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Did the Prophet (sws) punch Aishah (ra)?
Question asked by Asma.
Posted on: Saturday, November 20, 2004 - Hits: 2081


Question:
I was narrated a hadith to the following effect, recently:

One time the prophet went to the graveyard to pray for the dead, and Aishah (ra) thought he went somewhere else. So, she followed him without him knowing. Then, when he returned home he found her under the bed sheets breathing vigorously since she was running back home before him. And when he realized, he asked her whether she was the one covered in black, following him all along. She confessed after he told her that if you don't tell me, Allah will tell me. Then, the prophet (saw) punched her in her chest, which hurt her...

I have been unable to find this hadith in Bukhari. Is this hadith in fact in the books anywhere, and does it sound right? I mean, why would the Prophet (saw) punch his wife and hurt her after he tells husbands to be good to their wives; he holds up a miswak when someone asks him with what he should 'beat' his wife with; he says that the best among men are those who are good to their husbands; he was the most patient and in control man and wouldn't lash out at anyone unless it was in defense; there are steps outlined in the Qur'an that need to be followed before any physical 'abuse'. Please clear my confusion.


Answer:
This story finds mention in some of the books on Hadith (and I could not find it in the Sahih of Bukhari), but the above representation seems to moderate the expressions. What follows is a simple translation of the relevant part of the narrative:

...Then I followed him until he reached the (graveyard of) Al Baqiah. He stood there for a long time. Then he raised his hands three times and returned. I also returned and when he hastened (towards home) I too hastened. He then ran and I did the same. Then he ran faster and I did the same and entered (the home) before he did. As soon as I lay down, he entered. He asked, "What is the matter, you are swollen with panting?" 'Nothing' I said. He said, "Tell me or the Lateef and the Kaabir will definitely inform me." Aishah says that she replied, "O Messenger of God, I sacrifice my father and mother on you, and I told him what had happened." (Aishah says) He said, "Then the black thing that I saw before me was you." 'Yes' said I (Aishah). Then he punched me in my chest that hurt me. Then he said, "Do you think that God and His Messenger would commit injustice with you!" I said, "Sometimes a person conceals things that God knows. Yes indeed." The Prophet (sws) (then) said, "I saw that Jibreel came to me and called me and I kept it from you and replied to him slowly. He would not enter on you for you had put off your clothes. And I assumed you had gone asleep and I disliked awaking you up fearing that you would be frightened.

The hitting in this narrative cannot be taken to mean punishment for certain reasons:

1. The words used to connote the hitting are: ‏فلهدني ‏ ‏في صدري ‏ ‏لهدة (then he hit me in the chest.) In Arabic, the verb ‘lahada’ means a) to hit someone in the chest (الضرب في الثديين و اصول الكتفين i.e. a hit in the breasts (of a woman) and the roots of the shoulders: Lisaan al Arab) b) a severe damage in the chest (الصدمة الشديدة في الصدر: a severe hit in the chest: Lisaan an Arab) and c)pushing someone as in لهدت الرجل (lahadtu arrajula) I pushed the man (Lisaan al Arab).

2. If you consider the whole story and study the usage in the proper place, it become obvious that in this context, it does not connote some kind of punishment. It is not even a serious reproach. This is obvious from the dialogue that occurred afterwards. All the conversation goes on politely and Aishah (rta) does not show any feelings. The Prophet (Sws) unfolds the story before Ayeshah as he wanted.

3. Besides, as you mentioned in your mails, the Prophet (Sws) is known to be a very kind and loving man. He was not to indulge in such wanton reproach and would not go on hitting people on such natural faults. He cannot be imagined to have going against the directives of the Qur’an, which introduces a gradual process and certain measures to be taken before you resort to physical punishment. Another important fact is that physical punishment cannot be dispensed on showing curiosity rather on persistent rebellious attitude.

Therefore, it can be at best an act of love and affection. The Prophet (sws) was a human being, a very loving life partner. He could also react as we do in our circles of loved ones. Here, he only punches his wife just as we do with our friends and with our life partners. This can, in no way be considered a sudden fit of anger and undeserved punishment.


Regards,
Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
Research Assistant, Studying Islam


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