How did the Companions ask Hz. Aisha questions?

The Details of the Question

- The Companions asked Hz. Aisha questions and learned from her.
- How did the Companions ask Hz. Aisha questions?
- Was it appropriate for them to greet her?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Allah states the following for the wives of the Prophet (pbuh):

“And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen.” (al-Ahzab, 33/53)

When the male Companions asked Hz. Aisha or the other wives of the Prophet something, they would answer behind a screen.

According to Abu Hanifa and his friends, it is not permissible for women to greet men first. For, women were prohibited from activities such as adhan, iqama, and reading the Quran aloud in a public place. Only mahram relatives are excluded. There is no harm in greeting them. Accordingly, if a man greets first due to familiarity, the woman can greet him in return.

Malikis made a distinction between young and old women related to greeting. The evidence they base their view on is the principle of “blocking the means to evil (saddudh-dhari’a)”

There are examples of practices showing that the Prophet (pbuh) greeted some non-mahram women or responded to their greetings.

Asma bint Yazid reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stopped by a group of women and greeted them. (Abu Dawud, Adab, 127) On the other hand, once, the Prophet (pbuh) was making wudu at home in the year of conquest, and his daughter Fatima was screening him. Meanwhile, when Ummu Hani, the daughter of Abu Talib, entered and greeted her; the Prophet (pbuh) asked who she was and said “hello” to her. (Bukhari, Ghusl, 21, Salah, 4, Adab, 94; Muslim, Hayd, 70, Musafirin, 82; Tirmidhi, Isti'dhan, 34: Nasai, Taharah, 142)

Once, while the Prophet (pbuh) was with his wife Aisha, Gabriel (Jibril) came to them. The Prophet said to his wife; “This is Jibril; he is greeting you.” Hz. Aisha responded to his greeting by saying “Peace be upon him too”. (Bukhari, Bad'ul-Khalq, 6, Isti'dhan, 16, 19; Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba, 90, 91; Tirmidhi Manaqib, 62, Isti'dhan, 5.)

Similar greeting practices were also seen among some male and female Companions. It is stated above that Hz. Umar greeted the women when he went to accept their allegiance on behalf of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), and that the women responded to his greeting by saying “hello”. (A. b. Hanbal, V/85, VI/409) In addition, it is reported that when Muadh b. Jabal (d. 18/639) went to Yemen as a governor, a woman with twelve children came to him and greeted him. (A. b. Hanbal, V/239)

Some of the Companions said that men could greet women but that women could not greet them. However, it is reported that Abdullah b. Umar greeted a woman and that Ata b. Abi Rabah (d. 115/733) said, “If the women are young, they are not greeted.” (see Yusuf al-Qardawi, Fatawa, II/274)

When the evidences above are examined carefully, it will be seen that greeting non-mahram women occurs either when women are in a group or when there is familiarity with them, or when they come together for a job or due to a necessity.

Some scholars forbade greeting with women because a woman’s voice is haram for men. However, there is no direct verse or hadith stating that a woman's voice is haram for a man in cases of necessity or need and at normal times. As a matter of fact, Allah Almighty states the following for the wives of the Prophet (pbuh):

“And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen.” (al-Ahzab, 33/53)

When male Companions asked or wanted something from Hz. Aisha or other wives of the Prophet (pbuh), they would answer behind a screen. Many female Companions dealt with men in their daily life, by receiving, giving and asking something, getting answers, greeting and speaking; nobody said to them, “Shut up, your voice is haram for men!”

However, it should not be forgotten that this issue is limited to the danger of fitnah (mischief) and Islamic decency. Therefore, there is no danger of fitnah in greeting elderly women or women in a group, or relatives with familiarity in the family, such as aunts and their daughters but it cannot be said that there is no such danger in greeting young girls and women who are alone.

On the other hand, the following can be said about the manners of greeting. The riding person greets the walking one, the young one greets the old one, a small group greets a large group, the one who is above greets the one who is below. One does not greet a person who is praying, eating, is in the toilet and a person committing a haram deed such as drinking alcohol and gambling. (See Bukhari, Isti'dhan, 3-7, 11; Muslim, Adab, 46, Salam, 1; Abu Dawud, Isti'dhan, 6; Tirmidhi, Isti'dhan, 14; A. b. Hanbal, III/ 44, 444, VI/19, 20)

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