Shafi’i Muhaddith (Salah al-Din al-idlibi) questions age of Aisha in Bukhari

“Follow not that whereof you have no knowledge. Lo! the hearing and the sight and the heart – of each of these it will be asked.” (Qur’an 17:36)

A very interesting discussion Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-’idlibī, a contemporary Muḥaddīth using matn critique to show that the age of Aisha as reported in Bukhari and understood by the majority does not add up when all evidence and factors are considered.

 

This is all too important because time and time again we hear that anyone who challenges the hadith corpus is some modernist Muslim who has no grounding in his/her faith.  This humble article is one of many that refute these overly simplistic and unfounded allegations. The source for the original article in Arabic is: https://salahsafa.blogspot.com/2013/02/blog-post_27.html?fbclid=IwAR0rRA_ODrbLmqTsJ4-ObzBNbTwWcuw7hjbi_KWnDruTvkKNLsEzt_PuTnw

 

Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Ibn Aḥmad al-’idlibī was born in 1948 in the Syrian city of Idlib. He is Shāfi‘ī in lineage and got a PhD in Islamic sciences with a specialty in Ḥadīth from the Dār al-Ḥadīth al-Ḥassīniyah in Morocco in 1980. He has taught Ḥadīth sciences at several Arab universities, including the Kulliyah al-Darāssāt al-’islāmiyah wa al-‘Arabiyah in Abu Dhabi and the Kulliyah al-Sharī‘ah in the United Arab Emirates.21 He has a website where his publications and media appearances are posted.

 

He is famous for writing a 22 detailed response 23 to a Salafī critique against the ’Āsh‘arī theological school.24 His first publication (probably a rework of his PhD thesis) is a detailed research that tries to prove that textual (matn) criticism of prophetic Aḥadīth has been part of Islam since its beginnings.25 The Aisha-age-traditions are not discussed in it, but he provides many examples of famous Aḥadīth that are found in the Ṣaḥīḥ collections, which has been criticized by many foundational scholars, including ‘Ā’īsha who was famous for criticizing traditions that spoke in a denigrating manner about women or traditions with anthropomorphic contents.26

 

This book in my eyes shows the key element in al-‘idlibī’s approach to the Ḥadīth corpus whereby traditions are determined firstly by contents, and not just by isnād. Although scholars of Fiqh have always applied textual criticism, over the centuries the authenticity level of the isnād became more and more decisive in accepting a tradition and increased the reluctance to reject it.27 Al-’idlibī on the other hand points out that to declare an isnād authentic (ṣaḥīḥ) it needs to comply to five conditions, while there are numerous reasons for a text (matn) to contain a mistake (’asbāb al-Wahm kathīrah).

 

Only a tradition which is deemed both ṣaḥīḥ in isnād and matn can overcome its probable truth factor (ghalab ‘alā al-Ẓann), but it still isn’t multiple transmitted (lā yatawātar) and thus doesn’t gain the certain truth factor (maquṭū‘a) of a multiple transmitted tradition (al-Mutawātir). When a tradition has 28 an authentic isnād but deviant contents (’isnād ṣaḥīḥ wa matnahu shādh) it is classified as weak and deficient (ḍa‘īf) and can be rejected.29 Al-’idlibī thus clearly presents an ’usūlī methodology in judging and classifying traditions .30, although he never references his methodology to any ’usūlī scholar.

 

Jonathan Brown calls this approach ‘Late Sunni Traditionalism’, which is a revival of the ’Ahl al-Rā’y juristic methodology whereby ”jurists, not hadith scholars, with the ultimate authority in determining the authenticity and implication of a hadith“, making jurists ”responsible for content criticism“.31 Al-’idlibī is clearly influenced by, or follows a similar vision as, the late ’Aẓharī scholar Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (d. 1996 CE) who saw a Ḥadīth only as truly ṣaḥīḥ if it didn’t contain a hidden flaw (‘illā) or contradict more reliable evidence.32 It is this methodology which we will also find in his discussion on the Aisha-age-traditions.

 

Al-’idlibī’s analysis on the age of marriage of ‘Ā’īsha

Although I was acquainted with English works on the age of ‘Ā’īsha, and knew there were already Arabic discussions on this matter from the 1950s 33, I hadn’t come across any work in Arabic until I saw a blog post by professor Mohammed Fadel (University of Toronto) where he recounted his meeting with al-’idlibī and had posted a link to al-’idlibī’s essay.34 While reading I noticed he used many similar sources and arguments as the English works, but because he used classical terminology it didn’t feel apologetic. That he wrote a specific essay on it shows that the age presented in the traditions were probably disconcerting to him, but by applying his methodology and terminology this apologetic element isn’t present.

 

In the essay, he points out that because the Aisha-age-traditions are of ṣaḥīḥ status, there is no avoiding in studying it. If we take his ’usūlī methodology in mind, it means that the ṣaḥīḥ status of the isnād demands that the matn must also be checked for an error (wahm), so that its probability status (ẓann) can be judged.

 

Secondly, he says he came across some articles on this subject by some scholars, and he wanted to write about it to “sharpen some scientific thoughts in the condoning indifference on the positions of weakness”. 

Meaning, he wants to point out to people that they remain too much indifferent to possible weaknesses in historical sources. Thus according to him, his objective is not to simply discredit the Aisha-age traditions because he rejects the possibility of the Prophet marrying an underaged girl, but to use it as an example of how people easily overlook mistakes in generally accepted sources. Just as his book on matn criticism tries to prove the classical practice of it, and thus its authenticity level as an Islamic methodology, this essay tries to show the necessity and usefulness of such criticism.

 

In his analysis he tries to determine ‘Ā’īsha’s age by determining:

 

  1. The age difference and the birth-year of her older sister ’Asmā’
  2. The possibility she experienced and narrated events at a certain age
  3. The words used to describe her
  4. When she converted to Islam
  5. When her father married her mother
  6. The way she was proposed as a possible spouse for the Prophet

 

He does this by using both graded and ungraded narrations, thus collecting as much evidence to prove there is a conflict between the gathered evidence and the original narration under question.

Part of his argument is also based on the idea that it is unreasonable that she was four or younger at certain events (2.) and when she was proposed to the Prophet (6.), which uses assumptions about a child’s capability and the way seventh-century culture discussed possible spouses. It thus not simply an argument based on the clear textual and linguistic comparison, but also involves the idea of what is reasonable. All this taken together is enough proof for al-’idlibī to declare the Aisha-age-traditions as containing an error (wahm), and thus being defective (ma‘lūl).

Translation of al-’idlibī’s essay

 

The transmitted Ḥadīth in the estimated age of the honorable ‘Ā’īsha on the day of marriage contract and marriage

 

In the name of Allah Most Merciful ever Merciful.

Praise to Allah numerous good blessed praising such as loving and pleasing our Lord, and praise to Allah whom by His blessings completes the righteous, the Lord completes through the good, and seals for us through the good, through Your beneficence and grace and honor, O Honored of the honored.

A Ḥadīth is transmitted about the Prophet, salutations of Allah upon him and peace 36, that the marriage-contracted (‘aqada)37 honorable ‘Ā’īsha, Allah’s pleasure upon her 38, and her years were six years and he married her [when she was] nine years. And is this Ḥadīth authentic in transmission chain (isnād) and textual contents (matn)?? [There] is no avoiding from its study.

 

I came across an article about this important subject written by some researcher in weakening (taḍa‘īf) that Ḥadīth regarding transmission chain and textual contents, and I found that one [can get] possible gain (al-Mumkin al-Istifādah) from it in the sharpening.

(al-Taqāṭ) of some scientific thoughts in the condoning (al-Taghāḍī) on the positions of

 

weakness (nuqaṭ al-Ḍu‘f), for the leaving [of this condoning] (al-Khurūj) through constituent result (bi natījah mu’assisah) on evidence (al-’Adilah) and conductive indications (al-Qarā’īn al-Muwaṣṣilah) towards the rational correct expression, by Allah’s authority.

And for necessary clarification (li ḍarūrah tajliyah) of the aspect of the rational correct (wajh al-Ṣawāb) in this important issue from the issues of the noble Prophetic biography and the reported tradition so this research supported through evidence in the history of the birth of honorable ‘Ā’īsha (rA‘), and estimation of her age (miqdār ‘umrahā) at the time the marriage-contract [was placed] upon her from the Messenger of God (ṣA‘ws) and her age at the time of her wedding. And in this [there are] two said issues:

 

The first saying is well known (al-Mashūr): Is that he marriage-contracted her and she was a girl of six years and he married her and she was a girl of nine. They take through what is established on it from her saying in ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and others, which means that she’s born after the Prophetic mission (ba‘ada al-Ba‘thah al-Nabawiyah)39 by four years.

 

The second saying: Is that he marriage-contracted her and she was a girl of fourteen years and he married her and she was a girl of eighteen years, which means that she was born before (qabla) the mission by four years.

 

The evidence of the first saying: 

Al-Bukhārī, Muslim, and others reported from Ṭariq on Hishām bin ‘Arwah on his father on ‘Ā’īsha that the Prophet (ṣA‘ws) married her and she was a girl of six years, and he consummated with her and she was a girl of nine years. And Muslim’s transmission is from Ṭarīq Mu‘ammar on al-Zuhrī on ‘Arwah on ‘Ā’īsha

 

And Ibn Ḥanbal and Muslim’s transmission is from Ṭarīq al-’Aswad bin Yazīd al-Nakha‘ī on ‘Ā’īsha. And the wording “he married her (tazawwajahā)” 40 is intended with the meaning of marriage-contract (al-‘Aqd), and this is the objective (al-Maqṣūd) here.

And the Ḥadīth it’s transmission chain (sanad) is ṣaḥīḥ. And it’s certainly incorrect (’akhṭā’) as an opinion (ẓann) that Hishām bin ‘Arwah is isolated (tafarrada) in its transmission and that it is from his imagination (’awhāmahu).41

 

The evidence of the second saying: 

1 – ‘Ā’īsha is younger than her sister ’Asmā’ (rA‘) with 10 years, and ‘Asmā’ was born before the Hijrah by twenty-seven years, meaning before the Prophet mission by fourteen years, and this means that ‘Ā’īsha was born before the Hijrah by four years.

Ibn ‘Asākir reported in the “Tārīkh Damashqi” through its sanad on ibn ’Abī al-Zanād that he said: ”’Asmā’ the daughter of ’Abū Bakr was older than ‘Ā’īsha by ten years.“42

And ’Abū Na‘īm said in the “Ma‘rifah al-Ṣaḥābah” in the biography (tarjamah) of ’Asmā’:” She was born before the history 43 by twenty-seven years, and she died seventy-three years later in Makkah after her son killed ‘Abd Allah bin al-Zubayr in [those] days, and she was a hundred years.“44 And [that] which confirms this report in the knowing the year of birth of ’Asmā’ is what ’Abū Na‘īm reported such about her that she said: ”I saw Zayd bin ‘Amrū bin Nafīl and supporting himself on the wall of the Ka‘abah, he said: Oh community of Quraysh, none of you today is on the religion of Abraham other than I.“ 45 Zayd had passed away and the Quraysh was building the Ka‘abah before He [God] send down a revelation on the Messenger of God by five years. Such was reported by Ibn Sa‘ad in the “al-Ṭabaqāt” on Sa‘yd bin al-Musayb 46, meaning [this] was before the Hijrah by eighteen years, thus her age was nine years [when] she heard this as that time.

 

And this is logical (ma‘aqūl), because anyone recollecting what was heard from him (yaḍbuṭ mithl hadhā al-Samā‘ minhu) cannot be anything other than predominantly nine (tisa‘a fī al-Ghālib). And ibn al-’Athīr in the “’Asad al-Ghābah”: ’Abū Na‘īm said: ”She was born before history by twenty-seven years.“47 And ibn ‘Abd al-Birr said in “al-istī‘āb”: ”And ’Asmā’ passed away in Makkah in Jumādī al-’Awwalā year seventy-three [after Hijrah], and at her death, she had reached a hundred years.“48

 

2 – Al-Bukhārī reported on ‘Ā’īsha (rA‘) that she said: ”Indeed He sent in Makkah on Muḥammad (ṣA‘ws), while I proceeded to play (li-jāriyah ’ala‘abu), {But surely the Hour is their appointed time, and the Hour is calamitous and bitter} 49, and what was sent down of chapter al-Baqarah and al-Nisā’ except what was already with him.“ 50

 

Al-Qurṭubī says in his commentary (tafsīr): Ibn ‘Abbās said: ”Between the sending down of this verse and between [the battle of] Badr were 7 years“51. And when it is as such, this means that it was sent down before the Hijrah by five years and after the [Prophetic] mission by eight.

And ibn Sayd said in the “al-Muḥkām” and ibn Manẓūr in ” 52 Lisān al-‘Arab”53: ”al-Jāriyah: The youthful from the women (al-Fatiyyah min al-Nisā’).“ And al-Fatiyyah is the juvenile woman (al-Shābbah). And they applied (yuṭaliqūn….‘alā) the word “al-Jāriyah” for the girl in her adolescence (fatā’īhā) and juvenileness (shabābahā) until the appearance of coming and  going [of her menstrual period].54

 

So how much is the age of ‘Ā’īsha with the sending down of the Exalted His saying {But surely the Hour is their appointed time, and the Hour is calamitous and bitter} which was sent down after the [Prophetic] mission by eight years?!

Concerning the first saying her age is four years and a girl of four isn’t called jāriyah as the first saying outlines. As for the second saying, her age is placed with the sending down of the verse estimating (thantī) ten years and thus is harmonious (al-Mansajim) with the meaning of al-Jāriyah.

 

3 – al-Bukhārī transmitted on ‘Ā’īsha (rA‘) that she said: ”I didn’t understand my parents except that they professed the religion [of Islam], and no day would pass except with the visit of the messenger of God (ṣA‘ws) at the morning daylight and night. So when the Muslims were tested [by being persecuted] Abū Bakr went out-migrating towards Ethiopia, and when he reached al-Ghimād early he was met by Ibn al-Daghnah…” [till the end of the] tradition.

The aspect of interference from this narration are two issues:

 

First of the two is that a child cannot know the custom (al-‘Āddah) professed by the majority of the people from its religious conversion and its religiosity (tadayyun) and its condition (aldīhu) by the religion of others at four years, and if ‘Ā’īsha was born four years after the [Prophetic] mission, and her first awareness (‘ayahā) of her surroundings in the 8th year [of the Prophetic mission] then her statement “I didn’t understand my parents except that they professed the religion [of Islam]” is a result without use; because Abū Bakr was known to have been one of the earliest converts to Islam, and [his wife] ’Umm Rūmān became Muslim in Mecca in early times, as Ibn Sa‘ad said.

However if she was born before the mission by four years, and her first awareness of her surroundings in the first year of the mission, that statement is useful. And is that – it explains she begins to become aware of her surroundings – she sees the condition of both of them professing the religion of Islam, and not only one condition.

 

And this proves that she was born before the mission with approximately four years, and this is proven in other evidence.

Second, of the two is that her statement ”So when the Muslims were tested [by being persecuted] Abū Bakr went out-migrating towards Ethiopia“ is a turning point (Ma‘ṭūfā) on her realization of her parents and they two professed the religion is so candid in that when she was was aware to this event (al-Ḥuduth) and the departure of the companions from Mecca for the migration to Ethiopia was in the middle of the fifth year from the mission and their migration second for her in the last of the fifth or beginning of the sixth.

 

And if ‘Ā’īsha was born four years after the mission it was possible for her to be aware of that event in the beginning of the sixth year, and because she was born before the mission with four years, thus this means the possibility of her awareness for that with clarity (bi-wuḍūḥ).

4 – Muḥammad bin ’isḥāq said in the Prophetic biography in mentioning ’Asmā’ as one of the first who became Muslim: ”Then people from the Arab tribes submitted, from them Sa‘īd bin Zayd bin ‘Amr bin Nafīl and his wife Faṭimah bint al-Khaṭāb, and ’Asmā’ bint Abū Bakr, and ‘Ā’īsha bint Abū Bakr and she was young (ṣaghīrah)….then Allah the Exalted commanded His Messenger (ṣA‘ws) that he proclaim (yaṣda‘) with what came with him. And that he announces through His command to mankind, and call towards Allah the Exalted, and maybe he concealed something and hide through it that command with its appearance, so it was broadcasted years after the mission, then God the Exalted said {So proclaim what you have been commanded, and turn away from the idolaters}.55

 

And Ibn Kathīr transmitted some of this text with the meaning as said: ”Ibn ’isḥāq said: Then Allah commanded His Messenger (ṣA‘ws) after three years after the mission through that he proclaimed with what he was commanded, and that he endured on whom are idolaters.“56 And Ibn ’isḥāq’s statement means here that ‘Ā’īsha became Muslim during the time of the secret call [to Islam] (fitrah al-Da‘wah al-Siriyah) after the mission, and that she was young, and if that fitrah time period was 3 years, ‘Ā’īsha may have been brought in to some of the gatherings of the Muslims at the end of the fitrah.

 

And on the statement that she was born after the mission by four years, this cannot be right in principle because she wasn’t born after.

In regards to the second statement, her age would be six years or seven. Perhaps ibn ’isḥāq mentioned her as being amongst the first Muslims in spite of her young years as a respect for her father Abū Bakr (RA‘) and consisted the turning point (Ma‘ṭūfah)57 of her sister ’Asmā’ who was older than her by ten years.

5 – al-Ṭabarī says in his “Tārīkh”: ”Abū Bakr married in the pre-Islamic times (al-Jāhiliyah) Qutīlah ibnah ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā and she fathered for him ‘Abd Allah and ’Asmā’, and he also married in the pre-Islamic times ’Umm Rūmān bint ‘Amir and she fathered for him ‘Abd al-Raḥman and ‘Ā’īsha, so all these four children were born from his two wives whom their [marriage] oaths were taken in the pre-Islamic times.“58 So these historical texts are candidly obvious in that ‘Ā’īsha (rA‘) was born before the Prophetic mission.

 

6 – Ibn Abī ‘Āṣam transmitted in the first and second, and al-Ṭabarānī in the “al-Mu‘jam al-Kabīr” and al-Ḥākim in the “al-Mustadarak” on ‘Ā’īsha (rA‘) that Khawlah bint Ḥākim, the wive of ‘Uthmān bin Muẓa‘ūn (rA‘), said in Mecca to the messenger of God (ṣA‘ws): ”In other words, the messenger of God desists from marrying? He said: And who [do you suggest]? She said: Do you want a young woman (bakrā) or an old woman (thayibā)? He said: So who is the young woman? She said: The daughter of the most beloved of Allah’s creation to you, ‘Ā’īsha bint Abī Bakr. And he said: Who is the older woman? She said: Sawdah bint Zama‘ah. He said: So go and mention me to both of them.“59

 

 

The context (al-Siyāq) proves that Khawlah (rA‘) wanted to speak to the messenger of Allah (ṣA‘ws) after the passing of the honorable Khadijah, because from that moment he had no wife, and in the purpose (Ghāyah) is improbable that she speaks to him in this case about her who is of the age of six years!! However when she is a girl of fourteen years then this is reasonable (ma‘qūl), and seems that this is correct (al-Ṣaḥīḥ).

 

– And there is no doubt that together these proofs and external indications on the statement in that the Prophet (ṣA‘ws) married ‘Ā’īsha and her age being eighteen years is proven by strong proof that this is correct.

 

And in regards to what is established about ‘Ā’īsha from that the messenger of God married her and she was of nine years, and it is unavoidable that this is an error (wahmā). And she (rA‘) lived – [based] on the deciding statement here – seventy-five years. So perhaps she was afflicted (’aṣābahā) by forgetfulness (al-Nisayān) in this matter, thus its narration is erroneous (al- awahhum).60 And the error of the narrated statement (tawahhīm al-Qawl al-Murawī) about ‘Ā’īsha (rA‘) doesn’t escape it, and that from the gathered evidence and indications which presents its conflict (khilāfahi).

 

The summary of the research:

 

Based on the gathering of evidence and indications that the honorable ‘Ā’īsha (rA‘) was born before the mission by four years, and she was marriage-contracted (‘aqada ‘alayhā) by the messenger of Allah (ṣA‘ws) in the tenth year of the mission and her age was fourteen years, before the Hijrah by three years. And married her at the end of the first year after the Hijrah and her age were eighteen years.

 

The mentioned tradition in specifying the age of ‘Ā’īsha by six years on the day of the marriage-contracting and nine years on the day of marriage are authentic in the chain of transmission (ṣaḥīḥ al-’isnād), however, it conflicts with the researched texts and historical indications. Thus it is defective (ma‘lūl) because it is from those that are erroneous (al-’Awhām).

 

The imams (rA) stated that the narration when its contents (matn) conflicts with what is stronger evidence from reliable history, it is thus rejected (yuradd), because it is proven that it is in some way unsound (al-Khalal) through an occurring cause of the error (al-Wahm) in the single narration.

 

And Allah knows best.

And praise is to Allah, Lord of the worlds.

 

References:

19 See a discussion on this in Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy (London: Oneworld, 2014), 145-148. Early 20th century Orientalist writing caused some discussions on this among higher classes and some intellectuals in Egypt, but it is the post-1990 era when this discussion seemed to have returned in Arabic, in far more Arab countries among the larger population, and by scholars trained in Islamic sciences.

20 See for example a lecture by the well-known preacher Dr. Adnan Ibrahim: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8Nz2LpiYVs (accessed on 26-01-2015).

21 Personal communication from his students at these universities.

22 http://www.salahsafa.blogspot.com

23 Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-’idlibī, ‘Aqā’īd al-’Āshā‘irah fī Ḥiwār hādī ma‘ Shubhāt al-Munāwi’īn (Cairo: Dār al-Salām, 2010).

24 Safar ibn ‘Abd Raḥmān al-Ḥawālī, Minhaj al-’Āshā‘irah fī al-‘Aqīdah (Riyadh: Dār al-Taybāt al-Kudharā, n.dt.).

25 Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-‘idlibī, Minhaj Naqd al-Matn ‘inda ‘ulamā’ al-Ḥadīth al-Nabuwī (Beirut: Dār al-’Afaq al-Jadīdah, 1983).

26 For example, a famous tradition transmitted by Abū Hurayrah claims that the prayer is nullified when a donkey, dog or woman passes in front of the praying men, ‘Ā’īsha scolded Abū Hurayrah for this. Another famous saying by her is that “anyone claiming Muḥammad saw Allah is lying, as God cannot be seen by human eyes”, whereby she refuted the still dominant belief that Muḥammad’s night journey to heaven was in a bodily form.

27 Wael B. Hallaq, “The Authenticity of Prophetic Ḥadîth: A Pseudo-Problem”, Studia Islamica, No. 89 (1999), 75-90.

28 A Mutawātir is a Ḥadīth or saying (khabar) which is transmitted in every stage of the stages of the sanad by multiple transmitters (general agreed-upon requirement is 10 transmitters), whereby it can be rationally be concluded that these transmitters could not have agreed upon a fabrication (’ikhtilāq). A Mutawātir provides necessary knowledge (al-‘ilm al-Ḍarūriyya). Any ṣaḥīḥ tradition that doesn’t confirm to these criteria, but has an authentic isnād, is of the status of Aḥād (singular transmission) only provides conditional knowledge (al-‘ilm al-Mutawaqqif), which needs further investigation. Maḥmūd al-Ṭaḥḥān,Taysīr Muṣṭalaḥ al-Ḥadīth (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘ārif li-lNushr wa al-Tawzī‘a, 1425 AH), 23-25, 27.

29 al-’idlibī, ibid, 33.

30 For the difference between’usūlī and ’athārī methodology, see Hallaq, ibid, 79-85. For a classical ’usūlī exposition, see Abū Ishāq al-Shāṭibī, al-Muwāfiqāt fī ’usūl al-Sharī‘ah (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, n.dt.), 4:3-21.

31 Jonathan A.C. Brown, Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Oxford: Oneworld, 2009), 262.

32 Brown, ibid, 263. See the first two chapters in al-Ghazālī’s The Sunna of the Prophet between the People of the Fiqh and the People of the Ḥadīth (al-Sunnah al-Nubuwiyyahbayna ʾAhl al-Fiqh wa ʾAhl al-Ḥadīth) (translated by Aisha Bewley, Istanbul: Dar al-Taqwa,2009).

33 See footnote 19 above. Brown also points out that other known ‘Late Sunni Traditionalist’ scholars as ‘Alī Goma‘a also have written arguments against the Aisha-age-traditions, I hope to compare these in later writing.

34 http://shanfaraa.com/2013/07/salah-al-din-al-idlibi-on-the-age-of-aisha-r-when-shemarried-the-prophet-s/ (accessed on 10-09-2014). I thank prof. Fadel for his kind encouragement to translate and analyze al-’idlibī’s essay. The Arabic essay is added as Appendix I.

35 I have transliterated important words between brackets (), my additions to the text to amplify readability between [], and I stay as close to the Arabic sentence structures as possible by retaining the long sentences as much as possible. al-’idlibī refers to several sources without precise references (he doesn’t use footnotes in this essay), when I could trace the exact citations in the mentioned works I have added them in footnotes. I have added dates of death of the mentioned historians to show the period they were working in (which was mostly centuries after the compilers of Ḥadīth).

36 Translation of ṣalā Allah ‘alayhi wa salam, in the rest of the translation abbreviated as: (ṣA‘ws)

37 The contracting of marriage refers to the agreement between the guardians and/or prospected spouses on the wish to get married and on the amount of dowry. The root-word ‘aqada literally means making a knot (thus the English expression on marriage as “tying the knot” comes very close) and is used for contracts, agreements etc. It can be used to refer to the contracting of the marriage and the existing marriage itself as a form of contract. In classical Sharī‘ah constructs, betrothal (khiṭbah), contracting the marriage (‘aqd), and consummating it are separate acts whereby the first is an unofficial agreement between parties, the second an officializing agreement between parties with a dowry, while the latter is generally when the female is deemed physically ready. [al-Zuḥaylī, ibid, 7:23-26, 43-65. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad, 143]

38 Translation of raḍī Allah ‘anhā, in the rest of the translation abbreviated as: (rA‘)

39 Throughout most of the essay, al-’idlibī uses only al-Ba‘ath, the mission, to refer to the advent of the Prophetic mission. Although I will sometimes add ‘prophetic’ between brackets, I mostly just translate it literally with ‘the mission’, but it is best read as ‘advent to the Prophetic mission’. It is generally accepted that the Prophet received his first revelation in 610 CE, thirteen years before the Hijrah.

40 See footnote 3 above.

41 Here al-’idlibī dismisses the attempts by some apologists to try to find a weakness in the transmission chains of the Aisha-age-traditions to discredit them. See footnote 18 above.

42 Abū al-Qāsim ibn al-‘Asākir (d. 571 AH), Tārīkh Damashqi (Dār al-Fikr al-Ṭabā‘h wa al-Nushr wa al-Tawziya‘, 1995), 69:8. The isnād is not graded, thus its authenticity compared to the Aisha-age-traditions is unknown.

43 The history here means the Hijrah in 623 CE, when the Meccan Muslims migrated to Medina, which soon after was turned into the starting point of the Islamic calendar, and thus, history.

44 Abū Na‘īm al-’Aṣbihānī (d. 430 AH), Ma‘rifah al-Ṣaḥābah (Riyadh: Dār al-Waṭan li-lNushr, 1998), 6:3253. See also ibn al-‘Asākir, ibid, 69:9. Again the isnād is not graded, thus its authenticity compared to the Aisha-age-traditions is unknown.

45 al-Aṣbihānī, ibid, tradition 2843, 3:1134. Ungraded isnād.

46 ibn Sa‘ad (d. 230 AH), al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1990), 3:291. Ungraded isnād.

47 ‘Azz al-Dīn ibn al-’Athīr (d. 630 AH), ’Asad al-Ghābah fī Ma‘rifah al-Ṣaḥābah (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1994), tradition 6705, 7:7. Ungraded isnād.

48 ibn ‘Abd al-Birr (d. 463 AH), al-istī‘āb fī Ma‘rifah al-Ṣaḥābah (Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 1992), tradition 6705, 7:7. Ungraded isnād. See also in al-‘Asākir, ibid, 69:8.

49 Qur’ān 54:46.

50 al-‘Asqalānī, ibid, 7:290. Isnād graded ṣaḥīḥ.

51 Shams al-Dīn al-Qurṭubī, Jāma‘a al-Aḥkām al-Qur’ān (Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Miṣriyah, 1964), 17:146. Ungraded isnād. The battle of Badr occurred in 2 AH (624 CE).

52 Bin Sayd al-Mursī, al-Muḥkām wa al-Muḥīṭ al-‘Aẓim (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 2000), 7:625-626 (under the heading al-Shīn wa al-Bā’, the root of al-Jāriyah is jarā).

53 ibn Manẓūr al-’Anṣārī, Lisān al-‘Arab (Beirut: Dār Ṣādr, 1414 AH), 7:81.

54 I interfere that it refers to the coming and going of her menstrual period, although by my knowledge it is unusual to use it for such.

55 Qur’ān 15:94

56 Ibn Kathīr al-Damashqī (d. 774 AH), al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyah (min al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah li-ibn Kathīr) (Beirut: Dār al-Ma‘rifah li-lṬabā‘h wa al-Nushr wa al-Tawzī‘, 1976), 1:454. Ungraded isnād.

57 Meaning here the conversion of ’Asmā’.

58 Ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (d. 310 AH), Tārīkh al-Rusul wa al-Mulūk (Beirut: Dār al-Turāth, 1387

AH), 3:425-426. Ungraded isnād.

59 Abū al-Qāsim al-Ṭabarānī, al-Mu‘jam al-Kabīr (Cairo: Maktabah ibn Taymiyah, 1994),

23:23. Nu‘īm bin al-Ḥākim al-Naysābūrī, al-Mustadarak ‘alā al-Ṣaḥīḥayn (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyah, 1999), tradition 2704, 2:181. Isnād graded ṣaḥīḥ.

60 Wahm is a technical indication within the classical Ḥadith sciences: ”When an error (wahm) is discovered through external indications (al-Qarā’īn) and the gathered the paths [of transmission], then it is defective (al-Mu‘allal)“, al-‘Asqalānī, Nukhbah al-Fikr fī Muṣṭalaḥ Ahl al-Athār (Cairo: Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1997), 8.

Dr. Shaykh al-Din al-idilibi (May Allah continue to benefit many by him)

 

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