The Last Wife of Muhammad Aisha
The documentary evidence is she married Muhamad when she was 6 or 7 and it was consummated when she was 9 years old and he was 52 years old.Aisha was the daughter of Abu Bekr,a friend of Muhammad and his follower,who later became the sucessor of Muhammad,or caliph.Muhammad died when Aisha was 18,and she was forbidden to remarry.
The Historical Method
It is a technique used by historians to determine what is true or what probably happened.It has several criterions:
1.Criterion of Embarassment:
If something is counter-propaganada to a person or cause yet is held by its partisans as true then it is true or likely to be true.One is not going to invent negative material for a cause,movement,person.
2.Criterion of Early Attestation
3.Criterion of Coherence
That the information is consistent with what we know of the culture,customs,beliefs of the milieu.
4.Criterion of Dissimilarity
The details about person or movement that are not typical of his milieu.
5.Criterion of Multiple Attestation
Information that is attested by several independant sources,not only from one book.
6.Criterion of Enemy Attestation
According to the documentary evidence given by pious,devout Muslims a non-Muslim scholar can conclude that according to the criteria of multiple attestation,embarassment and to a certain extent early attestation the story is true or very likely true.
The 6 Hadith Collections in Order of Authenticity
Among the Sunnis(90% of Muslims) there are 6 books that have the sayings and deeds of Muhammad and his companions.They are called hadiths.The first two,by Bukhari and Muslim,are the most authentic,for them.
The collections in order of authenticity are those written by:
1.Bukhari (died 870)
2.Muslim (died 874)
3.Al-Nasai (died 915)
4.Abu Dawud (died 888)
5.Al-Tirmidhi (died 892)
6.Ibn Majah (died 887)
Authenticity according to the Muslim Type of Scholarship
For them Bukhari,Muslim,etc used a good method for determining if X information was good.They:
1.Found the chain of transmission of narrators,what they called isnad.So even though 200 years had passed they determined that A was told the story by B,who was told by C,who was told by D,etc,who was told by Muhammad.
2.Then they determined if the narrators were people who had a reputation for honesty,piety,mental equilibrium.If one of the narrators had a bad reputation the hadith was not authentic.
3.They used mutiple attestation.If the saying attributed to Muhammad came from different people,different reliable narrators,then it was evidence of authenticity.
About Aisha Again and her Age when she Consummated her Marriage
For a Muslim scholar if information is:
1.Repeated not just once but several times in Bukhari then it’s true.
2.If it’s repeated in Muslim also,and several times,then even more so.
3.If it appears in Nasai,Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah also,then it’s beyond doubt.
There are in all 13 hadiths from all of them about Aisha’s age.In several it says Aisha at 9 went to live with Muhammad.It is understood by all to mean it was to have normal,sexual relations between a husband and wife,otherwise why go live in his house?
The Documentary Evidence
Muhammad died in 632 and some 120 years after his death a Muslim scholar called Ibn Ishaq wrote his first biography around 750 AD.Some 80 years later around 830 AD another Muslim scholar,called Ibn Hisham,made a correction of that first biography.
He took out parts of the biography that he thought were bad,like the Satanic Verses incident,where Satan disguises himself as Gabriel and gives Muhammad a false revelation,saying it is alright to worship 3 Arab godesses.Here is what is the first biography of Muhammad,it gives some implication a consummation ocurred at age 9:
“He married Aisha in Mecca when she was a child of seven and lived with her in Medina when she was nine or ten. She was the only virgin that he married. Her father, Abu Bakr, married her to him and the apostle gave her four hundred dirhams.”
(Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah (The Life of Muhammad), translated by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, tenth impression 1995], p. 792)
Evidence 2 (5 hadiths by Bukhari):
90% of all Muslims are Sunni,while 10% are Shia.Among the Sunni the collection of the sayings and deeds of Muhammad known as the hadiths are very important.The Shias have their own hadiths.
Some 200 years after Muhammad’s death a Muslim scholar called Bukhari collected 300,000 hadiths about Muhammad(some say 500,000) and rejected 95% of them.What remains are considered authentic by Sunni scholars and second only in authority to the Koran.
The Hadiths by Bukhari about the Age of Aisha’s Marriage to Muhammad and the Consummation of the Marriage
For the Citations from Bukhari the Reader can Verify Here
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234
“The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.” ”
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 236
“Narrated Hisham’s father:
“Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old.””
Examples 3,4 and 5:
This same story is repeated 3 times in:
1.Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64
2.Volume 7, Book 62, Number 65
3.Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88
“That the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).”
Evidence 3 (3 hadiths by Muslim)
The Hadith Collection of Muslim(817-874)
After Bukhari he is considered the most authentic,prestigious,reliable.
For the Citations from Muslim the Reader can Verify Here:
Example 1 and 2:
This same story is repeated 2 times in:
1.Book 8, Number 3309
2.Book 8, Number 3310
“Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reported:
“Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house at the age of nine.”
She further said:” We went to Medina and I had an attack of fever for a month, and my hair had come down to the earlobes. Umm Ruman (my mother) came to me and I was at that time on a swing along with my playmates. She called me loudly and I went to her and I did not know what she had wanted of me. She took hold of my hand and took me to the door, and I was saying: Ha, ha (as if I was gasping), until the agitation of my heart was over. She took me to a house, where had gathered the women of the Ansar. They all blessed me and wished me good luck and said: “May you have share in good.”
She (my mother) entrusted me to them. They washed my head and embellished me and nothing frightened me. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) came there in the morning, and I was entrusted to him.”
Book 8, Number 3311:
“Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he(the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old.”
From the Nasai Hadith Collection called “Sunan Nasai”
“When Hadrat Aisha passed nine years of marriage life, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fell in mortal sickness… Aisha was eighteen years of age at the time when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away and she remained a widow for forty-eight years till she died at the age of sixty-seven.
She saw the rules of four Caliphs in her lifetime. She died on Ramadan 58 A.H. during the Caliphate of Hadrat Amir Mu‘awiya.”
(Sunan Nasai: English translation with Arabic Text, compiled by Imam Abu Abd-ur-Rahman Ahmad Nasai, rendered into English by Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqui [Kazi Publication, 121-Zulqarnain Chambers, Gampat Road, Lahore, Pakistan; first edition, 1994], Volume 1, p. 108)
Evidence 5 ( 2 hadiths by Abu Dawud):
From the Abu Dawud Hadith Collectionc called the “Sunan Abu Dawud”
“Aisha said:” The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) married me when I was seven years old.” The narrator Sulaiman said: “Or six years. He had intercourse with me when I was nine years old.”
Book 41,Number 4915:
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:
“The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) married me when I was seven or six. When we came to Medina, some women came”.
According to Bishr’s version: “Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him), and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter.”
Evidence 6 (2 hadiths by Ibn Majah):
From the Hadith Collection by Ibn Majah called “Sunan Ibn Majah”
“Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) is reported to have said: “Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) contracted marriage with me while I was (yet) a six year old girl.”
Then we arrived at Medina and stayed with Banu Harith b. Khazraj. I fell victim to fever; then my hair (of the head fell off (and became scattered). Then they became plenty and hanged down up to the earlobes. My mother ‘Umm Ruman came to me while I was (playing) in a swing along with my play-mates. She (the mother) called me loudly. I went to her and I did not know what he [sic] wanted. She seized my hand and stopped me at the door of the house and I was hearing [sic] violently until the agitation of my heart was over. Then she took some water and wiped it over my face and head. Then she admitted me to the house when some women of Ansar were present in the house. They said, “You have entered with blessings and good fortune.”
Then she (the mother) entrusted me to them. So they embellished me and nothing frightened me but Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) (when he came there) in the morning and they (the women) entrusted me to him. On that day, I was a nine year old girl.”
“Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said, “The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married Aisha while she was a seven year old girl and took her to his house as a bride when she was nine years old and he parted with her (after his demise) when she was eighteen years old.”
According to the Book from which these Ibn Majah Hadiths are,the Modern-Day Editor wrote:
“According to Al-Zawaid its isnad(Note:chain of transmission) is sahih(Note:authentic) in accordance with the condition prescribed by Bukhari, but munqata because Abu Ubaida did not hear from his father.
Shuba Abu Hatim and Ibn Hibban mentioned him amongst the authentic and reliable authorities.
Tirmidhi in al-Jami and al-Mazzi in al-Atraf (has expressed the same opinion). Nasai has transmitted this hadith in al-Sughra from the hadith Aisha (Allah be pleased with her).”
(Sunan Ibn-I-Majah, Imam Abdullah Muhammad B. Yazid Ibn-I-Maja Al-Qazwini, English version by Muhammad Tufail Ansari [Kazi Publications, 121-Zulqarnain Chambers, Gampat Road, Lahore Pakistan, first edition, 1995], volume III, pp. 133-134)