07 Jul Was Aisha really 9 when she married The Prophet?
Was Aisha really 9 when she married The Prophet?
Was Aisha really 9 when she married the prophet? I’ve heard some say she was actually 18. I know it really shouldn’t matter but it’s been bothering me.
May I answer honestly?
I have received this question a few times, and for some reason people fight over it, which, I’m sure some of you have figured out by now, how much I enjoy online arguments over Islam. However, the thing that mystifies me, is that those who utilize this argument as some fear for what “Islam allows” fail to look at Muslim countries legal dealings with marriage age, so let’s go over them:
While Saudi Arabia has no legal limit, which is something that needs to change, the reality is that in Egypt it is 18 (for both genders), Algeria 21 for men and 18 for females, Libya is 20 (both), Morocco is 18 (younger in certain circumstances), Senegal 20 for men and 16 for women, Tunisia 20 (men) 17 (women), Indonesia 19 (men) 16 (women), Iran 18 (men) 16 (women), Malaysia is 21 (both) 18 (with parental consent) where 16 for women in certain circumstances (with court approval), Albania is 18 (men) 16 (women), Turkey is 18 (both) 17 (with parental consent) and 16 with court approval.
This is no different to other nations: Spain is 18 and 16 (with parental consent), Germany 18 and 17-16 (with parental consent), Switzerland is 18 (men) 17 (women), Scotland 16 (both), Denmark 18 (both) or 15 (with court approval), Norway 18 (both) 16 (with court approval), where the US has laws that vary from state-to-state but in some states can approve marriage at 15 (with court approval). I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
There is no doubt that the instances that occur in parts of Yemen, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia are terrible and need to stop, the simple reality is that the relative age of Aisha (if accepted to be 9) during her marriage to The Prophet has not influenced the overwhelming majority of marriage laws in the Muslim World, especially when you consider that India is home to about 40% of child marriages worldwide, according to UNICEF, where Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the other large portion of this practice. Therefore, to argue that “Islam uniquely pushes this position” is ridiculous and ignores basic, simplestatistics. Just for comparison, the UNICEF report also noted that in the developing world, 36 percent of women were married before the age of 18, which would make it four percentage points lower than the rate in sub-Saharan Africa.
So, outside of the possible ramifications of Aisha’s age (on marriage laws), I’m indifferent to these debates, because they have no value and are seldom done with a genuine purpose.
If your world crumbles over the idea of The Prophet marrying Aisha at 9, then look at evidence for her being 16-18; it’s actually quite strong and convincing, to be honest.
However, if you want to stick to the idea that she was 9, because that is what reaffirms and holds your conception of Islam, then go ahead, because nothing I, or someone else says will change that.
The debate over the age of Aisha’s marriage is not the only one, as is the relative age of The Prophet’s daughter Fatima’s marriage to Ali is also debated, where the range is anywhere from 9 to 17.
For the record, I believe the higher ages seem more credible, to be honest, as the incentive to have lower ages (for Aisha and Fatima, in particular) were political pieces of propaganda used by the opposing factions and a way to hold either figure as a model of their time period’s notion of purity.
I hope I have shown an adequate amount of disdain for the question of her age to ward of unnecessary follow-up questions, however, on the issue of child-marriages, I’d like to be clear, that is an issue that I hope and pray will end, but I am not the best resource on explaining the issue or possible remedies. I’d suggest reading this UNICEF report (from 2009) for more information, if you are interested.
I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.