By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi
The most striking thing about the wives is that they are so different from each other in many respects: age, intellect, beauty and social status. Similarly, there is a diversity of characters and abilities among the male companions. This diversity is responded to in the Book and Sunnah, so that the very range of human experience and need receives a comment or a response from the guidance of Allah and the insight of His messenger.
She is the first human being to whom the Prophet announced his prophethood. The fact that he does this, the way she responds and his response to her tell us something very important about the character of this marriage, which is missing from some of the later marriages. In a modern idiom this kind of marriage is called a compassionate marriage, which is distinguished from a marriage of convenience. In such a marriage, there is sufficient trust between the couple to reveal all that is in the heart of each, including revealing ones fears and vulnerabilities.
The second thing it reveals about Khadijah is her strength as a person, her good sense and command of the situation. Fist she covers him to comfort him, then she reassures him that he will not be deceived because she knows how good a man he is; she does not pretend to have knowledge and competence to make any judgement about the incident reported by her husband except on the basis of his excellent character. Finally she goes with him to one who does have the knowledge to make such a judgement.
She has spiritual integrity and courage to believe that the reported incident is a true report of true revelation from God, which places an immense burden of responsibility on those who genuinely believe it to be so.
She was the mother of his children and his companion for 25 years. She had been his employer and trusted her goods to him, and having proved him it was she who initiated the marriage. It is of the utmost importance for the attitude towards women to grasp that a woman is not, because she is a woman, limited in her wisdom and good judgement, her power to act in the world, and more importantly she in not limited because she is a woman, in the quality of her spiritual and moral courage.
The most striking thing about the record about Aishah is independence of mind and spirit and her sharp tone of voice. She never imagined that any other Muslim has stronger faith in the Quran and greater love for the messenger than herself. She had a strong grasp of the change from jahiliyya to Islam.
Because of her confidence in her understanding of Islam she was able to give legal judgements. For me, that example is to follow. If women desire religious authority as they should – let them put themselves, like Aisha, in the service of the religion as a whole, of the ummah as a whole, of men as well as women. Let them, in sum, do more than study the Quran and Sunnah ‘from a woman’s perspective.’