First I shall state some historical and cultural facts deemed helpful to reach the truth about the marriage under discussion.
1. From an article discussing the Age of consent historically, it gathered information from many acknowledged sources like the “Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society”, “Children and Youth in History – Age of Consent Laws” by Stephen Robertson, University of Sydney-Australia, and “The Age of Marriage in Ancient Rome” by Lelis, Arnold , Percy, William A. , & Verstraete, Beert C.; we read the following:
In Ancient Rome, it was very common for girls to marry and have children shortly after the onset of puberty. In the 12th century A.D. “Gratian”: the influential founder of Canon law in medieval Europe, accepted age of puberty for marriage to be between 12 and 14 but acknowledged consent to be meaningful if the children were older than 7.1 There were authorities that said that consent could take place earlier. Marriage would then be valid as long as neither of the two parties annulled the marital agreement before reaching puberty, or if they had already consummated the marriage. It should be noted that Judges honored marriages based on mutual consent at ages younger than 7, in spite of what Gratian had said; there are recorded marriages of 2 and 3 years old. The American colonies followed the English tradition, and the law was more of a guide. For example, Mary Hathaway (Virginia, 1689) was only 9 when she was married to William Williams. Sir Edward Coke (England, 17th century) made it clear that: “the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9 even though her husband be only four years old.” The French Napoleonic Code established an age of consent of 11 years in 1791, which was raised to 13 in 1863. Portugal, Spain, Denmark and the Swiss cantons, initially set the age of consent at 10–12 years and then raised it to between 13 and 16 years in the second half of the 19th century. Historically, the English common law set the age of consent to range from 10 to 12. In the United States, by the 1880s, most states set the age of consent at 10-12, and in one state, Delaware, the age of consent was only 7. A New York Times article states that it was still aged 7 in Delaware in 1895. [End of adaptation from the article].
One famous example is Alexios II Komnenos (1169-1183 AD) who married Agnes of France. William II; Archbishop of Tyre; witnessed the wedding and reported that Agnes was eight on her arrival at Constantinople, while Alexios was thirteen. Though according to most 12th century views; she was three years too young for marriage; but the pope authorized the marriage and approved to it.
1 Gratian’s sources were the Roman law, the Bible, the writings of the Church Fathers, papal decretals, the acts of church councils and synods.
2. According to Jewish traditions, adulthood is reached at the age of 12 (the age of the Bar-Mitzvah). Jewish boys, for example, are expected to demonstrate preparation for adulthood by learning the Torah and other Jewish practices in the Talmud. The Christian Bible and the Jewish scriptures have no age requirement for adulthood or marrying, which includes engaging in sexual activity. The age of consent for sexual relations in the Vatican up till the moment of writing this is 13, the age when many girls achieve menses, and are thus reproductive and physically capable of marriage and childbirth. If you check the catholic encyclopedia you will find a marriage taking place between Mother Marry at the age of 12 and Joseph the carpenter when he was 90. So, historically girls were allowed to get married; not based on their age; but by determining that they are physically capable to reproduce.
3. Back in time; adulthood was primarily determined by the parents when noticing the characteristics of puberty on their son/daughter. Historically; the onset of puberty meant the beginning of adulthood. The average age of puberty varied from one place to another; and from one culture to another, but in all cultures it meant that the child was to be treated as an adult “biologically”. This age was considered an order to start working by doing the light jobs of that day; like serving the elders, farming, grazing cattle and pasturing sheep, and it was also an allowance to get married.
4. In modern ages; a new kind of adulthood evolved; it is what we call “Social adulthood”. This term is a legal term specified by governments in determining the age at which children are no longer considered minors, but are recognized and treated by the law as adults.
5. According to modern medical studies; puberty for girls generally begins around 10 years of age, and 12 years of age for boys. These are just average round figures. Medical books tell us that puberty is divided into several stages; the first of which is “Gonadarche”. This is the stage that witnesses the earliest biological changes in both sexes. The ovaries and the testes begin to grow and increase the production of the sex steroids, especially estradiol and testosterone. Gonadarche; as modern researches indicate; is reached approximately at 8 years and it indicates that true central puberty has begun. Menarche is reached by girls approximately at the age of 12. The timing of menarche differs from girl to another and is greatly influenced by genetic, environmental and nutritional factors. In much hotter regions like Africa and Arabia, the age of puberty as noticed by researchers is reached earlier than in colder places. This rapid development was also noticed by the famous British Orientalist “Ronald Victor Bodley” during his journey to Arabia, and he testified for it in his writings. The body development could be noticed on girls at the age of 9 and for boys at 10. Many historical reports state that boys and girls were married at 9 & 10 years of age at these regions, like the report of companion “Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas” who told that his father was older than him by 11 years; he was born during the pre-Islamic era.
6. These customs were not restricted to Arabia; they were the global customs followed all over the world as indicated in the first point. They were still followed until the 19th century. In the early 1800s; the age of consent in most states was 10 years. Modern estimates in the U.S. say that the average age of puberty for girls is estimated by modern researchers to be 10 years and the process takes an average of about 4-5 years till its finish. That’s why the legal age of marriage for girls in most of the states today is 16 with parental consent. This is also the case for most European countries, but there are some exceptions like for example the state of “New Hampshire” where the age of consent for females is 14; and 13 is allowed in cases of “special cause” with parental consent and court permission. It’s not that the modern medical studies haven’t reached “New Hampshire” yet; but because it could be allowed without medically endangering any of the two parties involved. In South America, in Colombia, the age of consent is 14 with parental consent. In Paraguay it’s 14 for females, Article 39, clause “b”, of the Paraguayan Civil Code. In Venezuela it’s 14 for females. North Carolina: Applicants 14 years old must provide a certified copy of the court order authorizing the marriage. Today the age of consent in many Islamic countries is 16-20 due to several factors; mostly; the way of life and the customs that have changed and made the females premature and unqualified neither physically nor psychologically to get married as soon as they reach puberty. Birth control reasons and the great environmental changes also played a big role in this. The luxurious way of life has made females physically much weaker than they used to be 1400 years ago.
I can have a field day with this issue but I think that what I’ve stated is enough to ring a bell inside the reader’s mind and make you realize that you should take a look at the wider picture to complete the view before judging what you don’t have full knowledge about. Today; most people weigh any matter based on their own personal analogy; the end product is that according to today’s limits of civilized thinking, the prophet’s marriage to lady A’ishah was simply an expression of his perverted sexual desire, but the truth is far away from that. I shall continue discussing this issue in connection with the story of Prophet Muhammad’s marital life. To say the least, this marriage couldn’t have been issued forth from such an accusation.
Prophet Muhammad’s marital life:
Right in front the eyes of “Quraish” tribe of Makkah, Prophet Muhammad led a blame-free life. He was raised up as an orphan by his grandfather then his uncle. When capable; he worked as a shepherd for the cattle owners in Makkah. At his young age he was too poor to get married as early as his people were accustomed to. When he grew up to become a strong young man capable of traveling for months in the desert; he started accompanying his uncle in his trade-travels to Sham, and he gained the reputation of being “The truthful, the trustworthy” among his tribe. When he was twenty five; he was employed by Lady Khadijah Bint Khwailid who was a highly respected woman and caravan owner of great honor and fortune among Quraish. As a woman; she used to employ men to travel with her caravans to Sham. Quraish people were mostly trades people, so when lady Khadijah was informed of Muhammad; who had gained the best reputation for his truthfulness, great honesty and kind manners; she asked his uncle to let him travel with her caravans and she would give him double the rate of others. She also offered to send her hireling Maisarah with him to give him aid on the journey. The prophet agreed and went with her servant to Sham for trade.
Strange things happened during the journey. Maisarah reported that on passing by a monk’s hermitage in Sham, Prophet Muhammad stopped the caravan for rest and he sat under a tree taking shelter in its shadow, the monk watched him carefully then he asked Maisarah about him saying: “Who is that man sitting under that tree?” Maisarah answered: “This is a man from Quraish tribe from the sacred city” The monk replied: “The man under that tree is not but a prophet, is there some redness in his eyes?” Maisarah answered: “It never parts his eyes” The monk said: “That’s him; the seal of all prophets, and I hope that I would catch up with him when he is ordered to come out (i.e. preach the book revealed to him).” [Recorded by Ibn-Sa’d]. Maisarah also noticed that while traveling in the desert; whenever the sun’s heat increased; a cloud always threw its shadow upon the prophet P.B.U.H. protecting him from the sun.
When they returned to Makkah, lady Khadijah noticed that her profit was increased four times and more. Maisarah told her of the monk’s story and what he had noticed during the journey. He described to her the prophet’s good manners, honesty, deep thought and long meditation in the skies and mountains. She realized that this man wasn’t an ordinary man but a holy blessed person whom any sane woman would aspire to have him as her husband and sustainer. Many notable men had proposed to her after her second husband’s death, but since that she was a widow who took care of 3 children, and doubting those men’s real intentions; she always refused their proposals. She entrusted her wish of marrying Muhammad to her friend Nafisa.
Nafisa reported that she went to Prophet Muhammad and after a short talk with him, she succeeded in convincing him of proposing to Lady Khadijah signifying her admiration and certain consent if he proposed to her. Receiving the news with pleasure, Prophet Muhammad asked his uncle to go to Lady Khadijah’s uncle and ask him for her hand. Subsequently, they were married. There he was married for the first time when he was 25 years old to a 40 years old widow with children. He lived with Lady Khadijah; may Allah be pleased with her; for the next twenty five years without ever thinking of getting married again. This was his choice at a time when polygyny was normally practiced by most men of his tribe without any blame. The prophet and Lady Khadijah were blessed through their marriage by 4 daughters and 2 sons.
A few years before turning 40; the prophet used to withdraw and seclude himself in the Cave of Hira’; in one of the mountains surrounding Makkah. This desire of staying in seclusion visited him every year in the month of Ramadan. During that month; he used to devote his time to worship and the remembrance of his Creator. This continued until he started receiving revelations at the age of 40 and began preaching Islam. The prophet’s marriage to Lady Khadijah continued for 25 years until she died at the age of 65 after the siege of Muslims in the narrow passage of “Abu-Talib”. Prophet Muhammad’s companions called the year in which she died “The year of grief” for the grief they saw and felt on the prophet after her death.
Sheikh “Mufti Muhammad Shafi” in his commentary “Ma’aref Al-Qur’an” said: “The first five decades of his life, specially his younger years and, his youth, were all too visible to the people of Makkah. Nobody, not even an enemy, ever found an occasion to point an accusing finger at him regarding anything that could put his pristine piety and purity in doubt. His enemies tried whatever arrows they had in their quiver. They accused him of being a magician, a sorcerer, a poet, madman, liar, and fabricator. But, they never dared say anything, not one word, about his innocent life, about whatever could refer to any crookedness of extra-marital sex or passion.”
It was reported that at the conquest of Makkah; about 10 years after Lady Khadijah’s departure; the prophet P.B.U.H. was 60 by then, during the first night spent in Makkah; a lot of people who have embraced Islam were inviting the prophet to stay at their houses with persistency and the companions were asking him if he would stay in his old house, but the prophet answered in modesty with a longing voice: “Nay, but stretch me a tent beside Khadijah’s tomb.”
Lady A’ishah; herself reported that once when jealous from the feelings prophet Muhammad still had for the departed Lady Khadijah; she said: “You always remember her and she was nothing but an old woman whom Allah has given you in exchange of her who’s better.” The prophet replied in an honest burst of anger: “No, I swear that Allah hadn’t given me in exchange of her who’s better, she believed in my prophethood and embraced Islam when people disbelieved in me. She helped and comforted me in her person and with her wealth when there was none else to lend me a helping hand, and I was given from her my children and deprived having them from any other wife.” Lady A’ishah felt how she made the prophet angry so she said: “Ask Allah to forgive me O prophet of Allah.” But the prophet answered: “Ask Allah to forgive Khadijah first then I shall ask him to forgive you.” [Recorded by Ahmed]
Lady A’ishah also reported that: “Whenever the prophet slaughtered a sheep; he would say: ‘Send from its meat to Khadijah’s friends.’ When I asked him about that, he said: ‘I love whomever she loved’.” [Recorded by Muslim]
That jealous wife was lady A’ishah; the prophet’s youngest bride and the only virgin he ever married. The wife for whose marriage the prophet is accused by of being a rapist and a pedophile. The wife who has reported in many occasions after the prophet’s death that she was his most jealous wife, she said: “I never felt so jealous of any woman like I did from Khadijah although she passed away three years before the Prophet and I got married, the reason was that I heard him mentioning her too often.” [Recorded by Bukhari]
May Allah be pleased with Lady Khadijah. She was the first person to embrace Islam, the first one to stand by the prophet, the first one to comfort him and assure him that Allah won’t forsake him. By all means she was the best wife and the most faithful believer. She is mother for all Muslims; May Allah grant us the ability to earn and deserve such an honor.
Lady A’ishah’s marriage to Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H.:
After lady Khadijah’s departure; the companions sensed the prophet’s grief and sorrow for losing her, they hoped he would agree to get married again; may he find with the new wife the sympathy and compassion that would ease his sorrows. A woman among the prophet’s followers was chosen to talk to him; her name was Khawla Bint Hakim. She paid the prophet a visit and succeeded in convincing him to marry again. She named for him two females; Lady Sawda and Lady A’ishah. Lady Sawda bint Zam’a was among the first to embrace Islam with her husband. They immigrated to Abyssinia to escape the persecution of the Makkan pagans. When her husband died; she returned to Makkah. She was a poor widow with 6 children, and had no one to help her. Though she was an old lady at the time; older than the prophet himself by about 5 years; she was known of her merry spirit and sense of humor, this was the main reason behind nominating her for the prophet. Meanwhile; she was a pious woman who needed a husband to take care of her. The prophet asked Lady Khawla to visit her and ask her if she accepts him to be her husband. Lady Sawda accepted with pleasure. The Prophet’s marriage to Lady Sawda, whose race was black, demonstrated for all Muslims at an age of slavery that there is no racism in Islam and that all people; no matter what their color is; are equal in the eyes of their Creator. The only thing that makes one person better than the other is his/her piety and deeds. It’s worth mentioning here that the marriage of Lady Sawda was the first marriage ever accomplished by the prophet after Lady Khadijah’s departure, which should raise the following question: If the prophet’s marriages were as claimed “all for sex”, then why didn’t he start by choosing a young beautiful virgin instead of a woman who was older than him and described to be large and black but well known of being a virtuous pious woman?! I shall leave the answer for your intelligence.
As for the other nominee; Lady A’ishah, she was the youngest wife and only virgin ever married by the prophet. She was the daughter of his closest friend and faithful companion Abu-Bakr; who was the first man to embrace Islam. She was engaged to an idolater from Quraish who was waiting for her to be physically capable so that he can consummate the marriage. When the prophet P.B.U.H. asked her father for her hand; Abu-Bakr was honored, but meanwhile troubled. He didn’t want his daughter to marry a pagan, but according to the Arabs’ customs; he was embarrassed to break his word with her fiancé after accepting the engagement. Abu-Bakr asked the prophet to give him some time; thereafter he paid his daughter’s fiancé a visit and asked him whether he was still willing to marry A’ishah or not. For his surprise; the guy himself expressed his dissatisfaction in marrying a Muslim’s daughter in a cold manner breaking the engagement. Abu-Bakr immediately sent for the prophet and accepted his proposal. The engagement continued for three years until Lady A’ishah’s mother decided that she was physically capable to consummate the marriage. After this she moved to the prophet’s house and lived under his care till his death. Here; two logical questions should arise in one’s mind:
1. If the prophet was a pedophile; then why did he wait for three years after the engagement without consummating the marriage?!
2. If Lady A’ishah was still not ready; then why did her parents; specifically her mother; suddenly after three years of waiting; authorize the marriage if she saw that her daughter hadn’t reached a marriageable state yet?!
Lady A’ishah moved to the prophet’s house after immigration by about one and a half years; after the battle of Badr; and she was 9 years old at that time as reported in Bukhari. The battle of ‘Uhud took place after immigration by exactly two and a half years (30 months). Therefore she must have been 10 years old at the time of ‘Uhud.
The famous companion Anas Ibn Malik reported the following about that day:
“On the day of ‘Uhud, people were retreating from around the prophet P.B.U.H., and I saw A’ishah; the daughter of Abu-Bakr and Umm-Saleem, tucking up their sleeves transferring skins of water on the backs of their animals, and emptying them in the mouths of the people (i.e. the wounded), then returning to fill them up, and coming to empty them again.” [Recorded by Bukhari]
Jurisprudence books tell us that the volume of the water skins used in Hejaz during the prophet’s time was about 35 lt. of water. This means that the full water skin weighs 35 Kg. According to today’s measures; try to imagine a 10 years old girl bearing the burden of filling these water skins and bringing water for the wounded and the warriors on the battle field! She must have been a fully developed able bodied maid to do that task. Consequently; this means that she was as explained earlier; in no danger of getting married and this is why her mother authorized the marriage.
Also ‘Urwah Ibn Al-Zubair reported that lady A’ishah (his aunt) said: “It was the feast day, the Abyssinians were playing with their lances and armors inside the mosque; the prophet asked me: ‘Do you wish to watch them playing?’, I said: ‘Yes.’ So he made me stand behind him screening me (from the people’s site), and I stood leaning my cheek on his. He said: ‘Continue playing Abyssinians.’ I watched until I was bored, so he asked me: ‘Have you had enough?’ I said: ‘Yes’ and left.” [Recorded by Bukhari]
‘Urwah also reported that lady A’ishah said: “The prophet screened me with his garment while I watched the Abyssinians playing inside the mosque until I was the one who got bored, so esteem a young maid’s (excitement) when she watches entertainment.” [Recorded by Bukhari]
Other detailed narrations by [Bukhari, Nasaa’ee, Ibn-Hajar and others] explained that Omar was about to prevent the Abyssinians from playing inside the mosque, but the prophet P.B.U.H. told Omar to let them continue for it was a feast day. On entering from the mosque in to his house through the joining door; the prophet noticed lady A’ishah’s excitement to watch the games, he asked her if she wanted to watch, and she said yes; so he raised his hand beside him leaning on the door’s side and throwing his garment down from above his arm like a curtain; while lady A’ishah stood inside the house behind the garment; placing her chin on his shoulder, leaning her cheek on his cheek, and watching the games. Of course it’s obvious from Lady A’ishah’s description for herself that she was still a “young maid” excited to watch the games, but it should also be noted here that though she was young; she must have reached the limits of body maturity and attractiveness that could make the prophet P.B.U.H. feel jealous enough to screen her and prevent others from looking at her, which is further stressed by the fact that she was tall enough to place her chin on his shoulder and lean her cheek on his. The prophet was described to be neither extremely tall nor short among men, but to the tall ones closer.
Lady A’ishah was described in the history books indicate that she was tall, ruddy and beautiful. It was reported that; a short while after the prophet P.B.U.H. married Lady Hafsah, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab was informed by his wife that she was being a little disobedient to the prophet, so he went to visit her and said: “O daughter, never disobey the prophet, don’t be deceived by your neighbor’s beauty and that the prophet loves her (i.e. referring to A’ishah)” [Recorded by Bukhari]
What’s always misunderstood by non-Muslims and a little bewildering for many Muslims is that: The wording of the original narrations about Lady A’ishah’s age upon marriage are always understood in the sense that sexual intercourse was practiced; while the exact wording in Bukhari never mentions that, for the word used in Arabic which is “بنى” pronounced as “Bana” literally means that she moved to the building her husband prepared for her; to live under his care. This is different from the word “دخل” pronounced as “Dakhala” which means attain sexual intercourse. Consequently; she could have moved to the prophet’s house to live under his care, but he didn’t have sexual intercourse with her till her puberty was complete. This is stressed further by another narration also in Bukhari in which Lady A’ishah herself said: “When the prophet married me, my mother came to me and took me in to his house and no one looked after me ever since that morning except the prophet P.B.U.H.” This is a clearer narration given by Lady A’ishah herself emphasizing and explaining what she meant by the word “Bana”; stressing that she received the prophet’s care till the moment of his death. This make it crystal clear that she was never abused or mistreated in any way, on the contrary he took care of her in a way that was obviously appreciated by her in her own wording of the event. Their love towards each other was expressed by them both in many occasions. when the prophet was asked by ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Ass about the most beloved person to his heart among all Muslims, he answered saying A’ishah. ‘Amr said: “I meant Among men O prophet.” So the prophet said: “Her father.” Though Abu-Bakr was his closest companion since their youth, the prophet did not say Abu-Bakr, but he said “her father” in a way that emphasizes how much he loved her and found tranquility in her companionship.
History also proves that through this marriage the prophet P.B.U.H. succeeded in teaching Lady A’ishah and preparing her to become the most knowledgeable woman in the history of Islam. The companions, their followers and all Muslim scholars built many of their opinions on her reports and narrations. Even the elders of the companions asked her about jurisprudential issues after the prophet’s departure. Abu-Mussa Al-Ash’ary; the famous companion said: “Never did we (i.e. the companions) doubt a tradition and went consulting A’ishah; except that we found her having some knowledge about it.” [Recorded by Tirmidhi]
If you study Lady A’ishah’s history well; you will be amazed to find that more than 2000 narrations about the prophet’s deeds and teachings were reported by her. They cover a wide range of issues including the explanation of some verses in the Holy Qur’an, jurisprudential opinions, Islamic morals and manners, and the prophet’s life. The high ranked gift Lady A’ishah had in memorizing, narrating, teaching and explaining jurisprudential issues was a corner stone for Muslim scholars. Her students alone came to around 200 during her life. She was the beacon of religious knowledge for a period of forty eight years after the departure of the Prophet P.B.U.H., and because of her young age; she was highly effective in carrying his mission forward.
This was the wife whom the prophet requested to be nursed in her room when he sensed the approach of his death. The wife who had the prophet’s head between her hands leaning on her lap when he passed away. The wife described by the prophet as his most beloved person among all people. The wife who lived 48 years after the prophet’s departure teaching his followers how he lived and what he taught. The wife who narrated about 2210 of the prophetic teachings and traditions; and by that; she became the one who told the maximum number of the prophetic traditions among all of his family members. When she grew old, the companions’ sons and daughters used to visit her asking about issues related to their marital lives; as she was regarded a mother for them all. Once newly wedded young husbands went to her asking if they could kiss their wives while fasting (i.e. meaning that this could arouse or stimulate their sexual lust while they should be abstaining from sexual intercourse and concentrating on their worship), so she answered them saying: “The prophet used to kiss me while fasting, but who can control his sexual lust like the prophet of Allah did?” [Recorded by Muslim] Could this be how a raped child describes her rapist?! Read further her description of the man, the loving husband and friend whom she described to her students after his death, may you realize how unjust the accusation at hand is!
Lady A’ishah said: “The prophet P.B.U.H. had a shining face that shone like the moon, he was the most handsome among all people with the most shining cuticle, never had (I heard) anyone describing him except by comparing him to the full moon amidst the night, one would say: ‘We would look at the full moon and say he is more beautiful in our eyes.’ You can notice his anger and content on his face. When he was content or happy, his face was like a mirror reflecting light on your face, and when he was angry at something, the color of his face changed and his eyes reddened.” [Recorded by Abu-Na’eem in Dala’el Al-Nobowa]
“He had the most beautiful neck among all people, it was neither tall nor short, what appears to the sun from his neck looked like a silver jug with golden gangues sparkling with the whites of silver and the redness of gold, and what’s hidden under his clothes beneath his neck shone like the full moon.” [Recorded by Baihaqy and Ibn Asaker]
“The prophet P.B.U.H. had a broad hairless chest, like the mirror in its sternness and flatness, none of his flesh was flabby, and it was as shiny as the moon in its full night, his navel was connected to the upper part of his chest with short hairs led like a rod besides which; his belly and chest were hairless.”
“The prophet’s eyes were big and beautiful with black colored iris, his eye lashes were long and dense that they almost merged.” [Recorded by Baihaqy and Ibn Asaker]
“Whenever the Messenger of Allah was given the opportunity to choose between two affairs, he always chose the easiest and the most convenient. But if he were certain that it is sinful, he would stay as far away as he could from it. He never avenged himself; but if the sanctity of Allah was violated he would. That would be for Allah’s sake not for himself. He was the last one to get angry and the first to be satisfied. His hospitality and generosity were matchless. His gifts and endowments manifested a man who does not fear poverty.” [Recorded by Bukhari]
This was the description of the wife who reported that once when angry with the prophet; was given by him the choice of divorce or accepting to be his wife in this life and the next, she answered unhesitatingly: “But I choose you, messenger of Allah”, then she asked him not to tell his other wives of her response when he gives them the same choice, she was hoping to remain his only wife.
Would the previous be the answers or the deeds of a rapped child, or of a wife who loved her husband passionately?! Muslims ascribe the false accusation of pedophilia to the misunderstanding of the accusers.
A Different Opinion:
Some contemporary scholars and researchers made an argument that the traditions mentioning Lady A’ishah’s age upon marriage were weak and undependable. Many scholars were not convinced with this argument about her age; but for the sake of a complete honest study that can protect the researchers from confusion; and for the sake of clarifying the whole truth; these scholars stated the following argument:
1. The origin of all narrations in Bukhari that clearly state Lady A’ishah’s age upon moving into the prophet’s house; was the same famous follower named “Hisham Ibn ‘Urwah Ibn Al-Zubair”. He was the son of ‘Urwah Ibn Al-Zubair: Lady A’ishah’s nephew. Lady A’ishah died before he was born by about 4 years; and all of his narrations ascribed to her were as he himself stated; what he learned from his father. The dilemma here is that the narrations of Lady A’ishah’s age were all given by him in the last 10 years of his life; when his age was beyond 71 years old and after he immigrated to Iraq. These traditions were all reported by his Iraqi students. Though he was a very well known scholar and narrator of the prophetic traditions in Madinah; but yet through the decades he lived and taught in Madinah, none of his students there ever reported such narrations about Lady A’ishah’s age. Many great renowned scholars have learned from him in Madinah like Imam Malek Ibn ‘Anas; who is one of the most famous 4 jurists in the history of Islam, and the most famous jurist of Madinah. Imam Malek never reported any narration from Hisham regarding lady A’ishah’s age; though he was the first scholar to collect the prophetic traditions, and the sayings mentioned by the followers. He collected his book before Bukhari by more than 50 years.
Not only Malek in Madinah but also in Iraq itself; some of the most famous scholars didn’t report these traditions like Hammad Ibn Salamah and Hammad Ibn Zayd who were both among the 2nd century scholars and coevals of Hisham. Some famous scholars criticized Hisham’s narrations reported from Iraq like Abdul-Rahman Ibn Shaibah (died in 2nd century A.H.) who said: “Hisham was a trusted source, no one ever denied any of his reports except after he moved to Iraq, as he started confusing his narrations, and ascribed to his father narrations he heard from others.” Also Abdul-Rahman Ibn Kharash (died 283 AH) said: “I was told that Malek denied Hisham’s narrations to the people of Iraq and he didn’t approve on them.” He also said: “He visited Kufa (i.e. a famous city in Iraq) three times; in one he said: “I heard A’ishah”, in the second he said: “My father told me that he heard from A’ishah” And in the third visit he said: “My father heard from A’ishah.” And Abul-Hassan Al-Qattan said: “He (i.e. Hisham) changed before his death but we never noticed this on him earlier.”
All of the previous should indicate that upon his old age, Hisham could have narrated incorrect traditions out of confusion and forgetfulness.
2. If you were to read in Islamic history books you will find that people’s ages were never estimated for sure and have different opinions. Back then people didn’t keep records of birth-dates like we do today. Lady A’ishah’s age upon being engaged to the prophet varied. In a narration by Imam Muslim; it was seven, and in others it is six. Consequently; when you add the three years between the engagement and marriage, you will find that she could have been 9 or 10 upon moving to the prophet’s house. Some scholars like Ibn-Qutaibah (213-276 AH); who was a coeval of Bukhari narrated in his book “Al-Ma’aref” that lady A’ishah died after the immigration by 58 years at the age of 70. This means that when the prophet married her she was above 13.
3. Shams Al-Deen Al-dhahaby; the famous scholar; reported in his book “Seyar A’alam Al-Nubalaa” on the authority of Abdurrahman Ibn-Zenad (died 174 A.H.) who was among the students of Hisham Ibn-‘Urwah that: “Lady Asmaa’ was older than her sister lady A’ishah by 10 years.” It is mentioned in many traditions and history books that Lady Asmaa’ immigrated to Madinah after the prophet immediately and she was 27 at that time. This means that Lady A’ishah was over 18 when she moved in to the prophet’s house. This was further stressed by the knowledgeable historian Ibn-Kathir in his epic book “Al-Bedaya Wal-Nehaya” in Vol.8 where he stated that: “Lady Asmaa’ was older than her sister A’ishah by 10 years and she died in the year 73 after immigration at the age of 100”, which comes in parallel with Ibn-Zenad’s narration and means that Lady A’ishah was over 18 when she moved in to the prophet’s house.
4. The prophet P.B.U.H. didn’t allow it for those under 15 to join the army on the battle field, as came in Bukhari’s narration on the authority of Al-Bara’ Ibn-Malek that him and Abdullah Ibn-Omar were not allowed to join the army of Badr for they were still underage. It is known historically that Abdullah immigrated when he was above eleven and beneath twelve years of age. Al-Bara’ said: “We were deemed underage, me and Ibn-Omar on the day of Badr.” [Recorded by Bukhari] Also Ibn-Hajar Al-Askalany, in his book “Al-Esabah Fi Tamyeez Al-Sahabah”, stated the following about Abdullah Ibn-Omar: “It is an established fact that he (i.e. Abdullah) was 13 on the day of Badr. He embraced Islam with his father, and he was presented to the prophet on the day of Badr, but the prophet deemed him underage and sent him back home. On ‘Uhud’s battle the same thing happened, then on the battle of trench, the prophet allowed him to contribute, and he was 15 by then.” So, if the prophet didn’t allow boys under 15 to follow the army to the battle field; then how come that he allowed his wife; Lady A’ishah to join the army as a nurse on ‘Uhud when she was still 10? (This report has already been mentioned in the previous pages).
5. Al-Tabari; the famous historian; in his book “Tarikh Al-Rusuli wal Muluk” or (The history of prophets and kings) said the following: “In the pre-Islamic era, Abu Bakr married two ladies, the first of whom was “Fatilah” and he had two children from her: Abdullah and Asmaa’. He then married “Umm Ruman”, who gave birth to Abdurrahman and A’ishah. All these four were born before the advent of Islam” [Vol.3]. From this we understand that Lady A’ishah was born before the advent of Islam. Assuming her to be born only a few days earlier, and knowing that the immigration took place after the prophet hood by 13 years; and since that Lady A’ishah moved into the prophet’s house after immigration by one and a half years; then she must have been over 14 by that time.
6. Bukhari recorded that Lady A’ishah said: “I didn’t start realizing the events occurring around me during my childhood except after my parents were both Muslims. Every day the prophet visited us twice; once in the morning and once before sunset. Later on; when the persecution of the Makkan pagans reached its peak, Abu-Bakr decided to immigrate to Abyssinia…..” Commentators agree that this narration was referring to the second immigration to Abyssinia that took place in the 5th year after the advent of Islam; that was the year 8 B.H. Consequently; if Lady A’ishah was only 6 or 7 years old during that event, and she moved into the prophet’s house 1.5 years A.H., therefore; her age was: 8+6+1.5 = 15.5 at least when she moved into the prophet’s house.
What I have stated was no more than a verification to the fact that there are some differences between the narrations indicating the age of Lady A’ishah upon moving into the prophet’s house. But traditionists said that these reports were not strong enough to stand as evidence on the non-authenticity of the narrations reported by Hisham Ibn ‘Urwah. Whether they have consummated the marriage by attaining sexual intercourse at that time or not; is something that could never be known for sure, but all reported events from trusted sources including Bukhari prove that she was an early developer able bodied maid. Finally; all reports and narrations by Lady A’ishah herself totally refute the accusations or the idea of being abused or mistreated in any way by the prophet P.B.U.H. On the contrary they all prove in a manifest indisputable way that she loved him passionately; which – in my opinion – is what matters.
May Allah guide us all to the truth, Amen.
Finally; I would like to address all Muslims everywhere: The big difference in age between any married couple is neither a Sunnah nor a religious duty to defend or promote it. It’s not even mentioned anywhere in the Qur’an. You should realize that our time is different from the prophet’s time. More than 1400 years have elapsed, so please wake up. Nowadays; the closer the ages of the married couple; the easier they will be able to understand each other and succeed in conquering the problems they face in this mad life we’re living. So it’s okay to explain your faith and religion, but please don’t propagate wrong ideas in the process.
From: Islamic Methodologies Made Easy – ISBN: 9789779027395
By: Ehab Shawky Abd El-Khalek Ahmad