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Aisha’s Marriage in Focus

Written by Theresa Corbin

I’ve written about it in the context of other issues a couple of times now, but I thought Aisha’s (Allah be pleased with her) age at marriage deserved a post all on its own. Because lots of people have this same question: Why did the Prophet (PBUH) marry Aisha when she was so young?

Aisha's Marriage in Focus

We don’t know Aisha’s age when she married the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The thing is they didn’t keep birth records back in those days. They also didn’t celebrate birthdays or really even keep track of age. We do have reports that Aisha was anywhere from 9-18 at the time of her marriage.

What is important for us to understand about Aisha’s marriage to the Prophet is that we cannot apply our standards in 2016 to people 1,400 plus years ago and vice versa. When people do put lives 1,400 years ago into 21st century context, it is as if they admit to not understanding historical context or ever having taken a history class in their lives. And that’s just sad.

Life in the 7th c.

We do not live in the same world at all. In the 7th century people were not guaranteed to see the ripe old age of 30. People matured early and were ready for marriage a heck of a lot earlier. Looking back even a few hundred years ago, the legal age of marriage was as young as anything from 10-14 years old. 

Richard A. Posner, chief judge of the U.S. court of appeals writes, “The law governing the age of consent has changed dramatically in the United States during this century. Most states codified a statutory age of consent during the nineteenth century, and the usual age was ten years.” [1]

Marriage in the 7th c.

The practice of marrying early was not an aberration to the people during the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her). Christians, Jews, and pagans all married very young. So if we are going to criticize Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha, why don’t we have a problem with King John of England marrying 12-year-old Isabella of Angoulême? 

This was just the way things worked back then for everyone.  

 

Education and marriage

One of many good reasons that we marry today (or are able to consent) after 18 is because of our education system. We go to school until the age of 18 in most cases, sometimes a lot more, sometimes a little less. But 18 is the time at which we in Western society will have enough education to potentially make it in society-get a job, know how stuff works, be informed about our gov.

But back in the day, and even as little as a century ago, education was very truncated. People knew all they were going to learn by a young age. Aisha was fully educated in the ways and means of living in her society by the time of her marriage. And on top of being fully educated in her context, she was marrying a man who would give her even more education. So her marriage was advantageous to her education and not a disruption to it.

Aisha became one of the greatest scholars of Islam because of her marriage. Much of what we know about Islam today has come from her scholarship.

Aisha’s marriage and consent

We also have to take into account consent. Tragically, most women back in Aisha’s time were not asked for consent in their marriages. She was. And she consented. Islam demands consent.

“O ye who believe! You are forbidden to inherit [in marriage] women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness […]” (Quran, 4:19) emphasis added.

She was also engaged to someone else even earlier in her life. For this engagement, her consent was not sought and the engagement was broken.

Maturity

In addition to having completed her contemporary education, having given her consent, Aisha had also reached an age maturity. She matured early in a society that had to mature early because life was pretty rough and decidedly short. If marriage didn’t happen once maturity was attained, I am not sure we as a species would have survived.

Also, we know that Aisha was considered an adult in her context because In Islam, a child cannot even give consent to marriage or any legal contract like a wedding contract. The age at which one can consent to marriage is when a person is fully grown and has reached full maturity and strength of adulthood, which varies from person to person, era to era, and and society to society. (Qur’an 22:5, 40:67, 6:152, 17:34). 

Use your context

We cannot judge people centuries and centuries ago by our standards. Saying Aisha’s marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was some kind of crime is kind of like saying that the Prophet was harsh because he didn’t let any of his companions have a Twitter account.  It’s absurd! We have to put things into their context. 

Now, for those Muslims who think marriages at young ages are is still OK, they have lost their minds. The same points I make also work in reverse. We do not mature as quickly and are not ready for marriage as early as people were back in the day, and using Aisha’s marriage as an example is seriously flawed and a horrific misrepresentation of Islam because they do not take into account the extreme societal differences in our world now and then. It’s all about context.

1 –  A Guide to America’s Sex Laws by Richard A. Posner & Katharine B. Silbaugh page 44

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9 thoughts on “Aisha’s Marriage in Focus

      1. Great feature, its wonderful that the power of your pen is part of our Ummah, JazakAllah Khair for choosing this bold, yet misunderstood topic.

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  1. 1- If the marriage was so wrong, then why didn’t Aisha’s mother object to the marriage? Instead she happily gave Aisha for marriage, and prepared her for the marriage
    2- Why didn’t Abu bakr the father of Aisha object to the marriage? If it was so wrong you would expect the father to have not allowed such a marriage to take place.
    3- Why did the women who were present with Aisha when she was about to be given to the prophet for marriage wished her luck and were happy for her. If the marriage was wrong, the women present would have been sad, and they would not have been happy for Aisha, rather what we see is that they were happy for Aisha and had no problems with this marriage whatsoever.
    4- Are we supposed to assume that Abu Bakr, and Aisha’s mother, and the women present with Aisha are all pedophiles and child molesters? Indeed such a conclusion with be very ignorant, and arrogant.
    5- Why didn’t any of the prophet’s enemies use this against the prophet Muhammad? If the marriage was so wrong, then you would expect to find his enemies to be the first ones to start using this against him, instead what we find is that his enemies NEVER EVEN ONCE brought this marriage up in a negative way against him.
    6- In fact why didn’t any of the Arabs around the Hijazi area object or talk against this marriage? It was not only the pagan Arabs in Hijaz who didn’t object to this marriage, but the surrounding Arabs didn’t object to it neither!
    7- Are we to assume that ALL these Arabs were pedophiles and child molesters? Indeed such a conclusion would make the one making this conclusion a very stupid man, because only a very stupid arrogant man would accuse an entire race of being child molesters and pedophiles.
    8- Why is there not a SINGLE hadith from Aisha showing her being displeased of the marriage? Why is there not one hadith from Aisha showing her to be like a victim, instead when you look at Aisha you find no symptoms of a victim. She became a great leader for Islam, a great scholar for Islam who would teach about Islam to many men. Does this seem to be the symptoms of someone who has been abused?
    9-If Aisha was indeed a victim and so on, then why did she love the prophet Muhammad so much, and would sometimes get jelous around him because she loved him so much, does this sound like someone who is a victim?
    10- from all the hadith literature we have, we can confidently say that if Aisha was alive today, that she would distance herself from these Christians making these sick arguments, and that she would want nothing to do with these people, this in itself speaks volumes since these people making this sick argument are supposed to be the good guys who are trying to be helpful.

    All these points made here are enough to refute the Anti-Islamic’s entire position, and they themselves know this. I could show more points, showing that the age of marriage in the past used to be at a very young age, something history agrees with, but these Anti-Islamic’s are so hate filled and arrogant they will say ALL OF HISTORY is wrong but only today in our modern world we are right. Yet if we look at our modern world, we are a disgrace, and the past is much better than us, look at us today in the modern world. You have men marrying each other; you have late night television showing people having sex like animals doing all sort of sick things. You have people dropping atomic bombs on each other; you have countries invading other countries to take all their natural resources. And this is just the tip of the ice-berg, much more bad things could be said about our modern world, but something which I do find interesting is most of the bad things occurring in our modern world is a result of western Christian influenced societies, that says it all.

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  2. Assalaamualaikum. Great response sister, mashaAllah. I agree, context is key. And like the brother said, above, there were no objections by the family – or anyone else for that matter. I wrote an article on this topic. Thought I’d share with you, here, if you feel it’s appropriate. Jazakallahu khairan sister. Wa salaam. https://modwestmuse.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/marrying-aisha-may-allah-be-pleased-with-her-without-a-modern-misunderstanding/

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    1. Asalamu Alaikum, Excellent article! And honestly I never planned on writing solely on the topic since I knew people like you, Dr. Brown, sheikh Yasir, and so many, many more had it covered, and have covered so much more than I have here. But people just kept asking me this question so often. I guess it’s easier to believe the common prejudiced rhetoric than it is to do one’s own simple research. There are so many reasons why the marriage was valid and appropriate as the brother above and you and many more have pointed out. I only touched on a few. Thank you for writing on the topic and for reading my post. Jazakum Allah Khair.

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      1. BarakAllahu feeki sister, you’re right, there is much out there in terms of the correct facts. And it is right for you to correct the fictions, mashaAllah. May Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala continue to assist us in pursuit of the Truth, in shaa Allah.

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