Misconception: Aisha modified salah by making itmam while on a journey

Misconception: Sayyidah Aisha deceived the daughter of al Jawn, viz. Asma’ bint al Nu’man, and Mulaykah bint Ka’b until Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam divorced them
February 28, 2018
Misconception: Brazenly mentioning private sensitive issues and her intimate relationship with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam
February 28, 2018

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Misconception: Aisha modified salah by making itmam while on a journey[1]

 

Sayyidah Aisha’s radiya Llahu ‘anha opinion regarding itmam on journey is documented in Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. Al Zuhri asked ‘Urwah:

ما بال عائشة تتم فقال تأولت ما تأول عثمان

“What is with Aisha making itmam?”

He replied, “She made the same interpretation as ‘Uthman.”[2]

 

Answer

Firstly, this cannot be used to criticise her in any way whatsoever. Many explanations have been forwarded to vindicate her viewpoint. However, many of them do not withstand thorough analysis[3]. The most correct view is that Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha practiced ijtihad[4] and came to the conclusion that both itmam[5] and qasr[6] and permissible[7] and she had a choice between them. She thus chose itmam so as to fulfil the ‘ibadah in its most complete form, according to her ijtihad. She believed that rukhsah (concession; referring to qasr in this context) while on journey is for one whom the journey is burdensome. And she experienced no burden or difficulty. Therefore, she made itmam.

 

و قد قال لها عروة لو صليت ركعتين فقالت يا ابن أختي إنه لا يشق علي

‘Urwah said to her, “If only you would perform two rak’at.”

“O my nephew,” she explained, “It is not difficulty upon me.”[8]

 

Hafiz Ibn Hajar elucidates:

 

و هو دال على أنها تأولت أن القصر رخصة و أن الإتمام لمن لا يشق عليه أفضل

This shows that she interpreted qasr to be a rukhsah (concession) and itmam to be superior for one whom the journey is not burdensome.[9]

 

Secondly, she did not reject qasr, neither directly nor indirectly. She regarded itmam to be superior for one whom the journey is not difficulty. Following this, she did not instruct ‘Urwah to make itmam when he asked her why she did not perform two rak’at.[10]

 

Thirdly, the hadith of Sayyidah Aisha’s radiya Llahu ‘anha vast knowledge has passed, and the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum would resort to her when any troublesome situation faced them, etc., considering which, the observer will unequivocally declare her to be among the Ahl al Ijtihad (those qualified to make ijtihad). And when a mujtahid observes ijtihad and reaches a correct conclusion, he receives double reward. However, if his conclusion is incorrect, he only receives one reward. This has been determined by Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam testimonial.[11] It is not a condition for a mujtahid not to err, and no one has ever claimed this, besides of course the Rawafid in relation to their Imams; which is glaringly erroneous.

Ibn Taymiyyah explains:

 

لا ريب أن الخطأ في دقيق العلم مغفور للأمة و إن كان ذلك في مسائل العلمية و لولا ذلك لهلك أكثر فضلاء الأمة

Undoubtedly, error in in-depth knowledge is forgiven for the ummah even if it is in academic rulings. Had this not been the case, majority of the luminaries of the ummah would have been destroyed.[12]

 

He also said:

 

فتبين أن المجتهد مع خطئه له أجر و ذلك لأجل اجتهاده و خطؤه مغفور له لأن درك الصواب في جميع أعيان الأحكام إما متعذر أو متعسر

It is evident that a mujtahid, despite his error, is rewarded. This is owing to his ijtihad. And his error is forgiven. This is due to the fact, that reaching the correct conclusion in all laws is either impractical or extremely challenging.[13]

 

Fourthly, levelling this accusation against Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha reveals the rancour in the heart of the accuser. A true believer is pardonsome. He will not see any defect in this considering her innumerable virtues. And this has been the practice of the pious predecessors when dealing with this opinion of hers.

Hafiz Ibn ‘Abdul Barr reports in Jami Ulum al Ilm wa Fadlih:

 

أن رجلا قال للقاسم ابن محمد عجبنا من عائشة كيف كانت تصلي في السفر أربعا و رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم كان يصلى ركعتين فقال يا ابن أخي عليك بسنة رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم حيث وجدتها فإن من الناس من لا يعاب

A man said to Qasim ibn Muhammad, “We are surprised with Aisha. How could she perform four rak’at while on journey whereas Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam performed only two.”

He answered, “O my nephew, hold firmly to Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sunnah wherever you find it. Certainly, there are certain people who are not to be condemned.”[14]

 

Abu ‘Umar comments:

 

قول القاسم هذا في عائشة يشبه قول سعيد بن المسيب حيث قال ليس من عالم و لا شريف و لا ذو فضل إلا و فيه عيب و لكن من الناس من لا ينبغي أن تذكر عيوبه و من كان فضله أكثر من نقصه ذهب نقصه لفضله

This statement of Qasim’s regarding Aisha resembles the statement of Sa’id ibn al Musayyab who affirmed, “Every ‘alim, noble, and virtuous person possesses a defect. However, there are some people whose faults need not to be exposed. And whoever’s virtues supersede his shortcomings, the former eclipses the latter.”[15]

 

NEXT ⇒ Misconception: Brazenly mentioning private sensitive issues and her intimate relationship with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam


[1] Thumma Ihtadayt pg. 131. Study the response to this in al Intisar li al Sahb wa al Al min Iftira’at al Simawi al Dall 273.

[2] Sahih al Bukhari Hadith: 1090; Sahih Muslim Hadith: 685

[3] Hafiz Ibn ‘Abdul Barr says:

و قد قال قوم في إتمام عائشة أقاويل ليس منها شيء يروى عنها و إنها هي ظنون و تأويلات لا يصحبها دليل

People have provided various reasons for Aisha’s itmam. However, none of these are reported from her. They are nothing but speculations and interpretations devoid of proof. (al Tamhid vol. 11 pg. 171)

[4] Independent judgement in a legal or theological question based on the interpretation and application of the 4 usul, as opposed to taqlid.

[5] To complete – referring to performing the complete 4 rak’at fard of Salat al Zuhr, ‘Asr and ‘Isha’

[6] To shorten – referring to performing only 2 rak’at fard of Salat al Zuhr, ‘Asr and ‘Isha’ instead of 4 rak’at

[7] Sharh Muslim vol. 5 pg. 195

[8] Al Sunan al Kubra vol. 3 pg. 143. Hafiz says in Fath al Bari vol. 2 pg. 571, “Its isnad is sahih.”

[9] Fath al Bari vol. 2 pg. 571

[10] It appears in al ‘Ayni’s ‘Umdat al Qari vol. 7 pg. 135:

فقالت يا ابن أختي لا تشق علي

She said, “O my nephew, it is not burdensome upon me.”

This shows that she interpreted qasr and did not reject it. Her interpretation of it does not deny its compulsion. Moreover, explicit rejection of it has not been recorded from her.

[11] Sahih al Bukhari Hadith: 7352; Sahih Muslim Hadith: 4584

[12] Majmu’ al Fatawa vol. 20 pg. 165

[13] Raf’ al Malam ‘an A’immah al A’lam pg. 38

[14] Al Ahkam fi Usul al Ahkam of Ibn Hazm vol. 6 pg. 145; Jami’ Bayan al ‘Ilm wa Fadlih vol. 2 pg. 377

[15] Al Tamhid of Ibn ‘Abdul Barr vol. 11 pg. 170

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