One of the most common questions that Sunnis are faced with by Twelver Shias is the question of the tawba (repentance) of the Companions of the Prophet – peace be upon him – . Since Sunnis accept that the Companions were not infallible and committed sins, Shias would ask specific questions like, “Where is the evidence that A’isha repented for leaving her home?” or “Where is the evidence that she repented for the battle of Jamal?” They would conclude that if there was no evidence for repentance, that the logical conclusion is that she is in hellfire.
This position Twelvers hold is an extreme position. Below, we shall share a statement by Al-Mufeed which refutes their line of thought, in which he excuses people who committed a much greater sin than the sins that A’isha committed.
Al-Mufeed, the most significant Shia theologian of all time, said in Al-Masa’il Al-Jaroodiyyah p. 36:
“We do no affirm that those that claimed Imamah from the progeny of Al-Hasan (alaihi al-salam) knew of the appointments of the other Imams and that they went against them due to stubbornness. We do not judge that they were upon misguidance that requires to be interpreted away with a narration of them being pardoned, and we hope that they will be forgiven. It is possible that due to what they were upon from fighting for the religion and what they faced from killing and pain shall clear away their lapses in their claim of Imamate, and will cultivate for them much reward. Some of our companions affirm that heaven is for all the sons of Fatima (alaiha al-salam) and holds that they have repented, which is between them and Allah, before they departed from this world, even if this did not become apparent to other slaves (of Allah).”
In a nutshell, the children of Al-Hasan, who falsely claimed Imamate, are excused according to Twelver Shias, even if nobody knew of their repentance. This is assumed due to them being the children of Fatima.
Similarly, Sunnis can say, we also hold the view that A’isha is to be accepted as someone that is in heaven, due to her decades of efforts in spreading Islamic knowledge, to the extent that she is the most influential female jurist and hadith narrator of all time, even if we did not find explicit evidence of her repentance.
Of course, we also have very explicit evidence that A’isha is in heaven, as per the hadith of Ammar bin Yassir in Saheeh Al-Bukhari (7101), where he said, “She is the wife of your prophet – peace be upon him – in this life and the afterlife.”