Independent Women and the Battle of the Camel

May 25, 2006

Sunni Sister has a post that links to the Question and Answer section of “Sunni Path.” The inquisitor asks if women’s rights declined after the incident of the Battle of the Camel because people apparently frowned upon the Mother of the Believers, Aisha, for being involved in a “political” matter. The answer was very enlightening, but I feel that it did not address some critical questions of my own (not surprisingly, since I ask a lot of questions).

Although the respected person of knowledge who answered the question, did clear up that women in Islam were much more independent and free thinking than under jahiliyyah, despite to what the inquisitor had been told by western academics, she did not really explain why the people frowned upon Aisha’s involvement; because they certainly did.

From what I understand, they frowned upon her actions because they were wrong, not because she was a “woman sticking her nose into political matters.” For that matter, everyone else involved on the side of those supposedly “avenging the death of ‘Uthman” were likewise frowned upon because of this incident. Although the orientalists might argue that Aisha’s subsequent withdrawl from political life was an indication that she acknowledged women’s “role in the background,” I would argue that she withdrew because she acknowledged wrongdoing and wanted to clear herself from it.

When someone does something wrong and knows it, they try hard not to repeat that act. When she was captured, and her army was defeated, she was treated with respect and honor, like the Mother of the Believers, and not like a captive. This undoubtedly left an impression on her that the person she was fighting was not some common lad from the backstreets of Makkah, who happened to have become caliph and was not fulfilling his alleged duty (i.e. avenging the wrongful death of ‘Uthman).

Nay, this was the Amir of the Muslim Ummah, the inheritor of the prophetic mission, the gate to the City of Knowledge, the champion of the Muslim army, the Commander of the Faithful, the Proof of Allah on earth, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah extend His blessings and peace to encompass him).

Perhaps Aisha recognized that and relented. If anything, that shows that women tend to be less stubborn and bull-headed than men. Others, such as Mu’awiyah b. Abi Sufyan, never learned that lesson. Allah knows best.

One comment

  1. I’d have to agree, I don’t really see much of an women and anti politics thing in the mire here, either, nor the assertion by the article’s author (whom I will not call feminist, because it was poorly done to say the least!) that women weren’t politically active afterwards (and any lover o Zaynab knows it, too!)

    Even in shi’ hadeeths, it mentions Aisha’s being upset with herself for the battle (ie not political, but a repentance thing as well, or so I’ve taken it to be)

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