What Was The Age of Ummul Mo'mineen Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with
her) When She Married To Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)?
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Some people believe that Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) was nine
years old at the time of her marriage with Mohammad (peace be upon him)
The age of Ayesha (ra) has been grossly mis-reported in the ahadith.
Not only that, I think that 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 an unlikely happening. Let us look
at the issue from an objective standpoint. My reservations in accepting
the narratives, on the basis of which, Ayeshas (ra) age at the time of
her marriage with the Prophet (pbuh) is held to be nine years are:
- Most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn `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.
- It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `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
ibn 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 Medinah for seventy one years.
- Tehzibu'l-tehzib, one of the most well known books on the life and
reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh)
reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah: "narratives reported
by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people
of Iraq". It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those
narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq. (vol
11, pg 48 - 51)
- Mizanu'l-ai`tidal, another book on the narrators of the traditions
of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that when he was old, Hisham's memory
suffered quite badly. (vol 4, pg 301 - 302)
- According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born
about eight years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative
in Bukhari (kitabu'l-tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said that
at the time Surah Al-Qamar, 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 (ra) 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 ibn `urwah. I see
absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives
of Hisham ibn `urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be
- According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) 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. Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle
of Badr and Uhud clearly indicate 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 almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister
of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported
in Taqri'bu'l-tehzi'b as well as Al-bidayah wa'l-nihayah that Asma (ra)
died in 73 hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma
(ra) was 100 years old in 73 hijrah she should have been 27 or 28 years
old at the time of hijrah. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the
time of hijrah, Ayesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that
time. Thus, Ayesha (ra), if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or
2 AH, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.
- Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr
(ra) reports that Abu Bakr had four children and all four were born
during the Jahiliyyah -- the pre Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha
(ra) was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less
than 14 years in 1 AH -- the time she most likely got married.
- According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam
quite some time before Umar ibn Khattab (ra). This shows that Ayesha
(ra) accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative
of Ayesha's (ra) marriage at seven years of age is held to be true,
Ayesha (ra) should not have been born during the first year of Islam.
- Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr planned on migrating
to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mut`am -- with whose
son Ayesha (ra) was engaged -- and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in
his house as his son's wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced
Islam, and subsequently his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha
(ra) was only seven years old at the time of her marriage, 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 (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also
a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.
- According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the
death of Khadijah (ra), when Khaulah (ra) came to the Prophet (pbuh)
advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding
the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: "You can marry a
virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)".
When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed
Ayesha's (ra) name. 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. The correct word for a young playful
girl, as stated earlier is "Jariyah". "Bikr" on
the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady, and obviously a nine
year old is not a "lady".
- According to Ibn Hajar, Fatimah (ra) was five years older than Ayesha
(ra). Fatimah (ra) is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh)
was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct,
Ayesha (ra) 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.
These are some of the major points that go against accepting the commonly
known narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) age at the time of her marriage.
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 (pbuh) marry Ayesha
(ra) 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.
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