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"O My Lord! Increase me in knowledge!" - Qur'an 20:114

The Young Marriage of 'Aishah

Mother of the Believers

By: Abu Iman 'Abd ar-Rahmaan Robert Squires

© 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 - Muslim Answers - Orlando, Florida.




The marriage of the Prophet Muhammad(P) to 'Aishah bint Abu Bakr when she was at quite a

young age has been the focus of quite a bit of criticism in the West. Unfortunately, in this

Neo-Colonialist Age of Smart bombs, MTV and the Big Mac, some of those who profess to be

Muslims have themselves become critics. Many Muslims, faced with the juggernaut of

allegedly "universal" Western liberal values that have permeated almost everyone around them,

sheepishly avoid discussion of such "embarrassing" Islamic issues. It is a keenly true

observation that even though the European powers have pulled their colonial armies out of

Muslim lands and granted them "independence", an even worse plague continues. This curse is

"Colonialism of the Mind" and it is more dangerous since it is much more subtle. Insha'llah,

this article will be a contribution to making both Muslims and non-Muslims aware of not only

the objective facts regarding the Prophet's(P) marriage to Aishah, but how to understand it in

light of Islam and life in the "modern" world.

Regrettably, for those of us trying to spread the truth of Islam in the West, we often have to

agree with the Orientalist W. Montgomery Watt when he wrote:

Of all the world's great men none has been so much

maligned as Muhammad.1


But here, for a change, were are dealing with something that is an authentic part of Islamic

history, not an apocryphal or fabricated event that Westerners have been duped into believing is

authentic, such as the so-called "Satanic Verses" incident. That a man in his fifties would

marry such a young girl - especially a man who is supposed to be a living example of piety - is

not only difficult for many "modern" Westerners to come to terms with, but it has even gone so

far as to stir up disgusting "sexual misconduct" charges amongst them. In the face of such

criticism, Muslims have not always reacted well. In the past century, when so many Muslims

were so "Westoxicated" and ready to monkey Europeans in almost anything, the usual reaction

was to deny the sources that reported the alleged "embarrassing problem". To Muslim

"modernists", who argued that only a legal ruling found in the Qur'an was Islamically valid,

brushing aside this aspect of the Prophet's(P) life was rather easy. They simply denied that it had

occurred and attacked the sources which reported it. Fortunately for Muslims, the apologetics

of these "Uncle Toms of Islam" has faded to the periphery to a large extent. However, there are

still many Muslims out there who try to get around what they see as a problem by ignoring

authentic Islamic sources while claiming to be followers of the Ahl as-Sunnah. (which

basically means "orthodox Sunni" Muslims, for those unfamiliar Islamic terminology). Many

other Muslims possibly wonder whether the story is authentic and how to understand it if it is.


The Islamic Evidence Of 'Aishah's Marriage

Due to the apparent ignorance of many Muslims, possibly due to reading "modernist" apologetic

literature like that mentioned above, a look at what the authentic sources of Islam say about the

age at which 'Aishah married the Prophet(P) is in order. This way, before we move on to an

analysis of the facts, we will first establish what the authentic Islamic facts are. At this point, it

should be mentioned that it is absolutely pointless from an Islamic standpoint to say that the age

of 'Aishah is "not found in the Qur'an", since the textual sources of Islam are made up of both

the Qur'an and the Sunnah - and the Qur'an tells us that. For those wanting (or needing) to learn

more about the status of the Sunnah in Islam, please read An Introduction to the Sunnah, by

Suhaib Hasan. Now in regards to what the authentic Islamic sources actually say, it may come

as a disappointment to some "modern" and "cultured" Muslims that there are four ahadith in

Saheeh al-Bukhari and three ahadith in Saheeh Muslim clearly state that 'Aishah was "nine

years old" as the time that her marriage was consummated with the Prophet(P). These ahadith,

with only slight variation, read as follows:

'Aishah, may God be pleased with her, narrated that the

Prophet(P) was betrothed (zawaj) to her when she was six

years old and he consummated (nikah) his marriage when

she was nine years old, and then she remained with him

for nine years. (Saheeh al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64)

Of the four ahadith in Saheeh al-Bukhari, two were narrated from 'Aishah (7:64 and 7:65),

one from Abu Hishaam (5:236) and one via 'Ursa (7:88). All three of the ahadith in Saheeh

Muslim have 'Aishah as a narrator. Additionally, all of the ahadith in both books agree that the

marriage betrothal contract took place when 'Aishah was "six years old", but was not

consummated until she was "nine years old". Additionally, a hadeeth with the same text

(matn) is reported in Sunan Abu Dawood. Needless to say, this evidence islamically

speaking - overwhelmingly strong and Muslims who deny it do so only by sacrificing their

intellectual honesty, pure faith or both.

This evidence having been established, there doesn't seem much room for debate about

'Aishah's age amongst believing Muslims. Until someone proves that in the Arabic language

"nine years old" means something other than "nine years old", then we should all be firm in our

belief that she was "nine years old" (as if there's a reason or need to believe otherwise!?!). In

spite of these facts, there are still some Muslim authors that have somehow (?) managed to push

'Aishah's age out to as far as "fourteen or fifteen years old" at the time of her marriage to the

Prophet(P). It should come as no surprise, however, that none of them ever offer any proof,

evidence or references for their opinions. This can be said with the utmost confidence, since

certainly none of them can produce sources more authentic than the hadeeth collections of

Imams al-Bukhari and Muslim! Based on the research that I've done, I feel that there is a

common source for those who claim that 'Aishah's age was "fourteen or fifteen years old" at

the time of the marriage. This source is The Biographies of Prominent Muslims which is

published in book form, on CD-ROM and is posted in several places on the Internet. Just

another example of why going to the sources is important . . .


The Prophet's(P) Marriages In Perspective

To put all of this in perspective - hopefully without undue apologetics - the first thing that one

should be aware of is that 'Aishah was the third wife of the Prophet(P), not the first. Prior to this,

the Prophet's(P) first and only wife for twenty-four years was Khadijah bint al-Khuwaylid, who

was about nineteen years older than him. He married Khadijah when she was forty and he was

twenty-one - which might be called the years of a male's "sexual prime" - and stayed married

only to her until her death. Just after Khadijah's death, when he was round forty-six years old,

the Prophet(P) married his second wife Sawdah bint Zam'ah. It was after this second marriage

that the Prophet(P) became betrothed to 'Aishah, may God be pleased with her. She was the

daughter of Abu Bakr, one of the Prophet's closest friends and devoted followers. Abu Bakr,

may God be pleased with him, was one of the earliest converts to Islam and hoped to solidify

the deep love that existed between himself and the Prophet(P) by uniting their families in

marriage. The betrothal of Abu Bakr's daughter 'Aishah to Muhammad(P), took place in the

eleventh year of Muhammad's(P) Prophethood, which was about a year after he had married

Sawdah bint Zam'ah and before he made his hijra (migration) to al-Madinah (Yathrib). As

mentioned above, the marriage with 'Aishah bint Abu Bakr was consummated in Shawwal,

which came seven months after the Prophet's hijra from Makkah to al-Medinah. At the time of

his marriage to 'Aishah, the Prophet(P) was over fifty years old.

It should be noted about the Prophet's(P) marriage to 'Aishah was an exceedingly happy one for

both parties, as the hadeeth literature attests. 'Aishah, may God be please with her, was his

favourite wife and the only virgin that he ever married. After emigrating to al-Medinah,

Muhammad(P) married numerous other wives, eventually totalling fifteen in his lifetime. Even

though we do not have time to go into the details of each one of them here, each of these

marriages was done either for political reasons, to strengthen the ties of kinship or to help a

woman in need. Quite a few of the wives were widows, older women or had been abandoned

thus were in need of a home. Additionally, it should be mentioned that the same collection of

Muslim hadeeth literature that tells us that 'Aishah was only nine years old at the time of the

marriage tells us that the marriage was Divinely ordained:

Narrated 'Aishah, may God be pleased with her: The

Messenger of God(P) said (to me): "You have been shown to

me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in a

silken cloth and said to me, 'This is your wife.' I

uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself,

'If this dream is from God, He will cause it to come

true.'" (Saheeh al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 15)

Thus like everything that the Prophet(P) did, there was wisdom behind it and lessons to be

learned from it. The wisdom behind such incidents provides us guidance on the basis of human

morality, exposes the double standards of misguided hypocrites from other religions that

criticize Islam and much more. But more on that subject below. . .


Criticism Addressed & Entertained

Myself and many other Muslims should no longer be surprised by the double standard that

Christians display when they criticize the conduct of Prophet Muhammad(P) , since we've heard

it for so long. To have an atheist, agnostic - or anyone else who does not believe in a Divinely

revealed basis for morality - criticize something that is "politically incorrect" by today's moral

standards comes as no surprise. Such people will always find something to criticize, since they

simply have a bone to pick with "religion" in general. All of this "absolute morality" talk gets

in the way of them having a good time, so they want to mock it, discredit it and do away with

it. The criticism of Christians, however, is another matter. While it is true that Christians speak

out against the "moral relativity" which is spreading amongst the increasingly secular society

today, they too are unconscious victims of it. The values of most Christians today come from

the humanist values of Western Europe (or, at a minimum, are heavily influenced by them).

Their values do not come straight out of the Bible - in theory or in practice - regardless of what

they may claim. That Christians today try to take credit for the so-called "Freedom", "Human

Rights", "Democracy" and "Women's Rights" in Europe and America is nothing short of a joke.

It may impress uneducated people in so-called Third World countries, but anyone who has

studied history knows that these things came about in spite of the Church, not because of it. The

way in which many Christians uncritically mix non-Christian values with (allegedly) Biblical

values has always fascinated me. One interesting example of this is how nationalism and

patriotism are supported amongst the majority of Evangelical Protestant (and even other)

Christians in the United States. In America, good Christians are flag wavers. Few, if any, of

these fiercely patriotic minds ever seem to realize that narrow-minded patriotism is both selfish

and non-universal at its core. That patriotism and Christianity go hand-in-hand in the minds of

many people is just an example of how we can be blindly sucked into "moral relativism"

without even realizing it.

According to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, right and wrong are ordained by Almighty God.

As such, morality does not change over time based on our whims, desires or cultural

sensitivities. In cultures where there is no Divinely revealed ruling on an issue, what is right

and what is wrong is determined by cultural norms. In such cases, a person would only be

considered "immoral" if they violated the accepted norms of their society. As we will

demonstrate, the Prophet Muhammad's(P) marriage to 'Aishah, viewed both in the light of

Absolute Morality and the cultural norms of his time, was not an immoral act, but was an act

containing valuable lessons for generations to come. Additionally, this marriage followed the

norms for all Semitic peoples, including those of Biblical times. Based on this, and other

information that we will provide below, it is grossly hypocritical for Christians to criticise the

Prophet's(P) marriage to 'Aishah at such a young age. In case Christian readers are under the

false impression that their values today are timeless and somehow reflect those of Biblical

times, please consider the following points which are directly related to the question of at what

age a person is properly ready to be married:

Keeping in mind the ideas of "political correctness" and "absolute morality", in

Biblical times the age at which a girl could marry was puberty. However, during the

Middle Ages it was usually twelve years old. Now in most "Christian" countries it is

between fourteen and sixteen years old. I live in country where some states allow

partners of the same sex to legally marry, but consider an eighteen year old boy who

sleeps with a sixteen year old girl is "statutory rapist". So even though Christians

might disagree with much of what is becoming all too prevalent in Western society

today - whether it be drug abuse, gay marriages or abortion - they too have been

swallowed up (possibly unknowingly) by the ugly monster of "moral relativism"

Certainly, they might be giving in less quickly than people who have no Divine basis

for their morality, but they're giving in nonetheless.

Historically, the age at which a girl was considered ready to be married has been

puberty. This was the case in Biblical times, as we will discuss below, and is still

used to determine the age of marriage in what the culturally arrogant West calls

"primitive societies" throughout the world. As the ahadith about 'Aishah's age show,

her betrothal took place at least three years before the consummation of the marriage.

The reason for this was that they were waiting for her to come of age (i.e. to have her

first menstrual period). Puberty is a biological sign shows that a women is capable

of bearing children. Can anyone logically deny this? Part of the wisdom behind the

Prophet's Muhammad's marriage to 'Aishah just after she reached puberty is to firmly

establish this as a point of Islamic Law, even though it was already cultural norm in

all Semitic societies (including the one Jesus(P) grew up in). The large majority of

Islamic jurists say that the earliest time a marriage can be consummated is on the

onset sexual maturity (bulugh), meaning puberty. Since this was the norm of all

Semitic cultures and it still is the norm of many cultures today: it is certainly not

something that Islam invented. However, widespread opposition to such a Divinely

revealed and accepted historical norm is certainly something that is relatively new.

The criticism of Muhammad's marriage to 'Aishah is something relatively new in that

it grew up out of the values of "Post Enlightenment" Europe. This was a Europe that

had abandoned (or at least modified) its religious morality for a new set of humanist

values where people used their own opinions to determine what was right and

wrong. It is interesting to note that Christians from a very early time criticized (again

hypocritically) the Prophet's(P) practice of polygamy, but not the marriage to 'Aishah.

Certainly, those from a Middle Eastern Semitic background would not have found

anything to criticize, since nothing abnormal or immoral took place. It is "modern"

Westernized Christians who began to criticize Muhammad on this point, not earlier

pre-Enlightenment ones.

It is upon reaching the age of puberty that a person, man or woman, becomes legally

responsible under Islamic Law. At this point, they are allowed to make their own

decisions and are held accountable for their actions. It should also be mentioned that

in Islam, it is unlawful to force someone to marry someone that they do not want to

marry. The evidence shows that 'Aishah's marriage to the Prophet Muhammad(P) was

one which both parties and their families agreed upon. Based on the culture at that

time, no one saw anything wrong with it. On the contrary, they were all happy about


None of the Muslim sources report that anyone from the society at that time criticized

this marriage due to 'Aishah's young age. On the contrary, the marriage of 'Aishah to

the Prophet(P) was encouraged by 'Aishah's father, Abu Bakr, and was welcomed by

the community at large. It is reported that women who wanted to help the Prophet(P),

such as Khawlah bint al-Hakeem, encouraged him to marry the young 'Aishah. Due

to the Semitic culture in which they lived, they certainly saw nothing wrong with such

a marriage.

Society's ideas of love, family and marriage are much different in the so-called

"modern" and "civilized" West of today than they were in Biblical or Qur'anic times.

Unfortunately, many of us carry the baggage of "romantic love" and ideas about sex

that have managed to poison our minds since the Europeans (and their ideas) came to

dominate the globe. These ideas have not only penetrated into the minds of Muslims,

but actually permeate many of them. The European colonial powers have pulled out

of almost all Muslim lands, but the colonization of the minds continues! As we

mentioned above, the sad part is that most people do not even realize that they are

under such un-Godly influences. Just to reference the way things have changed, a

statement in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica makes it clear that values regarding

the proper age of marriage have been changing over the years:

. . . in the United States and parts of Europe

the association of adult status with sexual

maturity as expressed in the term puberty rites

has been unwelcome".2

The significance that sex and sexuality are thought to play in human psychology has its

roots in Freudian thought. Even though many of Freud's ideas are being heavily

challenged today, many of his ideas still play a role in the thinking of many people.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) taught that humans are basically "sexual beings" whose

childhood sexual urges are the key to understanding them. He developed the

methodology of psychoanalysis and his ideas on sex, repressed guilt and sexuality, the

unconscious sex drive, the Oedipus complex and other ideas have come to almost

haunt the Western view of sexuality (almost as much as the repressive views of the

Roman Catholic Church). Needless to say, Freud's ideas have been criticized by

believing Jews, Christians and Muslims since they basically deny human moral

responsibility. In Freud's view of things, human beings are prisoners to the effects of

unconscious forces and their sex drive. Such ideas are always welcomed by

"liberals", "humanists" and others like them. The point of all this in regards to young

marriage, however, might be less clear. What needs to be pointed out is the

contradictory "modern" Western view of sexuality. They are taken aback by the

thought of marriage at the age of puberty, even though it's an age old custom.

However, they have junior high schools where sex education is taught and a society

where sexually promiscuous "dating" is considered the norm. Sometime sex is simply

a natural pleasure to be enjoyed, but at other times it is a psychological demon of far

reaching consequences. In short, everything from their private lives to their court

systems, have fallen victim to the moral relativity of the psychiatrists and


The attitude that any experience in life can be seen as some sort of

"trauma" is very widespread. Many people go through life constantly obsessed about

what sore of "complex" they may be suffering from due to experiences they've had in

their relatively normal life. The morality which is produced by such attitudes all but

does away with human responsibility. People who are guilty of serious crimes,

instead of being held responsible for their actions, are themselves considered

"victims", since they are only doing what their psychological makeup causes them to



Puberty = Maturity = Marriage

These points having been presented, some additional details on a few of them is worthwhile.

An interesting article on the age at which people married in Biblical times is Ancient Israelite

Marriage Customs, by Jim West, ThD - a Baptist minister. This article states that:

The wife was to be taken from within the larger family

circle (usually at the outset of puberty or around the

age of 13) in order to maintain the purity of the family


This is just one reference to the fact that the onset of puberty was considered the age at which

young people could marry. That people in Biblical times married at an early age is widely

endorsed. While discussing the meaning of the word 'almah, which is the Hebrew word for

"young woman" or "adolescent female", Gerald Segal says:

It should be noted, however, that in biblical times

females married at an early age.3

In spite of its somewhat arrogant Western talk of "primitive cultures", An Overview of the

World's Religions makes it clear that puberty is an age old symbol of adulthood:

Almost all primitive cultures pay attention to puberty

and marriage rituals, although there is a general

tendency to pay more attention to the puberty rites of

males than of females. Because puberty and marriage

symbolize the fact that children are acquiring adult

roles, most primitive cultures consider the rituals

surrounding these events very important. Puberty

rituals are often accompanied with ceremonial

circumcision or some other operation on the male

genitals. Female circumcision is less common, although

it occurs in several cultures. Female puberty rites are

more often related to the commencement of the menstrual

cycle in young girls.

Some female authors agree:

Puberty is defined as the age or period at which a

person is first capable of sexual reproduction, in other

eras of history, a rite or celebration of this landmark

event was a part of the culture. (Rites of Passage: Puberty, by

Sue Curewitz Arthen)

"Getting your period" marks a rite of passage for young

girls entering womanhood. (From the Women's Resource Center)

Another contemporary reference relating marriage age to puberty is an article on Central

Africa, which says:

. . . women marry soon after puberty4.

There are many other references which should prove to any intelligent person what

anthropologists and historians already know: in centuries past, people were considered

ready for marriage when they reached puberty.

It should be mentioned that from an Islamic point of view, many problems in society today can

be traced back to the abandonment of early marriage. Due to the way that Almighty God has

created man and woman, i.e., with strong sexual desires, people should marry young. In the past,

this was even more true since life expectancy was very low (i.e. you were considered "old" if

you made it to 40!) Not only does marriage provide a legal outlet for people with strong sexual

desires, but it usually produces more children. One of the main purposes of marriage is to

produce children -"be fruitful and multiply" as the Bible says (Genesis 8:17). This was

especially important in the past, when people did not live as long as they do now and the infant

morality rate was much higher.


The Age Of Puberty

Even though we have established that puberty has been the historical, cultural and religious

norm for indicating readiness for marriage, some may wonder at which age puberty normally

takes place. This is somewhat meaningless in regards to our specific discussion of

Muhammad(P) and 'Aishah, since the hadith literature makes it clear that she had reached

puberty. However, in regards to puberty and at what age most girls have their first menstrual

cycle, 'Abdul-Hamid Siddiqi says:

Islam has laid down no age limit for puberty for it varies with countries and races due to the

climate, hereditary, physical and social conditions. Those who live in cold regions attain

puberty at a much later age as compared with those living in hot regions where both male

andfemale attain it at a quite early age. "The average temperature of the country or

province,"say the well-known authors of the book Woman, "is considered the chief factor

here, not onlywith regard to menstruation but as regards the whole of sexual development at


Raciborski, Jaubert, Routh and many others have collected and collated statistics on the subject

to which readers are referred. Marie Espino has summarised some of these data as follows:

(a) The limit of age for the first appearance of menstruation is between nine and twenty-four

in the temperate-zone; (b) The average age varies widely and it ay be accepted as established

that the nearer the Equator, the earlier the average age for menstruation.6

Additionally, an article entitled Puberty in Girls by an Australian government Public Health

organization, says:

The first sign of puberty is usually a surge of growth:

you become taller; your breasts develop; hair begins to

grow in the pubic area and under the arms. This may

start from 10 years to 14 years - even earlier for

some and later for others.

An article Physical Changes in Girls During Puberty has this to say:

During puberty, a girl's body changes, inside and out,

into the body of a woman. The changes don't come all

at once, and they don't happen at the same time for

everybody. Most girls start showing physical changes

around age 11, but everyone has her own internal

schedule for development. It's normal for changes to

start as early as 8 or 9 years of age, or not until

13 or 14. Even if nothing looks or feels different yet,

the changes may have already begun inside your body.

Many will readily agree with the information above, but still might harbour reservations about

whether a marriage to an older man could be happy for such a young girl. Putting aside the

modern Western notions of "happiness" for a moment, the marriage of 'Aishah and the

Prophet(P) was a mutually happy and loving one as in expressed in numerous hadeeth and

seerah books. That happy marriages occur between people with a fairly large difference in

ages is known among psychologists:

When the differences (in ages) is great, e.g. exceeds

fifteen to twenty years, the results may be happier.

The marriage of an elderly (senescent) not, of course,

an old (senile) man to a quite young girl, is often very

successful and harmonious. The bride is immediately

introduced and accustomed to moderate sexual

intercourse. 7


More Wisdom Behind It

In his comments on the ahadith in Sahih Muslim which mention 'Aishah's young marriage to the

Prophet(P), 'Abdul-Hamid Siddiqi shows points three other reasons for this marriage:

'Aishah's marriage to the Prophet Muhammad(P) at an early age allowed her to be an

eye witness to the personal details of his life and carry them on the succeeding

generations. By being both spiritually and physically near to the Prophet(P), the

marriage prepared 'Aishah to be an example all Muslims, especially women, for all

times. She developed into a spiritual, teacher and scholar, since she was remarkably

intelligent and wise. Her qualities help support the Prophet's work and further the

cause of Islam. 'Aishah, the Mother of the Believers, was not only a model for wives

and mothers, but she was also a commentator on the Qur'an, an authority on hadeeth

and knowledgeable in Islamic Law. She narrated at least 2,210 ahadith that give

Muslims valuable insights into the Final Prophet's daily life and behaviour, thus

preserving the Sunnah of Muhammad(P).

At that time, this marriage refuted the notion that a man could not marry the daughter

of a man who he had declared to be his "brother" (even in the religious sense). Since

the Prophet(P) and Abu Bakr had declared each other to be "brothers", this notion was

done away with. This is demonstrated in the following hadeeth:

Narrated 'Ursa: The Prophet(P) asked Abu Bakr for 'Aishah's hand in

marriage. Abu Bakr said, "But I am your brother." The Prophet(P) said,

"You are my brother in God's religion and His Book, but she ('Aishah) is

lawful for me to marry." (Saheeh al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number


The marriage did away with the pagan Arab superstition that it was a bad omen to be

married in the month of Shawwal. They thought that the month carried this omen since

the word Shawwal was derived from Shaala, which carried a bad omen. The

authentic ahadith indicate that the Prophet(P) and 'Aishah were married in this lunar



Not Much Ado Back Then

Above, we established that fact that getting married at puberty was an accepted practice

amongst not only today's "primitive cultures", but specifically amongst the Semitic (i.e.

Hebrew, Arab, Syriac, etc.) peoples of the Middle East. In order to provide additional proof

that Muhammad's(P) marriage to 'Aishah did not raise any eyebrows at that time, I here submit

quotations from two Western female scholars who have studied Islam in detail:

It is not clear just when the marriage actually took

place. According to some versions, it was in the month

of Shawwal of the Year 1, that is, some seven or eight

months after the arrival at Medina; but, according to

others, it was not until after the Battle of Badr, that

is, in Shawwal of the second year of the Hijrah. In no

version is there any comment made on the disparity

of the ages between Mohammed and Aishah or on the

tender age of the bride who, at the most, could not

have been over ten years old and who was still much

enamoured with her play."8

In the above quotation, the sources which are given for the latter are "Nawawi" and "Tabari".

Both Imams al-Nawawi and al-Tabari were great Muslim scholars, but their works contain

material that is less than authentic by Islamic standards, which is the probably reason over her

questioning which date is authentic. This is all beside the point, since we've already shown that

authentic Islamic sources state that 'Aishah, may God be pleased with her, was "nine years

old". The main point to note is that "no version" was any comment made on their age

difference or on 'Aishah's young age. Why? Such an early marriage was normal in all Semitic

societies - such as the ones that Abraham(P), Moses(P), Jesus(P) and Muhammad(P) grew up in!

Another author, Karen Armstrong, has this to add:

Tabari says that she was so young that she stayed in her

parents' home and the marriage was consummated there

later when she had reached puberty.9

This further establishes that the marriage took place at puberty and that, as such, no eyebrows

were raised. "Tabari", it should be mentioned, refers to Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jareer

al-Tabari (225-310 AH / 839-923 CE), who was a great Muslim scholar who is well known in

the West for his Qur'anic commentary and history of the world.

It is no surprise that both of the above authors agree on the fact that the marriage of 'Aishah and

Muhammad(P) took place when the former had reached puberty and that this was normal at the

time. This is no surprise, since anyone who studies the Muslim sources and Semitic culture

would be forced to come to the same conclusion, since it is simply a historical fact. It should

be pointed out that both of the above quoted female authors do not hesitate to misrepresent Islam

(intentionally or unintentionally) in their other writings. Suffice it to say that if there was some

other "damaging" information available, they would not hesistate to bring it to light. Nabia

Abbott, who has done some useful research on Islam in some areas, was basically an

"Orientalist" in the classic sense. Her book which was quoted above, Aishah-The Beloved of

Mohammed, is actually nothing but a disgusting second-guessing of 'Aishah's life. If a book

with a similar mix of speculation and inauthentic sources were written about someone of

significance in the West, it certainly would not be sitting on scholarly bookshelves. It's has long

been established that Orientalists with a bone to pick with Islam liked to decide on the

authenticity of a story based on their pre-conceived notions. If an inauthentic story seemed to

belittle the Prophet of Islam, it became oft quoted. However, any authentic material that

contradicted their theories was simply ignored. It's analogous to writing a historical biography

of Jesus(P) and using quotations from apocryphal gospels to override the Canonical ones

whenever whimsically deemed appropriate. This is how Orientalists and Christian

missionaries have been treating Muhammad(P) for centuries.


So What's The Verdict?

Overcoming cultural bias or admitting your own double standards is not always easy. For some

people, it takes years for them to admit that they've been hypocritical. Hopefully, the thoughts

presented here will plant the seed of reflection in some people so that they may reflect on the

truth. Admitting that there's a problem is often half the battle, so before the reader heads off to

make a final personal judgement on where they stand on this issue, I want to provide some more

food for thought. Montgomery Watt, a long time scholar of Islam, had some choice words on

how the West should judge Muhammad(P). I have never agreed with many of Watt's conclusions

about Islam, but I have always viewed him as one of the more open-minded and open-hearted

Orientalist scholars. Possibly, this is because he was more of a promoter of understanding than

a narrow-minded Christian missionary. Years of studying Islam brought Watt to this


The other main allegations of moral defect in Muhammad

are that he was treacherous and lustful . . . Sufficient

has been said above about the interpretation of these

events to show that the case against Muhammad is much

weaker than is sometimes thought. The discussions of

these allegations, however, raises a fundamental

question. How are we to judge Muhammad? By the

standards of his own time and country? Or by those of

the most enlightened opinion in the West today? When

the sources are closely scrutinized, it is clear that

those of Muhammad's actions which are disapproved by the

modern West were not the object of the moral

criticism of his contemporaries. They criticized some

of his acts, but their motives were superstitious

prejudice or fear of the consequences. If they

criticized the events at Nakhlah, it was because they

feared some punishment from the offended pagan gods or

the worldly vengeance of the Meccans. If they were

amazed at the mass execution of the Jews of the clan of

Qurayzah, it was at the number and danger of the

blood-feuds incurred. The marriage with Zaynab seemed

incestuous, but this conception of incest was bound up

with old practices belonging to a lower, communalistic

level of familial institutions where a child's paternity

was not definitely known; and this lower level was in

process being eliminated by Islam . . . From the

standpoint of Muhammad's time, then, the allegations

of treachery and sensuality cannot be maintained.

His contemporaries did not find him morally

defective in any way. On the contrary, some of the

acts criticized by the modern Westerner show that

Muhammad's standards were higher than those of his

time. In his day and generation he was a social

reformer, even a reformer in the sphere of morals. He

created a new system of social security and a new family

structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what

went before. By taking what was best in the morality of

the nomad and adapting it for settled communities, he

established a religious and social framework for the

life of many races of men. That is not the work of a

traitor or 'an old lecher'.10


From Abraham(P) To "Pick-And-Choose / Feel Good Religion"

Everything that we have discussed above logically frees Muhammad(P) from the unjust criticism

that he has received (at least amongst those who can be intellectually honest and fair-minided).

One point, however, still needs to be made a bit more clear. Even though we've mentioned it in

passing, the hypocrisy and double standards of Christians who criticize Muhammad(P) for his

morality needs to be more thoroughly analysed and exposed.

Before moving on to an analysis of Biblical morality, I would like to offer some advice and

encouraging words to my fellow Muslims. My main piece of advice is to not be discouraged by

slanderous attacks on Islam or how it is distorted in the media. Certainly, we all hate to see

such things occur, but in the "Information Age" which was brought about by a culture that

(allegedly) places a supreme value on freedom of speech, there is not much that we can do to

stop it. The flip side to this coin is the fact that the Truth of Islam is still out there and people

are finding it.

Yes, Islam is spreading in spite of these hypocritical methods that Christians and

others are using to stop it. From the "moon god" lies of Robert Morey to the almost daily

distortions in the media, Islam is still spreading in the West. Actually, the fact that those who

make a career out of attacking Islam, such as Christian missionaries, have to resort to lies and

distortions when they discuss Islam is a good sign. Certainly, if they discussed Islam as it was

meant to be understood, they would only be hurting their own cause. When Islam is presented

by non-Muslims in the West, usually matters of peripheral importance are addressed and

criticised. The core beliefs of Islam, if discussed at all, are presented in a distorted manner. If

Islam was just some ridiculous "Third World" religion with no appeal, they would not have to

treat it this way. As a matter of fact, a great deal of the anti-Islamic literature that fills Christian

bookstores (and the Internet) is not designed to convert Muslims, but to turn Westerners off to

Islam. The people who write these lies are just trying to poison the minds of people so that they

won't be receptive to the message of Islam when they hear it.

Their methods, however, are failing. In Europe especially, the Christian religion is in a severe

state of stagnation and people are looking for truth elsewhere. Christians have always been

embarrassed by their almost complete inability to convert a notable Muslim to Christianity.

Certainly, they have their converts that they hold up as examples, however all of them seem to

have been only nominal Muslims (at best) when they converted. However, many notable

Westerners have embraced Islam, recently as well as in the past. One of the most interesting

things about this is many (if not all) of these people could be called "Searchers for the Truth".

By this I mean that they were the type of people who were spiritual, open-mined and read books

on many subjects. They were not brainwashed simpletons who simply wanted to join an easy

religion and the dominating culture of the time. They were people who knew a lot not only about

religion, but about history, philosophy and other disciplines. Suffice it to say that the truth of

Islam is out there, in spite of all the negative press that it gets today. The following is just one

testimony that Islam is spreading in the West:

Unprecedented numbers of British people, nearly all of

them women, are converting to Islam at a time of deep

divisions within the Anglican and Catholic churches.

The rate of conversions has prompted predictions that

Islam will rapidly become an important religious force

in this country . . . Within the next 20 years the

number of British converts will equal or overtake the

immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith here",

says Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher at a

Hull comprehensive and the author of a textbook guide to

the Koran. She says: "Islam is as much a world faith as

is Roman Catholicism. No one nationality claims it as

its own". Islam is also spreading fast on the continent

and in America. (The Times , London, Tuesday, November 9th, 1993,

Home-News page)

Thanks be to God that many of us who are former "pew warmers" finally decided to go out and

investigate what they try to spoon feed us from the pulpit and TV. Why does Islam succeed in

attracting Christians and others? Because it's the Clear Way of Abraham. No other religion

today can honestly claim this! Islam isn't just a "feel good" religion where they just tell you

what you want to hear and read selected verses from the Bible. Most Christians today approach

religion like they do Sunday brunch: they take what they like and leave what they don't like.

They have this attitude in spite of the fact that Abraham is held up in their Bible as a towering

example of faith. Abraham(P), who was going to sacrifice his own son because Almighty God

commanded it, certainly knew the basis of morality. It is clear in both the Bible and the Qur'an

that Abraham knew that whatever God commands is the right thing to do. However, how many

Christians today can say that they honestly believe that on all issues? How many of them have

reflected on the moral ramifications of what is contained in their Bible? Seemingly, not even

their learned apologists who attack Islam have reflected on it too deeply!

The question "What is our basis for morality?" is an easy one for those who follow the faith of

Abraham(P) - and that's what Islam is. Islam is submission to the Will of Almighty God - "We

hear and we obey"- the faith of our father Abraham. If it was good enough for Abraham(P),

Moses(P), Jesus(P) and Muhammad(P), then it's good enough for me! It is this truth and this attitude

that attracts people to Islam. The entire basis of Islam, which produces this attitude, is Unity -

the Unity of Almighty God and the unity of mankind. To be sure, the message of Islam appeals

to the very nature of man. No wonder it is spreading! A Christian theologian, relatively

recently, observed:

It is probable that early in the twenty-first century

Islam will have become numerically the largest of the

world religions. 11

Quite possibly, if you count only Sunni Muslims (which are at least 85% of Muslims), we are

already the largest religion in the world when compared not to "Christians" as a whole, but to

either the Orthodox, Roman Catholics or Protestants each separately.


A Case Study In Biblical Morality

Now that we've taken an detailed look at an alleged moral difficulty in the life of Muhammad(P),

for the sake of balance, let's take a look at a moral difficulty in the Bible. We've already made

statements above concerning the nature of Biblical morality, but many readers may be unaware

of some of its "difficulties". For better or for worse, in Sunday school they generally skip the

verses which we are going to deal with below. However, these verses certainly are useful tools

in putting intellectually honest Christians in the same "moral dilemma" that they think Muslims

should be in due to Muhammad's(P) young marriage to 'Aishah, may God be pleased with her. It

should be kept in mind that the purpose of this discussion is the basis for morality, not the

inspiration of the Bible (or lack thereof). For the purposes of this discussion, we accept the

Bible "as is". However, this should not be interpreted to mean that we are endorsing it as the

"Word of God" in toto. On the other hand, it should not be interpreted to mean that we are

attacking the "Word of God", since we are discussing it simply because Christians consider it

to be the "Word of God" (whatever their particular definition might be).

The portion of the Bible that we want to look at begins with the Book of Numbers, Chapter 31,

verses 17 and 18. Here, Moses(P), following the Lord's command, orders the Israelites to kill

all the Midianite male children. The order continues with the following:

". . . kill every woman who has known man by lying with him, but all the female

children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

One can only guess how the Israelites determined who the virgins were. Most probably, they

did it based on age and maturity, assuming that all of the female "children" who had not reached

puberty were virgins. Keep in mind that this was done, according to the Bible, on God's

command to "Avenge the Israelites on the Midianites". Later, God gives Moses(P) instructions

on how to divide up the booty, "whether persons, oxen, donkeys, sheeps or goats". Based on

this command, "thirty-two thousand persons in all, women who had not known a man by lying

with him" were divided up. This was done so that the Israelite soldiers could have these young

girls "for themselves". I do not suspect that anyone reading this is either so naive or ignorant of

King James English to not know what this means!

Moving along to another great example of Biblical morality, . . . in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 the

Biblical "God of Love" gives the following command:

"When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath

delivered them into thine hands and thoust has taken them captive, and seest among the

captives a beautiful woman, and had a desire unto her, that though would have her

to thy wife, then though shalt bring her home to thine house . . . and after that you

may go into her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if though have

no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go".

This should serve as sufficient proof that the morality that is taught in the Bible often is not what

Christians make it out to be. In spite of what they teach in Sunday school, the above mentioned

verses demonstrate the following:

* Almighty God, at least according to the Bible, ordered innocent babies to be killed;


* He allowed young women to be forced into sex against their will.

Before moving on, it should be noted that killing women and children in war is never permitted

under Islamic Law (the actions of some ignorant Muslims around the world notwithstanding).

Some Christians may take issue with the words "innocent babies" above, since they believe

that even babies are tainted with "Original Sin". However, this is not the topic of the discussion

at hand. Suffice it to say that Biblical support for the Doctrine of Original Sin is contradictory at

best. There are some verses that seem to support it, but there are others that seem to clearly

deny it. One strike against "Original Sin", besides the fact that it's simply unjust, is the fact that

the Jews - who read the Old Testament - never belived in it the way Chrisitnas do. But anyway .

. . when faced with the problematic parts of the Old Testatment, Christians react in various

ways. Many offer up the ill thoughtout "Well-That's-in-the-Old-Testament" defense. In spite of

the fact that they usually don't brush the Old Testament aside so quickly when they are being

shown alleged prophecies which match Jesus(P), a few other thoughts can be presented. Some of

the things that make brushing aside the Old Tesament a bit more difficult (at least for Christians

who want to remain intellectually honest) are:

1) the same God that "inspired" the Old Testament "inspired" the New Testament;

2) this same God is "unchanging" according to the Bible;

3) Jesus(P) in the New Testament endorses the "Law and the prophets" (i.e. the Old Testament)

in several places; and

4) without the Old Testament their is no basis for Christianity.

When put in this predicament, Christians, have one of two choices:

1) Stop thinking about it and fall back on a liberal "pick-and-choose" religion that just makes

them "feel good" but does not answer any of life's more difficult questions; or

2) Accept the Divinely Revealed morality of the Bible "as is".

There are Christians out there who claim to accept the Divinely Revealed morality of the Bible.

They understand what's at stake and the issues at hand. If people are allowed to whimsically

decide what is right and what is wrong, there would be chaos. Just as importantly, if people

decide what is "God's Word" and what is not His word based on their preconceived notions

and "modern" sensibilities, nothing would be left of the Bible. As such, there are Christians

who, in principle, say that killing babies is "moral" as long as God clearly commands it. For

someone who understands the nature of Divinely Revealed morality, we would have to agree in

principle but with certain reservations. As mentioned above, Almighty God - according to Islam

- never commands the killing of innocent children. That is one "difficulty" that I am glad that

Muslims don't have to explain their way out of! Killing babies is okay as long as God

commands it!?! So much for having Christians as baby-sitters!


The bottom line is that morality comes from Almighty God and from Him alone. However, if

ones studies the Bible, it is plain to see that it is not a foundation for morality. The examples

above are just a few that can be provided from both the Old and the New Testament. The

people who promote "Biblical morality" pick and choose from the text as they please. Only in

Islam can one with good conscience accept "the whole package" without ignorantly or

hypocritically denying things that they don't like. This is how true internal peace and balance are achieved.

If one belongs to a religions without accepting everything in its scripture (real or alleged) one is not only

bearing false witness against themselves but against God Himself. With all the false ideas in the modern

age, it's easy to be lead astray. The liberal Western morality that has now touched all corners of the globe

is, culturally speaking, something like an eight-hundred pound gorilla. It's very hard to stand in its way or

speak out against it. However, being encouraged by others to follow "vain desires" has been an eternal

problem for mankind, as Almighty God makes clear in the Qur'an:

Say: 'I will not follow your vain desires: if I did I would stray from the path and be

not of the company of those who receive guidance.'

[Qur'an - Surah al-An'aam - 6:56]


Guideposts To Be Thankful For

The Prophet Muhammad(P) was a great example for all of humanity and peoples of different

cultures (from "modern" Europeans to the aborigines of Australia). Not only was he a great

Prophet and Messenger, but he was also a statesman, military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbor

and friend. Family life was one of the most important areas where he was a great example,

since he was both a husband and a father. Due to God's wisdom, His last and final prophet

experienced a wide array of marriages and family situations. Due to this, he is an example for

people who are monogamous, for those who are polygamous, for those wishing to marry those

older than themselves and for those wondering how early someone can rightfully marry.

Muhammad(P) reestablished the Religion of Abraham(P) so that it would continue to the Last Day.

As Muslims, we should be thankful for these guideposts in our moral journey through life.

Reflecting on them aids us in avoiding being led astray into "moral relativism". This is a very

dangerous thing, since it can lead to the worst of all sins - associating others with Almighty God

in worship, belief and/or Lordship. By knowing the Prophet's(P) life we can see how to stay

within the boundaries laid by Almighty God and stay on the Natural Religion of Islam which

was made to suit the natural disposition (fitrah) of mankind. I pray that we, as Muslims, make

Almighty God's limits our limits, and that we are not influenced by other societies and cultures.

If it was good enough for Abraham(P) and Moses(P), then it's good enough for me . . .

That's the way I see it, but God knows best . . .




1 W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press, 1956.

2 "Rites and Ceremonies", The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition (1987),

Volume 26, page 850.

3 Gerald Sigal, The Jew and the Christian Missionary, Ktav Publishing House,1981, page


4 "Central Africa", The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition (1987), Volume 15,

page 646. See also "Aboriginal Australia", The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition

(1987), Volume 14, page 425. For additional references to the marriage customs in Biblical

times, see Israel: Its Life and Culture, by Johannes Pedersen, Volume 1, page 60ff.

5 Herman H. Ploss, Max Bartels and Paul Bartels, Woman, Volume I, Lord & Bransby, 1988,

page 563.

6 English-translation of Sahih Muslim, Volume 2, International Islamic Publishing House,

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, page 715.

7 Theodor H. Vandevelde, Ideal Marriage : Its Physiology and Technique, Greenwood

Publishing Group, 1980, p. 243.

8 Nabia Abbott, Aishah-The Beloved of Mohammed, Al-Saqi Books, London, 1985, page 7.

9 Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, Harper San Francisco, 1992,

page 157.

10 W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, Oxford University Press,

1961, page 229.

11 John Hick, The Metaphor of God Incarnate, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993, page 87.



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