He was born in 570 A.D. to Amina and Abdallah, a trader in Mecca – a wealthy caravan trading community, in the renowned tribe of Quraish. He became an orphan before his birth and his mother also died when he was 6 years old. His parents did not leave him any wealth. He was taken care of by his grandfather and after his death by his paternal uncle Abu-Talib. His uncle had a large family himself and he was not wealthy. Very soon Mohammed had to support himself by tending the sheep flocks of rich Meccan families as it is reported.
As a young man he started working as a caravan trader for the wealthy Meccan widow Khadijah. His work took him to distant places in today’s Palestine and Syria and possibly to the North African countries. He became known and trusted because of his attempts to resolve inter-tribal differences. In fact, he was known within his Quraish tribe as “al-Ameen”, or “the trustworthy”.
At the age of 25 he married Khadijah, a twice widowed lady, 15 years of his senior and they had 6 children together, 4 girls and 2 sons (who both died in infancy). He remained married to her for 25 years, in a time and place where unlimited polygamy was quite acceptable and until her death it remained an one-wife marriage.
Mohammed was of a deeply religious nature and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hera near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the “Mountain of Light” near Mecca. He was elevated to prophethood at the age of 40, on Feb.12th 610 A.D. His first revelation came while fasting and observing night vigil among the peaks of Mount Hera as angel Gabriel appeared to him.
“Recite in the name of your Lord who has created, Created man out of a germ-cell. Recite for your Lord is the Most Generous one, Who has taught by the pen, Taught man what he did not know!… ” (Qur’an 36:1-5).
“O you wrapped up, Arise and deliver thy warning …”(Qur’an 74.1-10)
These are the first two oldest Verses of the Qur’an.
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) returned home after his first revelation his heart trembling and said to Khadijah: “Wrap me up, wrap me up!” She wrapped him till fear had left him. He then said: “O Khadijah! What has happened to me?” – and he told her what had happened, saying “fear for myself.” She replied: “It cannot be. Be happy. I swear by God that he shall never humiliate you. By Allah – you join tie of relationship, you speak the truth, you bear people’s burden, you help the destitute, you entertain guests and you help against the vicissitudes which affect people.” Those words of Khadijah were a source of great comfort to him. She was the first person to convert to Islam.
“Say: I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me ….” (Qur’an 18:110)
As the Prophet continued to receive revelations and attract a community of believers, he also attracted the hostility of Mecca’s aristocracy, which reaped profits from the pilgrimages and trade brought by Mecca’s role as a center for idol worship. His uncompromising message of monotheism brought persecution from the ruling class.
The second phase, public life began at the end of the 3rd year of his prophethood:
“And warn your nearest kinsfolk, And lower your wing (in kindness) to the believers who follow you, Then if they disobey you, say: I am free (of responsibility) of what you do”. (Qur’an 26:215-216)
“Therefore, proclaim (openly) that which you are commanded, and turn away from the polytheists. Verily, we are sufficient unto you against the scoffers, who take with God another god, but they will come to know.” (Qur’an 15:94-96)
Mohammad and his followers met active persecution in Mecca in the 3rd year of his prophethood and in the 5th year (615 A.D.) oppression intensified and a small group of believers migrated to Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia), a Christian community in Northern Africa. Muslims in Mecca faced boycott, hostility and oppression and struggled for almost 10 years.
On Sept. 16th 622 A.D. Prophet Mohammad and about 200 of his followers migrated to Yathreb (Mohammad was 53 ), a journey that took 12 days. That is the date of the beginning of Islamic Calendar, “Hijjrah” (migration).
Jathreb was an important Jewish farming and trading community 200 miles North of Mecca. After some traders had met Mohammad in Mecca and had become believers they invited the Prophet and his followers Jathreb. A bloody tribal rivalry going on and a truce was desperately needed. After the Prophet’s arrival Jathreb was called “Medinat an-Nabi” or short “Medina” .
An Islamic model state in Medina was established in the same year ( 623 A.D.). Prophet Mohammad was disappointed by the rejection of his message by the Jews in Medina. Young Islam struggled to be accepted there and the believers were harassed and ridiculed by the hypocrites.
In Medina, Mohammad and his followers demonstrated the practicality of the new religion’s social application by resolving bitter rivalries and tensions among the city’s rival groups and clans. Seeing the virtues of Islam in action, many inhabitants of Medina became Muslims.
Through military activity and political negotiation Prophet Mohammed became the most powerful leader in Arabia. Several important battles ensued, the first and biggest one (624 A.D.) in Badr (near Medina). Muslim forces, though greatly outnumbered (more than threefold), defeated the Meccan army. In the battle of Uhud (625 A.D.) Muslims were defeated and Mohammad was also wounded.
Finally in 627 (A.D.) frustrated by the growing strength of the Muslims, the Meccans mounted an all-out siege of Medina. At the battle of “Ditch” (so named because a trench was dug out to fend off the Meccan cavalry) the Muslims successfully held out against a coalition of Meccans and mercenary Bedouins that the coalition disintegrated and the Meccans withdrew. The failure of the Meccan Quraish enhanced the Prophet’s prestige and leadership among the tribes of Arabia.
John L. Esposito, quote*: “The final phase in the struggle between Medina and Mecca highlights the method and political genius of Mohammad. He employed both military and diplomatic means, often preferring the latter. Instead of seeking to rout his Meccan opponents, Mohammad sought to gain submission to God and His messenger by incorporating them within the Islamic community-state. A truce was struck in 628 (A.D.) at Hudaybiyah to permit Muslims to make their pilgrimage to Mecca the following year. In 629 (A.D.) Mohammad established Muslim control over the Hijaz and led the pilgrimage to Mecca as had been scheduled. Then in 630 (A.D.) Mohammad accused the Quraish of breaking the treaty and the Muslims marched on Mecca, ten thousand strong. The Meccans capitulated. Eschewing vengeance and the plunder of conquest the Prophet instead accepted a settlement granting amnesty rather than wielding the sword toward his former enemies.”
It was a triumphant return to Mecca on Ramadan 20th, the 8th year after Hijjrah (630 A.D.). Mecca welcomed the Muslims and it converted without violent resistance to Islam. His first act upon returning to Mecca was to cleanse the ‘Kaaba’ of its pagan idols, restoring it to the Abrahamic tradition of monotheism.
On his last Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) in the 10th year after Hijjrah (632 A.D.) Mohammad delivered a farewell speech to his followers.
By that time Arabia was united under the banner of Islam after many battles in its cause. His death – a high fever had befallen him – in Medina came to his followers as a grave shock. Medina fell into despair for days. The city was consumed with sorrow and ceremony. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) wanted to be buried very simple with no marker over his grave. He did not want people to worship his grave, that would interfere with their worship of God.
He was buried on the very spot where he died, in the house of Lady Aisha. Later a large mosque was built next to it and it is today one of the three most Holy Places of Islam, with Mecca and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Here was the secret to Islam’s strength and profound influence: the unifying power of one God, merciful and compassionate, the power of one people bound by a common faith.
By 750 A.D. Islam had expanded to China, India, along the Southern shore of the Mediterranean and into Spain. By 1550 it had reached Vienna. Wars resulted expelling Muslims from Spain and Europe. Believers are currently concentrated from the West coast of Africa to the Philippines (well over 1 billion believers).
“It is one of the functions of Islamic Law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634 A.D., Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by minorities by themselves.” ** Quote
The advent of Islam brought about a social revolution in the Arabian peninsula, as the new religion fought against slavery, the mistreatment of women and other social injustices that had become an accepted way of life. The diversity found among Muslim communities in language, culture, skin color and ethnic origin is a source of pride for Muslims, who believe in the universal and timeless message of Islam.
The Prophet’s personality is reported to have been very kind, calm, modest and righteous. As he grew up, in his young adult years he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes…. “Features handsome, middle in height, temperament likeable, long dark and curly hair, large black eyes, a man of grace, captivating at a distance.” He was called “Al-Ameen”, “the trustworthy”. He never claimed to be something else than human, a messenger and devoted servant of God.
The hardships he endured in his early childhood, poor and orphan losing many of his closest relatives at an early age may have formed his character and prepared him to be the Messenger of God.
He was a man of peace. He never took revenge for his own personal self. For example it is reported, that the Prophet would pass by the house of a Jewish woman in Medina every day at the same time. She used to wait for him just so she could throw garbage on him. One day she was not there, so out of concern the Prophet went to ask about her. Upon seeing his thoughtfulness, she felt embarrassed and ashamed and she converted to Islam.
This topic is not a problem for the believers knowing the character of the Prophet, but something that is hard to understand for non-Muslims. Prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h) has widely been portrayed in the past by orientalists as a lustful man pursuing his lusts and sensuous pleasures, that he was not satisfied with one wife or even four, but married ten or more driven by his desires. But all his wives were elderly ladies or widows except Lady Aisha, whom the Prophet married when she was still a young maiden and Maria (a slave girl, whom he freed and married). If the aim had been seeking sexual pleasures, he would have done so in his youth and would have married young maidens, not aged widows.
First we must remember the life in Arabia in the pre-Islamic time. Due to the tribal wars and blood revenge there had always been a large number widows and orphans who had to be taken care of. This must have been the main reason for polygamy in those days. It was the same ancient custom that was practiced in Palestine in the centuries before Jesus (p.b.u.h.).
Most of the twelve marriages had political or social motives. As it was customary for the Arab chiefs, many were political marriages to cement alliances. European and other world rulers married for the same reason for centuries. Others were marriages to the widows of his companions who had fallen in combat and were in need of protection, since traditionally remarriage was difficult for widows.
As I already mentioned Mohammad was married for 25 years to Khadijah, a twice-widowed lady 15 years older than him. Their marriage was very happy and they had 6 children (4 girls and 2 boys) together and he remained faithful to her until her death.
After 3 years he married a young woman Aisha (p.b.u.h.), with whom he had the closest relationship. The Prophet had spent the prime of his youth with Khadijah. Once Lady Aisha asked the Prophet if Khadijah had been the only woman worthy of his love, he replied in an honest burst of emotion: “She believed in me when none else did. She embraced Islam when people disbelieved me. She helped and comforted me when there was none else to lend me a helping hand.”
Aisha was the third lady to enter the house of the Holy Prophet as his wife. She was the lady, who had the second strongest influence on the Prophet’s private and family life. She was the daughter of his lifelong friend and companion Abu Bakr, who succeeded him as ruler of the Islamic state. Aisha was the most intelligent and the most versed in religion among the “Mothers of the Faithful”; she was even more knowledgeable than the companions. Many of the companions of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) used to ask her questions regarding religion.
After the death of his first wife Khadijah (65 at the time, p.b.u.h.) the Prophet (at the age of 50) desperately needed a companion . Young Islam was struggling in Mecca and in the same year the Prophet lost also his beloved uncle Abu Talib, who had taken care of him as a child. A woman close to him, Khawlah Bint-Hakeem (wife of one of the Prophet’s early companions) suggested Aisha, if he wishes to marry a young virgin. She was the daughter of his lifelong friend. But if he preferred a more mature woman, there was Sawdah (bint Zama’a), the widow of Al Sakran ibn Amr Al Ansari, an emigrant to Abyssinia in the early years of persecution in Mecca, who died on their way back home. Sawdah turned to the Prophet himself for shelter since her husband had died in the cause of Islam. The Prophet gave her shelter and married her. She was not young (55 years old) nor pretty with a quick and loose temper as it is reported (in the Hadith’s she is described to have been “a fat huge lady” and “a tall lady”). Soon afterwards he married Lady Aisha.
Later after 5 or 6 years he married widows of his companions, also two women war captives as they were integrated in the Muslim society through legal marriages with the believers. Although the Prophet loved Aisha so much, he treated her in the same way as the rest of his wives. The Prophet referred to her as “the mother of the believers”. Aisha was also a fine scholar of Arabic and good orator. When she needed to make speeches, particularly after the assassination of Uthman, the third Khalif, her speeches were of superb literary quality. She was a scholar of broad knowledge and great ability. Lady Aisha died ( p.b.u.h.) at the age of 58 without having any children.
In some sources it is asserted that Lady Aisha was a child when she married the Prophet.
At that time no official birth records existed in Mecca and they did not even have a recognized calendar. They knew that a year is composed of 12 lunar months, each lasting 29 or 30 days, and they dated matters on the basis of major events in their community. Hence, their dating was considerably lacking in accuracy.
In one Hadith (probably the only one) it is suggested that Aisha was only six or seven at the time of her marriage. It is illogical to assert that Khawlah would have suggested a child as a companion for the Prophet, Aisha must have been of marriageable age. Anyway, the marriage took place after 3 years in Medina (after it was first suggested by Khawlah and after the marriage to Sawdah).
More evidence is provided also by one of the earliest authors of Islam, Ibn Ishaq, who writes, that Aisha and her elder sister Asmaa were among the first 80 people in Mecca, who accepted the Prophets call to Islam. He adds as he mentions Aisha, that she was then a young girl. But how old can she have been then? Old enough to be mentioned among the people, who had taken an important step adopting a new religion. Maybe 10 or so? (Adil Salahi: Muhammad, Man and Prophet)
We know, that the time between the first revelation of the Prophet and the migration to Medina (where the marriage to Aisha took place) were thirteen years. So we can say that even if Aisha was only a newborn baby when she became Muslim, she must have been at least fourteen years old at the time of her marriage. The Prophets daughter Fatimah (p.b.u.them) was born when he was 35 years old, meaning that at the time of the marriage to Aisha in Medina she would have been 17 or 18 years old.
According to another account (by Ibn Hajar) his daughter Fatimah was 5 years older than Aisha, meaning that by no means she could not have been younger than 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage. How can we believe that the Prophet would have married a girl of 6 years of age, even a girl of 9 years? The whole assertion about the Prophet marrying a six- or nine-year-old child is highly questionable.
It is amazing how the question of Aisha’s age comes up so very often. However, if we regard the sources (the Hadiths) 100% reliable we should also i.e. unconditionally accept the fact that Prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h.) did cause the moon to split into two.
If anybody of my readers have any other evidence concerning this theme I would appreciate it if you would share it with me. Knowing the circumstances and the character of the Prophet in all other aspects and that he was a father of girls himself and remembering the fact that Aisha was the daughter of his lifelong companion, it can be taken for granted (in my opinion) that she was of marriageable age . It is hard to imagine that the Prophet, who strived to be an example to his followers, would have done such a thing knowing that the believers were encouraged by the Qur’an to follow his example in all aspects. What an uproar it would have caused, in his own family and in the community! I think we would have much more evidence in the Hadith’s about it.
There is no real evidence for that kind of assertion. The only evidence comes from Hadith’s ( Hadith’s = reports about the lifetime of the Prophet, collections dated ca. 250-300 years later). Also in Islam religious duties (like fasting, praying etc.) become obligatory only after a girl reaches puberty. Why should it be otherwise in marriage, a much graver aspect of life?
Islam introduced the right of a girl to choose her husband, a suitable husband can only be suggested by parents or guardians. Until today it was and still is common practice in Arab countries that marriage becomes a matter of discussion only after a girl reaches puberty. As far as I know in Pakistan and India child marriages were common in the past but are banned today by civil law.
Two highly reliable Hadith’s (Muslim): “Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: ‘A grown-up girl shall be asked permission about herself. If she is silent, it is her permission; and if she declines, there shall be no compulsion on her.’ “
A report from Ibn Abbas states that: “the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: ‘A previously married woman is more a guardian for herself than her guardian and a virgin should be asked permission about herself, and her permission is her silence.’”
Many Hadith’s are narrated by Aisha herself about her marriage in general. In one of them she claims, that (according to the Prophet himself) she was the only virgin among the wives of the Prophet.
The only child from all his wives after his first wife Khadijah was born to a Coptic Christian servant girl Maria, whom he married as she was presented to him as a gift from an Egyptian ruler – a son who died in infancy. All other wives remained childless.
The fact that the Prophet did not have more children later on is an indication, that his marriages were more of a sociopolitical nature, to ensure peace between the tribes of Arabia after they were united under Islam.
“There were many war prisoners captured by the Muslims and entitled to security ad protection. They were not killed or denied any human or physical rights. On the contrary, they were helped to settle down through legal marriages to Muslims instead of being taken concubines and common mistresses. That also was another moral burden on Muslims and had to be shouldered jointly as a common responsibly. Here, again, Mohammad carried his share and took some responsibilities by marrying two of those captivities… The Prophet married some women for sociopolitical reasons. His principal concern was the future of Islam. He was most interested in strengthening the Muslims by all bonds. That is why he married the daughter (Aisha) of Abu Bakr, his first successor, and the daughter of Umar, his second successor. It was by his marriage to Juwairiyah that he gained the support for Islam of the whole clan of Bani Al-Mustalew and all their allied tribes. It was by marrying Safiyah that he neutralized a great section of the hostile Jews of Arabia. By accepting Mary the Copt from Egypt as his wife, he formed a political alliance with a king of great magnitude. It was also a gesture of friendship with a neighboring king that Mohammad married Zaynap who was presented to him by the Negus of Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia) where many early Muslims found refuge. By most of these marriages, the Prophet meant to eliminate the caste system, the racial and national vanities, and the religious prejudices… ” (c. Hamouda Abdul Aati, ‘Islam in Focus’)
Qur’an 33:32 : “O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word.”
In Islam the number of wives for the believers was reduced to four. This was an unheard progress for the rights of women after centuries of unlimited polygamy. The Qur’an does not advocate polygamy, in the contrary it says :
“… then marry such women as may seem good to you, two, three or four. If you feel that you will not act justly, then one.” (Qur’an 4:3)
“You will never manage to deal equitably with women no matter how hard you try” (Qur’an 4:129).
Since equal treatment according to these two verses of the Qur’an is a practical impossibility, we understand that Islam prefers monogamy. Here, like concerning some other issues (i.e. slavery) Islam made concessions to prevailing social practices of that time.
This is a Hadith which makes us smile, and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) appear very human to us, narrated by Lady Aisha: “Allah’s messenger was fond of honey and sweet edible things and it was his habit that after finishing the ‘Asr’ (afternoon) prayer he would visit his wives and stay with one of them at that time. Once he went to Hafsah, the daughter of Omar and stayed with her more than usual. I got jealous and asked for the reason for that. I was told that a lady in her folk had given her a skin filled with honey as a present, and that she made a syrup from it and gave it to the prophet to drink (and that was the reason for the delay). I said, ‘By Allah, we will play a trick on him (to prevent him delaying so).’ So I said to Sawdah bint Zam’a, ‘The Prophet will approach you, and when he comes near you, say: ‘Have you taken Maghafir (=a bad-smelling gum)? He will say: ‘No’. Then say to him: ‘Then what is this bad smell which I smell on you?’ He will say to you, ‘Hafsah made me drink honey syrup.’ Then say:’ Perhaps the bees of that honey had sucked the juice of the tree of Al-Urfut.’ I shall also say the same. O you, Safiya, say the same.’ Later Sawdah said: ‘By Allah, as soon as he (the Prophet) stood at the door, I was about to say to him what you had ordered me to say because I was afraid of you.’ So when the Prophet came near Sawdah, she said to him: ‘O Allah’s messenger! Have you taken Maghafir?’ He sad: ‘No.’ She said: ‘Then what is this bad smell I detect on you?’ He said: ‘Hafsah made me drink honey syrup.’ She said: ‘Perhaps its bees had sucked the juice of Al-Urfut tree.’ When he came to me, I also said the same, and when he went to Safiya, she also said the same. And when the Prophet again went to Hafsah, she said: ‘O Allah’s messenger! Shall I give you more of that drink?’ He said: ‘I am not in need of it.’ Sawdah said: ‘By Allah we have deprived him (of it). ‘I said to her: ‘Keep quiet!’. “
Because this theme being such a controversial topic I include some quotes from Ayesha’s Age
“According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (ra), when Khaulah (ra) came to the Prophet (pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: “You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)”. When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed Ayesha’s (ra) name. All those who know the Arabic language, are aware that the word “bikr” in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine year old girl. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier is “Jariyah”. “Bikr” on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady, and obviously a nine year old is not a “lady”.”
“According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (kitabu’l-tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur’an, was revealed, “I was a young girl”. The 54th surah of the Qur’an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (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 almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqri’bu’l-tehzi’b as well as Al-bidayah wa’l-nihayah that Asma (ra) died in 73 hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in 73 hijrah she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra), if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.”
“According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) accompanied the Muslims in the battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Ayesha’s (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicate that she was not nine or ten 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.”
“Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr (ra) reports that Abu Bakr had four children and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah — the pre Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha (ra) was born in the period of jahiliyyah, 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, Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam quite some time before Umar ibn Khattab (ra). This shows that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Ayesha’s (ra) marriage at seven years of age is held to be true, Ayesha (ra) should 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 Mut`am — with whose son Ayesha (ra) was engaged — and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in his house as his son’s wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam, and subsequently his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha (ra) was only seven 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 Ayesha (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.”
“According to Ibn Hajar, Fatimah (ra) was five years older than Ayesha (ra). Fatimah (ra) is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Ayesha (ra) 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.”
“In my opinion, neither was it an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as nine or ten years, nor did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Ayesha (ra) 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.” (c. Adil Salahi, “Muhammad, Man and Prophet”)
The wives of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.):
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (p.b.u.h.), twice widowed lady, 40 years old at the time of their marriage (the Prophet was 25 years old).
Sawdah bint Zama’a (p.b.u.h.), 55 years old (the Prophet was 50), the widow of Al Sakran ibn Amr Al Ansari
Aisha bint Abu Bakr (p.b.u.h.), age most probably late teens/early twenties, the daughter of his devoted friend and lifelong companion Abu Bakr. She died at the age of 58 without having any children.
Hafsah bint Omar (p.b.u.h.) a widow, whose husband Khanis ibn Huthafah was a martyr in the battle of Badr.
Zainab bint Khuzaimah (p.b.u.h.), the widow of Obiadah ibn Al Hareth ibn Abd Al Muttalib, a martyr in the battle of Badr. She continued nursing the wounded unaffected by the martyrdom of her husband . When the Prophet heard of her patience and steadfastness and that no one supported her, he proposed to marry her. She was 60 years old and had two more years to live before she died at 62.
Zainab bint Jahsh (p.b.u.h.), a divorced woman who had been married to Zaid ibn Haritha. The Prophet knew Zainab since his childhood; she was his cousin. She was previously married to Zaid Ibn Haritha ibn Sharaheel but their marriage did not last long. She ill-treated him as she felt socially superior to him as he had been just a slave before the Prophet adopted him and she herself was of a great ancestral line. Zaid divorced her and Prophet Mohammad married her to annul the custom of adoption, to set up the principles of Islam and to destroy the pre-Islamic practices completely. The prophet (p.b.u.h.) feared the hypocrites and the slanderers would say that Mohammad married his “son’s” divorced wife. In this way the pre-Islamic custom of adoption came to an end and the Holy Qur’an supported this new divine legislation saying: “Mohammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of God, and the seal of the prophets; And God has full knowledge of all things.” (Qur’an 33: 40) Al Bukhari (Hadiths) mentions that Zainap said boastfully to the other wives of the Prophet: “Your families have married you, but it is only me that God from over seven Heavens has decreed my marriage.”
Hind Al Makhzoumiah (Umm Salama), the widow of Abd Allah ibn Abdel Asad who had been one of the first people to embrace Islam. He migrated with his family to Ethiopia where Salama was born. He was a martyr in the battle of Uhud and left four helpless orphans. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) saw no better solution than to ask her hand to support her and her children. She (p.b.u.h.) apologized to him saying: “I am an aged mother of orphans and I have much jealousy”.
Ramlah Bint Abu Sufian(Umm Habibah), the widow of the Ubaid Allah ibn Jahsh who had died in Ethiopia. Her father Abu Sufian was at that time the leader of the disbelievers and a strong enemy of the Prophet. She embraced Islam in Makkah and migrated to Ethiopia with her husband. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) knew of her husband’s death in Ethiopia, he sent to the King of Ethiopia, Al Najashi, to marry him Umm Habibah. She was extremely pleased because if she had returned to her father in Mecca he would have forced her to forsake Islam . When she returned to Madina the Prophet married her. Later her father Abu Suffian embraced Islam and knew of her marriage to the Prophet, consented to it and boasted of the Prophet being a good match to his daughter. The prophet’s marriage to the daughter of Abu Suffian led to the lessening of enmity against the Muslims.
Juwyriah bint Al Hareth, the daughter of Al Hareth, the leader of the tribe of Bani Al Mustalaqthe and the widow of Musafei ibn Dhirar, one of the strongest enemies of Islam who had been killed in the battle of Al Muraysei. She together with the whole tribe, had been taken war prisoners by the Muslims in one of the Prophet’s battles. She, as the daughter of the tribe’s leader came to the Prophet to ask for money to pay as a ransom to be set free. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) offered to pay the ransom for her and marry her. The Muslims thought it was not becoming to keep the Prophet’s in-laws prisoners of war, and set them all free. Seeing the Muslim’s noble-mindedness, the whole tribe of Bani Al Mustalaq embraced Islam.
Saffiah bint Huyay ibn Akhtab (p.b.u.h.). After the Battle of Khybar (a Jewish community) Saffiah, the daughter of Huyay ibn Akhtab was captivated by the Muslims after her husband had been killed. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) gave her the choice, either to set her free and he would marry her or to set her free and she would return to her Jewish family. Seeing the Prophet’s nobleness of character, decency and gentlemanliness, she chose to be set free and be his wife. Moreover, she, as well as many people with her, embraced Islam. It is narrated that when the Messenger (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) told Saffiah that her father was most antagonistic among the Jews against him, she answered, “O Messenger of Allah! Allah says in His Holy Book: “… no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another …. “ (Qur’an 6:164)
Maria, a Coptic-Christian slave girl whom he manumitted and married as she was presented to him as a gift by an Egyptian ruler and who bore the Prophet the only child after his first wife Khadijah, a son Ibrahim who died in infancy.
Maymouna bint Al Hareth (p.b.u.h.), the widow of Abi Rahan ibn Abdul Uzza. Her name had been Barrah, the Prophet named her Maymouna, she was the last of his wives. Lady Aisha said of her that she was one of those who most fear God the Almighty and of those who always join ties of relationship.
* ”Islam, the straight Path”, Prof. John L. Esposito
** “Understanding Islam and Muslims”, Islamic Affairs Dept., Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C.