The Prophet's peace be upon him marriage to Aisha radi allahu anha

The following is an explanation given by Shaykh Yusuf Estes, which deals with the issue of Prophet Muhammad's marriage to Ummul Mu'mineen Aisha radi allahu anha

The concern about the marriage of the Prophet peace be upon him with Aisha radi allahu anha has usually to do with the age of Aisha radi allahu anha at the time of her marriage. The question usually asked here is 'Is it true that the Prophet peace be upon him married Aisha radi allahu anha when she was a child? And if so, what does this mean and how do we understand that about child brides in Islam?'

What we want to tell you before we begin is that Islam is always about rights and limits. Never is it permissible in Islam to take advantage of anybody else. Allah subhanahu wata'ala clearly tells us that he does not oppress and he hates those who oppress and he forbids humans to oppress each other. So if you're imagining some kind of oppression here, you can put your mind at ease; this is not oppression.

Let us now investigate what were the conditions and the customs and traditions of the people at the time of the Prophet peace be upon him. The Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula at that time used to marry a girl at any age. There was no limit on it. Because it wasn't about sexual intercourse or anything. It was about establishing the right of marriage of a man getting to marry a girl and marrying in to a family. It was about tribalism and with little of any stipulation that the girl had any say or any rights. As a matter of fact, that was the last and the least of their considerations.

Additionally, in those days it was considered a shame on the family if they had a child that was a girl born to them. So some of the men would take these girls when they were born, in to the desert and bury them alive. That was considered the manly thing to do. And when a child was orphaned, lets say there was a little girl whose father passed away, then a man could come along and claim that I want to marry this girl and take all the wealth that she was to inherit. People would also take the wealth of boys and girls and mix it with their own wealth and claim that they were improving the condition for that child until they got old enough to make decisions for themselves. And obviously benefiting themselves with this mingling of funds.

So, when Islam came (in stages). It came with the thought that it is God who has authority over man. And this was the Tawheed, the monotheism that was the influential thought and teaching of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. And here now it was he showing God's authority to behave, especially in this idea of being married. So there is a surah now in the Qur'an about women.

In this surah, dealing with issues related to women, which is the fourth surah . You can go to ayah 19 which says 'O you who believe. You cannot inherit women against their will.' Meaning that you cannot take from them their inheritance and meaning also that you cannot marry them without their consent and they have to be old enough for the age of consent. This is very clear. A man could not marry a girl. He can only marry a woman. A woman meaning she's old enough to have children, and mature enough to make these kind of decisions.

Now let us turn to the subject at hand, which is the age of Aisha radi allahu anha. Only Aisha radi allahu anha herself is telling us about this. She is telling us in her own words what her age was when her mother came to her and she (Aisha radi allahu anha) was playing outside, and her mother asks her to come in the house. She was six years old. Her mother takes her in to the house to see her father. Her father is there, offering her hand in marriage now to Prophet Muhammad radi allahu anha. And this was a custom and tradition in their society. So it was definitely within the limits of the society they live in and it was approved of, but look at this. It wasn't accepted by Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

How do we know this? Because if you continue reading, we find that she went back outside and continued playing. And this is to indicate what? That although this is very much appreciated, at least in intention, yet the girl's not old enough and she must be the one to decide. Thats why you find another Hadeeth in the same book of Bukhari that mentions a different age. So you may wonder, is it 6 years old or is it 9 years old? Maybe they turned the number upside down?! But that's not possible in Arabic :). In fact a similar incident happens in another place. Again her mother is taking her inside with her father offering her hand in marriage to the Prophet peace be upon him. At this time she's older and in a position to make this decision. But then again they did not have any marriage until she gave consent.

The second part is that even when she got married to the Prophet peace be upon him, she didn't go live with him until she was old enough to have children. That's also a condition and an understanding in Islam. And even then, he (the Prophet peace be upon him) took his time with her. She said herself, that they used to run, play, and enjoy being together. And she talks about growing up with him and also the mutual love and respect for each other. In her whole life she never mentioned any disparaging remarks against her husband. It was only the most glowing of reports that comes from her about Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Although he died when she was still a young lady, she continued in her life with full respect and honor. She never remarried.

She also became one of the best scholars in the area about telling us of women's needs and women's conditions and things that Islam is providing for women. We know a lot about this from Aisha radi allahu anha.

Additionally, I would ask you to consider how much he loved her. When he was dying, he wanted to be with her and he made a point to be there. And she would take care of him at this time. And he passed away with his head in her lap. Now this shows a great love between both of them. Yet she didn't wail, or cry, or tear at her dress. Instead she understood that he was going to his lord. She also understood throughout the rest of her life that she also would go to her lord and that they would be together again in paradise living happily ever after.

I'd like you now to contrast this story that I've just told you with the story of Romeo and Juliet, which we usually associate with Valentine's day and true love and young love. But in reality, the story that Shakespeare presents to us is no match for the beautiful story that I've just told you. Because those two of them (Romeo and Juliet), and they were children, perhaps 12-14 years old. They were going against the wishes of their parents and sneaking behind their back and they were not married. It was just an affair that they were having. And then one committed suicide and then the other followed. So this is the tragic result of the kind of love that is not acceptable in Islam. There is not boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. And there is certainly no sneaking behind the back of parents. Everything in Islam is out in the open. And everything is done by contract. And there is never any sex before marriage.

So put it in perspective and understand that the story (of the Prophet peace be upon him and Aisha radi allahu anha) is what Shakespeare probably wishes he told instead of Romeo and Juliet. I hope this explanation was in some way able to put your mind at ease in relation to this subject because Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was sent as a mercy to the whole of the mankind and jinn.

And Allah peace be upon him knows best.


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