بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Quite often, Ummul Muminīn ʿAishah’s رضي الله عنها emergence and involvement in what turned out to be the battle of Jamal is cited as evidence that a woman can, in fact, adopt a leadership role in Islam. While her emergence and leadership in this instance can be easily dismissed as an exception, a case of dire necessity, not over riding the general, clear evidences in Sharīcah to the contrary; an in-depth, unbiased, analysis of the incident actually reveals that there is no ground, or argument from this instance that lends weight to the emergence of women and their assuming the mantle of leadership, governance and control. An objective study of the incident, the circumstances surrounding it and ʿAishah’s رضي الله عنها actual role, as well as her sentiments with regards to it, rather proves the converse.
All the pure wives (azwāj mutahharāt رضي الله عنهن) of the Prophet ﷺ were in Makkah Mukarrmah for Hajj when ʿUthman رضي الله عنه was martyred. Talḥah and Zubair رضي الله عنهما were in Madinah Munawwarah when the assassination occurred but then came down to Makkah. After ʿAishah رضي الله عنها encouraged the people to pursue qiṣāṣ (judicial execution) for ʿUthman’s رضي الله عنه murder, they agreed to it. However, they started to discuss whether to go directly to Madīnah or seek help from the Muslims of Syria or Basrah. The pure wives, including ʿAishah رضي الله
These were the actual circumstances surrounding ʿAishah’s رضي الله عنها travel on this occasion. None of the illustrious Ṣaḥābah involved had the slightest thought of engaging in battle. They were proceeding to make peace, to secure a sharcī (legal) right. Allāh Tacālā says in the Quran Majīd, “And do not kill the soul which Allāh has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority [to demand qiṣāṣ], but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].” It is this right of qiṣāṣ that they hoped to secure. A battle would defeat the purport of this verse and what they were hoping to achieve. In any case, as decided, they set out for Basrah. It was on the way to Basrah that a very significant conversation ensued. This telling detail is often overlooked, relegated – conveniently or due to lack of understanding and in-depth, unbiased research into the incident.
Imām Ibn Abī Shaibah رحمه الله narrates in his Muṣannaf, “When ʿAishah رضي الله عنها reached the water springs of Banī ʿĀmir at night, the dogs barked at her, she then enquired, “Which watering place is this?” They replied, “The water of Ḥaw-ab.” She paused for some time then remarked, “I do not see myself except that I am turning back.” Talḥa and Zubair رضي الله عنهما said to her, “May Allāh have mercy on you, do not make haste, rather you should proceed so that the Muslims will see you and due to such, Allāh will reconcile between them. She responded, “I do not see myself except that I am turning back, for indeed, I remember the Prophet ﷺ saying to us (wives) one day, “How will your state be when the dogs of Ḥaw-ab bark at one of you?”
The expert Syrian hadīth scholar, ʿAllāmah Muhammad ʿAwwāmah حفظه الله explains,
“The reader should examine the words of Talḥah and Zubair رضي الله عنهما to ʿAishah رضي الله عنها, “Allāh will reconcile between them,” for surely it served as a reminder to her of the true purpose and intent of her emergence (from the confines of her home), i.e. the reconciliation between two great parties of Muslims.
She did not go there to fight, nor did she go as the commander of an army or as the leader of a specific affair of the Muslims. Therefore, using this emergence as evidence, erroneously or sophistically, that it is permissible for a woman to take charge of a collective matter of the general Muslims, is wrong. ʿAishah, may Allāh be pleased with her, did not emerge for this.
Yes, due to her nobility and the confidence in her status, that no one would charge against her from the opposing side, her presence gave the impression as a representative (commander) of the people.
He –Ḥafidh Ibn Ḥajar- transmitted in Al-Fatḥ, from Muhallab رحمهما الله the statement, ‘That which is known from Abū Bakrah رضي الله عنه is that he was of the same view of ʿAishah رضي الله عنها in seeking out reconciliation between the people and their intent was not to fight.’
The astute reader should examine the manner in which the Prophetic statement [“How will your state be when the dogs of Ḥaw-ab bark at one of you?”] was mentioned. Was it given in the context of praise of her emerging [for this endeavour], so that we can now use it as evidence for the legality of the leadership of women, or did it come in a way of rebuke and reproach in the manner that it truly was?”
For arguments sake, if we assume that ʿAishah رضي الله عنها was the actual leader of the army, then her action still cannot oppose the Prophetic hadith which forbids women from this position.
The honest ṣaḥābi, Abū Bakrah رضي الله عنه said that during the battle of Jamal, Allāh benefited me with a statement (I heard from the Prophet ﷺ). When it reached the Prophet ﷺ that the Persians had made the daughter of Kẖosrau their Queen (ruler), he ﷺ said, “A people will never succeed who give their leadership to a woman.”
Furthermore, what was ʿAishah’s personal sentiments and opinion with regards to this incident? The prolific historian, Imām Zahabī رحمه الله said, “There is no doubt that ʿAishah رضي الله عنها utterly regretted her travel to Basrah and her presence on the Day of Jamal. She never imagined the matter would reach where it did.” ʿAishah رضي الله عنها, herself, used to say, “For me to have stayed away from this journey and sat down (at home) would be more beloved to me than having ten children from the Prophet ﷺ like that of Al-Ḥārith ibn Hishām’s.”
Under the commentary of the verse “And stay [plural feminine] in your houses,” many mufassirun, including Imam Ṯhaʿlabī and Qurtubī رحمهم الله, have quoted that, “Whenever ʿAishah رضي الله عنها would recite this verse she would cry until her scarf became wet.”
Imām Baihaqī رحمه الله mentions in Al-Itiqād, “She [ʿAishah] never remembered this journey of hers, except that she would cry until her scarf became wet and she would say, ‘O, how I wish I could fall into utter oblivion.’”
How can a rational, logical mind ever rely on this incident as proof in support of female leadership? These statements were no doubt uttered out of fear of the accounts on the Day of Judgement. Imagine what our respected mother, ʿAishah’s reaction would be if she knew that people of the twenty-first century would erroneously use her journey, which she regretted and considered a mistake, to break the laws of Allāh with respect to hījāb, leadership and modesty.
Rather ʿʿAishah رضي الله عنها complained to Ibn ʿUmar رضي الله عنهما for not preventing her from going to Basrah. She asked him, “Why did you not prevent me from this journey?” He replied, “I saw that one person (i.e. Ibn Zubair) had influenced you and I did not think you would have gone against him.” Ḥazrat ʿAishah رضي الله عنها replied, “Nay, by Allāh, if you had prohibited me, I would not have emerged.”
This also proves that ʿAbdullah ibn Zubair, his father Zubair and Talḥah رضي الله عنهم were the ones who were truly in charge, while the Mother of Believers, ʿAishah رضي الله عنها only accompanied them for moral support, as Shaikh Muhammad ʿAwwāmah indicated to.
She felt so ashamed of this emergence that, on account of it, she decided not to be buried in her own room next to her husband, the Prophet ﷺ and her father, Abū Bakr رضي الله عنه. ʿAishah رضي الله عنها, herself said, “I used to tell myself that I will be buried with the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ and Abū Bakr. Then I said, ‘I committed an innovation, bury me with his wives. So, she was buried in Al-Baqiʿ.” Imām Zahabī رحمه الله said, “By innovation, she meant her ride on the Day of Jamal. She had utterly regretted that and repented from it even though she did not pursue it except with a (valid) interpretation and intention of (a) good (outcome).”
The grand muftī of Pakistan, Ḥazrat Muftī Muhammad Rafīʿ ʿUsmānī sahib حفظه الله concludes, “From all these events it becomes clear that Ḥazrat ʿAishah never coveted the leadership of government or claimed it, nor did anyone suggested that she should be appointed as the leader. Her objective was never to be a commander of any battle, rather she simply emerged to implement a Quranic injunction and to bring about reconciliation amongst the Muslims. However, since this endeavour was somewhat in the realm of politics, the Ṣaḥābah Kirām did not approve of it and she herself utterly regretted it, to the extent that she felt bad to be buried in the rawdah of Rasūl ﷺ. So, judge with justice. How can the venture, which she herself considered a mistake in the end, which she cried over and regretted to the extent that she felt ashamed to be buried next to the Prophet ﷺ, be used as evidence (to prove the permissibility of female leadership)?”
Allāh Tacālā be pleased with our respected mother, ʿAishah and may He forgive the ummah and guide us
 See Al-Bidāyah wan Nihāyah Vol.10 Pg.431-433, Vol.11 Pg.147, Nawādirul Fiqh by Rafīʿ ʿUsmānī Vol.1 Pg.179-180
 #38926 After narrating it in Fatḥul Bārī, Ḥāfidh Ibn Ḥajar said, “It was collected by Aḥmad, Abū Yaclā and Al-Bazzār. Ibn Ḥibbān and Ḥākim authenticated it. Its chain is on the condition of Al-Ṣaḥīḥ.” Vol.16 Pg.516 Ḥāfidh Zahabī (in Siyar Vol.2 Pg.178) and Ḥāfidh Ibn Kathīr (in Al-Bidāyah Vol.9 Pg.187) also authenticated it.
 He related the hadith of Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī #7099 which is also quoted in this article.
 Awwāmah’s footnotes on Musannaf Vol.21 Pg.372
 Bukhari #7099
 Siyar Alāmun Nubalā Vol.
 Collected by Ibn Abī Shaibah in Muṣannaf #38966. Shaikh ʿAwwāmah explained that Al-Ḥārith is an honorable ṣahābī from those who accepted Islam at the conquest of Makkah. What is meant by his children are his grandchildren who were all great and upright. For instance, one of them, Abū Bakr was one of the seven great fuqahā of Madīnah.
 Tafsīr Qurtubī, Zuhd of Imām Ahmed #911
 Istīʿāb by Ibn Abdil Barr Mālikī Vol.3 Pg.910, Nasbur Rāyah Vol.4 Pg.70, Nawādirul Fiqh Vol.2 Pg.185
 Collected by Ḥākim in Mustadrak Vol.4 Pg.6 and he authenticated on the conditions of Bukhārī and Muslim. Zahabī agreed with this classification.
 She intended to bring about reconciliation and seek justice. Later, she realized that this was not her place.
 Siyar ‘Alaam Vol.2 Pg.193
 Nawadirul Fiqah Vol.2 Pg.187