From Merchant to Messenger

Wives of the Messenger

and revelations they inspired

#3 Aisha

From Merchant to MessengerAisha was the daughter of the Prophet’s good friend and close collaborator Abu Bakr. Aisha was the first child born to parents who were believers.

The progeny of believers are born Muslim. The founder of Islam would marry the first child born a Muslim.

Scholars and clerics maintain that a grateful Abu Bakr offered his nine-year-old daughter, with whom the Prophet Muhammad had fallen in love, to cement his relationship with God’s Messenger.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not of that opinion. In The Caged Virgin, she writes that Aisha’s father pleaded with his fifty-something friend to wait until his daughter reached adulthood before marrying her.

... he fell in love with Aisha, his best friend's nine-year-old daughter. Her father said: "Please wait until she has reached adulthood."

But Muhammad would not wait... In other words, Muhammad teaches us that it is fine to take away your best friend's child. By our Western standards Muhammad is a perverse man.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Caged Virgin, p. 81

A hadith recorded by Bukhari would appear to support Ali’s assertion that Aisha’s father was not keen on marrying his daughter to a man of his generation:

Narrated Ursa:

The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for Aisha's hand in marriage.

Abu Bakr said "But I am your brother."

The Prophet said, "You are my brother in Allah's religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry."

Bukhari 62.18

In another authenticated hadith recorded by Bukhari, the most trusted collector of recollections of what the Prophet said and did, the marriage was contracted three years before it was consummated.

Narrated Ursa:

The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).

Bukhari 62.88

Aisha’s recollection of her wedding day would suggest that the bride was not yet a teenager when she joined the Prophet on the matrimonial mat.

My mother came to me while I was being swung on a swing between two branches and got me down. My nurse took over and wiped my face with some water and started leading me. When I was at the door she stopped so I could catch my breath.

I was brought in while Muhammad was sitting on a bed in our house. My mother made me sit on his lap. The other men and women got up and left.

The Prophet consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old.

Neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered on behalf of me.

Tabari IX:131

The fact that her wedding was not celebrated, the meaning of "Neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered on behalf of me", may also be an indication that the Prophet was not proud of what he was about to do or that his people did not approve of their 50+ tribesman marrying and having sex with a child.

While the claim that God’s Messenger had sexual intercourse with a nine year old girl can never be conclusively proven, it is reasonable to assume that Aisha moved into the Prophet’s house when the engagement was announced, or after her wedding, based on a previously quoted observation by Khomeini that “it was better in the eyes of God if a girl started menstruating in the home of her husband instead of that of her father… “

The Ayatollah Khomeini would also lower the age at which a girl could be legally married to nine years of age to make Iranian law conform to the Prophet Muhammad’s example.

God’s Messenger, for the believers, is the personification of the perfect human being. Being perfect, like his patron, he cannot be faulted for anything he has said or done. In fact, what he said and did, along with the Koran, is the foundation of Islamic law. No Muslim can be faulted for emulating the Prophet as long as the perfect human being’s example does not contradict Allah’s Revelations.

If I dwell at some length on the marriage of the young Aisha to a middle-age man, it is because this child, this girl was probably the greatest single reason for many of Allah’s most restrictive and harshest revelations pertaining to women.

Aisha was still a teenager when she was accused of adultery after getting lost in the desert. She was found and returned to the Prophet the next day by a young man, triggering an outpouring of revelations which continue to have an impact on women to this day.

Tamam Khan writes that “Aisha wept until her head covering was wet” when her husband recited revelation 33:33, one of the more punitive of Allah’s decrees, repeated here, of which she was undoubtedly the cause.

33:33 Stay in your homes and do not display your finery as the pagans of old did; perform the prayer, give the alms and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only wishes to turn away abomination from you and purify you fully, O People of the House.

For more on how the child bride of the Prophet, through no fault of her own, caused Allah and His Messengers to severely curtail women’s freedom read Women and the Koran – A Child Bride’s Indiscretion.

Aisha may also have awakened in her husband a preference for young women and girls. A hadith by Bukhari to that effect:

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:

While we were returning from a Ghazwa (Holy Battle) with the Prophet, I started driving my camel fast, as it was a lazy camel A rider came behind me and pricked my camel with a spear he had with him, and then my camel started running as fast as the best camel you may see. Behold! The rider was the Prophet himself.

He said, 'What makes you in such a hurry?"

I replied, I am newly married "

He said, "Did you marry a virgin or a matron?

I replied, "A matron."

He said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you may play with her and she with you?"

When we were about to enter (Medina), the Prophet said, "Wait so that you may enter (Medina) at night so that the lady of unkempt hair may comb her hair and the one whose husband has been absent may shave her pubic region.

Bukhari 62.16

Aisha was the Prophet's favourite. Not only would God’s Messenger have Allah come to her defence when Ali, his son in law and a future caliph suggested he replace her – understood was that she was to be stoned or killed in some equally horrible manner for adultery – after her misadventure in the desert, but he died in her arms and was buried in her bedroom.

Aisha's quarters were a kind of cemetery. This seems the strangest part of her story. Muhammad was buried there as well as Abu Bakr (her father and first caliph i.e. leader of the faithful) and Umar the second caliph. She created a partition between her bed and the burial area, in a small room. The original burial site is today a marble rectangle more than fifty-three thousand square feet…

Tamam Khan, Untold - A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad, p. 42.

Aisha “died July 13, 678 at the age sixty-four. She asked to be buried with the other wives in the Baqi` cemetery of Medina, not in her apartment with her husband.”

Al-Baqi cemetery was founded by the Prophet. Its size and the number of graves are a state secret.

Fearing that pilgrims would spend too much time at the cemetery remembering the people buried there, such as Aisha the Mother of the Believers and perhaps the other wives and impinging on Allah's worship time, all grave markers have been obliterated by the Saudis.