~by Muhammad Fajr
It has become a common way to malign Islam by tossing the Prophet’s Marriage with Aisha. In this Article In’Shaa Allah we will refute the baseless claims about Marriage with Aisha that she was a child. We will be using Islamic Texts, Historical texts and other Religious sources to see if there baseless allegation is true or not. I would start with the Quote of a Christian Scholar:
Of all the world’s great men none has been so much maligned as Muhammad.[W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press, 1956]
- Other Religious Sources
- The full story
- Age of Marriage in Quran
- The Dolls
- Prepubescent or Young girl
- The reality behind ages
- The Large Age gap
- A historical look through Various sources
- Wisdom behind Marriage
Other Religious Sources
It is better for us to attack at first so that they will read clearly about what we are saying. First i would like to argue with Christians with the following arguments.
- Rebecca was 3 year old when she married 40 year old Prophet Isaac.[Part 1][Part 2][Part 3]
- Prophet David married 12 year old Abisheg.[Part 1][Part 2][Part 3]
- Prophet Jacob’s daughter Dinah was given into Marriage When she was 7[here]
- Mother Mary was 12 when married to much old Joseph.[here]
- Moses and his people married girls as less as 3.[Part 1][Part 2]
Now coming to Hinduism.
- Sita was 6 When she married Rama.[here]
- Sita’s sister Urmila was younger and was married with Laxman at the same time so she was even more younger.
- Mandavi and her sister shrutakrita married Bharata and Shatrughana at the same time and the two sisters were even more smaller than Urmilla.
- Krishna married Rukmani at the age 8 as per Puranas.[see:Skanda Purana Book V, Section iii, Chapter 142, Verses 8-79]
- Manusmriti 9:88 and 94 are another proof.
- Swami Vivekanand says “…A girl of eight is married to a man of thirty, and the parents are jubilant over it…. And if anyone protests against it, the plea is put forward, “Our religion is being overturned.” What sort of religion have they who want to see their girls becoming mothers before they attain puberty even and offer scientific explanations for it? Many, again, lay the blame at the door of the Mohammedans. They are to blame, indeed! Just read the Grihya-Sutras through and see what is given as the marriageable age of a girl. … There it is expressly stated that a girl must be married before attaining puberty. The entire Grihya-Sutras enjoin this…” The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 6/Epistles – Second Series/LXXI Rakhal [ https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_6/Epistles_-_Second_Series/LXXI_Rakhal ]
- Swami Prabupada the founder of ISKCON writes ”…As soon as a woman attains the age of puberty, she immediately becomes very much agitated by sexual desire. It is therefore the duty of the father to get his daughter married before she attains puberty…” A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam 4.25.42 [ http://vanisource.org/wiki/SB_4.25.42 ]
- Sadhguru says “It’s a tragic situation. We should realise that we are a society in transition. There was a time when girls would be married at 15. Now they are not married till 25 and 30. So this is the peak of their hormones. In our mindset we are in the past, but in our physical situation, we are in the present. What is causing these rapes? Humans have their needs. If you keep them suppressed, they will do something violent. We need to address this on a much larger scale – hanging rapists or putting them behind bars, that is not the solution. Yes, it needs to be done when it happens. But more importantly as a society, we need to understand why.” http://www.newindianexpress.com/education/edex/Seven-minutes-with-the-Sadhguru/2016/06/13/article3475994.ece
The full story
Before getting into the explanation one must know the full story of the incident so here are some points. I will skip the unwanted and repeating points.
Sahih al-Bukhari: The Early Years of Islam, Translated & Explained by Muhammad Asad, (Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, 1981) 198-199.
It appears that the initiative in the matter of his marriage with ‘A’ishah did not proceed from the Prophet himself. After Khadijah’s death he was so depressed and dispirited that his Companions were afraid for his life (cf. Ibn Sa’d VIII, 41). Thereupon a Muslim woman, Khawlah bint Hakim, requested him to re-marry and suggested two women – the middle-aged Sawdah bint Zam’ah, widow of a Companion, and the young daughter of Abu Bakr. ‘A’ishah was still very young, she became only nominally the Prophet’s wife.……….Thus, after Khadijah’s death the Prophet remained virtually without wife for about two years … The above-mentioned story of Khawlah bint Hakim shows that the Prophet himself was not particularly eager to marry ‘A’ishah or, for that matter, anybody else; this disposes of the ridiculous allegation made by some European orientalists, that he “succumbed to ‘A’ishah’s charms”………..As regards ‘A’ishah, her mental precocity is fairly obvious from many Traditions; and it is very probable that her physical development went hand in hand with the mental. In any case, during the years of her married life she not only gave happiness to her husband, but also herself found, besides the honour of being allied to the Apostle of God, all the happiness and satisfaction which a woman could expect from marriage: and this, I believe, provides the strongest human justification of this alliance, and an answer to those who think that they must ignore historical evidence if it happens to clash with their own arbitrary, entirely subjective, notions as to what should or should not have occurred.
History of At-Tabari, Translated and Annotated by Ishmael K. Poonawala Volume 9 Page 129-131
Said b. Yabya b. Said al-Umawi his father Mulammad
b. `Amr-Yabya b. ‘Abd al-Ra] min b. Hitib881-`A’ishah: When Khadijah died, Khawlah bt. Hakim b. Umayyah b. al-Awga, wife
of `Uthmin b. Ma:;’un, who was in Mecca, said [to the Messenger
of God], “0 Messenger of God, will you not marry?” He replied,
“Whom?” “A maiden,” she said, “if you like, or a non-maiden.”
He replied, “Who is the maiden?” “The daughter of the dearest
creature of God to you,” she answered, “`A’ishah bt. Abi Bakr.” He asked, “And who is the non-maiden?” “Sawdah bt. Zamah b.
Qays,” she replied, “she has [long] believed in you and has fol-
lowed you.” [So the Prophet] asked her to go and propose to them
on his behalf.
She went to Abu Bakr’s house, where she found Umm Rumen,
mother of `A’ishah, and said, “0 Umm Rumen, what a good thing
and a blessing has God brought to you !” She said, “What is that?”
Khawlah replied, “The Messenger of God has sent me to ask for
`A’ishah’s hand in marriage on his behalf.” She answered. “I ask
that you wait for Abu Bakr, for he should be on his way.” When
Abu Bakr came, Khawlah repeated what she had said. He replied,
“She is [like] his brother’s daughter. Would she be appropriate for
him?” When Khawlah returned to the Messenger of God and told
him about it he said, “Go back to him and say that he is my
brother in Islam and that I am his brother [in IslamJ, so his
daughter is good for me.” She came to Abu Bakr and told him
what the Messenger of God had said. Then he asked her to wait
until he returned.
Umm Rumen said that al-Mut’im b. ‘Adi had asked `A’ishah’s
hand for his son, but Abu Bakr had not promised anything. Abu
Bakr left and went to Mut’im while his wife, mother of the son for whom he had asked ‘A’ishah’s hand, was with him. She said, “0
son of Abu Quhafah, perhaps we could marry our son to your
daughter if you could make him leave his religion and bring him in to the religion which you practice.” He turned to her husband
al-Mut’im and said, “What is she saying?” He replied, “She says
[what you have just heard].” Abu Bakr left, [realizing that] God
had [just] removed the problem he had in his mind. He said to
Khawlah, “Call the Messenger of God.” She called him and he
came. Abu Bakr married [‘A’ishah] to him when she was six
History of At-Tabari Translated by M.V. McDonald Annotated by W Montgomery Watt page 7
According to ‘Abd al-Hamid b. Bayan al-Sukkari-Mu-
hammad b. Yazid-Ismail (that is, Ibn AN Khalid)-‘Abd
al-Rahman b. Abi al-Dahhak-a man from Quraysh-‘Abd al- Rahman b. Muhammad: ‘Abd Allah b. Safwan together with an-
other person came to ‘A’ishah, and ‘A’ishah said (to the latter), “0
so-and-so, have you heard what Hafsah has been saying?”” He
said, “Yes, 0 Mother of the Faithful.” ‘Abd Allah b. Safwan asked
her, “What is that?” She replied,“There are nine special features
in me that have not been in any woman, except for what God be-
stowed on Maryam bt. Imran.” By God, I do not say this to exalt
myself over any of my companions.” “What are these?” he asked.
She replied, “The angel brought down my likeness; the Messen-
ger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage was con-
summated when I was nine; he married me when I was a virgin,
no other man having shared me with him; inspiration came to
him when he and I were in a single blanket ; I was one of the
dearest people to him; a verse of the Qur’an was revealed con-
cerning me when the community was almost destroyed;’s I saw
Gabriel when none of his other wives saw him; and he was taken
(that is, died) in his house when there was nobody with him but
the angel and myself.”
Al Sirah al nabawiyah by Ibn Kathir Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick Reviewed by Dr. Munir Fared Volume 2 page 94-95
Iman Ahmad stated in the musn~d:~ of ‘A’isha, “the mother of the faithful”,
that “Muhammad b. Kshr related to him, from Bishr and Muhammad b. ‘Amr,
who was told the following by Abii Salama and Yahya: ‘When Khadija died,
Khawla, daughter of Hakim, the wife of ‘Uthman b. Ma’iin, came and said, “0 Messenger of God, wouldn’t you like to get married?” He replied, “To whom?”
“To either a virgin or to someone previously married, as you wish.”
“”‘And who would the virgin be?” He asked. She replied, “That creation of
God you enjoy above all others, ‘A’isha, daughter of Aba Bakr!”
“‘”And who would the previously married woman he?” he asked. “Sawda,
daughter of Zamk,” she answered. “She bas expressed belief in you and has
become your follower.”
“”‘You may go,” he told her, “and make mention of me to them.”
‘”She entered Abii Bakr’s house and said to his wife, “Umm Roman, what
goodness and blessings God brings you!” “How do you mean?” she enquired.
“The Messenger of God (SAAS) has sent me to ask to become engaged to
“”‘See Aba Bakr when he comes in,” she replied.
‘”Aha Bakr did come and Khawla said, “0 Aba Bakr, what goodness and
blessings God brings you! ”
“‘”How so?” he asked.
“‘”The Messenger of God (SAAS) has sent me to ask to become engaged to
“‘”And would she be proper for him? After all, she is his brother’s daughter,”
“‘So I returned to the Messenger of God (SAAS) and told him that and he
replied, “Go back and tell him ‘I am your brother, and you are mine, in Islam.
Your daughter would he proper for me.”‘
“‘So I went back and told him this, and he replied, “Wait” and left. Umm
Rman told me, “Mut’im b. ‘Adi has asked for her in marriage to his son; and, I
swear, Aha Bakr never before broke an agreement he had made.”‘
“‘Abii Bakr went in to see Mut’im b. ‘Adi who had his wife, Umm al-Sabi,
with him. She commented, “Well, son of Abii Quhafa, are you perhaps having
our friend change his religion and join yours if he gets married into your family?”
Aba Bakr asked Mutcim b. ‘Adi, “Is this how you respond?” He replied, “It’s she
who said that.”
“‘And so Abii Bakr left, God having relieved him of the promise he had made
to Mutcim. He returned home and told Khawla, “Call for the Messenger of God
(SAAS) to come to me.” She did so and he agreed to her marriage to him, ‘A’isha
at that time being six years old.
Abu al-Qasim al-Ṭabarani, al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir (Cairo: Maktabah ibn Taymiyah, 1994), 5923:23. Nu‘im bin al-Ḥakim al-Naysaburi, al-Mustadarak ala al-Ṣahihayn (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyah, 1999), tradition 2704, 2:181. Isnad graded Sahih) (“A Modern Matn Criticism on the Tradition on Aisha’s Age of Marriage: Translation and Analysis”, page 18-19
In other words the messenger of God desists from marrying? He said: And who [do you suggest]? She said: Do you want a young woman (bakra) or an old woman (thayiba)? He said: So who is the young woman? She said: The daughter of the most beloved of Allah’s creation to you, ‘Aisha bint Abi Bakr. And he said: Who is the older woman? She said: Sawdah bint Zama‘ah. He said: So go and mention me to both of them.
Based on these narrations we find:
- After Mother Khadija’s death our Prophet Muhammad was depressed.
- Khawla came and advised to Prophet for Marrying a Virgin and a previously Married.
- Since Khawla called Mother Aisha a Young Women it is evident that their argument is destroyed in the beginning itself but we will explain in detail.
- Kawla goes to Wife of Abu Bakr to ask for it. In return Abu Bakr says He is like brother because he did not wanted to bury the contract with the one who was previously engaged. So when Prophet said that they are brothers in faith and she is lawful for her. He went to consult the Boy, Jubayr Ibn Mut’im Ibn Adi if he is ready to marry.
- The boy,Jubayr Ibn Mut’im Ibn Adi denies and breaks the engagement.
- In Return Abu Bakr says Ok from the Women’s side.
- If anyone has went through the process of Marriage he/she knows these types of things are common.
Commenting on the narration of Kawlah, Brnaby Rogerson in his book The Prophet Muhammad: And the Roots of the Sunni-Shia Schism [Hachette Digital, 2003], Page 55 writes:
After Khadijah died the Prophet’s household and his daughters were cared for by Khawlah, the wife of one of his loyal followers. After the first period of mourning had passed, Khawlah suggested that he should find another wife. She herself put forward two candidates, the very beautiful Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr, and Sawdah, a motherly thirty-year-old. Muhammad chose both of them Sawdah, of the Muslims who had taken refuge in Abyssinia, had recently been widowed. She was therefore immediately available and moved in to take charge of the household. Aisha, then still a pre-pubescent virgin, was betrothed by her father BUT DID NOT PHYSICALLY BECOME MUHAMMAD’S WIFE UNTIL SHE WAS CONSIDERED SEXUALLY MATURE, AFTER HER MENSTRUATION.”
Age of Marriage in Quran
Please visit: Quran 65:4 – The Child Marriage Claim
- Determining mutual attraction/compatibility [2:221, 2:235, 30:21, 33:52]
- Ascertaining whether the potential partner is of similar beliefs/faith [2:221, 60:10]
- Discussion of and agreeing to the level of dower and other terms (if any) [4:4, 4:24]
- Understanding and mutual acceptance of marriage as a solemn/strong oath/contract [4:21, 2:232, 2:237, 24:33]
- If male, capable of providing for the family/household [2:228, 2:233, 4:34, 65:6]
- To have physically matured / post-puberty [4:6, 24:31, 24:58-59]
If the marriage is unsuccessful, one should also be capable of undertaking divorce proceedings, e.g. separation period, arbitration, discussion of settlement etc [2:226-232, 2:241, 4:35, 4:128-130, 33:49, 65:1-6].
We will discuss in more detail the verse which specifically mentions the issue of age. The context is the rights of orphans and their wealth:
And do not give the imprudent/weak-minded your money which God has made for you a means of support, and spend on them from it and clothe them, and speak to them in goodness. [4:5]
And test the orphans until they have reached marriageable age*, then if you determine in them sound judgment**, then give them their wealth, and do not deliberately consume it wastefully or quickly before they grow up. And whoever is rich, then let him abstain (from the wealth), and if he is poor then let him utilise by what is recognised as good/appropriate. So when you paid to them their wealth, so call a witness on them, and be aware God is accounting. [4:6]
*The Arabic word is “nikah” (marriage) and has an implied meaning of sex, hence some translators interpret it as ‘reached sexual maturity’ in this verse.
**Arabic word is “rushd” and its meanings include: be well guided or directed, true direction, correct rule of action, straight forwardness, maturity of a child/intellect, capacity to manage one’s affairs.
Thus, the two conditions for giving the wealth to the orphans are:
1- The reaching of marriageable age / sexual maturity.
2- The proving of sound judgement / capability in managing one’s affairs.
Interestingly, this implies that one could reach marriageable age / sexual maturity but still not have sound judgement, which is universally true and gives a possible reason why a specific age for marriage is not stated in The Quran. Based on this and other verses regarding marriage, it can be deduced that these two conditions can also be used as a guideline for when to consider marriage. The reason being, if we suppose after having reached marriageable age / sexual maturity an orphan is allowed to get married but their wealth is not given to them, this means they have been determined not to have sound judgement, yet they are being allowed to get married, which is logically inconsistent with the guidance in The Quran.
Please note, in 4:6 it also warns those entrusted with the wealth not to consume or waste it before they grow up, further reinforcing the idea that the period being referred to is when grown up. To conclusively prove this however, we can also look at other verses which discuss giving orphans the wealth owed to them [6:152, 17:34]. The Arabic word used in these verses is when they are “shudud”, which means physical maturity / the period from adolescence to adulthood. Since the orphans can only receive their wealth once “shudud”, and from 4:6 we know they become eligible for it after having reached marriageable age, this can only mean marriageable age begins from adolescence onwards. There is no other possibility.
This conclusion can also be verified in the story of Jospeh, who when first found in the well was a boy (Arabic: ghulam, see 12:19), then taken into care, then when he reached “shudud” (i.e. became physically mature) the female of the household tried to seduce him [12:22-23].
In addition, the usage of this word “shudud” in The Quran suggests reasonable physical strength, i.e. at least several years into adolescence [18:82, 28:14] which also agrees with most Classical Arabic dictionaries which average about from the age of 17 for the word “shudud”, which also happens to coincide with when a significant number of orphans would meet the two conditions for receiving their wealth. Many countries begin to grant extra rights at the age of 16, and many give full rights at 18, so this seems fairly close to worldwide practice.
To conclude, it is proven beyond doubt by The Quran that one must be physically mature and be of sound judgement in order to get married.
Further as you can see, the definition of physically mature and sound judgement are subjective. What we thought of as being physically mature and having sound judgement back then is different from what it we define it today. The Quran purposely did not put a specified age for marriage and rather gave a subjective guideline for marriage because it was meant for all times and places. Humanity changes and our values change; the Quran was designed for all of mankind past, present and future so it must logically follow that it would support the beliefs and values of the people of the past, present and future. It was morally acceptable back then to marry young, now it is not. The Quran has allowed flexibility with the interpretation of the age of marriage so that it supports values of different times.
So applying the Quranic interpretation to Today’s time would reach the conclusion that to be married, you must have good judgment and be physically mature (in our case, we say if you are 21, you have good judgement and if you are 25 your brain has fully developed thus making you physically mature). If we marry off our kids young, it would be sinful to us as we do not see good judgement in them. Back then it was morally acceptable to marry young, so the prophet Muhammad cannot be held accountable, even if he married a young person.
Please take a look at a diagram of the above information:
One thing that people bring up is that Aisha used to play with Dolls and this has Been the base of criticism for a long time but they fail to understand that even a wife plays with Teddy bear and Dolls and go out to talk with friends. Also we have reports that she hit puberty much before which we shall discuss later. So the argument is baseless but we shall discuss it in detail.
Narrated ‘Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah’s Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. [Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 8 Book 73 Hadith 151]
BBC America produced a documentary which show women above the age of 18 play with dolls:
“Monica Walsh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of a 2-year-old daughter from Orange County, N.Y., has one doll – “Hayden.” And, yes, she told Lauer, she plays with her doll “the same way a man might make a big train station and play with his train station or play with his sports car, his boat or his motorcycle.”
Fran Sullivan, 62, lives in Florida and has never had children. She brought two reborns to New York, “Robin” and “Nicholas,” and said she has a collection of more than 600 dolls of all kinds, including a number of reborn dolls.” (“Bogus baby boom: Women who collect lifelike dolls”, by Mike Celizic, online source (last accessed 8th February 2017), http://www.today.com/id/26970782/ns/today-today_news/t/bogus-%20baby-boom-women-who-collect-lifelike-dolls/ )
The BBC UK (2013) also published an article on this, titled “Teddy bears: Adults on their stuffed toy companions”, showing how grown up women play with teddy bears often:
“I have a small brown bear, Frank by name. He is so called because he is an earnest, honest, upright bear. He was given to me by a friend, as a promise that he would come home to me – and Frank. Frank had looked after my friend when his life went wrong. My friend never came home, he went to France and found someone else. Now Frank and I look after each other and we go everywhere together. Frank is a very special wee bear and very knowing. He has a beautiful soul. I will love him always. He is a good listener and he is my best friend. Heather, Rutland
My partner and I have 17 teddy bears which we’ve collected over the last five years, one of whom is my partner’s best friend and has been since he was 18 months old. Our teddies are a huge part of our lives. They travel the world with us and I couldn’t “bear” to leave any of them at home. Laura, Exeter, Devon.” (“Teddy bears: Adults on their stuffed toy companions” (BBC Magazine., Published 8 February 2013), online source (Last accessed 8th February 2017), http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21367728 )
Additionally, this is also supported by the New York Times.
Dr. Juliette Peers says that it was very fashionable for adult women to carry dolls in public in the early 20th century:
“As dolls were becoming closely identified with medicalized norms of girls’ behaviour, many adult doll-type products began production in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of these, such as the Lenci felt dolls from Italy, crossed over from adult mascot or living room decorations into the realm of children’s toys. Others-such as the pinchusion dolls and porcelain dolls in the shape of hair tidies, bookends, perfume bottles, vases powder bowls, powder puffs, lamp bases and face brooches- would have been familiar items to the younger teen at least in their personal home environment and their mother’s room, if not standing on the girl’s dressing table o decorating her bedroom. DURING THE 1920S, IT WAS TRENDY FOR ADULT WOMEN TO CARRY DOLLS IN PUBLIC, especially in urban areas, as a fashion accessory, and perfume flasks, purses and handbags were produced with doll or teddy bear faces. The Nancy Ann Story Book Company of California produced small dolls in series that encouraged young girls to collect the whole set. The Nancy Ann Dolls crossed over from the younger to a young ADULT AUDIENCE, who regarded them a mascots and ornaments. Because the Nancy Ann dolls were extremely popular, the company had to switch to locally produced dolls when the supply sources in Axis countries became unavailable during World War II.” (Girl Culture: An Encyclopedia [Claudia Mitchell, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh (editors), GP – Greenwood Press, 2008] by Dr. Juliette Peers, volume 1, page 28)
“Collectible dolls are often given as presents to girls by doting parents and grandparents, as well as being bought as personal items by adult women.” (Girl Culture: An Encyclopedia [Claudia Mitchell, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh (editors), GP – Greenwood Press, 2008] by Dr. Juliette Peers, volume 1, page 36)
The above instances on dolls, show that just because one has a doll or plays with one it does not equate to the person being a child. As the above evidence has demonstrated, adult women play with dolls also. Therefore, this claim that Aisha was prepubescent for merely playing dolls is baseless, since we know that grown women in this very era play with dolls.
Prepubescent or Young Women
There is only one Hadith which the critics bring up to show that Mother Aisha was Prepubescent. Let us take a look, i will cut of words and focus on main point because the Hadith is very long.
………..The people who used to carry me on the camel, came to my Howdah and put it on the back of the camel, thinking that I was in it, as, at that time, women were light in weight, and thin and lean, and did not use to eat much. So, those people did not feel the difference in the heaviness of the Howdah while lifting it, and they put it over the camel. At that time I was a young lady………On that Allah’s Messenger called Buraira and said, ‘O Burair. Did you ever see anything which roused your suspicions about her?’ Buraira said, ‘No, by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, I have never seen in her anything faulty except that she is a girl of immature age, who sometimes sleeps and leaves the dough for the goats to eat.’……..[Sahih al-Bukhari volume 3 Book 48 Hadith 829]
The word which is translated as Immature age is حَدِيثَةُ السِّنِّ it is a mis translation because it actually means modern or young age.
Br. Bassam Zawadi gives evidence that there is nothing in the Hadith that suggests that she was “immature”, in the sense of being prepubescent:
“Looking at the Arabic text, I don’t see word “immature” anywhere. It only states that she is a YOUNG GIRL, which we will already know. But if someone is young that doesn’t necessarily imply that he or she is immature.
Secondly, the companion was not criticizing Aisha for her age. Rather, he was saying that her fault was that she:
‘GOES TO SLEEP while kneading the flour and the lamb eats that’.
Imam Nawawi (1233 – 1277) states in his commentary:
And the meaning of this statement is that there are no faults about her (Aisha) to begin with. There is nothing wrong about her EXCEPT THAT SHE SLEEPS WHILE KNEADING THE FLOUR. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Tawbah, Bab: Fee Hadeeth Al Ifk Wa Qubool Tawbat Al Qaazhif, Commentary on Hadith no. 4974, Source http://hadith.al-islam.com/Loader.aspx?pageid=261 )
The companion might have attributed her carelessness due to the fact that she was young and did not take seriously her responsibility over her tasks. However, this does not imply she was immature or psychologically incapable of being married.”(Source)
The second point about the Hadith is that it itself makes clear by Aisha herself saying twice she is a Young lady جَاوَزْتُ الْجَيْشَ:
Lane’s Lexicon Page 418:
Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an of With References and Explanation of the Text by Malik Ghulam Farid M. A., page 134:
This Hadith is repeated several times and is Sahih. It is again to be noted she told two times in same Hadith she is young women.
There is an explicit mention that she was mature and had hit puberty long before Marriage:
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]
This Hadith explicitly tells us that she attained Puberty. Another Hadith below says:
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]
Amazingly this word AQAL is used when a person is mature.
Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic [Edited by John Milton – Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1976], page 737
… a’qal more reasonable; brighter, smarter, more intelligent | … a’qal al’umr the most reasonable time of life, the years of reason and MATURITY.
There is one more scientific evidence:
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 Bukhari volume 5 Book 58 Hadith 234]
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)
So it is evident from these facts that she had already passed puberty.
The reality behind ages
It is important to remember that when these narrations are discussed, they are done in the environment when the calendar had been devised. In pre-Islamic times and the times of the Prophet (ﷺ), the calendar had not been formed and people remembered occasions based on major events. For example, the people remembered that the Prophet (ﷺ) was born 50 days before the event of the elephant i.e. when Abraha, governor of Yemen, attacked the Ka’aba and brought some elephants with him. The Arabs knew the months of the year but were generally unconcerned with the years.
In AD 638 (17 AH), Abu Musa Ash’ari (رضي الله عنه), one of the officials of the Caliph Umar (رضي الله عنه) in Basrah, complained about the absence of any years on the correspondence he received from Umar (رضي الله عنه), making it difficult for him to determine which instructions were most recent. This report convinced Umar (رضي الله عنه) of the need to introduce an era for Muslims. After debating the issue with his counsellors, he decided that the first year should include the date of the Prophet (ﷺ)’s arrival at Medina. Uthman b. Affan (رضي الله عنه) then suggested that the months begin with Muharram… The years of the Islamic calendar thus began with the month of Muharram in the year of the Prophet (ﷺ)’s arrival at the city of Madina. Because of the Hijra, the calendar was named the Hijra calendar.[Source]
In this context, it is natural that people pay little heed to ages. They took people to be what they appeared to be(see next section below for further details).
When Aisha (رضي الله عنها) narrates her age, she does so later on and by calculating it backwards while it is highly probable that she may not know her age with certainty at the time of her marriage. She may have been as old as 8 because in some accounts we have 7 as well 8.
The large age gap
Although the age gap is very large but it is not a matter of as serious discussion as they show up. Putting aside the modern Western notions of “happiness” for a moment, the marriage of cAishah and the Prophet(P) was a mutually happy and loving one as in expressed in numerous hadîth and seerah books. That happy marriages occur between people with a fairly large difference in ages is known among psychologists:
When the differences (in ages) is great, e.g. exceeds fifteen to twenty years, the results may be happier. The marriage of an elderly (senescent) not, of course, an old (senile) man to a quite young girl, is often very successful and harmonious. The bride is immediately introduced and accustomed to moderate sexual intercourse.[Theodor H. Vandevelde, Ideal Marriage : Its Physiology and Technique, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1980, p. 243]
Also there a Large List of people who have age gaps as large as 60. I am not kidding you go and check out there. Now we must note down one thing here people back then didn’t married on basis of age, they married on basis of Look and it is not unknown How the Prophet looked:
It was narrated that Humaid said: “Anas bin Malik was asked: ‘Did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) dye his hair?’ He said: ‘He did not have any white hair apart from approximately seventeen or twenty hairs at the front of his beard.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 4, Book 32, Hadith 3629]
This is narrated by Anas b. Malik (رضي الله عنه) who was one of the last companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) to pass away and when he narrates it, he does so much after the passing away of the Prophet (ﷺ). Therefore, he describes the late description of the Prophet (ﷺ) who passed away at the age of 63. Imagine he had few white hairs at the age of 63, how much would he have 10 or 13 years before that? Barely noticeable, if at all! Not just were his hairs naturally black, his skin, physique, and structure were also young.
When the Prophet (ﷺ) migrated to Madina, at the age of 53, he stopped by with his close friend and companion Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) at the place of an old woman, Umm Ma`bad. The books of Hadith and Sirah (biography of the Prophet (ﷺ)) record how she described the Prophet (ﷺ) later to her husband when he came home (i.e. their tent):
I saw a man who is clearly handsome and with a beautiful face. He is well-built. He is neither blemished by a big stomach nor did he have an unusually small head. The pupils of his eyes are very dark, the edges of his eyelids are long and the area around the pupils of his eyes is so white. His eyebrows are perfectly close. He has a very dark hair, a rather long neck and a thick beard. When he kept silent he is always contemplative and when he speaks eminence and splendour show in his words. His words are like sliding stringed pearls. He is a gifted speaker whose words are neither too few nor too much. He has the clearest words and the most audible voice when he speaks. When you look at him from afar, he is the most handsome of all people, and when you move closer to him he is the most pleasant of them. You will never be tired of looking at him. He is like a branch between two branches. He is the most handsome of the three (she means: the Prophet (ﷺ) Abu Bakr and Amir ibn Fuhayrah) and the most important of them. He has Companions who honour him. When he speaks they listen to his words and when he commands they hasten to carry out his order. They serve him and rally around him. He does not frown or nag. [Source]
This description further shows that even at the age of 53, the Prophet (ﷺ) looked very young, fresh, attractive, charming, and charismatic, and as stated earlier, it would not be a surprise if he, at age 50 or 53, actually looked like a 25 or a 30 year old man.
Note: For full detail How Prophet looked refer to Shma’il At Trimidhi Hadith 6.
Although nine, she looked much older and this is not a rare occurrence. The passage below is interesting:
The memoirs of one of the ulama who worked in Syria’s family law courts in the mid-twentieth century depicts the troubled process of coming to terms with a modern, Western-shaped law while maintaining a commitment to the canon of the Qur’an and Sunna. It was acceptable, wrote Ali Tantawi, for the ruler or state to introduce administrative laws and restrictions in the best interests of the people. This was allowed under the Shariah not only within the original, narrow window of public interest (Maslaha) but also because God orders Muslims to obey ‘those in authority among you.’ He was thus content to preside over marriage after marriage in his Damascus courtroom while observing the age requirement of eighteen.
What Tantawi could not abide was to endow this law with any moral or religious weight. At best it was a sensible policy for promoting health and welfare; at worst, bureaucratic red tape to be grudgingly endured. Underage couples who married with a private Shariah contract undocumented by the state were still married in the eyes of God. Tantawi also frequently granted exceptions for brides as young as thirteen, as the new law allowed. He recalled how often he had stood next to such girls and found that they were taller than he was and were fully physically mature. ‘So it’s not simply a matter of age,’ he wrote, ‘as those who hastily and mistakenly speak without knowledge or understanding about the marriage of the Messenger of God, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, the best of mankind, the fairest and most just, about his marriage to Aisha when she was nine years old.’ Had those outraged by this act actually seen Aisha? She could well have been like the girls who came before him in court, especially, he wrote, since girls in hot climes can become mature as young as nine or ten. [Misquoting Muhammad pg. 155-156]
When Aisha (رضي الله عنها) was nine, she may have been much taller than her age and may have even looked like a 15 or 16 year old. This is observable even in our times and you may have seen nine year old girls above 5 ft. (1.52 m) who only grow a couple of inches in the next three or four years. If Aisha (رضي الله عنها)’s case was an exception, she may have been taller than 5ft 2 in. (1.57 m) and grown taller later on and even looked older than her real age. Remember, people did not judge ages based on calendars and birth certificates, they looked at the person and considered them what they found them to be.
What we learn is that during old times and especially in Arabia, people did not look at birth certificates or ages; they relied on how the person looked. If he or she looked young, they called him or her young even if they were actually much older. This is true in both the marriages of the Prophet (ﷺ); when he married Khadija (رضي الله عنها), even though she was 40 (i.e. 15 years older), the Prophet (ﷺ) married her and both of them standing next to each other would not and did not look odd at all as she did not look like a 40 year old that we normally assume; in fact she had many children in her 40s and may have even looked like as if she were in her late 20s.
Moreover, the society did not raise any objections as well whereas for such age gaps today, the society in general does object, at worst, and gossip around, at best especially a society which always though how to malign the Prophet! Similarly, the marriage of the Prophet (ﷺ) with Aisha (رضي الله عنها) also did not raise objections from the society back then and they too, standing next to each other would not, and did not, look odd.
There are statements from the Prophet (ﷺ) that prohibit (or advise) people against colouring their hair black. Scholars have said that a person with natural black hair should not colour their white hair black but another colour and a person with hair colour other than black may do so. The reason behind this is that one may not fool others into believing that he is young while he is much older. This is natural for a society that does not rely on calendars, birth certificates, identity cards and so on. The following statement of Aisha (رضي الله عنها) explains this:
When one of you is going to marry a woman and has used black dye he should make it known that he has dyed.[‘Abū al-A‘lā Mubārakpurī, Tuhfah al-Ahwadhi, vol. 5 (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1990)]
A Historical look through various sources
Firstly i would like to give a record of What our earliest Imams have collected.
Imam ash-Shaafa‘i said: In Yemen I saw many girls aged nine who had reached puberty.
Siyar A‘laam an-Nubala’ (10/91)
Al-Bayhaqi (1588) narrated that ash-Shaafa‘i said: The earliest age at which I heard of girls reaching puberty was the women of Tihaamah who reach puberty at the age of nine.
Ash-Shaafa‘i also said: In San‘aa’ I saw a grandmother who was twenty-one years old; she reached puberty at the age of nine and gave birth at the age of ten, and her daughter reached puberty at the age of nine and gave birth at the age of ten.
As-Sunan al-Kubra by al-Bayhaqi (1/319)
This is a collection from various books as observed by early Imams of 10th century.
Our claim that age of Puberty has been changing over times is also seen in:
. . . in the United States and parts of Europe the association of adult status with sexual maturity as expressed in the term puberty rites has been unwelcome“[“Rites and Ceremonies”, The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition (1987), Volume 26, page 850.]
Even our claim that women were Mature by age 7 has been supported by a Great French Philosopher Montesquieu who writes in his Spirit of Laws Book 16:
Women, in hot climates, are marriageable at eight, nine, or ten years of age. thus, in those countries, infancy and marriage generally go together. They are old at twenty.
Byzantine Empire had Married Women as young as 8.
Away from 1400 years ago, just over 100 years ago, the age of consent in America and Europe was 10, and in the State of Delaware it was as low as 7: “Age of Consent in European and American History“. The New York Times, in 1895 mentions the age of consent laws in a publication: “The Age Of Consent Laws In America, 1800s“.
Scholars have pointed out that what we call “child-marriage” today was never brought up. A female was deemed to be an adult the moment she hit puberty. Same was the case for boys, they were deemed be an adults the moment there were signs of pubic hair or had a wet dream.
If one thinks these above cases are only in the past, they are mistaken.
In 1972, a case was brought in Pinellas County, it was said that Sherry Johnson, of Tallahassee, was raped at the age of 10. As a result of this she got impregnated by the perpetrator. Sherry Johnson’s mom gave approval for her daughter to “marry the 20-year-old” man. The law did not prohibit the couple from getting married, even though he was a lot older.
Away from the 1970s, between 2000 and 2010 over 240 thousand children were married off in America. The youngest girl married was 12-years-old. The vast majority of the time the men were a lot older than the girls. Despite this, such marriages continue to this very day in many Christian, Jewish and even secular communities.
With parental consent a 12 to 14-year-old can be married in some states in America:
“A handful of other states sanction extremely early marriages with parental consent: In Alabama, South Carolina and Utah, girls can marry at 14; in New Hampshire it’s 13; in Massachusetts and Kansas, 12.”(“Early marriage survives in the U.S.”, last acessed 27th february 2017, online source, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-0412120359dec12-story.html#page=1)
Here is New Hampshire’s Law:
“The state of New Hampshire requires males as young as 14 and females as young as 13 to obtain parental consent before a marriage license will be granted. The statute does not provide specific exceptions, but allows the judge to grant marriage license requests if he or she believes it is in the couple’s best interests.” (“New Hampshire Marriage Age Requirements Laws” (Last accessed 19th February 2017), online source, http://statelaws.findlaw.com/new-hampshire-law/new-hampshire-marriage-age-requirements-laws.html )
As recently as 2014, in Spain a girl of 14 years-old could get married by Law. They lifted the age from 14 to 16 years of age as pressure was mounted on the government.
Below is another reference that a nine year old Thai girl even became a mother.
In Romania recently a 12 year old Christian girl got married.
I would like to give a message from a Christian Missionary Watt:
The other main allegations of moral defect in Muhammad are that he was treacherous and lustful . . . Sufficient has been said above about the interpretation of these events to show that the case against Muhammad is much weaker than is sometimes thought. The discussions of these allegations, however, raises a fundamental question. How are we to judge Muhammad? By the standards of his own time and country? Or by those of the most enlightened opinion in the West today? When the sources are closely scrutinized, it is clear that those of Muhammad’s actions which are disapproved by the modern West were not the object of the moral criticism of his contemporaries. They criticized some of his acts, but their motives were superstitious prejudice or fear of the consequences. If they criticized the events at Nakhlah, it was because they feared some punishment from the offended pagan gods or the worldly vengeance of the Meccans. If they were amazed at the mass execution of the Jews of the clan of Qurayzah, it was at the number and danger of the blood-feuds incurred. The marriage with Zaynab seemed incestuous, but this conception of incest was bound up with old practices belonging to a lower, communalistic level of familial institutions where a child’s paternity was not definitely known; and this lower level was in process being eliminated by Islam . . . 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. In his day and generation he was a social reformer, even a reformer in the sphere of morals. He created a new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before. By taking what was best in the morality of the nomad and adapting it for settled communities, he established a religious and social framework for the life of many races of men. That is not the work of a traitor or ‘an old lecher’.[W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, Oxford University Press, 1961, page 229.]
Wisdom behind Marriage
To put all of this in perspective – hopefully without undue apologetics – the first thing that one should be aware of is that cAishah was the third wife of the Prophet(P), not the first. Prior to this, the Prophet’s(P) first and only wife for twenty-four years was Khadijah bint al-Khuwaylid, who was about nineteen years older than him. He married Khadijah when she was forty and he was twenty-one – which might be called the years of a male’s “sexual prime” – and stayed married only to her until her death. Just after Khadijah’s death, when he was round forty-six years old, the Prophet(P) married his second wife Sawdah bint Zam’ah. It was after this second marriage that the Prophet(P) became betrothed to cAishah, may God be pleased with her. She was the daughter of Abû Bakr, one of the Prophet’s closest friends and devoted followers. Abû Bakr, may God be pleased with him, was one of the earliest converts to Islam and hoped to solidify the deep love that existed between himself and the Prophet(P) by uniting their families in marriage. The betrothal of Abu Bakr’s daughter cAishah to Muhammad(P), took place in the eleventh year of Muhammad’s(P) Prophethood, which was about a year after he had married Sawdah bint Zam’ah and before he made his hijra(migration) to al-Madinah (Yathrib). As mentioned above, the marriage with cAishah bint Abû Bakr was consummated in Shawwâl, which came seven months after the Prophet’s hijra from Makkah to al-Medinah. At the time of his marriage to cAishah, the Prophet(P) was over fifty years old.
It should be noted about the Prophet’s(P)marriage to cAishah was an exceedingly happy one for both parties, as the hadîth literature attests. cAishah, may God be please with her, was his favourite wife and the only virgin that he ever married. After emigrating to al-Madinah, Muhammad(P)married numerous other wives, eventually totaling fifteen in his lifetime. Even though we do not have time to go into the details of each one of them here, each of these marriages was done either for political reasons, to strengthen the ties of kinship or to help a woman in need. Quite a few of the wives were widows, older women or had been abandoned thus were in need of a home. Additionally, it should be mentioned that the same collection of Muslim hadîth literature that tells us that cAishah was only nine years old at the time of the marriage tells us that the marriage was Divinely ordained:
Narrated cAishah, may God be pleased with her: The Messenger of God(P) said (to me): “You have been shown to me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, ‘This is your wife.’ I uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself, ‘If this dream is from God, He will cause it to come true.'” (Sahîh al-Bukhârî, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 15)
Thus like everything that the Prophet(P) did, there was wisdom behind it and lessons to be learned from it. The wisdom behind such incidents provides us guidance on the basis of human morality, exposes the double standards of misguided hypocrites from other religions that criticize Islam and much more. Also
Abu Musa al-Ashari says: “Never had we (the companions) any difficulty for the solution of which we approached Aisha and did not get some useful information from her”. (Tirmidhi, Hadith 3883. Albani classified it as Sahih)
She narrated some 2210 Ahadith from the Prophet (PBUH) and this was possible only because she lived with him for nine years and that too at a young age when people have a sharp memory and great sense of observation. Then she lived for about 46 years after the death of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and continued to teach the people matters of religion especially those related to household affairs and marital life. No other wife of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did the similar job that may be compared with her blessed endeavors. This shows the Divine Wisdom for it was not the Prophet himself but Allah that ordained this marriage as we aserted.
It is quite clear there was nothing wrong in Marriage.
Say: ‘I will not follow your vain desires: if I did I would stray from the path and be not of the company of those who receive guidance.’
[Qur’ân – Surah al-An’aam – 6:56]