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Aisha — 9 year-old bride

   Sahih Bukhari

Narrated Aisha: The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234

Narrated 'Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13) Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151

   Sahih Muslim


'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house at the age of nine. She further said: We went to Medina and I had an attack of fever for a month, and my hair had come down to the earlobes. Umm Ruman (my mother) came to me and I was at that time on a swing along with my playmates. She called me loudly and I went to her and I did not know what she had wanted of me. She took hold of my hand and took me to the door, and I was saying: Ha, ha (as if I was gasping), until the agitation of my heart was over. She took me to a house, where had gathered the women of the Ansar. They all blessed me and wished me good luck and said: May you have share in good. She (my mother) entrusted me to them. They washed my head and embellished me and nothing frightened me. Allah's Messenger (, may peace be upon him) came there in the morning, and I was entrusted to him. Book 8, Number 3309.

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old. Book 8, Number 3310

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old. Book 8, Number 3311

   Sunan Dawud

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) married me when I was seven or six. When we came to Medina, some women came. according to Bishr's version: Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him), and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter.  Book 41, Number 4915:

Narrated AbuUsamah: The tradition mentioned above (No. 4915) has also been transmitted by AbuUsamah in a similar manner through a different chain of narrators. This version has: "With good fortune. " She (Umm Ruman) entrusted me to them. They washed my head and redressed me. No one came to me suddenly except the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) in the forenoon. So they entrusted me to him.  Book 41, Number 4916:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: When we came to Medina, the women came to me when I was playing on the swing, and my hair were up to my ears. They brought me, prepared me, and decorated me. Then they brought me to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and he took up cohabitation with me, when I was nine. Book 41, Number 4917

As an older man of fifty-plus years, Muhammad married a mere child of six years old and co-habited with her when she was 9 years old.  As quoted above, the most trusted collections of hadiths establish the authenticity of this oral tradition. But still, Western Muslims are embarrassed by these hadiths.  Sometimes they use a Weak hadith defense to excuse Muhammad's child marriage.

At other times, they use an Arabic culture defense by claiming that no one has the right to judge Oriental culture by Occidental norms.  Now, this is a strange defense to make, since Muslims frequently criticized Western culture as being morally decadent. If another culture cannot be morally evaluated, then other cultures must not be judged as morally decadent.  But, this conclusion is not acceptable to Muslims, since they argue that an Islamic culture is the better culture.  So, we must conclude that cultures may be evaluated morally, or that, someone is hypocritically judging others while not permitting themselves to be judged by the same standard.  

However, if hypocrisy is not a good alternative, then it is concluded that cultures may be evaluated morally.  In fact, it is permissible, and even desirable, to have moral discussions on cultural issues.  Moral discussions on cultural issues occur in many different cultures.

So, the problem of Muhammad marrying a child cannot be defended on Eastern cultural grounds.  The issue remains as to whether or not Muhammad acted rightly in marrying a six year old.  Certainly, it is wrong according to the natural order of Allah's creation. In fact, many nations of the world list such behavior as a crime against nature.  Thus, it must be concluded that Muhammad committed a grave moral sin against the moral order of Allah's creation.  And, his behavior is a reprehensible example for others to follow.  It is tragic to read news reports of old men marrying children in some Islamic countries, because they seek to follow the example of Muhammad who married a child.  Muhammad had such an interest in fondling young girls, he criticized even the lawful marriage union of two grown adults.  

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: When I got married, Allah's Apostle said to me, "What type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron' He said, "Why, don't you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?" Jabir also said: Allah's Apostle said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?' Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 17.

In the classic history of "The Life of Muhammad" (Sirat Rasul Allah) by Ibn Ishaq, there is an account in which Muhammad expressed a marital interest in a crawling baby.  This event seems to have occurred around the time of the Battle of of Badr which would have made Muhammad approximately 55 years old.  He had married Ayesha two years earlier, when he was 53 years of age.

(Suhayli, ii. 79: In the riwaya of Yunus I. I. recorded that the apostle saw her (Ummu'lFadl) when she was a baby crawling before him and said, 'If she grows up and I am still alive I will marry her.'  But he died before she grew up and Sufyan b. al-Aswad b. 'Abdu'l-Asad al-Makhzumi married her and she bore him Rizq and Lubab...1

So, Muhammad's interest in young girls extended beyond Ai'sha ('Ayesha).  Why would anyone think that Muhammad's sexual interest in babies be "the timeless expression of the Will of Allah?"  How does such a prurient desire support Muhammad's claim to be a prophet of Allah?  Such a desire by an old man is contrary to nature, and it is a perversion against the moral order of Allah's universe.

An example of one of the problems of child marriages: "Sierra Leone's silent sufferers. Most commonly the head of the foetus is too large to enter the birth canal, and presses the bladder against the bony side wall of the pelvis. Crushed in that way over a period of days, the tissue dies and a hole is created. From that moment the women are never free of the trickle of urine. Fatmata's experience was as typical as it was catastrophic. She was rejected by her husband, and by her family. Regarded as unclean - and by some as jinxed - she was driven out of her village. ...

They included 15-year-old Sia Foday who was married off by her family at the age of nine and was quickly pregnant.  Sia - small for her age - was only 10 when she tried to give birth and ended up incontinent. Another of the women, Aminata Kanda, said she only survived because her children collected firewood to sell and helped her tend a small garden. "Life was really horrible for me. When I was in this sickness the urine was coming non-stop... the odour of the urine is horrible... that is why even my husband wouldn't allow me to stay in his house," she says."

Yet, according to Islam, Muhammad is the perfection of humanity and the prototype of the most wonderful human conduct. He married a nine year-old and leaves an enduring legacy for old Muslim men to fulfill their carnal desires contrary to natural law and to the life-long devastation of young girls.

1 Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, Translated by A. Guillaume, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, (Re-issued in Karachi, Pakistan, 1967, 13th impression, 1998) 1955, p. 311.

Last edited 10/23/2000
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