Understanding the reality and meanings of the statement of Sayyidah Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her), “I see that your Lord hastens to confirm your desires.” The issue is explained through literary analysis of the words used and in the light of the contextual significance along with other related proofs.
There are numerous people and groups who harbor a disliking for Islamic personalities while there are some who have taken it as the ultimate mission of their life to hate and preach hatred. The claim addressed here is one such example.
Even though the Qur’an defends Aisha –may Allah be pleased with her, from a heinous allegation leveled by the enemies of Islam, the hate preachers do not desist from this practice thereby enrolling themselves in the list of enemies of Islam.
We find a statement from Aisha –may Allah be pleased with her- as follows:
2. The baseless allegation
Based on this statement, the hate preachers reach at a few unfounded conclusions. Those in the guise of Muslims claim that this statement denotes disbelief in revelation by the pious mother of the believers whereas other groups state that they understand it to mean that Prophet Muhammad -on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- made up revelations and the people around him doubted his prophethood. Analyzing the statement within context and looking properly at the bigger picture reveals that the allegations are baseless as proven in this article.
3. The full narration
Narrated Aisha: I used to be jealous of those ladies who had given themselves to Allah's Apostle and I used to say, "Can a lady give herself (to a man)?" But when Allah revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).' (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes."
4. Inclinations/Wishes/Choices or desires?
"So follow not [personal] inclination ..."
صيرني سامعا مطيعا
أخذت قلبي وغمض عيني
سلبتني النوم والهجوعا
فذر فؤادي وخذ رقادي
فقال لا بل هما جميعا
Commenting on the Prophet's (peace be upon him) consultation with his Companions regarding the captives of Badr, 'Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "The Prophet (peace be upon him) inclined (hawiya) to Abu Bakr's opinion and he did not incline (lam yahwa) to what I said." With such a connotation of good/innocent inclination, the term has been used in the Reports of the People of the Book and also frequently in the poetry and prose of the Pious Predecessors. From what relates to the Hadith are the words;
You have my heart and I was deprived from sleeping.
Leave my heart and let me sleep.
Yet, He said: I will take both."
The Prophet - on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- did not take her statement as an insult or criticism as he did not react to it. If this had been a real insult, as the opponents of Islam claim, then the Prophet –peace be upon him- would have considered this as a blasphemy and, at worst, declared her renegade or, at best, given her sincere advice and guidance so she may repent. However, nothing of this sort happened indicating clearly that this was a casual discussion between a husband and wife.
Therefore, if someone understands the statement of Aisha –may Allah be pleased with her- to allege lust or passion, then there appears to be no cure for such ignorance.
5. The background to the statement
"Imam Ahmad recorded that A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, used to feel jealous of the women who offered themselves to the Prophet. She said, "Would a woman not feel shy to offer herself without any dowry!'' Then Allah revealed the verse, (You can postpone whom you will of them, and you may receive whom you will.) She said, "I think that your Lord is hastening to confirm your desire.' “And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside, it is no sin on you (to receive her again)”. Others said that what is meant by: (You can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them), means, `your wives: there is no sin on you if you stop dividing your time equally between them, and delay the turn of one of them and bring forward the turn of another as you wish, and you have intercourse with one and not another as you wish.' This was narrated from Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Abu Razin, Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and others.
6. Natural spousal jealousy
As has been stated earlier that the pious mother of the believers, Aisha –may Allah be pleased with her- had a natural jealousy that all women have. This matter should be sufficient for any rational person. A private matter and discussion between a husband and wife that meant nothing more than that to themselves should not be taken up by others to justify hidden motives in the first place. It was his wife who had said this and that is the bottom line. The Prophet -on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- is loved, honored and respected by all Muslims who would definitely not speak about him in such words but the statement came from his wife and hence the same yardstick does not apply. He used to be frank and informal with his wives and likewise, they were with him. The simple and only conclusion is that there was certainly no disrespect but only frankness and natural spousal jealousy. Had it been an angry or insulting statement, she would have not narrated it to others. Besides, there are further evidences that she did not speak in an angry tone.
7. An ordinary matter between spouses without any real ill-feelings or even anger
That Allah's Messenger said to her, "I know whether you are pleased with me or angry with me." I said, "Whence do you know that?" He said, "When you are pleased with me, you say, 'No, by the Lord of Muhammad,' but when you are angry with me, then you say, 'No, by the Lord of Ibrahim.' "Thereupon I said, "Yes (you are right), but by Allah, O Allah's Messenger, I leave nothing but your name."
The Prophet -on him be the peace and blessings of Allah, as a husband, understood his wife and he knew whether she was angry or not. When she had spoken the words, she used the words “I feel that your Lord” instead of saying the 'Lord of Ibrahim' or any other such words indicating that hers was a casual discussion with her husband.
8. Fulfillment of desires?
Even after the verse was revealed, Prophet Muhammad -on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- used to divide his time equally as mentioned by the pious mother of the believers herself:
‘Aisha said: "O my nephew, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him) did not prefer one of us to other in respect of his division of time of his staying with us. It was very rare that he did not visit any of us any day. He would come near each of his wives without having any intercourse with her until he reached the one who had her day (i.e. her turn) and passed his night with her...."
Furthermore, Ibn Kathir states:
Nevertheless, the Prophet used to divide his time between them equally, hence a group of the scholars of Fiqh among the Shafi`is and others said that equal division of time was not obligatory for him and they used this Ayah as their evidence.
This verse was meant to relieve the Holy Prophet of the domestic worries and anxieties so that he could carry out his duties with full peace of mind. When Allah clearly gave hire the power and the authority to treat any of his wives as he liked, there remained no chance that those believing ladies would trouble him in any way, or would create complications for him by their mutual rivalries and domestic squabbles. But in spite of having this authority from Allah the Honorable Prophet meted out full justice to his wives. He did not prefer one to the other and would visit each of them regularly by turns. Bukhari, Muslim, Nasa'i, Abu Da'ud and others have reported on the authority of 'A'ishah that even after the revelation of this verse the Honorable Prophet's practice was that whenever he wanted to visit any of us, his wives, on the turn of another wife, he would first ask her permission for it. Abu Bakr al-Jassas relates from 'Urwah bin Zubair that Hadrat 'A'ishah told him, "As to our rants the Honorable Prophet never preferred any of us to the other, although it seldom happened that he did not visit all his wives on the same day, but he never touched a wife unless it was her day by turn." And this also is a tradition from 'A'ishah that during his last illness when it became difficult for him to move about he asked for his other wives' permission to stay with her, and only on their approval he passed his last days in her apartment. Ibn Abi Hatim has cited this from Imam Zuhri that the Honorable Prophet is not known to have deprived any of his wives of her turn.
Another point that is important here is the fact that revelation did not always make things what ‘we may call’ ‘easy’ or ‘favorable’. For example, the Prophet –peace be upon him- was not allowed to marry Christian and Jewish women and was commanded to pray the night prayer which he did during the late-night. If he was fabricating revelation at all, then surely these difficulties and restrictions would not have been imposed on him by himself. This order coupled with strict implementation is rather evidence that he was not the originator of the Qur’an but the Messenger of Allah.
Another example of ‘unfavorable revelation’ is as follows:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Whenever a meal was brought to Allah's Apostle, he would ask whether it was a gift or Sadaqa (something given in charity). If he was told that it was Sadaqa, he would tell his companions to eat it, but if it was a gift, he would hurry to share it with them.
Prophet Muhammad -on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- was not allowed by Allah to take from charity and the believers were forbidden to give him charity. The kind of life that he lived would force a person to accept that the absence of such a kind of revelation would have made life much easier for him as we find in other narrations:
'A'isha reported: Never had the family of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) eaten to the fill since their arrival in Medina with the bread of wheat for three successive nights until his (Holy Prophet's) death.
Nu'man b. Bashir said: Don't you eat and drink according to your heart's desire, whereas I saw that your prophet (may peace be upon him) (at times) could not find even an inferior quality of the dates with which he could fill his belly?"
Throughout the Muslim history, we find several false claimants to prophethood making things easy for their followers. They removed the things people find difficult such as praying and charity. Even several fake scholars have done the same i.e. turned the Islamic teachings into metaphors and giving to the people what they want to hear. However, the apparent difficult orders of the Qur’an for the Messenger of Allah –peace be upon him- are a strong proof of the truthfulness of the Qur’an and the Messenger.
Another example of revelation which can be considered difficult for the Prophet -on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- was the Qibla used. The change of Qibla from the sacred Masjid to the Noble Ka’abah in Makkah did not happen when he was in Makkah and which would have suited him as well but happened in Madina when the change of Qibla was disliked, criticized and ridiculed by the disbelievers and hypocrites.
Allah chooses the best of the people to be His Messengers. What the Messenger teach is the Message from the Creator. Hence if the Creator mentions that He chose the best from mankind to convey His Message, then who would be unwise enough to allege self-praise? Prophet Muhammad -on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- was the representative of Allah on earth and all laws had to come through him alone and therefore not making an issue of extra responsibility on the Messenger of Allah and making an issue of some concessions appears to be an unwise thing to do.
-- by Adeel Tariq Khan