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Achieving “Khushu” and a Positive State of Mind

We have all heard about the importance of inculcating Khushu in our prayers. It refers to a state of mind when we stand in front of Allah and fully direct our minds and hearts towards Him. Ibn al-Qayyim defined Khushu as a state “. . . when the heart feels aware and humble before the greatness and glory of Allah, and is filled with awe, fear and shyness . . .” (Al-Rooh, p. 314).

Anything less not only diminishes the rewards of our worship and Ibadah but we should consider it as a sign of our disregard for our creator, as well as a lost opportunity for our spiritual rejuvenation. After all, what good is being in front of anyone – let alone our creator and sustainer – when our minds and hearts are not focused on “the moment”?

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Khushu – A Positive State of Mind
In psychological terms, we can liken this state of mind to a single-minded immersion of oneself with deep focus on the activity at hand and one that leads to maximum performance. We know that our state of mind, directly or indirectly, impacts almost everything that we do in life. A bad state of mind can have a debilitating effect on our overall performance, shows its effects on our outward appearances, and in general becomes a hindrance to bringing out the best in us. On the other hand, we also know the good feelings associated with being in a good state of mind. It makes us feel livelier and more productive, and life generally seems more fulfilling.

Needless to say, we must find ways to get in the right states of minds to maximize our performance for any given activity or else we can expect subpar results. The activity of “Prayers” or salat is no exception to that rule. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) alluded to something similar in that we get only a portion of the reward for our prayers depending on the level of our efforts. He said: “A slave may pray and have nothing recorded for it except a tenth of it, or a ninth, or an eighth, or a seventh, or a sixth, or a fifth, or a quarter, or a third, or a half” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1626).

The Tendency to Get Distracted
However, voluntarily getting in a focused state of mind and staying there is easier said than done. Many a time we tend to get sidetracked by our own thoughts. As for prayers, the reality is that as soon as we enter the state of prayers, various thoughts rush into our minds distracting us from the state of worship. These distractions also include satanic whispers, also referred to as “waswaas” (insinuating thoughts from Shaytaan) and sometimes reach to a level where the act of worship fails to deliver any notable spiritual value.

Sadly, this lack of control on our thoughts and states of our minds not only deprives us from establishing a relationship with our creator but also prevents us from bringing calm to our jittery nerves and lives in general. Among other things, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) relied on prayers to provide him comfort and mental calm. He once said, “The source of my delight is the prayer” (authenticated by Al-Albani). He also used to ask Bilal to give the Adhan for the prayer by saying: “Give us comfort by it, O Bilal.”

Stepping towards Khushu and a Positive State of Mind

Inculcating Khushu in our prayers, therefore, is about getting in the right state of mind where we are fully guarding our thoughts from any distractions and focused on Allah and the various prayer invocations. Besides spiritual rejuvenation, the practice of Khushu also teaches us to induce a positive state of mind for any other moment or activity by teaching us to keep distracting thoughts at bay and enabling us to focus on the task at hand with the heart and mind fully immersed.

So, what can we do to get in the right state of mind to help us perform optimally? The following are some tips that can come in handy:

Get passionate about the activity:

One way to get in a positive state of mind so you may excel at a task is to ensure that you develop a passion for it. The more passionate you feel about doing something, the less likelihood there is to get distracted from that activity. We know this from our hypnotic interest in the many TV shows, movies, and numerous other entertainment episodes that occupy our minds on a daily basis. So, if you complain about reduced khushu levels in your prayers, you ought to assess your passion and level of interest in prayers and your relationship with your creator. How does it compare with your life’s other passions and interests? A reduced interest drives you to rush through prayers so that you can get back to your other activities of interest. The reason behind your poor khushu levels, therefore, may be rooted in your lack of interest to pray in the first place.

For some of us, this may be a harsh reality check but until our behavior proves otherwise, our priorities may be skewed.

You can get over this problem by spending time (when you are not praying) to learn and internalize the merits and rewards of prayer. That can help you go a long way in raising your passion for prayers and other forms of worship, thus minimizing the likelihood of getting distracted. In this context, we should remind ourselves of what Allah said about developing the right khushu in prayers. He said in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning),

“Successful indeed are the believers, those who offer their salah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness” [Surah al-Mu’minoon 23:1-2]”.
Remember, the more passion you fill in your mind and heart about anything, the less vacuum you leave for the distracting thoughts to fill the void when you are involved in that activity.

Prepare for the activity before the activity:

Another sure method to help one perform optimally in any activity is to get mentally ready for that activity beforehand. Athletes do it regularly. We do it too before getting ready for any challenging activity (taking an exam, for example). This preparation before the actual event helps clear the clutter from our minds that maybe lingering from previous activities. As far as prayers are concerned, performing ablution, the high value associated with making dua before obligatory prayers in congregation, sunnah prayers, and so on are some of the things that can get us in the right state of mind before we start the obligatory prayers.

Be mindful of the activity:

To ward off distracting and negative thoughts, psychologists and psychotherapists also recommend the use of “mindfulness”. Mindfulness helps in directing your consciousness to what you really want at the moment rather than letting negative thoughts pull your mind from one distraction to another. Being mindful in prayers can help you consciously guard your state of mind from being poisoned by negative thoughts as well as satanic whispers (waswas). While praying, be mindful of the meanings of the invocations of your prayers. Done repetitively, this voluntary control can gradually help you control your state of mind and achieve high levels of Khushu.

In Summary…
Khushu, therefore, is an ideal practice to help you increase the quality of your prayers that, as the prophet told us, can bring delight and calm to your lives and help bond with your creator and sustainer. The psychological underpinnings of this practice can also help you master the art of getting in the right state of mind for other activities too. It can also help keep unpleasant thoughts from the past at bay and also to stop related feelings of anxiety. That can come in quite handy in your relationships, at work, and in other aspects of your lives.

Feel free to share other steps that may be helpful in achieving Khushu and a positive state of mind.

The IqraSense.com Blogger

Taqwa: The Cornerstone of Islamic Faith

Molding our lives on the basis of those words is equally important in the eyes of Allah and thus we need to ensure that those solemn words indeed get lodged in our hearts so that they direct our behavior and lives.

More than a billion people today say “La Ilaha Illallah”, yet many of us would agree that the Muslim ummah as a whole will be quite possibly missing out on additional mercy and blessings of Allah unless we start living by those words in our lives. Many among us either don’t know how to live up to those words or simply don’t find it necessary to do so. To them, recognizing a deity called “Allah” is all that is needed to be categorized as a “believer”. As we shall see later, Quran tells us that it may be nothing short of a sign of hypocrisy.

The fact is that those who call themselves “Muslims” need to infuse their hearts with “Taqwa” if they want to be viewed by Allah as true believers. In the English language, “Taqwa” has been translated and interpreted in various ways so that it may mean piety, righteousness, fearful of Allah, being God conscious, and so on. But we know that, similar to other words in the Quran, it is difficult to get a corresponding one word translation. Instead, some Quranic words pack more detailed concepts that must be elaborated on when translated into other languages.

After the first Surah (Al-Fatihah), which is mostly considered as a Dua, the Quran continues with Surah Al-Baqara (verse # 2) as follows:

“This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqin (People of Taqwa).” (Sura Al-Baqarah:2)

This verse thus makes Taqwa a prerequisite for seeking guidance from Quran (a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun, i.e., who have Taqwa). Tafsir ibn Kathir states: “Hidayah – correct guidance – is only granted to those who have Taqwa.” He went on to point out that “the guidance in it (Quran) is only granted to the righteous (people with Taqwa in their hearts), just as Allah said,

(O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord, and a healing for that which is in your breasts (disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences), a guidance and a mercy for the believers (Surah Younus:57).

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Remembrance of Allah.

What is Taqwa

Rather than coining our own definitions, let’s look at how various scholars have defined Taqwa (Reference 2). Abu Darda (R) said: “From the completion of Taqwa is that the servant fears from His Lord even with regard to things, the weight of an atom.”

Sheikh Muhammed Tantawi says: “The word ‘Muttaqoon’ is the plural of ‘Muttaqi’. ‘Muttaqi’ is the gerund from the verb ‘Ittaqa’ (acquired protection). ‘Ittaqa’ is from the root verb ‘Waqa’ which means he protected himself from that which harms him.”

One of the more complete definitions and explanations was provided by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. He states that Taqwa “includes doing everything that Allah has enjoined whether it is waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (recommended), and avoiding all that He has forbidden, whether it is haraam (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked).” [Reference 1]

A heart infused with Taqwa is, therefore, an attitude that one adopts about following Allahs teachings. It provides us the filter to get a renewed perspective regarding how we live various aspects of our lives because we become aware of Allah’s pleasure and displeasure in all our affairs.

It is Taqwa that gives meaning to our simple worship rituals that otherwise would be nothing without it. Haven’t we pondered what would the physical actions of salat (prayers) such as bowing and prostrating mean without a heart infused with Taqwa? What makes the hunger and thirst (when fasting) of a believer different from the same actions of a non-believer? How would the physical acts of going between the two mountains of Safa and Marwa (in Hajj and Umrah) become valuable in the eyes of Allah? It’s the Taqwa in our hearts that provide these simple physical rituals a special meaning in the eyes of Allah. For example, when mentioning the ritual of sacrificing animals (in Allah’s name) in the Quran, Allah says, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is Taqwa (piety, etc.) from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you so that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you…” (Surah Al-Hajj: 37).

Let’s ensure, therefore, that our worship is not limited to empty acts but is rather adorned with Taqwa. Again, as the verse states, “…but it is the Taqwa (piety) from you that reaches Him.”

Where do we fall related to our Taqwa and the guidance from Allah?
If we read the first few verses of Surah Al-Baqara (almost the beginning of the Quran), we would note that Allah describes three types of people related to guidance.

The first group: In the first few verses (verses 2 – 5), He clearly explains that the Quran is a guidance for those who have Taqwa in their hearts and this guidance causes them to be successful. The people described in these verses are those who:

(1) Believe in the unseen (e.g. Allah, angels, the holy books that Allah revealed but got changed, prophets, day of resurrection, and Al-Qadr)

(2) Perform salat

(3) Spend for Allah’s causes from what Allah has provided to them

(4) Believe in what Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad

(5) Believe in what Allah revealed to the prophets before Muhammad, and

(6) Believe in hereafter.

The second group: The second group (described in verses 6 and 7) falls on the other end of the spectrum, and are the disbelievers. In describing them Allah says that it is the seal on their hearts and ears as well as a covering in their eyes that has caused them to disbelieve.

The third group: Finally, the Quran uses more verses (verses 8 through 18) in describing those regarding whom Allah says, “And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day” while in fact they believe not” (verse 6). Some of the attributes that Allah points out in those people (in those verses) are the following:

(1) They think they are deceiving Allah and the believers but in fact they are deceiving themselves.

(2) In their hearts there is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy).

(3) When Allah tells them to believe by modeling themselves according to the prophet and the true believers, they say, “Shall we believe as the fools have believed?” Allah then responds by saying that “Verily, they are the fools but they know not.”

(4) They mock the believers in turn and then Allah says: “Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrongdoings to wander blindly.”

(5) Allah remarks about these people: “These are they who have purchased error for guidance, so their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided.”

The above (based on verses 2 – 18 of Al-Baqara) should be sufficient to move our hearts to the core and should create the urgency to associate ourselves with the first group (the ones with Taqwa). While a majority of us believers will associate ourselves with the first group, our behaviors and attitudes may instead make us appear to belong to the third. Let’s, therefore, ensure that our actions (not just words) disclose that we are people who have Taqwa (as mentioned in verse 2).

On the road to inculcate Taqwa
 

Once we say “La Ilaha Illallah”, we should take a few steps to lodge Taqwa (piety, righteousness, humbleness, fear, God consciousness, etc.) in our hearts. Some of the steps we can take include the following:

Know as a believer that it’s Allah’s (our creator and sustainer’s) right to be obeyed: Let us never forget that it is Allah’s right to be obeyed. Ibn Qayyim said: “A benefit of understanding Allah’s right over the servant is that it opens the door of humbleness in front of Allah and closes the doors of conceit. It allows one to realize that salvation is only through Allah’s grace and mercy. It is Allah’s right that He should be obeyed and not disobeyed: that He should be remembered and not forgotten and that He should be appreciated and not unappreciated . . . Many people think about their rights over Allah and do not about His rights over them. This is how they are detached from Allah and deprived of the desire to meet Him. This is the epitome of ignorance of their Lord and of themselves” (Ighathatul lahfaan 1/99-101; secondary reference).

Audit yourself

From time to time we should pause and assess the condition of our hearts. If we do that with full introspection, it wouldn’t be difficult to determine whether our hearts are filled with piety and fear of Allah (Taqwa), or have remnants of hardness and a carefree attitude about Allah and His teachings. Allah says in the Quran: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow (tomorrow), and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do” (Surah Al-Hashr:18). Ibn kathir says that the phrase ‘let each soul see’ or “let every person look” in the above verse means to take an account of one’s own actions before being audited (by Allah) (Tafseer of Ibn Kathir: 4/346).
Omar bin Khattab wrote to one of his employees: “Audit yourself in prosperity before the auditing of adversity. Whoever does this will be pleased and envied. Whoever is distracted from this by his life and fantasies, will face remorse and loss.”

Reflect your Taqwa in your deeds

Once you build the Taqwa in your heart (become cognizant of, and fear Allah in all your affairs), you should start practicing it in your actions. The sahaba and salaf used to exert themselves in ensuring that their actions reflected the Taqwa in their hearts. It’s said that Ibn Omar used to stay awake the whole night if he missed a prayer in congregation (because he knew (through the Taqwa in his heart) Allah’s pleasure associated with one praying in congregation). Imam Ghazali mentioned that we let ourselves (our nafs) off the hook when it (our nafs) is our biggest enemy and is more likely to rebel against our own selves (Ihya’ul ulum al-din, 4/381). About ensuring that we bring Taqwa in our actions, Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah, said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people” [Al-Tirmidhi].

Condition yourself to inculcate Taqwa

We have to condition ourselves to fear Him by observing and reflecting more about our existence, our vulnerability as humans in this ocean in which we are journeying, and about the end that each one of us will meet soon. We should also become avid learners about what pleases Allah and what displeases Him and take that seriously. This observation and learning will enable us to learn new truths that can help us condition our states and hearts to inculcate the required Taqwa in our hearts.

Parting Words

Let’s ponder over Quran’s last verse that was revealed to the prophet (agreed to by many scholars, including ibn Kathir). It says: “And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly (Surah Al-Baqara: 281).”

Remember, we are what we are – with the rewards and punishments from Allah and His mercy on us – based on the level of our faith in Allah and the Taqwa in our hearts. Sometimes we forget the connection between how our lives turn out to be and the One who makes it all happen. Once you remind yourself of that, remember the power bestowed by Allah on you as regards “free will” and how you can use it to influence the quality of your own lives. As long as you respect the limits that He has set for us (through the Taqwa in your heart), you can earn the blessings that He has promised for you, both in this life and in the hereafter.

We should, therefore, not delay to take a strong decision to increase our Taqwa. As Allah says in the Quran: “Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa” [al-Hujrat 49:13].

Reference 1: From the essay of al-Wasiyyah al-Jaami’ah li khayr al-Sunya wa’l-Aakhirah

Reference 2: “Taqwa: The Provision of Beleivers. Compiled by Aby Maryam Majdi, Al-Firdous Ltd)

The Iqrasense.com Blogger

10 Hadiths About Hajj

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Today, we witness the beginning of the rituals of Hajj. Millions of Muslims are gathering in Makkah and the sacred places to respond to the Allah’s invitation to visit His House; an invitation announced by Prophet Ibrahim and then renewed by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on them).In the following lines, we explore some of the Prophet’s hadiths related to Hajj that reveal the significance of this great worship and how pilgrims are received and perceived by Allah the Almighty. 

Among the numerous and diverse rituals of Islam, Hajj is a main component; it is an indispensible pillar of Islam:

1. `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying:”Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)  

Once in a Lifetime

Despite the great significance of Hajj, it is sufficient to do it only one time in your whole life. Islam is easy and takes into consideration the burdens and difficulties that pilgrims go through:

2. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that one day the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) addressed people saying:”O people! Allah has prescribed Hajj upon you, so perform it.”A man asked, ‘Every year, O Messenger of Allah?’The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) kept silent. When the man repeated his question thrice, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:”Had I answered in the affirmative, it would have become a (yearly) obligation, and this would have been beyond your capacity.”Then he added:”Leave me alone so long as I leave you alone (i.e. do not ask questions about things I didn’t mention). What caused the destruction of the people prior to you was that they used to ask so many questions, and disagree with their Prophets.So when I command you to do something, do it to the extent of your ability, and if I forbid you from doing something, avoid it.” (Muslim) 

A Special Rank and Value

The Companions were keen to know the best deeds so that they can prioritize their good actions according to their value. In the following hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) highlights the special position of Hajj:

3. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet was asked, “Which deed is the best?”The Prophet said, “Belief in Allah and His Messenger.”He was asked again, “What is next?”The Prophet said, “Jihad [striving] in the cause of Allah.”He was further asked, “And what is next?”He said, “Hajj mabroor [i.e. Hajj accepted by Almighty Allah]” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). 

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Jihad Without Conflict

Going through the difficulties of travel and crowd,  the physical effort excerted while doing the different rituals of Hajj, the movement from one place to another and the sacrifice of money and time all make Hajj a form of Jihad. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) recommended it for women and for weak men who are unable to participate in Jihad in the battlefield: 

4. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet, “As jihad is the best deed, shouldn’t we [women] make jihad?”The Prophet replied, “The best jihad for you [women] is a Hajj mabroor.”`A’ishah later said, “I have been keen to regularly perform Hajj since I heard that from the Messenger of Allah” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). 

5. Al-Husain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saying that he is weak and coward. The Prophet told him to participate in a type of Jihad that does not involve any fight, namely, Hajj. (Authenticated by Al-Albani) 

Generous Reward for Ethical Pilgrim

The following hadith highlights two things:
a. Hajj is a training course for Muslims on sticking to the highest manners whatever the circumstances are,
b. and Hajj is an effective means to erase your sin records:

6. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he heard Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say,”Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity or transgression shall return [free from sins] as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Ultimate Success

In one Qur’anic verse (Aal-`Imran 3:185), Allah tells us that getting protected from hell fire and being admitted to the Jannh is the real success. That is exactly what Hajj earns you:

7. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleaseed with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,”The reward for a Hajj mabroor is nothing but Paradise” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). 

8. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,”There is no day on which Allah frees servants of His from Fire more than [those freed on] the Day of `Arafat. And, verily, He draws near and then proudly speaks about them [i.e. the pilgrims] before the angels, saying, ‘What do these seek?'” (Muslim) 

The Honourable Delegation

Pilgrims are the guests of Allah and you can imagine how much Allah will honor His own guests:

9. `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,”The one striving in the cause of Allah and the one performing Hajj and the one performing `Umrah are all the delegation of Allah. He calls them and they respond to His call, and they ask Him and He answers their supplication.” (Ibn Majah and authenticated by Al-Albani) 

Special Days and Precious Opportunities

The days of Hajj are very special. Their blessings are not restricted to those performing Hajj only. It is a season of goodness for everyone:

10. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:”There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.”The people asked, “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?”He said,”Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing.” (Al-Bukhari)

AISHA BINT ABU BAKAR (RA)

Umm-Al-Mu’minin (Mother of Believers)

Note: For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with her (RA)” each time Aisha’s RA name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Narrated Amr bin Al-As: I came to the Prophet SAW and said, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, “Aisha.” I asked, “Among the men?” He said, “Her father.” I said, “Who then?” He said, “Then Umar bin Al-Khattab.” He then named other men [Bukhari].

Who is Aisha ibn Abu Bakr?

Out of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, two have received prominence above the others. The first was Khadija, and the second was Aisha. Aisha was the favourite daughter of one of the Prophet’s favourite companions, Abu Bakr, and was the most beloved wife of the Prophet SAW after Khadijah.

Sawdah, the Prophet’s SAW second wife, and Aisha entered the life of the Prophet’s SAW household after the death of Khadijah. If we recall, the Messenger of Allah SAW never had another wife for over two decades during the time he was married to Khadijah. He was deeply grieved by her death, and it is acknowledged that he still felt sorrow at her passing years later.

Those around the Prophet SAW understood the sadness that he faced, not just for the loss of his lifetime companion, but also for the other turbulent events that happened in what we now call the Year of Sadness. While many were concerned and offered their support in their own individual ways, Khawlah bint Hakeem was the one who took the initiative and broached the subject of marriage with the Prophet SAW. Khawlah was the wife of `Uthmaan ibn Math`oon, both of them being among the first persons to embrace Islam. It was Khawlah who originally suggested that Abu Bakr should offer his daughter Aisha for marriage to the Prophet SAW. For the sake of completeness, it is worth mentioning that it was also Khawlah who initiated the marriage of  Sawdah to the Prophet SAW, however we shall not be covering this aspect in this article.

The suggestion to marry Aisha, while well received, proved to be diplomatically delicate for Abu Bakr, for the six year old Aisha was already engaged to a non Muslim, Jubayr ibn Mut’im.  It  would have been socially unacceptable for Abu Bakr to have broken the engagement. However, with the will of Allah, the engagement was repudiated by the potential groom’s family on account of their disbelief in Islam, enabling Aisha to be engaged to the Prophet SAW.

Allegations against the marriage

We pause at this juncture to deal with a sensitive topic, which is the age of Aisha during marriage. Of late, this has created unnecessary controversy. However, if we look at the historical accounts of the social structure of the time, Aisha was already engaged to another man prior to her marriage to the Prophet SAW, indicating that it was socially acceptable for marital alliances between families to be forged at an early age. Also women during that time reached maturity relatively quickly – psychologically, emotionally and physically – due to their upbringing and surroundings. In the case of Aisha, she attained intellectual, physical and emotional maturity exceptionally fast compared to her peers.

If we look at the various claims made against the Prophet SAW during his lifetime and after – he was called a madman, a liar, a magician, possessed by the devil – yet not one of these claims, even by his own worst enemies, touched upon his marriage to Aisha. Had the marriage been controversial, his enemies would have scandalized and sensationalized the event. Yet no claims of this sort were raised for hundreds and hundreds of years, whether by the pagan Arabs, the Romans, or any of the subsequent societies, until very recently.

If allegations were made against the Prophet SAW in respect of abuse or impropriety during the marriage, then one would expect all these claims to surface after his death, when Aisha was free to speak without fear of repercussion from the Prophet SAW. Yet, even after his death, there is not a single recorded account of any complaint or statement about their marriage, save that the Prophet SAW was the best of husbands and that the marriage was an extremely happy and harmonious one. In today’s society, very few, if any, women would describe their husbands in such unequivocal terms. Aisha was nineteen when the Prophet SAW passed away, and until her own death over forty five years later, she spoke of him lovingly. The aspersion cast upon the marriage by the modern media is totally unsubstantiated, as there is not a single recorded statement to support any of these those claims.

Life after Marriage

Although the engagement took place while Aisha was six or seven, they were only married around three years later, shortly after she migrated to Medina, by which time she had reached puberty. She moved into the household of the Prophet SAW. It was not luxurious by any means, the room was barely six feet wide, built beside the mosque out of clay and palm trees. The ceiling was so low that a person standing upright could touch the roof. The room was sparsely furnished with a mattress of palm leaves which lay on a mat. It was not a room of worldly wealth, but it was rich in spiritual treasures.

The Messenger of Allah SAW later told Aisha, “You have been shown to me in (my) dreams on three nights. An angel was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, `This is your wife.’ And when I uncovered it; behold, it was you. I then said: `If this dream is from Allah, He will cause it to come true.’” [Bukhari and Muslim].

Aisha said “I have been given nine (virtues) that were not given to any woman after Maryam bint Imran (the mother of Nabi Isa AS): Jibril AS descended with my picture in his sleep until Allah’s Messenger SAW 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 and his Siddiq; my excuse was revealed from the heaven. I was created pure. I have been promised forgiveness (of sins) and noble provision.”

Thus, this was a marriage between two exceptional people – the last of the Prophets who was nearing the end of his life, and a woman still at the beginning of hers. Aisha was a very intelligent and observant young girl with an extremely sharp memory.  Due to her proximity with the Prophet Muhammad SAW, she was able to recount and educate the ummah on intimate details regarding marital relationships, personal grooming, medical prescriptions and behaviour within the household.

Aisha spent approximately nine or ten years of her life with the Prophet SAW. Her greatest asset was not her youth or beauty, but her piety, extraordinary generosity, ability to record the sayings and behaviour of the Prophet SAW, her accurate memory, and her intimate knowledge of the Qur’an. She absorbed knowledge like a sponge and this ability made her the educator and transmitter of the sacred knowledge to men and woman. A great deal of the knowledge that we still have today, about how our beloved Prophet SAW lived and behaved, was first remembered and then taught to others by Aisha.

Aisha became so wise that one of her contemporaries used to say that if the knowledge of Aisha was placed on one side of the scales and that of all other women on the other, Aisha’s side would outweigh the other. She used to sit with the other women and transmit the knowledge that she had received from the Prophet SAW long after he had died. As long as she lived, she was a source of knowledge and wisdom for both women and men. Abu Musa once said, “Whenever a report appeared doubtful to us, the Companions of the Prophet SAW, and we asked Aisha about it, we always learned something from her about it.”

As the prophetic guidance continued to be revealed through Prophet Muhammad SAW during the years of their marriage, Aisha’s way of life – along with that of all the Muslims – was gradually reshaped and refined. It was during this time that Islamic jurisprudence was established and when the rites of worship in Islam were finalised and clarified. In other words, it was during their marriage that the teachings of the religion of Islam were perfected.

Aisha was once asked to describe the Prophet SAW, and she replied that he was ‘the Qur’an walking’, meaning that his behaviour was the Qur’an translated into action. She did all that she could to do likewise. Thus she not only knew and embodied the Sunnah, but also she memorized the Qur’an by heart, understood it and lived it. Such knowledge was eventually compiled in various Islamic literature, providing an encyclopaedia for generations to come, supporting the Muslims and even the Caliphs of the later generations.

It was during the course of their marriage that, amongst others, the battles of Badr, and Uhud, and Al-Khandaq (the Ditch) were fought. These were the three major battles against the Quraish, that shifted the balance of power out of the hands of the disbelievers and into the hands of the Muslims. Although she was still very young, Aisha participated in them all, bringing water for the Muslims warriors, and helping to look after the wounded. She witnessed life, and she witnessed death – both in the way of Allah and in the way of the disbelievers – and she understood both. Indeed one of the meanings of her name, Aisha, is ‘life’.

Aisha’s knowledge was like a beacon that illuminated the hearts and minds of Muslims for generations to come. This is not surprising, for she is one of the four people who have transmitted more than two thousand hadiths, the others being Abu Huraira, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Anas ibn Malik RA. Al-Haakim said in his book, Al-Mustadrak. “One fourth of the rule of Sharee`ah was narrated on the authority of Aisha.” Umar Ibn Al Khattab, during his own Caliphate said that without Aisha, he would be lost and destroyed, in every small and big issue, he used to ask her for advice and consultation. How many Muslim men today seek consultation from a woman if she has more piety and knowledge than them? How many Muslim men today respect their wives, spouses, or daughters or anyone in society for their knowledge and calibre, regardless of their gender? How many Muslim women today are authorities on religious knowledge and texts?

The Fitnah

If there was a dark cloud in Aisha’s life, it was when the hypocrites conspired against her and made accusations regarding her honour and fidelity to the Prophet SAW. An accusation of adultery is a very serious charge, and this slander created a huge deal of strife and discord in the household. The details of her personal anguish and the events that transpired can be found in all reliable biographies of her life. Suffice to say, however, that Aisha remained steadfast in the belief that Allah would reveal the truth, and she was eventually acquitted, not though a trial of men, but by Allah Himself in the clearest terms, through the following revelation:

Surely those who fabricate the lie are a group from among you. Do not think it is bad thing for you; no it is good for you. Every man will receive what he has earned for this sin, and whoever had the greater part in it will have a great punishment. Why did the men and women believers, when they heard it, not think good in their selves and say: ‘This is clearly a lie?’ Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they did not produce witnesses, they are certainly liars in the sight of Allah. If it were not for the grace of Allah, and His mercy on you in this world and in the next world, an awful doom would have overtaken you for what you repeated. Since you received it with your tongues, and repeated what you did not know anything about with your mouths, you thought it was a trifle, but in the sight of Allah it is serious. Why, when you heard it, did you not say: ‘It is not for us to repeat this, Glory be to You (O Allah), this is a serious rumour.’ Allah warns you to never repeat anything like this again, if you are indeed believers and Allah makes the signs clear to you; and Allah is Knowing, Wise. Surely those who love to spread around slander about those who believe will have a painful punishment in this world and in the next world; and Allah knows and you do not know. (Qur’an 24:11-19).

The fact that Aisha’s honour and reputation had been protected by a revelation from Allah could not be ignored by anyone, and from then on everyone was more aware of her high station with Allah.

Her Generosity and Simple Lifestyleg

Aisha endured poverty and hunger with the Prophet SAW. It is authentically related that months went by without the fire in the hearth being lit, i.e. without any food being cooked, during which time they simply survived on dates and water.

Once the Prophet SAW stayed away from his wives for a month because they had distressed him by asking of him that which he did not have. This was after the Khaybar expedition when an increase of riches whetted the appetite for presents. Returning from his self-imposed retreat, he went first to Aisha’s apartment. She was delighted to see him but he said he had received revelation which required him to put two options before her. He then recited the verses:

O Prophet, say to your wives: ‘If you desire the life of this world and its adornments, then come, and I will make you content, and I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the next world, then truly Allah has prepared an immense reward for those of you who do good.’ (Qur’an  33:28-29)

Her reply was: “Indeed I desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter,” and her response was followed by all the other wives.

Once, when the Muslims were favoured with great wealth, she has given a gift of one hundred thousand Dirhams. She was fasting when she received the money, and distributed it to the poor and needy, even though she had no provisions in her house. Shortly after that, her maid servant said to her, “Couldn’t you have brought a dirham’s worth of meat with which to break your fast?” “If I had thought of it,” she replied, “I would have done so!”

She developed the nickname the Mother of Fragrance, for every time a beggar knocked on her door, she would touch the money with perfume before giving it to him. When asked why, she explained that the charity would reach Allah before it reached the beggar’s hands, and she wanted the charity to be given to Allah in a fragrant condition.

In another report, a needy person knocked on the door. She only had one grape, and gave it to him. When asked what the value of a single grape was as a charity, she quoted the following verses from the Qur’an:

“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (Qur’an 99:7 – 99:8)

She rationalised – how many atoms are there in a grape?

How many of us are of such a status, where our vigilance, thinking and even the smallest action is completely for the pleasing of Allah, and reflected by the Qur’an and teaching of the Prophet SAW.

The death of Muhammad SAW and after

While the Prophet SAW was fair in the treatment of his wives and loved all of them, Allah is the owner of the hearts, and the Prophet’s SAW heart was inclined towards loving Aisha the most.

There are many accounts which indicate that Aisha was the favourite wife of the Prophet SAW after Khadija. The Companions noticed this and reserved their presents to the Prophet SAW when it was his turn with her. Naturally this inspired some jealousy amongst the other wives, however, Aisha was gracious and never belittled them, nor did she view them as her rivals. The only wife that she was truly jealous of was Khadija, the Prophet SAW’s first wife, who had passed away before she was married to him.

Aisha said: “The Prophet’s SAW wives sent Fatimah, the Prophet’s SAW daughter to him. She asked permission to enter while he was lying down with me in my woollen blanket. He permitted her to enter and she said: `O’ Messenger of Allah, your wives sent me to you demanding for fairness concerning (your treatment of) the daughter of Ibn Abu Quhaafah (meaning Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr).’ And I was there (listening but) silent. The Messenger of Allah SAW told her, `O’ daughter, don’t you love whatever I love?’ She said: `Yes.’ He then said: `Then you should love this (lady).”‘

Hence, it was fitting that Allah chose for the Prophet SAW to breathe his last when in her house. Narrated Aisha: During his sickness, Allah’s Apostle SAW was asking repeatedly, “Where am I today? Where will I be tomorrow?” And I was waiting for the day of my turn (impatiently). Then, when my turn came, Allah took his soul away (in my lap) between my chest and arms and he was buried in my house. [Bukhari]

The room in which he died is the only room of his wives which is preserved up to today. Two years later, his Companion, Abu Bakr, Aisha’s father, was buried beside him. Later, as Umar Al Khattab was in his death throes, he appealed to Aisha to be buried next to Muhammad SAW. Aisha had actually reserved that space for herself, for she wished to be buried next to her husband. However, the love that the Prophet SAW bore for Umar caused her to honour Umar by sacrificing her beloved burial ground for him. Such was her generosity and nobility.

Her chaste nature was such that she used to say (before Umar was buried there): “It is only my husband and my father that are here.” But after Umar was buried there, she said: “I do not longer enter the room but with my garment fastened because I was shy (of being in the presence) of Umar.”

After the death of Prophet Muhammad SAW, Aisha was readily involved in continuing his messages. She was present through the reigns of at least the first four Caliphs. She continued commitment to the memory of her husband and her firm belief about being reunited with him in the Paradise.

In the month of Ramadhan in the year 58 A.H. Aisha had her fatal illness and she said in her will:

“Do not follow my bier with a fire nor lay a red velvet piece.”

She then surrendered her soul in the night of 17th of Ramadhan at the age of sixty six.

Aisha’s life after the death of the Prophet SAW is evidence against all the stereotypes of how Islam treats women, and accusations of how women in Islam have no status. We can read the detail of all the stories of Aisha and realise the wisdom of Allah and His Messenger, to have, for over forty years after the death of the Prophet SAW, the highest and most authentic level of knowledge from Aisha.

Look at the ultimate wisdom of Allah. Abu Bakr sacrificed his entire life in the path of Allah, and Allah granted him a beautiful gift which was to let his daughter be the most beloved wife of Rasulullah SAW after Khadija, and decorate his daughter Aisha with the charm, intelligence, integrity and memory, and make her the library of knowledge and source of wisdom for many generations to come. She carried the in depth legacy and knowledge of Rasulullah’s SAW memory. One cannot open Islamic books about the Qur’an, the biography of Muhammad SAW or jurisprudence, without finding Aisha’s name referenced in there. What a great honour for such a woman.

Aisha, Umm-Al-Mu’minin, even though she never had a single child, yet she is the Mother of Believers.

Source: Ibn Kathir: Wives of the Prophet Muhammad SAW

Great Women of Islam – Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar

Women Around the Messenger – Muhammad Ali Qutub

Men and Women Around the Messenger – Sa’d Yusuf Abu Aziz

Great Women of Islam – Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar  (translated by Jamilah Muhammad Qawi)