Umar and Women

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Ayesha and Umar

The raid on al-Mustaliq led to another unfortunate episode which was a cause of great concern to the  Holy Prophet and his companions for some time. Each time the Holy Prophet went on a campaign, one of  his wives accompanied him, and the decision was always taken by the drawing of lots. On the occasion of  the raid of Mustaliq, Ayesha accompanied the Holy Prophet. On return from the campaign she traveled on  the back of a camel in a closed litter. On account of the regrettable behavior of Abdullah bin Ubayy, there  was considerable tension in the atmosphere. As the caravan traveled at an unusual time, there was  considerable upsetting of the program. The party halted for the night at some distance from Madina. At  early dawn the call to move was given. Ayesha went to the desert to answer the call of nature, and on  return occupied her litter. There she noticed that the necklace of Yemenite agates which she wore was no  longer around her neck. Hurriedly she left the litter, and went to the desert where she found the  necklace. When she returned to the camp the spot was deserted, and the caravan had left. The men in  charge of her camel, seeing the litter closed, and thinking it occupied, had placed it on the camel and  departed with it. Ayesha called aloud, but no one responded to her call. She decided to sit down, hoping  that some body would come to fetch her. Soon she fell asleep, wrapped in her cloak. 

"We belong to God and to Him we return." These words fell on the ears of Ayesha, and she awoke with a  start. A young man stood before her holding a camel by its reins. Safwan bin Al-Muthal following the army  in the rear had notice a young woman asleep in the desert, and upon approaching her, recognized her as  the wife of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). Ayesha quickly covered herself with her veil. Safwan  adjusted the camel's saddle-girth and made the beast kneel. Ayesha thereupon mounted the camel.  Holding the camel by the bridle, Safwan resumed the road. After a tiring journey they reached Madina at  noon, a few hours after the arrival of the Holy Prophet. That provided an opportunity to Abdullah bin  Ubbay and some other hypocrites to whip up a campaign of slander against Ayesha. The Holy Prophet  consulted his friends about divorcing Ayesha. Ali advised that Ayesha should be divorced. When Umar was  consulted he said, "O Prophet of God, I know for certain that the hypocrites are speaking malicious lie."  The Holy Prophet asked Umar as to the grounds with him for holding that the hypocrites were speaking  lies, Umar said: 

"By reason of God not allowing a fly to settle upon thy blessed skirts, because it alights also on impure  things and soils its feet. How then would He not preserve thee and thy name from a worse defilement?" 

Umar further said that he was sure that God Himself would cause the innocence of the young lady to  become manifest." He further said: 

"If God does not allow thy shadow to fall upon the ground, lest it might be polluted, or a person step  thereon, will He not restrain thy honored spouse from committing impropriety?" 

Later, as anticipated by Umar, the Holy Prophet had a revelation in which God Himself bore witness to the  purity and innocence of Ayesha. When the ordeal was over, the Holy Prophet thanked Umar for his  support during the crisis. Ayesha paid for this kindness many years later when she allowed Umar to be  buried in her chamber by the side of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr.

Purdah For Women

In Madina the Muslim women did not observe any purdah. They freely moved among men. The majority of  men in Madina were men of great faith, and they were very careful in their conduct to women. There were  some hypocrites among Muslims from whom any mischief could be expected. There were also some Jews  from whom no good could be expected. Umar felt that if God forbidding any hypocrite played any mischief  with regard to the women of Muslims that would be very damaging. 

Umar expressed these views to the Holy Prophet, and suggested that women should be required to stay  at home. Umar said that the wives of the Holy Prophet should particularly stay at home, for their prestige  and honor were a matter of great concern for the Muslim community. 

On hearing this advice of Umar, Zainab a wife of the Holy Prophet said: 

"Umar you have started in interfering in the domestic affairs of the Prophet as well. The revelation comes  to our house. and you come up with suggestions of your own." 

The Holy Prophet, however, appreciated what Umar had said. He said that he was awaiting revelation,  and action would be taken in accordance with the injunctions of God. 

And then came a detailed revelation on the subject. The revelation was: 

"Prophet say to your wives: if you desire the present life and its beautiful things, come and I will give you  your dowries and send you away in a handsome manner. And if you desire Allah and His Prophet and the  next world, remember that Allah has in store a great reward for those of you who are righteous." 33:28 

Another verse provided: 

"O wives of the Prophet! Whoever of you commits flagrant indecency will have your punishment twice  over. Indeed it is easy for Allah to double your punishment. As for those who are obedient to Allah and  His Apostle and act righteously We shall give them their reward twice over. We have rare gifts in store for  them." 33:30 

And yet another verse said: 

"O wives of the Prophet, you are like no other women. If you fear Allah do not be soft spoken, for it will  tempt the man who has a disease in his heart. Speak in a dignified tone, stay in your homes, and do not  display your beauty as in the days of ignorance. Observe prayer, give alms, and obey Allah and His  Apostle. Members of the house of the Prophet! Allah only intends to rid you of your uncleanliness and to  purify you completely. Women keep in mind the revelations of Allah and the words of wisdom which are  recited in your houses. Benign is Allah; All-Aware." 33:32 

These verses corroborated what Umar had said. When the Holy Prophet informed Umar of these verses  he felt satisfied that God had ordered in the way he had desired. Turning to Umar the Holy Prophet said,  "Umar, rejoice for once again Allah has spoken through your tongue."


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