Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Quora Answer: Would You Allow Muhammad (s.a.w.) to Marry Your 6 Year Old Daughter?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ


Question: If, today, Muhammad (s.a.w.) comes to your home and says he wants to marry your 6-year-old daughter, then what would you do?

Answer: There are a lot of assumptions here, since this is a leading question.

Firstly, in that unlikely scenario, the answer is obviously “no”.

Secondly, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is not going to people’s houses to ask for their hand in marriage.  In fact, a look at the sirah, the story of the Prophet (s.a.w.), there is actually not a single instance where the Prophet (s.a.w.), out of his own volition, went and looked for anybody’s hand in marriage.

Thirdly, if this is in reference to the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) marriage to ‘Aishah (r.a.), the circumstances are disputed.  There are those who do believe that they were married when she was 6 years old, and the marriage was consummated when she was 9.  The understanding was that this was a tribal society in an age where the life expectancy was much lower and puberty came much earlier – nature compensates.  This is a feature of all primitive societies with reduced life spans.  But again, this is also disputed.  Here are some points to ponder below.

Abu Bakr (r.a.) married twice, and fathered four children, before the beginning of the Revelation, at least thirteen years before the Hijrah: ‘Abdullah (r.a.), Asma’ (r.a.), ‘Abd ar-Rahman (r.a.), and ‘Aishah (r.a.).  This is uncontested and well-known to the Muslims.  ‘Aishah (r.a.) was betrothed to Jubayr ibn Muth’im ibn ‘Adi (r.a.), before Abu Bakr (r.a.) accepted Islam in the first year of Revelation, twelve to thirteen years BH.  This is uncontested.  When Abu Bakr (r.a.) planned to go to Abyssinia during the fifth year of Revelation, eight or nine years BH, Muth’im (r.a.) broke off the engagement because Abu Bakr (r.a.) had accepted Islam.  This is uncontested.

‘Aishah (r.a.) remembered the Revelation of a verse known to have been Revealed in the fifth year of the Revelation, or before, eight to thirteen years BH.  This is uncontested.  ‘Aishah (r.a.) was betrothed to the Prophet (s.a.w.) two years after the death of Khadijah (r.a.), a year BH.  This is uncontested.  ‘Aishah (r.a.) did not accompany her father and the Prophet (s.a.w.) during the Hijrah, but arrived in Madina later.  She became so ill that all of her hair fell out.  This is uncontested.  ‘Aishah (r.a.) moved in with the Prophet (s.a.w.) a year or two AH, or two to four years after her betrothal.  This is unclear from the various reports, which give different time periods, but all are agreed as to the general time frame.  ‘Aishah (r.a.) was widowed in 11 AH.  This is uncontested.  She was a widow for about forty years and passed away on 50 AH.  This is uncontested.

Among the people who report these facts is one Hisham ibn ‘Urwah, the grandson of Asma’ (r.a.) and grand-nephew of ‘Aishah (r.a.), who lived in Madina for 71 years and then moved to Iraq; he also reported that ‘Aishah (r.a.) passed in 50 AH.  This is uncontested.

‘Aishah’s (r.a.) older sister, Asma’ (r.a.) was ten years older than ‘Aishah (r.a.).  Asma’ (r.a.) was 27 at the time of the Hijrah, making ‘Aishah (r.a.) 17.  This is uncontested.  Asma’ (r.a.) passed away at the age of 100 in 73 AH.  23 years earlier, when ‘Aishah (r.a.) passed away, Asma’ (r.a.) was 77.  This is uncontested.

Thus, based on simple mathematics, ‘Aishah (r.a.) was 67 when she passed away in 50 AH, seventeen at the time of the Hijrah, sixteen at the time of her betrothal to the Prophet (s.a.w.), and nineteen when she moved in with him.  This cannot be contested unless we bend the rules of arithmetic.

All of the reports saying that ‘Aishah (r.a.) was six at the time of her betrothal to the Prophet (s.a.w.) come from Iraq, as do all of the reports that she was nine when she moved in with the Prophet (s.a.w.).  There are no reports of this from Makkah or Madina, where she lived.  This is uncontested.  Most of these reports from Iraq came through Hisham ibn ‘Urwah, mostly from his father.  This is also indisputable.  Hisham ibn ‘Urwah is said to have reported that ‘Aishah (r.a.) was nine in the second year of the Hijrah, was widowed in the eleventh year of the Hijrah, and passed away in the fiftieth year of the Hijrah, when his grandmother, ten years older than his great aunt ‘Aishah (r.a.), was 77.  The same person who said ‘Aishah (r.a.) was nine in 2 AH also said she was 67 in 50 AH.  So, the only reports that ‘Aishah (r.a.) was six, or nine, come from someone who also reports that she had to be sixteen when betrothed, and nineteen when she moved in with the Prophet (s.a.w.).  And every other report showing her to be much older than six is uncontested and considered reliable, while Hisham’s (r.a.) reports from Iraq are considered unreliable for obvious reasons.


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