31.3 The Lady Aisha and Sawda
After three years of this constant struggle when Mohamed was fifty-three years old, a relative called Khawla went to him and pointed out that his house was sadly neglected and that his daughters needed a mother to look after them. Mohamed was aware of that, but he had never thought of re-marriage.
"But who can take the place of Khadija?" he asked in wonder.
"Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr," she answered.
Abu Bakr was Mohamed's dearest friend, and more than once he had risked his life to save Mohamed's, and more than once he had risked his livelihood and possessions for the sake of Islam. He had dedicated his whole life to the service of Allah and his Messenger. Honor was Abu Bakr's due, Mohamed felt, and to bring him and his tribe closer to him was a service to Islam, but Abu Bakr's daughter was a pretty little girl of seven years old, hardly the person to take care of his daughters.
"But she is very young," he said.
Khawla had a solution for everything. He was to marry at the same time Sawda, the widow of Al-Sakran ibn Amr. She had been the first woman to emigrate to Abyssinia for the sake of her religion and had endured much for the sake of Islam and was then living with her aged father, her husband having died. She was middle-aged, rather plump, with a jolly, kindly disposition, just the right person to take care of growing little girls. So Mohamed gave permission to Khawla to speak to Abu Bakr and to Sawda on the subject.
Both parties accepted, feeling that it was a great honor. Sawda went to live in Mohamed's house and immediately took over the care of his daughters and household, while Aisha became betrothed to him and remained in her father's house playing with her dolls.
Some years later after Mohamed and Abu Bakr emigrated to Medina, Aisha became Mohamed's bride at the request of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was a man with broad vision who traveled and studied much, and who had a wide knowledge of the wisdom of the Arabs and was the authority on Arab genealogy. He was very fond of poetry and taught Aisha and her older sister, Asma the best of Arab verse and Arab proverbs.
When she was removed to Mohamed's house, he found in her an apt and avid pupil, quick to learn, with a quick and accurate memory. Very intelligent, she soon became a keen scholar and would sit and argue with others. Whenever she beat someone else in argument, Mohamed used to smile and say,
"She is the daughter of Abu Bakr."
She became so learned that one of her contemporaries used to say that if the knowledge of Aisha were placed on one side of the scale and that of all other women in the other, Aisha's would win. She used to sit with the women and teach them about the precepts and rituals of Islam which the Messenger had taught her, and long after the Messenger and Abu Bakr passed away she was a source of reference on the practice of Islam and the words of the Messenger as applied to both men and women. It is an example of Divine wisdom that she went to Mohamed's house so young, absorbed so much, and was able to transmit it to another generation intact.
Besides being a scholar, Aisha was a very graceful young woman with comely features. A friendship grew up between her and Sawda when she was removed to Mohamed's house as a little girl and Sawda took care of her with the rest of the household. When Aisha grew up, Sawda passed up her share of the Prophet's time in favor of Aisha and was content to manage his household and be
"the Mother of the Believers."
Being the daughter of Abu Bakr, who on one occasion had given away all his capital for the sake of religion, and the wife of Mohamed, who kept nothing for himself, she was very generous. One day the Messenger had an offering killed. According to Islam, the giver of an offering is entitled to retain a part, one third, and the rest is to go to the poor. It was, Aisha's job to distribute the meat to the poor. And when she had finished giving to all the poor, she found that she had left nothing for the Messenger's large household except the neck of the animal. Distressed, she went to Mohamed and said,
"I have been able to save nothing but this."
"That is the only part you have not saved," said the Messenger smiling. For what goes to Allah is saved indeed.
Aisha had charming ways and the Messenger grew very fond of the young woman who was brought to his house as a little girl and grew up under his care.
One day an elderly lady came to visit them and Mohamed was most attentive to her. After she left, Aisha asked who she was and Mohamed said,
"She used to visit us in the days of Khadija."
Anything that reminded him of his beloved Khadija was dear to him.
On another occasion he heard the voice of Hala, Khadija's sister, in the courtyard outside and hurried out to meet her. Annoyed, Aisha later said to him.
"Khadija was an old woman, and Allah has given you better than her."
"By Allah," he said, "my Lord has not given me better than her. She trusted me when people scorned, she believed in me when people denied, she comforted me with her money when people deprived me, and Allah has given me issue from her to the exception of other women."
Aisha says, "I learnt to hold my tongue where Khadija was concerned."
Mohamed was most kind to all people, and gallant as well as kind to women, but he had loyalties that he allowed no one to approach. He never forgot someone who did him a good turn, and Khadija's memory he held very dear.