It is claimed when the marriage of Aisha was consummated she was a prepubescent girl. This not true when one looks at some of the earliest historical sources of Islam:
Narrated AISHA: (the wife of the Prophet) I had seen my parents following Islam since I attained the age of PUBERTY. Not a day passed but the Prophet visited us, both in the mornings and evenings.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 1, Book 8, Hadith 465 https://sunnah.com/bukhari/8/124)
The above report is also reported elsewhere but with a slight variation of words. While the above has the word “puberty”, this exchanged with “remember”. While the former Hadith says she hit puberty, this Hadith (below) says that she remembers things. This suggests that at this stage of her life she had reached the mental faculty to discern things:
“Narrated Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) “I do not remember (A’QAL) my parents believing in any religion other than the Religion (of Islam), and our being visited by Allah’s Messenger in the morning and in the evening. One day, while we were sitting in the house of Abu Bakr (my father) at noon, someone said, ‘This is Allah’s Messenger coming at an hour at which he never used to visit us.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘There must be something very urgent that has brought him at this hour.’ The Prophet said, ‘I have been allowed to go out (of Mecca) to migrate.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 8, Book 73, Hadith 102, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/78/107 )
In the two narrations we have read we see that Aisha had seen her parents follow Islam since she ‘attained the age of puberty’ and in the second report she was mentally mature. She goes on to say that a day did not pass, but that the Prophet Muhammad visited her (Aisha) and her parents. The Hadith reports presented shows that Aisha had reached puberty and had mentally matured to discern things while she still living with her parents, before the marriage was consummated to Prophet Muhammed (p).
Some critics have cast doubt on the Hadith where it mentions that Aisha hit “puberty” and claim that the translation that was made by the renowned scholar Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan is unreliable. As such we looked at Arabic-English Dictionaries on the word a’qal. The late professor Hans Wehr (1909 – 1981) who studied at the University of Munster published a book, “A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic”. He comments on the word “A’qal”:
“… a’qal more reasonable; brighter, smarter, more intelligent | … a’qal al’umr the most reasonable time of life, the years of reason and MATURITY.” (Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic [Edited by John Milton – Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1976], page 737)
Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s rendering of “puberty” in the first report is line with Professor Hans Wehr’s understanding of the Arabic language.
The narrations presented prove that Aisha had already hit puberty before the consummation of the marriage taken place. This is also confirmed by the 9th century scholar Abu Dawud Sulayman Ibn al-Ash‘ath al-Azdi as-Sijistani (817 – 889 CE), where he comments on a Hadith and says that Aisha herself says that she menstruated the same day the marriage was consummated:
“I was then brought to the Messenger of Allah, and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter.
Abu Dawud said: That is to say: I MENSTRUATED, and I was brought in a house, and there were some women of the Ansari in it. They said: With good luck and blessing. The tradition of one of them has been included in the other.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 42, Hadith 4915. Eng. Tran., Sahih al-Albani, https://sunnah.com/abudawud/43/161 )
Additionally, we have another narration where science attests that Aisha had hit puberty before the marriage was consummated. The following report states:
Narrated Aisha: The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. THEN I GOT ILL AND MY HAIR FELL DOWN. LATER ON MY HAIR GREW (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 5, Book 58, Hadith 234)
The above narration is also reported in Sunan Ibn Majah:
“Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah married me when I was six years old. Then we came to Al-Madinah and settled among Banu Harith bin Khazraj. I BECAME ILL AND MY HAIR FELL OUT, THEN IT GREW BACK AND BECAME ABUNDANT. My mother Umm Ruman came to me while I was on an Urjuhah with some of my friends, and called for me. I went to her, and I did not know what she wanted. She took me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house, and I was panting. When I got my breath back, she took some water and wiped my face and head, and led me into the house. There were some woman of the Ansar inside the house, and they said: ‘With blessings and good fortune (from Allah).’ (My mother) handed me over to them and they tidied me up. And suddenly I saw the Messenger of Allah in the morning. And she handed me over to him and I was at that time, nine years old.” (Sahih) Sunan Ibn Majah volume 3, Book 9, Hadith 1876., Sahih Darussalam, http://www.sunnah.com/ibnmajah/9 )
It’s important to pay close attention to the above two narrations. Some may wonder, what is important about the part in the narration that is capitalized in bold, where it says,
“Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew”
This part of the Hadith shows explicitly from the point of science that Aisha hit puberty before the marriage was consummated with the Prophet (p). Hair loss is common among women. Hair loss happens when a girl goes through changes with her body i.e, hitting puberty.
Shannon Harrison, Melissa Piliang and Wilma explain why, when hair disorders occur:
Alopecia is the general term for hair loss. Hair loss can occur from the scalp and any hair-bearing part of the body. Hair has great social and cultural importance, and patients with hair loss experience anxiety and concern…..
….The most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss), which increases with age; at least 80% of white men show some degree of thinning by the age of 70 year. Androgenetic alopecia OCCURS WITH THE ONSET OF PUBERTY and in males is dependent on circulating androgens. FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS (female androgenetic alopecia) ALSO STARTS AFTER PUBERTY…” (Current Clinical Medicine: Expert Consult [Second edition – Elsevier Inc, 2010], by Shannon Harrison, Melissa Piliang, & Wilma Bergfeld, page 289 – 290)
Dr. Lisa Akbari:
“Studies show that hair loss affects approximately one third of all women. Although hair loss is most commonly seen after menopause, it can begin AS EARLY AS PUBERTY.” (Every Woman’s Guide to Beautiful Hair at Any Age: Learn What Can Be Done to keep a beautiful head of hair for a lifetime [SourceBooks, Inc – Naperville, Illinois, 2007] by Lisa Akbari page 70 -71)
Scholars Gisela Torres and Stephen K. Tyring:
“Androgenic alopecia may develop in a WOMAN at any time AFTER THE ONSET OF PUBERTY, although it most often occurs during the perimenopausal period or at times of hormonal change.
Primary Care for Women [Second edition – Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004] by Gisela Torres and Stephen K. Tyring, page 838)
The following facts we can gather from this evidence: (1) Aisha got ill and a lot of her hair started falling (hitting puberty). (2) After a while (months or year(s)) her hair grew again. (3) Aisha states that she was 9 years old when the marriage was consummated and this is when she started living with Prophet Mohammed (p) as the report states:
“(My mother) handed me over to them and they tidied me up. And suddenly I saw the Messenger of Allah in the morning. And she handed me over to him and I was at that time, nine years old.”
The claim that “Aisha was a prepubescent girl when her marriage was consummated”, the evidences presented refutes this. From the perspective of modern science, the scholars attest that Aisha did indeed hit puberty before the marriage was consummated.
Many any of the claims made in regards to Aisha and Muhammed (p) does not hold up when we consulted historical facts. Furthermore, the ahadith reports shown explicitly mentioned that Aisha had reached puberty long before the marriage was consummated with the Prophet (p).
Hence, from the original Arabic language, it is clear that Aisha was at the age of puberty when she was married off. The scientific evidence presented on Aisha losing a lot of hair shows that she had begun her first menstrual period before the marriage was consummated. We know from the evidence presented that Prophet Muhammed (p) married her at the time when she was at the age where she was physically and mentally ready for marriage, 1400 years ago.