Sayyidah Aishah (RA): The Intellectual Mother of the Faithful

posted on Jul 02, 2022 | Author DR. AREEF JAMAICA

One of the great ideologues of the “modern tendencies” of Islam called her “the first flower of the Garden of Islam”, because among the “new generation”, Sayyidah ‘Aishah (RA) was a “Muslim born ! The “flower symbol” for ‘Aishah Siddiqah (RA) is very significant as being the daughter of Siddiq (Abu Bakr) (RA) and the wife of al-Sadiq al-Amin (the Truthful, the Trustworthy ), i.e. the Prophet (SAW), she increased the splendor and fragrance of the Garden of Islam in many ways. However, the most important area to which the Sayyidah (RA) contributed was the intellectual grooming of at least two generations in multiple fields of knowledge, both theoretical and practical.

Entering the life of the Prophet (SAW) at a young age which educators, sociologists and psychologists have collectively called “the creative age”, the Sayyidah (RA) had the opportunity to acquire the jewels of knowledge and wisdom directly from the Prophet. (SEEN). Because of this age where every word a student hears and every deed an observer observes is etched on the slate of memory with minute detail and subtlety, the Sayyidah (RA) was able to impart Prophetic Wisdom to “next generations”. for no less than half a century after the death of the Prophet (SAW). It is therefore no wonder that the Sayyidah (RA) is among those narrators of Prophetic Wisdom who have contributed much to the colossal storehouse of this “divinely inspired wisdom” of the Prophet (SAW).

We know that Sayyidah ‘Aishah (RA) was blessed to receive education, instruction and wisdom directly from the Prophet (SAW), therefore, she was able to explain some of these tricky issues that others might find too difficult to understand the wisdom behind. There are various examples to this effect in the Sira Literature. Once someone reprimanded a group of women who were crying over someone who had died. The person concerned made his point that “the dead would suffer because of the moans of these women!” When the matter was brought before Sayyidah ‘Aishah (RA), she quickly stated that the action (here moans) of one person cannot affect the other, as the Quran says: “A burden bearer nor can it bear another’s burden.” (35:18) The Sayyidah (RA) is also reported to have brought or explained the wisdom behind “disrespecting salah“(prohibited by the Prophet, SAW) at certain particular periods of time generally called “zawal“(lit. decline but technically i) the period before dawn when the sun has not completely risen above the horizon ii) the period when the sun is at or near its meridian and iii) the post-afternoon period until the sun has completely set) in the Islamic terminology of Fiqh. Asked about this question, the Sayyidah (RA) replied that in fact at these particular periods the worshipers ( of the sun, in particular) natural phenomena worship their (false) deities.Thus, the reason behind the particular injunction not to offer salah at these times is that there must remain a distinction between the followers of monotheism and polytheism.

There is also an interesting point that the Sayyidah (RA) made in answering some of the complex questions regarding Ascension (Mi’raj) of the Prophet (SAW). Although the Prophet (SAW) observed ‘great signs’ from his Lord during this celestial/heavenly journey, but from the very beginning there was a heated discussion whether the Prophet (SAW) saw the Lord on this trip or not. The importance of this question can be gauged by the fact that long after, the Mu’tazilites and the Ash’arites debated the matter vigorously and they even used principles of optics to support their respective arguments. It is quite interesting that Sayyidah ‘Aishah (RA), resorting to prophetic speech, as reported by Sahih Muslim: “nurun, Anna arahu; (He is pure Light; how could one see Him!)” clarified the questions of different people regarding this matter, especially those of Masruq who had asked different questions to Sayyidah ‘Aishah (RA), including this important question regarding the “vision of God through the Prophet (SAW). (Bukhari and Muslim)

Much of the Prophetic Wisdom which has been preserved for posterity by the Sayyidah (RA) has come down to us through ‘Urwah ibn Zubair, the nephew and student of the Sayyidah (RA) (son of Zubair ibn al-‘Awwam and Asma ‘ bint Abi Bakr). Through ‘Urwah a chain of scholars and intellectuals was produced who naturally had their intellectual descent from the Sayyidah (RA) and thus they became the vehicles for spreading the prophetic tradition to the body of Muslims. ‘Urwah ibn Zubair is also said to have produced a tract on the Sira (biography) of the Prophet (SAW). This tract, although not preserved, was used by Ibn Ishaq, the first biographer of the Prophet (SAW). As for the case of prophetic traditions, ‘Urwah ibn Zubair naturally derives from the Sayyidah (RA) and this was later popularized by Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, again one of the great hadith scholars who (and ‘ Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz also) had received hadith from Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib. It should be mentioned here that Malik ibn Anas and Al-Shafi’i relied on Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib both in jurisprudence and in hadith.

It would not be out of place to mention here that like his father, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (RA), Sayyidah ‘Aishah (RA) had a great mastery of the science of dream interpretation. In this science, the Sayyidah (RA) has also produced several generations of great interpreters of dreams.

As such, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Sayyidah ‘Aishah (RA) not only transmitted the prophetic traditions, but also played a vital role in the intellectual education of a large part of the population who, at in turn, became a great scholar in various fields of science. Islamic sciences. However, this does not mean that the other Umahat al-Mu’minin (Mothers of the Believers) did nothing to spread the Prophetic Wisdom to the Ummah. However, what the Sayyidah (RA) did was quite extraordinary. Knowledge, teaching, instruction and training are enough to command respect and honor on the person concerned, therefore, the Sayyidah (RA) has always been hailed as the repository of prophetic wisdom by the Muslim community of the whole world. This sublime “maternal” status was granted to the wives of the Prophet (SAW) by God himself in these terms: “The Prophet is closer to the believers than to themselves, and his wives are their mothers. (33:06)

(The author is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at GDC Kokernag. Email: [email protected])

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