The punishment of the Beni Mustalik had been effected, and nought remained but the division of the spoil. The captives had mostly been ransomed, but one, a girl, Juweira, remained sorrowfully with the Muslim, for her ransom was fixed so high that payment was impossible. Mahomet listened to her tale, and the loveliness of her face and figure did not escape him.
“Wilt thou hearken to what may be better?” he asked her, “even that I should pay thy ransom and take thee myself?”
Juweira was thankful for her safety, and rejoiced at her good fortune. Mahomet married her straightway, and for her bridal gift gave her the lives of her fellow tribesmen.
“Wherefore,” says Ayesha, “Juweira was the best benefactress to her people in that she restored the captives to their kinsfolk.”
But the Citizens and Refugees were by no means so contented. Their quarrel arose nominally out of the distribution of spoil, but really it was a long smouldering discontent that finally burst into flame. Mahomet was faced with what threatened to be a serious revolt, and only his orders for an immediate march prevented the outbreak of desperate passions—greed and envy.
Abdallah, their ubiquitous leader, is chidden in the Kuran, where the whole affair brings down the strength of Mahomet’s scorn upon his offending people.
The camp broke up immediately, and through its hasty departure Ayesha was faced with what might have been the tragedy of her life. Her litter was carried away without her by an oversight on the part of the bearers, and she was left alone in the desert’s velvet dusk with no alternative but to await its return. The dark deepened, adding its mysterious vastness and silence to trouble her already tremulous mind. In the first hours of the night Safwan, one of Mahomet’s rear, came towards her as she sat forlorn, and was amazed to find the Prophet’s wife in such a position. He brought his mule near her, then turned his face away as she mounted, so as to keep her inviolate from his gaze. Closely veiled, and trembling as to her meeting with Mahomet, Ayesha rode with Safwan at her bridle until the next day they came up with the main column.
Now murmurs against her broke out on all sides. Mahomet refused to believe her story, and remained estranged from her until she asked permission to return to her father as her word was thus doubted. Ali was consulted by the Prophet, and he, with that antagonism towards Ayesha which germinated later into open hatred, was inclined to believe her defamers. At last the outcry became so great that Mahomet called upon Allah. Entering his chamber in Medina, he received the signs of divine inspiration. When the trance was over, he declared that Ayesha was innocent, and revealed the passage dealing with divorce in Sura 24:
“They who defame virtuous women and bring not four witnesses, scourge them with fourscore stripes, and receive ye not their testimony forever, for these are perverse persons.... And they who shall accuse their wives, and have no witnesses but themselves, the testimony of each of them shall be a testimony by God four times repeated, that He is indeed of them that speak the truth.”