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Aishah’s marriage and her exact age
The ancient historical references
Some thought-provoking suggestions
Some historical facts that need considering carefully:
The age of Aishah in relationship to the age of her sister Asma
Abu Bakr’s children were born before the advent of Islam
Abu Bakr’s marriage to Umm Ruman
Aishah was one of the first children to embrace Islam
Some background details of the marriage
Abu Bakr’s concern about the delay of Aishah’s full wedding
Aishah was playing on a swing when called to her marriage
The date of the death of Aishah
The status of the narratives in the Sahih collections
Sayyid Sulayman Nadvi’s statement examined
Aishah’s dolls
Aishah’s ‘playmates’
Aishah’s Needlework
Aishah’s Account of the Miraj and the Hijrah
Aishah’s role in the Battle of Uhud
Aishah’s knowledge
Her status as a jurist



Topics: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06                               This is not Zakir Naik's research

Madam Aishah, a Study of her age at the time of her marriage with Prophet Muhammad


Aishah was a great Muslim lady, the daughter of the Prophet’s closest companion Abdullah ibn Abi Quhafah, better known to us as Abu Bakr, and his second wife, Umm Ruman. She was the ‘second beloved’ of the Prophet, the joy of the last years of his life. She was so famous that it seems quite extraordinary that some of the best-known facts about her should be challenged. This, however, is what this pamphlet proposes to do.

As a writer, I have been obliged to come to terms with two unfortunate but apparently unshakeable facts of life; the first is that no matter how hard one tries, or pays attention to the work one is doing, it is impossible to avoid slips in one’s work creeping in – through tiredness, momentary lack of concentration, interruptions, mind too full of racing thoughts, etc. Once the slip is in, it may lie there unnoticed, even by the original author, through many proof-readings. The second fact of life is that once things have been written down and appeared in public, they get repeated and copied by others, ad infinitum – often without question, and usually without consulting the original sources to check accuracy.

In this concise booklet, we consider what may possibly be the most serious piece of mis-information in the whole of Muslim history – the long-unchallenged notion that the Prophet’s third wife Aishah, the daughter of his dear friend Abu Bakr, was only six when she accepted nikah with the Prophet, that she married him physically when she was around nine years old, and was around eighteen when he died. One can find these ‘facts’ quoted again and again; moreover, they appear to be based on the most trustworthy of authorities – the hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, an-Nisa’i and Ibn-e-Majah.

However, there are many points to consider. Firstly, all of these authorities seem to have based their conclusions solely on the work of Aishah’s relative, the historian Hisham ibn Urwah, the grandson of Aishah’s sister Asma. One might think, therefore, that they were extremely accurate. However, Hisham’s accuracy in other matters was challenged. The matters pertaining to Aishah were supposedly obtained from Hisham’s father, but apparently these particular hadiths were offered only in Iraq and were unknown to the people of Madinah, and must necessarily, therefore, be regarded as not entirely trustworthy. (The reasons are given in the booklet).

In order to help the reader form his or her own judgment, certain fixed dates and terms should be placed before them.

- The birth of the Prophet was in 570 CE.
- His Call to the Prophethood occurred in 610 CE.
- The year his wife Khadijah died was 619 CE.
- The most likely year of his nikah to Aishah was 620 CE.
- The Hijrah to Madinah took place in 622 CE.
- The Prophet’s full marriage to Aishah was in 2 AH/623-4 CE.
- The Prophet died in 10 AH/632 CE.
- Most authorities agree that Aishah died in 50 AH/672 CE.

The conclusions formed about the dates and age of Aishah rest on three separate theories. The first, and most widely accepted throughout the Muslim world, is that she was born in the fourth year of the Prophethood (ie 614 CE). This is based on one reference in Ibn Sa’d’s work, which seems to be contradicted by many of his later statements. If this was true, it would mean she was indeed five when Khadijah died, six when her nikah was performed, nine in the year of her full marriage, and eighteen when the Prophet died. However, it would also mean that if she did die in 672 CE she was only fifty-eight, and not sixty-seven as most authorities report.

The second theory is that she was born some four years before the Prophethood, in 605-6 CE. This would mean she was 4/5 when he was called to his mission, 14/15 when Khadijah died, 15/16 at her nikah, 19 in the year of her full marriage, and 27/28 when he died. She would have indeed been sixty-seven when she died in 50 AH. (Sometimes one has to be flexible with the years, because people tend to ‘round things up’ and take into account the number of months in any year as a complete year – ie, if someone was sixteen years and eight months old, people might well say she was nearly seventeen.)

The third theory is that she was five years younger than Fatimah, who was said to have been born five years before the Prophet’s call, therefore making the year of Aishah’s birth in that very year, 610. If this was true, she would have been 9 when Khadijah died, 10 at her nikah, 12 in the year of Hijrah, 14 when she married him, 22 when he died, and 62 when she died.

The argument based on the age of Fatimah has a further complication, however, since her own dates are disputed. Isaba, for example, agreed that she was born in 605 since when she married Ali in 625 she was 20. Yet she was said to have been 29 when the Prophet (and she herself) died in the year 632 – which pushes her birth year back to 603.

The concept of nikah of a six-year-old Aishah has given ammunition to the enemies of Islam – which cannot be helped if it is true. However, so many given facts make this suggestion seem debatable.

My own personal conclusion from it all would be that Aishah was born in 605-6, and that Ibn Sa’d had been cursed by a glaring example of writer’s slip which went unnoticed and got repeated ad infinitum by those who used him as a primary source. The slip, I believe, was that he stated that Aishah was born in the fourth year of the Prophethood, when what he actually meant was that she was born four years before the Prophethood.

This makes all the points raised by the author in this booklet completely sensible, and of prime importance to our own generation of Islamic scholars.

Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
29 September 1996



Topics: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06                               This is not Zakir Naik's research




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