For more on this topic, see More Than Just a Number: Perspectives on the Age of Aisha (RA)

Abstract

A famous ḥadīth states that ʿĀisha was 9 years old when her marriage with the Prophet ﷺ was consummated. However, in the science of ḥadīth verification (muṣṭalaḥ al-ḥadīth), there are several conditions for the veracity of a ḥadīth, the last two of which are the absence of ʿilal (hidden defects) and shudhudh (discrepancy). Criticism of the ʿĀisha-age ḥadīth has been mounted on this basis by the traditionalist Syrian scholar of ḥadīth, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Idlibī. He determines the content of the ʿĀisha-age ḥadīth to be discrepant (shādhdh) and defective (maʿlūl) on the basis of numerous evidences which collectively suggest that ʿĀisha was born four years prior to the start of the Prophetic mission, betrothed to the Prophet ﷺ in the tenth year of prophethood at age fourteen, and married to him one year after the migration at the age of almost 18. Discrepancy is established by many arguments including that it contradicts other aḥadīth even in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, for instance, where ʿĀisha explains that by the time she attained the age of awareness, her parents were already following Islam—which logically necessitates that she was born prior to their conversion. In addition to demonstrating discrepancy with ḥadīth sources, he draws upon many biographical sources including Ibn Saʿd, Ibn Isḥāq, Al-Ṭabarī, Ibn ʿAsākir, Abū Nuʿaym, Ibn al-Athīr, Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, and others. The collective weight of these evidences is what he mobilizes to assert that the ʿĀisha-age ḥadīth can be attributed to a mistaken statement in the transmitted report (at-tawahhum qawl al-murawī).

Introduction

Translation of al-Idlibī's essay[37]

Summary of the research

Notes