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Sachin Pathak
History 134
Patrick Mcdonald
Life of Aisha
Aisha was one of Muhammad's wives In Islamic writings, her name is thus often prefixed
by the title "Mother of the Believers” per the description of Muhammad's wives in the Quran.
Aisha had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Muhammad's life and after his
death. In Sunni tradition, Aisha is thought to be scholarly and inquisitive. She contributed to the
spread of Muhammad's message and served the Muslim community for 44 years after his
death. She is also known for narrating 2210 hadiths, not just on matters related to the
Prophet's private life, but also on topics such as inheritance, pilgrimage, and eschatology. Her
intellect and knowledge in various subjects, including poetry and medicine, were highly praised
by early luminaries such as al-Zuhri and her student Urwa ibn al-Zubayr.
Her father, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph to succeed Muhammad, and after two
years was succeeded by Umar. During the time of the third caliph Uthman, Aisha had a leading
part in the opposition that grew against him, though she did not agree either with those
responsible for his assassination nor with the party of Ali. During the reign of Ali, she wanted to
avenge ‘Uthman’s death, which she attempted to do in the Battle of the Camel. She
participated in the battle by giving speeches and leading troops on the back of her camel. She
ended up losing the battle, but her involvement and determination left a lasting impression.
Afterwards, she lived quietly in Medina for more than twenty years, took no part in politics, and
became reconciled to Ali and did not oppose Mu'awiya. The majority of traditional hadith
sources state that Aisha was married to Muhammad at the age of six or seven, but she stayed in
her parents' home until the age of nine, or ten according to Ibn Hisham, when the marriage was
consummated with Muhammad, then 53, in Medina. Aisha was born in late 613 or early 614.
She was the daughter of Umm Ruman and Abu Bakr of Mecca, two of Muhammad's most
trusted companions. Aisha was the third and youngest wife of Muhammad. The idea to match
Aisha with Muhammad was suggested by Khawlah bint Hakim. After this, the previous
agreement regarding the marriage of Aisha with Jubayr ibn Mut'im was put aside by common
consent. Abu Bakr was uncertain at first "as to the propriety or even legality of marrying his
daughter to his "brother". British historian William Montgomery Watt suggests that
Muhammad hoped to strengthen his ties with Abu Bakr the strengthening of ties commonly
served as a basis for marriage in Arabian culture.
According to Sunni scriptural Hadith sources, Aisha was six or seven years old when she
was married to Muhammad and nine when the marriage was consummated. For example,
Sahih al-Bukhari, considered by many Sunni Muslims as the most authentic book after Quran,
states. Narrated 'Aisha that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he
consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for
nine years. Some traditional sources disagree. Ibn Hisham wrote in his biography of
Muhammad that she may have been ten years old at the consummation. Ibn Khallikan, as well
as Ibn SA’d al-Baghdadi citing Hisham ibn Urwah, record that she was nine years old at
marriage, and twelve at consummation. In the twentieth century, Pakistani writer Muhammad
Ali of the Ahmadiyya minority sect of Islam, challenged the Sahih al-Bukhari. He acknowledged
that Aisha was young as the traditional sources claim; but argued that instead a new
interpretation of the Hadith compiled by Mishkat al-Masabih, Wali-ud-Din Muhammad ibn
Abdullah Al-Khatib, could indicate that Aisha would have been nineteen years old around the
time of her marriage. However, the hadith compiled by Mishkat al-Masabih is not a Ṣaḥīḥ
hadith, and its authenticity is considered doubtful by many scholars such as al-Tabrizi. No
sources offer much more information about Aisha's childhood years. Child marriage was not
uncommon in many places at the time, Arabia included. It often served political purposes, and
Aisha's marriage to Muhammad would have had a political connotation.
Aisha's age at the time she was married to Muhammad has been of interest since the
earliest days of Islam, and references to her age by early historians are frequent. American
historian Denise Spellberg has reviewed Islamic literature on Aisha's virginity, age at marriage
and age when the marriage was consummated. Spellberg states, "Aisha's age is a major preoccupation in Ibn Sa'd where her marriage varies between six and seven; nine seems constant
as her age at the marriage's consummation." She notes one exception in Ibn Hisham's
biography of the Prophet, which suggests the age of consummation may have been when Aisha
was age 10, summarizing her review with the note that "these specific references to the bride's
age reinforce Aisha's pre-menarcheal status and, implicitly, her virginity. They also suggest the
variability of Aisha's age in the historical record." Early Muslims regarded Aisha's youth as
demonstrating her virginity and therefore her suitability as a bride of Muhammad. This issue of
her virginity was of great importance to those who supported Aisha's position in the debate of
the succession to Muhammad. These supporters considered that as Muhammad's only virgin
wife, Aisha was divinely intended for him, and therefore the most credible regarding the
debate. In many Muslim traditions, Aisha is described as Muhammad's most beloved or favored
wife after his first wife, Khadija bint Khuwaylid, who died before the migration to Medina took
place. There are several hadiths, or stories or sayings of Muhammad that support this belief.
One relates that when a companion asked Muhammad, "Who is the person you love most in
the world?" he responded, "Aisha." Others relate that Muhammad built Aisha’s apartment so
that her door opened directly into the mosque, and that she was the only woman with whom
Muhammad received revelations. They bathed in the same water and he prayed while she lay
stretched out in front of him.
There are also various traditions that reveal the mutual affection between Muhammad
and Aisha. He would often just sit and watch her and her friends play with dolls, and on
occasion he would even join them. Additionally, they were close enough that each was able to
discern the mood of the other, as many stories relate. It is also important to note that there
exists evidence that Muhammad did not view himself as entirely superior to Aisha, at least not
enough to prevent Aisha from speaking her mind, even at the risk of angering Muhammad. On
one such instance, Muhammad's "announcement of a revelation permitting him to enter into
marriages disallowed to other men drew from her the retort, 'It seems to me your Lord hastens
to satisfy your desire. Furthermore, Muhammad and Aisha had a strong intellectual
relationship. Muhammad valued her keen memory and intelligence and so instructed his
companions to draw some of their religious practices from her.