By Husain A Nuri
Aishah was one of the wives of Prophet Muhammad(s). How old was Aishah when she was engaged or married to the Prophet(s)? Was she six years old, nine years old, or in her teens? Because of some misleading Islamic writings and a false hadith, people now believe the Prophet(s) married Aishah when she was 6-year old!
Muslim scholars are to be blamed for their writings and teachings that Aishah (ra) was six years old when she was engaged.
They do not care to research, analyze the information, and study the facts. They are busy in blindly following untruth. Their uncharacteristic support for this wrong information brought much shame to Islam and defamed Nabi Muhammad (S).
To them, this false hadith statement is absolute, even if goes against the teachings of the Qur’ān, even if it portrays Islam in a poor light, and even if it maligns Nabi Muhammad (S). Below I am discussing only a few pieces of evidence to prove that Aishah (ra) was not six years old when she was engaged and she was not nine years old when she lived with Nabi Muhammad (S).
Please note that there are many more evidences to prove the falsity of the popular notion. In the year 620 C.E., Muhammad(s) was 50.
It is true at the age of 50, he married Aishah and began to live with her when he was 53. The question is whether Muhammad(s) was cohabiting with a nine-year-old child? Could Muhammad(s) violate the Qur’ānic prohibition of child marriage stated in verse 4:6?
If Aishah (ra) was six years old when the engagement took place, then she must have been born in the year 613 C.E. If this alleged birth year is investigated and analyzed with evidences, the falsity will become clear. At-Tabari, a famous scholar and commentator of the Qur’ān, states that all four of Abū Bakr’s children were born during the pre-Islamic period.
Abū Bakr was Aishah’s father. The Islamic period began in 610 C.E. Therefore, by at-Tabari’s statement, Aishah was born before 610 C.E.—in the year 609 C.E or a few years earlier. If we consider she was born in 609 C.E., then she was at least 14 years old when she began to live with the Prophet(s). Let us investigate further.
The Prophet’s youngest daughter, Fātimah was born in 635 C.E., Some biographers say Fātimah was five years older than Aishah. If this is true, then Aishah was born in 640 C.E., the year the Prophet(s) received the first divine revelation.
At that time he was 40 years old. Therefore, at the time of his engagement to Aishah, she was ten years old and at the time of the actual marriage, she was 13 years old. But this needs further investigation.
Let us analyze further. Asmā’ was Aishah’s elder sister. According to all historians, Asmā’ was 10 years older than Aishah. Asmā’ lived for 100 years and died in the year 692 C.E.
Her death is well documented because by that time the Islamic calendar was fully established and events were being recorded fairly accurately. Working backward from the year of death, Asmā’ was born in 592 C.E. Therefore, Aishah was born in 602 C.E.
This finding is in agreement with at-Tabari’s statement that all four of Abū Bakr’s children were born during the pre-Islamic era. If this finding is correct, then Aishah was 17 years old at the time of her engagement and 20 years old when she lived with the Prophet(s).
On two occasions, two of the Prophet’s close companions asked for Fātima’s hand in marriage. On both occasions, the Prophet(s) rejected the proposals. At that time Fātima was in her teens.
The Prophet(s) himself was not in favor of giving his teenage daughter in marriage to a companion equal to his own age, so how could he himself volunteer to marry a child? This analysis further indicates that Aishah was not six years old at the time of her engagement.
No sane person would agree to marry his or her six-year-old child to a man 50 years of age.
We have to ask some serious questions: is it possible that the Prophet(s) knowingly proposed to a six- year-old child, and actually lived with her when she was nine years old? Is it possible that he would set such an example? The issue has serious repercussions in the Muslim world, so we must seek guidance from the Qur’ān.
The Qur’ān contains the best guidance and the best teachings. Islam does not provide a specific age for marriage, either for a man or a woman.
However, the age of marriage is stated to be when one has reached “maturity.” The marriageable age for girls is explained in another verse by using the term fatāya meaning “young woman.” At this stage, the girl has attained puberty or sexual maturity.
The purpose of this analysis is to show that the marriageable age for a man or a woman is when he or she reaches maturity. In Islam, the marriageable age is never in the pre-puberty stage.
For girls, more specifically, marriage is never in the pre-menstruation age. During medieval periods, many countries practiced child marriage.
In many Muslim societies, the practice was common, however, this was not Islamically correct.
It is not possible that Prophet(s) would set the wrong example by marrying a six or nine-year-old girl.
There are a number of other historical pieces of evidence to prove that the Prophet(s) married Aishah (ra) when she was 16 and lived together when she was 19.
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This is an excerpt from the book titled “Islam: Faith and Practice Explained” by Husain A. Nuri