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Old September 24, 2004, 03:51 PM
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BushidoTiger BushidoTiger is offline
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I'd have to agree with Chinaman regarding belief in Islam with blind faith alone.
I truly feel that my core faith (Iman) in Islam grew stronger once I had a chance to question things which didn't make sense to me yet I was told to believe it cuz it apparently said so by the elders/hujurs and especially in the Hadith.

For example, although I never really was convinced about the story of the Mehraj (Ascension of the Prophet) as a young kid, never did I dare to question it. I remember seeing picture of a winged horse like creature somewhere named ‘Borak’ (or something similar) and was told of being the supposed carrier of Prophet.
None of 'Hujurs' could explain how the Borak could fly up to 'seven layers' of sky and experience all that was described yet when he came back the sound from the bells of the Camel leash was still being rung..(some say the water from him performing wuduh was still flowing). They said just believe it and mere idea of questioning it will be 'Kabira Gunah (major sin)'.

Not until, I was in Einsteinian physics class (vs. Newtonian one) and had a chance to learn about the 'absolute vs. relative time, distance', 'traveling at the speed of life' and the overly used 'one of the twins traveling at speed of light' examples; did I become a firm believer that Mehraj truly was possible. Since we are talking about a situation where time as we know it is no longer is a constant.

Alas, a lot of these mullahs, despite their good intention and sincerity are preaching/teaching Islam based on a hodgepodge of folklore, cultural practices.

When I was in BD, I heard the story of Ayesha, who, I was told, was married to the prophet at six and the marriage was consummated when she was nine. (age has varying accounts from diff. sources).

I too, started question about the prophet marrying someone as young as 9 years old. Looking back, it is surprising how no one but no one, questioned the oddity of somebody who was supposed to be sent as an example to humanity, marrying a six year old and having marital relationship at nine..! Most of us are programmed to be robotic when it comes to our faith.

Below is an article that can share the light on ethical/moral issues raised by Non-Muslims regarding the Prophet's marriage to Ayesha. It is written by a well known Islamic researcher in L.A. area, Dr. Aslam Abdullah.



" This important article that appeared in the Minaret in March 1999, at least
three years before the controversy about Ayesha's marriage erupted after the
statement of the southern Baptist leader. I would urge you to read it and circulate it to as many people as you can.

Aslam Abdullah
------------------------------


THE MYTH OF A PROVERBIAL WEDDING EXPOSED


A Christian friend asked me once, "Will you marry your seven year old

daughter to a fifty year old man?" I kept my silence. He continued, "If you

would not, how can you approve the marriage of an innocent seven year old,

Ayesha, with your Prophet?" I told him, "I don’t have an answer to your

question at this time." My friend smiled and left me with a thorn in the

heart of my faith. Most Muslims answer that such marriages were accepted in

those days. Otherwise, people would have objected to Prophet's marriage with

Ayesha. However, such an explanation would be gullible only for those who are

naive enough to believe it. But unfortunately, I was not satisfied with the

answer.


The Prophet (PBUH) was an exemplary man. All his actions were most

virtuous so that we, Muslims, can emulate them. However, most people in our

Islamic Center, including me, would not think of betrothing our seven years

daughter to a fifty-two year-old man. If a parent agrees to such a wedding,

most people, if not all, would look down upon the father and the old husband.


In 1923, registrars of marriage in Egypt were instructed not to register

and issue official certificates of marriage for brides less than sixteen and

grooms less than eighteen years of age. Eight years later, the Law of the

Organization and Procedure of Sharia courts of 1931 consolidated the above

provision by not hearing the marriage disputes involving brides less than

sixteen and grooms less than eighteen years old. (REF: Women in Muslim Family

Law, John Esposito, 1982). It shows that even in the Muslim majority country

of Egypt the child marriages are unacceptable.


So, I believed, without solid evidence other than my reverence to my

Prophet (pbuh), that the stories of the marriage of seven-year-old Ayesha

(ra) to fifty-year-old Prophet are only myths. However, my long pursuit in

search of the truth on this matter proved my intuition correct. My Prophet

was a gentleman. And He did not marry an innocent seven or nine year old

girl.


The age of Ayesha (ra) has been erroneously reported in the hadith

literature. Furthermore, I think that the narratives reporting this event are

highly unreliable. Some of the hadith regarding Ayesha’s age at the time of

her wedding with prophet are problematic. I present the following evidences

against the acceptance of the fictitious story by Hisham ibn `urwah and to

clear the name of my Prophet (pbuh) as an irresponsible old man preying on an

innocent little girl.


EVIDENCE # 1 Reliability of Source

Most of these narratives printed in the Hadith books are reported only by

Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. First of all,

more people than just one, two or three should logically have reported. It is

strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first

seventy-one years of his life has narrated the event, even though in Medinah

his pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. The origins of

the report of the narratives of this event are people from Iraq, where Hisham

is reported to have shifted after living in Medinah for seventy-one years.


Tehzibu'l-tehzib, one of the most well known books on the life and

the reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh)

report that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah:

" He [Hisham] is highly reliable, his narratives are acceptable, except what

he narrated after moving over to Iraq." (REF: Tehzi'bu'l-tehzi'b, Ibn Hajar

Al-`asqala'ni, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, 15th century. Vol 11, p. 50).


It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham

which were reported through people of Iraq:

"I have been told that Malik [ibn Anas] objected on those narratives of

Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq." (REF: Tehzi'b u'l-tehzi'b

, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqala'ni, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol.11, p. 50)



Mizanu'l-ai`tidal, another book on the life sketches of the narrators of

the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports:

"When he was old, Hisham's memory suffered quite badly" (REF:

Mizanu'l-ai`tidal, Al-Zahbi, Al-Maktabatu'l-athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan,

Vol. 4, p. 301)


CONCLUSION: Based on these references, Hisham’s memory was failing and his

narratives while in Iraq were unreliable. So, his narrative of Ayesha’s

marriage and age are unreliable.

Chronology

Now let me state some of the pertinent dates in the history of Islam:


Jahilliyya Before Revelation

First Revelation 610 CE

Abu Baker accepts Islam 610 CE

Public preaching 613 CE

Emigration to Abyssenia 615 CE

Umar bin al Khattab accept Islam 616 CE

Generally accepted betrothal of Ayesha 620 CE

Hijarah 622 CE

Generally accepted year of Ayesha living

with Prophet 623 or 624CE (1 or 2 AH)



EVIDENCE # 2 Betrothal

According to Tabari (also according to Hisham ibn ‘urwah, Ibn Hunbal and

Ibn Sad), Ayesha was betrothed at seven years of age and began to cohabit

with Prophet at the age of nine years. However, in another work, Al- Tabari

says:

"All four of his [Abu Bakr's] children were born of his two wives -- the

names of

whom we have already mentioned -- during the pre-Islamic period."(REF:

Tarikhu'l-umam wa'l-mamlu'k, Al-Tabari (died 922), Vol. 4, p. 50, Arabic,

Dara'l-fikr, Beirut, 1979)


If Ayesha was betrothed in 620 CE (at the age of 7 years) and started to live

with Prophet in 624 CE or 2 AH (at the age of nine years), she was born in

613 CE {(Year of living with Prophet MINUS Ayesha’a age at that time of

living with Prophet EQUALS the date of birth of Ayesha (624CE – 9 yrs == 613

CE)}. So, based on one account of Al-Tabari the numbers show that Ayesha

must have born (613 CE) three years after the beginning of revelation (610

CE). And yet another place Tabari says that Ayesha was born in Pre-Islamic

time (in Jahilliyyah). If she were born in pre-Islamic time (before 610 CE),

she would have be at least 14 years old. So, Tabari contradicts himself.

CONCLUSION: Al-Tabari is unreliable in the matter of determining Ayesha’s

age.


Contradicting Reports

EVIDENCE # 3 The Age of Ayesha in Relation to the Age of Fathima.


According to According to Ibn Hajar,

" Fatimah (ra) was born at the time the Ka`bah was rebuilt, when the Prophet

(pbuh) was 35 years old... she (Fatimah) was five years older that Ayesha

(ra)." (REF: Al-isabah fi tamyizi'l-sahabah, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Vol. 4,

P. 377, Maktabatu'l-Riyadh al-haditha, al-Riyadh, 1978)


So, based on Ibn Hajar, Fathima was born when Prophet was 35 years old and

Ayesha was 5 years younger than Fathima. If Ibn Hajar’s statement is factual,

Ayesha was born when Prophet was forty years old (Prophet's age at the birth

of Fathima PLUS 5 years == 40 years). If Ayesha was married to Prophet when

he was 52 years old, Ayesha’ age at marriage would be 12 years {(Prophet's

age at the time of marriage MINUS Prophet's age at Ayesha’s birth (52 yrs –

40 years == 12 yrs)}.


CONCLUSION: Ibn Hajar, Tabari an Ibn Hisham and Ibn Humbal contradict each

other. So, the marriage of Ayesha at seven years of age is a myth.


EVIDENCE # 4 The Age of Ayesha in Relation to the Age of Asma

According to Abda'l-Rahman ibn abi zanna'd:

"Asma (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha. (REF: Siyar A`la'ma'l-nubala',

Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, p. 289, Arabic, Mu'assasatu'l-risalah, Beirut, 1992)


According to Ibn Kathir:

"She [Asma] was elder to her sister [Ayesha] by ten years". (REF:

Al-Bidayah wa'l-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, p. 371, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi,

Al-jizah, 1933)



According to Ibn Kathir:

"She [Asma] saw the killing of her son during that year [i.e. 73 AH], as

we have already mentioned, and five days later she herself died. According to

other narratives she died not after five days but ten or twenty or a few days

over twenty or a hundred days later. The most well known narrative is that of

hundred days later. At the time of her death, she was 100 years old." (REF:

Al-Bidayah wa'l-nihayah, Ibn Kathir (died 1333), Vol. 8, Pg. 372, Dar al-fikr

al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933)


According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani:

"She [Asma (ra)] lived a hundred years and died in 73 or 74 AH."

(REF: Taqribu'l-tehzib, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, Pg 654, Arabic, Bab

fi'l-nisa', al-harfu'l-alif, Lucknow)


According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of

Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). If Asma was 100 years old

in 73 AH, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijra {

Asma’s age MINUS 73 hijrah EQUALS the age of Asma at the time of Hijrah( 100

– 73 or 74 == 27 or 28)}.


If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah, Ayesha (ra), being

younger by 10 years, should have been 17 or 18 years old {Asma’s age at the

time of Hijarah MINUS the age difference between Asma and Ayesha EQUALS the

age of Ayesha at the time of Hijarh (27 or 28 –10 == 17 or 18 yrs)}. Thus,

Ayesha (ra), being 17 or 18 years of at the time of Hijra, she started to

cohabit with Prophet between 19 to 20 years old (The Age of Ayesha at the

time of Hijra + the year of Ayesha cohabiting with Prophet (19-20 + 1-2

Hijra) == The Age of Ayesha when she cohabit with Prophet (19 or 20 years).


Based on Hajar, Ibn Katir, and Abda'l-Rahman ibn abi zanna'd, age of

Ayesha at the time living with Prophet would be 19or 20 years. In evidence #

3, Ibn Hajar suggests that Ayesha is 12 years old and in evidence # 4 he

contradicts himself with a seventeen or eighteen-year-old Ayesha (ra). What

is the correct age, twelve or eighteen?

CONCLUSION: Ibn Hajar is an unreliable source for Ayesha’s age.


EVIDENCE # 5 Battles of Badr and Uhud

A narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) participation in Badr is given in Muslim,

Kitabu'l-jihad wa'l-siyar, Bab karahiyati'l-isti`anah fi'l-ghazwi bikafir.

Ayesha (ra) while narrating the journey to Badr and one of the important

events that took place in that journey says: "when we reached Shajarah". It

is quite obvious from these words that Ayesha (ra) was with the group

travelling towards Badr.

A narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle of `uhud is

given in Bukhari, Kitabu'l-jihad wa'l-siyar, Bab Ghazwi'l-nisa' wa

qitalihinna ma`a'lrijal:

"Anas reports that On the day of Uhud, people could not stand their ground

around the Prophet (pbuh). [On that day,] I saw Ayesha (ra) and Umm-i-Sulaim

(ra), they had pulled their dress up from their feet [to avoid any hindrance

in their movement]."

CONCLUSION: Ayesha (ra) was present in the battles of Uhud and Badr.



It is narrated in Bukhari, Kitabu'l-maghazi, Bab ghazwati'l-khandaq wa

hiya'l-ahza'b:

"Ibn `umar (ra) states that the Prophet (pbuh) did not permit me to

participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was fourteen years old. But on the

day of Khandaq, when I was fifteen years old, the Prophet (pbuh) permitted my

participation."


Summary: Based on the above narratives, (a) the children below 15 years were

sent back and were not allowed to participate in the battle of `uhud, (b)

Ayesha participated in the battles of Badr and Uhud


CONCLUSION: Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud

clearly indicates that she was not nine old but at least 15 years old or

older. After all, women used to accompany men to the battlefields to help

them, not to be a burden on them. This account is another contradiction about

Ayesha’s age.


EVIDANCE # 6 Surat al Qamar

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:


"I was a young girl (jariyah)" when Surah Al-Qamar was revealed. (REF: Sahih

Bukhari, kitabu'l-tafsir, Bab Qaulihi Bal al-sa`atu Maw`iduhum wa'l-sa`atu

adha' wa amarr)

The 54th surah of the Qur'an was revealed eight years before Hijrah (REF: The

Bounteous Koran, M.M. Khatib, 1985). So, it was revealed in 614 CE {Year of

Hijrah MINUS year of revelation of Al Qamar (622 CE – 8 == 614 CE)}. If Ayesha

started living with Prophet (pbuh) at the age of nine in 623 CE or 624 CE,

she was a newborn infant (a sibyah) {Year of Ayesha living with Prophet MINUS

age of Ayesha when she started to live with Prophet (623 CE or 624 CE– 9

years=a4 0r 615) at the time the Surah Al-Qamar was revealed.


According to the above tradition, Ayesha (ra) was actually a young girl (

jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) in the year of revelation of Al Qamar. "

Jariyah" means young playful girl (Lane’s Arabic English Lexicon). So,

Ayesha, being a Jariyah not a sibyah (infant), must be somewhere between 6-13

years at the time of revelation of Al-Qamar, and thereby she must have been

14-21 years (6-13 + 8== 14-21 years) at the time she married Prophet.

CONCLUSION: This tradition also contradicts the marriage of Ayesha at the age

of nine.


EVIDANCE # 7. Arabic Term

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 that 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 the identity

of the bikr (virgin), 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 without conjugal experience prior

to marriage, as we understand the word, virgin, in English. Therefore,

obviously a nine-year-old girl is not a "lady" (Bikr). (REF: Musnad Ahmad

ibn Hanbal, Vol. 6, p. .210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut.)


CONCLUSION: The literal meaning of the word, Bikr (virgin), in the above

Hadith is adult women with no sexual experience prior to marriage. Therefore,

Ayesha was an adult woman at the time of her marriage.


EVIDENCE # 8. The Qur’anic Text

All Muslims agree that the Qur’an is the book of guidance. So, we need

seek the guidance from the Qur’an to clear the smoke and the confusion

created by the eminent men of the classical period of Islam in the matter of

the age of Ayesha at her marriage. Does the Qur’an allow or disallow marriage

of an immature child of seven years of age?


There are no verses that explicitly allow such marriage. However, I found a

verse that guides us in our duty to raise a child deprived with the death of

one or both parents. I believe that guidance of the Qur’an on the topic of

raising orphans is also valid in the case of our own children. The Verse

states:

"And make not over your property (property of the orphan), which Allah had

made a (means of) support for you, to the weak of understanding, and maintain

them out of it, clothe them and give them good education. And test them until

they reach the age of marriage. Then if you find them maturity of intellect,

make over them their property……" (Qur’an 4:5-6).


In the matter of children who has lost a parent, a Muslim is ordered to

(a) feed them, (b) clothe them, (c) educate them, and (d) test them for

maturity "until the age of marriage" before entrusting them with management

of finances. Here the Qur’anic verse demands meticulous proof of their

intellectual and physical maturity by objective test results before the age

of marriage in order to entrust their property to them.


In the light of the above verses, no responsible Muslims would hand over

financial management to a seven or nine year old immature girl. If we cannot

trust a seven-year-old to manage the financial matters, she cannot be

intellectually or physically fit for marriage also. Ibn Hambal (REF:Musnad

Ahmad ibn Hambal, vol.6, p 33 and 99) claims that Ayesha at the age of nine

was rather more interested to play with toy-horses than to take up the

responsible task of a wife. Therefore, I would not believe that Abu Baker, a

great Moimin, would betroth his immature seven-year-old daughter to

fifty-year-old Prophet. Similarly, I would not believe that Prophet (pbuh)

would marry a seven-year-old immature girl.


Another important duty demanded from the guardian of a child is "to educate

them." Let us ask the question, "How many of us in the Islamic Center believe

that we can educate our children satisfactorily before they reach the age of

seven or nine years?"

The answer is "none." It is a logically impossible task to educate a child

satisfactorily before the child attains the age of seven. Then, how can we

believe that Ayesha was educated satisfactorily at the claimed age of seven

at the time of her marriage? Abu Baker (ra) was a better judicious man than

all of us. So, he definitely would have judged that Ayesha was a child at

heart and was not satisfactorily educated as demanded by the Qur’an. He

would not have married her to any one. If a proposal of marrying the

immature and yet to be educated seven-year-old Ayesha came to Prophet (pbuh)

he would have rejected it outright because neither Prophet (pbuh) nor Abu

Baker (ra) would violate any clause in the Qur’an.


CONCLUSION: Marriage of Ayesha (ra) at the age of seven years would violate

the maturity clause or requirement of the Qur’an. Therefore, the story of the

marriage of the seven-year-old immature Ayesha is a myth.

EVIDENCE # 9. Consent in Marriage

A women must be consulted and get her permission to make the marriage

valid (REF:Mishakat al Masabiah, translation by James Robson, Vol. I, p.665).

So, in the Muslim marriage, a credible permission from women is a

prerequisite for the marriage to be valid. By any stretch of imagination, the

permission by a seven-year-old immature girl cannot be a valid authorization

for marriage. It is inconceivable to me that Abu Baker, an intelligent man,

would take seriously the permission of a seven-year-old girl to marry a

fifty-year-old man. Similarly, Prophet would not have accepted permission

given by an immature girl who, according to Muslim, took her toys with her

when she went live with Prophet (pbuh).

CONCLUSION: Prophet (pbuh) did not marry seven-year-old Ayesha because it

would have violated the requirement of valid permission clause of Islamic

Marriage Decree. Therefore, Prophet married intellectually and physically

mature Lady Ayesha.


SUMMARY: It was neither an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at

an age as young as seven or nine 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.

Obviously, the narrative of the marriage of nine year old Ayesha by Hisham

ibn `urwah cannot be held true when it is contradicted by many other

narratives reported above. Moreover, I see absolutely no reason to accept the

narrative of Hisham ibn `urwah as true when other scholars including Malik

ibn Anas view his narrative, while in Iraq, as unreliable.


The quotations from Tabari, Bukhari and Muslim show they contradict each

other regarding Ayesha's (ra) age. Furthermore, many of these scholars

contradict themselves in their own records. Thus, the narrative of Ayesha's

(ra) age at the time of the marriage is not reliable due to the clear

contradictions seen in the works of classical scholars of Islam. Therefore, I

see absolutely no reason to believe that the information on Ayesha's (ra) age

is accepted as true when there are adequate grounds to reject it as myth.

Moreover, the guidance from the Qur’an is against the marriage of immature

girls and boys and also against entrusting them with responsibilities.


ANSWER TO MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND: We do not know the exact age at the time of

her marriage due to lack of reliable records. Based on the evidences

presented above, the marriage of fifty-two-year-old Prophet (pbuh) with Aye

sha (ra) at nine year of age is only a proverbial myth. On the contrary,

Ayesha (ra) was an intellectually and physically mature Bikr (virgin == adult

unmarried woman with no sexual experience) when she married Prophet (pbuh). "
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