Marriage With A'ishah: Does Islam Support Child Marriages? - Our Prophet 4 - Struggles In Mecca

One important event that happened during these last three years in Makkah, was the Prophet's marriage to A'ishah. And there is a lot of discussion, a lot of talk about the nature of this marriage. How did it happen, how old she was. Basically, the general narration of Bukhari and Muslim is that when the Prophet was in Makkah, when A'ishah was six years old, the Prophet did the 'Aqd [marriage contract] on her. So, the 'Katab Kitab' , right, as some people call it, or the Nikah as some others call it, which is just the verbal marriage contract, the Prophet marries A'ishah, but he does not move with her.

Then later on, three years later, when the Prophet goes to Madinah, I think it was after the Battle of Badr, or in that first year of the Hijrah, or the second year, the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi, then marries A'ishah at age nine, meaning the marriage is now consummated. So, this is the version of Bukhari and Muslim.

Now, unfortunately, today, when you see Islamophobic clips, people talking about the Prophet, slandering him using derogatory language, and some of you may have seen some very disturbing depictions of the Prophet. You know, the Prophet, he is 50 years old at this time now, and a little girl is playing in her house with dolls and she is on a swing and they come and snatch her from her parents and they take her to the Prophet's house. And really, these clips have done a lot of damage to the religion of Islam.

Just imagine someone in the west seeing that. And this is the Prophet marrying a little girl at that age, playing, playing with dolls, for God's sake, on a swing. And this really has harmed the image of the Prophet. You know, initially we are very disturbed by these clips, of course, or these claims, but honestly, let us be very honest, if we look at Muslim books, where did they get these claims from? Bukhari and Muslim! These are not something they just made up, they are taken from Bukhari and Muslim.

So, it is very important for us to analyse this alleged marriage with A'ishah at this young age, to see if this is true or not, because these are the actual depictions of Bukhari and Muslim, of how it even happened. I will share with you some hadiths, you know, that we find in Bukhari and Muslim.

Before we do that, just a few general observations about the age of marriage in the religion of Islam. Because this is also something that has historically been used, recently, of course, as a point to attack the religion of Islam, to say Islam does not respect the rights of children because, you know, how can you have a girl at age 9, 10, 11 getting married? That is not appropriate. So, very briefly, I will make a few observations on that.

First of all, if we look at the society of the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi, and we look at the world at that time, early marriage was very common. It was very very common, and not just in Arabia, even in other parts of the world, girls would get married at a very, very young age. You know, 11, 10, 11, 12, 13. That was very common.

There were factors that made this common. Specifically about Arabia, one common factor was that because of the hot climate, actually, girls reached puberty faster than they would in northern latitudes. And by the way, this is scientifically proven, that people, especially specifically girls, with boys, it is not that you know accentuated, but with girls, when it comes to their puberty and the age at which they reach it, in hot climates, when the temperature is hotter, they reach puberty faster. There is science behind it and I do not want to get into it, but this has been scientifically confirmed. So, living in Arabia, you can not compare a girl who is nine to someone who is living in Europe. There is a big difference when it comes to the age you know in which they reach puberty. So that is one point.

The other point to consider is that in the past, as recent as just the last century, really, the average lifespan of people was much, much shorter than it is today. Today, the average lifespan is what? 77, 78? Life expectancy, right? Go back, you know, hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago, that was not the average lifespan. People had a much lower life expectancy. In fact, sometimes in Europe, for example, if you look at the end of the 13th century, from like, 1280 till year 1300, do you know what was the average lifespan in the UK? Well, it was not called the UK at the time. In Britain, in England. 31! Can you imagine if you were 31, that is it! You were waiting any minute for death! You were like somebody a grandpa who is 80 years old these days. That was the life expectancy.

So, when you are living 30 years, 40 years, and you want to have a family and you want to have children, it only made sense that girls had to marry younger, because if you are going to wait till you are 25 or 30 to get married, forget it, you are not going to have children, you are going to die a few years after that.

So, there were external factors that made societies marry at a young age. And it was very logical, it was very reasonable. I mean, if a girl would not marry at age 12, 13, 14, you know if she wanted to see her grandkids, forget it. That was very rare for her to live that long, to see grandchildren. So, really, they wanted to have families.

And remember another thing, what was the infant mortality rate at that time? See, these days, it is very low. Most women who are delivering the baby, survives. Back then, you had to have three, you had to have 3,4,5,6 babies before one of them can actually survive. They would die when they were young, they did not have vaccinations, they did not have medical treatment of many conditions.

So, if a girl would not marry at age 11, 12, 13, she would not really have a chance of even having a child, because at least four or five of them would die before she could actually have a son or daughter. So, that pressed them to marry at an early age.

And Islam is a practical religion. If Islam would have said, look, the age of marriage is 18, that is it. You cut off the lineage of people, you stop people from having a family and the population would have just gone extinct. That would be a violation of people's rights if you were to increase the age of marriage. So, Islam was a practical religion.

Islam said the age of marriage can start at nine, it can, with the permission of the guardian. See, this is one reason why the permission of the guardian in Islam is mandatory. Some people today are asking, well, this is discrimination. How come a girl needs her father's permission?

Look, when you are 9, 10, 11, you do not know what is good for you. You are a child, right? Even if they were more mature than maybe kids these days. But you are still a child, so you need your guardian to approve the marriage, because now your father knows what is good for you and what is bad for you, what is in your interest. He will protect you from being taken advantage of, from being exploited. So, Islam did not say, oh, kids can just marry at age 9, 10, 11. No! It has to be for a valid reason, and the guardian has to approve of it. The guardian says, no, this is not good for her, he is protecting her.

So, when we examine the age of marriage in itself, it was very reasonable. Yes. Today you could argue society has changed and certain factors have changed. Okay, you know, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 is too young, but we have to look at this from a historical perspective too. But that is not what you hear in the media. All you hear, oh, this you know, religion, it's a pedophiliac religion, and it does not give any rights to children. That is not true. All religions in the past, Judaism, Christianity, all of them, they had similar you know ages of marriage.

Mariyam, 'alayhi as-salam, Lady Mary, according to the Bible or Christian scriptures, she was 12 or 13 when she delivered 'Isa, 'alayhi as-salam. According to our Hadith, she was ten. Now, we believe in the virgin birth, but there are Christians who believe she was married to Joseph, the carpenter. Well, if she gave birth to Jesus and she was 13, when did she marry Joseph? How come nobody talks about that? And Joseph is 90! Allahu Akbar, let us give a Salawat for that [Allahumma Salli 'ala Muhammadin wa ali Muhammad].

By the way, Al-Imam as-Sadiq, 'alayhi as-salam, in one Hadith, he gets furious and he says, they have accused Mariyam, 'alayhi as-salam, of being, you know, with Joseph the carpenter. Of course, we do not accept any of these traditions, but they believe in it. So, according to their beliefs, okay, you have got an old man with a little girl, nobody talks about that! Why? You only single out the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi!

Look at the kings of Europe. Look at the kings of Europe that they are so proud of, those royal kings. It was very, very common for them to marry girls at a young age. The king would be 30, his wife would be 12, Very common. Very, very common. Five centuries after the Prophet, King John of England actually married Isabella at age 12 or 13. So, this was something very common. But you see, the media today is singling out the Prophet.

[Gandhi's wife was 14 and he was 13] yes, Gandhi's wife was very young, he was 13. Yeah, that is true. So, in any case, that is a separate discussion. But we have to be fair with these historical contexts, you know, to understand the religion of Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala.

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