Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Incident of Ifk

When the Prophet (pbuh) left Medina for the Battle of the Banu Mustaliq, He took his wife Aisha with him. On the way back to Medina, the Muslim army stopped for a rest, but then the Prophet unexpectedly ordered the army to continue the march. Aisha noticed that her onyx necklace, which had been brought from Yemen (Zafar), a souvenir from her older sister or her mother, was missing, so she retraced her steps to find it. When she finally found it and returned to the camp, the Muslim army had already left without her. Her litter was veiled so her absence had not been noticed. Aisha began to wait for someone to notice that she was missing and to come back for her. Fortunately, she did not have to wait long, for a young Muslim man called Safwan ibn Muattal as-Sulami, who had fallen behind the army after taking a rest, reached the camp during the night and found her lying fast asleep. Safwan recognized her and escorted her back to the Muslim army and the Prophet. Unfortunately, some hypocrites who had seen Safwan and Aisha arrive alone together began to gossip and spread slanderous lies about the two young people. Naturally, the believers were certain that nothing had happened, but the hypocrites thought otherwise. Eventually the story reached Aisha and she became ill. Aisha, the Prophet, Abu Bakr and his family were greatly saddened by the gossip. Aisha thought that the Prophet believed the gossip. She said that if she were to tell the Prophet that she was innocent perhaps he would not believe her. If she were to say that something had happened while Allah knew of her innocence the Prophet still would believe her. She asserted that by Allah, she could only say what Jacob, the father of Prophet Joseph had said: "Patience is beautiful, and Allah is my protection against what you describe" (Joseph 12/18). None other than Allah Himself could declare Aisha's innocence and vindicate her of the slander levied against her. Allah revealed to the Prophet the following verses, condemning those Hypocrites who had doubted Aisha's innocence and who had slandered her honor: "Since you received it with your tongues, and repeated what you did not know anything about with your mouths, you thought it was a trifle, but in the sight of Allah it is serious." "Why, when you heard it, did you not say: ‘It is not for us to repeat this, Glory be to You (O Allah), this is a serious slander.'" "Allah warns you to never repeat anything like this again, if you are indeed believers!" "And Allah makes the signs clear to you; and Allah Knows, Wise." "Surely those who love to spread around slander about those who believe will have a painful punishment in this world and in the next world; and Allah knows and you do not know." (An-Nur 24/11/19). The Prophet read the above verses to the Muslims in al-masjid al-Nabawi. Hassan ibn Thabit, Mistah ibn Usase and Hamna bint Jahsh were punished in accordance with the fourth verse of Surah Nur. According to some accounts, the famous poet Hassan ibn Thabit participated in this slander because of the hostility between him and Safwan ibn Muattal; Mistah ibn Usase participated in this slander because he felt inferior as his relatives were constantly receiving help from Abu Bakr, while Hamna bint Jahsh participated in this slander to degrade the position of Aisha and raise the position of her sister Zaynab. Aisha realized that this incident was in fact important and that she had been greatly honored by the ten verses sent in relation to this matter.

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