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Age of 'Aisha Radhiyallaahu 'anhaa at the time of her Marriage


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'Aisha's Radhiyallaahu 'anhaa marriage to Rasoolullah sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam at a young age has been a source of the maligning of Rasoolullaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam by the orientalists and Christian missionaries who have used her marriage to depict Rasoolullaah sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam as a child molester and much worse (Astaghfirullah!). 

 

Then there are those (from amongst the Muslim apologists)  who claim that 'Aisha Radhiyallaahu 'anhaa was 18 and not 6 years of age.

 

In this topic we will  inshaAllah compile a number of articles to refute these claims. So that there is no misconception regarding her age at the time of her marriage to Rasoolullaah sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, the following are words of 'Aisha Radhiyallaahu 'anhaa herself regarding her age at the time of her marriage, recording in Bukhari and Muslim.

 

 

حدثنا محمد بن يوسف، حدثنا سفيان، عن هشام، عن أبيه، عن عائشة رضي الله عنها:أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم تزوجها وهي بنت ست سنين، وأدخلت عليه وهي بنت تسع، ومكثت عنده تسعا (صحيح البخاري, ج 10، ص 466-467، دار البشائر الاسلامية)

Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā reports that Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married her while she was six years old.  She was sent to stay with Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam when she was nine and she lived with Nabī Sallalllāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam for nine years.

(Sahīh al-Bukhārī)

 

 

وحدثنا يحيى بن يحيى، أخبرنا أبو معاوية، عن هشام بن عروة، ح وحدثنا ابن نمير، واللفظ له، حدثنا عبدة هو ابن سليمان، عن هشام، عن أبيه، عن عائشة، قالت: «تزوجني النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وأنا بنت ست سنين، وبنى بي وأنا بنت تسع سنين (صحيح مسلم، ج 2، ص 1039، دار إحياء التراث العربي – بيروت)

Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā says, “Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married me when I was six years old, and he started living with me when I was nine years old.

(Sahīh Muslim)

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The Young Marriage of Aishah Radhiyallāh Anhā

 

Sadly we currently see the efforts of the Christian missionary activity focused primarily on derailing Islam now more than any other period in history. Thus, we witness numerous travesties and parodies coming from them in their attempts to twist, manipulate and totally abuse historical and etymological facts. These polemics range from a variety of the utterly hilarious to the outright abusive and cruel. One such dishonest Christian missionary polemic has been the allegation of the young marriage of Aishah (radiAllahu Anha) to the Prophet Muhammad(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam). The missionaries try to accuse the Prophet of being a child molester, albeit in politically correct terms, due to the fact that Aishah (radiAllahu Anha) was betrothed (zawaj) at the age of 6 years old and the marriage was consummated (nikâh) a few years after the marriage at 9 years old when she was in full puberty. The lapse of time between the zawaj and nikâh of Aishah (radiAllahu Anha) clearly shows that her parents were waiting for her to reach puberty before her marriage was consummated. If it were not for the fact that some gullible Christians have been parroting the claims without understanding the reasons behind it, we would have not even bothered with a refutation. Such a claim is based only on conjecture and moral relativism, and not on fact. This article seeks to refute the allegation, insha'allah.

 

Puberty And Young Marriage In Semitic Culture

The hilarity of the whole saga of Christian missionaries accusing the Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) of committing "child molestation" is that this contradicts the basic fact that a girl becomes a woman when she begins her menstruation cycle. The significance of menstruation that anyone with the slightest familiarity with physiology will tell you is that it is a sign that the girl is being prepared to become a mother.

 

Women reach puberty at different ages ranging from 8-12 years old depending on genetics, race and environment.

 

We read that

There is little difference in the size of boys and girls until the age of ten, the growth spurt at puberty starts earlier in girls but lasts longer in boys.[1]

 

We also read that

The first signs of puberty occur around age 9 or 10 in girls but closer to 12 in boys[.][2]

 

Women in warmer environments reach puberty at a much earlier age than those in cold environments.

 

The average temperature of the country or province is considered the chief factor here, not only with regard to menstruation but as regards the whole of sexual development at puberty.[3]

 

Marriage at the early years of puberty was acceptable in 7th century Arabia as it was the social norm in all Semitic cultures from the Israelites to the Arabs and all nations in between. According to Hâ-Talmûd Hâ-Bavlî, which the Jews regard as their "oral Torah", Sanhedrin 76b clearly states that it is preferable that a woman be married when she has her first menses, and in Ketuvot 6a there are rules regarding sexual intercourse with girls who have not yet menstruated. This is further collaborated when Jim West, ThD, a Baptist minister, observes the following tradition of the Israelites:

 

The wife was to be taken from within the larger family circle (usually at the outset of puberty or around the age of 13) in order to maintain the purity of the family line.[4]

 

Puberty has always been a symbol of adulthood throughout history.

 

Puberty is defined as the age or period at which a person is first capable of sexual reproduction, in other eras of history, a rite or celebration of this landmark event was a part of the culture.[5]

 

The renowned sexologists, R.E.L. Masters and Allan Edwards, in their study of Afro-Asian sexual expression states the following:

 

Today, in many parts of North Africa, Arabia, and India, girls are wedded and bedded between the ages of five and nine; and no self-respecting female remains unmarried beyond the age of puberty.[6]

 

Were There Any Objections to the Marriage of the Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) to Aishah (radiAllahu Anha)?

The answer to this is no. There are absolutely no records from Muslim, secular, or any other historical sources which even implicitly display anything other than utter joy from all parties involved over this marriage. Nabia Abbott describes the marriage of Aishah (radiAllahu Anha) to the Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) as follows.

 

In no version is there any comment made on the disparity of the ages between Mohammed and Aishah or on the tender age of the bride who, at the most, could not have been over ten years old and who was still much enamoured with her play.[7]

 

Even the well-known critical Orientalist, W. Montgomery Watt, said the following about the Prophet's moral character:

 

From the standpoint of Muhammad's time, then, the allegations of treachery and sensuality cannot be maintained. His contemporaries did not find him morally defective in any way. On the contrary, some of the acts criticized by the modern Westerner show that Muhammad's standards were higher than those of his time.[8]

 

Aside from the fact that no one was displeased with him or his actions, he was a paramount example of moral character in his society and time. Therefore, to judge the Prophet's morality based on the standards of our society and culture today is not only absurd, but also unfair.

 

Marriage At Puberty Today

The Prophet's contemporaries (both enemies and friends) clearly accepted the Prophet's marriage to Aishah (radiAllahu Anha) without any problem. We see the evidence for this by the lack of criticism against the marriage until modern times. However, a change in culture has caused the change in our times today.

 

Even today in the 21st century, the age of sexual consent is still quite low in many places. In Japan, people can legally have sex at age 13, and in Spain they can legally have sex at the age of 12 years old[9].

 

A 40-year-old man having sex with a 14-year-old woman may be a "paedophile" in the United States, but neither in China today, where the age of consent is 14, nor in the United States in the last century. Biology is a much better standard by which to determine these things, not the arbitrariness of human culture. In the U.S. during the last century, the age of consent was 10 years old. California was the first state to change the age of consent to 14, which it did in 1889. After California, other U.S. states joined in and raised the age of consent too[10].

 

Islam And the Age of Puberty

Islam clearly teaches that adulthood starts when a person have attained puberty.

 

From the collection of Bukhari[11], we read the following tracts:

The boy attaining the age of puberty and the validity of their witness and the Statement of Allâh:

"And when the children among you attain the age of puberty, then let them also ask for permission (to enter)." Qur'ân 24:59.

 

Al Mughira said, "I attained puberty at the age of twelve." The attaining of puberty by women is with the start of menses, as is referred to by the Statement of Allâh:

"Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them prescribed period if you have any doubts (about their periods) is three months..." [Qur'ân, 65:4]

 

Thus, it is part of Islam to acknowledge the coming of puberty as the start of adulthood. It is the time when the person has already matured and is ready the responsibilities of an adult. So on what basis do the missionaries criticize the marriage of Aishah (radiAllahu Anha) since her marriage was consummated when she had reached puberty?

 

We also read from the same source that

...Al-Hasan bin Salih said, "I saw a neighbour of mine who became a grandmother at the age of twenty-one."(1)

 

(1) The note for this reference says: "This women attained puberty at the age of nine and married to give birth to a daughter at ten; the daughter had the same experience."[12]

 

Thus, it is clear that if the charge of "child molestation" were to be advanced against the Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam), we would also have to include all the Semitic people who accepted marriage at puberty as the norm.

 

Conclusions

We have thus seen that

It was the norm of the Semitic society in 7th century Arabia to allow pubescent marriages.

 

There was no reports of opposition to the Prophet's marriage to Aishah (radiAllahu Anha) either from his friends or his enemies.

 

Even today, there are cultures who still allow pubescent marriage for their young women.

 

In spite of facing these well-known facts, the missionaries would still have the audacity to point a finger at the Prophet Muhammad(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) for immorality. Yet, it was he who had brought justice to the women of Arabia and raised them to a level they had not seen before in their society, something which ancient civilizations have never done to their women.

 

When Muhammad(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) first became the Prophet of Islam, the pagans of Arabia had inherited a disregard for women as had been passed down among their Jewish and Christian neighbours. So disgraceful was it considered among them to be blessed with a female child that they would go so far as to bury this baby alive in order to avoid the disgrace associated with female children.

 

"When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child) his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on!"[13]

 

Through the teachings of Islam, Muhammad(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) put a swift and resounding end to this evil practice. God tells us that on the Day of Judgment, the female child will be questioned for what crime she was killed.

 

"When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned - for what crime she was killed."[14]

 

Not only did Muhammad(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) severely discouraged and condemned this act, he(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) also used to teach them to respect and cherish their daughters and mothers as partners and sources of salvation for the men of their family.

 

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri narrated that

The Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) said: 'If anyone cares for three daughters, disciplines them, marries them, and does good by them, he will enter Paradise.'[15]

 

Abdullah the son of Abbas narrated that

The Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) said: 'If anyone has a female child, and does not bury her alive, or slight her, or prefer his male children over her, Allâh will bring him into Paradise.'[16]

 

The Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) is also cited in Saheeh Muslim as saying

'Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Day of Resurrection like this'; and he joined his fingers.

 

In other words, if one loves the Messenger of God (sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) and wishes to be with him on the day of resurrection in heaven, then they should do good by their daughters. This is certainly not the act of a "child molester", as the missionaries would like us to believe.

 

Finally, we end this with a citation from the Holy Prophet(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam), who said

"I have come to defend the two oppressed peoples: women and orphans."

The Prophet Muhammad(sallallahu Alayhi wasallam)

 

Appendix: A married nine-year old in Thailand gives birth

A news article from The New Straits Times, Malaysia dated 10th of March, 2001 about a nine-year old girl living in northern Thailand giving birth to a baby girl. The fact that a nine-year old girl is mature enough to give birth proves the point above about girls reaching puberty earlier than men.

 

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

askimam.org

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Rebuttal of a Fitnah:

The age of Hadhrat Aishah Radhiyallāh Anhā during marriage

 

A person Nilofar Ahmed has published an article in the Dawn newspaper claiming Hadhrat Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age was at least eighteen during marriage.  This is substantiated with statements of Muhaddithīn, Ayāt, and historical facts.

This research rebuts the claim and points out the inaccuracies and academic dishonesty in the article.  This is a research by Mowlāna Abdul Azīm, who is also a student in Takhassus Fil-Hadīth at the Darul Iftaa.  Read the article of the Dawn newspaper first.  You will observe how a simple minded person can get easily convinced with the article.

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

 

The Rebuttal

Due to the limitations of the mind, there are certain issues that are not easily comprehended by everyone.  Generally there are two approaches in addressing such issues. The first is an apologetic one.  In this, one endeavors to hide a reality in order to earn the confidence and pleasure of others. Authentic facts are denied and replaced by apparently appealing information with the fear that the masses, especially non-Muslims will have a negative understanding of Islām if the factual situation is presented. 

 

The second approach is to present the factual situation of the matter. The feelings and sentiments of people are not considered.  It is done with the firm belief that Allāh will defend and preserve His Dīn.  While the intention in the first approach is noble, it is dangerous.  The consequences of twisting information to please people are too ghastly to consider.  When research uncovers the truth, Islām will be blemished contrary to ones hope of presenting a noble picture of Islām.  It is also academic dishonesty and against the spirit of honesty and truthfulness which are the hall marks of Islām. 

   

The age of Hadhrat Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā during her marriage with Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam is often highlighted and negatively presented in the context of child marriage.  In an attempt to avoid the accusation of child marriage in Islām, some people have adopted an apologetic approach and began distorting the factual situation of Hadhrat Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age during marriage.  This approach is dangerous and is based on a wrong premise.  We have to be bold to claim that child marriage is not prohibited in Islām.  However, there are rules that govern the issue to safeguard the interest of the child. 

 

This article is a rebuttal of an essay written by Nilofar Ahmed that was produced in the Dawn newspaper on 17/02/2012.  The essay is based on the following incorrect premises:

  •  Prohibition of child marriage
  •  Historical facts must be correlated with authentic narrations

The writer claims that the misinformation of Aisha Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age at the time of her marriage being six led to the wrong view that child marriage has sanction of Islām.  The second premise is that authentic narrations must correlate with historical facts.  Both premises are incorrect.  Child marriage is permissible.  There is no difference of opinion on this from at least the four main schools of thought, Hanafī, Shafi’ī, Mālikī, and Hambalī.  Yes, there are rules that govern child marriage to preserve and protect the interest of the child.

 

Furthermore, historical facts are not accurate.   They cannot be a measure to determine the authenticity of Ahādīth, especially if the Ahādīth themselves are clearly authentic.  The guiding measure should be the Ahādīth and not historical factors.  Historical factors are subservient and subordinate to authentic Ahādīth.  This is a basic rule.  No reliable scholar would ignore such basics.  This brings to question the qualifications of the writer of the article in reference.  Remember the golden advice: Be careful from who you take your Dīn.

 

The proof for Hadhrat Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age during marriage is in Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim.  Consider the following Ahādīth:

 

حدثنا محمد بن يوسف، حدثنا سفيان، عن هشام، عن أبيه، عن عائشة رضي الله عنها:أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم تزوجها وهي بنت ست سنين، وأدخلت عليه وهي بنت تسع، ومكثت عنده تسعا (صحيح البخاري, ج 10، ص 466-467، دار البشائر الاسلامية)

 

Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā reports that Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married her while she was six years old.  She was sent to stay with Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam when she was nine and she lived with Nabī Sallalllāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam for nine years.

(Sahīh al-Bukhārī)

 

وحدثنا يحيى بن يحيى، أخبرنا أبو معاوية، عن هشام بن عروة، ح وحدثنا ابن نمير، واللفظ له، حدثنا عبدة هو ابن سليمان، عن هشام، عن أبيه، عن عائشة، قالت: «تزوجني النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وأنا بنت ست سنين، وبنى بي وأنا بنت تسع سنين (صحيح مسلم، ج 2، ص 1039، دار إحياء التراث العربي – بيروت)

 

Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā says, “Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married me when I was six years old, and he started living with me when I was nine years old.

(Sahīh Muslim)

 

The Ummah has accepted the narrations that appear in Sahīh al-Bukhāri and Sahīh Muslim as authentic.  Allāmah Hāfidh bin Hajar al-Asqalāni Rahimahullāh states in “Sharh al-Nukhbah” that the Ulamā are unanimous in accepting Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim. [1] Allāmah Sakhāwī states in “Fath al-Mughīth” that Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim are the most authentic books of Hadīth. [2]

 

The writer of the article objects on the Ahādīth of Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim saying that there is weakness in one of the narrators, namely Hishām bin Urwah Rahimahullāh.  The writer further states, There is only one hadith by Hisham which suggests the age of Hazrat Aisha as being nine when she came to live with her husband.”    

 

 The writer incorrectly claims Hafidh Dhahabī Rahimahullāh has spoken about Hisham’s loss of memory in his later period.  Hereunder are the actual wordings of Allāmah Dhahabī Rahimahullāh:

 

هشام بن عروة [ع] ، أحد الاعلام.

حجة إمام، لكن في الكبر تناقص حفظه، ولم يختلط أبدا، ولا عبرة بما قاله أبو الحسن بن القطان من أنه وسهيل بن أبي صالح اختلطا، وتغيرا.

نعم الرجل تغير قليلا ولم يبق حفظه كهو في حال الشبيبة، فنسى بعض محفوظه أو وهم، فكان ماذا! أهو معصوم من النسيان!

ولما قدم العراق في آخر عمره حدث بجملة كثيرة من العلم، في غضون ذلك يسير أحاديث لم يجودها، ومثل هذا يقع لمالك ولشعبة ولوكيع ولكبار الثقات، فدع عنك الخبط وذر خلط الائمة الاثبات بالضعفاء والمخلطين، فهشام شيخ الإسلام (مبزان الاعتدال)        

 

Hishām bin Urwah is one of the great luminaries, an authority and a leader.  When he aged, his memory slightly decreased however he never became a Mukhtalit (one who lost memory and errs in Hadīth).  There is no consideration for what some people have said regarding Hishām that he became a Mukhtalit. 

 

How great of a person was Hishām!  His memory only weakened slightly and did not remain as it was in his youth. Hence he did forget and err on certain occasions. So what?  Is he not human that he is protected from forgetfulness!

 

When he arrived in Irāq towards the end of his life, he narrated many Ahādīth.  Amongst the many Ahādīth narrated, only a few were not said perfectly.  But this was also the situation with the likes of Imām Mālik, Imām Shu’bah, Wakī’, and other great giants of Islām.  Therefore, leave your incorrect uproar!  Don’t mix up the strong, reliable narrators with the weak ones because Hishām is Shaikhul Islām.”

(Mīzān al-I’tidāl)
 

From the above quotations, the writer’s distortion of facts is clear.  Such an attitude disqualifies one from academic merit.  The words of Allāmah Dhahabī Rahimahullāh were stated in support of Hishām bin Urwah Rahimahullāh and the writer created an image that Allāmah Dhahabī Rahimahullāh does not accept Hishām’s narrations.  Furthermore, Hafidh bin Hajar says in the introduction of his great commentary to Sahīh al-Bukhārī that all the experts of Hadīth consider Hishām’s Ahādīth to be authoritative and sufficient to be used as evidence. [3] Also, Imām al-Bukhārī and Imām Muslim considered Hishām to be very strong.  That is why they included his narrations in their books of Hadīth.   

 

Nevertheless, for argument’s sake, even if we do consider Hishām’s narrations to be weak, there are other narrations without Hishām in their chains that prove Aishāh Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age to be six at the time of marriage and nine at the time she started to reside with Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam.  Imām Muslim narrates the following Hadīth in which Hishām is not in the chain:

 

حدثنا يحيى بن يحيى، وإسحاق بن إبراهيم، وأبو بكر بن أبي شيبة، وأبو كريب، قال يحيى، وإسحاق: أخبرنا، وقال الآخران: حدثنا أبو معاوية، عن الأعمش، عن إبراهيم، عن الأسود، عن عائشة، قالت: «تزوجها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وهي بنت ست، وبنى بها وهي بنت تسع، ومات عنها وهي بنت ثمان عشرة (صحيح مسلم، ج 2، ص 1039، دار إحياء التراث العربي – بيروت)

 

Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā reports that Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married her when she was six years old, he started living with her when she was nine years old, and he passed away when she was eighteen years old.

(Sahīh Muslim)

 

In Sunan al-Nasaī, a narration with a similar meaning is mentioned without Hishām in the chain.  The Hadīth is mentioned with the chain:

 

أَخْبَرَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ سَعْدِ بْنِ الْحَكَمِ بْنِ أَبِي مَرْيَمَ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا عَمِّي، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ أَيُّوبَ، قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنِي عُمَارَةُ بْنُ غَزِيَّةَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ: «تَزَوَّجَنِي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهِيَ بِنْتُ سِتِّ سِنِينَ، وَبَنَى بِهَا وَهِيَ بِنْتُ تِسْعٍ (سنن النسائ، ج 6، ص 131، مكتب المطبوعات الإسلامية – حلب)

 

Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā relates that Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married me while she was a six years old girl and he lived with her when she was nine years old.

(Sunan al-Nasaī)

 

Also if we look at the date of Aishah Radhiyallāh Anhā’s demise and her age when she passed away, it becomes clear that her age at the time of her marriage with Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam was indeed six.  In “Mawāhib al-Laduniyyah”, Allāmah Qastalānī Rahimahullāh mentions that Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā passed away fifty seven years after the migration and at that time she was sixty six years old. [4] Allāmah Qastalāni also mentions that she was married to Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam three years prior to the migration. [5]  When all of these facts are put together, we identify that Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age at the time of her marriage was six.

 

A second objection presented by the writer is that the Qurān sets puberty to be the minimum age of marriage.  To back up her claim, the writer brings Ayah number six of Surah al-Nisā.  Hereunder is the Ayah:

 

وَابْتَلُوا الْيَتَامَى حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغُوا النِّكَاحَ (سورة النساء، رقم الاية 6)

And test the orphans until they reach a marriageable age. (Surah al-Nisā)

 

The writer uses a general Ayah to support a specific claim.  It is similar to one claiming wine is permissible and supports that with the permissibility of drinking water!  The intent of this Ayah is to explain that children, well before they reach puberty should be tested through small assignments of buying and selling in order to determine their ability to conduct themselves in transactions on their own.  This process of practical experimentation should continue till puberty.  This is the time of special assessment.  Now it should be determined if they have become smart and self-reliant in their affairs.  Once this is sensed as “dependable”, it is time to hand over their property to them. [6]

 

The word “marriageable age” is used to refer to puberty because one is able to fulfill the purpose of marriage i.e. procreation after one reaches puberty. [7]  However, in no way does this Ayah forbid the marriages of those who are not mature.  In fact there is a consensus of the four Imāms, namely Imām Abū Hanīfah, Imām Mālik, Imām Shāf’ī, and Imām Ahmed Rahimumullāh that it is permissible to marry off a minor. [8]  Hence, this Ayah can never be used to negate Hadhrat Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s marriage at age six.

 

The writer further says, Allama Kandhulvi says that the words spoken in connection with Hazrat Aisha’s age were tissa ashara, meaning 19, when Hisham only heard (or remembered), tissa, meaning nine. Maulana Usmani thinks this change was purposely and maliciously made later.” 

 

This is a claim without evidence.  There is no reference given for this claim.  This statement has no grounding, especially because it contradicts authentic narrations as quoted above.

 

Continuing with the objections, the writer states, “Historian Ibn Ishaq in his Sirat Rasul Allah has given a list of the people who accepted Islam in the first year of the proclamation of Islam, in which Hazrat Aisha’s name is mentioned as Abu Bakr’s “little daughter Aisha”. If we accept Hisham’s calculations, she was not even born at that time.”

 

This is a clear misunderstanding by Ibn Ishāq Rahimahullāh especially when it contradicts authentic narrations and other books of Sīrah.  And Ibn Ishāq Rahimahullāh did not provide a chain of Hadīth to support his claim. 

 

Another objection by the writer is that in Musnad Ahmad, Khawla Radhiyallāhu Anhā uses the word “Bikrun” to refer to Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā.  The writer further claims that the word “Bikrun” which means virgin is only used for unmarried girls who have passed the age of puberty. 

 

One answer to the objection is that “Bikrun” can be used for girls who have not reached puberty also. “Lisān al-Arab” a famous dictionary on the Arabic language has the following meaning for “bikrun”:

 

البكر: الجارية اللتي لم تفتض(لسان العرب)

A female who has not been deflowered (Lisān al-Arab)

 “Mu’jam Lughat al-Fuqahā”, a dictionary on words used by the Jurists defines “bikrun” as:

الفتاة العذراء التي لم تزل بكارتها بوطء (معجم لغة الفقهاء)

One who has not lost her virginity through intercourse (Mu’jam Lughat al-Fuqahā)

 

 

From the above-mentioned definitions, it is obvious that the word “Bikrun” is not confined to a mature lady rather includes any female who is virgin whether she has reached puberty or not. 

 

A second and more obvious answer to the objection is that in the same Hadīth, Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age is mentioned to be six.[9]  The writer only objected to the word “Bikrun” but failed to mention that later on in the same Hadīth, it is clearly stated that Aishah Radhiyallāh Anhā was six.  This clearly indicates that Sahābah also used the word “Bikrun” for any virgin female, regardless of whether she reached puberty or not.  Hereunder are the words of this Hadīth:

 

فَزَوَّجَهَا إِيَّاهُ وَعَائِشَةُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بِنْتُ سِتِّ سِنِينَ (مسند احمد)

Abu Bakr Radhiyallāhu Anhū married Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā off to Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam while she was only six years of age.

 (Musnad Ahmad)

 

The writer further objects stating, Some scholars think that Hazrat Aisha was married off so early because in Arabia girls mature at an early age. But this was not a common custom of the Arabs at that time. According to Allama Kandhulvi, there is no such case on record either before or after Islam. Neither has this ever been promoted as a Sunnah of the Prophet. The Prophet married off his daughters Fatima at 21 and Ruquiyya at 23. Besides, Hazrat Abu Bakr, Aisha’s father, married off his eldest daughter Asma at the age of 26.”

 

This is another baseless and non-academic opinion.  It is quite clear from narrations that some marriages at a young age took place in the era of Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam, the Sahābah Radhiyallāhu Anhum, and those Muslims that came soon thereafter.  For example, Hāfidh bin Hajar Rahimahullāh quotes in his Kitāb “al-Isābah” that Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam got Salmah bin Ibī Salmah Radhiyallāhu Anhu married to Umāmah bint Hamzah Radhiyallāhu Anhā while none of them had reached puberty.[10]  Also consider the following narration from Sahīh al-Bukhārī:

 

وقال الحسن بن صالح: «أدركت جارة لنا جدة، بنت إحدى وعشرين سنة (صحيح البخاري، ج 5، ص 562، دار البشائر الاسلامية)

Hasan bin Sālih Rahimahullāh said: I came to know of my neighbor who became a grandmother at the age of twenty one.

 

 (Sahīh al-Bukhārī)

 

This indicates that the woman must have been married when she was nine, gave birth when she was ten, and the same situation took place with her daughter. 

 

The writer’s claim about the age of Hadhrat Fātimah and Hadhrat Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhumā at the time of marriage is also inaccurate.  Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married Hadhrat Khadījah Radhiyallāhu Anhā at the age of twenty-five. 

 

His first daughter born from the marriage was Zainab Radhiyallāhu Anhā.[11]  According to most of the Ulamā, Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā is the second daughter of Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam. [12] And in “al-Isābah”, Hāfidh bin Hajar Rahimahullāh narrates on the authority of Ibn Sa’d Rahimahullāh that Utbah bin Abī Lahab married Hadhrat Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā before the Nubuwwah.

 

[13] Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam’s age was forty at the time of Nubuwwah.  Hence, it is clear that Hadhrat Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā was thirteen years old or younger at the time of her marriage and not twenty three years. 

 

After the Nubuwwah of Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam, Abū Lahab ordered his son Utbah bin Abī Lahab to divorce Hadhrat Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā.  Thereafter, Uthmān Radhiyallāhu Anhu married Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā.

Even Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s marriage with Uthmān Radhiyallāhu Anhu took place well before she was twenty three years of age.  Uthmān Radhiyallāh Anhu and Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā migrated together to Ethiopia in the fifth year after Nubuwwah. [14]  This indicates that they were definitely married before the fifth year of Nubuwwah.  Hence, Ruqayyah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age at the time of her marriage to Uthmān Radhiyallāhu Anhu was between thirteen and eighteen years old and not twenty three years old.

 

With regards to Fātimah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age at the time of her marriage to Alī Radhiyallāhu Anhā, there is a difference of opinion because there is a difference of opinion on her year of birth.  Some say that she was born when Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam was thirty five years of age and others say that she was born right before Nubuwwah when Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam was approximately forty years of age. [15] Regarding the year of her marriage, some Ulamā are of the opinion that Alī Radhiyallāh Anhū married her the first year after migration[16] and others say that he married her in the second year after the migration.[17]  If we suppose that she was born when Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam was approximately forty years of age and was married in the first year after the migration her age at the time of marriage was about thirteen.  And if we suppose she was born when Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam was thirty five years of age and she was married in the second year after the migration, then she was about eighteen years of age at the time of her marriage and not twenty one years of age as the article suggested. 

 

The writer further objects saying, “Hazrat Aishah narrates that she was present on the battlefield at the Battle of Badar (Muslim). This leads one to conclude that Hazrat Aisha moved into the Prophet’s house in 1 A.H. But a nine-year-old could not have been taken on a rough and risky military mission. In 2 A.H, the Prophet refused to take boys of less than 15 years of age to the battle of Uhud. Would he have allowed a 10-year-old girl to accompany him?”

 

Once again, this is a mere assumption without clear evidence.  It is clear that the prohibition of Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam was for males and not females because the males were the ones to actively participate in the expeditions.[18]   The females would only provide services when needed.  This objection does not hold any weight especially when there are clear and authentic narrations in Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Sahīh Muslim, and various other books of Hadīth proving the age of Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā to be six at the time of marriage.

 

Providing another argument, the writer say, “Hazrat Aisha used the kunniat, the title derived from the name of a child, of Umme Abdullah after her nephew and adopted son.

If she was six when her nikah was performed, she would have been only eight years his senior, hardly making him eligible for adoption. Also, a little girl could not have given up on ever having her own child and used an adopted child’s name for her kunniat.”

 

The kunyah of Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā was given to her by Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam.  The background of the incident is mentioned in Sunan Abī Dāwūd.  The narration is as follows:

 

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها، أنها قالت: يا رسول الله، كل صواحبي لهن كنى، قال: «فاكتني بابنك عبد الله» يعني ابن اختها قال مسدد: عبد الله بن الزبير، قال: فكانت تكنى بأم عبد الله (سنن ابي داؤد، ج 5، ص 441، دار اليسر)

 

It is reported from Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā that she said, “O’ Rasūlullāh, every one of your wives has a Kunyah.”  So Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam said, “Keep your Kunyah according to your son’s name (meaning nephew’s name) Abdullāh.  Hence, her Kunyah became Umm Abdillāh.

 (Sunan Abī Dāwūd)

ِ

This proves that the Kunyah was given to Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā after she started to reside with Rasūllullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam.  Hence, she was at least nine years old if not older when she was given this Kunyah and not six years old as the writer has suggested.

 

Furthermore, the writer did not provide any reference for the adoption of Abdullāh bin Zubair Radhiyallāh Anhū.  The mere fact that Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhu’s kunyah was attributed to his name does not necessitate that she had adopted him. Also, the writer suggested that the kunyah was given to Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā because she gave up on having a child.  However, from the Hadīth of Sunan Abī Dāwūd, it is clear that the reason why Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā was given the kunyah was because she expressed her desire to have a kunyah, as the other wives of Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam had one.  

  

Making another objection, the author writes, Hazrat Aisha’s nephew Urwah once remarked that he was not surprised about her amazing knowledge of Islamic law, poetry and history because she was the wife of the Prophet and the daughter of Abu Bakr. If she was eight when her father migrated, when did she learn poetry and history from him?”

 

Again there is no reference whether this saying of Urwah Radhiyallāhu Anhu is authentic or not.  However, even if we accept this to really be Urwah’s statement, it is normal for young children to learn very quickly.  Even these days we see small children learning very complicated information.  In fact, so many children before the age of eight memorize the entire Qurān.   And it is well known that children in the past had memories far greater than the memories of children in today’s times. 

 

And even if Abu Bakr Radhiyallāhu Anhu migrated to Medinah Munawwarah when Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā was only eight, she also migrated to Medinah.  Just because she was staying with Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam in Medinah does not necessitate that she stopped learning from her father. 

 

In the final objection, the author writes, “There is consensus that Hazrat Aisha was 10 years younger than her elder sister Asma, whose age at the time of the hijrah, or migration to Madina, was about 28. It can be concluded that Hazrat Aisha was about 18 years old at migration.”

 

The writer’s claim of consensus here is incorrect and the writer does not even provide reference for the claim.  In the book “Usd al-Ghābah”, Allāmah Jazrī Rahimahullāh quotes Abū Na’īm saying that Asmā Radhiyallāhu Anhā was born twenty seven years prior to migration.  And in “al-Isābah”, Hāfidh bin al-Hajar Rahimahullāh says that Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā was born four or five years after the Nubuwwah of Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam.  This proves that Asmā Radhiyallāhu Anhā was eighteen or nineteen years older than Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā and not ten years older as was claimed by the writer.  Hence Aishah Radhiyallāh Anhā’s age at the time of migration was eight or nine years of age and not eighteen.   

In conclusion, for information to be valid and authentic, it must be passed down from generation to generation through a valid chain of narrators.  Hence, there is an authentic chain in Sahīh al-Bukhārī and other books of Hadīth that prove Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā’s age to be six at the time of marriage.  So any claim made against this through certain historical arguments holds no weight, especially when it is not supported by an authentic chain. 

 

Allāh will preserve His Dīn and the respect of our beloved Rasūl Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam with the fact that Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam married our Mother Hadhrat Aishah Radhiyallāhu Anhā at the age of six and started living with her when she was nine years old.  Let us preserve the facts and let Allāh preserve His Dīn.

 

See the following article, “The Young Marriage of Ayesha R.A.”, how Allāh uses His servants to defend the cause of Islām: http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/17300

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mawlana Abdul Azīm bin Abdur Rahman,

Student Darul Iftaa

U.S.A.

 

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.


[1]  لا اتفاق العلماء بعدهما علي تلقي كتابيهما باالقبول (شرح النخبة، ص 62،دار البصائر)

[2]  وباالجملة فكتاباهما اصح كتب الحديث (فتح المغيث، ج 1، ص 53، مكتبة دار المنهاج)

[3]  وقد احتج بهشام جميع الائمة (هدي الساري، ص 598، دار الحديث)

[4]  وماتت باالمدينة سنة سبع وخمسين. وقال الواقدي: ليلة الثلثاء لسبع عشرة خلت من رمضان سنة ثمان وخمسين, وهي ابنة ست وستين سنة (المواهب اللدنية, ج 1, ص 497، المكتبة التوفيقية)

[5]  وتزوجها بمكة في شوال سنة عشر من النبوة قبل الهجرة بثلاث سنين (المواهب اللدنية, ج 1, ص 495، المكتبة التوفيقية)

[6] Ma’ariful Qur’an, Vol. 2, Page 322, Maktaba-e-Darul-‘Uloom

[7]  وبلوغ النكاح. أن يحتلم لأنه يصلح للنكاح عنده، ولطلب ما هو مقصود به وهو التوالد والتناسل (الكشاف، ج 1، ص 473، دار الكتاب العربي – بيروت)

[8]  الصغر: اما الصغر فقال الجمهور منهم أئمة المذاهب الاربعة، بل ادعي ابن المنذر الاجماع علي جواز تزويج الصغيرة من كفء (الفقه الاسلامي وادلته، ج 7، ص 183، دار الفكر)

[9]  حدثنا محمد بن بشر، قال: حدثنا محمد بن عمرو، قال: حدثنا أبو سلمة، ويحيى، قالا: لما هلكت خديجة، جاءت خولة بنت حكيم امرأة عثمان بن مظعون، قالت: يا رسول الله ألا تزوج؟ قال: " من؟ " قالت: إن شئت بكرا، وإن شئت ثيبا؟ قال: " فمن البكر؟ " قالت: ابنة أحب خلق الله عز وجل إليك عائشة بنت أبي بكر، قال: " ومن الثيب؟ " قالت: سودة بنت زمعة، آمنت (3) بك، واتبعتك على ما تقول "، قال: " فاذهبي فاذكريهما علي "، فدخلت بيت أبي بكر، فقالت: يا أم رومان ماذا أدخل الله عز وجل عليكم من الخير والبركة؟ قالت: وما ذاك؟ قالت: أرسلني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أخطب عليه عائشة، قالت: انتظري أبا بكر حتى يأتي، فجاء أبو بكر، فقالت: يا أبا بكر ماذا أدخل الله عز وجل عليكم من الخير والبركة؟ قال: وما ذاك؟ قالت: أرسلني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أخطب عليه عائشة، قال: وهل تصلح له؟ إنما هي ابنة أخيه، فرجعت إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فذكرت ذلك له (1) ، قال: " ارجعي إليه فقولي له: " أنا أخوك، وأنت أخي في الإسلام، وابنتك تصلح لي "، فرجعت فذكرت ذلك له، قال: انتظري وخرج، قالت أم رومان: إن مطعم بن عدي قد كان ذكرها على ابنه، فوالله ما وعد وعدا قط، فأخلفه لأبي بكر، فدخل أبو بكر على مطعم بن عدي وعنده امرأته أم الفتى، فقالت يا ابن أبي قحافة لعلك مصبئ (2) صاحبنا مدخله في دينك الذي أنت عليه، إن تزوج إليك، قال أبو بكر للمطعم بن عدي: أقول هذه تقول، قال: إنها تقول ذلك، فخرج من عنده، وقد أذهب الله عز وجل ما كان في نفسه من عدته التي وعده فرجع، فقال لخولة: ادعي لي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فدعته فزوجها إياه وعائشة يومئذ بنت ست سنين، ثم خرجت فدخلت على سودة بنت زمعة، فقالت: ماذا أدخل الله عز وجل عليك من الخير والبركة؟ قالت: ما ذاك؟ قالت: أرسلني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أخطبك عليه، قالت: وددت ادخلي إلى أبي فاذكري ذاك له، وكان شيخا كبيرا، قد أدركته (3) السن، قد تخلف عن الحج، فدخلت عليه، فحيته (4) بتحية  الجاهلية، فقال: من هذه؟ فقالت: خولة بنت حكيم، قال: فما شأنك؟ قالت: أرسلني محمد بن عبد الله أخطب عليه سودة، قال: كفء (1) كريم، ماذا تقول صاحبتك؟ قالت: تحب ذاك، قال: ادعها لي فدعتها، فقال (2) : أي بنية إن هذه تزعم أن محمد بن عبد الله بن عبد المطلب قد أرسل يخطبك، وهو كفء (3) كريم، أتحبين أن أزوجك به، قالت: نعم، قال (4) : ادعيه لي، فجاء رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إليه فزوجها إياه، فجاءها أخوها عبد بن زمعة من الحج، فجعل يحثي على (5) رأسه التراب، فقال بعد أن أسلم: لعمرك (6) إني لسفيه يوم أحثي في رأسي التراب أن تزوج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سودة بنت زمعة، قالت عائشة: فقدمنا المدينة فنزلنا في بني الحارث من (7) الخزرج في السنح، قالت: فجاء رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فدخل بيتنا واجتمع إليه رجال من الأنصار، ونساء فجاءت بي (8) أمي وإني لفي (1) أرجوحة بين عذقين ترجح بي، فأنزلتني من الأرجوحة، ولي جميمة ففرقتها، ومسحت وجهي بشيء من ماء، ثم أقبلت تقودني حتى وقفت بي عند الباب، وإني لأنهج حتى سكن من نفسي، ثم دخلت بي فإذا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم جالس على سرير في بيتنا، وعنده رجال ونساء من الأنصار، فأجلستني (2) في حجره، ثم قالت: هؤلاء أهلك فبارك الله لك فيهم، وبارك لهم فيك، فوثب الرجال والنساء، فخرجوا وبنى بي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في بيتنا، ما نحرت علي جزور، ولا ذبحت علي شاة، حتى أرسل إلينا سعد بن عبادة بجفنة كان يرسل بها إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، إذا دار إلى نسائه وأنا يومئذ بنت تسع سنين (مسند احمد, ج 42، ص 501-504،مؤسسة الرسالة)

[10]  وقال ابن إسحاق: حدثني من لا أتهم عن عبد اللَّه بن شداد، قال: كان الّذي زوّج أم سلمة من النّبي صلّى اللَّه عليه وسلم سلمة بن أبي سلمة ابنها فزوّجه النبيّ صلّى اللَّه عليه وسلم أمامة بنت حمزة، وهما صبيّان صغيران، فلم يجتمعا حتى ماتا، فقال النبيّ صلّى اللَّه عليه وسلم: هل جزيت سلمة! (الاصابة، ج 1، ص 752، دار المعرفة)

[11]  قال أبو عمر: لا أعرف خلافا أنّ زينب أكبر بنات النبي صلّى اللَّه عليه وسلّم (الاصابة، ج 4، ص 2506، دار المعرفة)

[12]  واختلف في رقية وفاطمة وأم كلثوم، والأكثر أنهنّ على هذا الترتيب (الاصابة، ج 4، ص 2506-2507، دار المعرفة)

[13]  وقال ابن سعد: بايعت رسول اللَّه صلّى اللَّه عليه وسلّم هي وأخواتها، وتزوجها عتبة بن أبي لهب قبل النبوة، فلما بعث قال أبو لهب: رأسي من رأسك حرام إن لم تطلق ابنته (الاصابة، ج 4، ص2507، دار المعرفة)

[14]  الموسوعة الميسرة في التاريخ الاسلامي، ج 1، ص 17، مؤسسة اقرأ

[15]  واختلف في سنة مولدها، فروى الواقديّ، عن طريق أبي جعفر الباقر، قال: قال العبّاس: ولدت فاطمة والكعبة تبنى، والنّبيّ صلّى اللَّه عليه وآله وسلّم ابن خمس وثلاثين سنة، وبهذا جزم المدائنيّ.

ونقل أبو عمر عن عبيد اللَّه بن محمد بن سليمان بن جعفر الهاشمي- أنها ولدت سنة إحدى وأربعين من مولد النّبيّ صلّى اللَّه عليه وآله وسلّم. وكان مولدها قبل البعثة بقليل نحو سنة أو أكثر (الاصابة، ج 4، ص2596، دار المعرفة)

[16]  ومن طريق عمر بن عليّ، قال: تزوّج عليّ فاطمة في رجب سنة مقدمهم المدينة، وبنى بها مرجعه من بدر، ولها يومئذ ثمان عشرة سنة. (الاصابة، ج 4، ص2597، دار المعرفة)

[17] وتزوّجها عليّ أوائل المحرم سنة اثنتين بعد عائشة بأربعة أشهر، وقيل غير ذلك. وانقطع نسل رسول اللَّه صلّى اللَّه عليه وآله وسلّم إلا من فاطمة. (الاصابة، ج 4، ص2596، دار المعرفة)

[18]  (فَلم يجزه) أَي: فَلم يمضه وَلم يَأْذَن لَهُ فِي الْقِتَال (عمدة القاري، ج 17، ص 177، دار إحياء التراث العربي)

 

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