In 628 C.E. the jealousy of vested interests against Ayesha culminated in what came to be known as the ‘ordeal of falsehood.’ Ayesha had accompanied the Holy Prophet on the expedition against Banu al-Mustaliq. On the way back the army camped for the night and early next morning departed without realizing that Ayesha was not in the litter on the camel. She had gone to answer the call of nature where her necklace dropped and it was with some difficulty that she was able to locate the lost necklace. When she returned, the caravan had left.
The scandal. Ayesha wrapped herself and lay down. After some time a companion Safwan bin Mu’attal passed that way. He led his camel to Ayesha which she mounted. Safwan walked on foot leading the camel Ayesha joined the camp at the next stop. The interested parties made this simple incident the subject of scandal and calumny. Hamna daughter of Jahsh, and a sister of Zainab another wife of the Holy Prophet, Abdullah bin Ubayye the hypocrite, Mistah a relative of Abu Bakr whom he supported, and Hassan bin Thabit, the poet, were active in spreading the calumny.
The crisis. The Holy Prophet became cool to Ayesha and she shifted to her father’s house. Her mother Umm Ruman said, “My daughter, take life calmly for it is seldom that a beautiful woman married to a loving husband, having rival wives, will not have problems for them and other people.” This incident created a great crisis for Abu Bakr and he was at a loss to understand what to do or not to do.
The revelation. One day the Holy Prophet called at the house of Abu Bakr and said, “If Ayesha is guilty of what is said about her she should repent and ask for the forgiveness of God.” Ayesha said, “I swear I shall never ask forgiveness for the thing you speak of, for if I admit, that will be an admission of what I have never done, and if I do not admit you will not believe me. At this some verses of Surah Nur were revealed to the Holy Prophet absolving Ayesha of the false accusation against her. The Holy Prophet recited the revealed verses and said, “Ayesha rejoice, for God has revealed to me your innocence.”
Umm Ruman wanted Ayesha to rise up and thank the Holy Prophet. Ayesha said, “I will never get up, in gratitude to him for I have no one to thank except God Who has declared me innocent.”
The predicament of Abu Bakr. Ayesha next turned to Abu Bakr and said “Father would you not have pardoned me if there had been no revelation.” Abu Bakr kissed her on the forehead and said, “What heaven would cover me, and what earth would carry me if I judged that which I could not know.”
Mistah. The Holy Prophet went to the mosque and told the people of the revelation. Those who had taken part in the calumny without any proof were punished. Mistah used to get an allowance from Abu Bakr, and in view of the part played by Mistah in the ordeal of falsehood, Abu Bakr decided to discount the allowance, and swore that he would no longer help Mistah. On this descended the verse: “And let not those who possess dignity and affluence among you, swear not to give to kinsmen and the poor, and those who migrated for God’s sake. Let them forgive and show forbearance. Do you wish that God should forgive you; And God is Forgiving, Merciful.”
When this revelation was brought to the notice of Abu Bakr he said, “Yes, by Allan, I want God to forgive me.” Thereupon he restored the allowance to Mistah.
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