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 How does the Qur’an define ‘marriageable age

There are several Hadith reports that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) married his third wife Ayesha when she was 6 year old and consummated her marriage when she was 9.& If this is true, then it must be consistent with the Qur’an that tells us that Prophet Muhammad himself followed the Qur’an before he asked others to follow it.& The Qur’an does not assign a definite number to the age at which a man or a woman becomes ‘adult’ or ready to marry.& However, there is a clear definition of the marriageable age as per 4:6:

[an-Nisa` 4:6] Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgment in them, release their property to them;

This verse is taking about two concepts here: First, the trustee of a property should first test the ability of the grown up orphan to see if he or she is capable of managing his or her own affairs well.& Second, the Qur’an provides guidelines for the trustee as to the time at which the property of the orphans is to be handed over--it is the time when the orphan has attained adulthood or marriageable age and that he or she has attained a good degree of mental maturity.& In this way, the Qur’an gives a clear definition of adulthood or marriageable age as one when a man or a woman has attained a good measure of mental maturity.& This should raise the question:& Does a 6- or 9-year old have that level or quality of sound judgment?& The answer is a resounding NO.& If the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) married a 6 year old girl (and consummated her marriage at age 9 as reported), one wonders if he actually followed the Qur’anic guidelines regarding this issue.& Please recall that the Qur’an states that Muhammad (pbuh) is a model for all mankind and the Qur’an stand witness to the fact that he himself followed the Qur’an in its entirety while urging his devout companions to do the same.

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The Qur’anic guidelines as described clearly in 4:6 tell us that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) could not have married a young girl of age 6 or 9.& There are other verses where the marriage bond has been described as “solemn covenant/solid contract---Meethaqan ghaleezan” (4:21).& It is mighty revealing to me that in 4:21 the same phrase “meethaqan ghaleezan” has been used for husband-wife relationship as for the covenant that Allah took from all the prophets including our own prophet (33:7).& Not only that, the same expression was also used when Allah took covenant from the Jews not to violate the Sabbath (4:154).& Thus, according to the Qur`an `tying the knot` is going for a "Meethaqan Ghaleezan" (a solemn covenant of mutual trust and faithfulness for each other).& This a relationship of marriage that, when developed and nourished in time, gives rise to true love, tranquility and mutual feelings of caring (30:21) between us, to the point that our offspring become soothing comfort of our eyes (25:74).

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As far as the author of this article is concerned, these verses should suffice and bury the issue of the age of Sayyida Ayesha’s marriage with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) for good.& In sum, Ayesha (r.a) could not have been 6 years of age because:

1-She could not have been an adult woman capable of making her own sound decisions, and,
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2-She could not have entered into a ‘solemn covenant’ at the age of 6 with a 55-year old man.& This defies all reasons for a productive and meaningful union.
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3-The Prophet, according to the Qur’an, is a model for all humanity.& The Qur’an tells us that he was at the highest moral pedestal.& Even if child marriages were not uncommon in his day and age, he could not have gone for it because it went against the Qur’anic injunctions of 4:6 and 4:21.

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Nonetheless, since the charge of pedophilia by Rev. Vines rested solely on some Hadith reports and not on any of the Qur’anic verses, the attention is now turned to those Hadith accounts as well as other observations related to Sayyida Ayesha’s age, and their in-depth analysis.