My answer: He had 11 wives. He wasn’t ‘fair to them.’ He vastly preferred Aisha as a bedmate, to the extent that his other wives complained. According to tradition, Muhammad ‘married’ Aisha when she was a child of six years of age and he was fifty years old; so young in fact, that she brought with her, her toys. Muhammad allegedly ‘consummated’ his marriage with Aisha at the age of nine years, when he was fifty-three years old. The waiting period of three years had to do with the fact that at that time Aisha had contracted a disease, whereby she temporarily lost all her hair. The so-called ‘disease’ was actually due to the immense shock of a child being taken from her mother and handed over to a much older person for sexual ‘deflowering.’

Muhammad preferred to have sex with the young Aisha more than any of his other wives, even though she was not able to conceive. It should be pointed out that he may have damaged her reproductive system by penetrating her at such a very early age. The hadith we all are familiar with, of Aisha’s description of the events of her being handed over to Prophet Mohammed, is the source of the suppositions around her hair loss, or alopecia, in all subsequent primary and secondary sources. According to Aisha:

“The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl. 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 alright, 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 young girl.”

Child psychologists will recognize the part of the account where Aisha says,“I was breathless then, and when my breathing became alright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it…,” as a child’s description of an anxiety attack and a possible 7th-century Saudi desert tribe form of treatment.

[78 Percent of Child Marriage Victims Have Health Issues: Study]

The sayings of Aisha and her mother are not ‘facts,’ but cultural artifacts and cultural evidence. The only “fact” in evidence is that someone (not the Prophet, not Aisha, nor her mother) wrote something down — the “sayings” or Hadiths — long after they were all dead, around 50–200 years after in actual “fact.” Most of the traditions surrounding Aisha’s age when married and deflowered are from the Hadiths. There is a wonderfully authentic, and terribly sad, account by Aisha herself, and also one by her mother, which describe how the mother left the little girl outside the Prophet’s house so she could play, while she went in to arrange the consummation. Then she sent her daughter in to be deflowered. Both accounts are simply and believably given, and agree in all the main points, such as the child’s age. This is all part of the literature.

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.399, narrated by Yusuf bin Malik: “I was in the house of ‘Aisha, the Mother of the Believers. She said, ‘This revelation: “Nay, but the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense); and the Hour will be more previous and most bitter”, (54.46) was revealed to Muhammad at Mecca while I was a playful little girl.’”

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 7.18, narrated by Ursa: “The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for ‘Aisha’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said ‘But I am your brother.’ The Prophet said, ‘You are my brother in Allah’s religion and his book, but she is lawful for me to marry.’”

The date of their so-called marriage was c. 621 CE, about the time of the Hijra (escaping Mecca to Medina).

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.139/40, narrated by Aisha: “Allah’s Apostle said to me, ‘You were shown to me twice (in my dream) before I married you. I saw an angel carrying you in a silken piece of cloth, and I said to him, “Uncover (her)”, and behold, it was you. I said (to myself), “If this is from Allah, then it must happen.”’”

Sahih Muslim Book 008, Number 3311: “Aisha reported that Allah’s Apostle married her when she was seven years old, and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he died she was eighteen years old.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 7.88, narrated by Ursa: “The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with ‘Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).”

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.151, narrated by 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.”

Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Volume 13 explains the obvious: “The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden in Islam, but it was allowed for ‘Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.”

Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 2380, narrated Aisha: “The Prophet used to kiss her and suck her tongue when he was fasting.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.229–33, narrated by Aisha: “I used to wash the traces of janaba (semen) from the clothes of the Prophet and he used to go for prayers while traces of water were still on it.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 17, 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?’”

Suhayli, ii. 79: “In the Riwaya of Yunus I recorded that the apostle saw her (Ummu’l Fadl) 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.”

This account, giving her age as six, is on an educational website on the Quran, right now:

“Amongst the wives of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Hazrat Aisha Siddiqa (RA) was the youngest. She (RA) was married to Muhammad (SAW) at the age of six. Before the marriage with Hazrat Aisha (RA) Prophet Muhammad (SAW) saw a dream about her in which an angel had presented something to Him (PBUH) wrapped in silk. Holy Prophet (SAW) had enquired from the Angel what it was and he had said it was his wife. When he removed the silk cover He (SAW) saw that it was Aisha (RA). Prophet (PBUH) used to receive revelation when He (SAW) was with Aisha (RA). Prophet (SAW) spent the last few days of His blessed life in Aisha’s (RA) apartment and died in her lap. He (PBUH) was buried in her apartment, which is still the only remaining room among the Prophet’s (SAW) household.”Current Muslim websites, acting as apologists for the idea of Muhammed deflowering Aisha at the age of nine, insist that she was “mature” so it was OK. The use of this news item and photo is meant to serve as ‘proof’ that Aisha could have been sexually “mature” at age nine, in that she could have had her first period:

In using that news article and photo from a current Muslim apologists’ website as secondary ‘evidence’ that sometimes, in rare exceptions, girls enter puberty very, very early proved that, either way, it’s pretty gross. Even if a girl has her first period freakishly early (hence, Thai officials being “shocked” at a nine-year-old’s parturition), it sure as hell doesn’t mean she’s ready for sex or pregnancy, on any level. So, using the photo by the Muslim site is mendacious and wrong-thinking.

[Police in Pakistan arrest a 60 year old man who was about to marry a 9 year old girl.]

A Muslim apologist commentator on Quora misunderstood my interest. I am not remotely interested in what the Prophet may have said about it, nor in what later commentators and apologists said about it. I am no more interested in the dubious moralizing of prophets or imams in the Quran and the Hadiths, than in the fallacious claims of the prophets and patriarchs in the Torah, the Old Testament and the Talmud that justify the abuse of children in the name of God. I am interested in Quran or Hadith accounts, justifications, apologetics and other verbal contortions only insomuch as they have served as models for the perpetuation of one of the most pernicious Human Rights Abuse on the planet, by which I mean child marriage resulting in child pregnancies. These result in inestimable suffering and many deaths, of both child-mothers and infants. There is no refuting this. It interests me that these 7th and 8th century materials are still used to justify and exonerate the practice across the Muslim world.

[Urging governments to combat child marriage by setting the minimum age for marriage at 18]

I’m primarily interested in what the women and girls say and have said about the matter, and the evidence of their physical, mental and emotional health, or distress, then and now:

“Child Marriage is a Death Sentence for Many Young Girls In spite of the abuse and deprivation many girls suffer as a result of forced early marriage, the practice continues to be alarmingly common, with more than 60 million women age 20–24 married before they turned 18. In some countries more than half of all girls are married or in union before the age of 18. These include Niger — where the incidence of child marriage is a staggering 75 percent, Chad (72 per cent), Mali (71 per cent), Bangladesh (64 per cent), Guinea (63 per cent), Central African Republic (61 per cent), Mozambique (56 per cent), and Nepal (51 per cent).

“Justified as an accepted norm with social and financial benefits, child marriage has little or no benefit for the young girls themselves, who are more vulnerable to domestic violence, more likely to be uneducated, at greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, and more likely to bear children before they are physically ready. Indeed, for some 70,000 young brides who die every year as a result of pregnancy or childbirth complications, early marriage is a death sentence.

“Studies show that girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties. Furthermore, the infants of child mothers are also at greater risk. If a mother is under the age of 18, her baby’s chance of dying in its first year of life is 60 per cent greater than that of an infant born to a mother older than 19.

“…while public awareness campaigns have made progress educating the population about the dangers of harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), less energy and resources have been funnelled into the campaign against forced early marriage.

“ The programme included a three-day workshop for religious and community leaders, informing them of the dangers of early marriage and helping them produce messages against the practice for the local media to broadcast. ‘We were ignorant,’ said one of the community representatives present at the workshop. ‘We married girls at 9, 10, 11 or 12 years old. Now, we’ve seen the reality. We will no longer practice this.”’

Child Marriage — UNICEF DATA



Yvonne Owens, PhD

I'm a writer/researcher/arts educator on Vancouver Island and all round global citizen who loves humans even though we're such a phenomenal pain-in-the-ass.