Aisha's Age of Consummation

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
(Redirected from Aisha Age of Consummation)
Jump to: navigation, search

This article analyzes the modern Muslim apologetics that attempt to distort Aisha's young age of consummation.


Some apologists have recently claimed that Aisha was actually older than nine lunar years at time of the consummation of her marriage to Prophet Muhammad. They have attempted to explain that Aisha was in fact not nine-years-old as the Sahih hadiths of her own testimony claim, but some other ages derived from misquotations, indirect sources, fuzzy dating techniques and slander. These dubious research techniques have led to several conflicting ages to be proposed for Aisha at the time of consummation, including 12, 14, 15, 17, 18 and 21 years. This article analyzes every single argument that has been put forward, and provides additional information on the origins and history of the "Aisha was older" apologetic arguments, and the only logical purpose behind making them.


The arguments raised by some apologists have given many the false impression that Aisha's age is a long contested issue in Islam, and that it is a valid argument over interpretation that could eventually lead to reforms within mainstream Islam. This is certainly not the case. There is no argument over interpretation. The text clearly say one thing and one thing only. For those who have actually read the source material, it is disingenuous to claim otherwise. Lying about what sources say may be effective in apologetic pieces, but they are useless if the intentions behind them are to reform the religion. There is not a single serious Muslim scholar, someone who is accepted in the Muslim world and by mainstream Muslims as being representative of their beliefs, who would repeat these claims. Thus, the only purpose they serve is to deflect valid criticism from a belief that continues to result in millions of young girls being forced into pedophilic child marriages by individuals, and even entire nations, all of whom explicitly use Aisha's relationship with Muhammad as justification.


The majority of Muslims today, including both scholars and the general Muslim population, agree that Aisha was 9 when her marriage to Prophet Muhammad was consummated. This has been the mainstream Muslim understanding throughout Islam's 1,400 year history.

The first ever pro-Muhammad and provably faulty objection raised to Aisha's age was by Maulana Muhammad Ali who lived from 1874 to 1951.[1] He is neither a respected nor a notable figures as far as Islam is concerned, since he belonged to the Ahmadiyya whose beliefs drastically differ from mainstream Islam. The Ahmadiyya and their writings are also heavily focused on missionary work.

Adding to Ali's objections, there is Habib Ur Rahman Siddiqui Kandhalvi (1924-1991) who in his Urdu booklet, "Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka'inat" (English trans. 1997), laments that he is "tired of defending this tradition" that is "laughed" at and "ridiculed" by English-educated individuals he meets in Karachi who claim it is against "sagacity and prudence" and "preferred English society to Islam over this", and he readily admits his "aim is to produce an answer to the enemies of Islam who spatter mud at the pious body of the Generous Prophet".[2] A posthumous fatwa was issued against him in November 2004, labelling him a "Munkir-e-Hadith" (hadith rejector) and a "Kafir" (infidel) on the basis of being a rejector of hadith.[3]

More recently, there is Moiz Amjad (who refers to himself as "The Learner"). He readily admits to having lifted these faulty arguments from them, summarizing and presenting them in response to a Muslim asking him how he can respond to Christians who called Muhammad a pedophile (i.e. all of his arguments, like Ali's and Kandhalvi's before him, were apologetic in nature rather than scholarly).[4] It was at this very recent point in history that the arguments originating from the Ahmadiyya in the 1920s and 1930s finally achieved a little popularity among a few orthodox Muslims. However, this popularity seems to be strictly limited to articles or arguments on the Internet. Clearly a knee-jerk reaction to the avalanche in online criticism of Muhammad's life, as opposed to a tangible shift in beliefs.

In July 2005, Shaykh Dr. Gibril Fouad Haddad responded to Moiz Amjad's polemics with, "Our Mother A'isha's Age At The Time Of Her Marriage to The Prophet", published at[5] Including many facts that are easily verifiable for those who have access to the hadith and sira literature, he dismantled the distortions being spread by apologists. For example, his analysis highlighted the fact that many of the arguments were based solely on faulty assumptions taken from hadiths completely unrelated to Aisha's age, or were misrepresenting the sources that were being cited (i.e. they actually supported the fact that Aisha was 9). To this day, his scholarly reply remains unanswered by Moiz Amjad. Haddad, who was listed amongst the inaugural "500 most influential Muslims in the world",[6] is a Muslim scholar and muhaddith (hadith expert)[6] who is taken very seriously by mainstream Muslims. He is also a vocal critic of Salafi fundamentalism.[7]

Since the publication of Haddad's definitive response, Moiz Amjad's highly convoluted arguments, with all of their obvious faults intact, have continued to be rehashed by countless apologists on the Internet with the same missionary and apologetic focus. Other transmitters of these arguments include, but are not limited to; T.O Shavanas,[8] “Imam” Chaudhry (word-for-word plagiarism of Amjad's work),[9] Zahid Aziz,[1] Nilofar Ahmed,[10] and David Liepert.[11]


The following series of arguments were presented by Moiz Amjad. We have chosen to analyze and respond to them specifically, due to his polemics encompassing every single claim made by other modern-day apologists who sometimes use a few, or even all of them as their own. They do this often without acknowledging Amjad as the true source of their claims.

First Argument: Number of Narrators

Most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well known as the one being reported, should logically have been reported by more people than just one, two or three.

This is a classic Straw man. There is no requirement in Islam for multiple narrations. Even a single sahih hadith is sufficient to establish Islamic laws and practices.

Shaykh Gibril Haddad also refutes the claim that most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn Urwah.

Try more than eleven authorities among the Tabi`in that reported it directly from `A'isha, not counting the other major Companions that reported the same, nor other major Successors that reported it from other than `A'isha.

Second Argument: Locality

It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first seventy one years of his life has narrated the event [from him], even though in Medinah his pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have had shifted after living in Medinah for seventy one years.

Another Straw man. There is no requirement for a hadith to be narrated in Medina for it to be considered sahih. Also, many events in the Prophet’s life were narrated by single narratives as well. Does that make them invalid? No. To demand multiple, independent narrations from Medinans is just setting up a standard that does not exist – i.e. a straw man.

Shaykh Haddad also refutes this argument by listing the people from Medina who reported this event.

Al-Zuhri also reports it from `Urwa, from `A'isha; so does `Abd Allah ibn Dhakwan, both major Madanis. So is the Tabi`i Yahya al-Lakhmi who reports it from her in the Musnad and in Ibn Sa`d's Tabaqat. So is Abu Ishaq Sa`d ibn Ibrahim who reports it from Imam al-Qasim ibn Muhammad, one of the Seven Imams of Madina, from `A'isha. All the narratives of this event have been reported. In addition to the above four Madinese Tabi`in narrators, Sufyan ibn `Uyayna from Khurasan and `Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Yahya from Tabarayya in Palestine both report it.

Third Argument: Reliability of Hisham

Tehzeeb al-Tehzeeb, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah: "narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq". It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq (Vol. 11, pg. 48 - 51).

The actual statements, their translations and their complete references are given below:


Yaqub ibn Shaibah says: He [i.e. Hisham] is highly reliable, his narratives are acceptable, except what he narrated after shifting to Iraq. (Tehzeeb al-Tehzeeb, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqalaaniy, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol. 11, pg. 50)

I have been told that Malik [ibn Anas] objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq. (Tehzi'bu'l-tehzi'b, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqala'ni, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol. 11, pg. 50)

According to Shaykh Haddad, Amjad’s third argument is either misrepresentation or a lie. Apparently, the slander against Hisham ibn Urwah is unfounded and unsupported by closer reading of Amjad’s own reference.

Rather, Ya`qub said: "Trustworthy, thoroughly reliable (thiqa thabt), above reproach except after he went to Iraq, at which time he narrated overly from his father and was criticized for it." Notice that Ya`qub does not exactly endorse that criticism.

As for Malik, he reports over 100 hadiths from Hisham as is evident in the two Sahihs and Sunan! to the point that al-Dhahabi questions the authenticity of his alleged criticism of Hisham.

Indeed, none among the hadith Masters endorsed these reservations since they were based solely on the fact that Hisham in his last period (he was 71 at the time of his last trip to Iraq), for the sake of brevity, would say, "My father, from `A'isha? (abi `an `A'isha)" and no longer pronounced, "narrated to me (haddathani)".

Al-Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal (30:238) explained that it became a foregone conclusion for the Iraqis that Hisham did not narrate anything from his father except what he had heard directly from him.

Ibn Hajar also dismisses the objections against Hisham ibn `Urwa as negligible in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (11:45), saying: "It was clear enough to the Iraqis that he did not narrate from his father other than what he had heard directly from him".

In fact, to say that "narratives reported by Hisham ibn `Urwa are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq" is major nonsense as that would eliminate all narrations of Ayyub al-Sakhtyani from him since Ayyub was a Basran Iraqi, and those of Abu `Umar al-Nakha`i who was from Kufa, and those of Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman from Kufa (the Shaykh of Abu Hanifa), and those of Hammad ibn Salama and Hammad ibn Zayd both from Basra, and those of Sufyan al-Thawri from Basra, and those of Shu`ba in Basra, all of whom narrated from Hisham!

Fourth Argument: Hisham's Memory

Meezaan al-Ai`tidaal, another book on the [life sketches of the] narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that when he was old, Hisham's memory suffered quite badly (Vol. 4, pg. 301 - 302)

The actual statement, its translation and its complete references is given below:


When he was old, Hisham's memory suffered quite badly (Meezaan al-Ai`tidaal, Al-Zahabi, Arabic, Al-Maktabah al-Athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol. 4, pg. 301).

This is another slander in which the accuser does not correlate Hisham’s memory loss with the ‘Aisha’s age’ hadiths. Hisham was born in 61 A.H. and died in 146 A.H. at Baghdad – meaning he was 85 years old when he died. He moved to Iraq when he was 71 years old. When did his memory fail him? The accuser provides no answer.

In fact, Shaykh Haddad accuses Moiz Amjad of outright lying.

An outright lie, on the contrary, al-Dhahabi in Mizan al-I`tidal (4:301 #9233) states: "Hisham ibn `Urwa, one of the eminent personalities. A Proof in himself, and an Imam. However, in his old age his memory diminished, but he certainly never became confused. Nor should any attention be paid to what Abu al-Hasan ibn al-Qattan said about him and Suhayl ibn Abi Salih becoming confused or changing! Yes, the man changed a little bit and his memory was not the same as it had been in his younger days, so that he forgot some of what he had memorized or lapsed, so what? Is he immune to forgetfulness? [p. 302] And when he came to Iraq in the last part of his life he narrated a great amount of knowledge, in the course of which are a few narrations in which he did not excel, and such as occurs also to Malik, and Shu`ba, and Waki`, and the major trustworthy masters. So spare yourself confusion and floundering, do not make mix the firmly-established Imams with the weak and muddled narrators. Hisham is a Shaykh al-Islam. But may Allah console us well of you, O Ibn al-Qattan, and the same with regard to `Abd al-Rahman ibn Khirash's statement from Malik!"

Fifth Argument: Revelation Time of Surah al-Qamar

According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitaab al-Tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur'an , was revealed, "I was a young girl". The 54th Surah of the Qur'an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (ra) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn `urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn `urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be more accurate.

The actual statements referred to in the above paragraph, their translations and their complete references are given below:


Ayesha (ra) said: I was a young girl, when verse 46 of Surah Al-Qamar, [the 54th chapter of the Qur'an ], was revealed. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitaab al-Tafseer, Arabic, Bab Qaulihi Bal al-saa`atu Maw`iduhum wa al-sa`atu adhaa wa amarr)

The precise date of the revelation of Surah al-Qamar is unknown. Ibn Hajar, Maududi, and other traditionalists said it was revealed 5 years before Hijrah (muslimhope). Zahid Aziz said it was revealed before 6 BH. Khatib said it was revealed in 8 BH. Amjad does not name his source for his claim that the verse was revealed in 9 BH. The point is that the precise date of revelation of Surah al-Qamar is unknown, and using an imprecise date to calculate Aisha’s age is not only ridiculous but stupid. However, if an estimate must be used, then why not use Ibn Hajar’s estimate which is more authoritative and traditionally accepted than Amjad’s unnamed source?

Shaykh Haddad confirms this. He also proves that the traditional estimate of the revelation of Surah al-Qamar is consistent with Aisha’s age being nine years.

Not true. The hadith Masters, Sira historians, and Qur'anic commentators agree that the splitting of the moon took place about five years before the Holy Prophet's (upon him blessings and peace) Hijra to Madina.

Thus it is confirmed that our Mother `Aisha was born between seven and eight years before the Hijra and the words that she was a jariya or little girl five years before the Hijra match the fact that her age at the time Surat al-Qamar was revealed was around 2 or 3.

A two year old is not an infant. A two year old is able to run around, which is what jariya means. As for "the comments of the experts" they concur on 6 or 7 as the age of marriage and 9 as the age of cohabitation.

Thus, Amjad’s attempt to throw doubt on Aisha’s age by using a non-traditional (i.e. spurious) estimate for the date of revelation of Surah al-Qamar is easily debunked.

This is what Amjad later said, which totally debunks his own argument above.

The incident of the shaqq-al-Qamar (splitting of the moon) that has been mentioned in it, determines its period of revelation precisely. The traditionists and commentators are agreed that this incident took place at Mina in Makkah about five years before the Holy Prophet's Hijra to Madinah.

Ibn Hajar in his commentary "Fath al-Baariy" has indeed mentioned that the incident of the splitting of the moon took place around 5 years before the Hijrah. Nevertheless, this statement does not qualify as an "agreement" of 'traditionalists and commentators'. Maududi's referred statement, in my opinion, is not adequately substantiated. A more accurate statement would have been that all the commentators and traditionalists agree on the point that the incident of the splitting of the moon took place while the Prophet (pbuh) was in Mekkah.

As for the time of the revelation of Surah Al-Qamar, it can be estimated through the sequence of the revelation of the Surahs as given in Ibn Shihaab's "Tanzeel al-Qur'an"[2], Suyutiy's "Al-Ittiqaan"[3], and Al-Zarkashiy's "Al-Burhan fi Uloom al-Qur'an"[4]. According to each of these sources, the period of revelation of Surah Al-Qamar was the same as that of Al-Balad (90), Qaaf (50), Al-Humazah (104), Al-Tariq (86), Al-Jinn (72) and Saad (38 ). All of these Surahs are generally held to be revealed during the initial period of prophethood. Maududi, in his commentary, has acknowledged that each of these Surahs was revealed during the initial period of the Prophet's ministry.

So now we have Amjad backtracking on his claim that the date of revelation of Surah al-Qamar can be determined precisely. Initially he claimed it was in 9BH. Now he says it’s some undefined time in the Meccan period. Thus, it can be seen that Amjad himself has finally seen the absurdity of his own argument.

Sixth Argument: Battle of Badr and Uhud

According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) accompanied the Muslims in the battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicate that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battle fields to help them, not to be a burden on them.

A narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) participation in Badr is given in Muslim, Kitaab al-jihaad wa al-siyar, Arabic, Bab karahiyah al-isti`anah fi al-ghazwi bikafir. Ayesha (ra) while narrating the journey to Badr and one of the important events that took place in that journey, says:


When we reached Shajarah.

It is quite obvious from these words that Ayesha (ra) was with the group traveling toward Badr.

A narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle of `uhud is given in Bukhari, Kitaab al-jihaad wa al-siyar, Arabic, Baab Ghazwi al-nisaa wa qitalihinna ma`a al-rijaal.


Anas reports that On the day of Uhud, people could not stand their ground around the Prophet (pbuh). [On that day,] I saw Ayesha (ra) and Umm-e-Sulaim (ra), they had pulled their dress up from their feet [to save them from any hindrance in their movement]."

As far as the fact that children below 15 years were sent back and were not allowed to participate in the battle of `uhud, it is narrated in Bukhari, Kitaab al-maghaazi, Baab ghazwah al-khandaq wa hiya al-ahzaab, Arabic.


Ibn `umar (ra) states that the Prophet (pbuh) did not permit me to participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was fourteen years old. But on the day of Khandaq, when I was fifteen years old, the Prophet (pbuh) permitted my participation."

Dr. Ali Sina, founder of Faith Freedom International and author of "Understanding Muhammad", refuted this argument:

This is a weak excuse. When the Battle of Badr and Uhud occurred Ayesha was 10 to 11 years old. She did not go to be a warrior, like the boys. She went to keep Muhammad warm during the nights. Boys who were less than 15 were sent back, but this did not apply to her.

Women and young children went to the battlefields to perform other functions.

The women and young children went on the battlefield after the battle and gave water to the wounded Muslims and finished off the enemy wounded. al-Tabari vol.12 p.127,146. During the days of the battle, the women and children were there to dig graves for the dead. al-Tabari vol.12 p.107.

Therefore, it is clear that the fifteen-year age threshold applied only to boys, and Amjad’s line of argument is clearly false.

Shaykh Haddad also showed that Amjad had used false or incomplete information.

First, the prohibition applied to combatants. It applied neither to non-combatant boys nor to non-combatant girls and women. Second, `A'isha did not participate in Badr at all but bade farewell to the combatants as they were leaving Madina, as narrated by Muslim in his Sahih. On the day of Uhud (year 3), Anas, at the time only twelve or thirteen years old, reports seeing an eleven-year old `A'isha and his mother Umm Sulaym having tied up their dresses and carrying water skins back and forth to the combatants, as narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

So, Aisha did not participate in Badr at all, despite Amjad’s assertion. It is also illuminating to know that Amjad had partially quoted the Uhud hadiths to falsely convey the impression that Aisha participated at Uhud when the hadiths are clear in that she was merely carrying water skins to the combatants. The last part of the hadith was omitted, either deliberately or inadvertently, an act some people may consider disingenuous.

Narrated Anas: On the day (of the battle) of Uhad when (some) people retreated and left the Prophet, I saw 'Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Um Sulaim, with their robes tucked up so that the bangles around their ankles were visible hurrying with their water skins (in another narration it is said, "carrying the water skins on their backs"). Then they would pour the water in the mouths of the people, and return to fill the water skins again and came back again to pour water in the mouths of the people.

Seventh Argument: Asma's Age

According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihayah that Asma (ra) died in 73 hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in 73 hijrah she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra), if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.

The relevant references required in this argument are provided below:

For the Difference of Ayesha's (ra) and Asma's (ra) Age:

According to Abd al-Rahman ibn abi zannaad:


Asma (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha. (Siyar A`la'ma'l-nubala', Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, pg. 289, Arabic, Mu'assasatu'l-risala'h, Beirut, 1992)

According to Ibn Kathir:


She [i.e. Asma] was ten years elder to her sister [i.e. Ayesha]. (Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, pg. 371, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabiy, Al-jizah, 1933)

For Asma's (ra) Age at Her Death in 73 AH

According to Ibn Kathir:


She [i.e. Asma] witnessed the killing of her son during that year [i.e. 73 AH], as we have already mentioned, five days later she herself died, according to other narratives her death was not five but ten or twenty or a few days over twenty or a hundred days later. The most well known narrative is that of hundred days later. At the time of her death, she was 100 years old. (Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, pg. 372, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabiy, Al-jizah, 1933).

According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalaaniy:


She [i.e. Asma (ra)] lived a hundred years and died in 73 or 74 AH." (Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalaaniy, Pg. 654, Arabic, Bab fi al-nisaa, al-Harf al-alif, Lucknow)

Amjad’s objection to Sina’s analysis is similar to that of the previous argument.

When someone gets that old, people don't care too much about her exact age. It is very easy to say she was 100 years old when in fact she was only 90. The difference is not noticeable to the younger folks and 100 is a round figure. Assuming the Hadith is authentic, it could be an honest mistake. Since in those days people did not carry birth certificates, it is very much likely that the person who reported her age to be 100 did not know that she was 10 years older than Ayesha and did not sit to make the calculations and deductions. She was not an important person and it did not occur to anyone that 1300 years later it would become the subject of a controversy. This could be a genuine mistake by the narrator of the Hadith.
Once again, the author is only pointing out towards a possibility. It should be kept in mind that the author is trying to establish that Ayesha (ra) was nine years old at the time of her marriage with the Prophet (pbuh). The author should be reminded that pointing out mere possibilities of error in the given information would not serve his purpose. Obviously, contrary to what the author contends, it is also "Possible" that the information given in the given in the cited paragraph is correct. The author should also keep in mind that the target of my writings on the issue is not to "prove" that Ayesha (ra) was "X" years old at the time of the consummation of her marriage with the Prophet (pbuh). On the contrary, my objective was merely to show that the generally held view regarding Ayesha's (ra) age at the time of her marriage with the Prophet (pbuh) is not based upon contradiction-free information.

Apparently Amjad is not worried that his arguments all derive conflicting ages for Aisha, thus debunking each other.

Shaykh Haddad also challenges the accuracy of the information, thus casting doubt on Amjad’s source material.

Well, Ibn Kathir based himself on Ibn Abi al-Zinad's assertion that she was ten years older than `A'isha, however, al-Dhahabi in Siyar A`lam al-Nubala' said there was a greater difference than 10 years between the two, up to 19, and he is more reliable here. Ibn Hajar reports in al-Isaba from Hisham ibn `Urwa, from his father, that Asma' did live 100 years, and from Abu Nu`aym al-Asbahani that "Asma' bint Abi Bakr was born 27 years before the Hijra, and she lived until the beginning of the year 74." None of this amounts to any proof for `A'isha's age whatsoever.

Using inaccurate data, Amjad assumes Asma was older than Aisha by 10 years when a more reliable source says the age difference is up to 19 years. Taking this more reliable information calculates Aisha’s age at around nine years old, completely in accordance with the sahih hadiths where Aisha herself said she was nine years old.

Eighth Argument: Tabari's Account

Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr (ra) reports that Abu Bakr had four children and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah - the pre-Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha (ra) was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less than 14 years in 1 AH - the time she most likely got married.

The original statement in Tabari, its translation and reference follows:


All four of his [i.e. Abu Bakr's] children were born of his two wives - the names of whom we have already mentioned - during the pre-Islamic period. (Tarikh al-umam wa al-mamloo'k, Al-Tabari, Vol. 4, Pg. 50, Arabic, Dar al-fikr, Beirut, 1979)

Shaykh Gibril Haddad says that the evidence Amjad provided above is false.

Al-Tabari nowhere reports that "Abu Bakr's four children were all born in Jahiliyya" but only that Abu Bakr married both their mothers in Jahiliyya, Qutayla bint Sa`d and Umm Ruman, who bore him four children in all, two each, `A'isha being the daughter of Umm Ruman.

There is also no need to make oblique calculations using Tabari when Tabari explicitly states Aisha’s age several times.

These are Tabari’s direct accounts. He reported it at least five times, making it clear that this was what he deemed authoritative.

The angel brought down my likeness; the Messenger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage was consummated when I was nine; he married me when I was a virgin, no other man having shared me with him
I was then brought [in] while the Messenger of God was sitting on a bed in our house. [My mother] made me sit on his lap... Then the men and women got up and left. The Messenger of God consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old. Neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered on behalf of me.
The Messenger of God saw 'A'ishah twice-[first when] it was said to him that she was his wife (she was six years old at that time), and later [when] he consummated his marriage with her after coming to Medina when she was nine years old.
[The Prophet] married her three years before the Emigration, when she was seven years old, and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old, after he had emigrated to Medina in Shawwil. She was eighteen years old when he died.
The Prophet married Aishah in Shawwal in the tenth year after the [beginning of his] prophethood, three years before Emigration. He consummated the marriage in Shawwal, eight months after Emigration. On the day he consummated the marriage with her she was nine years old.

Ninth Argument: Time of Umar's Conversion to Islam

According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam quite some time before `umar ibn al-Khattab (ra). This shows that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Ayesha's (ra) marriage at seven years of age is held to be true, Ayesha (ra) should not have been born during the first year of Islam. According to Ibn Hisham, Ayesha (ra) was the 20th or the 21st person to enter into the folds of Islam (Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, Pg. 227 - 234, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithah, Al-Riyadh) While `umar ibn al-khattab was preceded by forty individuals (Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, Pg. 295, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithah, Al-Riyadh).

Muslimhope shows that even if we were to believe that Aisha accepted Islam before Umar, it doesn’t mean this took place during the first year of Islam since Umar converted in 617AD, about 4 years after Aisha’s birth in 613AD. Thus, Amjad had made a miscalculation here.

1. Nobody today really knows the order. In general there is lengthy disagreement on the order of who accepted Islam, as al-Tabari vol.5 p.80-87; vol.12 p.38 discuss. If they cannot even agree on the first five men, how can they know the 21st?

2. A’isha never converted to Islam, because she never remembered a time when Mohammed did not come by twice a day and her parents were not Muslims. This is prior to the first migration to Ethiopia (617 A.D.) (Bukhari 5:245 p.158).

3. ‘Umar became a Muslim just after the first migration to Ethiopia (617 A.D.) according to Ibn Ishaq p.155,156. So what Ibn Hisham counts as A’isha’s "conversion" could be between birth and three years old.

Besides disputing the claim that Ibn Hisham reported that Aisha accepted Islam quite some time before `umar ibn al-Khattab, Shaykh Haddad also casts doubt on Amjad’s logic.

Nowhere does Ibn Hisham say this. Rather, Ibn Hisham lists `A'isha among "those that accepted Islam because of Abu Bakr." This does not mean that she embraced Islam during the first year of Islam. Nor does it mean that she necessarily embraced Islam before `Umar (year 6) although she was born the previous year (year 7 before the Hijra) although it is understood she will automatically follow her father's choice even before the age of reason.

Tenth Argument: Abu Bakr's Migration to Habshah

Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr planned on migrating to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mut`am - with whose son Ayesha (ra) was engaged - and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in his house as his son's wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam, and subsequently his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha (ra) was only seven years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr decided on migrating to Habshah. On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume that Ayesha (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage. Unfortunately, I do not have the primary reference to this argument at the moment. The secondary reference for this argument is: Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka'inat, Habib ur Rahman Kandhalwi, Urdu, Pg. 38, Anjuman Uswa e hasanah, Karachi, Pakistan

Muslimhope shows that Amjad’s logic is wrong and not based on fact.

Even if this account is accurate, Arabs both then and today often betrothed girls soon after they were born. Abu Bakr had other daughters and it might have been one of them.

Shaykh Haddad also casts doubt as to the veracity of Amjad’s Tabari evidence, admittedly derived from a secondary reference that Amjad never checked.

Not at all, there is no mention of emigration in Tabari's account of Abu Bakr's discussion with Mut`im. Nor did he ever ask him to take `A'isha because there had been only some preliminary talk, not a formal arrangement. Umm Ruman, Abu Bakr's wife, reportedly said: "By Allah, no promise had been given on our part at all!" Rather, al-Tabari said that when news of the Prophet's interest in `A'isha came, he went to see Mut`im. Then Mut`im's wife manifested her fear that her son would become Muslim if he married into Abu Bakr's family. Abu Bakr then left them and gave his assent to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace. Your assumption fizzles at the root when you read al-Tabari's positive assertion: "On the day he consummated the marriage with her, she was nine years old."

Eleventh Argument: Meaning of Bikr

According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (ra), when Khaulah (ra) came to the Prophet (pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: "You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)". When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed Ayesha's (ra) name. All those who know the Arabic language, are aware that the word "bikr" in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine year old girl. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier is "Jariyah". "Bikr" on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady, and obviously a nine year old is not a "lady". The complete reference for this reporting of Ahmad ibn Hanbal is: Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol 6, Pg 210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut.

Sina has refuted this argument.

This explanation is absolutely incorrect. Bikr means virgin and, just as in English is not age specific. In fact Ayesha was the second wife of Muhammad (after Khadijah) but Muhammad did not consummate his marriage with her for three years because she was too young. Instead he had to content himself with Umma Salamah, until Ayesha matured a little bit more. It would not have made sense to marry a beautiful woman like Ayesha and wait for three years to take her home.

And Amjad has agreed:

The author is quite right. Bikr in the Arabic language does, in fact, mean 'virgin'. However, I was actually referring to the usage of the word, not its literal meaning. It is correct that literally the word 'Bikr', like the word "virgin" refers to a biological reality, however, also just as the word 'virgin', the word 'Bikr', in the Arabic language, is used for a young woman, who has not yet had sexual contact, not for a child.

Shaykh Gibril Haddad also adds:

This is ignorant nonsense, bikr means a virgin girl, a girl who has never been married even if her age is 0 and there is no unclarity here whatsoever.

Twelfth Argument: Fatima's Age Difference

According to Ibn Hajar, Fatimah (ra) was five years older than Ayesha (ra). Fatimah (ra) is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Ayesha (ra) could by no means be less than 14 years old at the time of hijrah, and 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage.

Ibn Hajar's original statement, its translation and reference follows:


Fatimah (ra) was born at the time the Kaa`bah was rebuilt, when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old... she (Fatimah) was five years older that Ayesha (ra). (Al-Isabah fi Tamyeez al-Sahaabah, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaniy, Vol. 4, Pg. 377, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-Haditha, al-Riyadh, 1978)

Using Fatima’s age difference with Aisha to refute the Aisha’s Age sahih hadiths is a logical fallacy because the biography of Fatima is conflicting. Nobody knows for sure when Fatima was born (when her father was a nobody), and though her death was well-recorded her age at death is not known for certain.

The traditional account is that she was born on Friday, 20th jumada ` th-thaaniyah in the fifth year after the declaration of the prophet - hood (615 AD), which means she was about the same age as Aisha.[12][13]

The most predominant view in the traditions transmitted by our traditionists is that Fatimah az-Zahra' was born in Mecca, on the twentieth of Jumada 'l-Akhirah, in the fifth year of the Prophet's apostolic career. It is also asserted that when the Prophet died, Fatimah was eighteen years and seven months old.

It is reported on the authority of Jabir ibn Yazid that (the fifth Imam) al-Baqir was asked: "How long did Fatimah live after the Messenger of Allah?" He answered: "Four months; she died at the age of twenty-three." This view is close to that reported by the traditionists of the (Sunni) majority. They have asserted that she was born in the forty-first year of the. Messenger of Allah's life. This means that she was born one year after the Prophet was sent by Allah as a messenger. The scholar Abu Sa'id al-Hafiz relates in his book Sharafu' n-Nabiyy that all the children of the Messenger of Allah were born before Islam except Fatimah and Ibrahim, who were born in Islam.

Reference: Abu Ali al-Fadl ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Fadl at-Tabrisi (c. 468/1076 - 548/1154)

Some say she was born ten years earlier than Aisha. Those who believe this also believe Fatima was aged 29 years when she died, not the 18 years traditionally believed.

Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 #29 p.115-116 actually says that Fatima was 29 years old when she died (six months after Mohammed), which makes her ten years older than A’isha. So somebody forgot a date somewhere. The authoritative hadiths of Sunan Nasa’i would generally be trusted more than Ibn Hajar, Regardless, though A’isha was younger.

Sina has refuted the accuracy of Amjad’s information:

Of course this information cannot be taken as correct. If Ayesha was five years older than Fatimah, and Fatimah was born when the Prophet was 35 years old, then Ayesha was only 30 years younger than the Prophet. So at the time of her marriage when the Prophet was 54, Ayesha must have been 24 years old. This is not certainly correct, for the reasons explained above and also it contradicts the Hadith that the apologist quoted about the age of Asma, Ayesha’s sister, who according to that Hadith was 10 years older that Ayesha and died in 73 Hijra. So at the time of Hijra Asma must have been 100 –73 = 27 years old, but according to this Hadith she was 34 years old.

Shaykh Gibril Haddad showed that Ibn Hajar was merely reporting what some narrators reported, not his own conclusion, and Amjad chose the wrong narration and also wrongly attributed that narration to Ibn Hajar, who was merely the reporter.

Ibn Hajar mentions two versions: (1) al-Waqidi's narration that Fatima was born when the Prophet was 35; and (2) Ibn `Abd al-Barr's narration that she was born when he was 41, approximately one year more or less before Prophethood, and about five years before `A'isha was born. The latter version matches the established dates.

In conclusion, Fatima’s birth date is uncertain. Despite this, Amjad used a non-traditional estimate to cast doubt on Aisha’s age, when the traditional account exactly matches the established facts. Note that Amjad omitted the traditional account in his Ibn Hajar reference, choosing instead one that is clearly in error. Some might view this deliberate omission to be disingenuous.

Thirteenth Argument: Arab Tradition

In my opinion, neither was it an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as nine or ten years, nor did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Ayesha (ra) at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage, because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated.

Although we agree there is no evidence to support the claim (usually made by Muslims in defence of Muhammad's pedophilia) that it was an Arab tradition to give away pre-pubescent young girls in marriage to old men, no credence should be given to mere ‘opinion’ of Aisha's age of consummation when there are sahih hadiths that explicitly state that Aisha married and had sex with Muhammad when she was aged only nine.

Although an ad hominem, this neatly summarizes what an actual Muslim scholar thinks about Moiz Amjad’s scholarship.

Those that itch to follow misguidance always resort to solipsisms because they are invariably thin on sources. In this particular case "the Learner" proves to be ignorant and dishonest. It is no surprise he moves on every single point, without exception, from incorrect premises to false conclusions.


Apologists have presented a series of arguments as to why the generally accepted understanding of Aisha’s age (i.e. nine-years-old) when she married and had sex with Muhammad, based on commonly known narratives, is erroneous and contradictory. However, on closer inspection, we find they have produced arguments that can be broadly categorized into these categories:

A. Unjustified slanders against Hisham ibn Urwah and the Iraqi narrators.
B. The use of non-sahih information to refute otherwise sahih hadiths.
C. The use of secondary, indirect sources in preference of direct testimonies.
D. The use of ‘imprecise’ dating in preference to specific dates and statements of age.
E. The use of misquoted references and erroneous information.
F. The use of incorrect logic.
G. Personal opinion.

When one examines their claims, one sees that their arguments contradict and debunk each other. Argument No. 5 says she was 14 to 21 years old. However, argument No. 6 says she was 15+, argument No. 7 says she was 17 or 18, argument No. 8 says Aisha was 14+, argument No. 9 says she was 12+, and argument No. 12 says she was 12. In other words, each and every one of the evidences contradicts and debunks all the others. Which of these so-called arguments is correct? They cannot all be correct. Clearly the apologists do not have a clue.

They have used doubtful data and assumptions for their calculations. In reality, all the arguments are false. Instead of using sahih hadiths, they use non-sahih source material. Instead of using specific and clear age testimony, they use events that cannot possibly be dated with any degree of accuracy. Instead of using traditions of acknowledged authenticity, they prefer to believe unsubstantiated slander and misquotations. Hardly a solid foundation for establishing facts. No wonder they cannot provide a consistent answer to the question of Aisha’s age.

Their argument appears to be that because they themselves, using spurious information, derive multiple conflicting ages for the one specific event in Aisha’s life, then we must throw out what we know about her age at this event. In effect, they are saying that just because they are using rubbish data, we have to throw out the sahih hadiths. However, this is not the logical outcome. A reasonable person would note that whilst their arguments debunk each other, all of the sahih hadith in regards to Aisha's age of consummation are in perfect harmony. Thus, rather than discarding the good with the bad, we will merely throw out the bad; in this case, the weak apologetic attempt to obfuscate our understanding that Aisha was aged nine when she married and had sex with Muhammad.

This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Pedophilia which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also

External Links


This article is greatly indebted to the following:


  1. 1.0 1.1 Zahid Aziz - Age of Aisha (ra) at time of marriage - Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha`at Islam Lahore Inc. U.S.A. (for a refutation to the issues raised by Aziz's tu-quoque defence, titled "Mary and Joseph", click here)
  2. All Habib Ur Rahman Siddiqui Kandhalvi quotations are taken from the Preface of the 2007 English translation of his Urdu booklet, "Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka'inat", translated by Nigar Erfaney and published by Al-Rahman Publishing Trust under the title, "Age of Aisha (The Truthful Women, May Allah Send His Blessings)"
  3. The original fatwa and the English translation branding Habib Ur Rahman Siddiqui Kandhalvi's beliefs outside of Islam, thus making him a 'kafir', can be viewed here: Fatwa's on hadith rejectors?
  4. See: "What was Ayesha's (ra) Age at the Time of Her Marriage?", by Moiz Amjad.
  5. Shaykh Gibril F Haddad - Our Mother A'isha's Age At The Time Of Her Marriage to The Prophet - Sunni Path, Question ID:4604, July 3, 2005
  6. 6.0 6.1 Edited by Prof. John Esposito and Prof. Ibrahim Kalin - The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (P. 94) - The royal islamic strategic studies centre, 2009
  7. Stephen Schwartz - Wahhabis in America - Islam Daily, February 26, 2005
  8. T.O Shanavas - AYESHA’s AGE: THE MYTH OF A PROVERBIAL WEDDING EXPOSED - Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
  9. Imam Chaudhry - What Was The Age of Ummul Mo'mineen Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) When She Married To Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)? - Islamic Supreme Council of Canada
  10. Nilofar Ahmed - Of Aisha’s age at marriage - Dawn, February 17, 2012
  11. Dr. David Liepert - Rejecting the Myth of Sanctioned Child Marriage in Islam - The Huffington Post, January 29, 2011 (for direct responses to David Liepert, see: Rejecting Dr. David Liepert's "Aisha Was Older" Apologetic Myth & Muhammad, Child brides, and David Liepert)
  12. Fatimah az-Zahra - (A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles, p. 47-53)
  13. A Brief Biography of Fatima (A.S) the daughter of the Last Messenger and the Mother of Imams -