The Age of Aisha (ra): Rejecting Historical Revisionism and Modernist Presumptions

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Faraz Malik

Faraz Malik graduated from The Ohio State University and continued his studies abroad in Amman, Jordan where he taught as an Arabic Instructor for Qasid Arabic Institute and obtained diplomas in traditional Islamic Studies. Afterwards he graduated with a Masters in Islamic Studies from Hartford Seminary where he is currently publishing his Masters’ thesis. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas where he is enrolled at Qalam Seminary completing the alimiyyah program.

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Part of the “More than Just a Number: Perspectives on the Age of Aisha (ra)” collection.

Abstract

There are a myriad of criticisms against Islam propagated by non-Muslims in today’s age. One of these criticisms accuses the Prophet ﷺ of marrying a child because of the ḥadīth mentioned in Bukhārī and Muslim where ʿĀʾisha mentions she married the Prophet at the age of six and consummated the marriage at the age of nine. This paper focuses on two questions. First, are the claims that she was actually in her teens when she married accurate and are they strong enough to make us discard ʿĀʾisha’s ḥadīth? Second, why did this become an issue in modern times when it was not an issue at the time the marriage took place? In conclusion, the claim that she was a teen when she married is more of a reaction to our own insecurities than an unbiased approach to finding the truth.

Introduction

Al-Bukhārī reports that Hishām [ibn ʿUrwa] narrates from his father that ʿĀʾisha, may God be pleased with her, [said]: “The Prophet ﷺ married her when she was six years old and he consummated the marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years.”[1]

Muslim reports that al-ʿAmash narrates from Ibrahīm who narrates from al-ʾAswad that ʿĀʾisha said: “The Messenger of God ﷺ married her when she was six years old and consummated the marriage when she was nine [years old], and he passed away when she was eighteen [years old].” [2]

The two ḥadīths above state that ʿĀʾisha[3] was six when she married and nine when the marriage was consummated. These narrations come from the two most authentic books in the Islamic tradition following the Qurʿān, Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (Ṣaḥīḥayn), not to mention that they each place ʿĀʾisha as the narrator. In addition, numerous other authentic ḥadīths outside the Ṣaḥīḥayn support these two ages.[4] Thus, it would be reasonable even for one with primitive knowledge of Islam and the ḥadīth sciences to accept this ḥadīth as authentic and as a part of Islamic history. To further corroborate, there was not a single prominent medieval Islamic scholar who took issue with her age; on the contrary, some of them went as far to state that there was a consensus. Ibn Hazm[5] says: “The age of ʿĀʾisha is recorded in the texts without a difference of opinion.”[6] Ibn Kathīr[7] says: “This is a matter in which there is no difference of opinion amongst people.”[8] Ibn Abd al-Barr[9] says: “I do not know of anyone differing on this.”[10] Thus, it can be concluded that the ages of six and nine constitute the default understanding and any evidence that contradicts this will have to be equally or more authentic.

The marriage proposal from the Prophet ﷺ to ʿĀʾisha occurred after Khadīja, the first wife of the Prophet, passed away. Khawla bint Ḥakīm came and asked if the Prophet was interested in remarrying. After he said yes, she gave him two options: Sawda bint Zamʿa and ʿĀʾisha bint Abī Bakr, who were both Muslims at the time. She then went to Abū Bakr’s house asking for ʿĀʾisha’s hand in marriage on behalf of the Prophet . However, Abū Bakr was concerned for two reasons. First, the Prophet had previously referred to him as his brother and he was therefore concerned whether the marriage would be permissible. She returned to the Prophet ﷺ and he told her to inform Abū Bakr that they were only brothers in Islam, making the marriage permissible. Second, ʿĀʾisha was already engaged to Mutʿim ibn ʿAdiyy, who was not Muslim. Thus, Abū Bakr went to ʿAdiyy’s house and found that the family feared that ʿĀʾisha would convert their son to Islam and therefore ended the engagement. As a result, the Prophet ﷺ married ʿĀʾisha.[11] 

Some have claimed that she was in her teens when she married and when the marriage was consummated. My hope is to analyze each claim to see if it holds up against the previous evidences mentioned. In order to fully understand these claims, a list of relevant dates is provided below.[12] 

609 CE – Fāṭima’s birth
610 CE – Beginning of  revelation
614/615 CE – ʿĀʾisha’s birth
617 CE – Sūra al-Qamar is revealed
620/621 CE – ʿĀʾisha is married
622 CE – Hijra (Migration to Medina)
1 AH/2 AH; 623/624 CE – Marriage is consummated
2 AH; 624 CE – Battle of Badr
3 AH; 625 CE – Battle of ʾUḥud
73 AH; 692 CE – ʾAsmāʾ passes away

Claims that ʿĀʾisha was married in her teens

There are five main claims relevant to the contention that ʿĀʾisha married the Prophet in her teens and consummated the marriage in her late teens:

  1. Hishām ibn ʿUrwa was the only one to narrate the ḥadīth,[13] and he narrated it when he was in Iraq, a time when he was accused of having a bad memory.
  2. Asmaʾ, the older sister of ʿĀʾisha, was ten years older than ʿĀʾisha. Since Asmaʾ passed away in 73 AH/692 CE at the age of 100, this places ʿĀʾisha at eighteen years old when the marriage was consummated.
  3. Fāṭima was born at the time the Kaʿba was rebuilt, when the Prophet ﷺ was thirty-five years old, and she was five years older than ʿĀʾisha, making Āʾisha around twelve years old when she married the Prophet.
  4. ʿĀʾisha participated in the Battle of ʾUḥud. Ibn ʿUmar narrates that the Prophet did not permit him to participate in Uḥud because he was fourteen, but when he was fifteen the Prophet gave him permission to fight in the battle of the Trench (Khandaq). Thus, ʿĀʾisha must have been at least fifteen at the time of ʾUḥud, meaning she consummated the marriage at thirteen or fourteen years old.
  5. ʿĀʾisha narrated in Bukhārī: “This revelation [in Sūra al-Qamar]: ‘Nay, but the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and most bitter’[14] was revealed to Muḥammad in Makkah while I was a playful jāriya.”[15] 

Hishām ibn ʿUrwa

Hishām ibn ʿUrwa is the narrator most commonly mentioned in the ḥadīth placing her at six and nine. Some argue that Hishām was the only one to narrate this, weakening the strength of the ḥadīth since if this was common knowledge, then many more narrators would have mentioned the age of ʿĀʾisha. However, this is a fallacy since there are other narrators who narrate this such as al-Aswad ibn Yazīd,[16] Abī Salama ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān,[17] and others.[18] 

The second claim against Hishām, who spent most of his life in Medina before moving to Iraq, was that his memory weakened and he began to mix up narrations while in Iraq as Abū al-Hasan ibn al-Qaṭṭān mentions. Some use this as evidence to discard the ḥadīth found in Bukhārī and Muslim, giving more legitimacy to other evidences. However, Imām al-Dhahabī vehemently denies this saying: “[Hishām] is considered as an absolute authority. There is nothing to the claim that al-Qaṭṭān makes. He was a preserver [of ḥadīth]. It is possible that his [memory] changed as he aged, and that his mental sharpness decreased. Of course, he is not in his elder age as he was in his youth, and no one is infallible from forgetfulness. However, this change is not considered to be harmful nor to have led to mixing narrations. [Hishām] never mixed narrations. This ḥadīth is taken as proof in the Muwaṭṭa, the Ṣaḥīḥayn, and the Sunan. So this statement by al-Qaṭṭān is to be rejected. [Hishām] was an imam from amongst the giants who was free from mistake.”[19] Thus, it becomes clear that Hishām ibn ʿUrwa is a reliable narrator who Bukhārī trusted enough to put in his Ṣaḥīḥ and can be still referred to as a strong piece of evidence.

Asmaʾ, the elder sister of ʿĀʾisha, was ten years older than ʿĀʾisha

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī al-Zinād states that Asmaʾ was ten years older than ʿĀʾisha. In addition, it has been confirmed that she passed away in the year 73 AH/ 692 CE at the age of one hundred.[20] If this was the case, that would make her twenty-seven years old at the time of hijra, meaning ʿĀʾisha would have been seventeen at the time of hijra. We know that ʿĀʾisha was married two or three years before hijra, thus placing her at fourteen or fifteen years old at the time of marriage and seventeen or eighteen when the marriage was consummated.

The math in this scenario provides a strong argument that ʿĀʾisha was in her late teens when the marriage was consummated. However, a number of scholars consider ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī al-Zinād to be a weak narrator. Yaḥyā ibn Maʿīn said: “None of the ḥadīth scholars took him as an authority.” ʿAbd al-Malik ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd al-Maymūnī said: “I asked Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal about  Ibn Abī al-Zinād. He said: ‘He is considered to be weak in ḥadīth.’” Al-Nasāʾī also considered him weak and not to be taken as an authority. Abū Aḥmad al-Ḥākim said: “He is not from amongst those who preserve ḥadīth.” Abū Ḥātim said: “We write down his ḥadīth, but do not take them as an authority.”[21] Many other scholars considered him to be weak as well.

Some use Ibn Kathīr as evidence to support this claim as he too mentions that Asmaʾ was ten years older than ʿĀʾisha.[22] However, there seems to be some confusion as he also states there was no difference of opinion concerning the fact ʿĀʾisha married at the age of six.[23] In this case, it seems Ibn Kathīr was unaware of the implications of Asmaʾ being ten years older coupled with the fact that he provides no chain (sanad) to substantiate the claim that she was ten years older. It is clear then that this narration cannot be accepted because its narrator is considered to be weak and the explicit age of six in Bukhārī is given precedence over the implicit age of fourteen or fifteen based on the difference in age between Asmaʾ and ʿĀʾisha.

Fāṭima’s age in comparison toʿĀʾisha

The claim here is that Fāṭima, the daughter of the Prophet , was born when he was 35 years old. If Fāṭima was five years older than ʿĀʾisha, as reported, that would mean Āʾisha was born when the Prophet was 40 years old. In other words, she was born during the year of prophethood, 610 CE. Since we know she married in 620/621 CE, that would place her at the age of ten or eleven when she married the Prophet .

The issue stems from two separate narrations from Ibn Ḥajar’s al-Iṣāba fī Tamyīz al-Ṣaḥāba.[24] The first narration is on the authority of Abū Jaʿfar al-Bāqir that al-Abbās said: “Fāṭima was born the year the Kaʿba was rebuilt when the Prophet was 35 years old.” The second narration is on the authority ofʿUbayd Allah ibn Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān ibn Jaʿfar al-Hāshimī who said that: “Fāṭima was born when the Prophet was 41 years old, and she was born a year or so before prophethood. She is also older than ʿĀʾisha by five years.”[25] 

It seems that there was a confusion (iḍṭirāb) between the two narrations. The second narration where Fāṭima is listed to be five years older is with the condition that Fāṭima was born when the Prophet ﷺ was 41. The confusion arises when Fāṭima’s seniority is detached from the second narration and inserted within the first one, changing the age of the Prophet ﷺ from 41 to 35, thus causing issues with ʿĀʾisha’s age and birth. For this reason, the argument does not stand.  

ʿĀʾisha’s participation in the Battle of ʾUḥud

Anas said: “On the day of [the battle of] Uḥud when [some] people retreated and left the Prophet, I saw ʿĀʾisha bint Abī Bakr and Umm Sulaym, with their robes tucked up so that the bangles around their ankles were visible hurrying with their water skins. Then they would pour the water in the mouths of the people, and return to fill the water skins again and came back again to pour water in the mouths of the people.”[26]

Ibn ʿUmar said: “The Messenger of God inspected me on the battlefield on the Day of ʾUḥud, and I was fourteen years old. He did not allow me [to take part in the fight.] He inspected me on the Day of Khandaq, and I was fifteen years old, and he permitted me [to fight].”[27]

Ibn ʿUmar did not receive permission to participate in the Battle of Uḥud because he was fourteen years old. When the Battle of the Trench occurred, the Prophet ﷺ reevaluated him and permitted him to fight because he had reached the minimum age of fifteen. The claim is that if Ibn ʿUmar was not allowed to participate in the Battle of Uḥud at the age of fourteen andʿĀʾisha was seen participating in the battle, that must mean she was at least fifteen years old at the Battle of Uḥud. Since the Battle of Uḥud occurred one to two years after consummation, she must have consummated the marriage at the age of thirteen or fourteen.

This type of analogy (qiyās) is a deficient one (qiyās maʿa al-fāriq). The purpose of an analogy in Islamic jurisprudence is to transfer a ruling over from one event to another which has no direct clear ruling within a text (naṣṣ). In order for this to occur, they must share the same reasoning (ʿilla). When the Prophet ﷺ prohibited Ibn ʿUmar from going to battle the first time, the reasoning was that he was not old enough to participate as a combatant. The following year the Prophet  gave him permission because he had reached the minimum age of a combatant. In the case of ʿĀʾisha, the hadith clearly demonstrates that she was acting as a nurse, not as a combatant; thus, the age restriction that was placed on Ibn ʿUmar does not apply to ʿĀʾisha since they do not have the same reasoning (ʿilla), and the conclusion that she was at least fifteen cannot be made.

ʿĀʾisha and Sūra al-Qamar

ʿĀʾisha narrated in Bukhārī: “This revelation [in Sūra al-Qamar]: ‘Nay, but the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and most bitter’[28] was revealed to Muḥammad in Makkah while I was a playful jāriya.”[29]

There are a few points to take into consideration: whether Sūra al-Qamar is in its entirety a Makkan Sūra, the date when Sūra al-Qamar was revealed, and what the implications of ʿĀʾisha calling herself a jāriya are.

Some claim that the verse mentioned in the ḥadīth of Sūra al-Qamar is Medinan, revealed in 4 AH, 5 AH, 6 AH, 7 AH, 9 AH, or 10 AH, thus pushing the age of ʿĀʾisha to be older. However,Ibn Ḥajar and Ibn ʿĀshūr deny these claims. More specifically, Ibn Ḥajar states thatʿĀʾisha was born eight years before ˆ and was three years old when this verse was revealed, which would place its date of revelation at 617 CE.[30] 

The most indirect method of arriving at the conclusion that she was older involves understanding what ʿĀʾisha meant by jāriyaThere is no specific age for a jāriya as the term is generally understood to refer to a youthful (fatiyya) girl.[31] Thus, the best way to understand the word is to see how ʿĀʾisha used it in other statements. ʿĀʾisha said: “If a girl (jāriya) were to reach puberty at the age of nine, then she is a woman.”[32] We learn two things from this statement. First, it was not uncommon for girls to reach puberty at the age of nine. Second, the maximum age of a jāriya would be eight if puberty was reached at nine according to ʿĀʾisha. The question is, what is the minimum age of a jāriya? Al-Mālikī clarifies Ibn Ḥajar’s statement saying: “Ibn Ḥajar mentions that ʿĀʾisha, may God be pleased with her, was born eight years before hijra. She would be three years old at the splitting of the moon, and it is permissible to call a three-year-old a jāriya.”[33] From these statements we can estimate that the age of a jāriya can range from three to eight years old.

According to the ḥadīth mentioned above, the latest date we can attribute to the revelation of Sūra al-Qamar is 10 AH and the minimum age of a jāriya is three years old. This would place ʿĀʾisha at three years of age when she got married in 10 AH. The earliest date we can attribute to Sūra al-Qamar is 4 AH and the maximum age of a jāriya is eight years. This would place ʿĀʾisha at fourteen years of age when she married the Prophet . Based on all the evidence from Sūra al-Qamar and the ḥadīth mentioned above the age when ʿĀʾisha married the Prophet ranges from three to fourteen. The question remains: which age do we pick from this range?

Due to the ambiguous nature of these dates and ages, Muḥammad al-Ghufaylī concludes: “It is not correct to weaken an established narration that is agreed upon because of what historians mention, especially when there is a difference of opinion concerning when Sūra al-Qamar was revealed.”[34] In conclusion, the ages of six and nine fall within this range and the established narration in Bukhārī and Muslim is confirmed. Speculation about her being older based upon ambiguity cannot take precedence over an established narration that explicitly mentions the specific ages of six and nine.

Today’s society

The question remains: why is her age a topic of debate amongst modern scholars when for centuries scholars did not give the historiography of these ḥadīths, outside of their authenticity, any importance?

At a certain point in history, a feeling of revulsion and apprehension developed for child marriages. During this shift, modern and secular scholars began to view ḥadīth and other historical Islamic events through this lens of revulsion, especially the age of ʿĀʾisha.[35] This lens colonizing the past leads to one of two conclusions: either the Prophet’s historiography was, as what some like Simon Ockley described, of perfidious character, or the historical recordings found in the ḥadīth books were erroneous because they do not fit with our current worldview. Those espousing the latter contend that the Prophet ﷺ was still respected and incapable of committing sins, but they resort to the historical nature of ḥadīth to support their claim. While some from amongst the Sunni tradition have pushed for a culture of sacralizing Bukhārī and Muslim, others have created a culture of degrading ḥadīth solely as historical facts. Both have consequences. The former equates the narrations to the Qur’an and the latter attempts to use other historical data to dispute even authentic narrations. However, the balanced and mainstream approach as Ignaz Goldziher said: “was not a claim of infallibility, but rather the community’s demand that these two works be recognized as legally compelling indicators of ‘religious praxis’ on the basis of the community’s consensus on their authenticity.”[36] In other words, when certain ḥadīth do not fit our modern worldview, do we first question the authenticity of the ḥadīth or our worldview? The danger in continuously questioning ḥadīth at every juncture of our own desires and limits, despite their historical authenticity, is that it eventually leads to the systematic approach of rejecting ḥadīth entirely. If subjective matters are able to deny ḥadīth, then ḥadīth lose their standing in society and become but a tool to legitimize our desires, not a tool to help guide communities.

This is why the scholars discuss the difference between explicit (qat’ī) and implicit (ẓannī) narrations. An implicit ḥadīth, such as those ḥadīths that help calculate ʿĀʾisha’s age through other evidences, is not taken over an explicit ḥadīth that clearly and specifically details her age, as clearly explained in the claims above.[37] 

Once this is realized, then we can begin to question our worldview. Were child marriages during the time of the Prophet ﷺ something common? Were they looked down upon by society?

Child Marriage: Is there such a thing?

Those who dispute the age of ʿĀʾisha at the time of her marriage have a difficult time comprehending that women during the time of the Prophet ﷺ reached puberty so young. Marrying a girl of that age would be considered a crime now, so how could one fathom them reaching puberty? Concerning child marriage, there are a few issues that need to be discussed.

The first question is whether women in the Arabian Peninsula reached puberty at the age of nine. As mentioned earlier, ʿĀʾisha said: “If a girl (jāriya) were to reach puberty at the age of nine, then she is a woman.”[38] In addition, Imām Shāfiʿī[39] said: “I saw many women in Yemen at the age of nine reaching the age of puberty.”[40] He also said: “I saw in Ṣan‘ā’ a grandmother who was a girl the age of twenty-one years. Her daughter reached puberty at the age of nine and gave birth at the age of ten. The daughter of that girl also reached puberty at the age of nine and gave birth at the age of ten.” [41] Al-Ḥasan ibn Ṣaliḥ said: “I met with a slave girl that belonged to us who became a grandmother at the age of twenty-one.” [42] It becomes clear that there are many instances of girls reaching puberty at the age of nine, with some even giving birth at the age of ten in the Arabian Peninsula.

The second question is, how do we define what a child is? Neil Postman, a former professor at New York University, wrote the book The Disappearance of Childhood. In it, he argues that childhood was one of the great inventions of the Renaissance, just like any other social structure. Its development was closely correlated with the written tradition and the development of primary schools as opposed to the oral tradition in the Middle Ages. He states:

In an oral world there is not much of a concept of an adult and, therefore, even less of a child. And that is why, in all the sources, one finds that in the Middle Ages childhood ended at age seven. Why seven? Because that is the age at which children have command over speech. They can say and understand what adults can say and understand. They are able to know all the secrets of the tongue, which are the only secrets they need to know. And this helps us to explain why the Catholic Church designated age seven as the age at which one was assumed to know the difference between right and wrong, the age of reason. It also helps us to explain why, until the seventeenth century, the words used to denote young males could refer to men of thirty, forty, or fifty, for there was no word—in French, German, or English—for a young male between the ages of seven and sixteen. The word child expressed kinship, not an age. But most of all, the oralism of the Middle Ages helps us to explain why there were no primary schools. For where biology determines communication competence, there is no need for such schools…The medieval way of learning is the way of the oralist; it occurs essentially through apprenticeship and service—what we would call “on-the-job training.” Such schools as existed were characterized by a “lack of gradation in the curricula according to the difficulty of the subject matter, the simultaneity with which subjects were taught, the mixing of the ages, and the liberty of the pupils.” If a medieval child got to school, he would have begun as late as age ten, probably later. He would have lived on his own in lodgings in the town, far from his family. It would have been common for him to find in his class adults of all ages, and he would not have perceived himself as different from them. He certainly would not have found any correspondence between the ages of students and what they studied.[43]

The Islamic tradition is known for its attention to detail in oral transmissions, the ability to memorize thousands of lines of poetry and Qurʾān, and the mentorship each student of knowledge received from a long chain of scholars. This oral tradition emphasizing memorization could have advanced the age when a child would have command over speech and reason.  In addition, the household jobs of women at the time exposed them to the life of adults more than those around their age. Thus, age was not a measure of one’s ability or status within society, but to establish lineage. In other words, it is impossible for someone younger than oneself to be one’s parent. Beyond this, age provided no concrete difference between one’s physical or mental capabilities. Thus, when scrutinizing the ḥadīth where Khawla offers both Sawda and ʿĀʾisha in marriage, the response of the Prophet ﷺ was identical for both, even though Khawla clearly differentiated the age to the Prophet. That is because society saw them no different, and that is why the Classical Medieval Islamic scholars made no mention of the age of ʿĀʾisha in marriage. It was only after the development of childhood did we attempt to impose that social structure onto a society that did not recognize it.

In addition, if a claim is made that the Middle Ages were a time of moral corruption and their distorted perception is what led them to child marriages then we need look no further than the past century in the United States of America. In 1930, thousands of boys and girls married before the age of fourteen. It was reported that 1,311 girls in the East South Central area of the country married below the age of fourteen.[44]

These evidences do not suggest that we as a society should promote child marriages and ignore current social norms. However, they do suggest that we are not at liberty to question the authenticity of every religious text that does not fit our current worldview.

Conclusions

In conclusion, the assumption that the ḥadīth of ʿĀʾisha’s age can be disputed based on the indecency of child marriage is invalid because the concept of childhood did not exist during their time, the age of puberty for some girls was the age of nine, and their culture was simply different. The claims that she was in her teens when she got married do not provide enough strong evidence to discard two explicit ḥadīth in Bukhārī and Muslim, but rather represent attempts to legitimize our own insecurities. 


[1] Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, Nikāḥ, viii. 52 no. 5133.

[2] Muslim, ṢaḥīḥNikāḥ, ii. 1038 no. 1422.

[3] ʿĀʾisha Bint Abī Bakr, the third and favorite wife of the Prophet, was born in Mecca about 614 CE. Her mother, Umm Rūmān, came from the tribe of Qināna. Muḥammad gave ʿĀʾis̲h̲a the kunya Umm ʿAbd Allāh, after the name of her nephew ʿAbd Allāh b. al-Zubayr. See W. Montgomery WattEncyclopedia of Islam Edition 2nd edition: 12 vols. ed. by P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs et al. (Leiden: Brill, 1960-2005), art. ‘ʿĀʾisha Bint Abī Bakr.’ [EI2]

[4] Abū Dawūd, SunanAdab, iv. 284 no. 4933; Ibn Mājah, SunanNikāḥ, iii. 75 no. 1876; Nasāʾī, Sunan, Nikāḥvi. 82 no. 3255. 

[5] Abū Muḥammad ʿAlī b. Aḥmad b. Saʿīd , born at Cordova in 384/994, died at Manta Līs̲h̲am in 456/1064, was an Andalusian poet, historian, jurist, philosopher and theologian, one of the greatest thinkers of Arabo-Muslim civilization, who codified the Ẓāhirī doctrine and applied its method to all the Qurʾānic sciences. See R. Arnaldez, EI2 art. ‘Ibn Ḥazm.’

[6] Ibn Ḥazm, Ḥujjat-l-Widāʿ, 435.

[7] ʿImād al-Dīn Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar b. Kat̲h̲īr, born in Boṣrā circa 700/1300 and died in Damascus in S̲h̲aʿbān 774/February 1373, was one of the best-known historians and traditionalists of Syria under the Baḥrī Mamlūk dynasty. Educated at Damascus, where he went to live with his elder brother in 706/1306, after the death of their father, he had as his main teacher, in fiqh, the S̲h̲āfiʿī Burhān al-Dīn al-Fazārī (in 729), but next fell strongly, and very early, under the influence of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) and his school. See H. Laoust, EI2, art. ‘Ibn Kat̲h̲īr.

[8] Ibn Kathīr, al-Sīrat al-Nabawiyya, ii. 141.

[9] al-Namarī (al-Numayrī), appellative of a family of Cordovan scholars, the principal representative of which is Abū ʿUmar Yūsuf b. ʿAbd Allāh, born in 368/978. He studied in his native city under masters of repute, engaged in correspondence with scholars of the East and traveled all over Spain “in search of knowledge,” but never went to the East. Considered the best traditionalist of his time, he was equally distinguished in fiqh and in the science of genealogy. After displaying Ẓāhirī tendencies at first, in which he resembled his friend Ibn Ḥazm, he later followed the Malikī doctrine. See Ch. Pellat, EI2, art. ‘Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr.

[10] Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, iv. 1881.

[11] See Ibn Ḥanbal, Musnad.

[12]  Ibn Ḥajar, al-Iṣāba.; Bacharach, Middle East Handbook, 54; Mohiuddin, RevelationGhufaylī, al-Sanā al-WahhājIbn Kathīr, al-BidāyaIbn ḤajarFatḥ al-Bārī, viii., 304; Al-Dhahabī, SiyarIbn ʿĀshūr, al-Taḥrīr wa-l-Tanwīr, xvii., 168; Nawawī, Tahdhīb al-Asmaʾ wa-l-LughātEncyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition.

[13] Al-Bukhārī reports that Hishām [ibn ʿUrwa] narrates from his father that ʿĀʾisha, may God be pleased with her, [said]: “The Prophet ﷺ married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years.” Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, Nikāḥ, viii. 52 no. 5133.

[14] al-Qamar, 54:46.

[15] Bukhārī, ṢaḥīḥTafsīr al-Qur‘ān, vii. 367 no. 4876.

[16] Muslim, ṢaḥīḥNikāḥ, ii. 1039 no. 1422.

[17] Nasāʾī, Sunan, Nikāḥvi. 131 no. 3379. 

[18] Ghufaylī, al-Sanā al-Wahhāj, 130.

[19] Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, Hisham ibn ʿUrwa.

[20] Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, Asmaʾ bint Abī Bakr.

[21] Ghufaylī, al-Sanā al-Wahhāj, 188-189.

[22] Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya, viii., 91.

[23] Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya, iii., 131.

[24] Ibn Ḥajar (d. 852/1448). al-Iṣāba fī Tamyīz al-Ṣaḥāba, ed. ʿĀdil ʾAḥmad ʿabd al-Mawjūd and ʿAlā Muḥammad Muʿawwaḍ, 8 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1415/[1994]).

[25] Ibn Ḥajar. al-Iṣāba, viii. 263.

[26] Bukhārī, ṢaḥīḥJihād wa Siyar, v. 83 no. 2880.

[27] Muslim, ṢaḥīḥBayan Sinn al-Bulūgh, iii. 1490 no. 1868.

[28] al-Qamar, 54:46.

[29] Bukhārī, ṢaḥīḥTafsīr al-Qur‘ān, vii. 367 no. 4876.

[30] Ghufaylī, al-Sanā al-Wahhāj, 227-229.

[31] Tāj al-’Arūs , xxxvii., 347; Lisān al-’Arab , xiv., 143.

[32] Tirmidhī, Sunan, ii., 409.

[33] Ghufaylī, al-Sanā al-Wahhāj, 228.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Brown, The Canonization of Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, 11. Jonathan Brown hints that it began with Simon Ockley (d. 1720), a Cambridge scholar, who says:

Ayesha was but seven years old, and therefore this marriage was not consummated till two years after, when she was nine years old, at which age, we are told, women in that country are ripe for marriage. An Arabian author cited by Maracci, says that Abubeker was very averse to the [sic] giving him his daughter so young, but that Mohammed pretended a divine command for it; whereupon he sent her to him with a basket of dates, and when the girl was alone with him, he stretched out his blessed hand (these are the author’s words) [sic], and rudely took hold of her clothes, upon which she looked fiercely at him, and said: “People call you the faithful man, but your behaviour to me shows you are a perfidious one.”

 Jonathan Brown responds after providing evidences:

Marracci is chiefly interested in depicting Muhammad as a lecher and a hypocrite, who gropes women who are not his wives and uses his claims of prophecy for carnal ends. His exaggeration of Abu Bakr’s hesitance merely provides dramatic effect, suggesting that he also wanted to keep his daughter out of lecherous hands. Ockley adopts this and adds his own layer of interpretation. Perhaps because he is skeptical about the claims that women mature so early in warmer climes, Abu Bakr’s original response turns into him being ‘very averse’ to marrying his daughter off at such a young age.

Brown posits that Ockley superimposes his worldview and prejudices upon early Arabian culture. According to Ockley, Abū Bakr’s hesitance in response to the Prophet’s request via Khawla was not because of a previous request by Mutʿim ibn ʿAdiyy or because of brotherhood, but rather because of the shame attributed to child marriages in the 18th century.

[36] Brown, The Canonization of Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, 11.

[37] Zuhaylī, al-Wajīz, 21.

[38] Tirmidhī, Sunan, ii., 409.

[39] al-Imām Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad b. Idrīs b. al-ʿAbbās b. ʿUt̲h̲mān b. S̲h̲āfiʿ b. al-Sāʾib b. ʿUbayd b. ʿAbd Yazīd b. Hās̲h̲im b. al-Muṭṭalib b. ʿAbd Manāf b. Ḳuṣayy al-Ḳuras̲h̲ī, the eponym, rather than the founder, of the Shāfiʿī school (madhhab). See E. Chaumont, EI2, art. ‘al- Shāfiʿī’.

[40] Dhahabī, Siyar, x., 91.

[41] Bayhaqī, al-Sunan al-Kubrā, ii., 1513.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood, 18-21.

[44] Syrett, American Child Bride, 219.

 

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