Wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (صَلَّى ٱللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ‎) and his Marriage to Aisha (رضي الله عنهما)

Wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (صَلَّى ٱللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ‎) and his Marriage to Aisha (رضي الله عنهما)

Abdul Rabb

“Praise be to Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah
from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides
will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I
bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the One, having no partner. And I bear
witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is His slave and Messenger.”

Aim of this paper

It is a common fact nowadays that instigators try to distort the image of Islam and
unfortunately criticise the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam by smearing his marriage to
Aisha and justify their claim by standing up for women rights.

The aim of this paper is to clarify such misconceptions and clear our beloved
Prophet of these ridiculed ideologies. This paper will provide understanding to the
readers through logical arguments (God willing) as to why this was a natural
phenomenon fourteen centuries ago furthermore how such practices still exist today.

A quick overview of Marriage in Islam

Marriage is a religious duty and is a moral safeguard as well as a social necessity.

‘It’s been narrated by Anas bin Malik that when a group of men came to the houses
of the wives of the Prophet enquiring about how the Prophet (PBUH) worshipped
(Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship
insufficient. Later after being informed of this, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Are
you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah
and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also
marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me”.’

-Sahih al-Bukhari: Book 67, Hadith 1

Marriage serves as a means to emotional and sexual gratification. It is also a form of
Ibadah (worship) since it is obeying Allah and his messenger.

The conditions of Marriage:

‘Abdullah (b.Mas’ud) may Allah be pleased with him reported that Allah’s messenger
(PBUH) said to us: “O young men, those among you who can support a wife should
marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from
immorality; but he who cannot afford it should observe fast for it is a means of
controlling the sexual desire”.’

-Sahih Muslim: Book 16, Hadith 3

‘Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “A women is married for four
things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty, and her religion. So you should
marry the religious women (otherwise) you will be the losers.”’

-Sahih al-Bukhari: Book 67, Hadith 28

‘Narrated Usama bin Zaid: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “After me I have not left any
trial more severe to men than women.”’

-Sahih al- Bukhari: Book 67, Hadith 34

Thoughtful consideration of the Qur’anic instructions and the traditions of the
Prophet (PBUH) clearly show that marriage is compulsory for men and women who
have the means to pay (bridal gift – unless the women makes an exemption) and to
support wife and children. Both sides must be free of obstacles and have legal
capacity. The women’s guardian must be present to wed her and is a criteria for the
Nikah (marriage). The prohibition of marriage include blood and milk kinship and
there must be no other conditions demanded by either parties which may prevent
the Nikah. The bride and groom also must have reached the age of maturity and fully
consented.

Allah says in the Holy Quran –

‘Among his signs is this, which he created for you mates from among yourselves that
you may dwell in tranquillity with them and he has put love and mercy between your
hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect’.   (Chapter 30 v  21)

 

Wives of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Let us briefly discuss the wives of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

• Khadija bint Khuwaylid (RA)
She was the first wife of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and bore him 2 sons
and 2 daughters. She was first convert to Islam and it is reported in the
Seerah that he offered her 20 camels as dowry. Khadija offered moral and
financial support to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through her life and died
before Hijrah (migration) took place.

• Sawdah bint Zum’ah (RA)
She was the second wife of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and was a divorcee.
Since she needed protection from her family who were against her
conversion, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) offered her that protection. She
passed away in 22AH.

• Aisha bint Abu Bakar (RA)
She was the third wife of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and he married her
before that migration to Madinah.

• Hafsa bint Umar (RA)
She was the daughter of Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA) and was once widowed.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married her to strengthen ties with Umar and his
tribe. She died in 45 AH.

• Umm Habeebah bint Abu Sufyan (RA)
She was the daughter of Abu Sufyan and was a widow, she suffered many
hardships due to her father being an enemy of Islam and Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) married her to save her from this suffering.

• Juwariyah bint Harith (RA)
She was a war captive and was distributed to another person but she did not
want to go with him and raised her concerns with the Prophet (PBUH). So he
(PBUH) proposed her to marry him so he could pay ransom to the other
person. She was a women of religious mind and spent most of her time in
prayers.

• Zaynab bint Jahsh (RA)
She was the first cousin of the Prophet (PBUH) and was given to his adopted
son Zaid ibn Haritha and later divorced. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was
commanded by Allah to marry her, as mentioned in Surah Al-Ahzab which
took place in 5 AH.

• Maymoonah bint Harith (RA)
She was once divorced and later widowed. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
called her a ‘symbol of goodness’ as she was fond of freeing slaves and
narrator of traditions to Muslim women.

• Safiyyah (RA)
She belonged to a Jewish tribe of Banu Nazir, she was a captive and a
divorced women. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) married her and influenced
many of her tribe. She died in 50 AH.

• Zainab bin Khuzimah
She was the daughter of Khuwalid ibn Abdullah and was a divorcee and also
poor. She used to help the poor and was known as Umm Al-Masakin. She
died 3 months after the marriage and is buried in Jannat-ul-Baqi.

• Maria bint Qibtia (RA)
She came from a wealthy family and was a present from the Chief of Egypt.
She gave birth to Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) son Ibrahim by which she
rose in esteem and position among other wives. She was the second lady
after Khadijah to bore him a son.

There are two more wives of the Prophet (PBUH) who were slaves but this is
heavily debated as the reports are regarded as weak.

Brief history of the life of Aisha (RA)

Hazrat Aisha bint Abu Bakr (RA) was born 614CE (please bear in mind this is only a
historical account without objective evidence) in Mecca to Umm Ruman and Abu
Bakr, two of Muhammad’s (PBUH) beloved and trusted companions. Aisha (RA) was
the third and youngest wife of Muhammad (PBUH).

Aisha was known as the mother of believers and played a very important part in the
collection of hadith throughout her life (May Allah be pleased with her).

Aisha’s (RA) Marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Prior to marriage, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saw a dream about her in which an
Angel had presented something to him (PBUH) wrapped in silk. Prophet Muhammad
curiously asked the Angel what it was therefore was informed it was his wife. When
he (PBUH) unwrapped the silk cover he (PBUH) saw that it was Aisha (RA).

‘Narrated by Aisha: ‘Allahs Messenger (PBUH) said to (Me), “You have been shown
to me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in silken cloth and said to me,
this is your wife. I uncovered it; behold, it was you. I said to myself if this dream is
from Allah, He will cause it to come true’”. – Sahih al-Bukhari : Book 67, Hadith 16

The majority of traditional hadith sources states that Aisha was married to
Muhammad (PBUH) at a young age, although it is hard to put an exact date. In my
humble opinion, this could be between the age of 9 and 20 (age of Maturity); and
accordingly to Ibn Hisham, Prophet (PBUH) was at the age of 50 plus years. A point
to note is that numbering system and record was all down to memory and dependent
at that time; there are no sayings in the Qu’ran or by the Prophet in mutawattir
ahadith concerning a definitive age. There is nothing objective to pinpoint an age like
we do at our time to the precise minute, and all humans are mortal as infallibility is an
etiquette of Allah alone.

In some of the hadith books such as: Bukhari, Marriage, 38,39; Muslim,
Marriage, 70; Abu Dawud, Marriage, 32; Nasai, Marriage, 29; Ibn Majah,
Marriage, 13), and that “Aisha was born eight years before the migration”

Allah says in the Qur’an

‘Give the women [upon marriage] their gifts [mahr]
graciously. If they themselves waive some of it for you, then take and
consume it with pleasure and good cheer.’ (An-Nisa/Women 4:4)

From the above verse we can highlight the importance of maturity whilst being
married and it is a requirement in the Arab culture. The marriage of our Prophet
with Aisha did not cause any rumours or objections in that century; so Aisha
must have been at the age of acceptable maturity. Even in our age, a girl
who has attained maturity can marry with anyone she wants.

Asma the elder sister of Aisha, was ten years older than Aisha. It is reported
in Ibn Kathir’s Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, as well as in Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s
Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb: Asma died in 73 A.H. at the age of one hundred years.
She was ten years older than her sister Aisha.”

According to this, Asma must be around 27-28 during the migration (alhijrat), which makes Aisha 17-18 at the migration (in 622CE).

It is a known fact that she started to live with Muhammad (PBUH) at least
two years after the migration. Which suggests, Aisha must be 19-20 when
she started to live with Muhammad (PBUH). This is the strongest evidence.

Another version to understand this matter is from the following hadith.

Narrated Ibn `Umar: That the Prophet (PBUH) inspected him on the day of
Uhud while he was fourteen years old, and the Prophet (PBUH) did not allow
him to take part in the battle. He was inspected again by the Prophet (PBUH)
on the day of Al- Khandaq (i.e. battle of the Trench) while he was fifteen
years old, and the Prophet (PBUH) allowed him to take Part in the
battle.[1] When we take into account that Aisha took part in the preparations
before Badr and the war of Uhud as the Seerah suggests, and we consider
the duties that a woman would have to fulfil in war, it is evident that Aisha
must be at least 16 years old during the Battle of Uhud, which is one year
after she started to live with Muhammad (PBUH).

Finally, the following narration; It was also reported by Imam Ahmad
that Aisha used to be engaged to Jubair Bin Mutyim who was the son of AlMutyim Bin Udai who was a disbeliever, before she got married to Prophet

Muhammad (PBUH). Abu Bakr, father of Aisha, would not have agreed to
this engagement after the start of the revelation since this family were
disbelievers. This proves that Aisha was born before the start of the
revelation, and that she was a girl at a marriageable age even before her
marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) was the means of spreading knowledge of the
Qur’an and the practices of Muhammad (PBUH). She was blessed with an
extraordinary memory and never forgot something once she heard it. She became
the scholar, stateswomen and the major resource to all Muslims even today because
she possessed all of the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Why was Aisha (RA) instrumental in spreading the knowledge of
Islam

An intellectually gifted person was required who would have daily contact with
Prophet (PBUH) at the closest and most personal level, to absorb the teachings that
he was giving on all aspects of life by his word and actions. Such a person would
need to possess the below qualities:

1. An excellent, precise memory to retain a vast amount of detail and accurately.
2. To have the capability to grasp the significance and the principles of the
teachings.
3. Power of reasoning, criticism and deduction to resolve problems on the basis
of the teachings.
4. Skills and ability to convey knowledge to a wide range of audience.
5. Have the prospect of living for a considerable period of time after the death of
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in order to send his message to distant generations.

It is an absolute positive and undeniable historical fact that Aisha (RA) was blessed
with all these qualities and carried out this mission. She acted as a teacher and
interpreter of Islam, providing guidance to even the greatest of the male companions
of Muhammad (PBUH) until she passed away.

Aisha (RA) used to say; ‘One of Allah’s bounties upon me is that the Messenger of
Allah died in my house, while I am still alive. He died between my chest and neck
while he was leaning against me. Allah has mixed his saliva with mine at his death.

Aisha (RA) lived on and passed away in Madinah at the age of approx. 66, the year
58 AH after dedicating her entire life towards spreading the knowledge of Islam and
is buried in Jannatul Baqi.

Misconceptions surrounding Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Marriage to Aisha (RA)

We will now shed light on the following misconception to gain understanding and
provide reasoning to those who criticise our beloved Prophet (PBUH).

Is their motive to criticize the Marriage of young girls or is it to distort the
picture of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)? Let’s now look at the issues
surrounding this situation and provide counter argument against it.

Most of the western people are astonished about this fact that the Prophet (PBUH)
married Aisha (RA) at the age of 9 while he was 53 years of age. They have ignored
the fact that this was nothing unusual fourteen centuries ago and was a natural
matter. It is logical to determine that their intention is to condemn and misrepresent
the image of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and harm the reputation of Islam.

They have also overlooked the fact that this phenomenon still exists today in
countries such as Africa and Asia. furthermore, such marriages took place long
before and after the call of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born in a society
in which early marriages was something ordinary. If we dig further we find that during
the period of ‘Jahaliya’ (the time before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent), the
Quraysh went to such extent that they were burying their daughters alive. Wasn’t this
banished during the era of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)? Even the enemies of the
Prophet (PBUH ), who tried to kill him, did not use such marriage as a pretext to
distort Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) image and instigate against him.

There were similar marriages happening all around Arabia during the era of
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) therefore why are there no emphasis upon the
enemies of Islam?

Let us now focus on the Jewish community whereby a stipulation in their religion
which allows marrying a girl of 3 years and 1 day old (extreme! I know – but
emphasising this fact).

If you look into Commandment of Sanhedrin verses 11, 54 and 55, it is not unusual
for an older man to marry a younger girl.

Marriage Age in Europe

The marriage in early ages was prevailing in Europe itself, especially the early
marriage of Emperors and Kings in the 12th Century for the purpose of creating
alliances for continuation of peace.

According to (William of Tyre), As for the Empress of Byzantium ‘Theodora’, the wife
of Manwel, she was 13 years old when she married the Prince of Jerusalem.

The wife of Alexios Kamanos (Aainas), was 12 years old when she married and
became the empress before the age of 15. When Andronikos overthrew Alexios by
force, he then married his wife (Aainas) although there were about 50 years gap
between them. This is not an isolated incident as history shows repeatedly that this
was a frequent occurrence. Did Henry the VIII marry Anne Boleyn as an older man to
a younger women and dismantling the sacred law of Christianity?

Margret Beaufort was married to John de la Pole at the age of 7 in 1450.
Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk was married to Richard of Shrewsbury in
1477.

Moreover, there are countless registered marriages throughout history which
involved both younger girls being married and a younger girl marrying an older guy,
however the instigators shun these statistics.

Age of Consent

AVERT, an international charity organisation interested in studying the HIV/AIDS
disease, mentioned a detailed table in their website about age of consent worldwide
i.e. the legal age to practice sexual intimacy.

AVERT stated that; the Japanese and the Argentinian people can legally practice
intimacy at the age of 13 together with many more countries. A statistic taken
between 1880-2017 show that the age of consent has risen from 10 years in 1880 at
many states in USA to 13 years of age in 2017, at countries such as Spain, Portugal
and Brazil.

Conclusion

Early marriages still exist in the 21st century, and is even practiced by European
people; therefore, why is the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) blamed for such marriage
which took place fourteen centuries ago? This clearly demonstrates the noncredibility of such instigators and their hidden agenda to distort the image of Islam
and its Prophet (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon Him).

We find that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a champion in women’s rights and
treated his wives with love and respect. If we look deeply into the life of Aisha (RA)
she dedicated her whole life in teaching the religion of Islam. If she was held against
her will and was not treated right; then there would be no dedication after the
passing of Muhammad (PBUH) and she would have perhaps remarried.

Finally, in order to make the picture clearer to the instigators, if you were to compare
a European or American girl to an African or Asian girl who suffers from poverty,
generally the girl in poverty would be more mature at an earlier age due to harshness
which reality possesses i.e. cooking, cleaning, looking after younger children,
travelling long and far for food and water. However, a modern European or American
girl would be living comfortably with ease and would generally deal with big
responsibilities at later stage in life.

Now, an Arab girl fourteen centuries ago would be accustomed to similar struggles to
the modern day African or Asian girl striving in poverty and would commonly get
proposals for marriage at a tender age. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent as a
mercy to mankind and after Prophethood he did not make any major decisions
without the revelation/inspiration from Allah the Exalted. Every action he followed was
for a strong purpose including his marriage to Aisha which manifested itself with her
dedication to teaching after the death of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).