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Last Updated: 2016/10/20
Summary of question
What happened to Aisha, the wife of the Prophet of Islam (S) after the Battle of Jamal? Was she living under house arrest for a period of time?
Did Imam Ali (AS) order Aisha to be kept under house arrest after the Battle of Jamal? Is there any difference or discrepancy among the historians in this regard?
Concise answer
Following the battle of Jamal, Imam Ali (AS) ordered his comrades to take Aisha to Abdullah bin Khalaf Khazā’ei’s house who along with his sons had been killed in the same battle while fighting for Aisha.  As for whether or not this was a kind of house arrest, it is necessary to pay attention to a few relevant points as follows:
1. Following the battle of Jamal, some people uttered foul words addressing Aisha. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali (AS) punished those who used foul language.
2. Although Aisha had complained about her body guards or those who accompanied her on her return to Medina, she had not complained about how she had been treated and kept in custody following the battle.
3. Those who lived in Abdullah bin Khalaf’s house were Aisha’s supporters and opposed to Imam Ali (AS) not hesitating to express their enmity and support openly.
In view of these points, it is becomes clear that sending Aisha to the said house was not meant to put her under house arrest. Rather she had to stay in Basra for some time until she was ready for return. Imam Ali (AS) considered a big and capacious place for her stay in Basra. It was a house of her own supporters.
Detailed Answer
The battle of Jamal was the first battle that took between two opposing groups of Muslims after some of the Prophet’s companions broke their allegiance and stood against Imam Ali (AS). In this battle, those who opposed Imam Ali (AS) were from different Arab tribes and groups. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet of Islam (S), was one of the most influential and prominent figures in the army. However, following her defeat, she extremely regretted her decision to fight Ali (AS). The trauma left her devastated with psychological problems.  After the battle of Jamal, Aisha used to remind herself of the Quranic verse which says, وَ قَرْنَ في بُيُوتِكُنَّ “And stay indoors”[1]. As per the reports, whe wept so vehemently that her scarf became wet.[2]
As well, she was weeping a lot when she was nearing her death. She used to say, “The battle of Jamal has stuck in my throat like a bone; I wish I had died before it and was forgotten.”[3]
With that said, we shall now deal with what happened to Aisha following the battle until she reached Medina.
Aisha and the End of the Battle of Jamal
A group of Kufis attacked a camel [which carried Aisha] and made the people around the camel to disperse.  There and then, a man from Murad tribe named A’ayun bin Zabighah” reached the camel and severed its legs.  The camel let out a loud cry in pain and collapsed on the dead bodies of the Battle.  Aisha’s kajawa (howdah) also turned over.  Ali ordered Muhammad bin Abi Bakr (Aisha’s brother) by saying: “Go to your sister!  Muhammad stretched his hand into the kajawa until it reached Aisha’s dress.  Aisha asked: “We are from Allah, Who are you? May your mother mourn your death and weep over you (for having dared to extend your hands to the wife the Prophet).”
“I am your brother, Muhammad,” Muhammad replied.[4]
Imam Ali (AS) stepped forth until he reached the howdah. Her howdah began to look like a hedgehog, with the many arrows sticking out of it. Imam Ali (AS) hit the howdah with his stick and said: “O Humaira, did you want to conspire my death in the same way as you conspired [Uthman] bin ‘Affan’s death? Was that God’s order or that of the Prophet (S)?!”
Aisha answered: “Now that you have prevailed, I want you to forgive me.”
The Commander of the Faithful, Ali (AS) said to Muhammad: “Go and see if your sister has been injured?” Muhammad examined Aisha’s condition and saw that only one arrow had pierced through his sister’s garment and had left a small bruise. He informed the Imam about it. The Imam (AS) said to him: “Take her to the house of Khaza’ei’s children (Abdullah and Uthman).”[5]
Thereupon, a few people lifted the howdah and brought her out of the dead bodies and then helped her ride on a donkey. She was escorted to that house.[6]
A few days later, Imam Ali (AS) said to Muhammad: “Go with your sister and accompany her to Medina and then come back quickly.” Muhammad said: “O Commander of the Faithful, excuse me from doing this!”
Imam Ali (AS) said: “No way, I cannot excuse you.”[7]
Meanwhile, Imam Ali (AS) readied forty women to take care of Aisha and ordered them to wear turbans and carry with them swords like men and let not anyone know about them.  (Even Aisha who was being accompanied did not know about it.) Aisha used to say during the journey, “May God afflict the son of Abi Talib with such and such ...who has delegated unrelated men to accompany me!”  But when they arrived in Medina, the accompanying women removed their turbans and scarves and went to Aisha. Seeing them (and realizing the truth), she said: “May Allah grant Paradise to Ali bin Abi Talib.”[8]
This story has been narrated somewhat differently elsewhere:
When Aisha moved to Medina, Imam Ali (AS) delegated Aisha’s brother, Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakr[9] and thirty men and twenty women from Bani Qays and Hamdan tribes ordering them to be at Aisha’s service.  When Aisha arrived in Medina, she was asked: “How was your journey and how did Ali behave with you?!”
She answered, “By Allah, it went well and the son of Abi Talib forgave too many times and behaved too benevolently but he made some men to accompany which I did not like!”
Hearing this, the women who had accompanied her introduced themselves and when she learned the truth, she prostrated and said: “By Allah, O son of Abi Talib, you treated me with respect and dignity. I wish I had not rebelled even if many different afflictions had befallen me.”[10]
Was Aisha put under house arrest or not?
According to historical reports, following the battle of Camel, Imam Ali (AS) ordered his comrades to take Aisha to Abdullah bin Khalaf Khazā’ei’s house[11] who was one of the men who fought in Aisha’s army but he was killed and his wife, named Safiyyah, was present there in the house.[12]
When it comes to Aisha’s stay in this house and whether or not it was a kind of house arrest, it is necessary to take notice of the following points:
1. Following the battle, there were some people who rebuked Aisha and even swore at her. In common view, this action on the part on the individuals who had lost their dear and near in the battle which had been ignited by Aisha seemed a natural reaction but Imam Ali (AS) forbade them from swearing at her and even punished them.[13]
2. Although Aisha complained about the people who accompanied her thinking they were men, there are historical narratiosn (some of which were mentioned above) in which there is no mention of any complaint by Aisha about Imam Ali’s approach in how the latter treated the former.
3. There is a report in the history that can shed some light and give us a picture of the situation prevailing in the house in which Aisha stayed:
To meet Aisha, Imam Ali (AS) went to Abdullah bin Khalaf’s house which was then the biggest house in Basra. Therein, he met some women who were wailing and crying over the death of Abdullah’s two sons one of whom had been killed alongside Imam Ali’s army and the other had been killed while fighting for the Basra army!
Safiyyah, Abdullah’s wife was also crying and when she saw Imam Ali (AS), she said: “You murderer! You bereaved me of those whom I loved (husband and two sons), you spread discord among the people, may Allah bereave you of your sons as you bereaved Abdullah of his sons.”
Imam Ali (AS) did not answer her. He went to Aisha, greeted her and sat beside her. Thereupon he said:  “Safiyyah picked up a quarrel with me, I had not seen her ever since she was a child.”[14]
In view of these historical reports and the facts that were mentioned above, it becomes clear that sending Aisha to the said house was not meant to put her under complete house arrest. Rather she had to stay in Basra for some time until she was ready for return. Imam Ali (AS) considered a big and capacious place for her accommodation and those who lived in that house were also her supporters.  If she had to stay there in that house – even if we assume that she was compelled to stay there for some time – it was for her good and comfort. Moreover, there is no report to indicate that Aisha lived under house arrest after she returned to Medina, one of his governorates.
With that said, it cannot be concluded that Imam Ali (AS) had no right to put her under house arrest and if she had put her under house arrest, it would have been considered an inappropriate action by him. In fact, even though the Imam (AS) had the right to put her under house arrest, he forgave her out of respect for the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family.

[1] Al-Ahzab, 33.
[2] Zahabi, Muhammad bin Ahmad, Tarikh al-Islam, research, Tadmori, Umar Abdus Salam, vol.4, p.253, Beirut, Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi, second edition, 1409 A.H; Ibn Sa’ad Katib Waqedi, Muhammad bin Sa’ad, al-Tabaqat al-Kobra, vol.8, p. 64, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, second edition, 1418 A.H.
[3] Abulfazl Ahmad bin Abi Tahir Ibn Taifur, Balaghat al-Nisa, vol.1, p.12, Qahira, Walidat al-Abbas al-Awwal printing house, 1326 A.H.; Razi, Mansur bin al-Hussein, Nathr al-Durr fi al-Muhazerat, research, Mahfuz Khalid Abdul Ghani, vol.4, p. 14, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, first edition, 1424 A.H.
[4] Dinawari, Abu Hanifa Ahmad bin Dawood, al-Akhbar al-Tuwal, p.151, Qom, Al-Razi Publications, 1368 (1999).
[5]Sheikh Mufid, Al-Amali, research, Ustad Wali, Hussein, Ghafari, Ali Akbar, p.24 -25, Qom, Sheikh Mufid Congress, first edition, 1413 A.H.
[6] Tabari, Muhammad bin Jarir, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk (Tarikh Tabari), research, Ibrahim, Muhammad Abulfazl, vol,4, p.533, Beirut, Dar al-Turath, second edition, 1387 A.H.
[7] Akhbar al-Tuwal, p.152.
[8] Ibn Qutaibah al-Dinawari, Abdullah bin Muslim, al-Imamah wa al-Siasah, research, Shiri, Ali, vol.1, p.98, Beirut, Dar al-Adhwa, first edition, 1410 A.H.
[9]In most sources, Muhammad bin Abu bin Abi Bakr has been described as a brother who took his sister to Medina.
[10] Abul Hasan Masoudi, Ali bin al-Hussein, Moruj al-Zahab wa Ma’aden al-Jawhar, research, Daghar, As’ad, vol.2, p.370, Qom, Dar al-Hijrah, second edition, 1409 A.H.
[11] Ibn A'tham al-Kufi, Ahmad bin al-Fotuh, research, Shiri, Ali, vol.2, p.485, Beirut, Dar al-Adhwa, 1411 A.H; Ya’qubi, Ahmad bin Abi Ya’qub, History of Al-Ya’qubi, vol.2, p.183, Beirut, Dar Sadir, first edition, (n.d.); Maghrizi, Taqi al-Deen, Amtaa’ al-Asmaa’ bima lin-Nabi min al-Ahwal wal Amwal wa al-Hafdah wa al-Matta’, research, Namisi, Muhammad Abdul Hamid, vol.13, p.248, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, first edition, 1420 A.H.
[12] Akhbar al-Tuwal, p.151.
[13] Ibn Khaldun, Abdur Rahman bin Muhammad, Diwan al-Mubtada wal-Khabar fi Tarikh al-Arab  wal-Barber wa Man ‘Asarahum Min Zawi al-Sha’n al-Akbar (Tarikh Ibn Khaldun), research, Khalil Shahadah, vol.2, p.620, Beirut, Dar al-Fikr, second edition, 1408 A.H.
[14] Ibn al-Jawzi, Abdur Rahman bin Ali, al-Muntazim, research, Ata Muhammad Abdul Qadir, Ata, Mustafa Abdul Qadir, vol.5, p.93, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, first print, 1412 A.H.
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