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Prophet Mohammed and Marriage Ages

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Articles with a religious focus at Resisting Hate are always written by a practising member of the faith in question so we were delighted to give one of our Muslim members an opportunity to discuss a topic that regularly comes up in debate on social media and which is often used to attack Muslims by the far right.

One of the weapons used by the haters of Islam is to say that the Prophet Mohammed was a paedophile since his second wife, Aisha was very young, by today’s standards, when he married her.

Aisha’s age at the time she was married to Muhammad has been of interest since the earliest days of Islam, and references to her age by early historians are frequent. Child marriage was not uncommon in many places at the time, Arabia included. It often served political purposes, and Aisha’s marriage to Muhammad would have had a political connotation.

According to Hadith sources, Aisha was six or seven years old when she was married to Muhammad but remained with her parents with the marriage not being consummated until she had reached the age of nine or ten years old which is interpreted by many observers to indicate that she reached puberty at this age. However, other Muslim authors who calculate Aisha’s age based on the more detailed information available about her sister Asma estimate that she was over thirteen and perhaps between seventeen and nineteen at the time of her marriage.

It is impossible to know with any certainty how old Aisha was. What we do know is what the Qur’an says about marriage: that it is valid only between consenting adults. We must assume, therefore, that, by the norms of those times, Aisha was considered an adult. In fact Aisha had been engaged to someone else before becoming engaged to Mohammed so must already have been considered eligible for marriage.

Let us look at the age of marriage in the World in general at this time. Historically people used to marry very early. Girls used to marry at the age of 12-15 across many cultures and many different parts of the world.

Five centuries after Mohammed married Aisha, 33 year old King John of England married 12 year old Isabella of Angouleme.

In 1254, Edward I married Eleanor of Castile when she was 13 years old and she gave birth to her first child within the year.

Isabella of Valois was married to Richard II at the age of 7 and widowed 3 years later when she was married to the Duke of Orleans.

In medieval England Christians were allowed to marry from puberty onwards, generally seen at the time as the age of twelve for women and fourteen for men. Parental consent was not required. However there were still exceptions, in 1364, Alice de Routclif of York was either ten or eleven when she married John Marrays (whose age is not noted).

In the Semitic tradition, betrothal could take place earlier than puberty, perhaps as early as 7-9 years, but the marriage was not supposed to be consummated until the girl menstruated.

Traditionally, across the globe, the age of consent for sexual union was a matter for the family to decide, or a tribal custom. In most cases, this coincided with signs of puberty, menstruation for a woman and pubic hair for a man.

Sir Edward Coke, Barrister in 17th century England, made it clear that the marriage of girls under twelve was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was nine years of age.

The American colonies followed the English tradition, and the law was more of a guide. For example Mary Hathaway of Virginia, was only nine when she was married to William Williams.

In the nineteenth century, the minimum age of consent for sexual intercourse in most American states was still only ten years. Even today there are many countries where the age of consent is well under 16 including notably Japan at 13, Nigeria at 11 and the Phillippines at 12.

Of course, and thankfully, the world has moved on and we now find the idea of underage marriage disturbing but I just seek to illustrate that using the age that the Prophet Mohammed married Aisha as ‘evidence’ of paedophilic tendencies are entirely spurious as it was perfectly normal at that point in time.

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6 thoughts on “Prophet Mohammed and Marriage Ages

  1. Comment added on Facebook that was so informative we wanted to add to the website comments to preserve it.

    “All historical references state that Asmaa (sister of Aisha) was (10) years older than her sister Aisha. The same references agree unanimously that Asmaa was born (27) years before the migration to Medina. This means that Asmaa was 14 years old at the start of the revelation in (610) and Aisha was 4 years old. This means that Aisha was born in the year (606 AD).

    We have seen that the Prophet married Aisha in the year (620 AD), which would make her (14) years at the time. It is also stated that the Prophet started having sexual intercourse 3 years and few months after the marriage which would be the end of the (1st) year after Hijrah and the beginning of the (2nd) year, which was the year (624 AD). If Aisha was born in the year (606 AD), then she would have been (18) years old when she started a full marital life with the Prophet.

    2- The age of Aisha in relation to the death of her sister Asmaa: The same references unanimously confirm that Asmaa died after a well documented incident which was the death of her son (Abdullah bin Al-Zubair) by the hand of the famous tyrant Al-Hajjaj. This happened in the year 73 Hijri when she was 100 years old. If we subtract 73 from 100 we would know that Asmaa was 27 years old at the time of the Prophet’s migration to Medina which was start of the Hijri Calendar. Since Asmaa was 10 years older than Aisha, this makes Aisha 17 years old at the time of the migration. And since the Prophet started a full marital wife with Aisha at the end of the first year after Hijrah, then the age of Aisha would have been 17 + 1 = 18 years old when she was married.

    This is also confirmed by (Al-Tabari) who asserts in his book (The History of Nations) that all the children of (Abu Bakr) were born in the days of the Jahilliyyah (the days before the revelation). This is consistent with the correct chronology and exposes the dubious nature of the narration in Bukhari. Aisha was indeed born in the fourth year before the start of the prophetic mission.”

    1. But none of these quoted people were the ‘perfect person’ which Mohammed is supposed to be (and a representative of how people should act) and were not chosen by their god, which would make god a bit suspect in who ‘god’ chooses as a representative on earth. Surely this ‘god’ would have the foresight to think “this might look bad in the 21st century”………

  2. Nice try at putting a spin on a medieval religion’s leading man’s less savoury proclivities. Seriously? Maybe she was 68? Try that for size lol.
    As for thus absurd, snowflake, puppies and unicorn website, I have some unpalatable news for you; hate speech is free speech you may not like, nothing more nothing less. Removing the right for people to say nasty things, and to keep it bottled up instead, festering, creating dangerous emotions, to criminalise it, is to remove free speech. However, as many now realise, thanks to SJW lunacy such as this, we do not actually live in a free or democratic country.

    1. Tell that to Tommy Robinson, Alison Chabloz, Jez Turner… Hate speech is not free speech and British law recognises this. Just how many people need to be imprisoned before the far right cotton onto this fact?

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