Revisiting Aisha’s age when she married the Prophet – Part 1
The biography and specified dates contained in the reference books provide an important response to the hadith’ of Bukhari and confirms that the daughter of Abu Bakr married the Prophet when she was eighteen year old.
It is due to such matters that Islam receives many stabs! It is from these disputable subjects that our beloved Prophet becomes the subject of many fabrications and accusations related to his wives and his relationships with women. Numerous stories about his marriages and dealings with women contain historical inaccuracies and lack of precision in connection with the narrations.
These are then exploited by many to attack Islam and discredit the beloved Messenger. Yet, the voices of our scholars remain silent despite their acquisition of factual replies and they restrict their efforts in belittling the critics and shedding doubt over their true intentions! Then, when the sensible voices attempt to defend the Prophet peace be upon him by showing the inaccuracies in many narrations that are the core of the attack on Islam, like the story of the marriage of Prophet PBUH to Aisha when she was nine years old, they are faced with the insurmountable obstacle of ascribing sanctity to the old jurisprudence curriculums and claims the books of Bukhari and Muslim to be infallible! As a result, all diligent attempts to correct these narrations, even when they are the subject of doubt, are rejected on grounds that all attempts of innovation, addition, omission, commentary or criticism are totally rejected!
Due to this logic, our scholars remain silent in the face of waves of attacks on Islam and its Messenger. One of the most widely circulated is the case of the narration in Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet PBUH while in his fifties married Aisha at the age of six and started having sexual intercourse with her when she was nine years old! This story has attained full immunity from criticism simply because it was narrated in Bukhari and Muslim, even though it contradicts everything there is to contradict! It contradicts the Quran, the authentic sunna, reason, logic, customs and the timeline for the events of the Prophet’s mission.
Based on the principle historical and biography of the Prophet’s mission such as (Alcaml- History of Damascus – History of Al-Tabari – The beginning and the end – The history of Baghdad, and many others), they all agree on the chronological order of events during the Prophet’s mission as follows:
According to these references, the mission of the Prophet started in Mecca where it continued for 13 years, after which it continued for 10 years in Medina. The start of the mission was in the year (610 AD) and the migration to Medina was in (623 AD).
The Prophet died in the year (633 AD) which was (10) years after he migrated to Medina. It is also agreed that the Prophet married Aisha (3) years before his migration to Medina which was in the year (620 AD). This was the (10) year after the start of the revelation when Aisha was (6) years old, then he started having sexual intercourse with her after 3 years and few months, which was at the end of the year (623 AD) when she was (9) years old. This implies that she was born in the year (614 AD) which was the (4th ) year of the revelation according to Bukhari. This is a great fallacy.
Historical criticism of the narration:
Historical accounts: All historical references state that Asmaa (sister of Aisha) was (10) years older than her sister Aisha. The same references agree unanimously that Asmaa was born (27) years before the migration to Medina. This means that Asmaa was 14 years old at the start of the revelation in (610) and Aisha was 4 years old. This means that Aisha was born in the year (606 AD).
We have seen that the Prophet married Aisha in the year (620 AD), which would make her (14) years at the time. It is also stated that the Prophet started having sexual intercourse 3 years and few months after the marriage which would be the end of the (1st) year after Hijrah and the beginning of the (2nd) year, which was the year (624 AD). If Aisha was born in the year (606 AD), then she would have been (18) years old when she started a full marital life with the Prophet.
The age of Aisha in relation to the death of her sister Asmaa: The same references unanimously confirm that Asmaa died after a well documented incident which was the death of her son (Abdullah bin Al-Zubair) by the hand of the famous tyrant Al-Hajjaj. This happened in the year 73 Hijri when she was 100 years old. If we subtract 73 from 100 we would know that Asmaa was 27 years old at the time of the Prophet’s migration to Medina which was start of the Hijri Calendar. Since Asmaa was 10 years older than Aisha, this makes Aisha 17 years old at the time of the migration. And since the Prophet started a full marital wife with Aisha at the end of the first year after Hijrah, then the age of Aisha would have been 17 + 1 = 18 years old when she was married.
This is also confirmed by (Al-Tabari) who asserts in his book (The History of Nations) that all the children of (Abu Bakr) were born in the days of the Jahilliyyah (the days before the revelation). This is consistent with the correct chronology and exposes the dubious nature of the narration in Bukhari. Aisha was indeed born in the fourth year before the start of the prophetic mission.
Criticism of the narration found in the books of hadith and biography:
•It was reported by (Ibn Kathir) in (The Beginning and the End) regarding the ones who were the early believers “Out of the women … Asmaa and Aisha who was a young girl. These believed in the years when the prophet was preaching secretly for fear of persecution.” This indicates that Aisha believed before the Prophet proclaimed the message in the open, which was in the 4th year of the revelation (614). This would refute the narration of Bukhari which states that Aisha was born in the 4th year of the revelation! Based on the account of Ibn Kathir, Aisha was born in the year 606 and was therefore 8 years old in the 4th year after the revelation, which fits with the chronological line of events.
•It was reported by Bukhari himself that Aisha said, “I have not known my parents except as believers. No day would pass without the messenger of God coming to us day and evening, then when the Muslims were afflicted Abu Bakr emigrated to Abyssinia.”
It is agreed among historians that the migration of Abu-Bakr to Abyssinia was in the 5th year of revelation. According to Bukhari, Aisha would have been only one year old in the 5th year of revelation. If Aisha was born in the 4th year of revelation, this would make her only 1 year old when her father emigrated, but she was aware of the visits of the Prophet to their home, which was before the 5th year, which means that when she said these words she must have been at an age to comprehend such events and not one year old.
•The following is reported in the book (Aisha) by Imam Ahmad, «When Khadijah died, Khawla daughter of Hakim and wife of Othman bin Mathoun said: ‘O Messenger of God, will you not get married?’ He said, ‘Who to marry?’ She said, ‘If you wish you can have either a virgin or a non virgin.’ He said, ‘Who is the virgin?’ She said, ‘The one who is the dearest to you of all God’s creation, Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr.’
From this dialogue it is obvious that Khawla was putting forward to the Prophet the option of marrying either one of two women who were of an age suitable for marriage, and not a child who is not yet ready for marriage. It is inconceivable that she was proposing to the Prophet a child of 6 years old for marriage. In addition, if she was proposing a child of 6 years old, would she need to describe her as a virgin, are not all 6 year old girls virgins?
•It was also reported by Imam Ahmad that Aisha used to be engaged to Jubair Bin Mutyim who was the son of Al-Mutyim Bin Udai who was a disbeliever.Abu Bakr, father of Aisha, would not have agreed to this engagement after the start of the revelation since this family were disbelievers.
This proves that Aisha was born before the revelation, and that Abu Bakr would not have seen much wrong in giving a promise of engagement of his daughter to a disbelieving man since at the time before the revelation all people (including Abu Bakr) were following the pagan traditions of Arabia.
After the start of the revelation, Abu Bakr, who was a man of his word, wanted to be absolved from his word, and he was able to do so without breaking his word as the decision to break up the engagement came from the other party.
•Entitled ‘The marriage of the Prophet to Aisha when she was a girl of nine years – A BLATANT LIE!’, this article was first published in the Egyptian Yawm Al-Sabai (The Seventh day) magazine of October 16, 2008
•It is narrated in the collection of Bukhari that Aisha said, ‘The following was revealed to Muhammad in Mecca while I was a child playing “Indeed, the Hour is their appointed time and the Hour is more disastrous and bitter.” It is unanimously agreed that Sura Al-Qamar, where we read these words, was revealed 4 years after the start of the revelation, which was the year 614. If we accept the false claim that Aisha was born in the year 614, it would mean that Aisha said the above words either before she was born or when she a newly born!
But according to the words of Aisha above, she was a child playing when this Sura was revealed in the year 614. In contrast, the correct account of Aisha’s date of birth of 606, would make her 8 years old when she said the above words, which fits in with the words “I was a child playing.”
•It was also narrated in the collection of Bukhari that the Messenger of God said, ‘No virgin is to be wed without obtaining her consent.’ They said, ‘And how is her consent affirmed?’ He replied, ‘If she is silent.’ The question here is: How could the honourable Messenger say one thing yet do the opposite? This is relevant considering that according to the other hadith by Bukhari he quotes Aisha saying that she was playing with dolls among the other girls and that no one asked her consent and permission to be married to the Prophet! Realistically speaking, how is it possible to ask a child about marriage when she does not understand the meaning of marriage in the first place! Even her approval at such an age would not be deemed legitimate since it would have been an approval without a guardian or adult.
Criticism of the chain of narrators in the hadith of Aisha’s age at marriage:
We find 5 chains of narrations of this hadith in Bukhari. Each account lists a chain of narrators ending with Aisha saying what was attributed to her. The interesting observation here is that we find one name repeated in all 5 narrations. This is the name (Hisham), and in this man rests the problem. The credibility of this man is suspect especially after he went to Iraq where his narrations of hadith became quite inconsistent and irregular.
As for the endeavour of scholars and hadith narrators, the first of which is Bukhari, to formulate such imaginary laws for the marriage of female minors, it was indeed a black page of the heritage pages. It is strange to find the Wahabi’s promoting such sick rules and justifying their outrageous claim by saying that in hot countries girls reach puberty at an early age!
Needless to say, these are the words of idiots and fools for the simple fact that the temperature in Saudi Arabia is still as hot as it were, and some researches make it much hotter today than it was 14 centuries ago, yet we do not see girls reaching puberty at such low ages in hot or cold countries!
The correct of Aisha when she married the Prophet was 18 years old and not 9 years old. The narration reported by Bukhari is simply a corrupt one. It violates the law of God, common sense, tradition and culture, and even other hadith! It also contradicts the chronological order of the events during the Prophetic mission. It is thus inconceivable and unjustified to elevate the words of Bukhari above the integrity of the beloved Messenger!
Islam is not to be monopolised by the early scholars and hadith narrators, nor related to their time only. It is our right and duty to evaluate their findings and criticise and also reject much of their findings which are found to be fabricated delusions! At the end of the day, these works are no more than human efforts and thus should never be granted sanctity or divinity.
•Entitled ‘The marriage of the Prophet to Aisha when she was a girl of 9 years – A BLATANT LIE!’, this article was first published in the Egyptian Yawm Al-Sabai (The Seventh day) magazine of October 16, 2008