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Answers to objections regarding the age of Hadhrat Aaisha (RadiyallahuAnha) at the time of her marriage

Answers to objections regarding the age of Hadhrat Aaisha (RadiyallahuAnha) at the time of her marriage“Of all the world’s great men none has been more maligned than Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam)” William Montgomery Watt.

“Of all the world’s great men none has been more maligned than Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam)” William Montgomery Watt.

There has long been criticism levelled against Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) by orientalists and non-Muslims regarding his marriage to Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) who was very young at the time of Nikaah – 6 years of age and 9 years of age at the time of consummation of the marriage. Many ignorant Muslims have also been duped by this criticism.

As a result of this, a group of Muslims have become “apologetic” and have tried to disprove these ages of Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) and have claimed that her age might have been higher, going up to 18 and 19 years.

However, Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) herself has stated that Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) married her when she was 6 and consummated the marriage when she was 9. This Hadith appears 3 times in Bukhari Sharif (#5133, #5134 and #5158), twice in Muslim Sharif (#3544 and #3545) and once in Abu Dawood Sharif (#2123). Other narrations and objections cannot compare or hold weight against these narrations and unless 9 has another meaning her age had to have been 9. Nevertheless, we will attempt to answer some of these objections, Insha Allah.

Objection One: “According to a number of narratives, Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) accompanied the Muslims in the Battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in the books of Hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 was allowed to participate in the Battle of Uhud. All the boys below the age of 15 were sent back. (Bukhari)  Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha)’s participation in the Battle of Badr and Uhud is a clear indication that she was not 9 or 10 at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battlefield to help them, not to be a burden on them.”

Answer: Firstly, the prohibition applied to combatants. It did not apply to non-combatant boys or to non-combatant girls and women. Secondly, Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) did not participate in Badr at all, but bade farewell to the combatants as they were leaving Madinah Munawwarah, as narrated by Imam Muslim (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) in his Sahih. On the occasion of Uhud (3 A.H.), Hadhrat Anas (Radiyallahu Anhu), who at the time was 12 or 13, reports seeing an 11 year old Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) and his mother Hadhrat Umm Sulaim (Radiyallahu Anha) having tied up their dresses and carrying water in skin-bags, back and forth to the combatants. [Imam Bukhari (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) and Imam Muslim (Rahmatullahi Alayhi)].

Objection Two: “According to almost all the historians, Hadhrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha), the elder sister of Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha), was 10 years older than Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha). It is also reported in Taqribut Tahzib as well as Al Bidayah wan Nihayah that Hadhrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) passed away in 73 A.H. when she was 100 years old. Now obviously if Hadhrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) passed away in 73 A.H. she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrat. If Hadhrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) was 27 or 28 years old, Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, if Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) got married in 1 A.H. or 2 A.H., she would have been between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage. ”

Answer: Hafiz ibn Katheer (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) based this statement on the assertion of ibn Abiz Zinaad (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) that Hadhrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) was 10 years older than Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha). However, Allamah Zahabi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) states in Siyaru A’laamin Nubala’ that there was a greater difference than 10 years between them, up to 19 years. In this regard, Allamah Zahabi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) is more reliable. Hafiz ibn Hajar (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) also reports in Al Isabah from Hisham bin Urwa, from his father, that Hadhrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) did live 100 years, and from Abu Nuaim Al Isbahani (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) that Hadhrat Asma bint Abi Bakr (Radiyallahu Anha) was born 27 years before hijrat. And she lived until the beginning of 74 A.H. This, however, is no indication of the age of Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha).  Al Bidayah wan Nihayah also states that the Nikah of Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) to Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) took place when she was 6 years old and the consummation of the marriage took place when she was 9 years old ( Vol.8 Pg.91)   

Objection Three: Allamah ibn Jarir At Tabari (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) has stated in Tarikhul Umam wal Muluk, while mentioning Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu), that Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) had four children. Additionally, all four were born during the period of jaahiliyyah – the pre-Islamic period. Obviously if Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha( was born in the period of jaahiliyyah, she could not have been less than 14 in 1 A.H., at the time of her marriage.

Answer: The statement of Allamah Tabari (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) that: “The 4 children of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) were born in jaahiliyyah”, has been misinterpreted. The correct interpretation of this statement is that Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anha) married the mothers of his four children in jaahiliyyah. The two mothers being, Qutayla bint Saad and Umm Ruman (Radiyallahu Anha), who both bore him 4 children in all ... 2 each. Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) was the daughter of Hadhrat Umm Ruman (Radiyallahu Anha).  

Objection Four: According to Hafiz ibn Hajar (Rahmatullahi Alayhi), Hadhrat Faatima (Radiyallahu Anha) was 5 years older than Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha). Hadhrat Faatima (Radiyallahu Anha) is reported to have been born when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyalllahu Anha) could by no means be less than 14 years old at the time of hijrat, and 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage.

Answer: Hafiz ibn Hajar (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) has mentioned two versions in Al Isabah: “Imam Al Waqidi’s narration that Hadhrat Faatima (Radiyallahu Anha) was born when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was 35; and Hafiz ibn Abdil Barr (Rahmatullahi Alayhi)’s narration that Hadhrat Faatima (Radiyallahu Anha) was born when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) was 41, approximately one year more or less after Nubuwwat and about four or five years before Hadhrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha). The latter matches the established dates.

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