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How old was Hadrat ‘Aishah (ra) when she married the Holy Prophet (sas)?

The fact is that no one knows how old anyone was in 7th century Arabia. The Holy Prophet sas is the most important individual in Islamic history, and no one has a clear idea of how old he was. Sahih al-Bukhari narrates:

The Prophet sas died when he was sixty three years old.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 61, Hadith 45)

Sahih Muslim narrates:

Allah’s Messenger sas died when he had attained the age of sixty-five.

(Sahih Muslim, Book 43, Hadith 160)

Sahih al-Bukhari elsewhere narrates:

Allah took him sas unto Him at the age of sixty.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 77, Hadith 68)

The reason no one knew anyone’s age in Arabia outside of vague estimates is that no calendar for measuring years was used in Arabia until after the Holy Prophet sas had passed away. The only calendar that existed was only for measuring months. When we do not even know how old the Holy Prophet sas was, anyone who asserts that he knows for certain how old Hadrat ‘Aishah ra was has no concept of historical context.

Hadrat ‘Aishah ra only gave an estimate of her age, just as everyone in that century. For example, Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim narrate that Hadrat ibn ‘Umar ra said:

Allah’s Messenger sas called me to present myself in front of him or the eve of the battle of Uhud, while I was fourteen years of age at that time, and he did not allow me to take part in that battle, but he called me in front of him on the eve of the battle of the Trench when I was fifteen years old, and he allowed me (to join the battle).

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 52, Hadith 28; Sahih Muslim, Book 33, Hadith 133)

This is despite the fact that historians unanimously place the battle Uhud and the battle of the Ditch as being two full years apart rather than one. Historians have always disregarded this estimate that Hadrat ibn ‘Umar ra gave on his age because they understood the historical context, that it was only an estimate. Also, Sahih al-Bukhari narrates that Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas ra said:

Allah’s Apostle died when I was a boy of ten years.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 66, Hadith 58)

However, historians are unanimous on the fact that Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas ra was 13 or 16, or somewhere between these ages when the Holy Prophet sas passed away. Historians have always disregarded this estimate that Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas ra gave on his age because they understood the historical context; it was only an estimate. This is not a theological point, religion has nothing to do with it. It is a simple historical point on someone’s estimate of their age. Despite it being mentioned in Sahih Ahadith, historians have always understood that in the study of Arab history, people’s estimates of their own age were just that, estimates.

As for religious doctrine, the Holy Quran teaches that the minimum age of marriage is when a person reaches intellectual and physical maturity and is capable of understanding and giving consent to marriage. The Holy Quran says:

And prove the orphans until they attain the age of marriage; then, if you find in them sound judgment, deliver to them their property.

(Surah an-Nisa’, 4:7)

And come not near the property of the orphan, except in the best way, until he attains his maturity, and fulfill the covenant.

(Surah Bani Isra’il, 17:35)

The Quran refers to the “age of marriage” as having been “attained” when individuals are intellectually mature enough to manage their own property and when they are physically mature. This is the common sense principle found consistently throughout human civilization and human nature.

Updated on February 14, 2019

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