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> Hazrat Aishah Siddiqah's Age at Her Marriage
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Married Hazrat
Aishah When She was 19 Years of Age and not When
She Was 9.]
Accusations Answered > Relating to Islam > Hazrat Aishah Siddiqah's Age at Her Marriage [Proves that: The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Married Hazrat Aishah When She was 19 Years of Age and not When She Was 9.]
Aishah Siddiqah's Age at Her
[Note: Many anti-Islamic sites accuse our Beloved Holy Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, of , God Forbid, marrying a minor. We present here an article that will clear our Beloved Holy Prophet (pbuh) off this blasphemous charge. May Allah guide the opponents of Islam aright, Aameen!]
Most narrations carry misstatements about the age of Hazrat Aishah Siddiqah at the time of her marriage to the Holy Prophet, (peach and blessings of Allah be upon him). They place this marriage in the tenth year of the Call and state that Hazrat Aishah was only 6 years old at that time. On proper sifting of the material facts, these statements turn out to be incorrect and it becomes evident that she, in fact, was about 19 or 20 years of age when she arrived in the house of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as his wife in 2 A.H.
It will be in the fitness of things to quote from the writings of two well-known Muslim scholars of the present century who are the main exponents of the view that Hazrat Aishah Siddiqah was 6 years old at her Nikah and 9 years old at the time of the consummation of her marriage. Both Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi and Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi are well-known Muslim authors of Seerat (biography).
Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi writes on page 21 of his book 'Seerat-i-Aishah':
"Books of history and biography are generally silent about the birth date of Hazrat Aishah. The historian Ibn Sad, whom many later biographers have followed, has written that Hazrat Aishah was born in the fourth year of the Call, and was married at the age of 6 years in the tenth year of the Call. Apparently this cannot be correct, because if her birth in the fourth year of the Call be admitted as correct then her age at the time of her marriage in the tenth year of the Call works out to 7 and not 6 years. The fact remains that some matters about the age of Hazrat Aishah are admitted to be correct by most historians and biographers, and these are: She was married three years before Hijrah at the age of six years; the marriage was consummated in the month of Shawal in the year 1 A.H. when she was 9 years old, and she became a widow in Rabi-al-Awwal 11 A.H., at the age of 18 years. According to this account, the correct date of her birth works out to the end of the fifth year of the Call or 614 A.D. of the Christian calendar. For a proper comprehension of the events of history, one should bear in mind that out of a total period of 23 years of the Call, the first 13 years were passed in Mecca and the last 10 years in Madina. Thus, the fourth year of the Call had already been out before her birth and the fifth year was running."
In the article, "The Nikah Date of Sayedah Aishah," published in the 'Tarjuman al-Quran' of September 1976, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi wrote:
"It is apparent from the detailed reports of Imam Ahmad Tibrani, Ibn Jareer and Baihaqi that the Nikah of Sayedah Aishah was solemnised before the Nikah of Sayedah Saudah. It is also evident that her Nikah with the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was solemnised in the month of Shawal of the tenth year of the Call, three years before Hijrah, when she was 6 years old. Here a question arises, that if Sayedah Aishah was 6 years of age in the Shawal of the tenth year of the Call, then she should have been 9 years of age at the time of Hijrah and should have been of 11 years in 2 A.H. at the time of consummation. But all narrators agree that her Nikah was solemnised when she was 6 years old and the marriage was consummated when she was 9 years old. Some Ulema have tried to meet this discrepancy by saying that the marriage was consummated seven months after Hijrah. Hafiz Ibn Hajar has preferred this view. On the other hand, Imam Nauvi in his 'Tahzeeb al-Asmaa al-Lughat', Hafiz Ibn Katheer in his 'Al-Badaya' and Allama Qustalani in his 'Mawahib al-Deeniah' report consummation in 2 A.H. Hafiz Badr-ud-Din Aini has written in his Umdat al-Qari that the marriage of Aishah Siddiqah was consummated in Shawal 2 A.H. after the return of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from the battle of Badr. Both Imam Nauvi and Allama Aini consider the above-quoted reports of consummation of marriage seven months after Hijrah as irresponsible and untrustworthy. Thus we are faced with a question that if the marriage was consummated at the age of 9 years in Shawal 2 A.H., then what should be the date of Nikah which should tally with her age of 6 years? An answer to this question is found in Bukhari wherein it is reported from Urwah ibn Zubair, "Sayedah Khadijah died three years before Hijrah; the Holy Prophet solemnised Nikah with Sayedah Aishah two years after that. Then it was consummated at the age of 9 years." This works out to be correct that Nikah was solemnised one year before Hijrah when she was 6 years old and consummation took place in 2 A.H. when she was 9 years."
The above quotations amply bear out that both Syed Nadvi and Syed Maududi agree to the correctness of reports stating the age of Sayedah Aishah at 6 years at Nikah and 9 years at the consummation. Their only worry seems to be the calculation of the correct year of the Call and the Hijrah for fixing these ages in those calendar years. Both of them start with a preconception that the age of 6 years for Nikah and 9 years for consummation are correct and true, and set out in search of the correct year of the Call and Hijrah in which these preconceived ages will fit in. This hardly can be called a scientific method of finding her correct age. This rather may be called an effort to find a correct date for a given age.
As far as my information goes the first voice against the common misconception about the age of Sayedah Aishah at her marriage was raised by Maulana Muhammad Ali, M.A., LL.B., in 1924 in his 'Muhammad the Prophet', wherein he wrote:
"The popular misconception as to Aishahs age may be removed here. That she had not attained majority is clear enough, but that she was not so young as six years of age is also true. In the first place, it is clear that she had reached an age when betrothal could take place in the ordinary course and must therefore have been approaching the age of majority. Again, the Isabah, speaking of the Prophets daughter Fatimah, says that she was about five years older than Aishah. It is a well-established fact that Fatimah was born when the Kabah was being rebuilt, i.e., five years before the Call or a little before it, and so Aishah was certainly not below ten years at the time of her marriage with the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in the tenth year of the Call. This conclusion is borne out by the testimony of Aishah herself who is reported to have related that when the chapter entitled The Moon (the 54th chapter) was revealed she was a girl playing about and that she remembered certain verses then revealed. Now the fifty-fourth chapter could not have been revealed later than the fifth year of the Call, and therefore the report which states her to have been six years old in the tenth year of the Call when her marriage ceremony was gone through cannot be correct, because this would show her to have born about the time of the revelation of the 54th chapter. All these considerations show her to have been not less than ten years old at the time of her marriage. And as the period between her marriage and its consummation was not less than five years, because the consummation took place in the second year of the Fight, it follows that she could not have been less than fifteen at that time. The popular account that she was six years at marriage and nine years at the time of consummation is decidedly not correct, because it supposes the period between the marriage and its consummation to be only three years, while this is historically wrong."
Sulaiman Nadvi took Maulana Muhammad Ali to task (for his above-quoted view) in note 2 on page 26 of the third edition of his 'Seerat-i-Aishah' in the following words:
"Some irresponsible persons who think that the marriage with a girl of tender age was not befitting for the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) have tried to prove that the age of Hazrat Aishah Siddiqah at her marriage was 16 years instead of 6 years. All such efforts are useless and all such claims are illogical. Not a single word is the Hadith and history can be found in their support."
In spite of this severe criticism of Muhammad Alis view, Nadvi not only contradicts himself about the age of Hazrat Aishah, but provides supporting evidence to Muhammad Alis views when, writing about the last days of the life of Hazrat Aishah, he writes at page 111 of the same 'Seerat-i-Aishah': "Hazrat Aishah was a widow and she passed 40 years of her life as a widow." Further, at page 153 he writes: "The last days of Khilafat (Caliphate) of Amir Muawiyya were the last days of the life of Hazrat Aishah and her age at that time was 67 years." Now if we deduct 40 years of her widowed life from 67 years then we find she was 27 years of age at the time of the passing away of the Holy Prophet in 11 A.H. and not 18 years as reported by Nadvi in the earlier pages of the same book. Since the total period of the Call is 23 years, therefore, according to this account she was born about four years before the Call and not in the fourth year of the Call as Nadvi tried to make us believe in his earlier pages quoted herein above. Consequently, her age at the time of the Nikah in the tenth year of the Call works out to 14-15 years and not 6 years, as Nadvi himself so assertively reported. According to this account, Hazrat Aishahs age at the time of consummation of her marriage in 2 A.H. works out to 19-20 years and not 9 years as stated in earlier pages of Seerat-i-Aishah. A further enquiry is most naturally necessitated to find out which of the reports of Nadvi should be given credence.
There are other important events recorded in history which provide definite evidence about the age of Hazrat Aishah.
1. The well-known historian Ibn Jareer al-Tabari writes at page 50 of volume 4 of his 'Book of History': "Abu Bakr married two ladies in the days of ignorance (pre-Call era). Fateelah daughter of Abd al-Aza was the first, from whom Abdullah and Asma were born. Umm-i-Rooman was the second, from whom Abd al-Rahman and Aishah were born. All the four children of Abu Bakr were born in the days of ignorance (Jahiliyyah, i.e., pre-Islamic days) from the above-named two ladies.
2. It is a well-known fact of history, that Abu Bakrs son Abd al-Rahman fought against the Muslims in the battle of Badr. His age at that time was 21-22 years, and although he was older than Aishah, there is no evidence to show that the difference between their ages was more than three or four years. This fact lends support to the view that Hazrat Aishah was born four or five years before the Call.
3. The well-known historian and scholar Allama Imad-ud-Deen Ibn Katheer writes in his 'Al-Badayah' about Sayedah Asma daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) (and we hope Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi must have seen it as he referred to 'Al-Badaya' in his article): Asma died in 73 A.H. at the age of 100 years. She was ten years older than her sister Aishah. Now according to this report Asma would have been 27-28 years old at the time of Hijrah and since she was ten years older than Sayedah Aishah, therefore the age of Sayedah Aishah would have been 17 or 18 years at the time of Hijrah. Accordingly, her birth falls about four or five years before the Call, and her age at the time of the consummation of marriage in 2 A.H. will work out to 19-20 years.
4. The author of the well-known collection of Hadith 'Mishkat al-Masabeeh', Sheikh Waheed-ud-Deen, writes in his well-known book 'Ahmal fi Asma al-Rijjal':
"At the time of the consummation of her marriage Sayedah Aishahs age was not less than 18-19 years."
All the above quotations give ample refutation to the common misconception that Sayedah Aishahs age at the time of her Nikah was 6 years and at the time of consummation of marriage it was only 9 years. If Muslim scholars of the present era deem fit to make an objective research instead of beating the old track, they will find ample material in the pages of history to arrive at a correct age for Sayedah Aishah. This indeed would be a great service to the cause of Islam. Islamic Review, December 1980, U.S.A.