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Aisha was surely an adult at the time of her marriage

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Author Topic: Aisha was surely an adult at the time of her marriage  (Read 645 times)
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« on: June 15, 2008, 12:32:56 am »

First of all, it's important to keep in mind that there wasn't any system of knowing peoples' ages in the 7th century.  There was no such document as a birth certificate nor was there any such thing as a register or any record book for registering births.  People either remembered birth dates by memory or events.  Mothers would usually recalled their children's birth dates by memory as mothers seldom forget when they gave birth to their children.  After the mother would pass away, or in those cases where the mothers couldn't recall the birth dates by memory, the practice of remembering on the basis of events was existent.  E.g. the Prophet's (pbuh) birth date was remembered from the Year of the Elephant which was the year when Abraha of Yemen led his failed campaign to attack the Kaaba at Mekkah.  

Coming to the age of Aisha (ra) - actually, even many traditional hadith observing ulemas who might want to adhere to the concept of Aisha's marriage below age 10, have contradicted themselves in their own writings which prove that she was much older at the time of her marriage to the Prophet.  

According to Abdal-Rahman ibn abi zannad: “Asma was 10 years older than Ayesha" (Siyar A-lamal-nubala, Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, p. 289, Arabic, Mu’assasatul-risalah, Beirut, 1992).

According to Ibn Kathir: “She [Asma] was elder to her sister [Ayesha] by 10 years” (Al-Bidayah wal-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, p. 371, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933).

According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani: “She [Asma] lived a hundred years and died in 73 or 74 AH.” (Taqribul-tehzib, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, p. 654, Arabic, Bab fil-nisa’, al-harful-alif, Lucknow).  This information is very well accepted in all circles.    
Also, according to almost all the historians, Asma, the elder sister of Ayesha was 10 years older than Ayesha. If Asma was 100 years old in 73 AH, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of the Hijrah.
If Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah, Ayesha should have been 17 or 18 years old. Thus, Ayesha, being 17 or 18 years of at the time of Hijrah, she obviously started to cohabit with the Prophet between at either 19 to 20 years of age.

As rightly stated by the President of the Islamic Information Center of one of the North American cities, there has been a tendency of exaggerating matters through circulating stories over the generations.  As we are well aware, the evidence of many such exaggerations are found in the various Hadith narrations.  The stories of Aisha's child marriage are entirely from the Hadith.  The dates of historical events of the time clash with this information completely.

The President of Islamic Information Center cited very correctly, a point that's been noted by many other researchers too, that the age of the first wife of the Prophet (pbuh), Khadija (ra), has in all likelihood been exaggerated as older than her actual age during the time of her marriage to the Prophet (pbuh).  It's said that when the Prophet at age 25 married Khadija, she was 40 at the time.  But when one contemplates carefully that Khadija was the wife who bore six of the Prophet's seven children, it's greatly possible that she might have been less than 40 at the time of her marriage (maybe around early to mid 30s), because it's unusual for a woman to bear six children from age 40 onward.  Indeed there are women who turn menopausal as late as in their mid 50s.  However, this is rare.  The normal age is between 49 to 51, sometimes earlier.  It's often been observed that in warmer climates, as in that part of the world,  women normally mature earlier and they push into the peri-menopausal & post-menopausal stages earlier too.  Thus, Khadija was apparently older than the Prophet, but probably by 5 to 7 years instead of the common assumption of 15 years.  

Therefore, just as Khadija's age might have obviously been exaggerated and made to look older, similarly Aisha's age was apparently and surely exaggerated to the other extreme by making her at least a decade younger than her actual age.  According to the dates of historical events, the evidences of Aisha's age as older than stated in narrations are a lot more than Khadija's age being projected as older.  

For many more evidences refuting Aisha's very young age at the time of her marriage, check Was Aisha (ra) a six-year-old bride?
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2008, 06:18:18 pm »

Good article sis.  Most of this is explained in much greater detail in the link you've posted except that additional thoughtful point on the possible exaggeration of Khadijah's (ra) age to the other extreme.  Once a friend of my parents also mentioned the same thing.  It is also thought that even if a woman gets menopausal very late like 54 or 55, it doesn't quite mean that she can go on having babies exactly till the day she stops menstruating.  Almost always changes are observed in the menstrual cycle from a couple of years prior to menopause.  Periods become irregular, sometimes the flow is too little and sometimes too heavy particularly in cases of those women having benign fibroids in the uterus.  Benign fibroids are again quite a common occurence after age 45.  I read in a medical journal that 20% to 80% women develop fibroids by the time they reach 50.  These benign growths come up gradually over the period of 10 to 12 years.  Once fibroids start growing, it becomes difficult to carry a baby till full term.  Women with fibroids always abort within a few months.  Although during the 7th century I'm sure no one knew anything about fibroids, however I'm also certain that the condition did exist the same way as it does today.  Considering all this, it's unusual (though not impossible) for a woman to have six children from age 40 onwards.  Even though the differences of age between the Prophet's (pbuh) six children was very little, about one and a half to two years, yet that would mean for the mother to be giving birth for 10 to 12 years from age 40.  Sure that's a bit rare.  It's possible Khadijah (ra) might have been around 35 or so at the time of her marriage.

Thanks again for putting this up sister zeynab.

Assalaam Alaikum and peace to all
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2008, 09:13:01 pm »

Very intelligent thread.  Thanks folks
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