Adonis Diaries

Most beloved wife of Prophet Muhammad: Aicha. Part 1

Posted on: March 3, 2021

Book review of Genevieve Chauvel

Posted on October 11, 2008 (Written in November 19, 2007)

“Aïcha la bien-aimée du Prophet” by Geneviève Chauvel

Note: This review is very large and I opted to split it into 2 parts. The second part will start when Prophet Muhammad died.

I decided to review “Aicha, the most beloved wife of the Prophet” for the chronicles of the active life of the Prophet Muhammad, and the specific circumstances that revealed the messages from Archangel Gabriel.  Aicha lived to be 67 of age and experienced Islam since she was born, and she died as Islam was splitting into schisms.

Aicha was born in 616 in Mecca and she was redheaded like her maternal grandmother.  Her father Abu Bakr, later the first Caliph, spared her life because Khadija, the wife of Mohammad, played a part in this difficult and life threatening birth.

Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hachim was an orphan brought up by his uncle Abu Talib, the father of Ali. The father of Muhammad died before his birth and his mother passed away as Muhammad was only 6 of age.  Ali was to be the fourth Caliph.

(Islam would like us to believe that Muhammad was illiterate to exaggerate his divine message, but I beg to differ. Read link in note #4).  

Khadija, a wealthy caravan trader, hired Muhammad to lead her caravans to Damascus.  Khadija was almost 8 years older than Muhammad (A large difference at that time with low life expectancy) when her uncle urged her to marry his nephew Muhammad. She was widowed twice and Muhammad was 25 year-old.  Khadija gave  him a son Al Qasem, who died at age two, and four daughters. Two of the in-laws became later Caliphs, Uthman and Ali.

Khadija was the first person to believe in Muhammad “prophecies/messages” and for 11 years protected him from the mockeries and sarcasms of the inhabitants of Mecca and cared for him during his fits of epilepsy when Archangel Gabriel used to appear to him.

Two of Muhammad’s daughters were repudiated by their husbands because they refused to be married to girls who converted to Islam.  Fatima, the youngest one, married Ali, Muhammad’s nephew, and gave Muhammad two grand boys, Hassan and Hussein and two granddaughters. 

Zainab, one of the daughters of Muhammad, was married to Aboul-As whom she loved so much that she preferred to stay with him in Mecca. Aboul-As fought against Muhammad at the battle of Badr and was made prisoner and later decided to convert in order to keep Zainab.

Rukaya was married to Uthman ibn Affan, later the third Caliph, and when she died, Muhammad married his daughter Oum Kulthum to Uthman because he needed his Kureich clan on his side. 

Uthman abandoned the position of his archery contingent during the lost battle of Uhud and thus had vacated a strategic position held by the archers, which allowed the cavalry of Khaled bin Al walid to defeat the Muslims in this battle and forced them to retreat..

Muhammad adopted Zaid ibn Haritha who was Khadija’s slave at the age of twelve and he used him to be his personal messenger to his wives after each battle.  Zaid was very learned and translated and interpreted the Jewish Books to Muhammad and was devoted to his adoptive father.

Muhammad married Sawda (Black) after Khadija died because he needed an experienced woman to run and maintain the household.  Sawda was widowed to a convert who fled to Ethiopia from the Quraish tribes’ persecution.

After the death of Khadija, Muhammad realized that he won’t be protected anymore from certain death; he fled Mecca to Yathrib in the year 622 (later called Medina or the first city-state of the Muslims) after foiling an assassination attempt on his life. 

It took him and Abu Bakr almost four months to arrive at Yathrib, a six days travel, to avoid the headhunters of the tribes of Quraish.  Most of the Prophet’s followers had preceded him to Yathrib and welcomed him as a hero.

Muhammad married Aisha in Yathrib when she was ten years old. 

Abu Bakr (father of Aisha) was the first adult male to convert to Islam and he was Muhammad’s closest Companion and guide.  Aicha was 8-years old when Muhammad officially asked her hand and waited to marry her at age ten.

The mother of Aicha, Oum Roummane, almost died when giving birth to Aisha and Khadija was called upon to deliver her and Muhammad saw Gabriel at the same time he was contemplating to commit suicide by throwing himself off a cliff because of the miserable life that Gabriel forced upon him. 

After the death of Khadija, Mohammad saw Aicha three times in his dreams, as a baby wrapped in green blanket and the third time it was Gabriel who removed the blanket for Muhammad to recognize the face of baby Aicha, and ordered to obey the request of Gabriel to take her as wife.  Aicha had a vast memory and was educated to read and write and she was the person who transposed the verbal messages into written verses during the revelations.

The migrating Muslims in Yathrib were suffering from miseries.

First, they were not used to the humid climate and the marshes: Many died of the malaria fever.  Aicha almost died as she arrived in Yathrib. 

Second, the emigrants could not find suitable employments and had to accept temporary jobs at the Jewish households and farms.  Consequently, the emigrants had to revert to what the tribes did when they were hungry and penniless.  They decided to raid a major caravan coming from Damascus and lead by Abu Sufyan (a chief of the Quraysh clan in Mecca). The caravan was to stop at an oasis called Badr but Abu Sufyan got wind of the raid and diverted its route and sent for troops from Mecca.  The Muslims won the battle of Badr, their first.

Sawda father and brother were killed in the battle of Badr fighting against the Muslims.  Sawda was greatly grieved and lambasted the prisoners parked in front her house and told them that they should have fought instead of being taken prisoners. Mohammad repudiated her for a while until she asked forgiveness and she opted not to have intercourse with him as the tradition regulated Mohammad nights among his wives.

Mohammad encircled the fortified castle of the Jewish tribe Banu Qaynuqa because the tribe decided to break the treaty with Mohammad rather than pay the ransom for a murdered emigrant.  The tribe capitulated when it realized the succor from Banu Khazraj was not forthcoming. 

Muhammad had set his mind to beheading all the males of the defeated Banu Qaynuqa tribe as the revelation dictated, but the chief of the Ansar (supporters) tribe of Khazraj prevented him saying: “I am a man who fears the reversal of circumstances”

The Banu Qaynuqa were allowed to leave the city and it settled in the Jewish town of Khaibar, around 20 miles north west of Yathrib.

Mohammad married Afsa (3afsa), the widowed daughter of Omar ibn Khattab, the second Caliph, because he needed Omar total loyalty.  She was eighteen. Actually, Omar insisted on Uthman to marry Afsa but he declined the request repeatedly. Muhammad had set his mind to marry his second daughter Um Kulthum to Uthman to secure the Ummaya powerful clan.  Aicha was crest fallen and suffered her first jealousy attacks.

The Muslims lost the battle of Uhud, but the forces of Quraish did not pursue their objective to enter Medina and retreated to Mecca.  Muhammad directed his angst against the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadhir that secretly supported Quraich.  He ordered this Jewish tribe to leave Medina; the eye witness accounts related that the citizens in Medina never saw a caravan as opulent, rich and luxurious in their lives.

Mohammad married Zainab, the daughter of the clan leader of Bani Assad, who was widowed and 30 years of age. Zainab died three months after her wedding.

Mohammad married Hind, daughter of Abi Ummayah, a recent widow of Abu Salama who was mortally injured during the battle of Ohud, the first defeat of the Moslems against the tribe of Quraich and their allies outside the walls of Yathreb and now called Medina. 

Hind or Um Salama was about thirty of age and had many children and declined to marry Abu Bakr and Omar and even Muhammad.  Muhammad asked her hand a second time and promised to care for her many offspring.

Muhammad married Zainab bint Jahsh, a cousin thirty of years of age and of great beauty.  Zainab was the wife of his adoptive son Zaid ibn Haritha who separated from her when she welcomed Mohammad almost nude to entice him and throw trouble in his heart. 

She roamed after Muhammad reminding him that she separated because of him.  The Koran was very strict on the number of only 4 wives for the believers but Mohammad received a message from Gabriel telling him that Zainab is an offer from God that cannot be rejected.  The aggrieved Aicha interjected that God has a tendency to accord his Messenger all his desires.

Mohammad repulsed a fresh attack by Quraich on Medina by following the suggestion of Salame the Persian; Salame supervised the digging of a large and deep trench around Medina that the cavalry could not jump over. 

A violent wind followed by a torrential rain convinced the Quraishi armies to retreat.  Then, Mohammad surrounded the hold up of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza for 25 days because they were tacitly allied to Quraich. 

The Prophet beheaded 700 of the male captives and dumped their bodies in a large hole and ordered Ali and Zubair (the husband of Aicha’s sister Asmat) to participate in the performance of the executions.

(This 700 could be a magical number in tales. Even 70 beheading executions is too large a number in a single day. Why Muhammad made Ali to have blood on his hand is to be examined. Actually, the hatred of the Jews for Ali is a consequence of this narrative)

Muhammad asked the hand of Rihana, a Jewish captive girl, to marry him but she declined. After she converted, Mohammad asked her hand again and she preferred to remain slave than marry someone with several wives but she became his concubine.

Since this mass cruel beheading, troops of Muhammad had easier tasks convincing the neighboring tribes to join Islam and plundering the caravans arriving from Damascus or Alexandria.

Mohammad married Juwayriah, the daughter of the chief clan of Harith, which his last raid brought her as captive.  The Harith tribe and their allies convert to Islam. 

A turning point was reached when Aicha lost her favorite collar that her mother Em Rumana gave her for her wedding. 

Aicha joined that raid and lost her favorite collar that the Prophet had offered her during their wedding. The fighters were utterly upset for wasting precious time searching for the collar and the time for prayer was close and they were far from the nearest oasis. 

Muhammad had to receive a message allowing ablution with sand when water is not available. This revelation allowed the Muslim armies to expand its raids in the desert and later in their territory expansion.

The story goes that Muhammad took Aicha on an expedition.  Aicha lost her collar as the troop were heading to the next water well and the caravan was very short on water for the ablution before prayer. 

On the way back from the expedition, Aicha stepped away from the troop for bodily relief.  As she reached the caravan, she realized that she dropped this loose collar again.  Aicha went back to search for the collar and the troop started without her. 

Aicha would recount that she was so light that the attendants to her tent/hawdaj didn’t realize that she was Not in the cabin that was raised over the camel.  Aicha lay down.  Safwan, a young and handsome convert was a little behind the caravan, and found Aicha and mounted her on his horse. Safwan was confident that the troops will retrace their path searching for her as they reached the camp. 

Later, rumors spread that, while the 60 years old prophet is resuming his mania of marrying far more than the four allowed by the Koran, and that his younger of wives is cheating on him.  Aicha fell dangerously sick and was moved to her folks’ quarter and Mohammad didn’t pay her a visit for 28 days because he started to believe the rumors.

When Mohammad finally arrived to see Aicha, the Angel Gabriel showed up and revealed to the Prophet that Aicha was innocent. Um Roumana told Aicha to come forward and thank the Prophet.  Aicha retorted: “By God I will not!  I will praise but God who finally decided to declare me innocent” 

Seventeen revelations were dedicated to these awful circumstances; calumny was revealed as a crime, as dangerous as adultery and specific penalties prescribed. 

Mistah, a cousin of Aicha, Hassan ibn Thabit, the poet of Islam, and Hannah bint Jahsh, the sister of one of the Prophet’s wives, were flogged 100 times for their crimes of calumny without having 4 witnesses for their accusations.  Aicha regained her position as the most favored “Um al Mu’mineen”. (The Mother of the Believers). It is said that Aisha kept a deep grudge for Ali who seemed to believe the rumors of her cheating.

Mohammad had a dream while sleeping with Aicha that he shaved his head and performed the pilgrimage to Al Kaaba in Mecca.  Aicha encouraged him and Muhammad left Medina with 700 unarmed men to Mecca. 

The favorite camel of Muhammad named Qaswa parked in Hudaibiya, close to Mecca, and would not move.  By the way, Qaswa was the camel that selected the location for the Prophet house and the Mosque in Yathrib.

The Quraichi’s tribes sent delegations and they reached a 10-year non-belligerence treaty and promised Muhammad that they would permit the Muslims for pilgrimage starting next year. 

Although Muhammad was not allowed to enter Mecca, he wanted to perform the rites in Hudaibiya but the Companions refused. Um Salama encouraged Muhammad to perform the sacred rituals and shaved Muhammad’s head and then slaughtered his sacrificial camel and the believers hurried to follow suit; the party returned to Medina sanctified.

Mohammad married Safiya, a Jewish beauty and of high grace from Khaibar who was married to a brute of a husband that died during the battle of Khaibar.

Muhammad had just conquered the fortified Jewish town of Khaibar, North West of Madina in the year 630.  The lands were turned over to Mohammad and his closest Companions and the Jews agreed to cultivate the land as serfs for 50% return for their subsistence and relinquished their treasures.

Um Salama escorted the Prophet in this raid and recounted to the harem that a Jewish girl roasted a lamb for Mohammad and then he realized it was poisoned; when asked why she poisoned the lamb she replied: “You killed my father, brother and husband. If you are a King then good riddance; if you are a Prophet then you must discover the plot.” 

The girl was not punished for the rationale that she will spread her conviction that Muhammad is indeed a prophet.  Un Salama added that Muhammad liked his new wife Safia very much: he didn’t wait the customary 40 days grievance and married her on the way back to Medina and spent four whole days and nights with Safiya.  With virgins, the husbands spend 7 entire days and nights!  Aicha thought that Um Salama could have spared her added anxieties.

Mohammad married Um Habiba, the daughter of Abu Sufyan, his arch enemy of Quraish.  Um Habiba was a recent widow and 40-year old and living in Ethiopia with her husband who converted to Christianity; she was one of the first converts to flee to Ethiopia after the Quraish persecutions.

The governor of Coptic Egypt sent Muhammad gold and fine gifts and two Christian girls as slaves, Maria and Sirine.  Maria became immediately the concubine of the Prophet until she converts to Islam and he spent most of his time with Maria, raising a revolt within his harem.

Aicha took a definite advantage over the remaining wives.

Individuals who wanted to offer the Prophet gifts learned that the best moments were when he is with Aicha.  Aicha thus enjoyed the best fabrics and gifts and the other wives revolted again wanting fair distribution of the gifts. 

Mohammad told Um Salama that his revelations descend when he is with Aicha, but the revolt went on and the Prophet decided to retreat from his harem for a whole month, sending fear and frustration in the community of the believers. 

After a month, Mohammad revealed a message placing men as superior to women and admonishing wives to obey their husband, and permitting husbands to punish their wives if they disobeyed.  Mohammad reconquered his authority in the harem, and wives had to pay the price of this revolt for centuries after.

In 630 or the 8th year of Mohammad emigration to Yathrib , the Prophet assembled ten thousand fighters for his pilgrimage to the Kaaba and entered Mecca and destroyed the pagan Gods and became the uncontested leader of all the tribes in the Arabian peninsula. (Too large a number to be credible)

Islam arch enemy Abu Sufian converted to Islam, before the troops of the Muslims entered Mecca.  The wife of Abu Sufian, Hind, reluctantly converted to Islam also.  Hind is the famous woman who opened the chest of Hamza in the Battle of uhud and ate his liver in order to avenge her father in the battle of Badr. Hamza (an uncle of Muhammad) had killed Hind’s father in a singular fight before the battle of Bard.

Mohammad married Maymouna, a relative of both tribes of Abi Taleb and Hashim to the fainting and shock of the harem. 

A revelation descended that the messenger is allowed all the women he desires. 

Besides his 9 wives, Muhammad had two concubines, Maria and Rihana, and uncounted numbers of women who wanted to offer themselves to him to gain Paradise. 

Once, Fatima told the harem that her husband Ali wanted to take another wife and she intervened with the Prophet; Aicha was beside herself to learn that this plain woman, and not as educated, could enjoy one husband and generate four offspring, two of them males.  Aicha realized that she could not get pregnant, even after her sexual expertise led to many successful full coital with Muhammad.

Rihana died shortly after as well as Mohammad’s eldest daughter Zainab. 

Maria gave Mohammad a male son called Ibrahim and thus, Maria was released from bondage. 

The blood family of the Prophet consisted of Ali, Fatima, his two grandsons, his two grand daughters and Ibrahim; his adoptive son Zaid died during a battle in the north against the Byzantine Empire.

Mohammad organized an army of 30,000 fighters in the year 631, recruited from all over Arabia and marched to Tabuk, a city within the Syrian borders, to avenge the death of his adoptive son Zaid; he took Aicha with him on this campaign. 

The Governor of Syria didn’t deign to challenge the Prophet and Muhammad returned to Medina after securing many treaties with the neighboring tribes and oasis in Syria (among them the more civilized and more urban of tribes that will later tip the balance in the war against Byzantium).  The whole of “Arabia” was converting to Islam.

Ibrahim, the son of Mohammad, aged 18 months, dies.  The Prophet cried and lamented, a behavior which was not the custom of the male believers.

The Prophet went on pilgrimage to Mecca the next year with 30,000 pilgrims and the entire harem went this time.  Mohammad gave a speech alluding that it might be his last pilgrimage.

Shortly after his return to Medina Muhammad suffered from terrible headaches for a month; he asked Abu Bakr to preach in his place when he was bedridden.  The Prophet dies on June 8, 632; he was 63 years old.

Notes:

  1. Muhammad was mortally sick for at least a month and he knew his days were counted because Gabriel gave him a choice between this world and the Other World and the Prophet opted for the Other World.  Muhammad had time to think about the succession of power and the appropriate processes but no revelations were forthcoming. 
  2. The tribal spirit was to dominate the political landscape, the same spirit that Muhammad intended to re-direct toward a Unique God and unite the “Ummat al Islam”.  The Arab and Muslim World were tribal in structure and ended up with a caste system when the Central Asian tribes overpowered the Quraishi tribal rights for leadership.
  3. The Prophet Muhammad was highly literate https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/the-parson-and-the-prophet-book-review/

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