WAS AYESHA REALLY A CHILD BRIDE? - MARRIAGEABLE AGE FROM THE QURAN
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There is absolutely no mention of Ayesha in the Quran. In fact, there is no mention of the name of any wife of the Prophet or any of the Prophet's companions or contemporaries in the Quran.
The only exception is the name of Zayd (33:37 - Prophet's adopted son) which has been mentioned in the specific matter of marriage and to underscore the point that elective / adoptive relationships cannot replace blood relationships and should not be viewed as such. The other exception is the mention of Abu Lahab (111.1) which merely translates as ‘Father of Flame’. Whether this is a generic reference to a 'type' of personality and those that assist them or an actual personality is open to debate.
All other information is found firmly within the Islamic secondary sources and not the Quran.
(Please see related article  below).
WHAT GUIDANCE DOES THE QURAN GIVE WITH
REGARDS TO MARRIAGEABLE AGE?
“Test (trial) the orphans (Arabic: wa-ibtalu l-yatama) until they reach the age of marriage (Arabic: balaghu l-nikaha); if you then find sound judgment in them, release their property to them; but consume it not wastefully, nor in haste against their growing up. If the guardian is well-off, let him claim no remuneration, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable. When you release their property to them, take witnesses in their presence (Arabic: Fa-ashiddu alayhim) : But all-sufficient is God in taking account.”
There is no mention of children in these verses, To the contrary, in order to reach marriageable age, it is clear that one must be of sound judgment, maturity and certainly old enough that their wealth and property can be fully entrusted to them. The mention of witnesses in their presence clearly implies a discharge of responsibility and contractual in nature. There is no indication that any of these can be accomplished with a child.
Whilst verse 4:6 clearly twins 'marriageable age' with the ability to entrust orphans with their wealth / property, another verse 6:152, clearly instructs believers not to come close to the orphan's wealth until they are 'ashudd', implying physical maturity, full strength or to be in a state where one is fully grown. Thus keeping both verses 4:6 and 6:152 in view, attaining full physical strength also becomes a precursor to discerning marriageable age.
"And do not go near to the wealth / property of the orphans except with that which is best until he reaches his maturity / his full strength (Arabic: Ashuddahu)..."
The Arabic term 'Ashudd' indicates mainstream physical maturity or full strength. For example, in verse 12:19 one notes that Prophet Joseph (pbuh) was taken as a mere boy (ghulamun) and later in verses 12:22-23 we are informed was old enough to be seduced after reaching 'ashudd' (physical maturity / full strength).
Other verses such as 18:82 also separate the term ‘ghulamayni’ (two boys) with 'ashudd' (physical maturity) indicating older age. Verses of the Quran such as verse 46:15 also indicate 'ashudd' to imply full physical maturity and strength.
Such a rendition of the term 'ashudd' to imply physical maturity and strength is also resonated in classical sources.
Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon
Therefore, both physical maturity and mental maturity are imperative in discerning marriageable age.
A SOLEMN COVENANT (MEETHAQAN GALEZAAN)
It is clear from the following verse of the Quran, that a ‘Solemn covenant’ is a pre-requisite for marriage and has to be entered into by both parties.
“And how could ye take it when you have gone in to each other, and they have taken from you a solemn covenant (Arabic: Meethaqan Galezaan)?"
Illustration - Joseph Islam
Let us note how the Quran makes use of the term 'Meethaqan Galezaan' (Solemn Covenant) elsewhere in the scripture to understand its nature and true significance.
THE SOLEMN COVENANT GOD TOOK WITH THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WITH REGARDS THE SABBATH
“And for their covenant we raised over them the mount; and (on another occasion) we said: "Enter the gate with humility"; and (once again) we commanded them: "Transgress not in the matter of the Sabbath." And we took from them a solemn covenant (Arabic: Meethaqan Galezaan)”
Illustration - Joseph Islam
THE SOLEMN COVENANT GOD TOOK WITH ALL HIS PROPHETS
“And remember We took from the prophets their covenant: As (We did) from thee: from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary: We took from them a solemn covenant (Arabic: Meethaqan Galezaan)”
Illustration - Joseph Islam
Can a child really enter into such an important covenant described by the Quran as a 'Meethaqan Galezaan' ?
It is clear from the guidance given by the Quran and the significance of the nature of the 'solemn covenant' being described that marriage is a very powerful and important institution.
This contract of marriage can only be entered into by an individual of sound mind, judgement, free thought, physical maturity and one that completely understands the nature of the contract and its implications. This would certainly not be a child.
The question remains, would a Prophet of God go against the very revelations that were given to him? Or are the narrations found in the Islamic secondary sources falsely or incorrectly attributed?
(1) Where Do We Learn About Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) Wives?
(2) Does Verse 65:4 Provide Consent to Consummate a Marriage with Female Minors?
(3) Nikaah - The Contract of Marriage
Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.
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