Muhammad and Aisha Revisited:

Analyzing the Claims of Muslim Polemicists

Sam Shamoun

We continue our discussion of Muhammad’s marriage to nine-year-old Aisha, this time focusing on some of the common arguments and claims made by certain Muslims in their attempts of salvaging Muhammad’s reputation. We will focus on some of the most common points raised to either justify Muhammad’s marriage or outright deny that Aisha was as young as the reports claim, to see whether any of these assertions hold any weight.

In order to facilitate easier and quicker navigation of our article we have divided the paper into the following sections:


The Argument from Climate

Some Muslims argue that girls, at that time, reached puberty faster due to the hot climate of the Arabian desert. Despite there being absolutely no shred of evidence supporting this far fetched claim, the Muslim sources actually say that Aisha hadn’t reached puberty when Muhammad consummated his marriage with her:

Abu Ja‘far [al-Tabari]: The Messenger of God did not marry another woman during the life of Khadijah until she passed away. When she died, the Messenger of God got married, but [opinions] differ as to whom he married first after Khadijah. Some say that it was ‘A’isha bt. Abi Bakr al-Siddiq, while others say that it was Sawdah bt. Zam‘ah b. Qays b. ‘Abd Shams b. ‘Abd Wudd b. Nasr. As for ‘A’ishah, when he married her she was very young AND NOT READY YET FOR CONSUMMATION, whereas Sawdah was already married before… (The History of al-Tabari, Volume IX, p. 128)

One Muslim named Robert Squires tries to use al-Tabari’s statement as proof against the view that Aisha hadn’t attained puberty when Muhammad slept with her:

* The above question is answered directly and unambiguously on page 128 of The History of al-Tabari — Volume IX, where it states that "As for 'A'ishah, when he married her she was very young and not yet ready for consummation"—which clearly proves that they were waiting for her to reach puberty (i.e. to be biologically "ready"). Likewise, the statement that 'A'ishah—radi Allahu 'anha—was "not yet ready for consummation" would undoubtedly be nonsensical in a social context where marriage to prepubescent children was allowed. Thus it both severely undermines the merely circumstantial evidence which has been brought forward in an ineffectual attempt to prove the contrary, and serves as strong proof that the marriage in question certainly did not involve a prepubescent girl. (Source)

Al-Tabari’s statement proves no such thing, but simply means that Muhammad married Aisha when she was too young for consummation. It says absolutely nothing about her attaining puberty at the age of nine, or that this was the reason why her parents waited three years. If anything, one can argue that she was physically too young for a grown man to penetrate her and so she had to wait a few more years before she would be able to handle it. More on this later.

Moreover, the hadiths provide further support that Aisha had not reached puberty since they speak of her playing with dolls:

'A'isha reported that she used to PLAY WITH DOLLS in the presence of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and when her playmates came to her they left (the house) because they felt shy of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), whereas Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent them to her. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5981)

The reason why Aisha was permitted to play with dolls in front of Muhammad is because she hadn’t attained puberty yet:

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) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151)

Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet was screening me with his Rida' (garment covering the upper part of the body) while I was looking at the Ethiopians who were playing in the courtyard of the mosque. (I continued watching) till I was satisfied. So you may deduce from this event how a little girl (who has not reached the age of puberty) who is eager to enjoy amusement should be treated in this respect. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 163)

Squires thinks he has a way of undermining the significance that Aisha’s playing with dolls has on establishing the position that she was prepubescent when Muhammad slept with her:

Now in regards to the various hadiths ([1][2][3][4]) that anti-Islamic apologists have employed in an attempt to prove that 'Aishah—radi Allahu 'anha—was still a young girl who was playing with dolls at the time of her marriage. Well unfortunately for them, they've jumped to some hasty conclusions since none of these hadiths ([1][2][3][4]) explicitly indicate whether the marriage had been consummated at this time. Rather, one could just as easily conclude—especially in light of the evidence I've presented above—that the incidents in which 'Aishah—radi Allahu 'anha—was playing with dolls along with her young friends occurred at a time when she was still living with her parents (i.e. after the betrothal and prior to the consummation). Actually, based on the fact that the Prophet—salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam—was known to regularly visit 'Aishah's father Abu Bakr—radi Allahu 'anhu, these events could have taken place anytime during 'Aishah's childhood—radi Allahu 'anha. (Source: bold and underline emphasis ours)

Let’s see if Squires’ claim holds any weight:

'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. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3311)

It is rather unfortunate for Squires that he did not read the hadiths carefully since they quite clearly show that Muhammad did consummate his marriage with Aisha while the latter was still playing with her dolls at the age of nine.

As if this weren’t bad enough he dares to misquote Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s position:

* Even Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani concludes that: "To say with certainty 'that she was not yet at the age of puberty' is questionable"—and this view is seemingly based on considering this hadith in isolation without taking textual evidence from other sources in account...but Allahu 'alim. Thus in the final analysis, the so-called "evidence" and "proof" that this hadith provides to those trying to spin a case of prepubescent marriage is anything but decisive.

This is the same al-Asqalani who stated in Fateh-al-Bari, Volume 13, page 143, that the reason why Aisha was even allowed to play with dolls is because she hadn’t reached puberty! This seeming contradiction is easily resolved when we realize that Al-Asqalani’s comments were not made in regard to Aisha's age or maturity at the time of her marriage. They refer to this specific hadith:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:

When the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her.

He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4914)

Here is the context of al-Asqalani’s quote:

Al-Haafiz goes on to say:[43: Fath al-Baaree 10/400, Baab (91), related to Hadeeth no.5954, 5955.]
Abu Daawood and An-Nasaa'ee have narrated with another chain (wajh aakhar) from 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said:" The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) returned from the battle of Tabook or Khaibar...".

Here he mentioned the Hadeeth about his (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) tearing down the curtain which she (may Allah be pleased with her) attached to her door. She (may Allah be pleased with her) said:" Then the side of the curtain which was over the dolls of 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was uncovered. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: What is this, O 'Aa'isha? She said: My dolls. She then said: then he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw amongst them a winged horse which was tied up. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: What is this? I said: A horse. He said: A horse with two wings? I said: Didn't you hear that Sulaiman (Solomon - peace be upon him) had horses with wings? Then he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) laughed"[44].

Al-Khattaabee said: From this Hadeeth it is understood that playing with dolls (al-banaat) is not like the amusement from other images (suwar) concerning which the threat (wa'eed) of punishment is mentioned. The only reason why permission in this was given to 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) is because SHE HAD NOT, AT THAT TIME, REACHED THE AGE OF PUBERTY.

[al-Haafiz says:] I say: To say with certainty, [that she was not yet at the age of puberty] is questionable, though it might possibly be so. This, because 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was a fourteen year old girl at the time of the Battle of Khaibar - either exactly fourteen years old, or having just passed her fourteenth year [and entering into the fifteenth year], or approaching it (the fourteenth year).

As for her age at the time of the Battle of Tabook - she had by then definitely reached the age of puberty. Therefore, THE STRONGEST VIEW is that of those who said: "It was in Khaibar" [i.e. WHEN SHE WAS NOT YET AT THE AGE OF PUBERTY], and made reconciliation (jam') [between the apparent contradictory rulings, of permissibility of dolls, in particular, and the prohibition of images, in general] with what al-Khattaabee said (above).

[al-Khattabee said that images are prohibited, except in the case of dolls for young girls]. This, because to reconcile (make jam') is better than to assume the ahaadith to be in contradiction (at-ta'aarud). Here Shaykh Bin Baaz concludes his quotation from al-Haafiz, saying: The above is the essence of the words of al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar. (The Beneficial Response Concerning the Islamic Ruling of Pictures/Images, by Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Ibn Abdullah Ibn Baaz, rendered in English by Abu Muhammad Abdur-Ra'uf Shakir; source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Al-Asqalani was not disputing whether Muhammad married Aisha before puberty, but whether she was still prepubescent during the expedition against Khaybar. Al-Asqalani claims that the strongest view is that she hadn’t attained puberty even at that time when she was already 14 years old! Thus, al-Asqalani soundly refutes and exposes Squires’ assertion that Aisha was pubescent when Muhammad married her.

For a more thorough refutation of Squires’ points we recommend the following link: http://www.faithfreedom.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=452860#452860

There are other narrations which provide additional (albeit implicit) support that Aisha was too young for consummation due to the fact that she was prepubescent:

Narrated Urwa bin Al-Musayyab, Alqama bin Waqqas and Ubaidullah bin Abdullah:
About the story of 'Aisha and their narrations were similar attesting each other, when the liars said what they invented about 'Aisha, and the Divine Inspiration was delayed, Allah's Apostle sent for 'Ali and Usama to consult them in divorcing his wife (i.e. 'Aisha). Usama said, "Keep your wife, as we know nothing about her except good." Buraira said, "I cannot accuse her of any defect except that she is still A YOUNG GIRL who sleeps, neglecting her family's dough which the domestic goats come to eat (i.e. she was too simpleminded to deceive her husband)." Allah's Apostle said, "Who can help me to take revenge over the man who has harmed me by defaming the reputation of my family? By Allah, I have not known about my family anything except good, and they mentioned (i.e. accused) a man about whom I did not know anything except good." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 805)

… 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.' … (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 829)

'A'isha said… The women in those days were light of weight and they did not wear much flesh, as they ate less food; so they did not perceive the weight of my haudaj as they placed it upon the camel as I was A YOUNG GIRL at that time… Barira said: By Him Who sent thee with the truth, I have seen nothing objectionable in her but only this much that she is A YOUNG GIRL and she goes to sleep while kneading the flour and the lamb eats that… (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6673)

Many years after Muhammad had married Aisha and she is still described as being young and immature! Obviously, a girl who is described in such a manner is far from being ready for consummation with a grown man. The question that should be asked is what business did a fifty-four year old man have marrying such a girl in the first place?

To summarize: At the time when Aisha was taken to Muhammad’s house – which is the time they consummated their marriage –, she took her dolls with her and played with them. The Muslim sources explain this by pointing out that she had not reached puberty at that time. Even more, some sources state that she still played with dolls and had not reached puberty at the age of fourteen, i.e. five years later.


The Argument from Culture

According to certain Muslim polemicists, Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha was acceptable since in that day and culture girls often married at a young age.

However, not all Muslims agree with this assertion. Moiz Amjad of Understanding Islam says:

In my opinion, neither was it an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as nine or ten years, nor did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Ayesha (ra) at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage, because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated. (What was Ayesha's (ra) Age at the Time of Her Marriage to the Prophet (pbuh)?; source)

T.O. Shanavas agrees with the assessment of the previous writer:

A Christian friend asked me once, "Will you marry your seven year old daughter to a fifty year old man?" I kept my silence. He continued, "If you would not, how can you approve the marriage of an innocent seven year old, Ayesha, with your Prophet?" I told him, "I don’t have an answer to your question at this time." My friend smiled and left me with a thorn in the heart of my faith. Most Muslims answer that such marriages were accepted in those days. Otherwise, people would have objected to Prophet’s marriage with Ayesha.

However, such an explanation would be gullible only for those who are naive enough to believe it. But unfortunately, I was not satisfied with the answer.

The Prophet was an exemplary man. All his actions were most virtuous so that we, Muslims, can emulate them. However, most people in our Islamic Center of Toledo, including me, would not think of betrothing our seven years daughter to a fifty-two year-old man. If a parent agrees to such a wedding, most people, if not all, would look down upon the father and the old husband.

In 1923, registrars of marriage in Egypt were instructed not to register and issue official certificates of marriage for brides less than sixteen and grooms less than eighteen years of age. Eight years later, the Law of the Organization and Procedure of Sheriah courts of 1931 consolidated the above provision by not hearing the marriage disputes involving brides less than sixteen and grooms less than eighteen years old. (Women in Muslim Family Law, John Esposito, 1982). It shows that even in the Muslim majority country of Egypt the child marriages are unacceptable.

So, I believed, without solid evidence other than my reverence to my Prophet, that the stories of the marriage of seven-year-old Ayesha to 50-year-old Prophet are only myths. However, my long pursuit in search of the truth on this matter proved my intuition correct. My Prophet was a gentleman. And he did not marry an innocent seven or nine year old girl. The age of Ayesha has been erroneously reported in the hadith literature. Furthermore, I think that the narratives reporting this event are highly unreliable. Some of the hadith (traditions of the Prophet) regarding Ayesha’s age at the time of her wedding with prophet are problematic. I present the following evidences against the acceptance of the fictitious story by Hisham ibn ‘Urwah and to clear the name of my Prophet as an irresponsible old man preying on an innocent little girl. (Was Ayesha A Six-Year-Old Bride? The Ancient Myth Exposed; Sourc)

It is rather intriguing that those who reject the claims of the hadith that Muhammad married Aisha at nine have no problems admitting that such marriages with immature girls were not the norm or morally acceptable. On the other hand, those who accept these narrations as genuine are forced to argue that these marriages were normal during that time and therefore morally acceptable!

Moreover, we have evidence that ancient cultures fixed the marriageable age at puberty:

Almost all primitive cultures pay attention to puberty and marriage rituals, although there is a general tendency to pay more attention to the puberty rites of males than of females. Because puberty and marriage symbolize the fact that children are acquiring adult roles, most primitive cultures consider the rituals surrounding these events very important. Puberty rituals are often accompanied with ceremonial circumcision or some other operation on the male genitals. Female circumcision is less common, although it occurs in several cultures. Female puberty rites are more often related to the commencement of the menstrual cycle in young girls. (An Overview of the World's Religions; source)

In fact, one can safely say that most, if not all, Muslims accept puberty as the time when a child attains maturity. A Muslim site, seeking to defend Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha while the latter was nine, nonetheless admits:

Islam And the Age of Puberty

Islam clearly teaches that adulthood starts when a person have attained puberty.

From the collection of Bukhari[11], we read the following tracts:

The boy attaining the age of puberty and the validity of their witness and the Statement of Allh:

"And when the children among you attain the age of puberty, then let them also ask for permission (to enter)." Qur'n 24:59.

Al Mughira said, "I attained puberty at the age of twelve." The attaining of puberty by women is with the start of menses, as is referred to by the Statement of Allh:

We are further told by this source that:

...Al-Hasan bin Salih said, "I saw a neighbour of mine who became a grandmother at the age of twenty-one."(1)

(1) The note for this reference says: "This women attained puberty at the age of nine and married to give birth to a daughter at ten; the daughter had the same experience."[12]

Thus, it is clear that if the charge of "child molestation" were to be advanced against the Prophet(P), we would also have to include all the Semitic people who accepted marriage at puberty as the norm. (The Young Marriage of `ishah(R); source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

It is indeed true that some girls attain puberty at a younger age, yet this is normally not the case nor was it the case with Aisha as we saw above. And just because a girl has attained puberty faster doesn’t mean that she is physically ready to sleep with a man, especially one who was 54 years old!

We also know that Christians certainly looked down upon marriages with immature girls:

It is not only fornication, but also the giving in marriage prematurely, that is called fornication; when, so to speak, one not of ripe age is given to a husband, either of her own accord or by her parents. (Clement of Alexandria, IX.-Fragment of the Treatise on Marriage, Early Church Fathers - Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume II; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Even Robert Squires must admit that cultures set the age of marriage at puberty:

According to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, right and wrong are ordained by Almighty God. As such, morality does not change over time based on our whims, desires or cultural sensitivities. In cultures where there is no Divinely revealed ruling on an issue, what is right and what is wrong is determined by cultural norms. In such cases, a person would only be considered "immoral" if they violated the accepted norms of their society. As we will demonstrate, the Prophet Muhammad's marriage to 'Aishah at such a young age. In case Christian readers are under the false impression that their values today are timeless and somehow reflect those of Biblical times, please consider the following points which are directly related to the question of at what age a person is properly ready to be married:

"Getting your period" marks a rite of passage for young girls entering womanhood (From the Women's Resource Center)

Another contemporary reference relating marriage age to puberty is an article on Central Africa, which says: ". . . women marry soon after puberty"4. The previous quotations, and plenty of others which were not used, should prove to any intelligent person what anthropologists and historians already know: in centuries past, people were considered ready for marriage when they reached puberty. (The Young Marriage of 'Aishah; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Squires was quoting from the following source:

Puberty is defined as the age or period at which a person is first capable of sexual reproduction, in other eras of history, a rite or celebration of this landmark event was a part of the culture. This is true of tribal societies that exist today, but for most of us, puberty as a specific event is part of a much more complicated piece of our lives called adolescence. (Sue Curewitz Arthen, Rites of Passage Puberty; source)

Since Squires admits that puberty is the time when a person attains adulthood and is capable of sexual relations then this means Muhammad went against this principle since he married Aisha before she had reached that point!

In most cases, puberty for girls starts at the age of 12, and it is rare for girls to attain puberty prior to that period. There is even data to support the position that specific cultures placed the age of marriage at a little over 12 years of age. As one Christian writer states:

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; but she could not be too closely related as is shown by Leviticus 18. (James E. West, Ancient Israelite Marriage Customs; source)

The Jewish Mishnah sets the age of maturity for a female at twelve years and six months:

"she won her case in court before she matured [at the age of twelve years and six months], lo, they belong to the father." (Mishnah Ketubot, 4:1)

The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible in volume 2, page 1407, under "Marriage", says this about Jewish marriage customs:

"Subsequently, minimum ages (for marriage) of 13 for boys and 12 for girls were set."

Interestingly, certain Muslims tend to place the marriageable age even higher, at around 15 years old:

Try, test, well the orphans, before reaching maturity with regard [the duties of] religion and [before] they can [legally] manage their own affairs, until they reach the age of marrying, that is, until they have become eligible for it through puberty or [legal] age, which, according to al-Shafi'i, is the completion of fifteen years; then, if you perceive in them maturity, that is, right [judgement] in matters of religion and their property, deliver their property to them; consume it not, O guardians, wastefully, without due merit, and in haste, that is, hastening to expend it, fearing, lest they should grow up, and become mature, at which time you will be obliged to hand it over to them. If any man, who is a guardian, is rich, let him be abstinent, that is, let him abstain from the orphan's property and refrain from consuming it; if he is poor, let him consume, of it, honourably, that is, in line with the wage for his work. And when you deliver to them, the orphans, their property, take witnesses over them, that they have received it and that you are absolved [of the obligation], so that if any dispute occurs, you are able to refer to a clear proof: this is a command [intended] for guidance. God suffices as a reckoner, as a guardian of His creatures' deeds and as a reckoner of these [deeds] (the ba' [in bi'Llahi] is extra). (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)

And:

Puberty - Boys

Puberty is known in Islamic law as al-bulugh, or Tamyeez, (coming of age as a man and woman). There are three signs of puberty (bulugh):

1. Discharging semen as a result of wet dreams, known as inzaalul-manyyi. Allah (SWT) states: "But when the children among you come of age, let them also ask for permission, as do those senior to them in age..." (Al-Qur'an, 24-59)

In a hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "Friday bath (ghuslul-Jum'ah) is mandatory upon anyone who has experienced a wet dream." (Bukhari/Muslim) The point in this hadith is that Islamic obligations are not incumbent on anyone until they reach the age of bulugh.

2. Appearance of hair around the pubic area is another sign of puberty. If a person sees that even without wet dreams, he or she has attained puberty. This may happen at the age of thirteen or fourteen, and parents should inform girls and boys about these signs.

3. Reaching 15 years of age: When the person reaches 15, he OR SHE is a man OR A WOMAN, and anything that is obligatory on a man or woman is obligatory on him or her from that time on.

In a hadith reported by Abdullah Bin Umar (raa), he said: "My parents brought me to the Messenger of Allah on the eve of the Uhud Campaign and I was fourteen years old, so the Prophet (saas) did not enlist me in fighting." But a year later in the Campaign of Al-Khandaqq, I was fifteen, so this time the Prophet (saas) enlisted me in combat." (Muslim)

This hadith indicates the age of 15 is the legal age for a Muslim boy OR GIRL to be responsible for his or her religion as well as worldly responsibilities. Some of us who reside in the western world, seem to think adulthood depends on State laws. In some states it is 18, while in others it is 19, or 21, and so on. This is a very serious mistake, as the juvenile will reach puberty (bulugh) and adulthood, but go on without observing his or her Islamic duties, such as Salat, fasting, or being restrained from that which is prohibited.

Puberty - Girls

Girls reach puberty and adulthood when they experience the above three signs. However, they have a fourth sign, that is, menstruation (hayd). Whenever a girl experiences it, she is a woman even if she is 12 years old… (For Whom Fasting Is Mandatory?; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Robert Squires quotes al-Shafi’s position but ends up contradicting himself, or citing contradictory statements, since he writes that:

The above ruling regarding the age of marriage is mutually supported by an authentic (hassan) narration in Sunan al-Tirmidhi's Kitab al-Nikah,where 'Aishah herself says: "When the girl reaches nine years of age she is a woman". Reason dictates that this is because she was referring to her own experience in which she reached puberty at the age of nine. If this wasn't the case, all of the just mentioned tafsirs would seemingly need to state that "until they reach the (age of) marriage" means "nine" and not "puberty". (source)

Yet right before this he quotes:

The fact that Muslim scholars overwhelmingly agree that the minimum age of marriage is puberty. This can be clearly seen in the Qur'anic exegesis of the phrase "they reach the (age of) marriage" found in Surat al-Nisa' 4:6. In regards to this, four of the well-known classical commentators have the following to say [Click here to view an image of the following statements in the original Arabic]:

Tafsir al-Tabari: Clearly states that "And when He said 'they reach the (age of) marriage' then He means they reached puberty (al-hulum)"—and he lists numerous references.
Tafsir al-Qurtubi: In regards to the statement "until they reach the (age of) marriage", Imam al-Qurtubi says, "meaning puberty (al-hulum). And said the Most High, 'When children reach puberty' (al-Nur 59),meaning puberty (al-balugh) and state of marriage (wa hal al-nikah)."
Tafsir Ibn Kathir: In explaining, "until they reach the (age of) marriage", he states that "Mujahid said meaning puberty (al-hulum)".
Tafsir al-Jalalayn: Contains the explanation that: "'And Challenge' test 'the orphans' before they reach puberty in their religion and their conduct 'until they reach the (age of) marriage', meaning they reach puberty or the age of fifteen years old according to the Shafi'is".

Squires quotes Aisha claiming that a girl becomes a woman at the age of nine but then cites al-Shafi who argues that the age of marriage or puberty is fifteen! It is obvious why Aisha said nine (if she in fact did say it) since, as Squires correctly noted, she was referring to her own experience. She may have reasoned that even though she hadn’t reached puberty and wasn’t physically mature for sexual relations she must have been a woman; after all Muhammad married her!

What the foregoing demonstrates is that many (if not most) cultures fixed puberty as the marriageable age, with many agreeing that this age began when a girl became a little older than twelve. Thus, judging Muhammad by the surrounding cultural standards his marriage with a nine year old was sexual intercourse with a minor, a girl not yet ready for marriage.

More importantly, the problem with the position of Muslims such as al-Shafi and Squires is that the Quran does not make puberty a necessary prerequisite for marriage since it says:

And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months, and of those too who have not had their courses; and (as for) the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah He will make easy for him his affair. S. 65:4 Shakir

The waiting period for divorced women who haven’t even menstruated is three months. This means that these women aren’t even women (they haven’t attained womanhood) but are in fact young girls who haven’t reached puberty! Now a woman can only be divorced if she is married and had her marriage consummated, since the Quran expressly teaches that there is no waiting period for marriages that have not been consummated:

O you who believe: When you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, no period of idda (waiting) have you to count in respect of them: so give them a present and set them free in a graceful manner. S. 33:49

What this shows is that the waiting period only applies in the case of a prepubescent if her husband has actually slept with her. So it is clear that this injunction assumes that young girls can be married and divorced and remarry before they reach puberty.

Even more, the purpose of this waiting period is to ensure that the wife who is about to be divorced is not pregnant or, if she is, to make sure that the true father is known, i.e. that the child is from the current husband, and not a next husband that she may marry afterwards. Thus, this further proves that the Muslim men who are married to prepubescent girls have sexual intercourse with them. To put it simply, the Quran is allowing men to have sex with minors.

Lest Squires or any Muslim accuse us of distorting the meaning of this reference note carefully how the following Muslim sources interpret the above text:

(And for such of your women as despair of menstruation) because of old age, (if ye doubt) about their waiting period, (their period (of waiting) shall be three months) upon which another man asked: "O Messenger of Allah! What about the waiting period of those who do not have menstruation because they are too young?" (along with those who have it not) because of young age, their waiting period is three months. Another man asked: "what is the waiting period for those women who are pregnant?" (And for those with child) i.e. those who are pregnant, (their period) their waiting period (shall be till they bring forth their burden) their child. (And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah) and whoever fears Allah regarding what he commands him, (He maketh his course easy for him) He makes his matter easy; and it is also said this means: He will help him to worship Him well. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

And [as for] those of your women who (read alla'i or alla'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. 2:234]. 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; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The renowned Muslim exegete Abu-Ala’ Maududi, in his six volume commentary on the Quran, confirms this by stating the following:

"Therefore, making mention of the waiting-period for girls who have not yet menstruated, clearly proves that it is not only permissible to give away the girl at this age but it is permissible for the husband to consummate marriage with her. Now, obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Qur’an has held as permissible." (Maududi, volume 5, p. 620, note 13, emphasis added)

Moreover, here is a hadith which clearly says that this verse permits men to marry and divorce prepubescent girls:

Narrated Sahl bin Sad:

While we were sitting in the company of the Prophet a woman came to him and presented herself (for marriage) to him. The Prophet looked at her, lowering his eyes and raising them, but did not give a reply. One of his companions said, "Marry her to me O Allah's Apostle!" The Prophet asked (him), "Have you got anything?" He said, "I have got nothing." The Prophet said, "Not even an iron ring?" He Sad, "Not even an iron ring, but I will tear my garment into two halves and give her one half and keep the other half." The Prophet; said, "No. Do you know some of the Quran (by heart)?" He said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "Go, I have agreed to marry her to you with what you know of the Qur'an (as her Mahr)." 'And for those who have no courses (i.e. they are still immature). (65.4) And the 'Iddat for the girl BEFORE PUBERTY is three months (in the above Verse). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 63)

This English version of Sahih al-Bukhari by Muhammad Muhsin Khan obscures the fact that the statement regarding the waiting period of young girls who haven’t attained maidenhood is actually part of the specific section which mentions Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha!

XXXIX. A man giving his young children in marriage

By the words of Allah, "that also applies to those who have not yet menstruated" (65:4) and He made the 'idda of a girl before puberty three months.

4840. It is related from 'A'isha that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, married her when she was six years old and consummated it when she was nine, and she was his wife for nine years. (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of Al-Bukhari, Chapter 70. Book of Marriage; source)

This suggests that al-Bukhari mentioned Aisha’s marriage as an example of a prepubescent girl who was married, which provides implicit proof that Muhammad married her before she reached maidenhood!

A prominent Salafi Muslim site claims:

Firstly:

Marriage to a young girl before she reaches puberty is permissible according to sharee'ah, and it was narrated that THERE WAS SCHOLARLY CONCENSUS on this point.

1 - Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the 'Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubt (about their periods), is three months; and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their 'Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise"

[al-Talaaq 65:4]

In this verse we see that Allaah states that for those who do not menstruate - because they are young and have not yet reached the age of puberty - the 'iddah in the case of divorce is three months. This clearly indicates that it is permissible for a young girl who has not started her periods to marry.

Al-Tabari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

The interpretation of the verse "And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the 'Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubt (about their periods), is three months; and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their 'Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise". He said: The same applies to the 'idaah for girls who do not menstruate because they are too young, if their husbands divorce them after consummating the marriage with them.

Tafseer al-Tabari, 14/142

2 - It was narrated from 'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) married her when she was six years old, and consummated the marriage with her when she was nine, and she stayed with him for nine years.

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4840; Muslim, 1422.

Ibn 'Abd al-Barr said:

The scholars are unanimously agreed that a father may marry off his young daughter without consulting her. The Messenger of Allaah married 'Aa'ishah bint Abi Bakr when she was young, six or seven years old, when her father married her to him.

Al-Istidhkaar, 16/49-50.

Secondly:

The fact that it is permissible to marry a minor girl does not imply that it is permissible to have intercourse with her, rather the husband should not have intercourse with her until she becomes able for that. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) delayed consummating the marriage to 'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her).

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A (www.islam-qa.com)
(Question #12708: Is it acceptable to marry a girl who has not yet started her menses?; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Notice the assertion that a man should delay consummation until the girl is able for it. This furnishes evidence that the reason why Muhammad delayed sleeping with Aisha wasn’t because he was waiting for her to attain puberty, but for the time when she could handle penetration. In another article this same site says:

Marrying a young girl before she reaches the age of adolescence is permitted in sharee'ah; indeed it was narrated that there was scholarly consensus on this point.

(a) Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the 'Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubt (about their periods), is three months; and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their 'Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise"

[al-Talaaq 65:4]

In this verse we see that Allaah has made the 'iddah in the case of divorce of a girl who does not have periods - because she is young and has not yet reached puberty - three months. This clearly indicates that Allaah has made this a valid marriage.

(b) It was narrated from 'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) married her when she was six years old, he consummated the marriage with her when she was nine and she stayed with him for nine years.

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4840; Muslim, 1422)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) married 'Aa'ishah when she was six years old and consummated the marriage when she was nine."

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim; Muslim says 'seven years')

The fact that it is permissible to marry a young girl does not mean that it is permissible to have intercourse with her; rather that should not be done until she is able for it. For that reason the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) delayed the consummation of his marriage to 'Aa'ishah. Al-Nawawi said: With regard to the wedding-party of a young married girl at the time of consummating the marriage, if the husband and the guardian of the girl agree upon something that will not cause harm to the young girl, then that may be done. If they disagree, then Ahmad and Abu 'Ubayd say that once a girl REACHES THE AGE OF NINE then the marriage may be consummated EVEN WITHOUT HER CONSENT, but that does not apply in the case of who is younger. Maalik, al-Shaafa'i and Abu Haneefah said: the marriage may be consummated when the girl is able for intercourse, which varies from one girl to another, SO NO AGE LIMIT CAN BE SET. THIS IS THE CORRECT VIEW. There is nothing in the hadeeth of 'Aa'ishah to set an age limit, OR TO FORBID THAT IN THE CASE OF A GIRL WHO IS ABLE FOR IT BEFORE THE AGE OF NINE, or to allow it in the case of a girl who is not able for it and has reached the age of nine. Al-Dawoodi said: 'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) was[sic] reached physical maturity (at the time when her marriage was consummated). (Question #22442: On acting; and the ruling on marrying young girls; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Judging by the above quotations, being ready for intercourse is apparently defined in a merely physical way. These "scholars" seem to be saying that a girl is ready when the penis is able to slide in without tearing her up! They do not seem to be at all concerned with the biological and psychological aspects of the girl, whether she has the physiological and mental maturity to experience such intimacy. A troubling question that arises from the above claims is by what method is the husband supposed to test whether or not she is ready now? How many times should he be trying to penetrate her only to discover it doesn't work yet? How much damage is that doing to a little girl?


Do Cultural Norms Justify Muhammad’s Actions?

The appeal to culture is a rather weak defense of Muhammad’s marriage to a young immature girl. That there were certain groups which accepted specific practices in the past do not mean that they are morally acceptable. After all, there are many cultural practices and behaviors which both Christians and Muslims frown upon, whether homosexuality, incest, pre-marital sex, cannibalism etc.

In fact, both the Holy Bible and the Quran speak out against a rather prevalent cultural practice at that time, namely infanticide. In the case of Muhammad, the Quran suggests that during his time it was common for fathers to bury unwanted infant girls, an act which the Quran expressly condemns:

When if one of them receiveth tidings of the birth of a female, his face remaineth darkened, and he is wroth inwardly. He hideth himself from the folk because of the evil of that whereof he hath had tidings, (asking himself): Shall he keep it in contempt, or bury it beneath the dust. Verily evil is their judgment. S. 16:58-59 Pickthall

Another cultural practice condemned by the Quran was the classification of divorcees as the backs of mothers, an expression which implied that the women would be abandoned at home and prevented from ever remarrying. This was known as zihar. Muhammad even prohibited adoption, which was prevalent during his time:

Allah has not made for any man two hearts within him; nor has He made your wives whose backs you liken to the backs of your mothers as your mothers, nor has He made those whom you assert to be your sons your real sons; these are the words of your mouths; and Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the way. Assert their relationship to their fathers; this is more equitable with Allah; but if you do not know their fathers, then they are your brethren in faith and your friends; and there is no blame on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, but (concerning) that which your hearts do purposely (blame may rest on you), and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. S. 33:4-5 Shakir

The reason why Muhammad forbade adoption is because of the scandal that arose from his marriage to his adopted son’s divorcee, which was another social taboo that Muhammad did away with.

According to Islamic sources, Allah commanded Muhammad to marry Zaynab ibn Haritha’s wife Zaynab bint Jash, who happened to be Muhammad’s cousin, in order to teach others by personal example that it was permissible for men to marry their adopted children’s divorcees. Basically, Muhammad did away with the stigma of marrying one’s adopted son’s former wife and then did away with adoption altogether! For more on this issue please read the following articles:

http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/zaynab.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/zaid_zaynab.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Menj/zaynab.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/Vol1/2c.html
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/lesbian.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Menj/nursing_of_adults.htm

In fact, Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha was itself a departure from normal Arab custom which looked down on someone marrying the daughter of a person considered a brother. Note Abu Bakr’s reaction to Muhammad’s marriage proposal:

Narrated Ursa:
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 al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 18)

This hadith is interesting in light of the assertions of many a Muslim apologist that no one objected to Muhammad’s marriage with Aisha. Doesn’t Abu Bakr’s reaction refute such a claim? Was he not clearly objecting to Muhammad’s proposal, in fact perturbed and shocked that his prophet would do such a thing?

The English translator of Sahih Muslim, while seeking to justify Muhammad’s marriage to a young girl, nonetheless admits:

2728. ‘A’isha was the third lady to enter the house of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) as his wife, and she was the only virgin in the consorts of purity of the Prophet’s house. She was of a tender age when she was married to Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him). Historical records bear ample testimony to the fact that ‘A’isha was a precocious genius and was developing in both mind and body with rapidity peculiar to such rare personalities. This marriage is significant in the history of Islam in so many aspects: firstly, it cemented the ties between Muhammad (may peace be upon him), and his devoted friend Abu Bakr who always stood by him in the hours of trial and who sacrificed his all for the cause of Islam; secondly, by this marriage, a lady of eminent qualities came under the direct influence of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) at a highly impressionable age, and this provided her ample opportunities to penetrate into the innermost recesses of the sacred heart of Muhammad (may be upon him). She shared his company and thus was able to develop her potentialities and refine her taste perfectly in accordance with the teachings of Islam under the direct supervision of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). This young age was in fact very opportune for marriage as it has been clearly shown in the researches of psychoanalysts that much of the emotional life of a mature person and most of the seemingly unaccountable leanings, taste and tendencies comprised in the term idiosyncrasies can be traced to the experience of his or her highly formative age of either later childhood or early adolescence. Thirdly, all the wives of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) with the exception of ‘A’isha were of advanced age and thus could neither share the feelings of the younger generation nor could they properly appreciate their point of view. The difference of age always stood as a barrier between them and the ladies of younger ages. The only lady with whom young women could frankly enter into conversation and discuss problems without any reserve could be none but ‘A’isha. Thus the threshold of puberty was a great necessity, as it was through her that instructions could successfully be imparted to the young ladies who had newly entered the fold of Islam. Moreover, this marriage struck at the root of a wrong notion which had firmly taken hold of the minds of the people that it was contrary to religious ethics to marry the daughter of a man whom one declared to be one’s brother. The Prophet (may peace be upon him), with the help of his personal example, showed to the people that there is a great difference between the brother in faith and the brother in relation to the blood. The marriage which is forbidden in Islam is with the daughter of the brother in blood and not with the daughter of the brother in faith. (Sahih Muslim by Imam Muslim, rendered into English by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784, Kalan, Mahal, Daryaganji, New Delhi-110002 (India), 11th reprinted 1995], Volume III & IV, pp. 1298-1299; bold emphasis ours)

In light of all these clear examples of Muhammad going against and doing away with certain, prevalent cultural practices and customs, he could have just as easily done away with the custom of marrying prepubescent girls (assuming that this was the custom at that time). There was no pressure on him to marry a young immature girl.

And since Muslims claim that he was God’s last prophet:

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets: and God has full knowledge of all things. S. 33:40 Y. Ali

And the model of perfection and sublime morals:

Certainly you have in the Apostle of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much. S. 33:21 Shakir

And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality. S. 68:4 Shakir

Shouldn’t he have done away with such a despicable practice of marrying physically immature girls and set a greater ethical standard for others to follow? Shouldn’t he have set a higher moral standard by classifying such marriages as unlawful in order to protect these girls from physical and psychological harm?

Putting it simply, theists expect that God would inspire his prophets to set a higher ethical code for humans to emulate, not merely subscribe to the cultural norms of their time, especially when such norms are morally reprehensible. This is irrespective of whether those prophets were able to live up to such standards, so long as God didn’t justify their failure to comply with his moral standard.

As one sharp Christian writer and apologist stated:

Second, it isn’t necessary for a lawgiver to institute laws by performing actions that create a precedent. In other words, Muhammad didn’t need to marry a young girl in order establish a law about marrying girls who had reached puberty. Muhammad, as Islam’s lawgiver, could have simply issued a decree. For instance, Muhammad allowed husbands to beat their wives. Was it necessary for Muhammad to beat his wives in order to establish this as a law? Certainly not. Similarly, when an American lawmaker says that killing someone in self-defense is acceptable, no one argues that the lawmaker must go out and kill someone in self-defense if his law is to stand. Hence, the argument that Muhammad needed to marry a young girl to establish puberty as the appropriate age for marriage completely fails. (David Wood, Was Muhammad a Pedophile? An Examination of Muhammad's Relationship with a Nine-Year-Old Girl; 1; 2)

In light of the foregoing it is rather hard to escape the assessment made of Muhammad by some of his contemporaries:

… Layla bt. al-Khatim b. ‘Adi b. ‘Amr b. Sawad b. Zafar b. al-Harith b. al-Khazraj approached the Prophet while his back was to the sun, and clapped him on his shoulder. He asked who it was, and she replied, "I am the daughter of one who competes with the wind. I am Layla bt. al-Khatim. I have come to offer myself [in marriage] to you, so marry me." He replied, "I accept." She went back to her people and said that the Messenger of God had married her. They said, "What a bad thing you have done! You are a self-respecting woman, but the Prophet is a womanizer. Seek an annulment from him." She went back to the Prophet and asked him to revoke the marriage and he complied with [her request]… (The History of Al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1990], Volume IX, p. 139; bold emphasis ours)

This conclusion becomes even harder to deny when we realize what Muhammad said about marrying young girls:

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
When I got married, Allah's Apostle said to me, "What type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron." He said, "Why, don't you have a liking for the virgins AND FOR FONDLING THEM?" Jabir also said: Allah's Apostle said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that YOU MIGHT PLAY WITH HER and she with you?" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 17)

We will have a few more things to say regarding whether it was acceptable to marry young immature girls during Muhammad’s time in our next article.


Argument from the Chain of Transmission

In this section we want to deal with a few specific points raised by certain individuals like Moiz Amjad of www.understanding-islam.org who try to cast doubt on the veracity of the reports that explicitly say Muhammad married Aisha when she was nine.

Mr. Amjad calls into question the reliability of these reports on the grounds that the one who transmitted most of them, Hisham ibn Urwah, wasn’t completely reliable:

We will let Sunni writer Gibril Foaud Haddad refute Moiz Amjad’s criticism of Hisham ibn Urwah. Here is what he says in relation to the first point:

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. (Our Mother A'isha's Age At The Time Of Her Marriage to The Prophet, Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad)

In regard to the second point, Haddad writes:

Not so. 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…

Not so. 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.

Nor was this hadith reported only by `Urwa but also by `Abd al-Malik ibn `Umayr, al-Aswad, Ibn Abi Mulayka, Abu Salama ibn `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf, Yahya ibn `Abd al-Rahman ibn Hatib, Abu `Ubayda (`Amir ibn `Abd Allah ibn Mas`ud) and others of the Tabi`i Imams directly from `A'isha.

This makes the report mass-transmitted (mutawatir) from `A'isha by over eleven authorities among the Tabi`in, not counting the other major Companions that reported the same, such as Ibn Mas`ud nor other major Successors that reported it from other than `A'isha, such as Qatada!

And here is his answer to the third and fourth points:

Rather, Ya`qub said: "Trustworthy, thoroughly reliable (thiqa thabt), above reproach except after he went to Iraq, at which time he narrated overly from his father and was criticized for it." Notice that Ya`qub does not exactly endorse that criticism.

As for Malik, he reports over 100 hadiths from Hisham as is evident in the two Sahihs and Sunan! to the point that al-Dhahabi questions the authenticity of his alleged criticism of Hisham.

Indeed, none among the hadith Masters endorsed these reservations since they were based solely on the fact that Hisham in his last period (he was 71 at the time of his last trip to Iraq), for the sake of brevity, would say, "My father, from `A'isha? (abi `an `A'isha)" and no longer pronounced, "narrated to me (haddathani)".

Al-Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal (30:238) explained that it became a foregone conclusion for the Iraqis that Hisham did not narrate anything from his father except what he had heard directly from him.

Ibn Hajar also dismisses the objections against Hisham ibn `Urwa as negligible in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (11:45), saying: "It was clear enough to the Iraqis that he did not narrate from his father other than what he had heard directly from him".

In fact, to say that "narratives reported by Hisham ibn `Urwa are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq" is major nonsense as that would eliminate all narrations of Ayyub al-Sakhtyani from him since Ayyub was a Basran Iraqi, and those of Abu `Umar al-Nakha`i who was from Kufa, and those of Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman from Kufa (the Shaykh of Abu Hanifa), and those of Hammad ibn Salama and Hammad ibn Zayd both from Basra, and those of Sufyan al-Thawri from Basra, and those of Shu`ba in Basra, all of whom narrated from Hisham! …

An outright lie, on the contrary, al-Dhahabi in Mizan al-I`tidal (4:301 #9233) states: "Hisham ibn `Urwa, one of the eminent personalities. A Proof in himself, and an Imam. However, in his old age his memory diminished, but he certainly never became confused. Nor should any attention be paid to what Abu al-Hasan ibn al-Qattan said about him and Suhayl ibn Abi Salih becoming confused or changing! Yes, the man changed a little bit and his memory was not the same as it had been in his younger days, so that he forgot some of what he had memorized or lapsed, so what? Is he immune to forgetfulness? [p. 302] And when he came to Iraq in the last part of his life he narrated a great amount of knowledge, in the course of which are a few narrations in which he did not excel, and such as occurs also to Malik, and Shu`ba, and Waki`, and the major trustworthy masters. So spare yourself confusion and floundering, do not make mix the firmly-established Imams with the weak and muddled narrators. Hisham is a Shaykh al-Islam. But may Allah console us well of you, O Ibn al-Qattan, and the same with regard to `Abd al-Rahman ibn Khirash's statement from Malik!"

Mr. Amjad also claims that:

According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (kitabu'l-tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur'an, was revealed, "I was a young girl". The 54th surah of the Qur'an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (ra) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn `urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn `urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be more accurate.

Al-Maududi refutes this date:

Period of Revelation
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 hijra to Madinah. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

As does Haddad:

Not true. 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.

To read Haddad’s complete rebuttal to Amjad’s article please click on the following links: 1, 2, 3.

This concludes our discussion for this part. Continue with a brief article further touching on the issue of Muhammad’s marriage in light of the cultural practices at that time.


Articles by Sam Shamoun
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