How old was Aisha (ra) at the time of her marriage?


In an official mulaqat on 13 December 2020, Huzooraa reflected upon various narrations and looked at the sayings of the Promised Messiahas regarding the age of Hazrat Aishara at the time of her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa and gave the following guidance on this issue: 

“We find a great deal of discrepancy in the books of history, sirah, tafsir and hadith regarding the age of Hazrat Aishara at the time of her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa. The age of Hazrat Aishara at the time of her nikah to the Holy Prophetsa that has been mentioned in these books ranges from six to 16 years, while her age at the time of her rukhsati [sending off] mentioned in them ranges from nine to 19 years. 

“Narrations of the Sihah al-Sittah [the six authentic books of hadith], including those of Sahih al-Bukhari, mention the age of Hazrat Aishara at the time of her nikah as being six years and her age at the time of the consummation of the marriage as nine years. However, if we scrutinise these narrations regarding the age of Hazrat Aishara on the basis of the principles of the science of hadith – i.e. riyawah and dirayah – we find them falling short of the standard of authenticity. 

“21 of the narrations in this regard are reported in the Sihah al-Sittah, 14 of which are narrated by Hisham ibn Urwah and the others by Abu Ubaidah, Abu Salamah and Aswad. It is strange indeed that this very significant and important incident, in terms of history and sirah, has not been narrated by any of the most prominent sahabah

“The narrations regarding Hazrat Aisha’sra marriage at a young age first came to light in 185 AH, when some considerable time had passed after the demise of Hisham and Urwah, the two narrators who have narrated most of the ahadith in this regard. Moreover, Hisham and Urwah spent most of their lives in Medina and Imam Malikrh, the renowned muhaddith of Medina, was an acclaimed pupil of Hisham ibn Urwah. Despite all this, there is no mention of this narration in Muwatta of Imam Malikra

“Towards the end of his life – when Hisham ibn Urwah had lost his eyesight, his memory had deteriorated and (according to experts of biographical evaluation) he had started to suffer from delusion and amnesia – he emigrated to Kufa and it is there that he mentioned this narration for the first time. The person to whom he narrated it, also let another 40 years pass after the demise of Hisham ibn Urwah before he narrated it further. So, there was no possibility of finding any evidence in favour of it or against it. 

“Thus, the fact that Hisham did not report this narration as long as he lived at Medina and that it was mentioned in a book which was compiled many years after his demise, casts various doubts on its authenticity. There is also a possibility that this narration was fabricated in order to slander the family of the Holy Prophetsa in general and Hazrat Aisha Siddiqara in particular. It may have been done to prove that, although the Holy Prophetsa had instructed to learn half the faith from this wife, one could not learn about the faith at all from her since she was married to the Holy Prophetsa at a young age when she still used to play with other girls and with dolls and the Holy Prophetsa passed away while she was still in her childhood. 

“Moreover, there is a discrepancy within the narrations of Sahih Bukhari regarding the nikah of Hazrat Aishara. In one of the narrations, Hazrat Aishara states that the Holy Prophetsa married her three years after the demise of Hazrat Khadijara, while in another narration it is written that Hazrat Khadijara passed away three years before the migration of the Holy Prophetsa to Medina and that he then waited for two years or very close to this period before performing the nikah with Hazrat Aishara

“Thus, although the collectors of ahadith have performed their task with the utmost care, there still remains an aspect of error, doubt and suspicion because it was approximately 100 to 150 years after the Holy Prophetsa that the ahadith started to be compiled while Muslims had become divided into several sects and various kinds of disagreements had grown among them. 

“Thus, in addition to the reform and resolution of other issues, the Hakam and Adl [judge and arbiter] of this age, the Promised Messiahas has also resolved the issue at hand in the most excellent manner.

“Huzooras states:

‘Although we hold the most courteous view towards ahadith, but how can we accept a hadith that is contrary to the Noble Quran or against the honour of the Holy Prophetsa? That was the time of collecting and compiling the ahadith and although those people compiled the ahadith after much scrutiny, they were unable to take complete and absolute care in this regard. That was the time for collecting, but now is the time for review, scrutiny and contemplation.’ (Malfuzat, Volume 9, Vol. 9, pp. 471-472 [1984 edition])

“If we analyse the issue of the age of Hazrat Aishara from another angle, we learn from the books of history and sirah that all four children of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiqra (i.e. Hazrat Abdullahra, Hazrat Asmaara, Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra and Hazrat Aishara) were born before the Holy Prophetsa was formally commissioned by God. Hazrat Aishara is also included among the list of the early Muslims drawn up by biographers. How could the name of Hazrat Aishara be included among the list of early Muslims if she was born in the fifth year after the formal commissioning of the Holy Prophetsa

“Historians have written that Hazrat Asmaara was 10 years older than Hazrat Aishara and that at the time of the Hijrah, Hazrat Asmaa was 27 years old. According to this, Hazrat Aishara would have been born in the fourth year before the formal commissioning of the Holy Prophetsa. And if we assume that her nikah took place before the Hijrah, then she would have been 14 at that time. 

“There is a narration in Sahih Bukhari regarding the Battle of Uhud, which was fought in 2 AH. According to the narration, Hazrat Aisha bint Abu Bakrra and Hazrat Umm Sulaimra used to fill up waterskins and carry them on their backs to the people to provide them water. If Hazrat Aishara had been as young as a small girl, then how was she able to run around on the battlefield carrying filled up waterskins on her back to take them to the injured? How was she able to perform this duty? 

“Hence, this also proves that in 2 AH she was certainly old enough to be able to perform such a strenuous task on the battlefield. 

“This fact has also been recorded in history books that before her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa, Hazrat Aishara was engaged to Jubair ibn Mut‘im. Her engagement at that time also tells that she was not six years old. This is especially due to the fact that when the Holy Prophetsa asked Hazrat Abu Bakrra for Hazrat Aisha’s hand in marriage, [prior to that] Hazrat Abu Bakrra had asked Jubair ibn Mut‘im for the rukhsati of Hazrat Aishara. When he received a rejection from him, the engagement was annulled. It was then that the nikah with the Holy Prophetsa took place. Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq’sra requesting Jubair ibn Mut‘im for the rukhsati proves that Hazrat Aishara was not at all six years of age at that time. Even at that time, she had reached a marriageable age. 

“The conclusion to which Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra came after carefully analysing the narrations on the age of Hazrat Aishara in his scholarly manner, is that her age at the time of her marriage was 13 to 14 years. That indeed is the correct estimation of her age. Accordingly, the age of Hazrat Aishara at the time of the Holy Prophet’ssa demise was 21 to 22 years, which is the most excellent age for the completion of the acquisition of religious knowledge and for imparting it further to other people.

“The Hakam and Adl of this age, the Promised Messiahas, has completely rejected the narrations which state the age of Hazrat Aishara as being nine years at the time of her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa. Thus, the Promised Messiahsa, while replying to the allegations raised by Fath-e-Masih, a Christian priest and an opponent of Islam, said:

‘You have written about the formal wedding of Hazrat Aisha Siddiqara as having taken place at the age of nine years. Firstly, it is not proven that the Holy Prophetsa himself ever mentioned “nine years”. Neither was there any revelation about it, nor is the age of nine years definitively proven by mass-transmitted narrations [akhbar mutawatirah]. It has just been taken from a narrator.’ (Nur-ul-Quran No. 2, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 9, p. 377)

“Likewise, on another occasion, Huzooras said: 

‘Hazrat Aisha’sra being nine years old is only mentioned in completely baseless sayings. It is neither proven by any hadith, nor by the Quran.’ (Arya Dharam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 10, p. 64)

“In short, all such narrations that mention Hazrat Aishara as being nine years of age at the time of her marriage are subject to review and further scrutiny. Either the narrators have made an inadvertent mistake in them or the narrators who came later have interpolated in them. 

“An in-depth study of the books of history and sirah clearly reveals that Hazrat Aishara was of an appropriate and most befitting age at the time of her marriage; an age at which it was customary for the Quraish to marry their sons and daughters. This marriage was neither a special or noteworthy exception to the norm of the Arab society of that time, nor was it objectionable in any shape or form even to the hypocrites or disbelievers that they may raise any allegation against it, make any abusive remark about it or even be surprised by it.” 

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