Age of 'Aa'ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, at her marriage
Fatwa No: 191627

Question

Assalamu Alaikum, Some muslim scholars say that Ayesha's(ra) age during marriage and consummation with prophet(pbuh) could not have been 6 and 9 years respectively as reported in bukhari. Some of the reason given by them are as below (excerpt from an article): 1) According to almost all the historians, Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah that Asma (ra) died in the 73rd year after hijrah[2] when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in the 73rd year after hijrah, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra) - if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH - was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage 2) Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr (ra) planned on migrating to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mut`am - with whose son Ayesha (ra) was engaged at that time - and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in his house as his son's wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam. Subsequently, his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha (ra) was only seven years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr decided on migrating to Habshah. On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume that Ayesha (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage. Is the references and what the article trying to prove is correct?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

Much has been said in this matter in these latter days, as some of those who do not believe in Allaah nor in the Last Day have called into question the issue of marrying young, yet the story of the marriage of ‘Aa’ishah may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her is the supporting evidence for its permissibility. It is not strange that such people will defame Islam from this angle or otherwise. However, what is strange is the psychological defeat that has afflicted some Muslims, who in turn strive hard to refute these people in a manner in which they engage in a serious vice, i.e., by rejecting this Hadeeth, which is of the highest grades of authenticity that has been agreed upon through multiple narrations by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim. It was even narrated by ‘Aa’ishah, Mother of the Believers, herself, and she is at the center of the discussion! This is the first thing.

Secondly, this Hadeeth is reported in the Saheeh of Al-Bukhari and that of Muslim as we mentioned, so how could one resort to arguing against it with narrations that were merely mentioned in history books? Every student of knowledge, let alone the scholars, knows that the books of history are filled with the weak and the strong and give little attention to authentication. This includes books like Al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah by Ibn Katheer and Taareekh Al-Umam Wal-Mulook by At-Tabari. As for Taqreeb At-Tahtheeb by Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar, it is one of the books of Rijaal (explaining the authenticity and trustworthiness of narrators and what they narrate).

Thirdly, the content of this Hadeeth has been agreed upon by the scholars. This agreement has been mentioned by Ibn Katheer himself in the same book, Al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah, when he said: "His saying (he married her when she was six years old and consummated marriage with her when she was nine years old) is something in which there is no disagreement from anyone, and it is established in the Saheeh [authentic] books of Hadeeth and elsewhere."

Fourthly, regarding the marriage between ‘Aa’ishah and the son of Al-Mut‘im Ibn ‘Adiyy, then this is mentioned in the Taareekh of At-Tabari: "Umm Roomaan (the mother of ‘Aa’ishah) said: Verily Al-Mut‘im Ibn ‘Adiyy mentioned her for his son… so Abu Bakr entered upon Al-Mut‘im and his wife, the mother of his son for whom she (‘Aa’ishah) was mentioned (i.e. whom he proposed for marriage). The lady said: “O Ibn Abi Quhaafah [Abu Bakr]! If we married our son to your daughter, perhaps she would cause him to defect and enter your religion.” So he turned to her husband and said: “What is she saying?” He said: “She said what she said.” At that, Abu Bakr left and Allaah cancelled the arrangement for marriage." She thus never married him, so it is wrong to say he divorced her.

Fifthly, the books of Seerah relate that ‘Aa’ishah died when she was 63 years and a few months old, in the year 57 AH. So her age before the Hijrah was 6 years old. If we were to do as the Arabs commonly did, adding two years to one’s age (to complete the fraction of months in both the year of birth and the year of death), then we could say she was 8 years old. Then, to add one year after the Hijrah, since the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,  married her eight months thereafter, we could say her age was 9 years old at that time, and this is in accordance with what was previously narrated.

Sixthly, Ath-Thahabi said in Siyar A‘laam An-Nubalaa’: "She – i.e. Asmaa’ – was older than ‘Aa’ishah by more than ten years." If we then say that ‘Aa’ishah was nine years old at the time of Hijrah, being born four years after the beginning of the Prophet’s mission in Makkah (which lasted for 13 years), then if we were to add to that what Abu Nu‘aym said in Ma‘rifat As-Sahaabah, that “Asmaa’ was born ten years before the mission of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ” then Asmaa’ was 14 years old at the time of the birth of ‘Aa’ishah. This corresponds with the opinion of Ath-Thahabi in As-Siyar above "She – i.e. Asmaa’ – was older than ‘Aa’ishah by more than ten years.").

In conclusion, we advise our Muslim brothers to not occupy themselves with the doubts that their enemies bring against Islam. Their suspicions will never cease. Those who try to refute these enemies by using rationalizations that are counter to our legal foundations must fear Allaah for themselves and for the Ummah, and they should turn their attention to that which benefits them in both their religion and their worldly affairs. For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa when Chapter Al-Qamar was revealed">92608 - ">84343 - when she married">82962.

Allaah Knows best.

Related Fatwa