The Age of Aisha: A Controversial Topic
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Prophet Muhammad married Ayesha because there was darkness in the world at that time, and Ayesha was young and knowledgeable. This enabled her to learn everything directly from the Prophet and teach it to other women in a pure manner. During pre-Islamic Arabia, women were not given much respect. However, Prophet Muhammad married Ayesha to set an example that women can be knowledgeable and teach others. Ayesha also taught others, as evident from the Hadith. She was a female Islamic scholar during her time she narrated over 2,000 hadiths (sayings and actions of the Prophet) which are preserved in the collections of hadith literature.
Reference: Women in Pre-Islamic Arabia
Reference: Marriage in pre-Islamic Arabia
Prophet Muhammad’s Marriage to Aisha for Teaching Purposes
An individual needs to start learning something from the beginning to understand it well. If someone starts studying something 15-20 years later, they may not be able to understand and teach it to others before they pass away. That’s why Prophet Muhammad married Ayesha at the age of 9 so that she could learn everything while being with him and teach the same to others.
- The average age of death in a population. Estimates suggest that in a pre-modern, poor world, life expectancy was around 30 years in all regions of the world.
- Reference: Life Expectancy
- Reference : Life expectancy in the United States, 1860-2020
- Reference: Global life expectancy from birth in selected regions 1000-2020
The question may arise that Ayesha (R.A) did not die before the age of 30 or 40. However, it is important to note that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself did not know when he would die. Even the Prophet himself did not know when his death would come because God does not reveal certain things to any human or messenger, such as who will die when. This knowledge is only known to Allah.
Age of Consent Laws
Age of consent refers to the minimum age at which a person is considered legally competent to give informed consent to sexual activity. The specific age of consent varies from country to country, and even within different regions or states within a country.
Reference: Age of Consent Laws World History
Reference: Age of Consent by Country 2023
Marriage in Islam: Does the girl’s consent matter
📖Sahih al-Bukhari 6968
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A virgin should not be married till she is asked for her consent; and the matron should not be married till she is asked whether she agrees to marry or not.” It was asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! How will she (the virgin) express her consent?” He said, “By keeping silent.
- These Hadith emphasizes the importance of seeking the consent of a virgin girl or a matron (a woman who has been married before) before marrying her. It indicates that a woman’s agreement and consent are essential for a marriage to be valid and acceptable in Islam. Furthermore, the Hadith clarifies that a virgin girl’s silence is taken as an expression of her consent, as she may feel shy or hesitant to express her agreement verbally. However, it is essential to note that the silence should not be interpreted as a lack of consent or as a sign of unwillingness. The Prophet (ﷺ) made it clear that the girl’s consent must be sought explicitly before proceeding with the marriage.
These hadith indicates that Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Ayesha (R.A) was carried out with her permission, as he himself stated that it is necessary to seek women’s consent.
Prophet Muhammad’s Marriage to Aisha: Age and Context.
📖Sunan Ibn Majah 1877
The Prophet married Aishah when she was seven years old, and consummated the marriage with her when she was nine, and he passed away when she was eighteen.
- The question may arise as to why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) when she was seven years old. As previously mentioned, during the pre-Islamic era, it was was common for people to engage in practices such as selling their daughters for money. Therefore, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married Aisha at a young age to prevent her from being married off to someone else. It was possible that Aisha’s father may have changed his mind and married her off to someone else using his own free will.
Reasons for Delayed Consummation of Prophet Muhammad’s Marriage with Aisha
The fact that the marriage was consummated three years after the engagement has been interpreted in different ways. Some scholars suggest that it was due to Aisha’s young age and the need to wait for her to reach puberty, while others argue that it was due to various factors such as the Prophet’s busy schedule, the need to build a strong emotional bond with his wife, and the custom of waiting for the bride to mature before consummating the marriage.
Age of Puberty
The age of puberty is the onset of sexual maturation and reproductive development in humans. It typically occurs between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls.
Reference: Everything You Wanted to Know About Puberty
Age Difference in the Marriage of Prophet Muhammad and Ayesha
Many non-Muslims ask why Prophet Muhammad married Aisha when he was 53 years old. I have already provided some explanations above, but I am going to share a Hadith and further explanation. At the time of his marriage, Prophet Muhammad was not old; he was like a young and handsome. You can understand this by looking at today’s Bollywood or Hollywood actors or many people who are 50-60 years old but still looks like young. further Prophet Muhammad was a messenger of God, so it is important to understand that he was special and different from other human beings, This is supported by a Hadith that states that Prophet Muhammad was not old but he is old by age not by health or face, when he married Aisha.
Here are some of the Hadith:
📖Sahih al-Bukhari 3551
Narrated Al-Bara: The Prophet (ﷺ) was of moderate height having broad shoulders (long) hair reaching his ear-lobes. Once I saw him in a red cloak and I had never seen a more handsome than him.
📖Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 790
Abu’t-Tufayl said, “I was asked, ‘Did you see the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace?’ ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘and I do not know of any man left alive on the face of the earth except myself who saw the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.’ He went on, ‘The Prophet had white skin and a handsome face.
It may be inappropriate for me to use examples of actors to explain the Prophet Muhammad’s age, but I felt it was necessary to give an example. If any scholars believe that it is not appropriate to use examples to describe the Prophet, please feel free to contact me through email.
Prioritizing Allah and His Messenger over Parents
📖Sunan Ibn Majah 2053
“When the following was revealed: ‘But if you desire Allah and His Messenger, (ﷺ) the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) entered upon me and said: ‘O Aishah I want to say something to you, and you do not have to hasten (in making a decision) until you have consulted your parents.”‘ She said: “He knew, by Allah, that my parents would never tell me to leave him.” She said: “Then he recited to me: ‘ O Prophet (Muhammad)! Say to your wives: ” If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter.'” I said: ‘Do I need to consult my parents about this? I choose Allah and His Messenger.
- This hadith narrates that when a verse was revealed regarding the wives of the Prophet (PBUH), Aisha (RA) was told by the Prophet (PBUH) that she did not need to consult her parents before making a decision. The verse encouraged the wives to choose between the worldly life and following the path of Allah. Aisha (RA) chose to follow Allah and His Messenger without consulting her parents.
Ayesha: Was she a child or a woman
📖Sahih Muslim 1422 c
‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) married her when she was seven years old, and he 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 old.
- A bride is generally considered to be a woman who is getting married or who has recently been married. The term “bride” usually refers to a woman who has reached the legal age to marry and has attained the age of majority in her country. However, playing with dolls is not necessarily associated with a specific age, as there are many girls who continue to play with dolls in different ages.
📖Sahih al-Bukhari 6927
A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet (and when they were admitted) they said, “As- Samu ‘Alaika (Death be upon you).” I said (to them), “But death and the curse of Allah be upon you!” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “O `Aisha! Allah is kind and lenient and likes that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” I said, “Haven’t you heard what they said?” He said, “I said (to them), ‘Wa ‘Alaikum (and upon you).
- If Aisha (R.A) had been a child, she would not have responded to the Jews in that manner, and the Jews would not have greeted her in that way either. If she had been a child, people would have raised questions about the incident, and it would have been recorded in historical accounts. However, since she was a woman at that time, no questions were raised about the incident. Therefore, it is important to understand the context of the incident from the cultural and societal norms of that time, rather than judging it from a modern 21st-century perspective.
📖Sunan Abi Dawud 2578
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:
while she was on a journey along with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): I had a race with him (the Prophet) and I outstripped him on my feet. When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping.
- If Ayesha (R.A) had refused to marry, she would not have participated in the race and other events. This hadith clearly shows us that Ayesha (R.A) was a woman who participated in a race with Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, stop spreading hatred in society and refrain from blasphemy against our Prophet.
📖Sahih al-Bukhari 2880
On the day (of the battle) of Uhad when (some) people retreated and left the Prophet, I saw `Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Um Sulaim, with their robes tucked up so that the bangles around their ankles were visible hurrying with their water skins (in another narration it is said, “carrying the water skins on their backs”). Then they would pour the water in the mouths of the people, and return to fill the water skins again and came back again to pour water in the mouths of the people.
- The hadith clearly refers to Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Um Sulaim as women, who were seen by Anas bin Malik to be hurrying with their water skins to provide water to the injured and thirsty Muslims during the Battle of Uhud.
Ayesha’s Love for Prophet
📖Sahih al-Bukhari 3818
Narrated `Aisha: I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) as much as I did of Khadija though I did not see her, but the Prophet (ﷺ) used to mention her very often, and when ever he slaughtered a sheep, he would cut its parts and send them to the women friends of Khadija. When I sometimes said to him, “(You treat Khadija in such a way) as if there is no woman on earth except Khadija,” he would say, “Khadija was such-and-such, and from her I had children.
- This hadith highlights the deep love and respect that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had for his first wife, Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), and how he continued to honor her even after her death. However, it also shows the positive relationship between Ayesha and the Prophet, as Ayesha mentions her jealousy of Khadija, indicating her love and attachment to the Prophet.
Prophet Muhammad’s Love for Aisha
📖Sahih al-Bukhari 4358
Narrated Abu `Uthman:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) sent `Amr bin Al As as the commander of the troops of Dhat-us-Salasil. `Amr bin Al- `As said, “(On my return) I came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, ‘Which people do you love most?’ He replied, `Aisha.’ I said, ‘From amongst the men?’ He replied, ‘Her father (Abu Bakr)’. I said, ‘Whom (do you love) next?’ He replied, “`Umar.’ Then he counted the names of many men, and I became silent for fear that he might regard me as the last of them.
- This hadith shows the special place that Aisha held in the Prophet’s heart, and the depth of his love for her. This love is also evident in many other hadiths and stories about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Aisha, where he would spend time with her, seek her advice, and comfort her when she was upset. Their relationship serves as a beautiful example of love, respect, and companionship between a husband and wife in Islam.
📖Sunan Ibn Majah 1977
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that:
the Prophet said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.
- This hadith shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) placed a great emphasis on treating one’s spouse with kindness and respect, and he himself was a role model in this regard.
Islamic Perspective on Marriage and Age Requirements
And test the orphans [in their abilities] until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive in them sound judgement, release their property to them. And do not consume it excessively and quickly, [anticipating] that they will grow up. And whoever, [when acting as guardian], is self-sufficient should refrain [from taking a fee]; and whoever is poor – let him take according to what is acceptable. Then when you release their property to them, bring witnesses upon them. And sufficient is Allah as Accountant.
- This verse talks about the marriageable age of orphans and instructs that when an orphan reaches the age of marriage and shows good judgment and capability, their property should be released to them. This also implies that marriage cannot take place until the orphan reaches the age of marriage.
Age Limit for Marriage
Prophet Muhammad did not set a specific marriage age, nor did Allah set any age limit for marriage in the Qur’an. The age limit for marriage among Muslims is subject to change with the times.
In Islam, there is no fixed or universal age for marriage. Rather, it is determined by the cultural and social norms of a particular community or region, as well as any legal requirements set by Islamic rulers. These norms and laws have evolved over time and vary based on historical context and the changing roles and expectations of women. Therefore, it is important to understand the specific context in which these norms and practices related to marriage are operating, rather than making generalizations about Islamic beliefs and traditions.
Marriage Age Trends: A Historical Overview
|Time Period||Region||Average Age of First Marriage (Women)||Average Age of First Marriage (Men)|
|Middle Ages||Europe||7-12||14-16 (depending on region and social class)|
|16th Century||Europe||12-16||18 (depending on region and social class)|
|Colonial Period||United States||7-22||18-26 (depending on region and social class)|
|Pre-Independence||India||7-12||18-21 (depending on region and social class)|
|19th Century||Europe||12 (1850) – 16 (1900)||26-27 (depending on region and social class)|
|19th Century||United States||21 (1850) – 22.5 (1900)||20-30 (depending on region and social class)|
It is important to note that what was considered normal in society and the ages at which marriages took place varied between different regions, religions, and social classes. In the past, these ages were considered acceptable for marriage, but today we refer to them as child marriages. It’s important to recognize that societal norms and values change over time, and what was once acceptable may not be acceptable now. Therefore, we cannot compare past practices to those of the present
Historical Accounts of Child Brides
Reference: List of child bridegrooms
Reference: List of child brides
- It is important to understand that comparing people of different times and places is not always accurate or fair, as cultural, societal, and technological changes can greatly affect human behavior and norms. It is also important to recognize that people from the past had different experiences and circumstances that shaped their lives, which can make them significantly different from people of today.
Child Bride in Bible Old Testament
Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every little girl who has never slept with a man.
- The phrase ‘save for yourselves’ in Numbers 31:18 means that the virgin girls were to be taken for themselves as wives or concubines
The Age of Mary at the Birth of Jesus
Mary was around 12-13 years old when she gave birth to her son Jesus. According to the Bible (Matthew 1:18), Mary was found to be pregnant through the Holy Ghost. Jesus lived in this world for 33-36 years and was then killed by the Jewish people. According to Christian belief, Jesus died and was cursed by the God of Moses (Galatians 3:13). Therefore, the total age of Jesus’ mother would be 13+33=46 or 13+36=49 years. After Jesus left the world, Christian scholars say that his mother, Mary, lived for another 15 years. So, the total age of Mary would be 46+15=61 years or 49+15=64 years. She died at the age of 62-64.
Reference: The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Anne Catherine Emmerich (Chapter XVIII: The Death of Mary)
Reference: Did St. Joseph Have a First Wife Named Melcha? on Catholic.com
Reference: Mary, Mother of Jesus on New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
Child Bride in Hinduism
In the Skanda Purana, specifically in the Rava Khanda, Chapter 142, that mentions Rukmini being eight years old at the time of her marriage to Krishna. This chapter describes the greatness of Rukmini Tirtha, which is a sacred place associated with Rukmini.
Reference: The Greatness of Rukmini Tirtha
- It is important to note that Krishna married more than 16,000 women and had ten children with each of his wives. However, the exact age of his wives is unknown.
Reference: Shri Krishna’s Multiple Wives
The Age of Sita’s Marriage
The Skanda Purana, a text in Hindu mythology, mentions that Sita was only six years old when she got married to Rama
Reference: The Marriage Age of Ram and Sita in Hinduism
Declaration of the marriage age in Hinduism
A person of thirty years of age should wed a girl of ten years of age called a Nagnika. Or, a person of one and twenty years of age should wed a girl of seven years of age.
- Reference : Mahabharata13.44.13
📖Manusmriti Verse 9.94
A man thirty years old shall marry a charming maiden twelve years old; or one twenty four years old, a damsel eight years old; in the event of his duties suffering, he may do it sooner.
- Reference ; Manusmriti Verse 9.94
- Aisha’s Age: A Controversial Topic in Modern Times
- Aisha’s Age: The Debate and its Implications for Interfaith Dialogue.
- The Age of Aisha: An Interpretation of Islamic Texts
- Aisha’s Age and its Cultural Significance
- Was Aisha Really a Child Bride?
- Aisha’s Age: Historical Context and Interpretations
- Debunking Myths About Aisha’s Age
- The Age of Aisha: Understanding the Debate
- Aisha’s Age: A Source of Controversy
- Aisha’s Age: An Analysis of Societal Norms and Values