Aisha Essay

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PART B

Analyse the impact of Aisha bint Abu Bakr on the development and expression of Islam.

Aisha bint Abu Bakr was a leader, a woman, a wife, a theologian, a scholar and a political activist. She was precocious, loyal, brave and remarkably intelligent. These aspects of her humble life have allowed her to make a powerful impact on the development and expression of Islam that “no woman [has] reached”[1]. Not only did she influence the position of women in Islamic society, Islamic ethics, and the understanding and interpretation of the Qur’an, but she also modelled these qualities for the men, women and children of Islam. As a woman in Islamic society, Aisha carried a particularly high status. She was the daughter of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, who had embraced Islam before she was born. Thus, she was not influenced by the former polytheistic religious tradition of pre-Islamic Arabia, and its stance for gender inequality. Aisha was also the third and favourite wife of the Prophet Muhammad, to whom she was divinely revealed:

From these events, it is evident that Aisha is a model of Islamic ethics and morality for Muslims, by following them diligently throughout her life. This development is an example of Aisha’s impact on Islam through a more passive role as a model of morality in life.

An active role Aisha played in her impact on the development and expression of Islam was as a theologian. Her outstanding intelligence, strong power of retention and close companionship with the Prophet allowed her to make this contribution. During her marriage, she spent much time studying the Qur’an, as an eager pupil of the Prophet, and having discussions with him about the issues it contains. In this manner, Aisha was able to gain “knowledge and insight such as no woman has ever acquired.”5 Through her astounding memory, she was able to retain much of the priceless sayings of the Prophet and the divine revelations of Muhammad that she had witnessed, thus allowing her to be quoted as a source for over 2000 hadiths.[2] “Next to the Holy Qur'an, the Hadith is the second source of the Islamic Law of social and personal behaviour, because the commandments of the Holy Prophet are as binding on the believers as the commandments of Allah.”[3] Therefore, through her immense knowledge, Aisha was able to address several issues or problems that arose regarding the interpretation of the Qur’an and hadith, and the correct behaviour of Muslims.

"Never had we (the companions) had any difficulty for the solution of which we approached Aisha and did not get some useful information from her". Abu Musa Al-Ashari [4]

The Prophet himself held Aisha’s incredible knowledge in high regard, commanding his followers to:

“Learn a portion of your religion from this red-coloured lady.”9

In this way, Aisha had an impact on the direction Islam took, particularly after Muhammad’s death, in every aspect of the religious tradition, as a highly knowledgeable theologian of the Qur’an and hadith, which are the foundation of all Islamic beliefs, ethics and practices. Her eagerness to learn and her capacity to retain a great deal of information allow her to be revered as model of the importance of education to all Muslims, particularly children, who need to be encouraged to learn, and women, who are doubtful about their scholarly abilities.

From her theological role, it is evident that Aisha made advancement with it by sharing her knowledge with the many men, women and children who came from far and wide to be educated by her. This resulted in the city of Medina becoming a centre of Islamic learning, with Aisha being “one of the foremost scholars of Islam’s early age”10. She also took in a great number of children under her care and guidance to educate them, not only of the Islamic faith, but also of a great many other areas in which she was knowledgeable, such as literature, history, medicine and mathematics.

“I did not see a greater...
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