AÏsha Al-Manoubya (Arabic: عائشة المنوبية, ʿĀʾisha al-Mannūbiyya), also known by the honorific Al-Saida ('saint') or Lella ('the Lady') (1199–1267 CE), is one of the most famous women in Tunisia, and a prominent figure in Islam.
ʿĀʾisha was known for her Sufism and good deeds. She was the supporter and student of Sidi Bousaid al-Baji and Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili. Her presence as a woman on the high level of education and advocacy activity and charity event was very unusual in her time.
According to her hagiography, ʿĀʾisha was born in the village of La Manouba (al-Manūba), near Tunis, and showed signs of her saintliness already in childhood, challenging social norms and effecting miraculous deeds (karamāt). In portraying ʿĀʾisha's socially transgressive behaviour, her saint's life 'aligns her with the Ṣūfī model of the “blamable ones” (ahl al-malāma), those who went about transgressing social norms on purpose'. Among her most famous deeds, 'after her father had slaughtered a bull at her request, she cooked it, distributed its meat to villagers, and brought it back to life in order to reveal her sainthood. This event is regularly commemorated in song during rituals held at her shrines'.
ʿĀʾisha studied in Tunis with Shādhiliyya Ṣūfīs, moving back and forth between her rural home and urban Tunis. Prominent influences were the female mystic Rābiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya (c. 95/714–185/801); Abū l-Ḥassan al-Shādhilī (c. 593–656/1196–1258), who founded the Shādhilī Ṣūfī order; the Baghdadi ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī (470–561/1077 or 1078–1166, of Baghdad, namesake and patron of the Qādiriyya); and al-Junayd (d. 297/910), a Shāfiʿī scholar associated with Baghdad but of Persian origin.
ʿĀʾisha is one of the few women to have been the subject of a written saint's life (manāqib) in the Islamic world of her time, and 'represents a leading figure of women’s sainthood in Islam'. Whereas it was customary for female saints in her region to be recluses, ʿĀʾisha mixed with male society, whether the poor; Sūfī scholars; or even the Ḥafṣīd sultan. She had two shrines dedicated to her, one in La Manouba (destroyed in 2012) and the other in the Gorjani district of Tunis.
The inhabitants of Manouba built a second mausoleum to commemorate ʿĀʾisha under the name of "The Mausoleum of Al-Saida Al-Manoubya" in her birthplace area. That mausoleum is very famous and has a big value in the Tunisian national heritage and history. It was vandalised and burned after the Tunisian Revolution, on 16 October 2012.
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