Part of a series on Islam
Wives of Muhammad

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid

Sawda bint Zamʿa

Aisha bint Abi Bakr

Hafsa bint Umar

Zaynab bint Khuzayma

Hind bint Abi Umayya

Zaynab bint Jahsh

Juwayriya bint al-Harith

Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan

Rayhana bint Zayd

Safiyya bint Huyayy

Maymuna bint al-Harith

Maria al-Qibtiyya

Aisha bint Abu Bakr (612 - 678) (Arabic: عائشة‎ Transliteration: ʿāʾisha, [ʕaːʔɪʃæh]) also transcribed as (A'ishah, Aisyah, Ayesha, 'A'isha, Aishat, Aishah, or 'Aisha) was Muhammad's favorite wife.[1] In Islamic writings, her name is thus often prefixed by the title "Mother of the Believers" (Arabic: أمّ المؤمنين umm-al-mu'minīn), per the description of Muhammad's wives in the Qur'an.[2][3][4]

According to Sunni beliefs, Aisha had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Muhammad's life and after his death. Regarded by many as his favorite wife, she was an active figure in numerous events and an important witness to many more.


Early life

Aisha was the daughter of Um Ruman and Abu Bakr of Mecca. Abu Bakr belonged to the Banu Taym sub-clan of the tribe of Quraysh.

Marriage to Muhammad

Khawlah bint Hakim suggested that Muhammad marry Aisha after the death of Muhammad's first wife (Khadijah bint Khuwaylid), after this, previous agreement regarding marriage of Aisha with Jubayr ibn Mut'im was put aside by common consent.[5] British historian William Montgomery Watt suggests that Muhammad hoped to strengthen his ties with Abu Bakr;[5] the strengthening of ties commonly served as a basis for marriage in Arabian culture.[6]

According to the traditional sources, Aisha was six or seven years old when she was betrothed to Muhammad and nine when the marriage was consummated.[5][7][8] American historian Denise Spellberg states that "these specific references to the bride's age reinforce Aisha's pre-menarcheal status and, implicitly, her virginity."[7] This issue of her virginity was of great importance to those who supported Aisha's position in the debate of the succession to Muhammad. These supporters considered that as Muhammad's only virgin wife, Aisha was divinely intended for him, and therefore the most credible regarding the debate.[9]

Age at marriage

Aisha stayed in her parents' home for several years until she joined Muhammad and the marriage was consummated.[5][7][8][10][11][12] Most of the sources indicate that she was nine years old at the time, with the single exception of al-Tabari, who records that she was ten.[7] The sources do not offer much more information about Aisha's childhood years, but mention that after the wedding, she continued to play with her toys, and that Muhammad entered into the spirit of these games.[13]

The issue of Aisha's age at the time she was married to Muhammad has been of interest since the earliest days of Islam.[7] Early Muslims regarded Aisha's youth as demonstrating her virginity and therefore her suitability as a bride of Muhammad.[7] During modern times, however, critics of Islam have taken up the issue, regarding it as reflecting poorly on Muhammad's character.

References to Aisha's age by early historians are frequent.[7] According to Spellberg, historians who supported Aisha's position in the debate of the succession to Muhammad against Shi'a claims considered her youth, and therefore her purity, to be of paramount importance. They thus specifically emphasized it, implying that as Muhammad's only virgin wife, Aisha was divinely intended for him, and therefore the most credible in the debate.[7]

Child marriages such as this were relatively common in Bedouin societies at the time, and remain common in some modern societies worldwide, despite being explicitly prohibited in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[14] British scholar Colin Turner suggests that such marriages were not seen as improper in historical context, and that individuals in such societies matured at an earlier age than in the modern West.[14] In modern times, however, the issue of Muhammad marrying and having sexual relations with a girl so young has been used to criticize him, particularly in societies where child sexual abuse and related issues are considered serious crimes.[14]

Status as "most beloved wife"

In Sunni belief, Aisha is described as Muhammad's most beloved wife, and it was in her company that Muhammad reportedly received the most revelations.[15]

Accusation of adultery

In the event Aisha was missing her necklace on a return from an expedition. She left her litter to find it, but got lost and the caravan left without her. She was waiting to be rescued and fell asleep. She was found the next morning by a young nomad named Safwan who brought her back to Medina. Rumors started about infidelity and Muhammad consulted some of his followers, among others Ali, who advised Muhammad that he should divorce Aisha.[16] Usama bin Zayd Bin son of Zayd ibn Harithah defended Aisha's reputation. When questioned declared 'This is all a lie - we know nothing but good of her.' His position as adopted grandson of the Prophet his opinion was listened but was about the same age as Aisha and it would not hold much weight in purpose of a decision. Shortly after this a revelation solved the problem, Muhammad announced that he had received a revelation from God confirming Aisha's innocence and directing that charges of adultery be supported by four eyewitnesses.[17][Third-party source needed] These verses also rebuked Aisha's accusers,[18][Third-party source needed] whom Muhammad ordered to receive forty lashes.[19][20]

Story of the honey

Soon after the event of the honey which involved Aisha, Muhammad reported that he had received a revelation, in which he was told that he could eat anything permitted by God.[21]

Some Sunni commentators on the Qur'an sometimes give this story as the "occasion of revelation" for Sura 66,[Third-party source needed] which opens with the following verses: "Prophet, why do you prohibit that which God has made lawful for you, in seeking to please your wives? God is forgiving and merciful. God has given you absolution from such oaths."[22]

Death of Muhammad

Aisha did not remarry after Muhammad's death because a passage in the Qur'an forbids any Muslim to marry a widow of Muhammad:[23][Third-party source needed]

Nor is it right for you that ye should annoy God's Apostle, or that ye should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is in God's sight an enormity.
—Qur'an 33:53

After Muhammad

Aisha lived on almost fifty years after the death of Muhammad. She had been his wife for a decade. Much of this time was spent in learning and acquiring knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah of Muhammad. Aisha was one of three wives (the other two being Hafsah and Umm Salamah) who memorized the Quran. Like Hafsah, she had her own script of the Quran written after Muhammad died.[24]

Aisha's father becomes the first caliph

After Muhammad's death in 632, Aisha's father, Abu Bakr, became the first Muslim caliph, or leader of the Muslims.[25]

Battle of Bassorah

In 655, Uthman was murdered, which caused the First Fitna.[26][verification needed]

Professor Leila Ahmed claims that it was during this engagement that Muslims fought Muslims for the first time,[15][verification needed] in which Aisha was one of the central figures.

Her respect as role model

Aisha became the most prominent of Muhammad’s wives and is revered as a role model by millions of women.[15][verification needed]


Aisha died in Medina at the age of 65 in 678 CE (58 AH), 17 Ramadan. She was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi.Though the claim of her burial at Al-Baqi cannot be verified from independent sources.


Sunni view of Aisha

Sunnis hold Aisha in high esteem, many believe that she was Muhammad's favorite wife and the best woman of her time. They consider her (amongst other wives) to be Umm al-Mu'minin and among the members of the Ahl al-Bayt, or Muhammad's family.

In her is infact a role model for all the women coming after her. She was an extremely knowledgeable muslim woman. She was a scholar of the scholars. She was a Hafizah (one who memorises the entire Quran), a transmitter of the hadith (traditions) of the Prophet, a jurist, a mathematician, a physicist.

Shi'a view of Aisha

The Shi'a view of Aisha is a negative one. This is primarily due to what they see as her contempt for the Ahl al-Bayt (the Islamic prophet Muhammad's family) and her attempts to stir up the fitnah (civil war) of the time. Her participation in the Battle of Jamal against Imam Ali is widely considered her most significant sign of such contempt. They also do not believe that she conducted herself in an appropriate manner in her role as Muhammad's wife.

See also


  1. ^ Spellberg, p. 3.
  2. ^ 33:6
  3. ^ History of the Islamic Peoples: With a Review of Events, by Carl Brockelmann, Moshe Perlmann, Joel Carmichael; G. P. Putnams Sons, 1947
  4. ^ Nabia Abbott, Aishah: the Beloved of Muhammad (University of Chicago Press, 1942) ISBN 978-0405053184
  5. ^ a b c d Watt, "Aisha", Encyclopedia of Islam Online
  6. ^ Amira Sonbol, Rise of Islam: 6th to 9th century, Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h D. A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: the Legacy of A'isha bint Abi Bakr, Columbia University Press, 1994, p. 40
  8. ^ a b Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, Harper San Francisco, 1992, p. 157.
  9. ^ Spellberg, p. 34–40.
  10. ^ Barlas (2002), p. 125-126
  11. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:234, 5:58:236, 7:62:64, 7:62:65, 7:62:88, Sahih Muslim, 8:3309, 8:3310, 8:3311, 41:4915, Sunnan Abu Dawud, 41:4917
  12. ^ Tabari, Volume 9, Page 131; Tabari, Volume 7, Page 7
  13. ^ Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, Oxford University Press 1961, page 102.
  14. ^ a b c Colin Turner, Islam: The Basics, Routledge Press, pp. 34-35
  15. ^ a b c Goodwin, Jan. Price of Honour: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World. UK: Little, Brown Book Group, 1994[verification needed]
  16. ^ Ludwig W. Adamec, Historical Dictionary of Islam (Scarecrow Press, 2nd ed. 2009), p. 24
  17. ^ author=Barnaby Rogerson, title=THE HEIR OF MUHAMMAD
  18. ^ Surah 24:11
  19. ^ Watt, M. "Aisha bint Abi Bakr". In P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  20. ^ Glubb (2002), p. 264f.
  21. ^ 66:1
  22. ^ translation by N. J. Dawood[verification needed]
  23. ^ Surah 33:53
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ Abū Bakr, Encyclopædia Britannica
  26. ^ The complete history. vol.2,P.19[verification needed]

Further reading

External links

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  • Aisha — /ah ee shah / for 1; /ah ee sheuh/ for 2, n. 1. A.D. 613? 678, favorite wife of Muhammad (daughter of Abu Bekr). 2. a female given name: from a Swahili word meaning life. * * * …   Universalium

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  • Aisha — A•i•sha [[t]ˈɑ iˌʃɑ[/t]] n. cvb big ear a.d. 613?–678, favorite wife of Muhammad …   From formal English to slang

  • Aisha — /ˈaiʃə/ (say aheeshuh) noun 613?–678, favourite wife of Mohammed and daughter of Abu Bekr. Also, Ayesha …   Australian English dictionary

  • Aisha — /ah ee shah / for 1; /ah ee sheuh/ for 2, n. 1. A.D. 613? 678, favorite wife of Muhammad (daughter of Abu Bekr). 2. a female given name: from a Swahili word meaning life …   Useful english dictionary

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