Aishah's age when she married the Prophet

muhammad Question:
At what age was Aishah when she married the Prophet?


Salam, dear questioner.
Thank you for your question.

The report commonly known among Muslims is that Lady Aishah was nine years of age when she married the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

This report is highly suspect. It is questioned on several counts. I have written at length discussing this issue and concluded that Aishah was between 18 and 22 at the time of her marriage to the Prophet. I will give some of the evidence briefly:

1. Prior to the Prophet's proposal to Aishah, she was engaged to marry Jubayr ibn Mutim, who was an unbeliever at the time. The prohibition of marrying unbelievers was not issued yet.

The Prophet's eldest daughter, Zainab, was married to Abu Al-Aas who remained non-Muslim for many years. When the Prophet sent a word proposing to Aishah, her father, Abu Bakr, declared: "These people (meaning Jubayr's people) have proposed to her, but I will manage to extricate her from them."

This suggests that it was a serious arrangement that he needed to tactfully undo. Since the Prophet's proposal was made three years before the marriage actually took place, the report of her marriage at nine years of age makes her six at the time of the proposal, and already engaged to someone else. This is highly unlikely.

2. The idea to marry Aishah was suggested to the Prophet by one of his companions, Khawlah bint Hakim, who told him that he needed someone to give him comfort and take care of him after his wife, Lady Khadijah, had died.

When he asked Khawlah if she had anyone in mind, she asked him: "Would you prefer a virgin or a mature woman?" He asked her to name both, and she suggested Sawdah as the mature woman and Aishah as the virgin. He told her to carry his proposals to both. Indeed, both proposals were accepted.

The Prophet married Lady Sawdah shortly afterward, but delayed his marriage to Aishah until he had emigrated to Madinah some three years later.

We need to look at the Prophet's family situation to put this suggestion to marry someone like Aishah in proper perspective. The Prophet had four daughters, two of them were married and two still living with him. So, he was not without company at home. His youngest daughter was at least 13 years of age.

Can we imagine that the lady who realized that the Prophet needed the comfort only a wife provides, would suggest that he marries a child who was six years of age at the time she made this suggestion? Would she name a child who was several years younger than his youngest daughter? She would be suggesting that he takes a child who would need to be looked after. This is totally unreasonable.

3. In the earliest and most authentic biography of the Prophet, written by Ibn Ishaq, who died in 150 A.H. a list of the people who embraced Islam in its early days is given in a separate chapter. The list includes 51 men and women, but no children.

According to the general context of the biography, which remains the best for reliability, these people accepted Islam in the first four or five years of the start of its message.

We find Aishah's name among them, with the note that she was young at the time. She was certainly young, but old enough to choose her faith and declare herself Muslim.

If we say that she was only 10 at the time, and her acceptance of Islam was in year 5, then she would be 19 when her marriage to the Prophet took place, because he married her one year after his emigration to Madinah.

Further evidence can be cited to prove that Aishah was a woman in her prime when she married the Prophet. However, this requires greater space because it involves providing the setting when certain events took place and discussing attitudes and reactions to various incidents and statements.

What I can say, however, is that at the time of her marriage to the Prophet Aishah was 18 if she was a day, but more likely, she was over 20 years of age.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.