Regarding the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with Ayesha (r.a), let us first analyze why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married Ayesha (r.a). It’s mentioned in Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Hadith.No.15, Narrated 'Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her: The Messenger of Allah said (to me):
"You have been shown to me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, 'This is your wife.' I uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself, 'If this dream is from God, He will cause it to come true.”
Now let us see, what is the age at which a girl can get married? Historically, the age at which a girl was considered ready to be married has been puberty. This was the case in Biblical times and is still used to determine the age of marriage in what the culturally arrogant West calls "primitive societies" throughout the world. As the Ahadith about ‘Ayesha's’ (r.a) age show, her betrothal took place at least three years before the consummation of the marriage. The reason for this was that they were waiting for her to come of age (i.e. to have her first menstrual period). Puberty is a biological sign which shows that a woman is capable of bearing children. Can anyone logically deny this?
Gerald Segal says in the book The Jew & the Christian Missionary, Ktav Publishing House, 1981, page 28. "It should be noted, however, that in biblical times females married at an early age". Another contemporary reference relating to puberty is an article on Central Africa , in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica 15th Edition (1987), Volume 15, page 646, says: ". . . women marry soon after puberty."
Due to the way that Almighty God has created man and woman, i.e. with strong sexual desires, people should marry young. In the past, this was even truer since life expectancy was very low (i.e. you were considered "old" if you made it to 40!). Not only does marriage provide a legal outlet for people with strong sexual desires, but it usually produces more children.
One of the main purposes of marriage is to produce children—This was especially important in the past, when people did not live for as long as they do now and the infant morality rate was much higher.
When the consummation of marriage took place there is nothing to doubt regarding the puberty of Ayesha (R.A), because scientifically we know that in certain geographical locations females attain maturity earlier.
However, in regards to puberty and at what age most girls have their first , the well-known authors of the book “Woman” says "The average temperature of the country or province is considered the chief factor here, not only with regard to menstruation but as regards the whole of sexual development at puberty.”
(Herman H. Ploss, Max Bartels and Paul Bartels, Woman, Volume I, Lord & Bransby, 1988, page 563.)
An article entitled Puberty in Girls by an Australian government Public Health organization, says: "The first sign of puberty is usually a surge of growth: you become taller; your breasts develop; hair begins to grow in the pubic area and under the arms. This may start from 10 years to 14 years - even earlier for some and later for others."
Additionally an article Physical Changes in Girls during Puberty has this to say:
"During puberty, a girl's body changes, inside and out, into the body of a woman. The changes don't come all at once, and they don't happen at the same time for everybody. Most girls start showing physical changes around age 11, but everyone has her own internal schedule for development. It's normal for changes to start as early as 8 or 9 years of age, or not until 13 or 14. Even if nothing looks or feels different yet, the changes may have already begun inside your body."
Many will readily agree with the information above, but still may harbour reservations about whether a marriage to an older man could be happy for such a young girl. We would like to ask, what is the age difference between husband and wife commanded in any religion? Let this be known from the person who is objecting Ayesha’s (r.a) age at the time of marriage. The fact is that no religion requires its followers to maintain a particular age difference between husband and wife. Islam does not command to maintain a particular age difference, but it surely indicates that it should be marriageable age, which indicates puberty (sexual maturity).
Happy marriages occur between people with a fairly large difference in ages is known among psychologists. A well know Psychologists, Theodor H. Vandevelde, says in the book, Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology & Technique, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1980, p. 243. "When the differences (in ages) is great, e.g. exceeds fifteen to twenty years, the results may be happier. The marriage of an elderly (senescent) not, of course, an old (senile) man to a quite young girl, is often very successful and harmonious. The bride is immediately introduced and accustomed to moderate sexual intercourse"
Moreover marriage is a mutual agreement, especially between the wife & the husband before and after marriage takes place and it is agreed upon between the two concerned families before the marriage. Further there is nothing wrong by any standard of theology and science.
Some might have viewed the marriage of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Ayesha (ra) as an exceptional marriage, but then the two partners were exceptional people. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last of the Prophets and the best of creation; and Ayesha (ra) was a very intelligent and observant young girl with a very good memory. Ayesha (ra) spent the next nine years of her life with the Prophet (peace be upon him), and she grew into womanhood, she remembered all that she saw and heard with great clarity, for to be the wife of the Prophet was even more than extraordinary. So much happened around him - the continued to be revealed, verse by verse, and people's hearts were constantly being turned over and transformed, including hers and she was a witness of so much of all that took place. It is not surprising, therefore, that a great deal of the knowledge that we still have today, about how our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) lived and behaved, was first remembered and then taught to others by Ayesha (ra). It is thanks to this exceptional marriage, between a man nearing the end of his life and a woman still near the beginning of hers that we know so much about both of them, and this is what makes it so much easier for those who wish to follow in their footsteps to try and follow their example.
May Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) shower His Choicest Blessings on the entire Muslim Ummah and help us in our mission of bearing witness to the truth of Islam before all mankind. Aameen
Dr. SHUAIB SAYYED (IRF)
Dr. SHUAIB SAYYED (IRF)