04 July 2010
The allegation is that Ayesha was six years old when she was legally engaged in
a marriage contract with Mohammad who was beyond the age of fifty three
when the marital obligation became a contractual obligation. Further, it is
alleged that the marital bond and matrimonial contract had not been
performed until three years pass the date of the contract when the bride
became nine years of age.
We need to have a scrutinized and analytical observation and study of the
entire matter from all existing corners and logical angles to ascertain its
factual and authentic conformity through an acceptable method of
documentary and historical evaluations.
During the following analysis, we will examine, evaluate, and adjudicate the
authenticity and accuracy of this issue through historical, logical, practical,
evidentiary, and legal instruments and considerations.
On Authenticity of Allegations:
The core and nucleus of this analytical research is based on the argument
and claim that evidentiary instruments, provided to establish the age of the
bride, appear to be lacking even the minimum required standards of
genuineness and authentic originality.
The following article is an attempt to dig out reality from the same history.
As a way for defending the mis-narrations and misreports about the age of
Ayesha, it has been claimed that marriage with the minors was a cultural and
habitual practice within the Arabs at the time that Mohammad married Ayesha
It has been further claimed that as an ongoing and practical tradition, it was
quite normal and conventional for a nine year old girl to be married and her
marriage be legally and lawfully consummated. It is also argued that such
traditional marriage was fully honored and respected by Arabs, otherwise
people would have had objected to such tradition and habit. This argument
wastefully strangles to prosecute and blame the modern time by claiming to
assert that, it is the modern time that the society is utilizing new and different
scale and standards for marital ethics and moral principles. This claim and
argument is a biased presumption of unsupported practices that have never
been established by any authenticated account or historical evidence.
Reasonably, it is the burden and responsibilities of the claimants and all those
who believe in this falsely assumed facts, accusing the holy prophet to have
conducted an act short than perfect, claiming to be an acceptable norm of the
time, to provide sufficient evidentiary, and universally acceptable, instrument
to reasonably substantiate their point of view. In other word, one may stand to
defend the position of the legality of underage marriage based on the cultural
practices and other instrumental factors. Based on this approach it could be
the responsibility of all those who believe that marrying a girl as young as nine
years old was an accepted norm of the Arab culture, to provide at least a few
examples to substantiate their point of view.
It may be claimed that so far no one have yet been able to find a single
dependable and authentic instance in the books of Arab history where a girl as
young as nine years old was given away in marriage. Those who reject the
authenticity of any opposing historical evidence believe that even if there are
any history supporting the underage marriage as an Arab tradition would be
totally baseless and unauthentic. Unless such examples are given, and
authenticated accordingly, we do not have any reasonable grounds to believe
that such a tradition actually ever existed and practiced as an acceptable norm
On this end, the opponents of the underage marriage, having had ever been a
customary and acceptable practice of the Arabs in the past, insist that there
has not been a single authenticated and dependable instance in any books
concerning Arab history where a girl as young as nine years old was given away
in marriage as a conventional and honorable means of an acceptable and legal
marriage. Unless such examples are given and claiming facts are provided, the
given claims, regardless of the frequency and age of its publications and public
support, lacks even the minimum established evidentiary support and
reasonable grounds to substantiate the claims that marriage with six years old
girls would have been really an accepted norm.
The proponents of underage marriage being an acceptable Arab tradition
adhere to a few narratives to substantiate their claims.
Abu Tughlub Ibni Hamdan married the daughter of Izz al-Dawla Bakhtyar when
she was three and paid a dowry of 100,000 dinars. This took place in Safar 360
Hijrah. (Ibni al-Athir, al-Kamil)
Al-Shafi`i in al-Umm reported that he saw countless examples of nine year old
pubescent girls in Yemen who were married at that age. Al-Bayhaqi also
narrates it from him in the Sunan al-Kubra as it is the case in; al-Dhahabi in the
Al-Bayhaqi narrated with his chains in his Sunan al-Kubra no less than three
examples of Muslim wives that gave birth at age nine or ten.
Hisham Ibni Urwah himself (whom the objector claims to know enough to
forward the most barefaced judgments on his reliability) married Fatima bint
al-Mundhir when she was nine years old (al-Muntazam and Tarikh Baghdad).
It has been reported that the second caliph of Islam, Umar Ibni Khattab,
married Umm Kulthum the daughter of Ali and Fatima at a similar age. This
narrative has been narrated by Abd al-Razzaq Ibni Abd al-Barr and a few other
And Ayesha herself was first almost affianced to Jubayr Ibni Mut-im before her
father dropped that option when he received word from the Messenger of
Allah, and Allah blessed and greeted him and the messenger was well-pleased
All of the aforementioned reports and narrations, supporting the legality and
customary tradition of marriage with an underage female, the authenticity and
originality of all these reports are highly suspicious and none are accorded with
even the minimum standards necessary for certifying them as authentic and
reliable. The genuineness and legitimacy of all of the above mentioned reports
remain doubtfully questionable.
Although these narratives are highly suspicious and distrustful, nonetheless,
they must be published and reported here and become an open claim for
further evaluations and assessments for their compliance and conformity
with all acceptable and traditional means of authentication and
The Prime narrator of the early childhood marriage :
With respect to the issue of the age of Ayesha at her marriage with the
prophet, most of the narratives are reported only by Hisham Ibni Urwah
reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well known as the one
being reported should logically have been reported by more people than
just one, two or three.
I have checked narratives of more than eleven authorities among the Tabi`in,
and found out that they all have reported it directly from Ayesha, not counting
the other major Companions that reported the same, nor other major
Successors that reported it from other than Ayesha.
It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham Ibni
Urwah lived the first seventy one years of his life has narrated
the event, even though in Medinah his pupils included people as
well known as Malik Ibni Anas.
The opponent to the aforementioned views believes that there were a few
narratives that originated from Urwah while he was residing in Medinah,
despite the majority view that failed to recognize the reliability of any
narratives that disputes the absence of qualified narratives from Urwah during
his long residence in Medina. Notwithstanding the uncertainty and devaluated
significance of the all Medinan narratives by Urwah, the followings are a
reference to the sources to the above mentioned disputes and disagreements.
Al-Zuhri also reports it from Urwah, from Ayesha; so does Abd Allah Ibni
Dhakwan, both major Madanis. So is the Tabi`i Yahya al-Lakhmi who reports it
from her in the Musnad and in Ibni Sa`d's Tabaqat. So is Abu Ishaq Sa`d Ibni
Ibrahim who reports it from Imam al-Qasim Ibni Muhammad, one of the Seven
Imams of Medina from Ayesha.
With respect to the unity of sources referred to for more than one narrative,
often we fail to note that, although in any given narrative there might have
been more than one narrator, the fact is that they are all considering the first
person, Sahaba ( any of Mohammad’s contemporary apostles ), in the chain of
narrators of these reports.
On the other hand, when in this paper, it is stated that these reports are only
(or mostly) reported by one narrator only; it means that even though the first
person in the chain of these reports changes there is common narrator in all
these reports. Just to clarify, take the example of the four reports of Sahih
It is often stated and argued that of the four hadith in Saheeh Bukhari, two
were narrated from Ayesha (7:64 and 7:65), one from Abu Hishaam (5:236) and
one via Urwah (7:88)." It must be noted that this statement, is only referring
to the first person in the chain of narrators in his statement. The statement
is not wrong or misquoted. But on the other hand, if the chain of narrators
of the four reportings of Sahih Bukhari is carefully attended to, it will be
established that in the first two cases, the statement of Ayesha has been
quoted by none other than Urwah, or Abu Hishaam Urwah, which means the
father of Hishaam, and which means the same person and the same single
narrator ! Again, it must be noted that Abu Hisham and Urwah, and Ibni
Urwah, are all the same person.
Having researched and analytically evaluated the authentic assessments and
signified values of the above mentioned narratives, as having been reported, they
appear as to not only lack necessary qualifications for being considered a historical
narrations, the narratives reporting this event are not only highly unreliable but
also that on the basis of other historical data, the event reported, is quite unlikely
to have had happened. Observing and evaluating the issue at hand from an
objective stand point, raises many distrustful issues and causes several doubtful
More on Narrators and Hadith :
As mentioned, it must be noted that, with respect to the age of Ayesha
when she married, most of the existing supportive narratives are reported
only by Hisham Ibni Urwah reporting on the authority of his father, Urwah.
And when measuring the extent of the validity of a given narrative, as a
norm of scrutiny and standard of evaluation, the narrative should logically
have been reported by more than one particular reporter or narrator.
As a traditional and acceptable practice, narrations reported by
less than three narrators are not reliable, especially when they
are found to have material conflict with the origin source where
narrative had been initiated.
Hisham Ibni Urwah was a resident of the city of Medina for the first seventy one
years of his life. He emigrated in Iraq at age seventy two and maintained his
residence for the rest of his life. Hisham is the first narrator who narrated the
age of the marriage of Ayesha with Mohammad. Many famous and credible
scholars, narrators, and historian of Islam, including Malik Ibni Anas, were the
students of Hisham Ibni Urwah.
All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq,
where Hisham is reported to have had shifted after living in Medinah for
seventy one years.
In addition to the above four Madinese Tabi`in narrators, Sufyan Ibni Uyayna
from Khurasan, and Abd Allah Ibni Muhammad Ibni Yahya from Tabarayya in
Palestine, both report it. Nor was this hadith reported only by Urwah but also
by Abd al-Malik Ibni Umayr, al-Aswad, Ibni Abi Mulayka, Abu Salama Ibni Abd alRahman Ibni Awf, Yahya Ibni Abd al-Rahman Ibni Hatib, Abu Ubayda, also
known as, Amir Ibni Abd Allah Ibni Masoud and others of the Tabi`i Imams
directly from Ayesha. This makes the report mass-transmitted (mutawatir) from
Ayesha by over eleven authorities among the Tabi`in, not counting the other
major Companions that reported the same, such as Ibni Masoud nor other major
Successors that reported it from other than Ayesha, such as Qatada.
None of the narratives of the Hisham Ibni Urwah was established, initiated,
or reported from Medina. There is no evidence of any of his students to
have ever recorded or reported to have heard Hisham Ibni Urwah narrated
or reported about the events, and indeed all alleged reports came later on
from Iraq, when he was too old, and probably with weak or distorted
One would expect a narrator to utter and register the narratives while they are
more fresh and in closer proximity with the time that narrated event have had
occurred. Once again, the significant argument to be scrutinized is that, all
those who heard the aforementioned narrative from Hisham Ibni Urwah were
Iraqis, and this is a simple statement of fact. This can be checked in the
biographical sketches of these narrators in any of the books written on the
Tahzib Al Tahzib, one of the most well known books on the life and
reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet reports that
according to Yaqub Ibni Shaibah: "narratives reported by Hisham are
reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq". It
further states that Malik Ibni Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham
which were reported through people of Iraq. (Vol 11, pg 48 - 51) Also,
Mizan Al I’etidal, another book on the narrators of the traditions of the
Prophet reports that when he was old, Hisham's memory suffered quite
badly. (Vole 4, pg 301 - 302)
The opponents to the above asserted views state that the loss of recollection of
Urwah did not cause a distorted reminiscence and could not amount to a faulty
imprecision, whereby, rendering his narratives as unreliable. The followings are
the documentary evidences which are reported for the viewer observation and
their own independent and convincing evaluations.
Al-Dhahabi in Mizan Al I’tidal (4:301 No.9233) states: "Hisham Ibni Urwah, one
of the eminent personalities, a Proof is in himself, and an Imam, however, in
his old age his memory diminished”
Opponents to the absence of reliability of the narratives reported by Urwah
due to his imprecision argue that; despite the diminished memory of Urwah in
Iraq, he certainly never became confused.
The opponents continue to argue that; although that the man changed a little
bit and his memory was not the same as it had been in his younger days, so
that he forgot come of what he had memorized or lapsed, should not have any
bearing on the issue of reliability. They contend that no one is immune to
forgetfulness. It is also claimed that; when he came to Iraq in the last part of
his life he narrated a great amount of knowledge, in the course of which are a
few narrations in which he did not excel, and such occurs also to Malik, and
Shu`ba, and Waki, and the major trustworthy masters. Finally, we are advised
to spare oneself confusion and floundering, and not to mix the firmlyestablished Imams with the weak and muddled narrators. It is further claimed
that Hisham Ibni Urwah is a Shaykh al-Islam and similar to other narrators, such
as, Ibni al-Qattan, and Abd al-Rahman Ibni Khirash, he was admired by Malik.
They also argue that; no one should pay any attention to what Abu al-Hasan
Ibni al-Qattan said about him and Suhayl Ibni Abi Salih, that; both becoming
confused or changing.
There is a statement documented from Yaqub stating: “Trustworthy,
thoroughly reliable, above reproach except after he went to Iraq, at which
time he narrated overly from his father and was criticized for it." Notice
that Ya’qub does not exactly endorse that criticism, nor he rejects or
opposes to that. As for Malik, he reports over one hundred hadiths from
Urwah (as is evident in the two Sahihs and Sunan!) to the point that alDhahabi questions the authenticity of his alleged criticism of Urwah.
Indeed, none among the hadith Masters endorsed these reservations since they
were based solely on the fact that Urwah in his last period (he was 71 at the
time of his last trip to Iraq), for the sake of brevity and briefness, would say
“My father, from Ayesha” (abi an Ayesha) and no longer pronounced, “narrated
to me” (haddathani).
Al-Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal (30:238) explained that it became a foregone
conclusion for the Iraqis that Urwah did not narrate anything from his father
except what he had heard directly from him. Ibni Hajar also dismisses the
objections against Hisham Ibni Urwah as negligible in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib
(11:45), saying: “It was clear enough to the Iraqis that he did not narrate from
his father other than what he had heard directly from him.” These fact may be
a convincing evidence that Urwah had lost his memory and recollection with
respect to what his father had narrated and reported to him, as he could only
remember what he had recollected and could have recollection thereto.
One may argue the fact that if the entire narratives ever pronounced by Urwah
in Iraq, is devaluated as unreliable, or one supports that "narratives reported
by Hisham Ibni Urwah are reliable except those that are reported through the
people of Iraq", as that it would eliminate all narrations of Ayyub al-Sakhtyani
from him since Ayyub was a Basran Iraqi, and those of Abu Umar al-Nakha`i
who was from Kufa, and those of Hammad Ibni Abi Sulayman from Kufa (the
Shaykh of Abu Hanifa), and those of Hammad Ibni Salama and Hammad Ibni
Zayd both from Basra, and those of Sufyan al-Thawri from Basra, and those of
Shu`ba in Basra, all of whom narrated from Urwah.
To respond to the above mentioned prevailing views about the narrators named
above, one may conclude that in fact all those narrators do carry several
internal and external conflicts as to their reported narratives. Such conflicting
statements extend contradictions within and without the narratives, which
stand to establish the fact that the narratives reported by Urwah did not carry
the mandatory identity and attribute of consistency and uniformity.
According to the generally accepted narration, Ayesha was born about eight
years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (kitabu'lTafseer) Ayesha is reported to have said that at the time that the Surah AlQamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur'an, was revealed, "I was a young girl". The
54th surah of the Qur'an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to
this tradition, Ayesha had not only been born before the revelation of the
referred Surah, but was actually a young girl (Jariyah), not an infant (Sibyah) at
that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear
contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham Ibni Urwah.
There is absolutely no sufficient reasoning existing to support rejection of
the age of Ayesha, as it could be determined in relation with the date that
the aforementioned chapter of the Book was revealed. Further, it is quite
extraordinary to see any doubts or uncertainty about the age of Ayesha,
particularly, after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham
Ibni Urwah, and especially after the circumstantial and evidentiary accounts
are logically supportive of the accuracy of the narrations as reported.
The opposing views do not agree with the conclusion of the aforementioned
statement. There are many narratives, historical statements, Qur’anic
commentators and other stands, holding the view that the splitting of the moon
( a miracle said to happen upon non-believers request to Mohammad ) took
place about five years before the Hijra of the holy Prophet from Mecca to
Medina. They, therefore, take it as a confirmed fact, claiming Ayesha was born
between seven and eight years before the Hijra and the words that she was a
jariya or little girl five years before the Hijra match the fact that her age at
the time of chapter Al-Qamar was revealed was around two or three years after
According to a number of narratives, Ayesha accompanied the Muslims in
the battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of
Hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to
take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were
sent back. The fact that Ayesha participated in the battle of Badr and Uhud
clearly indicates that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After
all, women used to accompany men to the battle fields to help them, not to
be a burden on them.
According to this narrative, Ayesha had not only been born before the
revelation of the referred chapter of the Quran, but she was actually a
young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this
narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives
reported by Hisham Ibni Urwah. If the narratives of Ibni Hisham are to be held
and considered as reliable, there will be some logical supports to accept the
above mentioned narrative as true and factual. Accordingly, it appears that
there are no further reasons or obstacles that after the comments of the
experts, with respect to him, why we should rely on his reports as an
acceptable fact. Hisham Ibni Urwah, on his narratives reports that Ayesha
participated in both battles, whereby, establishes her age to be, at least,
beyond fifteen years old, even before the battle of Badr !
The opposing views for the participation of Ayesha to the aforementioned
battles state that the prohibition applied to combatants and to those who have
only participated in those battles. It is claimed that it applied neither to noncombatant boys nor to non-combatant girls and women. It further states that
Ayesha did not participate in Badr at all but bade farewell to the combatants
as they were leaving Medina, as narrated by Muslim ( a well-known narrator ) in
his Sahih. On the day of the battle of Uhud (year 3), Anas, at the time only
twelve or thirteen years old, reports seeing an eleven-year old `A’isha and his
mother Umm Sulaym having tied up their dresses and carrying water skins back
and forth to the combatants, as narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim
It must be noted that contrary to what has been stated and held amongst the
aforementioned statements, a two year old is not an infant. A two year old is
able to run around, which is what jariya means. It must be noted here that
there are some unreliable narratives, reporting the age of marriage for a
female to be as young as six or seven years old, and the age for cohabitation as
early as nine years old. Although, the authentic values of these narratives have
already been challenged and conclusively discredited, nonetheless, they exist
in some books of narratives and must not be ignored. They should be
mentioned and logically discredited and objected to, accordingly.
It is also claimed by some other narratives, in dispute to the claim of the
participation of Ayesha in the battles, as well as the age of Asma, that;
according to several other opposing narrators and historians, the elder sister of
Ayesha was ten years older than Ayesha.
To determine and verify the age of Ayesha with respect to the age of sister
Asma, there could be a reference made to narratives as reported by Taqri'bu'ltehzi'b as well as Al-bidayah wa'l-nihayah. In both narratives it states that Asma
died in 73 Hijrah when she was 100 years old. Therefore, if Asma was 100 years
old in 73 of Hijrah, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of
If Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha should have
been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha, if she got married in the
first or second year of Hijra, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of
It is generally held that according to almost all the historians Asma, the elder
sister of Ayesha was ten years older than Ayesha. Ibni Al Zinad in his narrative,
as narrated and referenced by Ibni Khatir, a well-known historian and scholar,
narrates that Asma was ten years older that Ayesha, whereby confirms and
supports the general view with that respect. Notwithstanding, Al-Dhahabi in
Siyar A`lam al-Nubala' said there was a greater difference than 10 years
between the two, up to 19 years. There are several conflicting views with
respect to the extents of reliability and authenticity of this narration. In any
event, this narrative remain to be part of the books of Hadith wich have
negative implications for establishing the factual age of Ayesha with respect to
the age of Asma. However, the more reliable and authentic views of the
majority of the narratives stand for the fact that the Asma was, in fact, only
ten years older than Ayesha.
It must be noted that the age of Ayesha has not been referred to in any of the
narrations of Hisham Ibni Urwah or Abu Nu`aym al-Asbahani, while determining
and verifying the age of Asma. Ibni Hajar reports in al-Isaba from Hisham Ibni
Urwah, from his father, that Asma did live 100 years, and from Abu Nu`aym alAsbahani that "Asma bint Abi Bakr was born 27 years before the Hijra, and she
lived until the beginning of the year 74." None of these narrations, as
mentioned above, have made any reference to the age of Ayesha, although,
Ibni Hisham does have narrations refereeing to that issue elsewhere, as
previously having been mentioned. However, the above two statements are not
of any supportive or disapproving values or concern with the age of Ayesha,
other than the fact of confirming the more verified dates of the vital status of
Obviously, if it is established that Ayesha was in fact ten years older than
Asma, then all the doubts, controversies, and confusions about her age at
the time of her marriage with the prophet would be conclusively resolved
and permanently settled.
It has been claimed and addressed that Al Tabari in his treatise on Islamic
history, while mentioning Abu Bakr, reports that Abu Bakr had four children
and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah, the pre Islamic period. Obviously,
if Ayesha was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less
than 14 years in the first year of Hijrah, the time she most likely got married.
This view have been challenged by some opponants claiming that Al Tabari
nowhere reports that "Abu Bakr's four children were all born in Jahiliyya" but
only that Abu Bakr married both their mothers in Jahiliyya, Qutayla bint Sa`d
and Umm Ruman, who bore him four children in all, two each, Ayesha being
the daughter of Umm Ruman.
According to Ibni Hisham, the historian, Ayesha accepted Islam quite some
time before Umar Ibni Khattab. This shows that Ayesha accepted Islam
during the first year of Islam. If the narrative reporting the age of Ayesha at
marriage to have had been age of seven, held to be true and authentic,
Ayesha should not have been born during the first year of Islam !
The opponents deny such statement by Ibni Hisham, although such narrative
has been mentioned with references in this article and elsewhere. The
wordings of the statement of narration made by Ibni Hisham may have
dissimilar implication. The wording of the above mentioned narrations suggests
to have been stated: “As to Ayesha among those that accepted Islam because
of Abu Bakr." This statement may be challenged as to have not established the
claim the exact date that Ayesha accepted Islam, being the first year of Hijra.
Nor does it mean that she necessarily embraced Islam before Umar Ibni
Khattab, some six years after hijra, although she was born the previous year
(year 7 before the Hijra) and although it is understood she will automatically
follow her father's choice even before the age of reason. The exact wordings of
the statement of narrations may be interpreted either way, depending the way
that the wordings are grammatically structured.
Proponents supportive of the proper age of Ayesha at her marriage with the
prophet adhere and refer to related narratives reported from Tabari stating
that at the time Abu Bakr planned on migrating to Habshah, some eight years
before Hijrah, he went to Mut-am, with whose son Ayesha was engaged, and
asked him to take Ayesha in his house as his son in-law. Mut-am refused,
because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam, and subsequently his son divorced
Ayesha. Now, if Ayesha was only seven years old at the time of her marriage
with the holy prophet, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr
decided on migrating to Habshah .
On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume
that Ayesha had not only been born 8 years before Hijrah, but
was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.
Opponents rejecting the above inferences, disallow the conclusion and assert
that there is no mention of emigration in the narratives reported by Tabari of
any such decision have ever been made by Abu Bakr with reference to the
marriage of Ayesha, involving Mut-am. It has been argued that Abubakr has
never ask Mut-am to take Ayesha because there had been only some
preliminary talk, not a formal arrangement. Umm Ruman, Abu Bakr's wife,
reportedly said: "By Allah, no promise had been given on our part at all" The
dispute is somehow resolved by accepting that, according to Al tabari; when
the news of the Prophet's interest in Ayesha came, he went to see Mut-am.
Then Mut-am's wife manifested her fear that her son would become Muslim if
he married into Abu Bakr's family. Abu Bakr then left them and gave his assent
to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace.
It could be well argued that notwithstanding the detail and conditions of the
circumstances surrounding the issue of the marriage of Ayesha, she must have
had reached the traditionally proper and legal age for having been engaged in a
marital contract and matrimonial intimacy, had the marriage contract would
have had been established. The central point is to establish the fact, that at
the date referred to in the above statement, which was some eight years
before the Hijra, Ayesha was of a legally and traditionally established age of
This fact is critical and indispensable to establish and prove the
fact that at the time of the marriage of Ayesha with the prophet,
she was at least seventeen to nineteen, or even twenty years
The only opposing view to this conclusion arises from the claim of authenticity
of the narratives reported by Ibni hisham Urwah, whereby, stating the age of
Ayesha to have had been only nine years old when she her marriage was
The lack of reliability and absence of consistency and uniformity in the entire
narratives, ever narrated by Ibni hisham, have already been asserted and
argued in this article. As elsewhere above it has been asserted, the narratives
of Ibni Hisham are grossly inconsistent both for internal divergence, as well as
external discrepancies, constantly departing from one premises and arriving at
some other bases with no logical nexus or rationally required articulated
coherent. We detected a narration from Tabari stating that based on the
narratives reported by Ibni Hisham,: “On the day he consummated the
marriage with her, she was nine years old."
According to a narrative reported by Ahmad Ibni Hanbal, after the death of
Khadijah, when Khaulah came to the holy Prophet, advising him to marry
again, the Prophet asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind.
Khaulah said: "You can marry a virgin, or, a Bikr or a women who has already
been married, or, a Thayyib". When the Prophet asked about who the virgin
was, Khaulah proposed the name of Ayesha as the bride.
It is the responsibility of all those who believe that marrying a girl as young as
nine years old was an accepted norm of the Arab culture, to provide at least a
few examples to substantiate their point of view. I have not yet been able to
find a single reliable instance in the books of Arab history where a girl as young
as nine years old was given away in marriage. Unless such examples are given,
we do not have any reasonable grounds to believe that it really was an
All those who know the Arabic language, are aware that the word "Bikr" in
the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine year old girl which was
considered to be at minor age, thereby, would prohibit her from having had
been engaged in a legal marriage which would constitute a legal and
enforceable contract. Minor age is a critical factor which governs the issue
of capacity and consent. Obviously, the qualification and capacity for
consent could have had not been existed for a proper and legal marriage.
Therefore, had the marital contract had formed and established under the
circumstances claimed as aforementioned, such marriage would have had
not been legal and as such would the render the relation totally illegal and
unethical.. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier is
Jariyah. The word Bikr, on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady,
and obviously a nine year old is not a Bikr or a lady. Although, a female
child or infant or infant are naturally Bikr or virgin, nonetheless, the word
bikr is customarily used to address a female who could have been
traditionally consummated, but she had remained as Bikr, or, consumable
and not-yet-consummated. This may well establish the fact that the age of
Ayesha at the time of her marriage with the prophet could have been an
underage in violation of those respected traditional and cultural ethics and
Proponents supportive of the proper age of Ayesha at her marriage with the
prophet adhere and refer to some related narratives as major points that go
against accepting the commonly known narrative regarding Ayesha's age at the
time of her marriage. In the opinion of the proponents, neither was it an
Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as nine or
ten years, nor did the Prophet marry Ayesha at such a young age. The
people of Arabia did not object to this marriage, because it never happened
in the manner it has been narrated. Although, these assertions may be
established through several historical and evidentiary documents and
reasoning, nonetheless, there are some other historical claims and
narratives that tend to devaluate the foundations supporting this view.
These are some of the major points that go against accepting the commonly
known narrative regarding Ayesha's age at the time of her marriage.
The opponents to the views indicated above, adhere to some conflicting
narratives that totally disagree and contradict the above given views. To
support such apposition, in part, they use and refer to the Islamic Review
which reports the narratives reported from the well-known historian Ibni Jareer
al-Tabari stating at page 50 of volume 4 of his 'Book of History: "Abu Bakr
married two ladies in the days of Jahiliyya (pre Islamic ignorance era), Fateelah
daughter of Abd al-Aza was the first, from whom Abdullah and Asma were born.
Umm-i-Rooman was the second, from whom Abd al-Rahman and Aishah were
born. All the four children of Abu Bakr were born in the days of Jahiliyyah from
the above-named two ladies.
It is a well-known fact of history, which Abu Bakr's son Abd al-Rahman
fought against the Muslims in the battle of Badr. His age at that time was 21-
22 years, and although he was older than 'Aishah, there is no evidence to
show that the difference between their ages was more than three or four
years. This fact lends support to the view that Ayesha was born four or five
years before the Call. It may be argued that Abu Bakr's children, Abd Allah,
Abd al-Rahman, Muhammad and Asma, were all born before Ayesha, and
therefore, her birth could have followed that of the last of them by any
number of years.
The author of the well-known collection of Hadith, Mishkat alMasabeeh, Sheikh Wali Ad--Deen, writes in his well-known book
Ahmal fi Asma al-Rijjal':
"At the time of the consummation of her marriage the age of
Sayedah Aishah was not less than 18-19 years."
It must be noted that Sheiekh Wali-d-Deen is the nickname of Al-Khatib alTibrizi, whose book is called: Al Ikmal Fi Asma Al Rejal, which received an Urdu
translation in the fifties and titled: Al Ikmal Fi Asma Al Rejal Muallaf E Sahib E
Meshkat, sheikh Valiy-al-Din Abi Abd-Allah Muhammad Ibni Abd-Allah al-Khatib,
Tarjuma-e Urdu. [Karachi, Nur-Muhammad: Karkhana-e Tijarat-i-Kutub, 1953].
There are several internal conflicts and inconsistencies in the narratives
reported in the book named above. In the original Arabic version the age of
Ayesha is indicated as not to be bellow 18 or 19, while in the Urdu
translation of the same book it clearly states the age of Ayesha to be seven
at her marriage and 9 when her marriage was first consummated and
cohabited with the prophet !
According to Ibni Hajar, Fatimah ( prophet’s daughter ) was five
years older than Ayesha. Fatimah is reported to have been born
when the Prophet was 35 years old. Thus, even if this
information is taken to be correct, Ayesha could by no means be
less than 14 years old at the time of Hijrah and 15 or 16 years
old at the time of her marriage.
To maintain the required authentic characteristics and ethical neutrality of this
research article, we may have to attend to the two other versions of narratives
reported by the same narrator.
Ibni Hajar mentions two versions of the same subject narrative. He reports
from al-Waqidi's narration that Fatima was born when the Prophet was 35 years
old. He also reports from a narrative from Ibni Abd al-Barr hat she was born
when prophet 41, approximately one year more or less before Prophethood,
and about five years before Ayesha was born. The latter version matches the
established dates. Accepting this statement, Ayesha would have been nineteen
to twenty years younger than her sister Asma who was born 27 years before
Hijra and died at 74 of Hijra. With that account she could be five to eight years
to eight years younger than Fatima. However, the two narratives reported by
Ibni Hajar, contains obvious conflicts as to the dates and credibility of the
narrator and illed adjudicative intellects utilized for relatively authenticating
the received narrations. The date of the birth of Fatima, being nine years prior
to Hijra, creates a serious and major conflict within the entire bodies of the
many respected and relatively reliable narratives.
Concise history of Muhammad’s marriages :
Muhammad married his first wife, Khadijah, several years before his
announcement as a prophet of Islam. Khadijah was a reasonably successful
and financially stable business woman of Mecca and was, at least, 15 years
older than the holy prophet. Muhammad was 25 and Khadijah was 40 at the
time of their marriage. This loving and caring monogamous relationship
continued for more than 25 years until her death.
Muhammad, now over 53 years of age, married a relatively aged woman by
the name of Saudah. It is thus important to note here that Muhammad’s
twenty five prime youth years were spent in purely monogamous
relationship with a lady 15 years his senior. This speaks volumes about the
original and essential piety of the holy prophet throughout his fruitful life
and loyalty in spousal matters as well as about the fact that his later
marriages could not have been motivated by any human wild, or even
natural, sexual desires.
In 620-621 A.D, he and his devout companions migrated from Mecca to Medina.
Then a couple of years later, he married Ayesha, a daughter of his closest
companion, Abu Bakr, in the 3rd Hijrah (Islamic calendar--623-24 A.D). This
information coming from diverse historical and Hadith sources is widely agreed
upon and therefore can be, a priori, considered authentic.
Quran and such allegations:
The age of Ayesha has been grossly misreported in the prophetic narrations.
Considering the totality of all governing evidentiary circumstances, and based
upon all other coincidental and conforming accounts and events, it appears
that a few narratives reporting this event, to be highly unreliable and unlikely
to have had occurred due to the fact that the alleged event could have had
not have any logical or practical conformity with the constitutional
mandates of the holy Quran.
There is a Final Word for a Muslim and that is the Book of God, the Holy
Qur’an—the book that defines the marriageable age for a man or woman
when he or she attains soundness of judgment (Al-Qur’an 4:6). If
Muhammad is a model for mankind, if he followed the Qur’an all his life, if
Allah stands witness to his rock-solid character, there is no way that he
could have taken a 6-9 year old, immature young, playful girl as a
Now based on this information, and a host of other related bits and pieces,
summarized below, it can be shown that Ayesha could have been at least
16-19 of age at the time of her marriage with Muhammad :
Itemized analysis of these historical and Hadith (Narratives)
1. Several books of Hadith (Al-Bukhari and Al-Muslim, Abu Dawood, among
others) and Islamic history (Tabari, among others) report that Ayesha was
married to the Prophet at 6 but her marriage was not consummated until
she was 9 year old. Although, this information is widely quoted and found
in many Hadith and history books, it must be noted that most of this
information has come from a single person, Hisham bin Urwah, who is the
last narrator of this Hadith Isnaad (chain of narration) on the authority of
his father. Thus, this Hadith is primarily a single Hadith. Some other
narratives mention the same Hadith but their narration has been found
weak and unacceptable. In general, a Hadith has more credibility if it is
narrated by more people independently from diverse chains of narrators. In
this case, there is basically only one source.
2. Despite the abundance of information available during the 71 years that
Hisham bin Urwah lived and taught in Medina, it is rather odd that that no
one else, not even his famous pupil Malik Ibni Anas reported Ayesha’s age
from Hisham in Medina. Furthermore, all the narrators of this Hadith were
Iraqis. Hisham is reported to have moved to Iraq in his later years. An
extensive list of biographical sketches of all narrators including these Iraqis
is available in some books.
3. Yaqub Ibni Shaibah is reported to have said, “narratives reported by
Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of
Iraq". Malik Ibni Anas (d. 795), a student of Hisham in fact discredited all
narratives of Hisham that were reported through people of Iraq.
(Tehzibu'l-tehzib, by Ibni Hajar al-Asqalani, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami,
one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of
the traditions of the Prophet, vol 11, pg 48 - 51)
4. It is reported that Hisham bin Urwah’s memory suffered in his later years
to the extent that some of the traditions reported from Hisham bin Urwah
could not be trusted for authenticity.
(Mizanu'l-ai`tidal, by Al-Zahbi, Arabic, a book on the life sketches of the
narrators of the Hadith, Al-Maktabatu'l-athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol 4,
5. Even though Ayesha is reported to have been born about eight years
before Hijrah (around 614 A.D.), one can find another narrative in Bukhari
(kitabu'l-tafseer) whereby Ayesha is reported to have said that she was a
‘young girl’ at the time of revelation of the 54th chapter of the Qur'an which
came 9 years before Hijrah (around 612 A.D). Thus, according to this
tradition, Ayesha was a young girl (Jariyah—as she calls herself and not an
infant in which case she would be Sibyah). Additionally, this narrative
stands in direct contrast to the one reported on Ayesha’s age by Hisham bin
Urwah. This puts Ayesha’s age significantly higher than 9 as reported by
Hisham bin Urwah—possibly 15 or even higher. Obviously, if this narrative is
held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by
Hisham Ibni Urwah. There is no compelling reason as to why this tradition
should be considered less accurate vis-à-vis Hisham’s narrative).
(Sahih Bukhari, kitabu'l-tafsir, Arabic, Bab Qaulihi Bal al-sa`atu Maw`iduhum
wa'l-sa`atu adha' wa amarr).
6. According to many narratives, Ayesha participated in the battles of Badr
and Uhud. No one older than 15 was allowed to accompany the Prophet’s
army in the battle of Uhud. This applied across the board to all
participants, men and women alike. The battle of Uhud took place around
the 2nd Hijrah, a time line close to her marriage with the Prophet.
Obviously, she was at least older than 15 at that time.
A narrative regarding Ayesha's participation in the battle of `Uhud is given
(Kitabu'l-jihad wa'l-siyar, Arabic, Bab Ghazwi'l-nisa' wa qitalihinna ma`a'lrijal;
that all boys under 15 were sent back is given in Bukhari, Kitabu'l-maghazi, Bab
ghazwati'l-khandaq wa hiya'l-ahza'b, Arabic).
8. Most historians have consensus on the age of one of the oldest female
companions of the Prophet, namely, Asma, the elder sister of Ayesha that
was ten years older than Ayesha. It is also reported in Taqri'bu'l-tehzi'b as
well as Al-bidayah wa'l-nihayah that Asma died in 73 Hijrah when she was
100 years old. Clearly, if Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah,
Ayesha was 17 at the time of Hijrah and 19 at the time of consummation of
her marriage with Muhammad.
For Asma being 10 years older than Ayesha, see A`la'ma'l-nubala', Al-Zahabi,
Vol 2, Pg 289, Arabic, Mu'assasatu'l-risalah, Beirut, 1992. Ibni Kathir confirms
this fact, [Asma] was elder to her sister [Ayesha] by ten years" (Al-Bidayah wa'lnihayah, Ibni Kathir, Vol 8, Pg 371, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933).
For Asma being 100 years old, see Al-Bidayah wa'l-nihayah, Ibni Kathir, Vol 8,
Pg 372, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933). Ibni Hajar al-Asqalani also
has the same information: "She [Asma (ra)] lived a hundred years and died in
73 or 74 AH." “Taqribu'l-tehzib, Ibni Hajar Al-Asqalani, Pg 654, Arabic, Bab fi'lnisa', al-harfu'l-alif”
9. Tabari informs in his treatise on Islamic history that Abu Bakr had four
children and all four were born during the pre Islamic period. The preIslamic period ended in 610 A.D, a fact that makes Ayesha to be at least 14
years of age at the time of her marriage around 613-624 A.D.
(Tarikhu'l-umam wa'l-mamlu'k, Al-Tabari, Vol 4, Pg 50, Arabic, Dara'l-fikr,
10. Ibni Hisham, the historian, reports that Ayesha accepted Islam quite
some time before `Umar Ibni al-Khattab which only means that Ayesha
accepted Islam close to the time of first revelation (around 610 A.D). This
means she must have been at least a young girl at that time. Assuming she
was barely 6 or 7 at that time this information puts the age of Ayesha at 20
or more at the time of her marriage with Muhammad (623-624 A.D.),
(Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibni Hisham, vol 1, Pg 227 – 234 and 295, Arabic,
Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithah, Al-Riyadh).
11. Tabari reports that before migrating to Habashah, Abu Bakr planned to
hand over his daughter, Ayesha to Mut’am’s son to whom she was engaged
But fearing persecution by the Quraish, Mut’am refused and his son
divorced Ayesha. The migration to Habashah happened 8 years before
Hijra. Obviously, at the time she was ready to take on responsibilities as a
wife (possibly 9 or 10 years of age). If she married Muhammad in the 2nd
Hijrah (623-624 A.D), she could not be less than 19 years of age
(a secondary reference for this argument is: Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e
Ka'inat, Habib ur Rahman Kandhalwi, Urdu, Pg 38, Anjuman Uswa e hasanah,
* 12. A famous Sunni imam, Ahmad Ibni Hanbal, reports in His Musnad, that
after the death of Khadijah, Khaulah came to the Prophet and advised him
to marry again. She had two propositions for the Prophet: Either
Muhammad could marry a virgin (bikr), or he could go for woman who had
already been married (thayyib)". Khaulah named Ayesha for a virgin (bikr).
It is common knowledge that the term bikr in the Arabic language refers to
a well formed lady and not to a 9 year old, playful, immature lass. If she
were nine, the word used by Khaulah would have been jariyah and not bikr.
(Musnad, Ahmad Ibni Hanbal, Vol 6, Pg 210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-arabi,
13. Ibni Hajar al-Asqalani has reported that Fatimah, Muhammad’s
daughter, was five years older than Ayesha and that Fatimah was born
when the Prophet was 35 years old. Thus, Ayesha, according to Ibni Hajar,
was born when Muhammad was 40 and consummated her marriage when he
was 54 or 55. That makes Aysha at least 15-16 years of age.
* (Al-isabah fi tamyizi'l-sahabah, Ibni Hajar al-Asqalani, Vol 4, Pg 377, Arabic,
Maktabatu'l-Riyadh al-haditha, al-Riyadh1978)
14. It must be pointed out that Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage has
never been an issue. If it were, his enemies must have picked up on this
issue as they did to him on some other issues. Also, the reader must note
that none of these Hadith reports concerning Ayesha’s controversial age of
marriage with the Prophet goes back to the Prophet himself. In other
words, it is not the Prophet himself who said Ayesha was 6 or 9. These
reports came from a single individual and the Iraqis reported from him when
he grew old and his memory started failing.
In conclusion, this article is an attempt to prove that the books written 200-
300 years after the death of Muhammad, while providing a good deal of
historical information about him, are not free from faulty, less than perfect
and self-contradictory materials. These should not be taken as the final
word for a Muslim. There is a Final Word for a Muslim and that is the Book
of God, the Holy Qur’an—the book that defines the marriageable age for a
man or woman when he or she attains soundness of judgment (Al-Qur’an
4:6). If Muhammad is a model for mankind, if he followed the Qur’an all his
life, if Allah stands witness to his rock-solid character, there is no way that
he could have taken a 6-9 year old, immature young, playful girl as a
Reaching out Quran and Sunnah (defined as, Prophet’s Quranic
practices & utterances) for this issue:
There are some stands and statements that hold and unjustifiably imply that
from the narratives mentioned above, with respect to the age of Ayesha, the
stated and claimed facts are indicative of an acceptable tradition providing
authority and practices of marriage with minor females, and as such, it could
be a recognized Sunnah of the Islamic behaviors and practices. These
categorical and classic claims have been repeatedly denounced and rejected by
so many respected and reputable scholars and researchers. It is totally baseless
and without any logical support to mention or claim that from an Islamic
standpoint the age of Ayesha could not be found in Quran, or further, to allege
that the legal age of marriage is not specified and determined in Quran. All
textual sources of Islam are made up of both the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and
the Qur'an clearly indicates such fact in rather quite an extended details.
The law of marriage in Islam is governed by Quran and Sunnah, and the
prophetic practices with respect to any issue constitute the required and
concrete Sunnah for that issue or subject. Further, the prophetic Sunnah
must be in support and full compliance with the ruling of the Book (Quran),
as a matter of law and coherent logic. The Sunnah cannot contradict with
the constitutional and legal instrument of the governing authority for the
The age of marriage is clearly indicated and established in Quran,
and as such the marriage with minor are considered an evil
The principal reservations in accepting the above mentioned
narratives, are on the basis of which, that if it is established that
the age of Ayesha at the time of her marriage with the Prophet
held to 9 years old, then the fundamental authenticity of Islam
will become under critical and elementary question and
reevaluation. Accepting the alleged fact of the marriage with an
underage minor would place the perpetrator in clear violations of
the most fundamental ruling structure of the ultimate authority,
the holy Quran. Not only the alleged facts seems to be unreliable
and violating the basic principles of the Book, there are other
authenticated and logical accounts, accords, and data that
entirely reject, even a remote possibility, of the likelihood of
The Quran has not given names and other details of Prophet's wives but it has
confirmed that all marriages of the Prophet were lawful (33:50). The age of
Ayesha, wife of the prophet, is disputed on the basis of a calligraphic error in
Narrated history, however sacred, is not above scrutiny,
particularly where dignity and honor of the prophet is at stake.
Some scholars are erroneously interpreted and presented Sunnah as being
commonly known as that of the utterances and practices of the prophet, and
all other actions which gained his approval. Although, this statement,
commonly accepted by Muslims, does not accurately describe Sunnah. But for
the purpose of this discussion, let us take this to be an accurate explanation of
Sunnah of the Prophet. But even then, the narratives describing the age of
Ayesha at the time of her marriage do not fall under the scope of Sunnah.
Obviously, the narrative of Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage is not a
part of the sayings of the Prophet, it cannot be termed as the Prophet’s
practices and neither can it be included in the actions which gained his
approval. The narrative of Ayesha’s age is just a narrative of a historical
event. Just because it has been reported by Bukhari and Muslim, does not
change its status from being a narrative of a historical event to a Sunnah.
Because of this fact, this narrative should be seen in the light of all other
narratives of historical events which have been reported by Bukhari, Muslim
and other historians of Islam. This is exactly the main subject and the core
of this issue that, a report and narration of a narrator who, gives
reports about a claimed fact that was heard from a third party
two hundred sixty years, passed the claimed and unsubstantiated
event, is now considered a prophetic Sunnah (legal and
mandatory tradition) for all others to obey and follow.
If this is true, that Prophet Muhammad married Ayesha when she was 6 year
old, then it must be consistent with the Qur’an stating that Muhammad himself
followed the Qur’an before he asked others to follow it. The Qur’an does
not assign a definite number to the age at which a man or a
woman becomes ‘adult’ or ready to marry. However, there is a
clear definition of the marriageable age as per 4:6: [An-Nisa' 4:6]
Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if
then ye find sound judgment in them, release their property to
This verse is taking about two concepts here:
First of all, the trustee of a property should first test the ability of the
grown up orphan to see if he or she is capable of managing his or her own
Second, the Qur’an provides guidelines for the trustee as to the time at
which the property of the orphans is to be handed over--it is the time when
the orphan has attained adulthood or marriageable age and that he or she
has attained a good degree of mental maturity.
Thus, the Qur’an gives a clear definition of adulthood or marriageable age
as the one when one has attained a good measure of mental maturity. This
should raise the question: Does a 6- or 9-year old have that level of quality
of sound judgment? The answer is a resounding NO. If Muhammad married
a 6 year old girl (and consummated her marriage at age 9), one wonders if
he actually followed the Quranic guidelines regarding this issue. Please
recall that the Qur’an states that Muhammad is a model for all mankind and
that he himself followed the Qur’an in its entirety while ordering the same
for his devout followers.
The Quranic guidelines as described clearly in 4:6 tell us that Muhammad
could not have married a young girl of age 6 or 9.
There are other verses where the marriage bond has been described as
“solemn covenant/solid contract---Meethaqan ghaleezan” (4:21). It is
mighty revealing to me that in 4:21 for husband-wife relationship the same
composition “meethaqan ghaleezan” has been used for the covenant that
Allah took from all the prophets including Mohammad, the prophet of Islam
(33:7). Not only that, the same expression was also used when Allah took
covenant from the Jews not to violate the Sabbath (4:154). Thus, according
to the Qur'an 'tying the knot' is going for a "Meethaqan Ghaleezan" (a
solemn covenant of mutual trust and faithfulness for each other). This a
definition of marriage, which later, when developed and nourished, gives
rise to love, tranquility and mutual feelings of caring (30:21), as well as to
our offspring as comfort of our eyes (25:74). These verses should suffice
and conclusively bury the issue of the age of Ayesha’s marriage with the
Prophet of Allah. Ayesha could not have been 6 years of age based on many
facts and factors. She could not have been an adult woman capable of
making her own sound decisions. Ayesha could not have entered into a
‘solemn covenant’ at the age of 6 with a 54-year old man. This defies all
reasons for a productive and meaningful union. The Prophet, according to
the Qur’an, is a model for all humanity. The Qur’an describes him of having
the highest of moral pedestal. Even if child marriages were common in his
community, he could not have gone for it because it went against the
Qur’anic injunctions of 4:6 and 4:21.
Nonetheless, since the charge of pedophilia by Rev. Vines, rested solely on
some Hadith reports and not on any of the Qur’anic verses, the attention is
now turned to those Hadith accounts and many other observations related to
Ayesha’s age, and their in-depth analysis.
Those who insist on such detrimental narratives, despite
contradicted with Quran:
In the presence of all these historical narratives that contradict
the narrative of Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage,
anyone who wants to prove that Ayesha was nine years at the
time of consummation of her marriage has the responsibility of
telling others why is he rejecting all the other historical
narratives and accepting only the one that states Ayesha’s age to
be nine at the time of her marriage.
Over the last few decades, the issue of the age and marriage of Ayesha
become a political issue and an instrumental vehicle to dishonor and
discredit the religion of Islam on an international scale and multi-interests
level. Although, a great majority of faithful people and believers are deeply
disturbed and distressed by these orchestrated campaign , the internal disunity,
and to some extents, betrayal behavior of some influential Islamic authorities
in addition to the silent ignorance of other Muslims have caused and afforded
some authenticity and credit to the baseless and unfounded inflammatory
allegations that continue to discredit, weaken, and deteriorate the fabric and
institutional bonds of Islamic cultural and ethical identities and value.
Notwithstanding the fact that the allegations of the underage marriage of
Ayesha could be effectively rebutted, one must perform a full and investigative
analysis from all legal, traditional, cultural, and social dimensions to validly
prove and establish the rational and practical impossibly of the ongoing and
unsubstantiated claims of the issue of underage marriage of Ayesha. Marital
contracts and marital relations in Islam are fully governed and adjudicated
through the Book (Quran) and the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition). The Sunnah
must be coherently consistent and supportive of the legal and ethical structure
of the Book. The Sunnah must be in full compliance and conformity with the
content and objectives of the Book, and must provide for a permanent and
perpetual mechanism for all others to achieve the same level and extents of
conformity and compliance with the structural attributes and guiding objective
of the Book. It may be of some value and benefit to summarily and briefly
review and examine the sources, authorities, meanings, and applications of the
two major and principals of Islamic legal and ethical structures, the Book, and
According to the faith of Islam the vast majority of the Muslims professes,
there are two sources of the Divine Guidance—the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The
Quran is the actual Word of Allah (God) revealed by the archangel Gabriel to
Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years during the period 610-632 A.D in
the Arabian Peninsula. The Qur’an that was revealed as Guidance and Light
(17:9) for all mankind was written and properly documented by some forty
scribes during the lifetime of the Prophet. There is historical as well as the
Quranic internal evidence to that effect (80:11-16 and 25:5) as well as God’s
personal guarantee against any possible corruption in the Scripture (15:9).
Additionally, the Qur’an was not only written and documented but it was
committed to memory in its entirety during the lifetime of the Prophet. This
noble tradition of memorization of the Qur’an continues to this day. One can
find hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world who know the entire
Qur’an by heart. It is noteworthy that although there are several sects in
Islam, the Qur’an remains perfectly preserved to the letter in its original
Arabic language and recited, understood and referred to for explanations by all
sects the same way. Thus, while the interpretations may vary, the original
Arabic text has remained the same without sectarian bias.
The Qur’an enjoined Muhammad, as well as all other believers, to strictly
follow the Quran (6:106; 10:109; 33:2) and it stands witness to the fact that
Muhammad and his followers did exactly that all their lives (7:203; 46:9; 6:50).
In fact, Muhammad himself was warned in rather stern terms not to go against
the Quranic teachings (17:39, 10:94-95, 69:40-48). Furthermore, the Qur’an
declares Muhammad to be a man of highest moral standards (68:4; 33:21) and
the best exemplar for humanity. The Qur’an enjoins the believers in scores of
verses to follow Muhammad’s teachings and accept him as a final authority in
all their affairs.
One may argue that the facts given above do not contain the actual quotation to
accurately address the referenced documents in an accurately stated manor.
With respect to such potentially existing objections it is quite logic and
customary to make direct reference to the most original and authenticated
sources for ascertaining the validity of the documents submitted to substantiate
the claim and proving the arguments and legally withstand all argumentative
challenges and devaluating objections.
To comply with the required norms and standards of the most accurate
authentication and precise scrutiny, all the references and quotations are
supported with the available names of the narrators within the change of
reference, so that it may provide for the easier and more immediate reference
to the original sources.
To provide the reader with the most possible and available historical views and
documents, for the both sides, all different views and documents will be
introduced and reported on an equal basis. For instance, if we show a narrative
from a narrator to support the age of Ayesha to be beyond fifteen years old at
the time of her marriage with the holy prophet, we shall equally make reference
to the chain of other reputable narrators who report her age, for the same
occasion, to be six years old at the marriage, and nine at the time of
consummation. There are highly respected Hadithes from the most reputable
historians and narrators that have reported the age of Ayesha quite different
with those who reject her to be a minor age bride. Amongst the aforementioned
chain of narrators, we will find Bukhari, Tabari, Abu Dawud, to have named a
The Second generally accepted source of Islamic faith is the Sunnah. The Sunnah
is the summation of Islamic teachings related to faith and code of conduct as
personally practiced and perpetuated by Muhammad for all believers to
implement and follow in their personal lives as well as in proper Islamic
governance. The Sunnah protocols related to articles of Islamic faith and rituals
are continuous from the day of the Prophet but a great many others are largely
derived from a huge body of compilations of oral narrations referred to as
Hadith. The Hadith, commonly known as traditions of the Prophet, consists of
many books of compilations of reported accounts of Muhammad’s sayings,
actions, and tacit approvals. There are six books of Hadith (Sihah Sita) that are
considered authentic by the main stream Sunni Muslims.
There is also a different set of four Hadith books for the Shia Muslim community.
All these books were written 200-300 years after the death of Muhammad. The
documentation of these books proceeded based on collection of hundreds of
thousands of stories from the then living people who transmitted accounts or
stories about Muhammad or his companions as they heard from earlier
generations. Thus, the process of oral transmission (word of mouth) made the
basis of all these collections. The aforementioned process commonly known as
Isnaad or chain of narration comprised a chain of 4-6 or more narrators in time
going back to the companions of Muhammad and to Muhammad himself over a
period of 250-300 or more years. These accounts seek to portray the Muslim
culture and history during the lifetime of the Prophet of Islam. Nonetheless, it
must be pointed out that the only true surviving book, call it Islamic history or
Divine Guidance, that was memorized by thousands of Companions of the
Prophet and written in a completely and carefully documented form is none
other than the Qur’an itself. The first non-Qur’anic history book, ‘Seerat
Rasoolallah’ (Seerah/Tradition), by Ibni Ishaq (d. 767 A.D) was written more than
90 years after the death of Muhammad. That book of history was also based on
oral transmissions. Ibni Ishaq was severely criticized by some notable scholars of
Islam such as Malik Ibni Anas, the originator of the Maliki School of though in
Islamic jurisprudence mainly practiced in Africa.
The majority of Muslims considers two of the six Hadith books, those authored by
Al-Bukhari (d. 870 A.D) and Al-Muslim (d. 875 A.D) most authentic after the
Qur’an despite the fact that they were written 200-300 years after the advent of
Islam. Both of the books were collected more than one century after the first
book of Hadith having been first published by Ibni Ishaq. These scholars of Islam
exercised great caution in selecting what they called correct traditions and
proceeded with purest of intentions but one must not lose sight of the fact that
they still collected narrations from living people who were not primary or even
secondary and tertiary sources of the accounts of the life and sayings of
Muhammad and his companions. Some Islamic historians (and/or exegetes of the
Qur’an) whose books about early Islamic history are considered of high
importance and who derive their history of early Islam from the saheeh of Ibni
Ishaq include Tabari (d. 923 ), Ibni Katheer, Ibni Hisham (d. 827 A.D) and Ibni
Hajar Al Asqalani, to name a few.
The introduction given above of the two sources of Islam, the Qur’an and the
Sunnah/Hadith, (prophetic Traditins) is necessary for the reader to understand
the issue at hand, the age of Ayesha, the third wife of Prophet Muhammad at the
time of her marriage.
Although it is reasonably presumed that a comprehensive and multidimensional
review of all of the supporting and denying reasons and documents, the issue of
alleged underage marriage of Ayesha could rationally be put to rest and be
permanently and conclusively retired and related files closed, nonetheless, still
many questions must be answered and many cloudy confusions must be patiently
cleared for the factual reality about this aces to be fully exonerated. Many of
the asserted claims and allegations are humilities and subjective, and they are
merely made for power strength and political gain. Regardless of the intents,
motives, or objectives, the issue must have the reason to universally stands tall
and clear in a bright and transparent stand.
There are many groups and interests that assert the allegations of an old man
becoming aroused by a child, and they view this unfounded assertion as a
conclusive and proven fact and convincing reality. Some of narratives reported
by the most credible narrators are being freely used as conclusive and concrete
evidence to prove the allegations. Although there have been long and
comprehensive discussion about this issue, it is still useful to give a summary
collection of all of the narratives and reports that are used to deny the
properness and ethical values of the marriage of Ayesha. This wills the entire
opposing instruments in one single file, a file to every point, thereof, have been
fully responded based on the legal, traditional, documentary, and traditional
documentations and reasoning.
It appears that all the above quotations, assertions, allegations, defenses,
rebuttals, rejections, modifications, admissions, and denials, collectively
give ample refutation to the common misconception that the age of Ayesha at
her marriage with the holy prophet, and at her marital contract could have
been six years old and at the time of consummation of marriage being only 9
years. If Muslim scholars of the present era deem fit to make an objective
research instead of beating the old track, they will find ample evidentiary
and testimonial material and many more rational and logical proofs and
indications in the pages of history and the body of the voluminous narratives
and reports, to arrive at a correct age for Ayesha. And Allah the Almighty is
the source of ultimate truth.
The arguments of assertive claims, both from opponents as well as proponents,
continue to construct and leave logical inference and rational implications, as a
necessitating means of further studying and learning about this ever significant
and important issue of the entire history and principle of the Islamic authentic
and logical reasoning, for maintaining and holding up its existence and originality
as an ethical and moral school of thoughts, humanities, services, and logical
comprehension and rational conception. If we are not able to establish and prove
the real age of Ayesha, the entire system of Islamic conceptual principles and
theological moral philosophy will be subject to natural and irreversible collapse
and eventual and permanent destruction and disappearance.
As mentioned several times within the body of this article, when the narrations
as reported to support and establish the underage of Ayesha when married with
Mohammad, all and every reputable or otherwise narrators based their narratives
on the reports and narrations received from the sources that did not have any
During the previous analysis presented, we have examined, evaluated, and
rendered traditional and authentic legal adjudication to establish the existing
and obvious conflicts and absence of authenticity and accuracy of the origins of
the narratives used and based by other reputable narrators such as Bukhari. The
narratives reported by Bukhari, particularly those reported from Iraqis narrators,
are insufficient and contain internal conflicts and contradictions which render
them distorted, defected, and of no historical, logical, evidentiary, and legal
values. As it has been mentioned before, and supported by several conclusive
and concrete evidences, the core and nucleus of this analytical research is based
on the argument and claim that evidentiary instruments, provided to establish
the age of the bride, appear to be lacking even the minimum required standards
of genuineness and authentic originality.
As mentioned and proven before, the underage of Ayesha, at her marriage was
not a cultural and habitual practice within the Arabs. It is an established fact
that the marriage of Ayesha was fully honored and accepted by Arab culture and
traditions. It is a strong evidence that the marriage of Ayesha was a traditional,
honored, and acceptable marriage, further establishing that she could not be a
person of underage and yet her marriage having been honored and accepted by a
culture rejecting minor age marriage.
This claim and argument is an unbiased presumption of unsupported practices
that have never been established by any authenticated account or historical
evidence. Reasonably, it is the burden and responsibilities of the claimants and
all those who believe in this falsely assumed facts, accusing the holy prophet to
have conducted an act short than perfect, claiming to be an acceptable norm
of the time, to provide sufficient evidentiary, and universally acceptable,
instrument to reasonably substantiate their point of view.
On this end, there has not been a single dependable instance in any books
concerning Arab history where a girl as young as nine years old was given away
in marriage as a conventional and honorable means of an acceptable and legal
marriage. Unless such examples are given and claiming facts are provided, the
given claims, regardless of the frequency and age of its publications and public
support, lacks even the minimum established evidentiary support and
reasonable grounds to substantiate the claims that marriage with six years old
girls would have been really an accepted norm.
Based on all above mentioned documentary evidences, as well as all other
supportive elements, the age of Ayesha at the time of her marriage to
Mohammad had to be beyond, at least, 17 years, and yet there are several
reports and narratives, even in Bukhari, that establishes the fact that the
entire narratives reported in that requires a newly established methodology of
reevaluation and recertification.
The following narratives found in Bukhari which are in clear and obvious
support for the claim and position that the entire content of all narratives must
be subject to a very narrow scrutiny, reevaluation, authentications, and
recertification. Ignoring this vitally important task, will render the entire body
of the Islamic narratives questionable and less reliable for many other
historical, legal, cultural, and evidentiary values.
The followings narratives in Sahih Bukhari, and some other enlisted narrators,
are found to be in full and undependable conflicts with those logically
authenticated and established facts and events
Sahih Muslim Book 008, Number 3310:
Ayesha reported: Allah's Apostle married me when I was six years old, and I was
admitted to his house when I was nine years old.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64.
Narrated Ayesha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and
he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she
remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).
Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 65.
Narrated Ayesha: That the Prophet married her when she was six years old and
he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have
been informed that Ayesha remained with the Prophet for nine years.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88:
Narrated Urwah: The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while
she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was
nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (till his death).
Sahih Bukhari 7 Book 62.Number 18:
Narrated Urwah: The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for 'Aisha's hand in marriage. Abu
Bakr said "But I am your brother." The Prophet said, "You are my brother in
Allah's religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry."
The above narrative is used as a documentary reference to establish the claim
that the first Caliph Abu Bakr did not approached Muhammad asking him to
marry his daughter. This issue, of course, has been fully discussed and
elaborated upon in the previous sections.
Arabs were a primitive lot with little rules to abide. Yet they had some code of
ethics that they honored scrupulously. For example, although they fought all
the year round, they abstained from hostilities during certain holy months of
the year. They also considered Mecca to be a holy city and did not make war
against it. An adopted son’s wife was deemed to be a daughter in law and they
would not marry her. Also it was customary that close friends made a pact of
brotherhood and considered each other as true brothers.
It is also a known fact that Arabs would not tolerate any action or behavior that
oppose or undermined their traditional culture and values. Had the prophet
ever had have disregarded these rules anytime they would stood between him
and his conduct by all means. The fact of any marriages of the prophet,
together, with that of public support and blessing, is another rational and
intuitive reasoning and evidence of utmost ethical and proper by the measures
of society and their cultural and spiritual values.
It is claimed that the close relation of Abu Bakr and the prophet would position
them as brothers, thereby; marrying with Ayesha would constitute a forbidden
relation. Abu Bakr and Muhammad were brothers in faith, and as such, that
would not present any ethical or legal obstacles for the willful marriage of
Ayesha with the prophet. So according to their customs Ayesha was fully and
ethically free to make her independent and determinant decision to marry to
the candidate of her choice, in full compliance with the governing cultural
norms and legal rules.
Sahih Bukhari Volume.7, Book 62, Number 37:
Narrated Ibni Abbas: It was said to the Prophet, "Won't you marry the daughter
of Hamza?" He said, "She is my foster niece.”
The above reference, although, is generally and traditionally used to discredit
the prophet, to the contrary, it is an indicative of the prophet’s full and proper
compliance with every details of the rules and ethical considerations of
Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 62, Number 140:
Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said to me, "You were shown to me twice (in my
dream) before I married you. I saw an angel carrying you in a silken piece of
cloth, and I said to him; uncover (her) and behold, it was you. I said (to
myself), If this is from Allah, then it must happen.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 62, Number 236:
Narrated Hisham's father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet
departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married
Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage
when she was nine years old.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 62, Number 234:
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 All right, 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.
The above narratives are identified as a Hadith that was first published by Ibni
Hisham during his residency in Iraq. As mentioned before, the narrative
entirely fails to be a qualified Hadith under all the standard measuring devices
for accrediting a Hadith, sufficient to hold the same as authentic and reliable.
Readers are directed to refer to the sections defining the means and standards
for qualifying any narrative.
Based on these narratives, whether Muhammad had actually such dream or he
just said it to please Ayesha is not the point. What matters here is that it
indicates that Ayesha was a baby being “carried” by an angel when the Prophet
dreamed of her.
Obviously, this narrative is reported by Urwah from Ayesha. Once again, the
source of publication of this narrative is the same unreliable source, originally
responsible for causing and creating most of the existing and conflicting
controversial narratives in general, and with respect to the marriage of Ayesha,
in particular. If is is established that this narrative is authentic and originally
established as reliable, then the entire system of Islamic traditions of ethics
and moralities will be collapsed and corrupted.
If we hold these narrative as valid and reliable, then we would have placed the
holy prophet in an image of a person who lacks morality and conducts actions
and transactions that are morally wrong and traditionally unethical, and from
the legal stand point, totally illegal and in full violation of all stated standards
and formulated and mandated principles and ordinances.
According to Quran, the prophet did not commit any wrong or even insufficient
conduct. In Quran, he is referred to as a man without even one single act of
immoral, erroneous, wrong, unethical, or even, less than perfect. Obviously, if
such an unethical conduct, as claimed by the above narrative, has been ever
committed by the prophet, not only he would become disqualified as a proper
prophet, as claimed by Quran, the entire system, including the authenticity
and holiness of the Book would be to a total collapse and destruction.
Therefore, we are left with two critical choices, accepting the truth of the
above narrative and establish the destruction and end of Islam, or to reject
the narrative and adhere and commit to an ongoing inspection, evaluation,
and comparative practices between the essential factors of Quran and all
narratives that claim to be in support and for the deliberation and
collaboration of the Book. This is a very critical and utmost important task,
binding upon all scholars and even ordinary and average Muslims throughout
the world to follow up on a continuous basis for the extended comparative
analysis and evaluations of all narratives for the purpose of authenticating
them with the fundamental standards and constitutional principles of
Sunan Abu-Dawud Book 41, Number 4915 & Number 4916 & Number 4917 :
Narrated Ayesha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Apostle of Allah married me when I was
seven or six. When we came to Medina, some women came. According to Bishr's
version, Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made
me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Apostle of Allah and
he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door,
and I burst into laughter.
This Hadith is used to establish the underage marriage of Ayesha. Although we
read that Ayesha was swinging, and although the nature of alleged act could be
utilized to establish the underage condition of the marriage, it must be born in
mind that the entire Hadith is rejected as false and unfounded since it
contradicts and violates the minimum standards and required qualification for
being accounted and accorded as even a relatively weak Hadith.
It is sad and frustrating to go on evaluating the value of a subject, providing for
the means and measures for the standards of accreditations and still receiving
challenges to the details, while the essential and entire value and authenticity
of the issue and claim at hand is failed to gain any legal or traditional standing.
Of course playing of girl is a circumstantial evidence for her childhood, and not
being aware of the circumstances could be another evidence of being under
age. Nonetheless, when the entire story proven to be false, there is no point
to assume and uphold any part thereof, for sectional evaluation or resulting
Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 90:
Narrated Aisha: When the Prophet married me, my mother came to me and
made me enter the house (of the Prophet) and nothing surprised me but the
coming of Allah’s Apostle to me in the forenoon.
According to the aforementioned narrative there has been no waiting period or
passing a mandatory periodic interlude between the legal marriage of Ayesha
with Mohammad and the consummation of such marriage, or any other intimacy
or cohabitation, as a result of their marriage. If this narrative is held reliable,
then Ayesha must have had married with the prophet when she was six years
old. Further, it proposes that a six years old child was trusted with an old man
to be her husband and cohabitant. This narrative clearly contradicts other
narratives that reported a three years time detachment before the
consummation or otherwise intimate relation between the bride and the
groom. Further more, the narrative reports from Ayesha that nothing surprised
her from the fact that she was delivered and trusted to Mohammad, and that of
Mohammad coming to her in the forenoon. Under any other circumstances, for
a six years old child it must have been a surprised that an old adult come to her
in the forenoon for any purpose.
Further, if the aforementioned narrative is held reliable, consequentially it
will be obvious and an undeniable evidence that Ayesha, who was receiving
Mohammad in the forenoon, was as young as a child playing with her dolls.
Under any normal and natural circumstances a playful child would be quite
surprised and disturbed to find an adult who happened to be her husband
and, therefore, have no obstacle for furthering the private cohabitation into
a confident and, potentially, convenient intimacy and foreplays. Reporting
lack of surprise on the part of Ayesha is a circumstantial evidence that
Ayesha was married to prophet in full violation of Islamic rules, Arab
culture, and all bonds and limitations established by the principles of
moralities and ethics.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151
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.
According to Fateh Al Bari, page 143, Vol.13, the playing with the dolls and
similar images were forbidden and illegal for the adults who were beyond the
age of puberty, but it was allowed for Aisha at that time, since she was a little
girl, not yet reached the age of puberty and therefore, she would not be
subject to prohibiting rules applicable to adults. Further, the above mentioned
narrative is a demonstrative and testimonial evidence that if the Sahih Bukhari
Volume 7, Book 62, Number 90, is accepted as a valid and reliable narrative,
then the age of Ayesha at the time of her marriage with Mohammad would have
had been the age of a little girl playing with dolls and not yet reached the age
Now, we are confronted with a major contradictory problem between giving
in for the age of Ayesha as a little girl, not even having reached the age of
puberty and denying the morality and properness of the prophet, or
rejecting the narrative and admitting that there are no truth or authentic
values in the above-mentioned narrative. There is not any other choice for
any researcher who is bound by the principles of justice and rationality.
Sahih Muslim Volume 08, Book 65, Number 3311:
Ayesha reported that Allah's Apostle married her when she was seven years old,
and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls
were with her, and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years
Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 33:
Narrated Ayesha: I never felt so jealous of any woman as I did of Khadija,
though she had died three years before the Prophet married me, and that was
because I heard him mentioning her too often, and because his Lord had
ordered him to give her the glad tidings that she would have a palace in
Paradise, made of Qasab and because he used to slaughter a sheep and
distribute its meat among her friends.
The holy Prophet departed when he was 63. So he must have married Ayesha
when he as 51 and went to her when he was 54. Khadija died in December of
619 AD. That is two years before Hijra, at that time the Prophet was 51years
old. So in the same year that Khadija died the prophet married Ayesha and
took her to his home 3 years later, one year after Hijra. But until she group up
he married Umm Salama. In another part Ayesha claims that as long as she
remembers her parents were always Muslims.
As it can be clearly demonstrated, each and every parts of the above
mentioned narratives internally and externally contradict all other
narratives with respect to the age of the marriage of Ayesha and
Mohammad. Once again, we are left with a critical choice, as to whether
discount the reliability of the conflicting narratives which are insulting and
humilities of the ethical values and moralities of the prophet, or hold the
narratives without any objects and accuse and condemn the prophet as less
than pure and perfect, disregarding all other evidences, including authentic
reports and statements of the holy Quran with respect to the innocence,
purity, and perfection stand and behavior of the prophet.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 245 :
Narrated Ayesha: I never remembered my parents believing in any religion
other than the true religion (Islam).
The above mentioned narrative is another example of the existing of major and
invalidating conflicts between the several different narratives reported by the
same narrator, claiming them as being Sahih, which means having been
securitized and evaluated to have been in conformity with all the governing
rules of authentication, and as such they have passed the test and became
reliable for further use and application.
According to the above mentioned narrative, Ayesha if could not be older than
16 or 18 as other reliable and authentic evidence justify, otherwise, she would
have remembered the religion of her parents prior to becoming Muslims. We
made several historical references and accordingly established the true and
correct age of Ayesha at any points between her birth, marriage, and death.
Rationally, the truth is supported by several authentic evidence and a series of
other instruments, but after truth being so obvious and clear, any reasonable
person would recognize the narrowly stated two alternatives are the only two
choices for resolving this ever disturbing and confusing issue; we either accept
the Islam and its principles and values, as authentic and ethical, or we insist
of the underage of Ayesha and condemn the principles of the faith of 1.5
Billion individuals to support our stand about the underage of Ayesha, at
No sane person, or even not an average and ordinary individual, would be
aroused by a 9 year old child. How could we attribute this horrible and
culpable act to a holy prophet, to a perfect and role model for ethical
values, the most unethical and shameful conduct by upholding several
unreliable baseless stories to maintain our superiority over those who
simple mined to believe our unjustified and unfair position that are being
held for the mere purpose of political powers and financial gains. The
question has been so far remained unanswered.
Once again, it must be noted that according to almost all the historian, Asma,
the elder sister of Ayesha was ten years older than Ayesha. It is reported that
Asma died in year 73 of Hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if
Asma was 100 years old in year 73 of Hijrah, she should have been 27 or 28
years old at the time of the event of Hijrah. If Asma was 27 or 28 years old at
the time of Hijrah, Ayesha should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time.
Thus, Ayesha, who was married to the prophet in the first or second year of
Hijrah, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.
Briefly reviewing the history, we will notice that Abu Bakr had four children
and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah, the pre Islamic period. Obviously,
if Ayesha was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less
than 14 years in the first year of Hijrah, when she likely married with the
prophet. Ayesha accepted Islam quite some time before Umar Ibni Khattab.
This shows that Ayesha accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if
the narrative of the age of the marriage of Ayesha is held to be seven years,
she should not have been born during the first year of Islam. It is also reported
that eight year before the Hijrah Abu Bakr planned to emigrate to Habasha,
thereby, asking his son in-law, Mut-am to take his bride (Ayesha) home so that
Abu Bakr could go on with his plan. Mut-am refused and subsequently Ayesha
If Ayesha was only six years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have
been born and reached the age of marriage some eight years before the Hijrah.
These are some of the major points that go against accepting the commonly
known narratives regarding the underage of Ayesha at the time of her marriage
with the prophet. It is a historical fact and a known tradition that it was not
an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as nine or
ten years. Further more, considering the totality of all governing
circumstances, it cannot be accepted did that the Prophet would marry Ayesha
at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage,
because it never happened in the manner it has been erroneously narrated.
Most of the narratives having been narrated by Bukhari and other Narrators are
based and built up on the narratives as existed and reported by Hisham Ibni
Urwah on the authority of his father. All the reports published by Hisham, with
respect to the age of Ayesha at her marriage with the prophet, are defected by
all respective governing rules and traditional mandates. The extents of the
deficiencies and violations are multidimensional, consequentially causing the
entire narratives that ever published in Iraq to be invalid and unreliable. There
are several reputable reports and historical and narrative evidences that
support the legal objections and invalidating causes for the narratives reported
by the Hisham.
It is quite strange that no one from Medina, where Hisham Ibni Urwah lived the
first seventy one years of his life has narrated the event of marriage of Ayesha,
even though in Medina his students included people as well known as Malik Ibni
Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from
Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have had shifted after living in Medina for
seventy one years. Again, the argument that all those who heard this narrative
from Hisham Ibni Urwah were Iraqis is a simple statement of fact. This can be
checked in the biographical sketches of these narrators in any of the books
written on the narrators. Further, there are sufficient reports from Yaqub
Shaiban stating the absence of reliability of narratives reported by Ibni Urwah
during his residing in Iraq, with respect to the events occurred in Medina.
There are other several reports all indicative sever loss and distortion of
memory of Ibni Hisham during his residing in Iraq.
Although the majority of the narrators of the age and event of the marriage of
Ayesha are highly respected and reliable, nonetheless, the origin and primary
sources of the entire narratives ever narrated by these reputable narrators, are
all elicited and brought forth from one single source of narration which is not
accredited by any means, tradition, or authorities whose traditions govern the
examination and authentic evaluation and certification of a narrative. This
critical points always has the tendencies to escape the mind of the reader or
researching individual. It must be born in mind, and be self remained
frequently, that the reputation and reliability of the traditionally reputable
narrators cannot change and compensate for the absence of the original
distortion of a narrative having had been used and narrated by them.
It is essentially important to constantly and consistently recall the critical fact
that on the reliability and resources utilized by Hisham Ibni Urwah, each one of
his quoted statement, whether it is from Tabari, Bukhari, Muslim or Abu
Dawud, is either narrated by Hisham Ibni `Urwah or is reported to the
respective author by or through an Iraqi. Not even a single narrative is free
from either of the two problems.
The presentation of several quotations from Tabari, Bukhari and Muslim are
mainly to demonstrate and establish the fact that even their own information
contradict with the narrative regarding the age of Ayesha. Thus, when the
narrative of Ayesha's age is not reliable and when there is information in the
same books that contradicts the narrative of Ayesha's age, the final conclusion
is mandated to be made on more narratives that contain more consistency,
conformity, and uniformity within the norms and standards of authentication.
There are absolutely no reason to believe that the information on Ayesha's age
is accepted (when there are adequate grounds to reject it) and other
(contradictory) information is rejected (when there is no ground to accept it).
I have read almost the entire voluminous body of all related articles,
documents, narratives, and any other indicative and guiding instruments
that could be beneficial and instrumental in arriving at any rationally
established fair and practical support adjudicative judgment and evaluations
of hundreds of conflicting and incompatible resources and I have responded
to them to the extents humanly possible. I have not seen yet even a new
unread issue that is justifies any other research or further analysis and
reevaluations, as all the presented claims and documents rely on the very
sources for which already I had presented my reservations upon. In case
that in future there should be any new evidence or issue that have not been
indicated and adjudicated in this article, I shall be glad to open the window
for a whole new analytical approach to reevaluate the entire issue at hand.
But without any specific subject I sincerely have to conclude this matter as
stated and resolved in
As a generally accepted definition of Sunnah, one may define Islamic tradition
(Sunnah) to include the sayings, and behavioral compliances and practices of
the Prophet, known commonly as Hadithes which consist of words and deeds of
the prophet and that of what have gained his approval.
Although, the above statement, though commonly accepted by Muslims, does
not accurately describe Sunnah. But for the purpose of this discussion, let us
take this to be an accurate explanation of Sunnah of the Prophet. But even
then, the narratives describing the age of Ayesha at the time of her marriage
do not fall under the scope of Sunnah.
Obviously, the narrative referring and reporting the age o Ayesha at the time of
her marriage is not a part of "the sayings of the Prophet", it cannot be termed
as the Prophet’s "practices" and neither can it be included in the "actions which
gained his approval". The narrative of respective to the age of Ayesha is just a
narrative of a historical event. Just because it has been reported by Bukhari
and Muslim, does not change its status from being a narrative of a historical
event to a Sunnah. Because of this fact, this narrative should be seen in the
light of all other narratives of historical events which have been reported by
Bukhari, Muslim and other historians of Islam. This is exactly what has been left
to uphold within the Muslim scholarly society throughout the long and critical
history of Islam.
In the presence of all these historical narratives that contradict the narrative
of the age of Ayesha at the time of her marriage with the holy prophet, any
one who wants to prove that Ayesha was nine years at the time of
consummation of her marriage has the responsibility of telling others why is he
rejecting all the other historical narratives and accepting only the one that
states the age of Ayesha as to be nine at the time of her marriage.
At the turn of the century, there are increasing critical voices being raised
to assert the misconception of the legality of marriage with children in
Islam. The supporting forces of this evil idea borrowed their instrument
through a traditional misreading of the Quran.
There is a verse in the Chapter Nessa (women) in Quran which begins with:
“If you fear that you are not capable of maintaining the principles of
equality and justice, as between and amongst the orphan children, you may
wish to engage into the marriage of your choice to the extents and
limitations of four based upon your ability and justifications of equality,
justice ….” Obviously, as will be established, there is no legal authority
provided for underage marriage with children in Islam. And obviously and
rationally, the marriage is offered as a legal and provisionary means for the
support of orphan children by the means of any marriage that could
establish any rational relations, reasonable coherent correlation, or legal and
This verse, being the most abused and misread of the entire book
collectively, has been misquoted , misinterpreted and misstated as: “if you
fear that you can not deal fairly with the orphans, marry who seems good to
you, two, three, or four; and orphans are below the age of puberty”
In any rational views or opinions, the marriage that has been referred to in
the verse of Surah Nisaa is not with a minor orphan girl. The correct
meaning of the verse, notwithstanding any judgmental views or
irresponsible and irrelevant opinion, is based on the vast and
multidimensional rationales and reasoning.
The word “Yatama” (translated as “orphans”) in the Arabic language is used
for such minor boys and girls whose father has passed away. This word has
been used a number of times in the Quran and no where has it been used
only for minor girls only.
The word “Nisaa” (translated as “women”) in the Arabic language is used
for adult women only. Thus the words: “Marry women that are right for
you…” cannot be taken to imply marrying minor orphan girls.
The 6th verse of the Surah is another evidence of not only the fact that the
word Nisaa (women), as used in verse 3, is not meant for minor orphan girls
but also that the Quran has upheld the normal socio-cultural tradition of
marrying boys and girls only after they have matured mentally as well as
physically and are prepared to take up the responsibilities of marital life.
The verse reads as:
“Make trial of and evaluate the orphans until they reach the age of capable
of marriage; if then you find sound and matured judgment in them release
their properties to them; but do not consume their properties wastefully,
nor in haze against growing up. If the guardian is well off let him claim no
remuneration but if he is poor, let him have or himself what is just and
reasonable. When you release their properties to them take witnesses in
their presence, but all sufficient is Allah in taking account” Al-Nisaa 4: 6
In view of the above arguments it is clear that the women regarding whom
the Quran is allowing marriage are not the minor orphan girls referred to
previously in the verse. This then brings us to the question that if these
“women” are not the minor orphan girls, then who these “women” are. A
close look at these verses and also verse 127 of the same Surah
clearly shows that these “women” are actually the mothers of
The Qur’an, in the opening part of Surah Nisaa has directed the
Muslims to take care of the orphans (boys and girls) in the
society, as they would take care of their own children. In this
context, the Quran says that if one fears that he shall not be able
to deal justly with these orphans, he may marry their mothers, if
he feels that this marriage shall help him in fulfilling his
responsibility towards these orphans.
Then again in verse 127, the words “yatama al-nisaa” (translated
as “orphans of these women”) clearly shows that the “women”
referred to in verse 6 are the mothers of the minor orphan boys
The statement and the historical information provided to devaluate the
authenticity of the conflicting reports, have been primarily based on the
research by Habib Ur Rahman Kandhalwi (Urdu) as presented in his booklet,
"Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka'inat", Anjuman Uswa e hasanah, Karachi,
Readers are encouraged to consult the useful materials in the
aforementioned booklet for utilizing further reasoning and verification to
assert and proof the contradictory nature of the reports with respect to age
of Ayesha, and to further establish the standards for collecting the
quotations as invalid and disqualified.
May god bless and help all those who are truly and consistently in search of
Fatimah was born at the time the Ka`bah was rebuilt, when the Prophet was 35
years old... she (Fatimah) was five years older that Ayesha. (Al-Isabah fi
Tamyiz Al Sahabah, Ibni Hajar Al Asqalani, Vol 4, Pg 377, Arabic, Maktabat Al
Riyadh Al Haditha, Al Riyadh, 1978)