This paper critically examines a claim made by the critics of Islam that Aishah (رضي الله عنها), the wife of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), had doubts towards the reality of his prophethood because of her statement to the Prophet (ﷺ), “Your Lord hastens to fulfill your desires.” The context of saying is highlighted as a tool to see its actual implications. And the whole claim is deconstructed through understanding of the key words and Prophet (ﷺ)’s conduct on the issue. And in doing all this positive argument is made for the prophethood of the Prophet (ﷺ).
One of the basic units of thought for as long as humanity has existed is the concept of reason. Reason screams loud and clear at thinkers as soon as the opposite of it is being propelled by ignorant masses as an ultimate discovery. Reason is not a byproduct of being educated; rather it is a litmus paper, separating those who have degrees only, from those who have knowledge. As such, many people who possess degrees have evaded reason, especially in the field of religion. In this paper we will examine a claim that has been made by certain critics against Prophet Muhammad, (ﷺ), stating that some of his closest followers had doubts towards the reality of his prophethood. One of such people as claimed was Aishah (رضي الله عنها).
The statement in question goes as follows:
“I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.”
Referring to this statement, people make various assertions like:
- Aishah (رضي الله عنها) meant to question the idea of revelation and therefore that of her husband’s prophethood.
- That she said “Your Lord” and did not say “My Lord” or simply “Lord.” This shows she did not sincerely believe in what her husband preached about God.
- She meant to be satirical and suggested that these were “convenient” revelations meant to allow him whatever he wanted.
In the following lines, all these assertions are critically analyzed.
2. The narration, full and explained
The complete text of the narration is:
عن عائشة رضي الله عنها، قالت: «كنت أغار على اللاتي وهبن أنفسهن لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وأقول أتهب المرأة نفسها؟» فلما أنزل الله تعالى: (ترجئ من تشاء منهن وتؤوي إليك من تشاء ومن ابتغيت ممن عزلت فلا جناح عليك) قلت: ما أرى ربك إلا يسارع في هواك
Narrated Aishah: I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah’s Messenger 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 whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside (her turn temporarily) it is no sin on you (to receive her again).” (V.33:51) I said (to the Prophet), “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires (hawa).”
The Prophet (ﷺ) and his family lived a very austere life and some hypocrite women tried to stir wrong feelings with the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ), trying to exploit this adversity of situation. At the same time, some believing women, while knowing the conditions in which the Prophet (ﷺ)’s family was, wished to be bond in the marital relation with the Prophet (ﷺ) and they did so, making a pronouncement that they would even forego their rights if it could turn out to be too much for the Prophet (ﷺ) to divide his time. In order to regard such feelings and to upset the hypocrites who attempted to stir troubles in the Prophet (ﷺ)’s household, it was made lawful for the Prophet (ﷺ) to accept such proposals.
Aishah (رضي الله عنها) knew that it was permissible for the Prophet (ﷺ) but there was spousal jealousy that made her comment that way.
2.1 Aishah (رضي الله عنها) saying “Your Lord” shows she was not even angry with the Prophet (ﷺ)
While the uneducated critics suggest that Aishah (رضي الله عنها) doubted the idea divine revelation because she said “Your Lord” and not “My Lord” the truth is quite the contrary. In the following report we find her own testimony on the meanings of implications of her referring to the Allah through mention of the Prophet (ﷺ).
عن عائشة رضي الله عنها، قالت: قال لي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «إني لأعلم إذا كنت عني راضية، وإذا كنت علي غضبى» قالت: فقلت: من أين تعرف ذلك؟ فقال: ” أما إذا كنت عني راضية، فإنك تقولين: لا ورب محمد، وإذا كنت علي غضبى، قلت: لا ورب إبراهيم ” قالت: قلت: أجل والله يا رسول الله، ما أهجر إلا اسمك
Narrated ‘Aishah that Allah’s Messenger said to her, “I know when 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 Abraham.’” Thereupon I said, “Yes (you are right), but by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger, I leave nothing but your name.”
It proves far from doubting the revelation Aishah (رضي الله عنها) wasn’t even angry. It was nothing more than a characteristic frank comment between spouses imbued with spousal jealousy.
When the Prophet (ﷺ) gave Aishah (رضي الله عنها) the good news of revelation vindicating her of the calumny, her mother asked her to go to the Prophet (ﷺ) and thank him, to which she replied:
لا والله، لا أقوم إليه، ولا أحمد إلا الله
“By Allah, I will not go to him and will not thank (anyone) but Allah.”
On the same note the statement under consideration came from his wife and needs to be viewed in that backdrop only. The Noble Prophet (ﷺ) 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 skepticism or disrespect but only blunt frankness and natural spousal jealousy.
2.2 Aishah (رضي الله عنها) did not doubt prophethood
The fact that the Prophet (ﷺ) did not object or reprimand her for saying what she said is a definite proof that even he understood Aishah (رضي الله عنها) did not mean to be skeptical or disrespectful; instead she was just being jealous for him. It is manifestly clear on comparison with the above mentioned hadith about Aishah (رضي الله عنها) leaving out the Prophet (ﷺ)’s name, for we know when the Prophet (ﷺ) genuinely felt that Aishah (رضي الله عنها) had some unnatural feelings, he used not to stay silent. At another point, Aishah (رضي الله عنها) herself reported that one night while the Prophet (ﷺ) was staying with her, he left his bed and went to the Baqi’ graveyard to pray for the deceased and Aishah (رضي الله عنها) followed her and when he turned back Aishah (رضي الله عنها) ran to her room before him. Upon returning, the Prophet (ﷺ) found her breathing heavily as she had followed him with the presumption that he might have gone to another wife. As this act had the suggestion of doubting Prophet (ﷺ)’s justice between the wives, he reprimanded her. She herself stated: “He gave me a shove/poke on the chest, then he said: ‘Did you think that Allah and His Messenger would be unjust to you?’”
It is therefore unfathomable that the Prophet (ﷺ) did not say a word when Aishah (رضي الله عنها) had actually meant to be skeptical on so fundamental an issue while he took exception to something far less serious.
2.3 The meaning هوى (hawa)
As stated above, the context of the saying is such that it gives no suggestion the lines the critics tend to read into it; however, to add more on what the actual meaning of the word ‘desire’ is, we will explain below.
The word used is هوى (hawa) which means desire at heart and inclination. It does not always mean whims or mala fide inclinations.
It means carefully considered opinion as well. After the battle of Badr, the Noble Prophet (ﷺ) consulted Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) and ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) about the prisoners. They both gave their suggestions and the Prophet (ﷺ) inclined towards Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه)’s opinion. ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) stated this fact in the following words:
فهوي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما قال أبو بكر، ولم يهو ما قلت
“But the Messenger of Allah inclined (hawiya) towards the view of Abu Bakr, and he did not incline (yahwa) towards what I said.”
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795 AH) states:
وقد وقع مثل ذلك في الآثار الإسرائيلية كثيرا ، وكلام مشايخ القوم وإشاراتهم نظما ونثرا يكثر في هذا الاستعمال
“With such a connotation of good/innocent inclination, the word has been used in the reports of the People of the Book and also frequently in the poetry and prose of the Pious Predecessors.”
It can even refer to a desire shaped under divine guidance. In the Noble Qur’an, we read:
وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِنَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
“And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from Allah? Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.” (Noble Qur’an, 28:50)
This tells us that following one’s desires (hawa) is condemnable when it is not guided by Allah whereas following the desires guided by Allah is naturally above any kind of reproof.
3. Did the Prophet (ﷺ) benefit from the relaxation in rules?
Finally, the most important thing is to see if the Prophet (ﷺ) used the excuse from the regular rules given to him. The verses relate to two specific relaxations for the Prophet (ﷺ):
a) Accepting a woman’s proposal to accept her in marriage without any dower.
b) No obligation to divide his time evenly between his wives.
All the propaganda around the above hadith is answered when we see that the Prophet (ﷺ) opted not to benefit from these relaxations.
عن ابن عباس قال لم يكن عند رسول الله صَلَّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم امرأة وهبت نفسها
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Messenger of Allah did not have any wife who offered herself to him.”
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852 AH) classified it as hasan and stated that it means the Prophet (ﷺ) did not consummate his marriage with any such woman. The narration that says Maymoonah had offered herself to the Prophet (ﷺ) is weak.
Aishah (رضي الله عنها) herself testified that the Prophet (ﷺ) never discriminated among his wives regarding the distribution of time:
عن عروة ،قال: قالت عائشة: يا ابن أختي كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يفضل بعضنا على بعض في القسم، من مكثه عندنا، وكان قل يوم إلا وهو يطوف علينا جميعا
Narrated ‘Urwah, Aishah said: “O nephew! The Messenger of Allah would not prefer any one of us to another with regards to spending time with us. And hardly a day would go by except that he would visit all of us…”
It is thus abundantly clear that the allegation of “convenient revelations” is out rightly false. In Surah Ahzab, around the verse quoted in the hadith, there are seven rules about marriage peculiar to the Prophet (ﷺ). Four of these granted him relaxations and three put restrictions; and while the Prophet certainly abided by the restrictions, he did not opt to benefit from two of the relaxations.
These facts frustrate all efforts to twist the hadith under consideration to cast doubts upon Islam. Had the idea of ‘convenient revelations’ any basis, there wouldn’t have been any restrictions on the Prophet (ﷺ) to the exclusion of the rest of the believers and he wouldn’t have failed to take benefit of every relaxation.
In fact, there is overwhelming evidence for ‘inconvenient revelations’ as well. The prime example is that of change in qibla. According to the soundest opinion, the change in the qibla happened twice. First it was the Ka’bah, then while the Prophet (ﷺ) was in Makkah living among the pagans who revered the Ka’bah, he was instructed to make Jerusalem his qibla, which naturally invited more friction from the pagans and later when he wished it to be changed back to Ka’bah he did not turn to it merely on the basis of his own desire, unless he was ordered by Allah to do so. Moreover, more than once he was reprimanded in the verses of Qur’an as in the verse about the blind man and about the marriage with the divorcee of Zayd.
That he was not making up things to make his life easier is established in the facts that he used to fast longer and pray for long hours at night to the point that his feet became swollen. Likewise, he never had anything from charity while he permitted it for his Companions, nor did he leave anything in inheritance for his widows and children. All such ‘inconvenient’ teachings refute any notion of ‘convenient’ revelations.
4. Aishah (رضي الله عنها)’s love and fidelity to the Prophet (ﷺ)
As a final refutation, we will show categorical proofs of Aishah (رضي الله عنها)’s contribution and support of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). First and foremost, she was one of the most influential female scholars and one of the greatest first narrators of hadith reports and jurists. Their marriage was an example of love and affection. They used to race for fun, eat from the same plate, joke and nickname. She was his support in times of hardship and his loving companion along the struggles that he faced. When the Prophet (ﷺ) was on his deathbed, he chose to spend his last moments in Aishah (رضي الله عنها)’s house. He breathed his last breath and was buried in her house. Was this a woman who doubted his prophethood? No sensible person can believe that notion, in the light of evidence as opposed to the darkness of ignorance and ill intentions.
5. Summary and Conclusion
a) It was part of the frank discussion between spouses and included the element of spousal jealousy as well.
b) Aishah (رضي الله عنها)’s own testimony about her way of mentioning Allah tells us that she was not even angry with the Prophet (ﷺ) when she said “Your Lord,” let alone doubting his prophethood. Moreover, her unwavering love and fidelity to the Prophet (ﷺ) afterward also belies any such reading of the hadith.
c) The word used to mean “desires” does not necessarily mean base desires, it is also used for carefully deliberated upon opinion and a wish developing under divine guidance.
d) The Prophet (ﷺ) never practiced either of the two exemptions mentioned in the hadith.
e) There are multiple examples of specific rulings and practices that made life difficult for him and his family, which show he had no personal motives or drives in any of these rulings.
It is therefore clear that far from raising any doubts about the Prophet (ﷺ), the hadith actually shows how the Prophet (ﷺ) managed a very friendly and frank relation with his wives, despite all the burden of prophethood and that he did not even exercise the special relaxations given to him which dissolves the idea of ‘convenient revelations.’ In fact it even goes on to serve as a proof of his Prophethood.
References and footnotes:
al-Bukhari, as-Sahih, Translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Riyadh: Maktabat Dar-us-Salam, 1997) Hadith 4788
Ibid., Hadith 5228
Ibid., Hadith 2661
 Muslim bin Hajjaj, as-Sahih, Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh: Maktabat Dar-us-Salam, 2007) Hadith 2256 (103-974)
 Ibid., Hadith 4588 (1-1763)
al-Hanbali, Ibn Rajab, Jami’ al-’Uloom wal-Hikam, (Beirut: ar-Risalah Publication, 2001) Vol.2, 399
as-Sindi, ‘Abdul-Hadi, Hashiah ‘ala Sunan an-Nasa’i, (Halab: Matbu’at al-Islamiyya, 1986) Vol.6, 54
at-Tabari, Ibn Jareer, Jami’ al-Bayan fee Ta’weel al-Qur’an, (Beirut: ar-Risalah Publication, 2000) Vol.20, 288
al-Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, 1367 AH) Vol.8, 526
Ibid., 525. Also, al-Jazri, Ibn Atheer, Usd al-Ghabah fee Ma’rifah as-Sahabah, (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyah, 1994) Vol.7, 262
as-Sajistani, Abu Dawood, as-Sunan, Translated by Yasir Qadhi (Riyadh: Maktabah Dar-us-Salam, 2008) Hadith 2135. Classified as hasan sahih by al-Albani
Shafi’, Muhammad, Ma’arif al-Qur’an, Translated by Muhammad Shamim (Karachi: Maktaba-e-Darul Uloom, n.d.) Vol.7, 191-200
Usmani, Muhammad Taqi, In’am al-Bari, (Karachi: Maktabatul Hira, 2006) Vol.1, 505-508
 Qur’an 33:37