salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise[13], including all the events between; the most significant of which are the Hijrah, the Slander Incident, and the Battles. She relates to us the events leading to the Battle of Badr, the Battle of Uhud, the Battle of Khandaq, some information about the Battle of Banu Qurayzah, the manner of Salat al Khawf during the Battle of Dhat al Riqa’, the women’s Bay’ah in the Conquest of Makkah, and the most noteworthy events of Hajjat al Wada’. She also reports her experiences and the events she witnessed during the era of the four Khalifas and the reign of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

Allow us to narrate her hadith on the inception of revelation upon the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

كان أول ما بدئ به رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الرؤيا الصادقة في النوم فكان لا يرى رؤيا إلا جاءت مثل فلق الصبح ثم حبب إليه الخلاء فكان يلحق بغار حراء فيتحنث فيه قال والتحنث التعبد الليالي ذوات العدد قبل أن يرجع إلى أهله ويتزود لذلك ثم يرجع إلى خديجة فيتزود بمثلها حتى فجئه الحق وهو في غار حراء فجاءه الملك فقال اقرأ فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما أنا بقارئ قال فأخذني فغطني حتى بلغ مني الجهد ثم أرسلني فقال اقرأ قلت ما أنا بقارئ فأخذني فغطني الثانية حتى بلغ مني الجهد ثم أرسلني فقال اقرأ قلت ما أنا بقارئ فأخذني فغطني الثالثة حتى بلغ مني الجهد ثم أرسلني فقال اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِيْ خَلَقَ خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ الَّذِيْ عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ الآيات إلى قوله عَلَّمَ الْإِنْسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ فرجع بها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ترجف بوادره حتى دخل على خديجة فقال زملوني زملوني فزملوه حتى ذهب عنه الروع قال لخديجة أي خديجة مالي لقد خشيت على نفسي فأخبرها الخبر قالت خديجة كلا أبشر فوالله لا يخزيك الله أبدا فوالله إنك لتصل الرحم وتصدق الحديث وتحمل الكل وتكسب المعدوم وتقري الضيف وتعين على نوائب الحق فانطلقت به خديجة حتى أتت به ورقة بن نوفل وهو ابن عم خديجة أخي أبيها وكان امرأ تنصر في الجاهلية وكان يكتب الكتاب العربي ويكتب من الإنجيل بالعربية ما شاء الله أن يكتب وكان شيخا كبيرا قد عمي فقالت خديجة يا ابن عم اسمع من ابن أخيك قال ورقة يا ابن أخي ماذا ترى فأخبره النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم خبر ما رأى فقال ورقة هذا الناموس الذي أنزل على موسى ليتني فيها جذعا ليتني أكون حيا ذكر حرفا قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أومخرجي هم قال ورقة نعم لم يأت رجل بما جئت به إلا أوذي وإن يدركني يومك حيا أنصرك نصرا مؤزرا ثم لم ينشب ورقة أن توفي وفتر الوحي فترة حتى حزن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم

The first stage of revelation upon the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was true dreams. Whatever he dreamt about would become manifest like the break of dawn. Thereafter, seclusion was made beloved to him. He would seclude himself in the cave of Hiraʾ where he would worship for a number of nights before returning to his family. He would take provisions for his stay, then return to Khadijah and take more provisions for about the same period. Until one day, the truth came to him unexpectedly while in the cave of Hiraʾ; an angel came to him and commanded, “Recite!”

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam surrendered, “I am unable to read.”

He salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam narrates: He [the angel] caught hold of me and squeezed me until it became unbearable. He then released me and instructed, “Recite!”

I surrendered, “I am unable to read.”

He grabbed me and squeezed me for the second time until it became unbearable, before releasing me and instructing, “Recite!”

I surrendered, “I am unable to read.”

He caught hold of me and squeezed me for the third time until it became unbearable for me before releasing me. He then recited: Recite in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clinging substance. Recite and your Lord is the most Generous. Who taught by the pen taught man that which he knew not.[14]

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam returned with his heart pounding. He entered upon Khadijah and submitted, “Wrap me up. Wrap me up.” They wrapped him up until finally his fear subsided.

He told Khadijah, “O Khadijah, what is wrong with me? I certainly feared for my life,” and narrated the entire incident to her.

Khadijah announced, “Never! Be glad. By Allah, Allah will never ever forsake you. By Allah, you certainly maintain family ties, speak the truth, support the poor, assist the needy, entertain the guest, and support every noble course.”

Khadijah took him to Waraqah ibn Nawfal—the son of Khadijah’s uncle, her father’s brother. He was a Christian in the era of ignorance. He would write the Arabic language. He would translate the Injil into Arabic as much as Allah willed him to. He was a very old man who had turned blind.

Khadijah submitted, “O son of my uncle, listen to your nephew.”

Waraqah asked him, “O son of my brother! What have you seen?”

The Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam related to him what he saw.

Waraqah said, “This is the same angel who was sent to Musa. If only I was young and energetic[15]. If only I was alive …” and mentioned something.

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked astonishingly, “Will they exile me?”

“Yes,” he replied. “No man has brought what you have, except that he was harmed. If I live till that day, I will lend you unshakable support.”

It was not long thereafter that Waraqah passed away. Revelation stopped for a while and the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was grief stricken due to this.[16]

 

She must have learnt majority of the incidents and events of the period of ignorance from her father, Sayyidina Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anha, who was one of the most acquainted of all with the episodes and genealogy of the Arabs. ‘Urwah would tell her:

 

لا أعجب من فقهك أقول زوجة نبي الله وابنة أبي بكر ولا أعجب من علمك بالشعر وأيام الناس أقول ابنة أبي بكر وكان أعلم الناس ولكن أعجب من علمك بالطب

I am not surprised at your judicial prowess. I think to myself, “The wife of the Nabi of Allah and the daughter of Abu Bakr.” I am not surprised at your knowledge of poetry and history. I say, “The daughter of Abu Bakr,” and he was the most knowledgeable of people. What surprises me is your knowledge of medicine.[17]

 

NEXT⇒ f. Her Knowledge of Language, Poetry, and Rhetoric


[1] He is Hisham ibn ‘Urwah ibn al Zubair, Abu al Mundhir al Qurashi al Asadi. The Imam, the Authority, the Sheikh of Islam. He was born in 61 A.H. and grew up to become one of the Huffaz of hadith. He was reliable, trustworthy, and precise. He passed away in 145 or 146 A.H. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 6 pg. 34; Tahdhib al Tahdhib, vol. 11 pg. 48.

[2] Hilyat al Auliya, vol. 2 pg. 49.

[3] Al istibda’: refers to a woman desiring intercourse from a man in order to get a child from him, that is all. Al Nihayah fi Gharib al Hadith wa al Athar, vol. 1 pg. 133.

[4] Al qafah – plural of qa’if: one who scrutinises and identifies features and recognises the resemblance of a man with his brother and father. Al Nihayah fi Gharib al Hadith wa al Athar, vol. 4 pg. 121.

[5] Iltata: call him his son. The children of Ignorance would be attributed to those who claimed them. Fath al Bari, vol. 1 pg. 184.

[6] Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 5127.

[7] Surah al Baqarah: 199.

[8] Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 4520; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1219.

[9] Sarawat: chiefs, nobles. Al Nihayah fi Gharib al Hadith wa al Athar, vol. 2 pg. 363.

[10] Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 3846.

[11] Al jadr: al Hijr. Sharh Muslim, vol. 9 pg. 96.

[12] Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 1584; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1333.

[13] Have a look at her report of the final moments of the Nabi’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam life.

[14] Surah al ‘Alaq: 1–5.

[15] Al jadha’: the son of a noble when he attains strength. The meaning is: if only I was spared till the time they exile you and I was young, so that I may support you immensely with the strength of youth. Ibn al Jawzi: Kashf al Mushkil, vol. 4 pg. 276.

[16] Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 4953; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 160.

[17] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 183.

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