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 Sirat Rasoul Allah

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16- Aisha Sufwan

According to Aisha, ‘When the apostle of Allah was about to depart on a journey, he used to throw lots to decide which of his wives he would take with him. Before an expedition against the Banu Mustaliq, my lot came out; so the apostle of Allah took me with him. In those days women used to eat only the necessities of life, and did not become strong and heavy on meat. When my camel was ready, I would seat myself in the howdah, which my attendants would then lift on to the back of the camel; then they would attach it to the beast and we could set off.

‘During our return from the Mustaliq expedition we paused to rest for a night. Before the company set off again, I withdrew for a moment; but I was wearing a string of Yemeni beads and when I returned I found they had fallen from my neck. Although the people were about to start I went back to the place where I had been and searched until I found them. The attendants who were in the habit of saddling my camel had meanwhile done so and had taken up the howdah (thinking that I was in it as usual) and tied it upon the camel; then they had led the camel off. When I returned to the camp not a soul was there, so I wrapped myself in my cloak and laid myself down, for I knew that they would miss me and come to seek me.

‘While I was thus reclining, Sufwan ‑ who had fallen behind the company for some reason, and had not spent the night with them ‑ passed by and observed me. He exclaimed, “To Allah we belong, and to Him we must return! This is the wife of the apostle of Allah!” and he brought his camel near and said, “Mount!” He withdrew a little and I mounted, then he took hold of the camel’s head and advanced rapidly, being anxious to overtake the company; but we neither overtook them, nor did they miss me, until they again encamped. When Sufwan arrived, leading me on his camel, slander was uttered against me although I knew nothing of it.

‘I became very ill when we arrived in Medina and so I still did not hear the slanders, but they were communicated to the apostle as well as to my parents. They did not speak of it to me, but I observed the absence of that kindliness which the apostle of Allah used always to show me when I was ill. This I thought strange on his part. However, I knew nothing of the matter until I had recovered from my illness, after more than twenty days.

‘At that time we still lived like true Arabs and had no privies in our houses as the Persians did, because we despised and disliked such luxuries. Instead, we went out to an open plain in Medina , the women going at night. Thus I walked out one night, and the woman who walked with me stumbled over the hem of her skirt and cursed, saying “Let Auf perish!” “By Allah!” I exclaimed. “That seems to me an evil wish, since it concerns a Believer who has fought at Badr.” The woman asked, “Has not the news reached thee, o daughter of Abu Bakr?” and when I asked what news she told me of the slanders. I could scarce believe it and fled to the house of my mother, weeping so that I thought my heart would break. I said to my mother, “May Allah forgive thee; the people slander me and you have said nothing of it to me!” and she replied, “Do not be unhappy. There are but few handsome women ‑ who are loved by their husbands, and have rivals ‑ who escape false imputations and slander.”

‘Meanwhile, unknown to me, the apostle of Allah addressed the people, glorified and praised Allah, and said, “How do you dare to insult me by insulting my family, and by saying things about them which are not true? By Allah, I know nothing but good of them.” [The lies were spread by some of the Khazraj and by the sister of another wife of the apostle.] When the apostle of Allah had finished, Usayd, one of the Aus, rose and said, “If the slanders are spoken by the Aus, we shall silence them; and if they be spoken by our brothers, the Khazraj, say the word and we shall punish them!” Then one Sad b. Ubada, who had hitherto seemed a true Believer, said, “You lie. By Allah, you have sug­gested this punishment only because you know the slanderers are of the Khazraj; had they been of your tribe you would not have suggested it.” Usayd retorted, “ You lie, by Allah! You are a Hypocrite and give your support to the Hypocrites!” Then the people assailed each other, and it would have taken little for evil to come to pass between the two tribes.

‘The Apostle of Allah now consulted Ali and Usama, and Usama spoke only what   was good, saying, “0 apostle of Allah. We know only good of Aisha, and thou knowest only good of her, and these are merely false and idle rumours!” But Ali said, “There are many women! Thou canst take another! Ask her slave and she will tell thee the truth.” So the apostle of Allah summoned my slave to examine her. Ali rose and struck the woman a violent blow, and said, “Tell the truth to the apostle of Allah”, and she replied, “I know only what is good; and I cannot say ill of Aisha, save that one day I was kneading my dough and asked her to watch it, but she fell asleep and a sheep came and ate it up.”

‘After this, the apostle came to me, while both my parents were with me; and I wept. He sat down, glorified and praised Allah, and then said, “Thou must have heard what the people are saying. Fear Allah! If thou hast done wrong, then repent, for Allah accepts the repentance of his servants.” While he spoke thus, my tears ceased to flow. I waited for my parents to reply to the apostle, but neither of them spoke; and I entertained too low an opinion of myself to hope that Allah would reveal verses of the Koran about me. But I hoped the apostle might have a vision in his sleep, in which Allah would expose the liars, or justify me, or tell the apostle the truth. When I saw that my parents did not speak, I asked, “Will you not reply to the apostle of Allah?” They said, “We know not what to say to him!”

‘When I saw my parents thus estranged from me my tears flowed once more, and I cried, “I shall never repent to Allah for what I am accused of, because Allah knoweth I should be repenting something which did not occur, and thus I should speak untruth. But if I deny the charges, you will not believe me.”

‘And the apostle of Allah had not yet left us when he lost consciousness, as always happened before a revelation; then I neither feared nor cared, for I knew that I was innocent, and that Allah would do no injustice to me. But my parents seemed about to die for fear, lest Allah might send a revelation confirming the words of the slanderers.

‘The apostle of Allah came back to consciousness and sat up, and the perspiration trickled like pearls from his forehead, although it was a winter day. Then he wiped it away, and said, “Allah has revealed thy innocence”, and I replied, “Allah be praised!” After that, he went out to the people and recited to them verses of the Koran revealed to him by Allah, and he ordered the slanderers to be scourged.’

Sufwan, who had been slandered with Aisha, met one of the worst slanderers, the poet Hassan, and struck him with his sword. Another man, Thabit, hastened to assist Hassan, grasping Sufwan, and tying his hands to his neck with a rope; he then took him to the dwelling of one of the Khazraj, where Abdullah b. Rawaha met them. He asked, ‘What is this?’ and Thabit re­plied, ‘Are you displeased? He struck Hassan with a sword and, by Allah, he might have killed him.’ Abdullah asked, ‘Does the apostle of Allah know of this?’ and when Thabit said he did not, Abdullah told him, ‘You have been presumptuous 1 Let the man go.

When the apostle heard of this, he had Sufwan and Hassan brought before him, and Sufwan explained, ‘He offended and mocked me; anger overcame me, and I struck him.’ Then the apostle said to Hassan, ‘Why do you malign my people when Allah has given them enlightenment? I think you deserved the blow.’ However, the apostle soothed the poet by presenting him with a fortress in Medina , and a Coptic slave girl. Then Hassan composed verses complimentary to the chastity and beauty of Aisha.

In the fifth year of the Hijra the campaign of the Ditch occurred. A number of Jews went to the Quraysh in Mecca and invited them to wage war against the apostle of Allah, saying, ‘We shall

aid you against him until we wipe out him and his followers.’ The Quraysh replied, ‘You are the possessors of the first scrip­ture; tell us whether our religion is better than his?’ They said, ‘Your religion is better than his, and you are nearer to the truth than he.’Then the Quraysh were encouraged to accept the invita­tion to fight against the apostle of Allah, and the Jews went to the Ghatafan and invited them to wage war against the apostle of Allah, saying they would aid them, and that the Quraysh had already consented to fight. So the Quraysh marched out under the command of Abu Sufyan, and the Ghatafan under the command of Uyayna.  

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