Editor’s note: The excellent research below, by Mr. Islam Al-Buhairy, provides historic evidence for the correct age of Aisha when she married Prophet Muhammad. The research exposes the narration that claims her age to have been 9 years old at the time of marriage.
The marriage of the Prophet to Aisha when
By: Islam Buhairy
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 is 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:
1- Historical accounts: All historical references state that Asmaa (sister of Aisha) was (10) years older than her sister Aisha.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).
2- 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.
Criticism of the narration found in the books of hadith and biography:
1- 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 year of migration which fits with the chronological line of events.
2- 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.”
3- 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.’
4- 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.
5- 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!
6- 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!
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!