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More Than Just a Number: Perspectives on the Age of Aisha (RA)

Our mother Aisha (ra) is not just a number. For over 1400 years, her age was never the subject of a controversy or a defining trait. In Islamic history, she shines as a noble scholar and sage. Yet in recent years, her age at the time of marriage to the Prophet (peace be upon him) has become a favorite talking point of Islamophobes, and cause of doubt for young Muslims. We’ve invited 4 perspectives on this topic for our new collection. Asadullah Ali, with Dr. Jonathan Brown, takes a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to the issue of Aisha’s age, synthesizing historical and anthropological data to refute the tendency to project modern cultural assumptions onto the past. Nuriddeen Knight, who has previously authored a collection of hadiths about Aisha, implores us to focus on her character and not be pulled into constantly trying to defend a historical norm across civilizations. Examining the hadith and historical question, Arnold Yasin Mol explores the arguments advanced by the contemporary Hadith scholar Salah al-Din al-Idlibi to support the view Aisha was not 9 at the time of marriage. Meanwhile Faraz Malik assesses the Hadith evidence to argue that such historical revisionism is reactionary and lacks a firm grounding in the tradition.