Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


Ordeal Of Two Famous Women


Dt:  16/6/20

Ordeal Of Two Famous Women


Dr T H Chowdary*


Ayesha was the famous wife of  Prophet  Mohammed. She was daughter of Abu Bekr, close-companion of the Prophet and  the first Caliph  of Islam. At age seven she was betrothed to the Prophet  when he was 50 years  old;  a few months after  the death of Khadiza,  the noble first wife of the  Prophet.  Ayesha was  intelligent and assertive  and was the dominant and the most beloved  of the eight wives of the Prophet.  When she  was fifteen  years of  age, she accompanied the  Prophet on  his plundering raid on the Banu Mustalik.  She stopped behind when the raiding party was returning to pick up a necklace which she had dropped in the sand.  The raiding party unaware of Ayesha’s drop, returned to Medina. Ayesha expecting that the party would return to  pick her up, her camel gone , rested in the shade of a palm tree. A young stranger Safwan noticed her, dismounted his camel,  helped Ayesha to mount it and led the  camel  to Medina, himself leading the camel on foot.  Many Medinese saw the young man and Ayesha.  They gossiped about an affair between Ayesha and  Safwan.  The Prophet was sore distressed.  He asked Ali’s advice. Ali was his son-in-law, wedded to his daughter Fatima.  Later, he became the  fourth Caliph. Ali’s advice was to divorce Ayesha.


2. The Prophet  could not  bring himself to divorce his most  beloved of the wives. Distressed by the gossip and the  Prophet  not  putting  an end to it,  Ayesha left for  her mother’s home.  “Even if the  Prophet believed Ayesha guilty, it was not desirable to acknowledge such suspicion, since discredit falling on Abu Bekr, father  of Ayeasha and his staunchest ally ( would be the first Caliph after the Prophet’s death) , “would affect his own cause”.  So, “ he had recourse to a revelation; God Almighty declared Ayesha innocent”. “The queenly Ayesha told her husband that she thanked God, but owed him (Prophet) no thanks !”  In the sequel was  the Prophet’s edict that unless there are four witnesses to testify to any charge of adultery  on the part of a woman, the woman would be held guilt-less and the gossipers  and accusers would be put to death.



3. Ayesha did not forgive Ali for his advice to the Prophet, to divorce her.  Ayesha’s vengence followed Ali relentlessly for 35 years, till Ali’s assassination .  This narration tells how the fidelity (paativratyam) of the wife of a Prophet was established.


4. In contrast is the Ramayana event. In a 15-day  long battle, Rama killed Ravana  the  abductor of his wife Sita.  Sita was  in the enemy’s  land and control.  What  might ordinary folks think of her piety? So, Rama  subjected  to Agni Pariksha ordeal  by fire .  She jumped into the fire and came  out unscathed.  Later, in Ayodhya  a washer-man, suspicious of his wife’s fidelity bragged. I am not like Rama who took back Sita as wife, knowing that she was in another  man’s  land and control. “Rama banished  Sita, to Valmiki’s asrama”. “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion; is the adage”.


5. The readers may judge for themselves  as to the  appropriateness of the ways in which two ideal, divinely persons dealt with the most vexing event in their life and the requirement of  four witness to prove the charge of adultery which  is law in  many Islamic countries.


Note:  The above narration about  Ayesha is based on the event’s  coverage in   the books 1) Mohammad and The Rise of Islam by D.S.Margoliouth and ii) The Life of  Mahomet  by Sir William Muir. The sentences in quotation marks are from the first book. (604 words)