According to the academic Kecia Ali: Sadly, in many countries, the imperatives motivating the marriage of young girls are typically economic. What's more, Aisha had already been engaged to someone else before she married Muhammad, suggesting she had already been mature enough by the standards of her society to consider marriage for a while. To paint Aisha as a victim is completely at odds with her persona. Those who manipulate her story to justify the abuse of young girls, and those who manipulate it in order to depict Islam as a religion that legitimises such abuse have more in common than they think.
This portrayal ignored the fact that before his marriage to Aisha, Muhammad had been married to Khadija, a powerful businesswoman 15 years his senior, for 25 years. In addition, some modern Muslim scholars have more recently cast doubt on the veracity of the saying, or hadith, used to assert Aisha's young age. Although most Muslims would not consider marrying off their nine-year-old daughters, those who accept this saying argue that since the Qur'an states that marriage is void unless entered into by consenting adults, Aisha must have entered puberty early. A stateswoman, scholar, mufti, and judge, Aisha combined spirituality, activism and knowledge and remains a role model for many Muslim women today. Taking all known accounts and records of Aisha's age at marriage, estimates of her age range from nine to This idea dates back to the crusades. They point out that, in seventh-century Arabia, adulthood was defined as the onset of puberty. This has been corrected. Insights into their relationship, such as the fact they liked to drink out of the same cup or race one another, are indicative of a deep connection which belies any misrepresentation of their relationship. What we do know is what the Qur'an says about marriage: Those who manipulate her story to justify the abuse of young girls, and those who manipulate it in order to depict Islam as a religion that legitimises such abuse have more in common than they think. The stridency of those who lend credence to these literalist interpretations by concurring with their warped view of Islam does not help those Muslims who seek to challenge these aberrations. In a society without a birth registry and where people did not celebrate birthdays, most people estimated their own age and that of others. Aisha's union would also have cemented Muhammad's longstanding friendship with her father, Abu Bakr. When she died, he was devastated and friends encouraged him to remarry. What the records are clear on is that Muhammad and Aisha had a loving and egalitarian relationship, which set the standard for reciprocity, tenderness and respect enjoined by the Qur'an. The gulf between her true legacy and her depiction in Islamophobic materials is not merely historically inaccurate, it is an insult to the memory of a pioneering woman. As was the tradition in Arabia and still is in some parts of the world today , marriage typically served a social and political function — a way of uniting tribes, resolving feuds, caring for widows and orphans, and generally strengthening bonds in a highly unstable and changing political environment. What's more, Aisha had already been engaged to someone else before she married Muhammad, suggesting she had already been mature enough by the standards of her society to consider marriage for a while. Critics allege that Aisha was just six years old when she was betrothed to Muhammad, himself in his 50s, and only nine when the marriage was consummated. Aisha would have been no different. To consider the marriages of the prophet outside of these calculations is profoundly ahistorical. It seems difficult to reconcile this with her being six. She was certainly no wallflower. Sadly, in many countries, the imperatives motivating the marriage of young girls are typically economic. They base this on a saying attributed to Aisha herself Sahih Bukhari volume 5, book 58, number , and the debate on this issue is further complicated by the fact that some Muslims believe this to be a historically accurate account. Other Muslims doubt the very idea that Aisha was six at the time of marriage, referring to historians who have questioned the reliability of Aisha's age as given in the saying.
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