614 – 678 Third wife of Muhammad
A'ishah was the third and youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad. Born in Mecca, she was the daughter of Abu Bakr , one of the Prophet's most important supporters. Muhammad married her in 624 after the battle of Badr. A'ishah's intelligence, courage, and personal charm established her as his favorite spouse, and she sometimes accompanied her husband on his travels. When Muhammad died in 632 , A'ishah was at his side. Only 18 and without children, she was forbidden to marry again.
A'ishah became an authority on medicine, history, and poetry. She collected and recorded hadith, the words and deeds of Muhammad as reported by his close companions. Historians have traced more than 1,200 of these back to her. She also played a central role in leading prayers for women in the early years of the Muslim community.
A'ishah is best remembered for the active role she played in Muslim political affairs after her husband's death. When disagreement arose over who should succeed Muhammad as caliph, the majority of Muslims chose her father, Abu Bakr . After his death, Umar succeeded him for 10 years and Uthman for 12. Both men were assassinated. A'ishah remained politically inactive during Umar's caliphate but played a significant role in ending that of Uthman. She gave some support to the opposition movement that ultimately led to his murder.
A'ishah also opposed Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad's son-in-law, who was elected caliph after Uthman. A'ishah gathered an army of loyal followers to challenge Ali in battle. Ali defeated her, however, at the Battle of the Camel, named for the animal on which she rode. After capturing A'ishah, Ali freed her on the condition that she abandon politics. A'ishah lived the remainder of her life in Medina. See also Ali ibn Abi Talib ; Caliph; Muhammad .