The incident of Ifk (slander) in detail
Fatwa No: 321967

Question

What was the incident of Al-Ifk, the slandering of ʻAa'ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

The hadeeth about the incident of Ifk (false allegation against 'Aa'ishah) was narrated by Al-Bukhari and others:

ʻAa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her said, “Whenever the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, intended to go on a journey, he used to draw lots amongst his wives, and he would take with him the one on whom the lot fell. He drew lots amongst us for one of his battles, and the lot fell on me, so I set out with him after the divine command of veiling (the women) had been revealed. I was carried (on the back of a camel) in my howdaj (camel's litter for women) and was carried down while still inside it (when we came to a halt). On the way back from that ghazwah (battle), while we were camping near Madeenah, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, announced at night that it was time for departure. When they announced the news of departure, I got up and went away from the army camp to answer the call of nature. When I came back to my camel, I touched my chest to find that my necklace which was made of thafaar beads (i.e. Yemenite beads partly black and partly white) was missing. So, I returned to look for my necklace, and my search for it detained me. Meanwhile, the people who used to carry me on my camel came and lifted my howdaj on the back of the camel thinking that I was inside of it. In those days, women were light in weight for they did not get fat, and flesh did not cover their bodies in abundance as they used to eat only a little food. Those people, therefore, overlooked the lightness of the howdah while lifting it; and at that time I was also still a young girl. They made the camel rise and led it away. I found my necklace after the army had gone. I came to their camping place to find no one. So I decided to go to the place where I used to stay, thinking that they would miss me and come back to look for me there. While I was sitting there, I was overtaken by sleep. Safwaan ibn Al-Muʻattal As-Sulami Ath-Thakwaani was behind the army. When he reached my place in the morning, he saw the figure of a sleeping person, and he recognized me upon seeing my figure as he had seen me before the order of veiling was revealed. I woke up when he recited istirjaa' (Inna lillaahi wa inna llayhi raajiʻoon [Indeed, we belong to Allaah and indeed to Him we shall return]) as soon as he recognized me. I veiled my face with my head cover at once, and by Allaah, we did not speak a single word, and I did not hear him say a word besides his istirjaa'. He dismounted from his camel and made it kneel down, putting his leg on its front legs until I rode on it. Then he led the camel till we reached the army at noon while they were taking a rest. (Because of this incident) some people brought destruction upon themselves and the one who spread the Ifk (slander) most was ʻAbdullaah ibn Ubayy ibn Salool.

ʻUrwah said, “The people propagated the slander and talked about it in his (i.e. Ibn Salool) presence, and he confirmed it and listened to it and asked about it to let it spread more ... None was mentioned as members of the slanderous group besides him (Ibn Salool) except Hassaan ibn Thaabit, Mistah ibn Uthaathah, and Hamnah bint Jahsh, along with others about whom I have no knowledge, but they were a group, as Allaah said. It is said that the one who carried most of the slander was 'Abdullaah ibn Ubayy ibn Salool.

ʻUrwah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him added, “ʻAa'ishah disliked to hear any abuse of Hassaan in her presence, and she used to say, 'It was he who said, 'My father and my father's father and my honor are all for the protection of Muhammad's honor from you.''

ʻAa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her added:

“After we returned to Madeenah, I became ill for a month. The people were propagating the false statements of the slanderers while I was unaware of anything of all that, but I felt that in my present ailment, I was not receiving the same kindness from the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, as I used to receive when I got sick. (But now) the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, would only come, greet me and say, 'How is that (lady)?' and leave. That roused my doubts, but I did not discover the evil (i.e. slander) till I went out after my convalescence. I went out with Umm Mistah to Al-Manaasi’, where we used to answer the call of nature, and we used not to go out for this purpose except at night, and that was before we had latrines near our houses. This habit of ours was similar to the habits of the old Arabs living in the desert, for it was disliked by us to have latrines near our houses. So I went out with Umm Mistah, who was the daughter of Abu Ruhm ibn Al-Muttalib ibn ʻAbd Manaaf, whose mother was the daughter of Sakhr ibn ʻAamir and the aunt of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq and whose son was Mistah ibn Uthaathah ibn ʻAbbaas ibn Al-Muttalib. On our way back to my house, after we finished answering the call of nature, Umm Mistah stumbled on her covering sheet, and upon that, she said, 'May Mistah be ruined!' I said, 'What a hard word you have said. Do you abuse a man who took part in the battle of Badr?' On that she said, 'O dear girl! Did you not hear what he said? 'I said, 'What did he say?' Then she told me about the slander of the people of Ifk. My ailment was aggravated, and when I reached my home, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, came to me, and after greeting me, said, 'How is that (lady)?' I said, 'Will you allow me to go to my parents?' as I wanted to be sure about the news through them. The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, allowed me (and I went to my parents) and asked my mother, 'O mother! What are the people talking about?' She said, 'O my daughter! Do not worry, for scarcely is there a charming woman who is loved by her husband and whose husband has other wives besides herself except that they (i.e. women) would find faults with her.' I said, 'Subhaan Allaah! Are the people really talking in this way?' I kept on weeping that night till dawn. I could neither stop weeping nor sleep, then in the morning I again kept on weeping. When the Divine Inspiration was delayed, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, called ʻAli ibn Abu Taalib and Usamaah ibn Zayd to consult them about divorcing me. Usamaah ibn Zayd said what he knew of my innocence and expressed the respect that he had for me. Usamaah said, 'She is your wife, and we do not know anything except good about her.' ʻAli ibn Abu Taalib said, 'O Messenger of Allaah, Allaah does not put you in difficulty, and there are plenty of women other than her, yet, ask the maid-servant, who will tell you the truth.' The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, called Bareerah (the maid-servant) and said, 'O Bareerah! Did you ever see anything which aroused your suspicion?' Bareerah said to him, 'By Him Who has sent you with the Truth, I have never seen anything in her (i.e. ʻAa'ishah) which I would conceal, except that she is a young girl who sleeps leaving the dough of her family exposed so the domestic goats come and eat it.' So on that day, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, stood on the pulpit and complained about ʻAbdullaah ibn Ubayy (ibn Salool) before his Companions, saying, 'O Muslims! Who will relieve me from that man who has hurt me with his evil statement about my family? By Allaah, I know nothing except good about my family and they have blamed a man (Safwaan) about whom I know nothing except good, and he never used to enter my home except with me.' Saʻd ibn Muʻaath, from Banu ʻAbd Al-Ashhal, got up and said, 'O Messenger of Allaah, I will relieve you from him; if he is from the tribe of Al-Aws, then I will chop his head off, and if he is from our brothers, Al-Khazraj, then order us, and we will fulfill your order.' On that, a man from Al-Khazraj got up. Umm Hassaan was his cousin, from his branch of the tribe, and he was Saʻd ibn ʻUbadaah, chief of Al-Khazraj. Before this incident, he was a pious man, but his love for his tribe goaded him into saying to Saʻd (ibn Muʻaath), 'By Allaah, you have told a lie; you shall not and cannot kill him. If he belonged to your people, you would not wish him to be killed.' On that, Usayd bin Hudhayr who was the cousin of Saʻd (ibn Muʻaath) got up and said, 'By Allaah! You are a liar! We will surely kill him, and you are a hypocrite arguing on behalf of hypocrites.' On this, the two tribes of Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj got so agitated that they were about to fight while the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, was standing on the pulpit. The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, kept on quietening them till they became silent, and so did he. All of that day, I kept on weeping with my tears never ceasing, and I could not sleep. In the morning, my parents were with me, and I wept for two nights and a day with my tears never ceasing, and I could not sleep till I thought that my liver would burst from weeping. So, while my parents were sitting with me and I was weeping, an Ansaari woman asked permission to enter. I allowed her to come in, and when she came in, she sat down and started weeping with me. While we were in this state, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, came, greeted us, and sat down. He had never sat with me since the day of the slander. A month had elapsed, and no Divine Inspiration came to him about my case. The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, recited the testimony of faith and then said, 'O ʻAa'ishah! I have been informed such and such about you; if you are innocent, then soon Allaah will reveal your innocence, and if you have committed a sin, then repent to Allaah and ask Him for forgiveness, for when a slave confesses his sins and asks Allaah for forgiveness, Allaah accepts his repentance.' When the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, finished his speech, my tears ceased flowing completely so that I no longer felt a single tear flowing. I said to my father, 'Answer the Messenger of Allaah on my behalf concerning what he has said.' My father said, 'By Allaah, I do not know what to say to the Messenger of Allaah.' Then I said to my mother, 'Answer the Messenger of Allaah on my behalf concerning what he has said.' She said, 'By Allaah, I do not know what to say to the Messenger of Allaah.' Though I was a young girl and had little knowledge of the Quran, I said, 'By Allaah, no doubt I know that you heard this (slanderous) speech so you believed it and it has become implanted in your hearts. Now if I tell you that I am innocent, you will not believe me, and if I confess to you about it, and Allaah knows that I am innocent, you will surely believe me. By Allaah, I find no similitude for me and you except that of Yusuf's father when he said (what means): {...so, patience is most fitting. And Allaah is the one sought for help against that which you describe.} [Quran 12:18]' Then I turned to the other side and lay on my bed; and Allaah knew then that I was innocent and hoped that Allaah would reveal my innocence. But, by Allaah, I never thought that Allaah would reveal Divine Inspiration that would be recited (forever)  about my case as I considered myself too unworthy to be talked of by Allaah with something of my concern, but I hoped that the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, might have a dream in which Allaah would prove my innocence. However, by Allaah, before the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, left his seat and before any of the household left, the Divine inspiration came to the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam. So the same hard condition which used to overtake him (when he received revelation) overtook him. The sweat was dropping from him like pearls though it was a wintry day, and that was because of the weighty statement that was being revealed to him. When that state of the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, was over, he got up smiling, and the first word that he said was, 'O ʻAa'ishah! Allaah has declared your innocence!' Then my Mother said to me, 'Get up and go to him (i.e. the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam).' I replied, 'By Allaah, I will not go to him, and I praise none but Allaah.' So, Allaah, The Exalted, revealed the ten verses that read (what means): {Indeed, those who came with falsehood are a group among you...} [Quran 24:11-20] Allaah revealed those Quranic verses to declare my innocence. Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, who used to give money in charity to Mistah ibn Uthaathah because of his relationship to him and his poverty, said, 'By Allaah, I will never give to Mistah ibn Uthaathah anything after what he has said about ʻAa'ishah.' Then Allaah revealed the verse (which means): {And let not those of virtue among you and wealth swear not to give (aid) to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allaah, and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allaah should forgive you? And Allaah is Forgiving and Merciful.} [Quran 24:22] Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, 'Yes, by Allaah, I would like that Allaah forgive me,' and he went on giving Mistah the money that he used to give him before. He also added, 'By Allaah, I will never deprive him of it at all.'”

ʻAa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her further said:

The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, also asked Zaynab bint Jahsh (his wife) about my case. He said to Zaynab, 'What do you know and what did you see?' She replied, 'O Messenger of Allaah, I refrain from claiming falsely that I have heard or seen anything. By Allaah, I know nothing except good (about ʻAa'ishah).' From amongst the wives of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, Zaynab was my peer (in beauty and in the love that she received from the Prophet), but Allaah saved her from that evil because of her piety. Her sister Hamnah was the one who slandered me (because I was her sister's co-wife) and she was destroyed along with those who were destroyed.”

Ibn Shihaab  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented, “This is the news reported to me about those who circulated the rumors about ʻAa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her.” ʻUrwah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him added, “Then, ʻAa'ishah remarked, 'The man who was blamed (Safwaan) said, 'Subhaan Allaah! By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, I have never uncovered (the veil of) any female.' Later on, he was martyred in the cause of Allaah.''” [Al-Bukhari and others]

Allaah knows best.

Related Fatwa