Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
My friends and I were discussing why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) so admired `Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her). What made her so special?
We were curious if the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) treated his wives equally because many hadiths mention his other wives being jealous of her. Was her youth or the fact that she was Abu Bakr’s daughter a factor? I’m referring to Bukhari’s hadith 2581.
Thank you for your question. Indeed, the mother of the believers, `A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, was very beloved to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). He treated all of his wives with total fairness.
The hadith that you mention is here:
Narrated `Urwa from `Aisha:
“The wives of Allah’s Apostle were in two groups. One group consisted of `Aisha, Hafsa, Safiyya and Sauda; the other group consisted of Umm Salama and the other wives of Allah’s Apostle. The Muslims knew that Allah’s Apostle loved `Aisha, so if any of them had a gift and wished to give it to Allah’s Apostle, he would delay it until Allah’s Apostle had come to `Aisha’s home, and then he would send his gift to Allah’s Apostle in her home.
The group of Umm Salama discussed the matter together and decided that Umm Salama should request Allah’s Apostle to tell the people to send their gifts to him in whatever wife’s house he was. Umm Salama told Allah’s Apostle what they had said, but he did not reply. Then they (those wives) asked Umm Salama about it. She said He did not say anything to me. They asked her to talk to him again. She talked to him again when she met him on her day, but he gave no reply. When they asked her, she replied that he had given no reply. They told her, Talk to him till he gives you a reply. When it was her turn, she talked to him again. He then said to her, ‘Do not hurt me regarding Aisha, as the Divine Inspirations do not come to me on any of the beds except that of Aisha.’ On that, Umm Salama said, I repent to Allah for hurting you.
Then the group of Umm Salama called Fatima, the daughter of Allah’s Apostle and sent her to Allah’s Apostle to say to him, Your wives request to treat them and the daughter of Abu Bakr on equal terms. Then Fatima conveyed the message to him. The Prophet said, ‘O my daughter! Don’t you love whom I love?’ She replied in the affirmative and returned and told them of the situation. They requested her to go to him again, but she refused.
They then sent Zainab bint Jahsh who went to him and used harsh words saying, ‘Your wives request you to treat them and the daughter of Ibn Abu Quhafa on equal terms.’ On that, she raised her voice and abused `Aisha to her face so much that Allah’s Apostle looked at `Aisha to see whether she would retort. `Aisha started replying to Zainab till she silenced her. The Prophet then looked at `Aisha and said, ‘She is really the daughter of Abu Bakr.’” [Bukhari]
The merits of `A’isha are many, and whole chapters have been devoted to this topic in hadith compilations and other texts. In addition to revelation only coming to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) while he was in `A’isha’s house, as we saw above, here are some of her other merits:
‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) having said:
“I saw you in a dream for three nights when an angel brought you to me in a silk cloth, and he said: ‘Here is your wife, and when I removed (the cloth) from your face, lo, it was yourself, so I said: ‘If this is from Allah, let Him carry it out.’” [Muslim]
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The superiority of ‘Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid to other kinds of food.” [Nasa’i] Tharid was a dish made of barley bread sopped in a meat soup/stew.
`A’isha herself narrated, may Allah be pleased with her, “I have been given nine (virtues) that were not given to any woman after Maryam bint Imran: Jibril, may Allah give him peace, descended with my picture in his sleep until Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) was commanded to marry me; he had married me when I was a virgin, and he never married any virgin besides me; his soul was taken while his head was on my lap and he was buried in my house. The angels had surrounded my house; I am the daughter of his Khalifah (caliph) and his Siddiq; my exoneration was revealed from heaven. I was created pure for a pure one. I have been promised forgiveness (of sins) and noble provision.” [Lalka’i, Sharh Usul i`tiqad ahl al-sunna wa al-jama`a]
The father of `Urwa said, “I have not seen a single woman more knowledgeable in medicine, jurisprudence or poetry than `A’isha. [ibid. 1520]
`Ali bin Abi Talib mentioned, “If a lady could be caliph, `A’isha would undoubtedly have been the caliph.“ [ibid. 1521]
In conclusion, any jealousy you read about from the other wives of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was not uncalled for, but with good reason. They were all the mothers of the believers and had the most incredible honor of being married to the Messenger of Allah. Any unfairness you might have perceived came from others, but never from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). We should take `A’isha as none other than a role model; may Allah grant us her company in the hereafter.
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.