Critics of Islam repeatedly claim that Hazrat Aisha was not mature when the Holy Prophet of Islam married her. However, nothing can be further from the truth.
AMIR AZIZ AHMEDI, KOLKATA
NOVEMBER 7, 2020
There is a stark misunderstanding and abject misrepresentation of facts when it comes to the actual age of Hazrat Aishara at the time of her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa. Critics across various platforms and social media have raised a hue and cry mocking a perfect model of moral virtues, whose excellence has been acknowledged by friends and foes alike.
A lot of mischief-makers on the social media platform have taken advantage of some of the traditions without acknowledging the fact that the sayings of these people on this subject contradict each other multiple times to a level of confusion.
In this article, we intend to dissect the baseless allegation that Hazrat Aishara had not reached the age of maturity at the time of her marriage with the Holy Prophetsa, and present facts that will open the eyes of blasphemers, critics and honest seekers alike.
Non-Reliability of the six-year narrative
Most of the historians who support the view of Hazrat Aisha’s early marriage rely upon narrations in Bukhari and other books of traditions in which Hazrat Aishara reportedly had stated that she was a girl of six years at the time of marriage and nine years at the time of consummation.
Hence, it is often argued why these reports from authentic sources, as well as Hazrat Aisha’s own account, are ignored when it comes to calculating her correct age. This argument warrants special addressing.
The fact is that these narrations asserting the age of Hazrat Aisha to be six years at the time of marriage and nine years when she entered the household of the Holy Prophetsa do not hold true when examined in the light of established historical facts.
Incompatibility with the Holy Prophet’s marriage timeline: It is accepted by most historians that the Holy Prophet’s Nikah- the formal announcement of the marriage- with Hazrat Aishara took place in the month of Shawwal in the 10th year after prophethood. Similarly, he consummated this marriage in the month of Shawwal in the second year after migration.
Given these facts, one can easily calculate that a period of full five years has elapsed between the Holy Prophet’s Nikah and marriage with Hazrat Aisha. Hence, it is obvious that the reports of her age being six and nine years in no way conform to these established historical facts, and thus, cannot be relied upon.
Moreover, the narrative of six years is itself not definite. Hence, there is a discrepancy between her age being six years and seven years at the time of Nikah, which points to the ambiguity of the narrative and suggests that any of the narrators would possibly have erred in accurate narration.
Hazrat Aishara was already engaged: Hazrat Aishara was engaged to the son of Mut’im bin Adiyy prior to her engagement to the Holy Prophet. This clearly suggests that Hazrat Aishara had already reached the age of marriage at that time and was not six years old.
Revelation period of Surah Al-Qamar: Sahih Bukhari records a narration from Hazrat Aishara in which she says:
When the verse, “Aye, the Hour is their appointed time; and the Hour will be most calamitous and most bitter” was revealed to Muhammadsa at Mecca, I was a playful young girl.
The mentioned verse is from Surah al-Qamar. Reports suggest that Surah al-Qamar was revealed in the fifth year after prophethood, i.e. 614 CE. It is known that Hazrat Aisha started living with Prophetsa in 2 AH, i.e. 624 CE. If she was 9 years old at that time, then she would not even be born at the time when Surah al-Qamar was revealed.
Now, even if Surah al-Qamar is assumed to have been revealed later by one or two years as some other reports suggest, still Hazrat Aisha would be a child below 2 years of age, an infant not capable of remembering such details.
Apart from this, other traditions and historical details also cast doubt on this narrative. There are generally two perspectives that nullify the reports which imply her age to be six and nine years.
First Perspective: Age of 18 years or more
Many historians report that Hazrat Aisha was ten years younger than her elder sister Hazrat Asma. Two acclaimed historical books namely Tahdhib-al-Tahdhib and Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya report that Hadhrat Asma died at the age of hundred in 73 AH.
Calculating from this, it becomes evident that Hadhrat Asma was about 27 or 28 years of age at the time of the Prophet’s migration to Medina. This puts Hazrat Asma at the age of 28 or 29 at the time of Hazrat Aisha’s marital consummation, which occurred in 2 AH. All of these facts indicate that Hazrat Aishara should have been 18 or 19 years of age at the time when her marriage was consummated.
Although this perspective makes more sense historically than the nine-year narrative, it still cannot be said that this is the most accurate understanding of Hazrat Aisha’s age.
Second Perspective: Age of around 14 years
Another perspective is that Hazrat Aishara was around 14 years of age when her marriage was consummated, which seems to be the most accurate understanding in this regard. There are many pieces of evidence from history that almost assert this fact to a level of certainty.
First evidence: Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history reports that Hazrat Abu Bakrra had four children and all four were born during the pre-Islamic period. If Hazrat Aishara was born before Islam, her age could not have been less than 14 years in 2 A.H.
Second evidence: According to Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Hazrat Fatimara was five years older than Hazrat Aisha. Hazrat Fatima is reported to have been born when the Holy Prophetsa was 35 years old. The Holy Prophetsa migrated to Medina when he was 52, making Hazrat Aisha 14 or 15 years old in 2 A.H.
Third evidence: A narration regarding Hazrat Aisha’s participation in the battle of Uhud can be found in Sahih Bukhari, which is as follows:
Hazrat Anasra reports, on the day of Uhud, people could not stand their ground around the Holy Prophetsa. On that day, I saw Aishara and Umm-i-Sulaimra that they had pulled their dress up from their feet to avoid any hindrance in their movement.
The Holy Prophetsa had not permitted Ibn Umarra to participate in the same battle because of his young age. Hence, it is reported:
Ibn Umarra states, the Holy Prophetsa did not permit me to participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was fourteen years old. But on the day of Khandaq, when I was fifteen years old, the Prophetsa allowed me to join.
Hence, children below 15 years were not allowed to participate in the battle of Uhud while Hazrat Aishara participated in it, which clearly indicates that she was at least 15 years or older at that time and 14 years or older when she joined the Holy Prophet’s household.
All of these proofs shatter the misconception that the Holy Prophetsa married Hazrat Aishara when she had not reached the age of maturity.
It is an acknowledged reality that the onset of maturity or puberty fluctuates based on many factors. Similarly, we find different acceptable ages of marriage throughout history, and the time factor and its contemporary practices should be the primary guidelines instead of comparing an event on a completely different time scale and culture in order to fit and justify one’s prejudiced interests against a particular faith just owing to sheer malice.
The fact is that the marriage of the Holy Prophet of Islam with Hazrat Aisha was a perfectly suitable marriage with the consensus of both parties including the parents of Hazrat Aisha as she had reached an age of maturity. Most of the traditions and references that are quoted about her age being less than 10 years or even lower are completely contradictory and unreliable as already explained.
None of the contemporaries or staunchest critics of the time of the Holy Prophetsa ever raised this allegation despite challenging and opposing him on various fronts. Hence, it would be in the best interest of the critics of today to avoid such nonsensical dialogue and adopt dignity in discourse and criticism such that their own credibility stands at a position worthy of acceptance.
The author holds a Master’s degree in English and is also a Management Post Graduate. Currently, he serves as the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya), Kolkata chapter.
 Tabaqat al-Kubra by Ibn Sa’d, vol. 8, p. 271 (First edition 1996)
 Sharh Allama-al-Zarqani Alal-Mawahib al-Ladunniyyah by Allamah Shihabuddin al-Qustalani, vol. 4, p. 383, Aishah Ummul-Muminin, Darul-Kutubil-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)
 Sahih Muslim, kitab al-nikah
 Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, baqi musnad al-ansar
 Sahih Bukhari, kitabu’l-tafsir
 The Bounteous Koran by M.M. Khatib (1985)
 Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, vol. 2, p. 289 (Beirut: Muassasat-al-Risalah, 1992)
 Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya, vol. 8, p. 371-372 (Al-jizah: Dar-al-fikr al-arabiyy, 1933)
 Tarikhu’l-umam wa’l-muluk, Al-Tabari, Vol 4, Pg 50, Arabic, Dara’l-fikr, Beirut, 1979
 Al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, vol. 8, p. 263
 Bukhari, kitabu’l-jihad wa’l-siyar  Bukhari, kitabu’l-maghazi
Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Aisha_bint_Abi_Bakr.png