(This article was taken from http://dan1988.blogspot.com/2006/02/why-did-prophet-muhammed-marry-aisha.html by : Dan_1988)
Age of Marriage in the light of Authentic Hadiths
Prophet’s Marriage to Aisha is becoming a famous topic amongst the critics of Islam. Whilst discussing this, they completely ignore the traditions at the time and the fruits the blessed marriage brought. In this article we will be exploring the reasons behind the marriage as well as affirming that Prophet Muhammed was not a paedophile. First of all let’s examine the proof from Islamic sources regarding marriage to Aisha (RA):
that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nineyears old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death) Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64)”
From the hadith it is confirmed that engagement was done when Aisha (RA) was 6 and then marriage was consummated when she was 9 years old. It must be noted that the marriage was extremely successful as it is evident from countless hadiths. Indeed, from a Muslim’s perspective the marriage was divine:
Allah’s Apostle said (to me), “You have been shown to me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, ‘This is your wife.’ I uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself, ‘If this dream is from Allah, He will cause it to come true.’ ” ( Sahih Bukhari,Volume 7, Book 62, Number 15)
Age of Marriage in the Old Ages
Morality is relative not absolute, it varies from culture to culture and society to society. What is perceived to be moral in USA may not hold to be true in other parts of the world, such as Africa and Asia. Morality is also relative to time, fornication/dating little time ago was regarded as taboo and a matter of shame for the family. However, now this is a common habit, dating could start as early as at the age of 10. Another example would be dress code, which was very modest in history but not so now.
Therefore, we need to analyse the age of marriage in history and judge Prophet’s marriage from there. Historically, the age at which a girl was considered ready to be married was puberty; this also was the case in biblical times. In an article called “Ancient Israelite Marriage Customs“, by Jim West, ThD – a Baptist minister writes:
“The wife was to be taken from within the larger family circle (usually at the outset of puberty or around the age of 13) in order to maintain the purity of the family line;”
While discussing the meaning of the word ‘almah, which is the Hebrew word for “young woman” or “adolescent female”, Gerald Segal, in his book “The Jew and the Christian Missionary”, Ktav Publishing House,1981, page 28 says:
“It should be noted, however, that in biblical times females married at an early age.”
The Campaign To Raise The Age Of Consent, 1885-1994 (http://womhist.binghamton.edu/teacher/aoc.htm) [note the education domain] states:
“American reformers were shocked to discover that the laws of most states set the age of consent at the age of ten or twelve, and in one state, Delaware, the age of consent was only seven.”
Thus it was a norm to be married at a young age. This is why the people of Quraish and other Arabian tribes at Prophet’s time found absolutely no fault in their marriage. On the contrary it is evident from countless narrations that the marriage was successful. They detested Islam, they did everything to belittle the Prophet, tried to prevent Islam from spreading and even attempted to kill the Prophet! However, they raised no objection to the marriage of the Prophet to Aisha since at those times such a thing was not considered ‘immoral’.
Nabia Abbott, who is a western female orientalist and has written many anti-islam materials, writes in her book Aishah-The Beloved of Mohammed, Al-Saqi Books, London, 1985, page 7:
“It is not clear just when the marriage actually took place. According to some versions, it was in the month of Shawwal of the Year 1, that is, some seven or eight months after the arrival at Medina; but, according to others, it was not until after the Battle of Badr, that is, in Shawwal of the second year of the Hijrah. In no version is there any comment made on the disparity of the ages between Mohammed and Aishah or on the tender age of the bride who, at the most, could not have been over ten years old and who was still much enamoured with her play.”
Even in our times in certain parts of the world the age of marriage is still relatively low. According to a chart on (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent#Ages_of_consent_in_various_countries ) the age of consent in Mexico and Philippines is only 12. In Guyana, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Swaziland the age of consent is 13. Hence even in ?Today’s Times’ a young marriage is not abnormal, as some in the west think.
Should the people of United Kingdom, where the age limit is higher, be correct in slandering the people of Philippines/Mexico where the age limit is much lower and thus married at young age? Of course not! Or if within few centuries the age of marriage rises up to 20, then should those people have a right to slander those who lived at our times and married before 20? By the same token, we should not criticize the marriage of the Prophet based on the norm of our time.
It ought also be noted that Aisha ( RA) was engaged to Jubayr son of Mut’im before Prophet Muhammed. This indicates the age of marriage and engagement in Prophet’s time. However, the engagement was later nullified by Jubayr’s parents due to Abu Bakr (RA) embracing Islam. This can be read in detail on http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/companion/02_abu_bakr.htm#Holy%20Prophet
Thus the history demonstrates that the age of the marriage was lower and relative to olden times, the marriage of the Prophet was not abnormal and there was nothing immoral about it. It was a norm at biblical times to be wedded at puberty or earlier, the age of consent one century ago in a ‘modern country’ was as low as 10 or 12, even 7 in Delaware! Even in our times, in certain societies, the age of consent is as low as 12 or 13. In the light of historical evidences, the marriage cannot be criticized.
Age of Puberty, can a 9 year old be mature enough?
Age of puberty varies however in woman it is generally reached earlier. “The average temperature of the country or province,” say the well-known authors of the book Woman (Herman H. Ploss, Max Bartels and Paul Bartels, Woman, Volume I, Lord & Bransby, 1988, page 563.), “is considered the chief factor here, not only with regard to menstruation but as regards the whole of sexual development at puberty.”
Puberty in Girls (http://www.population.health.wa.gov.au/Communicable/Resources/2107%20PubertyinGirls.pdf) by an Australian government Public Health organization, says:
“The first sign of puberty is usually a surge of growth: you become taller; your breasts develop; hair begins to grow in the pubic area and under the arms. This may start from 10 years to 14 years – even earlier for some and later for others.”
According to MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopaedia (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001168.htm):
“Precocious puberty is premature development of body characteristics that normally occur during puberty. (Puberty is the period in life when the body changes rapidly and develops reproductive capability). Puberty normally occurs between 13 and 15 years old in boys, and between 9 and 16 years old in girls. In girls, precocious puberty is when any of the following develop before 8 years of age:
- Armpit or pubic hair
- Mature external genitalia
- First menstruation”
Indeed, there have been many cases of early puberty. For instance, Lina Medina gave birth at the age of 5 years, 7 months and 21 days. Encyclopaedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lina_Medina ) says:
“Lina Medina (born September 27, 1933 in Paurange, Peru) gave birth at the age of 5 years, 7 months and 21 days and is the youngest confirmed mother in medical history. This world record is closely followed by a similar case in Russia.”
When Aisha had reached puberty the marriage was consummated, as Karen Armstrong writes in her book Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, Harper San Francisco, 1992, page 157:
“Tabari says that she was so young that she stayed in her parents’ home and the marriage was consummated there later when she had reached puberty.”
Therefore it is not surprising if Aisha (RA) reached puberty at an early age. The marriage was consummated when Aisha (RA) reached puberty. Her maturity from ahadiths certainly dictates this. In addition, let us not forget that in olden times, marriage at puberty was nothing strange.
Vital Benefits of the Marriage
In addition, Aisha (RA) was exceedingly intelligent and had a formidable memory. She had profound knowledge of Quran and Sunnah She narrated over 2,000 hadith (at least 2,210). Abdul-Hamîd Siddiqî writes in a book entitled Sahih muslim (English-translation of Sahih Muslim, Volume 2, International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, page 715.):
“She [Aisha] developed into a spiritual teacher and scholar, since she was remarkably intelligent and wise. Her qualities help support the Prophet’s work and further the cause of Islam. Aishah, the Mother of the Believers, was not only a model for wives and mothers, but she was also a commentator on the Qur’ân, an authority on hadîth and knowledgeable in Islamic Law. She narrated at least 2,210 ahâdîth that give Muslims valuable insights into the Final Prophet’s daily life and behaviour, thus preserving the Sunnah of Muhammad(P).”
Abu Musa al-Ash’ari says:
“Never had we (the companions) had any difficulty for the solution of which we approached Aisha and did not get some useful information from her”. — Sirat-I-Aisha, on the authority of Trimidhi, p. 163.
Thus the contribution of Aisha was vital, without her perhaps much of the sunnah would have been lost. In addition the marriage also refuted the notion that a man could not marry the daughter of a man who he had declared to be his “brother” (even in the religious sense). Since the Prophet and Abu Bakr had declared each other to be “brothers”, this notion was done away with. This is demonstrated in the following hadith:
The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for ‘Aisha’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said “But I am your brother.” The Prophet said, “You are my brother in Allah’s religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry.”” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 18)
This is another teaching, which the marriage portrayed. The marriage also strengthened the relationship between Abu Bakr and Prophet Muhammed. Let us bear in mind that Abu Bakr was the first Caliph.
Pedophilia and lust for women?
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998, definition of Paedophile is:
“Pedophile: also spelled PAEDOPHILIA, psychosexual disorder in which an adult’s arousal and sexual gratification occur primarily through sexual contact with prepubescent children. The typical paedophile is unable to find satisfaction in an adult sexual relationship and may have low self-esteem, seeing sexual activity with a child as less threatening than that with an adult.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998.
Apart from Aisha, all his wives were more than 16 (The Prophet of Islam, the Ideal Husband (Lahore: Kazi Publications), pp. 10-12), which at those times was considered as a mature age. Indeed, his first wife was twice widowed before and was older than him by 15 years. All his wives except Aisha and Marya were widows. Therefore, it is evident that Prophet’s marriage with Aisha was not a norm and Prophet did indeed find adult relationship. Prophet also did not have low self-esteem, as it is evident from his Seerah.
In addition, Harold I. Kaplan et al. (Synopsis of Psychiatry, 5th ed. [Williams and Wilkens, 1988], p. 360) writes:
“In addition to their paedophilia, a significant number of paedophiles are concomitantly or have previously been involved in exhibitionism, voyeurism, or rape“. (Voyeurism is the recurrent preoccupation with fantasised or acts that involve seeking out or observing people who are naked, or are engaged in grooming or in sexual activity).
It is commonly accepted by Muslims and non-muslims (un-biased) that Prophet in no sense indulged in “exhibitionism, voyeurism, or rape” or even came close to it. There is not a single reference to indicate that prophet was involved in any such act. In addition, Prophet waited for Aisha to mature and reach Puberty before the marriage was consummated, this obviously is contrary to the characteristics of a paedophile.
Hypocrisy of Jews & Christians
It is quite hypocritical of Jews and Christian to criticize the marriage of Aisha. Talmud (Jewish scripture) says:
“Marrying off one’s daughter as soon after she reaches adulthood as possible, even to one’s Slave. (From the Talmud, Pesachim 113a)”
As we discussed, in biblical times adulthood could refer to the age of Puberty or even younger age.
Regarding the Marriage of Mary to Joseph, Catholic Encyclopaedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm), says:
“When forty years of age, Joseph married a woman called Melcha or Escha by some, Salome by others; they lived forty-nine years together and had six children, two daughters and four sons, the youngest of whom was James (the Less, “the Lord’s brother”). A year after his wife’s death, as the priests announced through Judea that they wished to find in the tribe of Juda a respectable man to espouse Mary, then twelve to fourteen years of age, Joseph, who was at the time ninety years old, went up to Jerusalem among the candidates; a miracle manifested the choice God had made of Joseph, and two years later the Annunciation took place.”
Note: That article on Catholic Encyclopaedia obtains its information from early
Christian writing including apocryphal writings.
The Catholic Encyclopaedia goes on to conclude “…retained the belief that St. Joseph was an old man at the time of marriage with the Mother of God.” If Christians do not find any difficulty in accepting “Mother of God” (according to Catholic Encyclopaedia), who was 12-14, marrying a 90 year old man then why do they raise objection towards the marriage of Aisha (RA) to the Prophet?
Consent of Aisha’s Family
Let us not forget that marriage was willingly consented by Abu Bakr. If there had been anything wrong with the marriage, Abu Bakr would have objected. If the father of Aisha found no fault with the marriage then why should people 1400 years later raise objections? Naturally, Abu Bakr must have had the best interests in his heart for his daughter.
History demonstrates that the age of marriage was low, in olden times women married when they reached puberty or even earlier. Even in USA, a century ago, age of consent was low, 7 in Delaware, even Today in some countries like Mexico and Philippines, age of consent is as low as 12. It should not be too astonishing to find therefore that Aisha was mature enough, as the medical evidences states that puberty can occur at the age of 9.
Aisha allowed the sunnah to be preserved and has quoted over 2,000 hadiths, thus playing a vital role for Islam. The marriage also refuted the Arab notion that a man cannot marry the daughter of a man who he had declared to be his “brother” (even in the religious sense). In addition, the marriage also strengthened the relationship between Prophet Muhammed and Abu Bakr [Companion of Prophet Muhammed and First Caliph). Prophet does not fulfil the characteristics of a Paedophile. Let us not forget that Prophet waited 3 years before the marriage with Aisha was consummated and that all his other wives were older than 16. It is quite hypocritical of Christian to criticize the marriage of Aisha when Mary, who according to Catholic Encyclopaedia was between 12 and 14, and yet married Joseph who was 90 years old. Let us also not forget that consent of marriage was given by Aisha’s father, who had the best interest in his heart for her.