Aisha's Age

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Mohammed and his wife Aisha freeing the daughter of a tribal chief. From the Siyer-i Nebi

Aisha (‘Ā’ishah, c. 613/614 –c. 678)[1] or عائشة, (also transliterated as A'ishah, Aisyah, Ayesha, A'isha, Aishat, or Aishah) was married to Muhammad at the age of 6 or 7, and the marriage was consummated by Muhammad, then 53, when Aisha was aged 9 or 10 according to sahih hadith tradition.[2][3][4][5][6] Due to concerns about child marriage this topic is of heavy interest in the apologetic literature and public discourse.

Marriage at a young age was not unheard of in Arabia at the time, and Aisha's marriage to Muhammad may have had a political connotation, as her father Abu Bakr was an influential man in the community.[7] Abu Bakr, on his part, may have sought to further the bond of kinship between Muhammad and himself by joining their families together in marriage via Aisha. Egyptian-American Islamic scholar, Leila Ahmed, notes that Aisha's betrothal and marriage to Muhammad are presented as ordinary in Islamic literature, and may indicate that it was not unusual for children to be married to their elders in that era.[8] There are many such reports regarding Muhammad's companions. In the neighbouring empires at that time, Byzantine law forbade marriage to girls below the age of puberty, which they fixed at thirteen years of age[9], while Sasanian law provided that a girl might marry at the age of nine years so long as consummation of the union was delayed until she reached the age of twelve years.[10]


In the Quran, a rule which apparently concerns marriage to those who have not yet reached menstruation appears in Chapter 65 "Al Talaq" verse 4.[11] Tafsir al-Jalalayn is one of the most respected commentaries on the Quran.[12] The exegesis for this verse in Tafsir al-Jalalayn gives the traditional interpretation, clarifying "those who have not menstruated" as "those who have not yet menstruated, because of their young age, their [waiting] period shall [also] be three months."[13]

In the modern era, Aisha's age at marriage has been a source of controversy and debate. Some Muslims have attempted to revise the previously-accepted timeline of her life (see the Apologetic History section below).[14] The hadith corpus provide records of early Islam through allegedly "unbroken chain of witnesses". Numerous variations on the hadith stating that Aisha was six at the time of her marriage and nine at the time of consummation come from collections with sahih status, meaning they are regarded as authentic by the majority of Muslims. They are defended, despite the modern controversy surrounding the issue, primarily because to question such a widely transmitted hadith would undermine Islamic hadith science in general. The hadith tradition about Aisha's age at marriage and consummation was also added by Ibn Hisham to his recension of the sira of Ibn Ishaq. The historians Ibn Sa'd and al-Tabari also include numerous reports of this tradition.[15][16]

Islamic modernist scholars generally question the reliability of traditionally authentic hadiths and biographical material. Modern academic research indicates that the hadiths which specify Aisha's age at the time of her marriage and consummation trace back to formulations circulated by her great nephew, Hisham b. 'Urwa, after he moved to Iraq where it found a receptive audience probably for proto-sectarian reasons (see the discussion of modern academic views below).

Association with child marriage

Child bride with her infant daughter

Shafi'i, founder of one of the four Sunni legal schools, used the example of Aisha's marriage in support of the Islamic legal concensus that a father had a right to enter his virgin minor daughter into a marriage contract regardless of her wishes. Founder of another of the four schools, Ibn Hanbal, alluded to Aisha's age of nine at consummation for some related rulings, reportedly including that a husband must be allowed to consummate a marriage once his wife reaches the age of nine (see Forced Marriage and Child Marriage in Islamic Law).

No age limits have been fixed by Islam for contracting a marriage according to Persian Professor at the University of Cambridge, Reuben Levy, and "quite young children may be legally married".[17] The girl may not live with the husband however until she is fit for marital sexual relations.

In Islamic legal terminology, Baligh refers to a person who has reached maturity, puberty or adulthood and has full responsibility under Islamic law. Legal theorists assign different ages and criteria for reaching this state for both males and females.[18] In marriage baligh is related to the Arabic legal expression, hatta tutiqa'l-rijal, which means that consummation of the marriage may not take place until the girl is physically fit to engage in sexual intercourse. A number of jurists said consummation may occur even before puberty if the girl was considered to have reached this state.

Relevant quotations

Much further hadith evidence is collated in Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars: Aisha.

And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women - if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him of his matter ease.
Narrated Hisham's father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old.
Narrated `Aisha: that the Prophet (ﷺ) married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have been informed that `Aisha remained with the Prophet (ﷺ) for nine years (i.e. till his death).
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old.
Narrated Aisha: The Prophet (ﷺ) engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.
Narrated 'Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)

Aisha's nephew, 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr (d. 94 AH), reportedly wrote a number of histographic letters to the late Umayyad court, which modern historians such as Professor Sean Anthony regard as an important source on early Islamic history. In one of these 'Urwa discusses the marriage of his aunt. This letter was transmitted by his son Hisham, and the contents thereof are apparently corroborated by 'Urwa's student, al-Zuhri (see the discussion in the section on modern academic views below). The letter reads as follows:

§1. ʿAlī ibn Naṣr related to us, saying: ʿAbd al-Ṣamad ibn ʿAbd al-Wārith related to us, and ʿAbd al-Wārith ibn ʿabd al-Ṣamad also related to me, saying: my father related to me, saying: Abān al-ʿAṭṭār related to us, saying: Hishām ibn ʿUrwah related to us from ʿUrwah that he wrote to ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān:
§2. You have written to me regarding Khadījah bint Khuwaylid and you ask, "When did she pass away?" She passed away before the departure of God's Messenger from Mecca by three years, or thereabouts. He married ʿĀʾishah once Khadījah had passed away. The Messenger of God saw ʿĀʾishah twice [before that] and was told, "She will be your wife." On that day ʿĀʾishah was six years old. Then the Messenger of God consumated his marriage with ʿĀʾishah after he had gone to Medina, and the day he consummated his marriage with her she was nine years old.
Letter from 'Urwa recorded in volume 9 of al-Tabari's History, quoted in Muhammad and the Empires of Faith by Sean Anthony[19]

The marital age narration was also incorporated into traditions circulating in Kufah about the virtues of Aisha:

According to Abd al-Hamid b. Bayan al-Sukkari - Muhammad b. Yazid - Ismai'il (that is Ibn Abi Khalid) - Abd al-Rahman b. Abi al- Dahhak - a man from Quraysh - Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad: "Abd Allah b. Safwan together with another person came to Aishah and Aishah said (to the latter), "O so and so, have you heard what Hafsah has been saying?" He said, "Yes, o Mother of the Faithful." Abd Allah b. Safwan asked her, "What is that?" She replied, "There are nine special features in me that have not been in any woman, except for what God bestowed on Maryam bt. Imran. By God, I do not say this to exalt myself over any of my companions." "What are these?" he asked. She replied, "The angel brought down my likeness; the Messenger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage was consummated when I was nine; he married me when I was a virgin,no other man having shared me with him; inspiration came to him when he and I were in a single blanket; I was one of the dearest people to him, a verse of the Qur’an was revealed concerning me when the community was almost destroyed; I saw Gabriel when none of his other wives saw him; and he was taken (that is, died) in his house when there was nobody with him but the angel and myself."
According to Abu Ja‘far (Al-Tabari): The Messenger of God married her, so it is said, in Shawwal, and consummated his marriage to her in a later year, also in Shawwal.

In the incident of the slander (al-ifk), widely reported in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, Aisha was accused of committing adultery after she was left behind by the caravan.

Narrated Aisha:

. . . That night I kept on weeping and could not sleep till morning. In the morning Allah's Apostle called Ali bin Abu Talib and Usama bin Zaid when he saw the Divine Inspiration delayed, to consul them about divorcing his wife (i.e. 'Aisha). Usama bin Zaid said what he knew of the good reputation of his wives and added, 'O Allah's Apostle! Keep you wife, for, by Allah, we know nothing about her but good.' 'Ali bin Abu Talib said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Allah has no imposed restrictions on you, and there are many women other than she, yet you may ask the woman-servant who will tell you the truth.' On that Allah's Apostle called Buraira and said, 'O Burair. Did you ever see anything which roused your suspicions about her?' Buraira said, 'No, by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, I have never seen in her anything faulty except that she is a girl of immature age, who sometimes sleeps and leaves the dough for the goats to eat.' . . .

I was a young girl and did not have much knowledge of the Quran. I said. 'I know, by Allah, that you have listened to what people are saying and that has been planted in your minds and you have taken it as a truth. Now, if I told you that I am innocent and Allah knows that I am innocent, you would not believe me and if I confessed to you falsely that I am guilty, and Allah knows that I am innocent you would believe me.

In the narrations of this incident which almost led to Muhammad divorcing her, Aisha is repeatedly referred to as a girl of young age (jariyatun hadithatu s-sinni جَارِيَةٌ حَدِيثَةُ السِّنِّ), twice by herself, and once by her slave-girl, Buraira. Aisha states "At that time I was a young lady", and "I was a young girl and did not have much knowledge of the Quran" (both use the same Arabic phrase just mentioned). Buraira says, "I have never seen in her anything faulty except that she is a girl of immature age, who sometimes sleeps and leaves the dough for the goats to eat."

The detailed hadith of this incident is widely transmitted from Aisha through 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr (her nephew), through his student Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri. A brief answer to a question about the names of her accusers (though with no further detail) also appears in a letter by 'Urwa, transmitted through his son, Hisham.[20]

The same phrase occurs in narrations about Muhammad screening Aisha with his garment when some Ethiopians were playing (e.g. Sahih Bukhari 7:62:163). One version of a hadith about Aisha experiencing menstruation while on pilgrimage to Mecca too describes her using the same phrase (Sahih Muslim 2:2773) though the other narrations of that hadith do not include the phrase (one explicitly points out its absence: Sahih Muslim 7:2774).

Modern academic views

Provenance and dating of the marital age hadith

The most comprehensive academic treatment of the hadith about Aisha's marital age was produced by Dr Joshua Little for his PhD thesis in 2022.[21][22] An important tool in the modern academic analysis of widely transmitted hadiths is isnad-cum-matn Analysis (ICMA). The isnad is the transmission chain attributed to a particular narration and the matn is its wording. In ICMA, converging isnad bundles of a widely transmitted hadith are compared with clusters of variation in the matns to see how well they correlate with each other. Often, this leads to the identification of one or more common links i.e. the person from whom transmissions of a matn first start to branch out, even if the chain may continue back by a single strand before that person.[23] The technique is helpful for dating when a hadith started to circulate and to identify who might have first formulated it in such a way, though not necessarily whether there is any historical kernal to the events reported therein. Dr Little has outlined 21 reasons why hadiths are known to be very unreliable in a historical sense by modern academic scholarship.[24]

After an extensive search for available versions (200+) of the Aisha marital age hadith, Little performed ICMA analysis to identify a small number of common links whose matns he could reconstruct, while others could be dismissed as common links due to having contradictory or disparate matns ascribed to them, which in turn exhibit a range of further problems. Various single strand ascriptions are also dismissed as dubious.

Aside from Hisham b. 'Urwa (d. 146 AH), who was Aisha's great nephew and whose simple narration is the most widely transmitted, Muhammad b. 'Amr (d. 144 AH) is the other reconstructable Medinan common link, though like Hisham, he moved to Iraq and merely seems to append one of Hisham's versions of the hadith to another narration. The other early common links are three Kufans (in Iraq) who died 146-160 AH. Though it is possible that one or more other narrations go back to Aisha herself, this cannot be demonstrated on an ICMA basis.[25]

Little then analyzes in greater depth his reconstructed matns for these common links. Based on shared words, phrases and sequencing, he concludes that they all derive from a single, simple formulation, and are not independently transmitted memories of a common event. This original formulation seems to be the widely transmitted one of Hisham, who also transmitted a few versions with additional details. Hisham attributed all of these to his father 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr who was also Aisha's nephew. Hisham did so falsely, argues Little; however, in his thesis he does not notice that the distinctive content of 'Urwa's letter about Aisha's marriage reported by Hisham is also narrated by a Syrian partial common link who ascribed it via his own uncle to 'Urwa's student, al-Zuhri, who moved from Medina to Syria. The letter and al-Zuhri's narration alone share a very distinctive sequencing of seven elements, within which there are also some otherwise unique exact phrases and content.[26] This apparent corroboration is potentially significant, since al-Zuhri's knowledge would most likely have come from his teacher, 'Urwa, in which case Little's thesis would essentially be wrong.

There is some evidence that Hisham did not originally extend the isnad of most of his versions back to Aisha herself, but rather only to his father 'Urwa, Aisha's nephew, and that they were narrated in the 3rd person, not in her own voice.[27] It is even clearer that such isnad "raising" occurred for transmissions by others back to Aisha by other routes.

Aside from the most widely transmitted version which simply states that Aisha was married to Muhammad at the age of six and their marriage was consummated when she was nine, Little's ICMA confirms that Hisham also narrated an extended simple version adding that he was informed Muhammad and Aisha were together for nine years[28] (possibly also another simple version adding that she played with dolls[29]). He also narrated a short letter about the marriage from his father 'Urwa - see the discussion about this letter above (including the footnote).[30] Finally, he also narrated Aisha's account of the women collecting her while she was playing so she could be prepared for her marital consummation.[31] Examples of each of these can be seen in the Relevant Quotations section above.

Hisham seems to have transmitted the hadith after he moved to Kufah in Iraq. There are a few transmissions ascribed to his Medinan students, though these are each dubious for various reasons (though one is difficult to explain away[32]). Little argues that the hadith was unknown in Medina, as it is not mentioned in the biographical works of Ibn Ishaq nor (it seems) Musa b. 'Uqbah, nor does it feature in Maliki legal texts, where Little believes it would be expected to feature had it been circulating in Medina. Some early Kufans are ascribed as transmitting the story to the Kufan common links before Hisham arrived in Iraq, but these isnads are doubtful according to Little because the marital age hadith does not occur in early Kufan legal hadith compilations, nor in early versions of Kufan hadiths narrating the virtues of Aisha. Rather, these Kufan references to Aisha's marriage too seem to have originated with Hisham's formulations.

After concluding that Hisham is responsible for the formulation of the story into the hadith from which all others ultimately derive, Little goes on to argue that Hisham concocted the story entirely, including the extended versions and 'Urwa's letter. Hisham was accused of being an unreliable transmitter after his move to Iraq, and the story about his great aunt would have been useful there. Aisha's virginity at the time of her marriage and her status as Muhammad's favourite wife was a basic feature of proto-Sunni polemics against the proto-Shi'i, especially in Kufah where the latter were dominant, and Hisham's hadith must have been very welcome there as it was immediately incorporated into this Kufan proto-Sunni material about the virtues of Aisha.

Other considerations

A different explanation for the Medinan legal silence on Aisha's age, as well as the hadith's non-use by many later scholars was alluded to by Carolyn Baugh in her 2017 book, Minor Marriage in Early Islamic Law. Maliki law was based largely on Medinan community custom, though sometimes anecdotes about companions were used for making specific points. Contrary to Little, Baugh doubts how useful the Aisha hadith would actually have been for legal purposes.[33] Maliki jurists in Medina and Hanafi jurists in Kufah did not seek to prove that a father could contract his virgin minor daughter in marriage, which was taken for granted.[34] Rather, they discussed a father's right to compell her without consultation, and whether he still had this right when she was no longer a virgin or minor, whether she had a right to rescind later and so on. Indeed, unlike various reports about companions used by Maliki scholars and highlighted by Baugh, the Aisha hadith does not seem to be of any use for the areas of juristic disagreement or the points which they felt a need to prove (see Child Marriage in Islamic Law). Shafi'i is the first legal scholar to make use of the Aisha marital age hadith (and more generally pioneered the Quran and sound hadith corpus as the decisive sources of law). He used the Aisha hadith for purposes of proving a father's right to marry off his daughter regardless of her wishes, though he had to read in his own assumptions to do so (see Forced Marriage)[35]. Subsequent scholars followed Shafi'i in this usage. However, the Aisha hadith merely states that her marriage was contracted when she was six (or seven), and it does not specify whether she was consulted or forced by her father, nor even whether she had reached puberty at nine.

Dr Little's case is nevertheless mostly strong that Hisham formulated the wording of the Aisha marital age hadith(s) in Iraq and that others derived their versions therefrom (though a huge question remains due to the corroborating transmission by al-Zuhri of the content of 'Urwa's letter about the marriage, which Little ignored as noted above). He also provides a plausible motivation for Hisham to have fabricated the story entirely. Others may then point to a couple of traditions which do not depend on Hisham and may support the possibility of a historical kernal. The hadith tradition shown in the Relevant Quotations section above about the incident of the slander (al-Ifk) does not involve Hisham and emphasises that Aisha was then "a girl of young age", though the historicity of this too might be doubted given the polemical considerations around the event.

More significant may be an independent tradition which Little says can provisionally be traced back to the Medinan historian Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (d. 124 AH). Al-Zuhri's hadith, which must have been transmitted while he was in Medina, states that the Messenger of God married Aisha bint Abu Bakr in Shawwal in the tenth year after the prophethood, three years before the migration, and he arranged the marriage feast in Medina (i.e. for consummation) in Shawwal, at the beginning of eight months after his emigration to Medina. Little speculates that Hisham picked a consummation age of nine and used this report of a three year gap between Aisha's marriage and consummation to derive six or seven as the age of her marriage.[36] Others may notice another significance to this apparently earlier al-Zuhri tradition. The three year gap between marriage and consummation mentioned therein, without any obvious polemical function (no age is mentioned), probably and independently implies that Aisha was a child at the time.

Wider implications

While Little's ICMA "reveals a vast amount of accretion, error, contamination, interpolation, borrowing, and false ascription", the "overwhelming majority of the putative [partial common links] and [common links] within the marital-age hadith turned out to be genuine sources whose distinctive redactions were identifiable and (to some degree) reconstructable. Such positive results only held as far back as the middle of the 8th Century CE, however: from thereon backwards, the evidence was either insufficient or outright inconsistent with genuine, early transmission."[37]

In a section on the implications of his thesis for the academic study of hadith and history, Little observes, "whilst it is true that most hadiths can be presumed to derive from sources operating in the middle of the 8th Century CE (i.e., the early 2nd Century AH), many can be shown to be later borrowings or dives, and almost all can be shown to have undergone reworking or alteration in the course of transmission, at least from the middle of the 8th Century CE to the middle the 9th." From a historical perspective, Little also argues that he has "shown, in fairly minute detail, how a false hadith could arise, spread, diversify, and attain universal acceptance within early Sunnī Hadith scholarship."[38]

Apologetic history

The majority of Islamic scholars today agree that Aisha was 9 when her marriage to Prophet Muhammad was consummated. This has been the mainstream Muslim understanding throughout Islam's 1,400 year history.[39] The first recorded objection raised to Aisha's age was by Maulana Muhammad Ali who lived from 1874 to 1951.[40] However, he is not considered credible to Sunni scholars since he belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect whose beliefs drastically differ from mainstream Islam. The Ahmadiyya and their writings are also heavily focused on missionary work.[41]

Adding to Ali's objections, there is Habib Ur Rahman Siddiqui Kandhalvi (1924-1991) who in his Urdu booklet, "Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka'inat" (English trans. 1997), laments that he is "tired of defending this tradition" that is "laughed" at and "ridiculed" by English-educated individuals he meets in Karachi who claim it is against "sagacity and prudence" and "preferred English society to Islam over this", and he readily admits his "aim is to produce an answer to the enemies of Islam who spatter mud at the pious body of the Generous Prophet".[42] A posthumous fatwa was issued against him in November 2004, labelling him a "Munkir-e-Hadith" (hadith rejector) and a "Kafir" (infidel) on the basis of being a rejector of hadith.[43]

Deriving arguments from both Habib Ur Rahman and Muhammad Ali, Moiz Amjad (who refers to himself as "The Learner") became a prominent reference for online apologetics on this issue. Moiz admits to having lifted his arguments from them, summarizing and presenting them in response to a Muslim asking him how he can respond to critical Christians.[44] With Moiz's restructured response the arguments originating from the Ahmadiyya in the 1920s and 1930s eventually achieved widespread popularity among orthodox Muslims who welcome an alternative to the traditionally accepted chronology. However, this popularity seems to be strictly limited to articles or arguments on the Internet, not between traditionalist sheikhs and scholars, nor are they accepted by Muslims concerned about the wider implications of rejecting traditionally authentic hadiths.

In July 2005, Shaykh Dr. Gibril Haddad responded to Moiz Amjad's polemics with, "Our Mother A'isha's Age At The Time Of Her Marriage to The Prophet".[45] Shaykh Haddad was listed amongst the inaugural "500 most influential Muslims in the world"[46] and is considered a Muslim scholar and muhaddith (hadith expert).[46] Haddad included many facts that are easily verifiable for those who have access to the hadith and sira literature. For example, his analysis highlighted the fact that many of the arguments were based solely on faulty assumptions taken from hadiths completely unrelated to Aisha's age, or were misrepresenting the sources that were being cited (i.e. hadiths actually in support the idea that Aisha was 9). His reply has not yet been answered by Moiz Amjad.

However, Haddad's response did not stop Amjad's arguments from being rehashed by apologists on the Internet with the same missionary and apologetic focus. Other transmitters of these arguments include, but are not limited to; T.O Shavanas,[47] “Imam” Chaudhry (word-for-word plagiarism of Amjad's work),[48] Zahid Aziz,[40] Nilofar Ahmed,[49] and David Liepert.[50]

Modern apologetic perspectives

Some Muslim authors have eschewed the traditionally-accepted ahadith and attempted to calculate Aisha's age based on details found in other ahadith and some biographies, though Kecia Ali labels these attempts as "revisionist".[14]

Reliance on Hisham's narrations in Iraq

The first objection is that, while sahih (sound) by Islamic hadith standards, the transmission of the hadiths about Aisha's marital age goes through one narrator, Hisham b. 'Urwa (from his father 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr, Aisha's nephew); that he did not narrate it in Medina but only after he moved to Iraq; that Imam Malik (in Medina) was angry with Hisham about (unspecified) hadiths he transmitted in Iraq (according to Ibn Khirash, d. 896 CE); that Hisham became unreliable after he moved there by omitting to mention intermediary transmitters when narrating from his father (according to Yaq'ub b. Shaybah, d. 875 CE, as cited by al-Dhahabi, d. 1348 CE); that he became confused in old age (according to al Hasan b. al-Qattan, d. 1231 CE); or that his memory diminished in old age (according to al-Dhahabi, who denies al-Qattan's claim that Hisham became confused).[51]

From a traditional Islamic perspective, many of the chains of narration for these hadiths about Aisha's marital age[52] do not involve Hisham (for example, Sahih Muslim 8:3311[53]). Details of some of these other chains of narration can be found in the first half of an article by the IslamQA website.

Shaykh Haddad responded to the objection that most of these narrations are reported only by Hisham as follows: "Try more than eleven authorities among the Tabi`in that reported it directly from `A'isha, not counting the other major Companions that reported the same, nor other major Successors that reported it from other than `A'isha."[45]

Similarly, regarding the objection that it was not reported by Medinan's, Shayqh Haddad replied:

Al-Zuhri also reports it from `Urwa, from `A'isha; so does `Abd Allah ibn Dhakwan, both major Madanis. So is the Tabi`i Yahya al-Lakhmi who reports it from her in the Musnad and in Ibn Sa`d's Tabaqat. So is Abu Ishaq Sa`d ibn Ibrahim who reports it from Imam al-Qasim ibn Muhammad, one of the Seven Imams of Madina, from `A'isha. All the narratives of this event have been reported. In addition to the above four Madinese Tabi`in narrators, Sufyan ibn `Uyayna from Khurasan and `Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Yahya from Tabarayya in Palestine both report it.

However, as discussed above, in the case of this objection revisionists have backing from modern academic scholarship, which indicates that the early Medinan transmissions of the hadiths specifying Aisha's marital age have fabricated isnads and that they were in fact first circulated by Hisham after he moved to Iraq, from where it spread to other regions. On the other hand, one of the letters that Hisham reports was sent to the late Umayyad court by his father ('Urwa b. al-Zubayr, Aisha's nephew), in which he mentioned Aisha's age at marriage and consummation, seems to have also been known to 'Urwa's student al-Zuhri. In addition, a tradition about a three year gap between Aisha's marriage and consummation seems to have been narrated by al-Zuhri when he was still in Medina. For details see the section discussing academic views above.

Revelation time of surah al-Qamar

This argument uses the Sahih Bukhari hadith in which Aisha explains she was a "playful girl" (jariyatun al-'abu لَجَارِيَةٌ أَلْعَبُ) when Surah (chapter) al-Qamar of the Quran was revealed.[54] With the rough estimation that this chapter was revealed nine years before hijrah (c. 622) some conclude that this makes Aisha older than other hadiths claim.

However, the precise date of the revelation of Surah al-Qamar is unknown. Ibn Hajar, Maududi, and other traditionalists said it was revealed 5 years before Hijrah (BH).[55] Zahid Aziz said it was revealed before 6 BH.[56] Alternatively, there is no reputable source that claims this chapter came about 9 BH.

Shaykh Haddad confirms this as he argues that the traditional estimate of the revelation of Surah al-Qamar is consistent with Aisha’s age being nine years.

The hadith Masters, Sira historians, and Qur'anic commentators agree that the splitting of the moon took place about five years before the Holy Prophet's (upon him blessings and peace) Hijra to Madina. Thus it is confirmed that our Mother `Aisha was born between seven and eight years before the Hijra and the words that she was a jariya or little girl five years before the Hijra match the fact that her age at the time Surat al-Qamar was revealed was around 2 or 3. A two year old is not an infant. A two year old is able to run around, which is what jariya means. As for "the comments of the experts" they concur on 6 or 7 as the age of marriage and 9 as the age of cohabitation.

Battle of Badr and Uhud

This apologetic argument aims to make the claim that Aisha was at the Battles of Badr and Uhud, and that since standard practice at the time disallowed anyone under 15 from joining the battlefield, she could not have been younger than this.

However, there are no sources that can be found mentioning Aisha's participation in the Battle of Badr. A few hadiths highlight Aisha's involvement in the Battle of Uhud, but only to the extent that she was not involved in the battlefield and merely carrying water skins to the combatants.[57] Women and young children were allowed to perform such functions during battles.[58]

Shaykh Haddad responds to this apologetic argument:

First, the prohibition applied to combatants. It applied neither to non-combatant boys nor to non-combatant girls and women. Second, `A'isha did not participate in Badr at all but bade farewell to the combatants as they were leaving Madina, as narrated by Muslim in his Sahih. On the day of Uhud (year 3), Anas, at the time only twelve or thirteen years old, reports seeing an eleven-year old `A'isha and his mother Umm Sulaym having tied up their dresses and carrying water skins back and forth to the combatants, as narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Age of Asma

One da'if (weak) hadith narrated from al-Zinad and recorded in the works of some medieval scholars, including al-Dhahabi,[59] states that Aisha's older sister Asma was ten years older than her. This has been combined with improbable information about Asma being 100 years old at the time of her death in 73 AH to calculate that Aisha was eighteen or nineteen at the time of her marriage consummation (1 AH or 2 AH - (73 - 100) - 10).

Shaykh Haddad and the IslamQA website both independently criticise this approach as relying on a single narrator, who most scholars regard as weak, and note that a hadith by a more reliable chain from the same narrator gives a broader range for the age difference between the sisters.[45][60] Both also note that al-Dhahabi too gave the vaguer opinion that Asma was "ten or more" years older than Aisha.

Tabari's account of Abu Bakr's children and wives

This account uses al-Tabari's exegesis to argue that Aisha was born in the pre-islamic period, and thus could not have been less than 14 tears old.[61]

However, al-Tabari's own account reports at least five times that Aisha was around 6-7 years old during marriage and the marriage was consummated 3 years later.[62][63][64][65][66]

Furthermore, Shaykh Gibril Haddad says that the initial passage mentioned is misinterpreted, stating "Al-Tabari nowhere reports that 'Abu Bakr's four children were all born in Jahiliyya' but only that Abu Bakr married both their mothers in Jahiliyya, Qutayla bint Sa`d and Umm Ruman, who bore him four children in all, two each, Aisha being the daughter of Umm Ruman."[45]

Time of Umar's conversion to Islam

This argument draws on al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah (Biography of the Prophet) to claim that since Aisha converted to Islam before Umar she could not have been born during the first year of Islam.[67]

However, even if the claim Aisha converted to Islam before Umar were true, it does not mean this took place during the first year of Islam, since Umar converted in 617 AD, about 4 years after Aisha’s birth in 613 AD.[1] Furthermore Aisha never accounted converting to islam as hadiths show she never remembered a time before when her family wasn't Muslim.[68]

Besides disputing the claim that Ibn Hisham reported that Aisha accepted Islam quite some time before `Umar ibn al-Khattab, Shaykh Haddad also casts doubt on the claim stating:

Nowhere does Ibn Hisham say this. Rather, Ibn Hisham lists `A'isha among 'those that accepted Islam because of Abu Bakr.' This does not mean that she embraced Islam during the first year of Islam. Nor does it mean that she necessarily embraced Islam before `Umar (year 6) although she was born the previous year (year 7 before the Hijra) although it is understood she will automatically follow her father's choice even before the age of reason.

Tabari's account of Abu Bakr's migration to Habshah

This argument claims that al-Tabari states that when Abu Bakr was planning to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), he spoke to Mut`am, with whose son, Jabayr, Aisha was engaged. This migration occurred eight years before hijrah, at which time Aisha had only just been born if she consummated her marriage to Muhammad at the age of 9 or 10.

Proponents of this claim admit they have no primary source, which originated in Kandhalvi's Urdu booklet.[44] Shayk Haddad responds that "there is no mention of emigration in Tabari's account of Abu Bakr's discussion with Mut`im" and "there had been only some preliminary talk, not a formal arrangement".[45]

The meaning of bikr

This argument cites a hadith in Ibn Hanbal's Musnad saying that Khaulah suggested Aisha to Muhammad as a virgin (bikr) he could marry. The claim is that bikr would not be used for a young girl.[69]

However, there are multiple sahih hadith narrations of a highly relevant conversation between Muhammad and Jabir in which bikr (virgin) is clearly compatible with jariyah (young girl).

Narrated Jabir: "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said to me, "Have you got married O Jabir?" I replied, "Yes." He asked "What, a virgin [bikr] or a matron [thayyib]?" I replied, "Not a virgin but a matron." He said, "Why did you not marry a young girl [jariyah] who would have fondled with you?

Shaykh Haddad says regarding the claim, "This is ignorant nonsense, bikr means a virgin girl, a girl who has never been married even if her age is 0 and there is no unclarity here whatsoever.".[45]

Fatima's age difference

This claim is that according to ibn Hajar, Fatima was five years older than Aisha and Muhammad was 35 years old when Fatima was born. Therefore, based on this claim, Aisha must have been a teenager at the time her marriage was consummated.

However, the proponent of this claim[44] has combined and selectively quoted conflicting sources. Shaykh Haddad responds:

Ibn Hajar mentions two versions: (1) al-Waqidi's narration that Fatima was born when the Prophet was 35; and (2) Ibn `Abd al-Barr's narration that she was born when he was 41, approximately one year more or less before Prophethood, and about five years before `A'isha was born. The latter version matches the established dates.

Hadith saying Aisha had reached puberty

This argument is based on a mistranslated hadith, Sahih Bukhari 1:8:465, which in one English translation states that Aisha had seen her parents follow islam since the age of puberty, and not a day passed by without Muhammad visiting them.

Narrated `Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) I had seen my parents following Islam since I attained the age of puberty. Not a day passed but the Prophet (ﷺ) visited us, both in the mornings and evenings[...]

However, the word أَعْقِلْ means thoughts or reasoning, but the translator, Muhsin Khan, has used the word 'puberty'. The meaning rather is simply that Aisha was aware that her parents were following Islam. A literal translation would be "I was not aware of my parents other than that the two of them both acknowledged the religion". The exact same Arabic phrase is translated correctly by the same translator in another narration of the same hadith.[70]

Hadith in which Aisha menstruated

This argument is also based off a mistranslated hadith, Sunan Abu Dawud 4915 (Ahmad Hasan numbering; 4933 Dar-us-Salam).

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married me when I was seven or six. When we came to Medina, some women came. according to Bishr's version: Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter. Abu Dawud said: That is to say: I menstruated, and I was brought in a house, and there were some women of the Ansari in it. They said: With good luck and blessing. The tradition of one of them has been included in the other.

Ahmad Hasan mistranslates Abu Dawud's comment as "That is to say: I menstruated". Aisha's phrase "I burst into laughter" is fa-qultu heeh heeh (فَقُلْتُ هِيهْ هِيهْ), "And I said heh, heh". The Dar-us-Salam English-Arabic edition of Sunan Abu Dawud translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Hadith 4933) renders Aisha's words here: "She made me stand at the door and I started to breathe deeply" (Dar-us-Salam do not include Abu Dawud's comment).

Abu Dawud's comment is ay tanaffasat (أَىْ تَنَفَّسَتْ), which is "That is to say 'I breathed'". The verb nun-fa-sin is used here in Arabic form V with the ta prefix and shadda (doubled) middle letter, which Lane's Lexicon says means "breathed". Form I can mean menstruated, but that is not the form used in the hadith.[71]

Aisha remembered the migration setting out to Abyssinia

Another hadith has been commonly misinterpreted in order to claim that Aisha remembered Muhammad coming to Abu Bakr when it was time to migrate to Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia). This forced migration occurred due to what Urwa b. al-Zubayr in his first letter describes as the first persecution (al-fitnah al-ūlā) in Mecca, before the migration some years later to Medina.

The hadith itself does not state which migration it relates to.

Narrated Aisha: Rarely did the Prophet (ﷺ) fail to visit Abu Bakr's house everyday, either in the morning or in the evening. When the permission for migration to Medina was granted, all of a sudden the Prophet (ﷺ) came to us at noon and Abu Bakr was informed, who said, "Certainly the Prophet (ﷺ) has come for some urgent matter." The Prophet (ﷺ) said to Abu Bakr, when the latter entered "Let nobody stay in your home." Abu Bakr said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! There are only my two daughters (namely `Aisha and Asma') present." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "I feel (am informed) that I have been granted the permission for migration." Abu Bakr said, "I will accompany you, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "You will accompany me." Abu Bakr then said "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! I have two she-camels I have prepared specially for migration, so I offer you one of them. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "I have accepted it on the condition that I will pay its price."

Another hadith shows clearly that the above hadith actually refers to the migration to Medina, not Abyssinia. Notice the similar phrasing about Muhammad coming to Abu Bakr at noon after being granted permission to migrate, the two she-camels which Abu Bakr had prepared and the general setting. At the end of the quote Medina is mentioned.

Narrated `Aisha: Abu Bakr asked the Prophet (ﷺ) to allow him to go out (of Mecca) when he was greatly annoyed (by the infidels). But the Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, "Wait." Abu Bakr said, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! Do you hope that you will be allowed (to migrate)?" Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) replied, "I hope so." So Abu Bakr waited for him till one day Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came at noon time and addressed him saying "Let whoever is present with you, now leave you." Abu Bakr said, "None is present but my two daughters." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Have you noticed that I have been allowed to go out (to migrate)?" Abu Bakr said, "O Allah's Apostle, I would like to accompany you." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "You will accompany me." Abu Bakr said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! I have got two she-camels which I had prepared and kept ready for (our) going out." So he gave one of the two (she-camels) to the Prophet (ﷺ) and it was Al-Jad`a. They both rode and proceeded till they reached the Cave at the mountain of Thaur where they hid themselves. Amir bin Fuhaira was the slave of `Abdullah bin at-Tufail bin Sakhbara `Aisha's brother from her mother's side. Abu Bakr had a milch she-camel. Amir used to go with it (i.e. the milch she-camel) in the afternoon and come back to them before noon by setting out towards them in the early morning when it was still dark and then he would take it to the pasture so that none of the shepherds would be aware of his job. When the Prophet (and Abu Bakr) went away (from the Cave), he (i.e. 'Amir) too went along with them and they both used to make him ride at the back of their camels in turns till they reached Medina. [...]

Apologetic justifications for the marriage

A number of claims are commonly made in Muhammad's defence by those who accept the traditional account that he married Aisha when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine, Muhammad at that time being a fifty-three year old man. These claims are widely criticised both by Muslims who reject the authenticity of the relevant hadiths, as well as by many other people, whatever their stance on the historicity of the story.

Cultural norms at the time

It does seem that it was common to contract daughters in marriage at an early age in Arab culture at that time. Imam Malik (d. 795 CE) based his rulings on the community practice in Medina. He permitted a father to contract his virgin minor daughter into a marriage and without her permission. Early jurists of other legal schools (who also agreed on this) used narrations about Muhammad's companions (or Muhammad himself) marrying or entering minors into marriage contracts as evidence in their legal discussions, and all more or less agreed that consummation of such marriages was allowed once a girl had reached the age of majority, or in some opinions, earlier if it was judged that she could physically tolerate intercourse (see Child Marriage in Islamic Law).

Some argue that critics of Muhammad's actions in the traditional account commit the fallacy of presentism in which moral standards of an earlier age when circumstances were different are judged by those of today, and further argue that very early marriage and consummation were common at the time.

However, critics note that unlike in the early Islamic polity, the minimum age of marriage or consummation for girls in the neighbouring Byzantine and Sasanid empires was significantly later at 13 or 12, albeit still very young (see above). Further, they argue that it is objectively the case that adolescent pregnancy brings signicantly greater risk of serious medical complications for both the mother and baby (as noted for example by The World Health Organization) and that this would be no different a thousand years ago, especially in the case of a nine year old girl. Moreover, critics question whether it is legitimate to complain of presentism, given the Islamic concept of Muhammad as al-Insān al-Kāmil (the perfect human) and Uswa Hasana (an excellent model of conduct). Indeed, Muhammad's marriage to Aisha has been cited by Islamic scholars opposed to the introduction or raising of the minimum age of marriage which has occurred in most Muslim majority countries in recent decades.

Shorter life expectancy

Some argue that life expectancy a millenium ago was considerably lower than today, so there was an imperative to start a family at a young age. Critics note that such claims are often exaggerated for these purposes by including infant mortality in the calculation of average lifespans. A study of skeletal remains from the Mexican city of Cholula showed that between 900 to 1500 CE, most people who made it to adulthood went on to live beyond the age of fifty. Another study showed that in medieval England those who reached the age of 25 had an average life expectancy of another 25 years.[72] Both Muhammad and Aisha died in their sixties. Furthermore, critics point out that the risk of maternal and infant mortality was relatively high among girls enduring pregnancy in early adolescence (traditionally, Muhammad commenced intercourse with Aisha when she was nine), which itself would reduce life expectancy, while in other cases permanent reproductive damage can be done. On that point, it may be noted that Aisha did not bear Muhammad any children.

Earlier puberty and menarche in the past

Another common argument is that puberty occurred earlier in the past or in hot climates. Puberty is a process which takes place over a number of years, while menarche (first menstruation) is a distinct physiological event which is the culmination of the anatomical processes of puberty. Apologetic websites typically cite books or articles which mention that the onset of puberty can occur today from as early as the age of eight. An article by Jesse Gamble is commonly quoted for saying that "Menarche affected Paleolithic girls between the ages of 7 to 13".[73] A journal article by Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson gives a similar range and is commonly cited for their argument that in the simpler societies of the past, psychosocial maturity was better aligned with the age of physical development.[74]

However, critics have noticed that this is only half the story. The opening sentence of Gluckman and Hanson's paper begins by saying, "The age of menarche has fallen as child health has improved". The paper explains that menarche begins later when childhood health and nutrition is poor, such as in the neolithic period, when as a result of "settlement, childhood disease and postnatal undernutrition became common and therefore the average age of menarche was delayed" in contrast to the paleolithic hunter-gatherers. In Figure 2 of their paper the authors indicate the likely age ranges of menarche 20,000 years ago (c. 7-14 years old), 2,000 years ago (c. 10-17 years old), 200 years ago during the industrial revolution (c. 13-18 years old) and today, when it has fallen back down (c. 9-15 years old). The authors argue that "With modern hygiene, nutrition and medicine, these pathological constraints on puberty have been removed and the age of menarche has fallen to its evolutionarily determined range. But now the complexity of society has increased enormously and psychosocial maturation takes longer." Hadiths narrated by Aisha suggest that her mother struggled to make her gain weight before sending her to live with Muhammad (see Sunan Ibn Majah 4:29:3324 and Sunan Abu Dawud 28:3894).

The average age of menarche today in Europe and the United States has fallen to around 13 years old, while the average is about 14 years old in Yemen in the south of the Arabian Peninsula (coming down from 14.44 years old in 1979 to 13.8 in 2013, standard deviation of 1.36 years). The average age is very similar (13-14) across a large range of low and middle income countries.[75]

See Also


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External Links


This article is greatly indebted to the following:


  1. 1.0 1.1 Al-Nasa'i 1997, p. 108
  2. Narrated Hisham's father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet (ﷺ) departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married `Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old.
    Sahih Bukhari 5:58:236
  3. Narrated 'Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).
    Sahih Bukhari 7:62:64
  4. 'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.
    Sahih Muslim 8:3310
  5. Aisha said, "The Apostle of Allah married me when I was seven years old." (The narrator Sulaiman said: "Or six years.")
    Sunan Abu Dawud 2116 (Ahmad Hasan Ref)
  6. Almost all sources suggest age at consummation as nine, though a few late versions say that it may have been age 10; See: Denise Spellberg (1996), Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'isha Bint Abi Bakr, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231079990, pp. 39–40;
  7. Afsaruddin, Asma (2014). "ʿĀʾisha bt. Abī Bakr". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett. Encyclopaedia of Islam (3 ed.). Brill Online. Retrieved 2015-01-11
  8. Ahmed, Leila (1992). Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. Yale University Press. p. 51-54. ISBN 978-0300055832.
  9. Sean Anthony, "Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The making of the Prophet of Islam", Oakland CA: University of California, 2020, p. 115
  10. CHILDREN iii. Legal Rights of Children in the Sasanian Period - Encyclopedia Iranica online
  11. And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women - if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him of his matter ease.
    Quran 65:4
  12. Tafsir al-Jalalayn is one of the most significant tafsirs for the study of the Qur’an. Composed by the two “Jalals” -- Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli (d. 864 ah / 1459 ce) and his pupil Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911 ah / 1505 ce), Tafsir al-Jalalayn is generally regarded as one of the most easily accessible works of Qur’anic exegesis because of its simple style and one volume length. For the first time ever Tafsir al-Jalalayn is competently translated into an unabridged highly accurate and readable annotated English translation by Doctor. Feras Hamza.
  13. And as for those of your women who read allā’ī or allā’i in both instances no longer expect to menstruate if you have any doubts about their waiting period their prescribed waiting period shall be three months and also for those who have not yet menstruated because of their young age their period shall also be three months — both cases apply to other than those whose spouses have died; for these latter their period is prescribed in the verse they shall wait by themselves for four months and ten days Q. 2234. And those who are pregnant their term the conclusion of their prescribed waiting period if divorced or if their spouses be dead shall be when they deliver. And whoever fears God He will make matters ease for him in this world and in the Hereafter. Tafsir al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza Quran 65:4
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ali, Kecia. Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur'an, Hadith and Jurisprudence. OneWorld. p. 173-186. ISBN 978-1780743813.
  15. When the Prophet married Aisha she very young and not yet ready for consummation.Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 128
  16. According to Abd al-Hamid b. Bayan al-Sukkari - Muhammad b. Yazid - Ismai'il (that is Ibn Abi Khalid) - Abd al-Rahman b. Abi al- Dahhak - a man from Quraysh - Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad: "Abd Allah b. Safwan together with another person came to Aishah and Aishah said (to the latter), "O so and so, have you heard what Hafsah has been saying?" He said, "Yes, o Mother of the Faithful." Abd Allah b. Safwan asked her, "What is that?" She replied, "There are nine special features in me that have not been in any woman, except for what God bestowed on Maryam bt. Imran. By God, I do not say this to exalt myself over any of my companions." "What are these?" he asked. She replied, "The angel brought down my likeness; the Messenger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage was consummated when I was nine; he married me when I was a virgin,no other man having shared me with him; inspiration came to him when he and I were in a single blanket; I was one of the dearest people to him, a verse of the Qur’an was revealed concerning me when the community was almost destroyed; I saw Gabriel when none of his other wives saw him; and he was taken (that is, died) in his house when there was nobody with him but the angel and myself." According to Abu Ja‘far (Al-Tabari): The Messenger of God married her, so it is said, in Shawwal, and consummated his marriage to her in a later year, also in Shawwal. Al-Tabari, Vol. 7, pp. 6-7
  17. Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1969, pp. 106-7
  18. John Esposito, "The Oxford Dictionary of Islam", p.35, Oxford University Press 2004
  19. Sean Anthony, Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The making of the Prophet of Islam, Oakland CA: University of California, 2020, pp. 114-15
  20. An analysis of the hadith transmission is summarized on pp. 34-37 of Goerke, A, Motzki, H & Schoeler, G (2012) First-Century Sources for the Life of Muhammad? A Debate, Der Islam, vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 2-59.
  21. Joshua Little (2022) The Hadith of ʿAʾishah's Marital Age: A Study in the Evolution of Early Islamic Historical Memory, PhD thesis, Oxford University
    It is available on his blog together with very useful diagrams of the reported isnads and matns: The Unabridged Version of My PhD Thesis by Joshua Little - - 7 March 2023
    See alternatively: A Summary of my PhD Research by Joshua Little - - 25 February 2023
  22. See also this lecture by Dr. Joshua Little entitled The Hadith of ʿAʾishah's Marital Age: A Study in the Evolution of Early Islamic Historical Memory -, 26 February 2023
  23. See Chapter 1 of Dr Little's thesis for a detailed explanation.
  24. This is useful preparatory viewing for Dr Little's Aisha lecture: Oxford Scholar Dr. Joshua Little Gives 21 REASONS Why Historians are SKEPTICAL of Hadith - February 2023
  25. pp. 397-99 of Dr Little's thesis
  26. 'Urwa wrote a number of letters on early Islamic history to the late Umayyad court. These letters were transmitted by his son Hisham and the traditions therein were often also transmitted by 'Urwa's Medinan student al-Zuhri. 'Urwa's letters are translated in full in Sean Anthony, Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The making of the Prophet of Islam, Oakland CA: University of California, 2020, Chapter 4. In 2012, the creators of the ICMA method, Andreas Görke, Harald Motzki and Gregor Schoeler, strongly argued that the traditions in the letters attributed to 'Urwa probably do in some way originate with him, especially when they are supported by parallel traditions going back to 'Urwa (Goerke, A, Motzki, H & Schoeler, G (2012) First-Century Sources for the Life of Muhammad? A Debate, Der Islam, vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 2-59.
    One of 'Urwa's letters is a short one about Aisha's marriage. It was reported in a couple of chains through Hisham and is quoted in the Relevant Quotations section above. Little contests a couple of arguments for the general authenticity of 'Urwa's letters but without wider engagement with Goerke et al. He also questions how we can in any case identify which words or elements thereof Hisham accurately transmitted (p. 314).
    However, Dr Little did not notice that another hadith he discusses which is ascribed to 'Urwa's Medinan student al-Zuhri contains the same core tradition as this letter, especially the otherwise unique sequence of elements, albeit not in the form of a letter. It is easy to imagine al-Zuhri learning it from 'Urwa directly or from the letter (though the isnad does not go that far back). Indeed, for much of this distinctive sequence they even share the same words and exact phrases, much of which would otherwise be unique to the letter. The content of the dream element is also highly distinctive to them, being very different in other narrations. The close relationship is obvious, as someone illustrated in this image which uses Dr Little's own isnad diagrams. See Dr Little's blog for the full diagrams, from which the distinctiveness is readily apparent. Little's transliteration of 'Urwa's reconstructed letter on pp. 310-11 of his thesis can also be compared with his reconstructed transmission from al-Zuhri of the same elemental sequence (through al-Hajjaj b. Abi Mani; pp. 204-5; see also 370-72 and 482).
    Al-Hajjaj, who lived in Aleppo, Syria, serves as a partial common link for the transmission and ascribed it via his uncle to al-Zuhri, who does not himself count as a common link but did move from Medina to Damascus and later Resafa, Syria, where he tutored the Caliph's sons.
    Given the very short chain, compatible geography of the transmitters, and closely matched and often uniquely shared wording and elemental sequence, this evidence cannot be lightly dismissed. The closest examples of similar content to the letter are cobbled together, clearly late, long single chained false ascriptions to Qatada and Ibn Abbas with far less similarity of elemental sequence and wording (these can be seen in the "Other Traditions" isnad diagram on his blog or see pp. 375 and 393 of his thesis).
  27. Ibid. p. 305 including footnote 996
  28. Ibid. p. 272
  29. Ibid. p. 322
  30. Ibid. pp. 309 ff.
  31. See the section of Hisham, pp. 295 ff., especially the reconstructions of Hisham's four versions of the hadith on pp. 302-317
  32. Little struggles somewhat to discount Ibn ʾabī al-Zinād's transmission from Hishām as having occurred in Medina (see pp. 426-433). The Medinan, Ibn ʾabī al-Zinād, is a confirmed partial common link from Hishām, and the (generally unreliable) Medinan historian al-Wāqidī is one of those who report it from him. In order to place the transmission as having occurred in Iraq, where (if biographical sources are to be trusted) Ibn ʾabī al-Zinād moved from Medina, though to a different Iraqi city than Hishām and did so only after Hishām's death, or at most shortly beforehand, and where al-Wāqidī also moved from Medina but only after Ibn ʾabī al-Zinād's death, Little requires both that al-Waqidi did not transmit directly from Ibn ʾabī al-Zinād and that the latter did not transmit directly from Hishām. Incidentally, al-Wāqidī separately reports a distinct but isolated Medinan narration about Aisha's marriage (pp. 215-6).
  33. Baugh writes: "Although it is not impossible that Malik would have accepted the content of the report given early practice, Malik is one of many jurists who did not rely on the text, which does not in fact occur in any of the early books of jurisprudence except for that of al-Shafi'i and, shortly after him, 'Abd al Razzaq's Musannaf. Even later jurists such as Ibn Taymiya and Ibn al-Qayyim shy away from it, although it is used by Ibn Qudama before them. Presuming its authenticity (it occurs in Bukhari and Muslim), questions occur such as, was 'A'isha in fact compelled against her will? Can we assume that Abu Bakr did not consult her? Had she, at age nine, entered her majority or was she still prepubescent?"
    Carolyn Baugh, Minor Marriage in Early Islamic Law, Leiden: Brill, 2017, p. 43 footnote 101
    Similarly, on p. 62 she elaborates why the legal implications of the hadith are obscure.
  34. In Chapter 4 she details the proof-texts used by Maliki jurists; see p. 79 regarding Hanafi jurists.
  35. See also the quotes in Dr Little's thesis, pp. 454-5, where Shafi'i can be seen using the hadith in an attempt to prove the right of paternal compulsion.
  36. See 1 hour 38 minutes in Dr. Joshua Little's lecture entitled The Hadith of ʿAʾishah's Marital Age: A Study in the Evolution of Early Islamic Historical Memory -, 26 February 2023
    For detailed discussion see pp. 373-74, 378-82, 460-61 of Dr Little's thesis.
  37. pp. 400-401 of Dr Little's thesis
  38. pp. 507-9 of Dr Little's thesis
  39. Hashmi, Tariq Mahmood (2 April 2015). "Role, Importance And Authenticity Of The Hadith". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Zahid Aziz - Age of Aisha (ra) at time of marriage - Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha`at Islam Lahore Inc. U.S.A.
  41. Who are the Ahmadi? - BBC News
  42. All Habib Ur Rahman Siddiqui Kandhalvi quotations are taken from the Preface of the 2007 English translation of his Urdu booklet, "Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka'inat", translated by Nigar Erfaney and published by Al-Rahman Publishing Trust under the title, "Age of Aisha (The Truthful Women, May Allah Send His Blessings)"
  43. The original fatwa and the English translation branding Habib Ur Rahman Siddiqui Kandhalvi's beliefs outside of Islam, thus making him a 'kafir', can be viewed here: Fatwa's on hadith rejectors?
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 See: "What was Ayesha's (ra) Age at the Time of Her Marriage?", by Moiz Amjad.
  45. 45.00 45.01 45.02 45.03 45.04 45.05 45.06 45.07 45.08 45.09 45.10 Shaykh Gibril F Haddad - Our Mother A'isha's Age At The Time Of Her Marriage to The Prophet - Sunni Path, Question ID:4604, July 3, 2005 archive 1 archive 2
  46. 46.0 46.1 Edited by Prof. John Esposito and Prof. Ibrahim Kalin - The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (P. 94) - The royal islamic strategic studies centre, 2009
  47. T.O Shanavas - AYESHA’s AGE: THE MYTH OF A PROVERBIAL WEDDING EXPOSED - Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
  48. Imam Chaudhry - What Was The Age of Ummul Mo'mineen Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) When She Married To Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)? - Islamic Supreme Council of Canada
  49. Nilofar Ahmed - Of Aisha’s age at marriage - Dawn, February 17, 2012
  50. Dr. David Liepert - Rejecting the Myth of Sanctioned Child Marriage in Islam - The Huffington Post, January 29, 2011
  51. See pp. 7-8 of Dr Little's thesis, and pp. 435, 450-51 for quotes from Ibn Khirash and al-Dhahabi.
  52. Quran, Hadith, and Scholars on Aisha's Age at Consummation and Marriage
  53. 'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old.
    Sahih Muslim 8:3311
  54. Narrated Yusuf bin Mahik: I was in the house of `Aisha, the mother of the Believers. She said, "This revelation: "Nay, but the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense); and the Hour will be more previous and most bitter." (54.46) was revealed to Muhammad at Mecca while I was a playfull little girl." Sahih Bukhari 6:60:399 (see also (Sahih Bukhari 6:61:515 for more context)
  55. The incident of the shaqq-al-Qamar (splitting of the moon) that has been mentioned in it, determines its period of revelation precisely. The traditionists and commentators are agreed that this incident took place at Mina in Makkah about five years before the Holy Prophet's hijrah to Madinah. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an
  56. The Moon,the fifty-fourth chapter, was revealed, she was a girl playing about and remembered certain verses then revealed. Now the fifty-fourth chapter was undoubtedly revealed before the sixth year of the Call. Zahid Aziz
  57. Narrated Anas: On the day (of the battle) of Uhad when (some) people retreated and left the Prophet, I saw 'Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Um Sulaim, with their robes tucked up so that the bangles around their ankles were visible hurrying with their water skins (in another narration it is said, "carrying the water skins on their backs"). Then they would pour the water in the mouths of the people, and return to fill the water skins again and came back again to pour water in the mouths of the people.
    Sahih Bukhari 4:52:131
  58. The women and young children went on the battlefield after the battle and gave water to the wounded Muslims and finished off the enemy wounded. al-Tabari vol.12 p.127,146.
  59. al-Dhahabi. "Siyar a`lam al-nubala'". IslamWeb. Retrieved 3 September 2018. قال عبد الرحمن بن أبي الزناد : كانت أسماء أكبر من عائشة بعشر" (Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi al-Zunad said: Asma was older than Aisha by ten years.)
  60. Fatwa 124483 -
  61. All four of his [i.e. Abu Bakr's] children were born of his two wives - the names of whom we have already mentioned - during the pre-Islamic period. Tarikh al-umam wa al-mamloo'k, Al-Tabari, Vol. 4, Pg. 50, Arabic, Dar al-fikr, Beirut, 1979
  62. The angel brought down my likeness; the Messenger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage was consummated when I was nine; he married me when I was a virgin, no other man having shared me with him Al-Tabari, Vol. 7, p. 7
  63. I was then brought [in] while the Messenger of God was sitting on a bed in our house. [My mother] made me sit on his lap... Then the men and women got up and left. The Messenger of God consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old. Neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered on behalf of me. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 131
  64. The Messenger of God saw 'A'ishah twice-[first when] it was said to him that she was his wife (she was six years old at that time), and later [when] he consummated his marriage with her after coming to Medina when she was nine years old. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 131
  65. [The Prophet] married her three years before the Emigration, when she was seven years old, and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old, after he had emigrated to Medina in Shawwil. She was eighteen years old when he died. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 131
  66. The Prophet married Aishah in Shawwal in the tenth year after the [beginning of his] prophethood, three years before Emigration. He consummated the marriage in Shawwal, eight months after Emigration. On the day he consummated the marriage with her she was nine years old. Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 171-173
  67. According to Ibn Hisham, Ayesha (ra) was the 20th or the 21st person to enter into the folds of Islam. While `umar ibn al-khattab was the 41st. Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, Pg. 227 - 234, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithah, Al-Riyadh
  68. Narrated 'Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) I never remembered my parents believing in any religion other than the true religion (i.e. Islam), and (I don't remember) a single day passing without our being visited by Allah’s Apostle in the morning and in the evening." Sahih Bukhari 5:58:245
  69. Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol 6, Pg 210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut, cited by Moiz Amjad What was Ayesha's (ra) Age at the Time of Her Marriage?
  70. Narrated Aisha: (wife of the Prophet) Since I reached the age when I could remember things, I have seen my parents worshipping according to the right faith of Islam. Not a single day passed but Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) visited us both in the morning and in the evening...
    Sahih Bukhari 3:37:494
  71. nun-fa-sin - Lane's Lexicon
  72. Sharon DeWitte Old age isn’t a modern phenomenon – many people lived long enough to grow old in the olden days, too - University of South Carolina website, 10 August 2022
  73. Jesse Gamble, (2017) "Early Starters: Girls are entering puberty at every younger ages. What are the causes, and should we be worried?", Nature 550, S10-S11
  74. Gluckman, P. and Hanson, M. (2006) "Evolution, development and timing of puberty", Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 17(1)
  75. Tiziana Leone and Laura Brown Trends in age at menarche in low- and middle-income countries -, 1 March 2021