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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? 

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