How Old was Aisyah (r.a) when She got married to Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h)? (Part 3)
May 11, 2017
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Prophet Mohammad’s youngest and only virgin wife is Aisha (Aysha or Ayesha), the daughter of his closest companion. Her age at the time of marriage is uncertain. According to some narrations, she was 9 years old. Because she could have been as young as 9 years old, these days, some haters of Islam today say that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) was a pedophile. However, according to alternative methods of calculating her age, she could have been 12 – 18 years old. What is certain is that he did reach her puberty and she was very happy in her marriage.
Most of the Hadith narrations mentioning her age was nine are reported through Hisham ibn Urwa while living in Iraq, where Hisham ibn Urwa is reported to have relocated after living in Madinah for seventy-one years. It is reported in one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions ascribed to the Muhammad reports that Yaqub ibn Shaibah said, “narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq”. It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham, which were reported through people of Iraq. Another book on the narrators of the traditions of the Muhammad reports that when he was old, Hisham’s memory suffered quite badly.
We find evidence in both Hadith books and history books that indicates Aisha must have been older than nine when she got married:
- According to a hadith in Bukhari and Muslim, Aisha is said to have joined Muhammad on the raid that culminated in the Battle of Badr, in 624 CE. However, because no one below the age of fifteen was allowed to accompany raiding parties, Aisha should have been at least fifteen in 624 CE and thus at least thirteen when she was married following the Hijra in 622 CE.
- Ibn Hisham’s version of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rashul Allah, the earliest surviving biography of Muhammad, records Aisha as having converted to Islam before Umar ibn al-Khattab, during the first few years of Islam around 610 CE. In order to accept Islam she must have been walking and talking, hence at least three years of age, which would make her at least fifteen in 622 CE.
- Tabari reports that Abu Bakr wished to spare Aisha the discomforts of a journey to Ethiopia soon after 615 CE, and tried to bring forward her marriage to Mut`am’s son. Mut`am refused because Abu Bakr had converted to Islam, but if Aisha was already of marriageable age in 615 CE, she must have been older than nine in 622 CE.
- Tabari also reports that Abu Bakr’s four children were all born during the Jahiliyyah (Pre-Islam Period), which has ended in 610 CE, making Aisha at least twelve in 622 CE.
- According to Ibn Hajar, Fatima was five years older than Aisha. Fatima is reported to have been born when Muhammad was thirty-five years old, meaning Aisha was born when he was forty years old, and thus twelve when Muhammad married at fifty-two.
- According to the generally accepted tradition, Aisha was born about eight years before Hijrah (Migration to Medina). However, according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitaab al-Tafseer) Aisha is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur’an , was revealed, “I was a young girl”. The 54th Surah of the Qur’an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Aisha had not only been born before the revelation of the referred Surah, but was actually a young girl, not even only an infant at that time. So if this age is assumed to be 7 to 14 years, then her age at the time of marriage would be 14 to 21.
- According to almost all the historians, Asma the elder sister of Aisha, was ten years older than Aisha. It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as in Ibn Kathir’s Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah that Asma died in the 73rd year after migration of Muhammad when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma was 100 years old in the 73rd year after Migration to Medina, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of migration. If Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Aisha should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, if Aisha got married in year 1 AH or 2 AH (after Migration to Medina), she must have been between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.
- According to many Ahadith in Bukhari, it is believed Aisha participated in the both of Badr and Uhud battles. Furthermore, in Bukhari’s Kitabu’l-Maghazi, Ibn `Umar states: “The Prophet did not permit me to participate in Uhud battle, as at that time, I was 14 years old. But on the day of Khandaq battle, when I was 15 years old, the Prophet permitted my participation”. So, since it was not allowed for Muslims younger than 15 years old to participate in Uhud battle, Aisha, who participated in Uhud, must have been at least 15 years old in those battles; thus her age was at least 13 to 14 at the time of her marriage.
- According to ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqat and Ansab al-Ashraf books, opinions are in disagreement concerning her marriage with Muhammad. The marriage seems to have taken place either two of five years after the Migration (Usd al-Ghaba, 5:501).
For further evidence, read: http://www.defence.pk/forums/current-events-social-issues/7816-hazrat-ayeshas-age-marriage.html
Even if she was in fact 9 years old, this marriage is still justified for the following reasons:
(a) She reached the age of puberty.
(b) The marriage happened 1400 ago, not today. At that time, their marriage was not considered unusual and the proof is that the enemies of Muslims at that time did not criticize this marriage. They attacked prophet Mohammad on many issues, yet they didn’t criticize his marriage to Aisha.
(c) It is possible that God wanted prophet Mohammad to marry a young girl so that she can outlive him by many years so that she can serve an important reference and resource for Muslims long after prophet Mohammad dies. As his wife, she knew more about prophet Mohammad than anyone else. A significant portion of the stories and sayings narrated about prophet Mohammad were transmitted to us through Aisha. Please note that all of Prophet Mohammad’s children died during his life, except for his daughter Fatima who lived only one year after his death. This was part of the wisdom of God who did not want the leadership of Muslims to remain within the family of prophet Mohammad.
(d) Aisha indicated that it was a great honor and privilege to be married to prophet Mohammad. If she did not marry him, she would have lived and died as an ordinary woman. She became famous and gained a special status of respect because of her marriage to prophet Mohammad.
(e) The fact that prophet Mohammad married a 9-year old girl does not mean that we as Muslims can marry a 9-year girls today.