Alhamdulillah, I have an article for you all...
It is long but has the scholarship necessary to answer this question:
"AGE OF AISHA (RADIALLAHU ANHU) AT THE TIME OF HER MARRIAGE.
Often a disputed subject, I hope this information can remove the common concerns people raise. And Allah Almighty is the source of truth.
To begin with, it should be the responsibility of those who believe that Aisha’s marriage took place at age nine, to provide a few examples or historical evidences to substantiate their point of view. I have not yet been able to find a single dependable instance in the books of Arab history where any girl below the age of ten was given away in marriage. Unless such examples are given, we do not have any reasonable grounds to believe that it really was the social tradition.
In my opinion, the age of Aisha (RA) has been grossly misreported in the Ahadeeth. It clearly seems that the narratives reporting Aisha’s age during her marriage are not only unreliable, but also on the basis of many other historical evidences, very unlikely. Hence, let us analyze this issue and look at it from an objective stand-point.
- Most of such narratives are only by Hisham ibn ‘urwah reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well-known as this, should logically have been reported by more people than just one, two or three.
- It is quite strange that no one from Madinah where Hisham ibn ‘urwah lived the first 71 years of his life has narrated the event, even though in Madinah his pupils included people as famous as Malik ibn Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq where Hisham is reported to have had moved after living in Madinah for 71 years.
- ‘Tehzibul-tehzib’, one of the most well-known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the Sunnah reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah: “Narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq.” It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through the people of Iraq. (vol 11, pg 48 – 51)
- ‘Mizanul-ai’tidal,’ another book on the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that when Hisham was old, his memory suffered a lot. (vol 4, pg 301 – 302)
- According to the generally accepted tradition, Aisha (RA) was born about 8 years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitabul-tafseer), Aisha (RA) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th surah of the Qur’aan was revealed, “I was a young girl.” The 54th surah of the Qur’aan was revealed 9 years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Aisha (RA) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn’urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn’urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be more accurate.
- According to a number of narratives, Aisha (RA) accompanied the Muslims in the battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of Hadeeth and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Aisha’s (RA) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicate that she was not 9 or 10 years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battle fields to help them, not to be a burden on them.
- According to almost all the historians, Asma, the elder sister of Aisha was 10 years older than Aisha. It is reported in ‘Tari’bul-Tehzib’ as well as ‘Al-bidayah wa’l-nihayah’ that Asma died in 73 Hijrah when she was almost 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma was 100 years old in 73 Hijrah, she must have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah. And if Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah, Aisha must have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Aisha (RA), if she got married in 1 AH or 2 AH, was 18 to 20 years old.
- Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr, reports that Abu Bakr had 4 children and all 4 were born during the Jahiliyah (pre-Islamic) period. Obviously, if Aisha was born in the period of Jahiliyah, she could not have been less than 14 years in 1 AH .. the time she most likely got married.
- According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Aisha (RA) accepted Islam quite sometime before Umar bin Khattab. This shows that Aisha became a Muslim during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Aisha’s marriage at 7 years of age is held to be true, Aisha could not have been born during the first year of Islam.
- Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr planned on migrating to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mutam with whose son Aisha was engaged, and asked him to take Aisha in his house as his son’s wife. Mutam refused because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam, and subsequently his son’s engagement with Aisha was terminated. Now, if Aisha was only 7 years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr decided on migrating to Habshah. On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume that Aisha (RA) had not only been born 8 years before Hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.
- According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (RA), when Khaulah came to the Prophet (Pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: “You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a divorcee (thayyib).” When the Prophet (pbuh) asked who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed Aisha’s name. All those who know the Arabic language are aware that the word ‘bikr’ in Arabic is not used for an immature 9-year-old girl. The correct word for a playful little girl, as stated earlier is ‘Jariyah.’ ‘Bikr’ on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady, and obviously a 9-year-old is not a “lady.”
- According to ibn Hajar, Fatimah was 5 years older than Aisha. Fatimah is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Aisha could by no means be less than 14 years old at the time of Hijrah, and 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage.
These are some of the major points that go against accepting the commonly known narrative regarding Aisha’s (RA) age at the time of her marriage.
From the ISLAMIC REVIEW:
(1) The well-known historian ibn Jareer al-Tabari writes at page 50 of volume 4 of his ‘Book of History’ : “Abu Bakr married two ladies in the days of Jahiliya. Fateelah, daughter of Abd al-Aza was the first from whom Abdullah and Asma were born. Umm-i-Rooman was the second, from whom Abd al-Rahman and Aisha were born. All 4 children of Abu Bakr were born in the days of ignorance (Jahiliyah, i.e. pre-Islamic days) from the above-named two ladies.
(2) It is a well-known fact of history that Abu Bakr’s son Abd al-Rahman fought against the Muslims in the battle of Badr. His age at that time was 21-22 years, and although he was older than Aisha, there is no evidence to show that the difference between their ages was more than 3 or 4 years. This fact lends support to the view that Aisha (RA) was born 4 or 5 years before the Call.
(3) The author of the well-known collection of Hadeeth ‘Mishkat al-Masabeeh,’ Sheik Waheed-ud-Deen writes in his renowned book ‘Ahmal fi Asma ‘ al-Rijjal’: “At the time of the consummation of her marriage, Sayedah Aisha’s age was not less than 18-19 years.”
All the above quotations give ample refutation to the common misconception that Aisha’s age at the time of her Nikah was six years and at the time of her marriage only nine years. In the opinion of all perceptive historians and scholars, neither was it an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage below 12 years of age, nor did the Prophet marry Aisha at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated. If Muslim scholars of the present era deem fit to make an objective research instead of beating the old track, they will find ample material in the pages of history to arrive at the correct age of Aisha (RA) during the time of her marriage.
May Allah (Subhan Wa’Tala) continue to help us confirm authentic knowledge.
And Allah (Subhan Wa’Tala) is the source of truth. Allah-o-Alim."
Insha'Allah this helps.
All Good is from Allah. Any mistakes were mine. Astaghfirullah.
As Salam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu