` A'isha

Mary Thurkill

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
` A'isha


ʿA’isha is the youngest wife of the prophet Muhammad—his only virginal bride and, according to most traditions, his favorite (second perhaps only to Khadija). In many Hadith accounts, Muhammad was unusually sensitive to her moods and even died in her arms. ʿA’isha was also daughter of the Prophet’s close companion and first caliph, Abu Bakr. Muhammad’s marriage to ʿA’isha bound the two families together and, for Sunni Muslims, provides further evidence that Muhammad intended Abu Bakr as his successor. ʿA’isha is remembered especially for three things. First, she is one of the primary transmitters of Hadith relating to the Prophet’s behaviors and teachings. Second, she is associated with a sexual scandal—members of the community accused ʿA’isha of adultery, which serves as an occasion for Qur’anic revelation. Third, for many Muslim scholars, ʿA’isha’s participation in politics after Muhammad’s death provides an example of why women should not be engaged in public or political activities. Her presence at the Battle of the Camel in Basra (656 ce) is particularly criticized. Generally Sunnis hold ʿA’isha dear as the Prophet’s beloved wife, while Shiʿite Muslims generally scorn her and instead recognize the prophet’s daughter Fatima as the central female figure in Muhammad’s life. Important for both traditions, however, is that more Hadith describing the prophet’s teachings and actions relate back to ʿA’isha than to any other woman.

Article.  2116 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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