There have been many biographies of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Many give a similar opinion or narrative about the age of his third wife, Mother of the believers, Ayesha. She was the daughter of Abu Bakr, a close companion of the Prophet. Historians say that she was either 9 years or 10 years old when she was married to the Prophet.
Islamophobes and Muslim-haters, like David Spencer and others, have used foul and blasphemous language against the Prophet of Islam. The matter of her age has been one of the main attacks on the character and life of the Prophet of Islam, the greatest of all human beings, the perfect man and a messenger of God.
For Muslims, this is, and always is, a painful experience, starting from Rushdie to Spencer, and from others, to countenance assaults on the character of the Prophet of Islam. For Muslims, Muhammad is in their hearts, their love, their devotion; he is Islam made alive, its spirit and principles enshrined in his life; an example for all to follow.
The main attack on the Prophet is that he married a young, minor girl, not a woman. They say Ayesha was a child and married to him when she was pre-menarche.
Ibne Ishaq wrote the first biography of the Prophet Muhammad but that is now not available as it is lost to history. Later on, Ibne Hisham, used the Ibne Ishaq manuscript and deriving from the former, wrote another detailed history of the Prophet. Ibne Hisham, apparently, wrote a concise version, taking out the detailed lineage of all the people and personalities mentioned in the biography by Ibne Ishaq, making it easier for the reader to continue reading the narrative than to delve into the lineage of these personalities.
According to Ibne Hisham, Ibne Ishaq is the first author who uses the number 9 for Ayesha’s age. He does not use any supportive narrative or provide any evidence of the age of Ayesha. Ibne Hisham uses the same number with the same description derived from his predecessor, Ibne Ishaq.
All other historian use the same narrative in regards to her age. Some say she was only 6 when she was betrothed and 9 when actually married and some say she was ten. Occasionally, some other historians have used the number 13, 15 or 19 or thereabouts. Some say that she was older but the generally people accept the age of 9 at marriage.
In this current atmosphere of Muslim and Islam bashing in the West; Muslims being persecuted and Minarets being banned from Switzerland, after France banned the Hijab, this is ammunition for those who would use liberal fascism on Muslims. While these extremist right wing fascists forget their own history and religious traditions: child brides and concubines for their Prophets, kings and noblemen, until recently, they still decry Islam and Prophet Muhammad.
But, this article is not to talk about others. It is neither about denying historians their history but it is about facts and hard numbers, understood through confirmed events.
Muhammad (pbuh) was born in 570 AD. He was 40, in 610 AD, when he received the first revelation from God. His closet friend was Abu Bakr, Ayesha’s father, who immediately accepted his invitation to renounce idol worship and accepted oneness of God, and became a Muslim. Slowly, in the first few months in the same year, a number of other people converted to Islam. Ayesha was one of them. In Ibne Hisham’s biography of Prophet Muhammad, she was the 19th convert to Islam, with her older sister, Asma being 18th.
She was also part of the group of migrants to Abyssinia, in 615.
She was also engaged to be married to a young man of Mecca, before her father converted to Islam.
According to Ibne Tabari, Ayesha’s father, Abu Bakr decided that she should marry her fiancé, Jubayr ibn Mut’im, son of Mut‘im ibn ‘Adi. Abu Bakr wanted to protect her daughter and felt that if she were married, she would be better protected and better looked after while she was in exile in Abyssinia. Mut’im was not a Muslim and did not wish his son to marry a Muslim girl, refused to agree the long-standing engagement. He did not want to be linked to Muslims and become an outcast amongst his own people. The marriage never took place and she migrated to Abyssinia in 615 AD. Abu Bakr’s family, along with Ayesha, returned to Mecca after a few years.
Prophet Muhammad stayed in Mecca for 10 years. At the age of 50, he migrated to Medina, to escape persecution from the people of Mecca, along with his family and companions. He lived for another 13 years, all of these in Medina, never to return to Mecca, except for a visit when it was conquered by Muslims.
It was in the third year of his life in Medina, about two and a half years after the migration, that he was married to Ayesha. The betrothal was agreed at the time of their return from Abyssinia, just before the migration to Medina.
Now, let us look at history, the years passed and the sequence of events. Let us then, calculate the age of Ayesha.
She was betrothed to be married to Jubayr ibn Mut’im before 610 AD. She was to be married to him in 615 AD, a marriage that never happened due to Jubayr’s father’s opposition. Ayesha would have been married at that time had her father and she not converted to Islam. How old was she when she was to be married to Jubayr? Was it 6 or 9 years of age? If she was ready for marriage in 615 AD, or even 610 AD, was she not ready for marriage with the Prophet at 623 AD? Could she be 9 year old at 623 AD?
She was a girl who converted to Islam, with her older sister, in the first few months of Muhammad (pbuh) receiving the revelation and declaring his Prophet Hood. How old was she when she did this?
There are 2 frequently mentioned numbers that are repeated in some histories. Let us use both these numbers in different scenarios.
Let us presume that she was 6 at the time of her conversion to Islam, in 610 AD. Five years later, in 615 AD, she migrated to Abyssinia and five years after that, she migrated to Medina.
If she were 6 at conversion, she was 11 at migration to Abyssinia (and was to be married to Jubayr). She was 16 at the time of migration to Medina. She has to be about 19 at the time of her marriage because her marriage took place in the third year of Muhammad’s migration to Medina.
Let us now presume that she was 9 when she converted to Islam, in 610 AD. In 615 AD, five years later, she migrated to Abyssinia, when she was 14. Five years later, at 19, she migrated to Medina. Two and a half years later, when she was almost 22, she married Prophet Muhammad.
She cannot be 6 or 9 when she married Muhammad (pbuh). She lived for 10 years in Mecca, and she was already a convert to Islam at that time. She was already betrothed to another man when she converted to Islam, after her father did and older sister accepted the call of Islam. She then moved to Medina, and married Prophet Muhammad in the third year of his move to Medina, making her age in early 20s, at least.
It is not possible for her to be not even conceived, and to be in her mother’s womb, and yet betrothed to another man, before 610 AD.
She could not have converted to Islam one (or three years) before her actual birth!
She could not be less than 18 or maybe 23 when she was married to Muhammad (pbuh).
This age issue is thus, settled, once and for all, in accordance with the events and years that are narrated in all historical books. Although many say that she was this or that age; some also say that she was 16 or older; no one has dealt with this matter in this sequential and incontrovertible manner, in line with established historical events, where her presence was confirmed and repeatedly narrated.
Those ‘scholars’ who wish to opine on the age of ‘Mother of Believers’ Ayesha, from now onwards, must say that she was woman, a grown up, young woman, who was a devoted wife to the Prophet and who taught billions of Muslims, about the human nature and private life of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, may peace be upon him.
All those accusations and attacks, whether by Rushdie in his satanic dreams and [fictional] fantasies or Robert Spencer’s pseudo-histories, Ayesha was a grown up woman, at least in her twenties, when she married Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Recently, Javed Ghamidi has propounded a most interesting and appropriate rationale of the second marriage for the Prophet. He Prophet (pbuh) had numerous small children living in his house: his children from his first, most revered wife, Khadija; and Ali, his young cousin, and Zaid, his adopted son. Having seven young children to raise, did he need another child in his home? In reality he needed a mature mother for his seven children who needed looking after. That was why he chose lady Umme Salma (mother of believers), as his second wife. Ayesha was his third wife, a bond suggested to him by his friend Abu Bakr, wanting to strengthen the bond of friendship between their families. And, as we can see from time line, she was a mature woman.