When she married the prophet Mohammed.
I find this an interesting topic, not because of what happened in the past, but because of the implications today. Personally I don’t care so much about her exact age, but I do care about small children of six or seven years old who are being sold off to old lecherous creeps in the name of Islam: ”because Mohammed married a seven year old girl it’s ok”.
Also for the Islamophobes, the childmarriage of Aïscha is a godsend to be used as a justification for calling Islam a backward evil religion. (childmarriage is also practised in other cultures and believes, including America, but that’s another post)
I am quite sick of the comment ”Mohammed married Aïscha at 6 years old, so all geriatric old geezers can marry 6 year old girls” I’m sick of hearing it! and anyway, there is no real proof Aïscha was really so very young, and there are a lot of calculations which make her much older.
I’ve put them down here.
The several hadith concerning Aïscha’s age do not agree on her age, and the narrators even contradict themselves. So why give preference to the single one which gives a ridiculous young age for Aïcha at the time of her marriage?
We can look at some historical events and compare them.
- pre-610 CE: Jahiliya (pre-Islamic age) before revelation
- 610 CE: First revelation
- 610 CE: AbuBakr accepts Islam
- 613 CE: Prophet Muhammad begins preaching publicly.
- 615 CE: Emigration to Abyssinia
- 616 CE: Umar bin al Khattab accepts Islam
- 620 CE: Generally accepted betrothal of Aïcha to the Prophet
- 622 CE: Hijrah (emigation to Yathrib, later renamed Medina)
- 623/624 CE: Generally accepted year of Ayesha living with the Prophet
Aïscha’s father was Abu Bakr. Based on one account of Al Tabari, Aïscha was 7 when betrothed to the prophet, in the year 620. So then she was born in 613. But Tabari also states that all four of AbuBakr’s children were born before the revelation. If that is so, she must have been at least 14 at the time of betrothal, and 17 or 18 when she went to live with him.
Aíscha is reported by ibn Hisham to have converted before Omar ibn Kattib, in the first years of Islam around 610. To accept Islam, she must at least have been able to speak, say three years old, which would make her at least 15 in 622.
Aïscha is reported to have been present at the battle of Badr and Uhud, but children under 15 were not allowed to participate, which indicates she must have been at least 15 years old, not 9.
According to tradition Aïscha was born 8 years before hijrah. If Sura the moon was revealed 8 years before hijra, then Aïscha was a baby at that time if she lived with the prophet 9 years later at nine years old.
But according to another narrative in Bukhari, Aïscha is reported to have said: “I was a young girl (jariyah)” when Surah Al-Qamar (the moon) was revealed. And she remembered verses then reveiled.
- sibyah = infant
-Jariyah = young playful girl
If we take a ”young playful girl” to be something like 9-12 years old , she would have been 18 to 21 years old when she married Mohammed.
Now from a lingualistically point of view: Aïscha was mentioned as a prospective bride for Mohammed as ”Bikr”.
If Jariyah means ”playfull young girl” and ”Bikr” means, ”unmarried lady without conjugal experience prior to marriage” (aka virgin) than you could claim Aïscha was an adult woman at the moment of her marriage.
If you compare Aïscha’s age to that of her contemporaries according to the different narratives, you come to the different ages also. Fatima was born at the time the Kaäba was rebuilt, she was five years older than Aïscha, that would make Aïscha 12 years old at the time of her marriage.
If Asma, her older sister was 10 years older than Aïscha, and she died at a 100 years old, in 73 AH, she was 27, 28 at the time of Hijrah, making Aïscha 17 or 18 years old, and about 19, 20 when she came to live with the prophet.
And to end it all, years weren’t counted numerically like we do now. People would say something like: ”That happened in the year of …..”. My point is that the actual age of Aïscha, or anybody from that time for that matter, is not set. We cannot know for sure.
It is more logic that Aïscha was ”adult” when she married Mohammed. For purely logical reasons. If Abu Bakr was as an intelligent caring and responsible man las he was reported to be, would he marry off a toddler? And if Mohammed was a man of charity and outstanding high moral character would he want to marry a small child? Aïsha’s age is not certain, therefore she cannot be used as justification for child marriage.