Why did the prophet (pbuy) marry a 9 year old girl?

asked 1411 rifatislam02's gravatar image
edited May 28 '12 at 13:23 Al Ummat ♦ 31877 Al%20Ummat's gravatar image
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Some think, including many Muslims, that the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was engaged to a girl by the name of Aisha (Daughter of Abu bakr may Allah be pleased with him) when she was 6, and married her when she was 9 years old and he was about 50.

The marriage story in question is based on the reports by various companions of the prophet Muhammad, as recorded by others from later generations. In these reported sayings, there are discrepancies/contradictions regarding what her age was at the time of marriage, ranging from 9 to 20 years old.

There has been much discussion of this topic on the internet, in articles, television programmes and books etc. For those wishing to do further research, opposing articles will be referenced: two highlighting the discrepancies in the traditional sources for this story, and another which was written as a response to this. This is to show both sides, for and against, of the reported story. Please note, they require some background knowledge in order to understand them fully. If you prefer, you can skip these articles for discussion of what The Quran says about this subject below.

www.quranicteachings.co.uk/ayeshas-age.htm by Abdul Fauq www.irfi.org/articles/articles_151_200/ayesha_age_the_myth_of__a_prover.htm By Dr. T.O. Shanavas: Vice President of 'Islamic Research Foundation International'

qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=4604&CATE=1 (this is a response to the 2nd article above) By Shaykh Gibril F Haddad: member of Sunni Path, The Online Islamic Academy

It should be clearly noted that even though these articles disagree on some points, they clearly acknowledge contradictions exist with regard to the age at the time of marriage. Discrepancies are a common occurrence in oral reports from different sources, especially when recorded generations after an event. Furthermore, based on the evidence for the time, what likely compounded the confusion is that celebrating birthdays was not a common practice, thus exact ages were unlikely to be known.

It should be noted that this story is nowhere to be found in The Quran.

What does The Quran say on the age of marriage?

The Quran does not state a specific legal age of marriage, however it does give a guideline and mentions situations and conditions that should be considered before marriage:

Determining mutual attraction/compatibility [2:221, 2:235, 30:21, 33:52]
Ascertaining whether the potential partner is of similar beliefs/faith [2:221, 60:10]
Discussion of and agreeing to the level of dower and other terms (if any) [4:4, 4:24]
Understanding and mutual acceptance of marriage as a solemn/strong oath/contract [4:21, 2:232, 2:237, 24:33]
If male, capable of providing for the family/household [2:228, 2:233, 4:34, 65:6]
To have physically matured / post-puberty [4:6, 24:31, 24:58-59]

If the marriage is unsuccessful, one should also be capable of undertaking divorce proceedings, e.g. separation period, arbitration, discussion of settlement etc [2:226-232, 2:241, 4:35, 4:128-130, 33:49, 65:1-6].

We will discuss in more detail the verse which specifically mentions the issue of age. The context is the rights of orphans and their wealth:

And do not give the imprudent/weak-minded your money which God has made for you a means of support, and spend on them from it and clothe them, and speak to them in goodness. [4:5] And test the orphans until they have reached marriageable age, then if you determine in them sound judgment*, then give them their wealth, and do not deliberately consume it wastefully or quickly before they grow up. And whoever is rich, then let him abstain (from the wealth), and if he is poor then let him utilise by what is recognised as good/appropriate. So when you paid to them their wealth, so call a witness on them, and be aware God is accounting. [4:6]

The Arabic word is "nikah" (marriage) and has an implied meaning of sex, hence some translators interpret it as 'reached sexual maturity' in this verse. *Arabic word is "rushd" and its meanings include: be well guided or directed, true direction, correct rule of action, straight forwardness, maturity of a child/intellect, capacity to manage one's affairs.

Thus, the two conditions for giving the wealth to the orphans are: 1- The reaching of marriageable age / sexual maturity. 2- The proving of sound judgement / capability in managing one's affairs.

Interestingly, this implies that one could reach marriageable age / sexual maturity but still not have sound judgement, which is universally true and gives a possible reason why a specific age for marriage is not stated in The Quran. Based on this and other verses regarding marriage, it can be deduced that these two conditions can also be used as a guideline for when to consider marriage. The reason being, if we suppose after having reached marriageable age / sexual maturity an orphan is allowed to get married but their wealth is not given to them, this means they have been determined not to have sound judgement, yet they are being allowed to get married, which is logically inconsistent with the guidance in The Quran.

Please note, in 4:6 it also warns those entrusted with the wealth not to consume or waste it before they grow up, further reinforcing the idea that the period being referred to is when grown up. To conclusively prove this however, we can also look at other verses which discuss giving orphans the wealth owed to them [6:152, 17:34]. The Arabic word used in these verses is when they are "shudud", which means physical maturity / the period from adolescence to adulthood. Since the orphans can only receive their wealth once "shudud", and from 4:6 we know they become eligible for it after having reached marriageable age, this can only mean marriageable age begins from adolescence onwards. There is no other possibility.

This conclusion can also be verified in the story of Jospeh, who when first found in the well was a boy (Arabic: ghulam, see 12:19), then taken into care, then when he reached "shudud" (i.e. became physically mature) the female of the household tried to seduce him [12:22-23]. In addition, the usage of this word "shudud" in The Quran suggests reasonable physical strength, i.e. at least several years into adolescence [18:82, 28:14] which also agrees with most Classical Arabic dictionaries which average about from the age of 17 for the word "shudud", which also happens to coincide with when a significant number of orphans would meet the two conditions for receiving their wealth. Many countries begin to grant extra rights at the age of 16, and many give full rights at 18, so this seems fairly close to worldwide practice.

In conclusion, it is proven beyond doubt by The Quran that one must be physically mature and be of sound judgement in order to get married. Thus the final prophet (pbuh) could not have married Aisha (raa) if she wasn't phisically mature (reched puberty)

Salam (Peace)

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answered 111 breakfree's gravatar image
edited Sep 14 '12 at 05:42

I personally do not believe in this Hadith. We have no proof that Aicha was 9. As you know Hadiths have narrated from person to person and for a period of 250 years. The common sense tells me. Muhammad (PUH) was 50 and already married 11 wives before Aisha ( he married 12 total and 3 died). He was already very busy with the revelations and the Umma problems. I don't see any reason why he should marry a 9 years old girl even if she was having a body of a woman (as the scholars are pretending to justify). Still she is a girl of 9 mentally. What Muhammad (PUH) will do with a girl of this age. Unfortunately that Hadith is used by all non Muslim to insult him. SOme research has been done lately using Aisha's sister Asma who was 10 years older than her. Asma died early. Using the events that occurs at that time and matching them with Aisha's life, they found out that Aisha couldn't be 9 at her marriage but no less than 16. Keep in mind, Hadiths are narrated and not written by tens of people after 250 years from Hijra. Humans are mistakable.

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answered 701 wakoubi's gravatar image

I once learned about an additional reason of why the prophet married Aiesha (RA). The prophet PBUH married Aisha because he loved her and she loved him and their are many other reasons. But the one I learned about was that he married someone young, as young people had better memories, and after the prophet PBUH passed away she was able to tell people about the way the prophet PBUH lived inside and outside the house, also she is mentioned many times in the hadiths, so this has benefited us as we are able to understand the Sunnah better. I am only 80% sure for this reason so I'm sorry if it's wrong information. I used to think about this question, but the I thought about it and came to the conclusion of: what are we compared to the prophet PBUH, we are nothing, we're insignificant compared to him, he has done so much for this world, and saved so many people and gave everyone the chance of paradise, so I say whatever he did is right, and is correct, as he's the greatest person ever to walk on this planet and we are lucky to follow Muhammed PBUH.

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answered 61 Iraqi351's gravatar image

Brother,On the Request of Hazrat Abu Bakr Sideeq {R.A},Prophet Muhammad {P.b.u.h} married to Hazrat Aisha {R.Anha} when Hazrat Aisha {R.Anha} was 9 years old.. But She came to live with Prophet Muhammad {S.A.W} at the age of 15{Some Say At the age of 17 an 19}..

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answered 1.2k517 Ubi's gravatar image

It is ok as ayesh in that age was fully grown and she was ready to get marry. She wasn't small and young as we think. She was a woman. And the prophet loved her and wanted to marry her and she also loved him. Allah wanted him to marry ayesha.

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answered 871524 lumisho's gravatar image
2

Add to this, that people at the time of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were getting married in a young age. Rasulallah wasn't the only one who marry a girl in a young age.

(May 28 '12 at 09:13) lumisho ♦ lumisho's gravatar image
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Asked: May 28 '12 at 08:56

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Last updated: Sep 14 '12 at 05:42


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