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Spontaneous Modesty

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(Sayyidah ‘Aaishah [radhiyallahu ‘anha] – Part Two)

The Expedition of Banul Mustaliq occurred during the month of Sha’baan 5 A.H. Together with the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) who accompanied Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) on this expedition, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) also took his respected wife, Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) along with him.

On the return journey, they had halted for the night at a place close to Madeenah Munawwarah. Prior to the time of departure, Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) went some distance away from the camp site to take care of her physical needs. However, when she returned, she realised that her necklace had fallen off and therefore went back in search of it. In the process of finding her necklace, she was delayed, and upon returning to the camp site, she found that the army had already departed.

Since Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was very light in weight at that time, the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) who had lifted the hawdaj (a curtained carriage) and placed it on the camel’s back did not even realized that she was not inside.

Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) relates, “I proceeded to the place in which I had initially been, realising that they would soon discover that I was missing and return for me. I then covered myself with my shawl, and fell asleep.

“Safwaan bin Mu‘attal (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was appointed by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), as per his own request, to follow behind the army. Hence, when the army would depart, he would remain in the camp, performing salaah. After some time, he would follow behind the army, recovering lost items, such as a waterskin or utensil, that any person in the army had left behind, so that he could return it to the owner.

“As Safwaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) proceeded, he came to the place where I was, noticed the figure of a person sleeping, and recognized me (as the shawl had fallen from my face, while I was asleep). Safwaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was able to recognize me as he had seen me in the era before the laws of hijaab (purdah) were revealed.

“As soon as he saw me, he loudly recited, ‘innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji‘oon’, causing me to awaken. On awakening, my spontaneous reaction was to cover my face and conceal it from him. By Allah! We did not speak anything to one another, nor did I hear any word from him besides his reciting of ‘innaa lillaah’.

“He then brought his camel to me, made it kneel, and then turned his face away, allowing me to climb onto the camel. He then led the camel, until we reached the army.”

(Saheeh Bukhaari #4750 and Fat-hul Baari)

Lessons:

1. Before she fell asleep, Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) covered herself, and as soon as she awoke, her spontaneous reaction was to cover her face as well. Hence, it is clear that the aspect of purdah was so deeply ingrained in Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) that it was her second nature. It is thus very clear that the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), despite the high level of their piety, purity of their hearts, and deep consciousness of Allah Ta‘ala, did not regard purdah and the covering of the face to be a trivial matter or something insignificant – rather they showed it utmost importance, as they knew that hayaa is directly linked to imaan.

2. When Sayyiduna Safwaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) discovered Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), he woke her by loudly reciting ‘innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon’, in order to avoid any direct conversation. When a Sahaabi exercised this level of caution when interacting with his ‘mother’ in a situation of dire necessity, due to her being a non-mahram, what level of caution should we be exercising, in a time that abounds with lust and illicit behaviour. While this applies to physical meetings and verbal conversations, it equally applies to interacting via social networks or any other media.     

3. Sayyiduna Safwaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had to fulfil the necessary duty of transporting Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) back to the army, as he could not leave her alone in the wilderness. However, he did so with utmost hayaa. While she was climbing onto the camel, he turned away completely, and after she was mounted on the camel, he did not walk beside her, but walked in front, where he could not see her. In essence, both these Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), on this occasion, displayed the highest levels of hayaa and purdah, despite the difficult situation, thus setting the standard for the Ummah to follow.