A historical view of polygamy and Islam’s position


by Mary Ali


Polygamy has been practiced by mankind for thousands of years. Many of the ancient Israelites were polygamous, some having hundreds of wives. King Solomon(S) is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. David(S) (Dawood) had ninety-nine and Jacob(S) (Yaqub) had four. Advice given by some Jewish wise men state that no man should marry more than four wives.


No early society put any restrictions on the number of wives or put any conditions about how they were to be treated. Jesus was not known to have spoken against polygamy. As recent as the 17th century, polygamy was practiced and accepted by the Christian Church. The Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) have allowed and practiced polygamy in the United States.


Monogamy was introduced into Christianity at the time of Paul when many revisions took place in Christianity. This was done in order for the church to conform to the Greco-Roman culture where men were monogamous but owned many slaves who were free for them to use: in other word, unrestricted polygamy.


Early Christians invented ideas that women were “full of sin” and man was better off to “never marry.” Since this would be the end of mankind, these same people compromised and said “marry only one.”

Many times in the American society when relations are strained, the husband simply deserts his wife. Then he cohabits with a prostitute or other immoral woman without marriage.


Actually there are three kinds of polygamy practiced in Western societies: (1) serial polygamy, that is, marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce and so on any number of times; (2) a man married to one woman but having and supporting one or more mistresses; (3) an unmarried man having a number of mistresses. Islam condones but discourages the first and forbids the other two.


Wars cause the number of women to greatly exceed the number of men. In a monogamous society these women, left without husbands or support, resort to prostitution, illicit relationships with married men resulting in illegitimate children with no responsibility on the part of the father, or lonely spinsterhood or widowhood.


Some Western men take the position that monogamy protects the rights of women. But are these men really concerned about the rights of women? The society has many practices that exploit and suppress women, leading to women’s liberation movements from the suffragettes of the early twentieth century to the feminists of today.


The truth of the matter is that monogamy protects men, allowing them to “play around” without responsibility. Easy birth control and easy legal abortion has opened the door of illicit sex to women and she has been lured into the so-called sexual revolution. But she is still the one who suffers the trauma of abortion and the side effects of birth control methods.


Taking aside the plagues of venereal disease, herpes and AIDS, the male continues to enjoy himself free of worry. Men are the ones protected by monogamy while women continue to be victims of men’s desires. Polygamy is very much opposed by the male dominated society because it would force men to face up to responsibility and fidelity. It would force them to take responsibility for their polygamous inclinations and would protect and provide for women and children.


Among all the polygamous societies in history there were none that limited the number of wives. All of the relationships were unrestricted. In Islam, the regulations concerning polygamy limit the number of wives a man can have while making him responsible for all of the women involved.

“If you fear that you will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one or one that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.” (Qur’an 4:3)

This verse from the Qur’an allows a man to marry more than one woman but only if he can deal justly with them. Another verse says that a person is unable to deal justly between wives, thus giving permission but discouraging it.

“You will never be able to deal justly between wives however much you desire (to do so). But (if you have more than one wife) do not turn altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense…” (Qur’an 4:129)

While the provision for polygamy makes the social system flexible enough to deal with all kinds of conditions, it is not necessarily recommended or preferred by Islam. Taking the example of the Prophet Muhammad(S) is instructive. He was married to one woman, Khadijah, for twenty-five years. It was only after her death when he had reached the age of fifty that he entered into other marriages to promote friendships, create alliances or to be an example of some lesson to the community; also to show the Muslims how to treat their spouses under different conditions of life.


The Prophet(S) was given inspiration from Allah about how to deal with multiple marriages and the difficulties encountered therein. It is not an easy matter for a man to handle two wives, two families, and two households and still be just between the two. No man of reasonable intelligence would enter into this situation without a great deal of thought and very compelling reasons (other than sexual).


Some people have said that the first wife must agree to the second marriage. Others have said that the couple can put it into the marriage contract that the man will not marry a second wife. First of all, neither the Qur’an not Hadith state that the first wife need be consulted at all concerning a second marriage let alone gain her approval. Consideration and compassion on the part of the man for his first wife should prompt him to discuss the matter with her but he is not required to do so or to gain her approval. Secondly, the Qur’an has explicitly given permission for a man to marry “two or three or four”. No one has the authority to make a contract forbidding something that has been granted by Allah.


The bottom line in the marriage relationship is good morality and happiness, creating a just and cohesive society where the needs of men and women are well taken care of. The present Western society, which permits free sex between consenting adults, has given rise to an abundance of irresponsible sexual relationships, an abundance of “fatherless” children, many unmarried teenage mothers; all becoming a burden on the country’s welfare system. In part, such an undesirable welfare burden has given rise to bloated budget deficits which even an economically powerful country like the United States cannot accommodate. Bloated budget deficits have become a political football which is affecting the political system of the United States.


In short, we find that artificially created monogamy has become a factor in ruining the family structure, and the social, economic and political systems of the country.


It must be a prophet, and indeed, it was Prophet Muhammad(S) who directed Muslims to get married or observe patience until one gets married. ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud reported Allah’s Messenger(S) as saying,

“Young man, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from looking at strange women and preserves you from immorality; but those who cannot should devote themselves to fasting, for it is a means of suppressing sexual desire.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam wants people to be married and to develop a good family structure. Also, Islam realized the requirements of the society and the individual in special circumstances where polygamy can be the solution to problems. Therefore, Islam has allowed polygamy, limiting the number of wives to four, but does not require or even recommend polygamy.


In the Muslim societies of our times, polygamy is not frequently practiced despite legal permission in many countries. It appears that the American male is very polygamous, getting away with not taking responsibility for the families he should be responsible for.


(In this article, polygamy has been used to mean polygyny meaning having two or more wives. Islam forbids polyandry, meaning having two or more husbands.)

The freedom women gain from Islam


by Mary Ali and Anjum Ali


Today people think that women are liberated in the West and that the Women’s liberation movement began in the 20th century. Actually, the women’s liberation movement was not begun by women but was revealed by God to a man in the seventh century by the name of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), who is known as the last Prophet of Islam. The Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet (Hadith or Sunnah) are the sources from which every Muslim woman derives her rights and duties.


Human Rights


Islam, fourteen centuries ago, made women equally accountable to God in glorifying and worshipping Him – setting no limits on her moral progress. Also, Islam established a woman’s equality in her humanity with men, In the Qur’an, in the first verse of the chapter entitled “Women”, God says,

“O mankind! Be careful of your duty toward your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it its mate and from them both have spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and towards the wombs (that bore you). Lo! Allah has been a Watcher over you.” (4:1)

Since men and women both came from the same essence, they are equal in their humanity. Women cannot be by nature evil (as some religions believe) or then men would be evil also. Similarly, neither gender can be superior because it would be a contradiction to equality.


Civil Rights


In Islam, a woman has the basic freedoms of choice and expression based on recognition of her individual personality. First, she is free to choose her religion.


The Qur’an states:

“There is no compulsion in religion. Right has been made distinct from error.” (2:256)

Women are encouraged in Islam to contribute their opinions and ideas. There are many traditions of the Prophet(S) which indicate women would pose questions directly to him and offer their opinions concerning religion, economics and social matters.


A Muslim woman chooses her husband and keeps her name after marriage. A Muslim woman’s testimony is valid in legal disputes. In fact, where women are more familiar, their evidence is conclusive.


Social Rights


The Prophet(S) said, “seeking knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim (male and female)”. This includes knowledge of the Qur’an and the Hadith as well as other knowledge. Men and women both have the capacity for learning and understanding. Since it is also their obligation to promote good behavior and condemn bad behavior in all spheres of life, Muslim women must acquire the appropriate education to perform this duty in accordance with their own natural talents and interests.


While bearing, raising and teaching of children, providing support to her husband, and maintenance of a home are among the first and very highly regarded roles for a woman, if she has the skills to work outside the home for the good of the community, she may do so as long as her family obligations are met.


Islam recognizes and fosters the natural differences between men and women despite their equality. Some types of work are more suitable for men and other types for women. This in no way diminishes either’s efforts or benefits. God will reward both sexes equally for the value of their work, through, it may not necessarily be the same activity.


Concerning motherhood, the Prophet(S) said, “Heaven lies under the feet of mothers”. This implies that the success of a society can be traced to the mothers who raised it. The first and greatest influence on a person comes from the sense of security, affection, and training received from the mother. Therefore, a woman having children must be educated and conscientious in order to be a skillful parent.


Political Rights


A right given to Muslim women by God 1400 years ago is the right to vote. On any public matter, a woman may voice her opinion and participate in politics. One example, as narrated in the Qur’an (60:12), Muhammad(S) is told that when the believing women come to him and swear their allegiance to Islam, he must accept their oath. This established the right of women to select their leader and publicly declare so. Finally, Islam does not forbid a woman from holding important positions in government. Abdurrahman Ibn Awf consulted many women before he recommended Uthman Ibn Affan to be the Caliph.


Economic Rights


The Qur’an states:

“By the creation of the male and female; Verily, (the ends) you strive for are diverse.” (92:3-4)

In these verses, God declares that He created men and women to be different, with unique roles, functions and skills. As in society, where there is a division of labor, so too in a family, each member has different responsibilities. Generally, Islam upholds that women are entrusted with the nurturing role, and men, with the guardian role. Therefore, women are given the right of financial support.


The Qur’an an states:

“Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend of their wealth (for the support of women).” (4:34)

This guardianship and greater financial responsibility given to men requires that they provide women with not only monetary support but also physical protection and kind respectful treatment.


Muslim women have the privilege to earn money, the right to own property, to enter into legal contracts and to mange all of her assets in any way she pleases. She can run her own business and no one has any claim on her earnings, including her husband.


The Qur’an states:

“And in no wise covet those things in which Allah hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others; to men is allotted what they earn, and to women, what they earn; but ask Allah of His bounty for Allah hath full knowledge of all things.” (4:32)

A woman inherits from her relatives.


The Qur’an states:

“For men there is a share in what parents and relatives leave, and for women there is a share of what parents and relatives leave, whether it be little or much – an ordained share.” (4:7)

Rights of a Wife


The Qur’an states:

“And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between you; Verily, in that are signs for people who reflect.” (30:21)

Marriage is therefore not just a physical or emotional necessity but, in fact, a sign from God! It is a relationship of mutual rights and obligations based on divine guidance. God created men and women with complimentary natures and, in the Qur’an, He laid out a system of laws to support harmonious interaction between the sexes.

“…They are your garments and you are their garments.” (2:187)

Clothing provides physical protection and covers the beauty and faults of the body. Likewise, a spouse is viewed this way. Each protects the other and hides the faults and compliments the characteristics of the spouse. To foster the love and security that comes with marriage, Muslim wives have various rights. The first of the wife’s rights is to receive mahr, a gift from the husband, which is part of the marriage contract and required for the legality of the marriage.


The second right of a wife is maintenance. Despite any wealth she may have, her husband is obligated to provide her with food, shelter and clothing. He is not forced, however, to spend beyond his capability and his wife is not entitled to make unreasonable demands.


The Qur’an states

“Let the man of means spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him.” (65:7)

God tells us men are guardians over women and are afforded the leadership in the family. His responsibility for obeying God extends to guiding his family to obey God at all times.


A wife’s rights also extend beyond material needs. She has the right to kind treatment.


The Prophet(S) said,

“The most perfect believers are the best in conduct. And the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.”

God tells us He created mates and put love, mercy and tranquility between them.


Both men and women have a need for companionship and sexual needs and marriage is designed to fulfill those needs. For one spouse to deny this satisfaction to the other, the temptation exists to seek it elsewhere.


Duties of a Wife


With rights come responsibilities. Therefore, wives have certain obligations to their husbands.


The Qur’an states:

“The good women in the absence of their husbands guard their rights as Allah has enjoined upon them to be guarded.”(4:34)

A wife is to keep her husband’s secrets and protect their marital privacy. Issues of intimacy of faults of his that would dishonor him, are not to be shared by the wife, just as he is expected to guard her honor.


A wife must also guard her husband’s property. She must safeguard his home and possessions, to the best of her ability, from theft or damage. She should manage the household affairs wisely so as to prevent loss or waste. She should not allow anyone to enter the house whom her husband dislikes nor incur any expenses of which her husband disapproves.


A Muslim woman must cooperate and coordinate with her husband. There cannot, however, be cooperation with a man who is disobedient to God. She should not fulfill his requests if he wants her to do something unlawful. A husband also should not take advantage of his wife, but be considerate of her needs and happiness.




The Qur’an states:

“And it becomes not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger, Muhammad (S) have decided on an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His Messenger, he verily goes astray in error manifest,” (33:36)

The Muslim woman was given a role, duties and rights 1400 years ago that most women do not enjoy today, even in the West. These are from God and are designed to keep balance in society; what may seem unjust or missing in one place is compensated for or explained in another place. Islam is a complete way of life.

Why do Muslim women cover their head?


by Mary Ali


Why do Muslim women have to cover their head?” This question is one that asked is by Muslim and non-Muslim alike. For many women it is the truest test of being a Muslim.


The answer to the question is very simple – Muslim women observe Hijab (covering the head and body) because Allah has told them to do so.

“O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslim) and not annoyed…” Qur’an 33:59

Other secondary reasons include the requirement for modesty in both men and women. Both will then to be evaluated for intelligence and skills instead of looks and sexuality. An Iranian schoolgirl is quoted as saying, ” We want to stop men from treating us like sex objects, as they have always done. We want them to ignore our appearance and to be attentive to our personalities and mind. We want them to take us seriously and treat us as equals and not just chase us around for our bodies and physical looks.


A Muslim woman who covers her head is making a statement about her identity. Anyone who sees her will know that she is a Muslim and has a good moral character. Many Muslim women who cover are filled with dignity and self esteem; they are pleased to be identified as a Muslim woman. As a chaste, modest, pure woman, she does not want her sexuality to enter into interactions with men in the smallest degree. A woman who covers herself is concealing her sexuality but allowing her femininity to be brought out.


The question of Hijab for Muslim women has been a controversy for centuries and will probably continue for many more. Some learned people do not consider the subject open to discussion and consider covering the face is required, while a majority are of the opinion that it is not required. A middle line position is taken by some who claim that the instructions are vague and open to individual discretion depending on the situation.


The wives of the Prophet(S) were required to cover their faces so that men would not think of them in sexual terms since they were the “Mothers of the Believers”, but this requirement was not extended to other women.


The word Hijab comes from the Arabic word hajaba meaning to hide from view or conceal. In the present time, the context of Hijab is the modest covering of a Muslim woman. The question now is what is the extent of the covering?


The Qur’an says:

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and do not display their beauty except to their husbands…” Qur’an 24:30-31

These verses from the Qur’an contain two main injunctions:


  1. A woman should not show her beauty or adornments except what appears by uncontrolled factors such as the wind blowing her clothes.
  3. The head covers should be drawn so as to cover the hair, the neck and the bosom.

Islam has no fixed standard as to the style of dress or type of clothing that Muslims wear, However, some requirements must be met. The first of these requirements is the parts of the body that must be covered.


Islam has two sources for guidance and rulings: first, the Qur’an, the revealed word of Allah, and secondly, the Hadith or the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad(S) who was chosen by Allah to be the role model for mankind.


The following is a Tradition of the Prophet(S):

Ayesha(R) reported that Asma the daughter of Abu Bakr(R) came to the Messenger of Allah(SWT) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said, Oh Asma! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands. (Abu Dawood)

The second requirement is looseness. The clothing must be loose enough so as not to describe the shape of the woman’s body. One desirable way to hide the shape of the body is to wear a cloak over other clothes. However, if the clothing is loose enough, an outer garment is not necessary.


Thickness is the third requirement. The clothing must be thick enough so as not to show the color of the skin it covers or the shape of the body. The Prophet Muhammad(S) stated that in later generations of his ummah there would be women who would be dressed but naked and on top of their heads (which look like) camel humps. Curse them for they are truly cursed. (Muslim)


Another requirement is an over-all dignified appearance. The clothing should not attract men’s attention to the woman. It should not be shiny and flashy so that everyone notices the dress and the woman.


In addition there are other requirements:


1. Women must not dress so as to appear as men. Ibn Abbas narrated “The Prophet(S) cursed the men who appear like women and the women who appear like men.” (Bukhari)


2. Women should not dress in a way similar to the unbelievers.


3. The clothing should be modest, not excessively fancy and also not excessively ragged to gain admiration or sympathy.


Often forgotten is the fact that modern Western dress is a new invention. Looking at the clothing of women as recently as seventy years ago, we see clothing similar to Hijab. These active and hard-working women of the West were not inhibited by their clothing which consisted of long, full dresses and various types of head covering. Muslim women who wear Hijab do not find it impractical or interfering with their activities in all levels and walks of life.


Hijab is not merely a covering dress but more importantly, it is behavior, manners, speech and appearance in public. Dress is only one facet of the total being.


The basic requirements of the Muslim women’s dress apply to the Muslim man’s clothing with the difference being mainly in degree. Modesty requires that the area between the navel and the knee be covered in front of all people except the wife. The clothing of men should not be like the dress of women, nor should it be tight or provocative. A Muslim should dress to show his identity as a Muslim. Men are not allowed to wear gold or silk, however both are allowed for women.


For both men and women, clothing requirements are not meant to be a restriction but rather a way in which society will function in proper, Islamic manner.

Aminah Assilmi


This American lady, a former radical feminist and Southern Baptist from Oklahoma, studied the Quran, Sahih Muslim and fifteen other books on Islam in an attempt to convert the Arabs in her college class to Christianity and “save those poor ignorant heathens from the fires of hell.” But guess what happened!


The Introduction and Decision


I was completing a degree in Recreation, when I met my first Muslims. It was the first year that we had been able to pre-register by computer. I pre-registered and went to Oklahoma to take care of some family business. The business took longer than expected, so I returned to school two weeks into the semester (too late to drop a course).


I wasn’t worried about catching up my missed work. I was sitting at the top of my class, in my field. Even as a student, I was winning awards, in competition with professionals.


Now, you need to understand that while I was attending college and excelling, ran my own business, and had many close friends, I was extremely shy. My transcripts actually had me listed as severely reticent. I was very slow to get to know people and rarely spoke to anyone unless was forced to, or already knew them. The classes I was taking has to do administration and city planning, plus programming for children. Children were the only people I ever felt comfortable with.


Well, back to the story. The computer printout held one enormous surprise for me. I was registered for a Theatre class… a class where I would be required to perform in front of real live people. I was horrified! I could not even ask a question in class, how was I going to get on a stage in front of people? My husband was his usual very calm and sensible self. He suggested that I talk to the teacher, explain the problem, and arrange to paint scenery or sew costumes. The teacher agreed to try and find a way to help me out. So I went to class the following Tuesday.


When I entered the classroom, I received my second shock. The class was full of ‘Arabs’ and ‘camel jockeys’. Well, I had never seen one but I had heard of them.


There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens! After all, you could catch some dreadful disease from those people. Everyone knew they were dirty, not to be trusted either. I shut the door and went home. (Now, there is one little thing you should know. I had on a pair of leather hot pants, a halter top, and a glass of wine in my hands… but they were the bad ones in my mind.)


When I told my husband about the Arabs in the class and that there was no way I was going back, he responded in his usual calm way. He reminded that I was always claiming that God had a reason for everything and maybe I should spend some time thinking about it before I made my final decision. He also reminded me that I had a scholars award that was paying my tuition and if I wanted to keep it, I would have to maintain my G.P.A. Three credit hours or ‘F’ would have destroyed my chances.


For the next two days, I prayed for guidance. On Thursday I went back to the class convinced that God had put me there to save those poor ignorant heathens from the fires of hell.


I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts. They were very polite, but still did not convert. So, I decided to read their own book to show them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false God.


One of the students gave me a copy of the Qur’an and another book about Islam, and I proceeded with my research. I was sure I would find the evidence I needed very quickly. Well, I read the Qur’an and the other book. Then I read another 15 books, Sahih Muslim and returned to the Qur’an. I was determined I would convert them! My studies continued for the next one and half years.


During that time, I started having a few problems with my husband. I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant. He was sure I was having an affair, so he kicked me out. I moved into an apartment with my children and continued my determined efforts to convert the Muslims to Christianity.


Then, one day, there was a knock on my door. I opened the door and saw a man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table cloth on his head. He was accompanied by three men in pajamas. (It was the first time I had ever seen their cultural dress.) Well, I was more than a little offended by men showing up at my door in night clothes. What kind of a woman did they think I was? Had they no pride or dignity? Imagine my shock when the one wearing the table cloth said he understood I wanted to be a Muslim! I quickly informed him I did not want to be a Muslim. I was Christian. However, I did have a few questions. If he had the time…


His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Shiek and he made the time. He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid. He asked me if I believed there was only one God and I said yes. Then he asked if I believed Mohammed was His Messenger. Again I said yes. He told me that I was already a Muslim!


I argued that I was Christian, I was just trying to understand Islam. (Inside I was thinking: I couldn’t be a Muslim! I was American and white! What would my husband say? If I am Muslim, I will have to divorce my husband. My family would die!)


We continued talking. Later, he explained that attaining knowledge and understanding of spirituality was a little like climbing a ladder. If you climb a ladder and try to skip a few rungs, there was danger of falling. The Shahadah was just the first step on the ladder. Still we had to talk some more.


Later that afternoon, May 21, 1977 at Asr’, I took Shahadah. However, there were still some things I could not accept and it was my nature to be completely truthful so I added a disclaimer. I said: “I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger” ‘but, I will never cover my hair and if my husband takes another wife, I will castrate him.’


I heard gasps from the other men in the room, but Abdul Aziz silenced them. Later I learned that he told the brothers never to discuss those two subjects with me. He was sure I would come to the correct understanding.


The Shahadah was indeed a solid footing on the ladder to spiritual knowledge and closeness to God. but it has been a slow climb. Abdul Aziz continued to visit me and answer my questions. May Allah reward him for his patience and tolerance. He never admonished me or acted like a question was stupid or silly. He treated each question with dignity and told me that the only stupid question was the one never asked. Hmmm… my grandmother used to say that.


He explained that Allah had told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a rose open – petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. The he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fuller understanding. Alhamdulillah!


Over the years, I had many teachers. Each one special, each one different. I am thankful for each one of them and the knowledge they gave. Each teacher helped me to grow and to love Islam more. As my knowledge increased, the changes in me became more apparent. Within the first year, I was wearing hijab. I have no idea when I started. It came naturally, with increased knowledge and understanding. In time I even came to to a proponent of polygamy. I knew that if Allah had allowed it, there had to be something good in it.


Glorify the name of thy Guardian – Lord Most High, Who hath created, and further, given order and proportion; Who hath measured, and granted guidance; and Who bringeth out the (green and lush) pasture, and doth make it (but) swarthy stubble, By degrees shall We teach thee (The Message), so thou shalt not forget, except as Allah wills: for He knoweth what is manifest and what is hidden. And We will make it easy for thee (to follow) the simple (path).” (Al-A’la 87:1-8)


When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life. No human could have ever convinced me that I would finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of Islam.


This book spoke of THE ONE GOD, THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. It described the beautiful way in which He had organised the world. This wondrous Qur’an had all the answers. Allah is The Loving! Allah is the Source of Peace! Allah is the Protector! Allah is the Forgiver! Allah is the Provider! Allah is the Maintainer! Allah is the Generous One! Allah is the Responsive! Allah is the Protecting Friend! Allah is the Expander!


Have we not expanded thee thy breast? And removed from thee thy burden the which did gall thy back? And raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)? So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief!” (Al-Ishirah, 94: 1-6)


The Qur’an addressed all the issues of existence and showed a clear path to success. It was like a map forgiving, an owner manual for life!


How Islam changed my Life


How much more we love the light… If once we lived in Darkness.”


When I first embraced Islam, I really did not think it was going to affect my life very much. Islam did not just affect my life. It totally changed it.


Family life: My husband and I loved each other very deeply. That love for each other still exists. Still, when I started studying Islam, we started having some difficulties. He saw me changing and did not understand what was happening. Neither did I. But then, I did not even realise I was changing. He decided that the only thing that could make me change was another man. There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know.


After I realised that I was a Muslim, it did not help matters. After all… the only reason a woman changes something as fundamental as her religion is another man. He could not find evidence of this other man… but he had to exist. We ended up in a very ugly divorce. The courts determined that the unorthodox religion would be detrimental to the development of my children. So they were removed from my custody.


During the divorce, there was a time when I was told I could make a choice. I could renounce this religion and leave with my children, or renounce my children and leave with my religion. I was in shock. To me this was not a possible choice. If I renounce my Islam… I would be teaching my children how to be deceptive. For there was no way to deny what was in my heart. I could not deny Allah, not then, not ever. I prayed like I had never prayed before. After the thirty minutes was up, I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah. The courts were told that I would leave my children in the hands of Allah. This was not a rejection of my children!


I left the courts knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing. I found solace in Ayat-Ul-Khursi.


Allah! There is no god but He – the Living, the Self-subsisting, Supporter of all. No slumber can seize him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and he feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is Most High, The Supreme (in Glory).” (Al-Baqarah, 2:255)


This also got me started looking at all the attributes of Allah and discovering the beauty of each one.


Child custody and divorce were not the only problems I was to face. The rest of my family was not very accepting of my choice either. Most of the family refused to have anything to do with me. My mother was of the belief that it was just a phase and I would grow out of it. My sister, the ‘mental health expert’ was sure I had simply lost my mind and should be institutionalised. My father believed I should be killed before placed myself deeper in Hell. Suddenly I found myself with no husband and no family. What would be next?


Friends: Most of my friends drifted away during that first year. I was no fun anymore. I did not want to go to parties or bars. I was not interested in finding a boyfriend. All I ever did was read that ‘stupid’ book (the Qur’an) and talk about Islam. What a bore. I still did not have enough knowledge to help them understand why Islam was so beautiful.


Employment: My job was next to go. While I had won just about every award there was in my field and was recognised as a serious trend setter and money maker, the day I put on hijab, was the end of my job. Now I was without a family, without friends and without a job.


In all this, the first light was my grandmother. She approved of my choice and joined me. What a surprise! I always knew she had a lot of wisdom, but this! She died soon after that. When I stop to think about it, I almost get jealous. The day she pronounced Shahadah, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her ‘BOOK’ was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such joy!


As my knowledge grew and I was better able to answer questions, many things changed. But, it was the changes made in me as a person that had the greatest impact. A few years after I went public with my Islam, my mother called me and said she did not know what this ‘Islam thing’ was, but she hoped I would stay with it. She liked what it was doing for me. A couple of years after that she called again and asked what a person had to do to be a Muslim. I told her that all person had to do was know that there was only ONE God and Mohammed was His Messenger. Her response was: “Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?” I repeated the same information and she said: “Well… OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet.


Little did she know that he had gone through the same conversation a few weeks before that. My real father (the one who thought I should be killed) had done it almost two months earlier. Then, my sister, the mental health person, she told me that I was the most ‘liberated’ person she knew. Coming from her that was the greatest compliment I could have received.


Rather than try to tell you about how each person came to accept Islam, let me simply say that more members of my family continue to find Islam every year. I was especially happy when a dear friend, Brother Qaiser Imam, told me that my ex-husband took Shahdah. When Brother Qaiser asked him why, he said it was because he had been watching me for 16 years and he wanted his daughter to have what I had. He came and asked me to forgive him for all he had done. I had forgiven him long before that.


Now my oldest son, Whittney, has called, as I am writing this book, and announced that he also wants to become Muslim. He plans on taking the Shahadah as the ISNA Convention in a couple of weeks. For now, he is learning as much as he can. Allah is The Most Merciful.


Over the years, I have come to be known for my talks on Islam, and many listeners have chosen to be Muslim. My inner peace has continued to increase with my knowledge and confidence in the Wisdom of Allah. I know that Allah is not only my Creator but my dearest friend. I know that Allah will always be there and will never reject me. For every step I take toward Allah, He takes 10 toward me. What wonderful knowledge.


True, Allah has tested me, as was promised, and rewarded me far beyond what I could ever have hoped for. A few years ago, the doctors told me I had cancer and it was terminal. They explained that there was no cure, it was too far advanced, and proceeded to help prepare me for my death by explaining how the disease would progress. I had maybe one year left to live. I was concerned about my children, especially my youngest. Who would take care of him? Still I was not depressed. We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained Blessings.


I remembered a good friend, Kareem Al-Misawi, who died of cancer when he was still in his 20’s. Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and radiating with Allah’s love. He said: “Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a clean book.” His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy. This was something no one else had ever really discussed. Allah’s love!


I did not take me long to start being aware of His blessings. Friends who loved me came out of nowhere. I was given the gift of making Hajj. Even more importantly, I learned how very important it was for me to share the Truth of Islam with everyone. It did not matter if people, Muslim or not, agreed with me or even liked me. The only approval I needed was from Allah. The only love I needed was from Allah. Yet, I discovered more and more people, who for no apparent reason, loved me. I rejoiced, for I remembered reading that if Allah loves you, He causes others to love you. I am not worthy of all the love. That means it must be another gift from Allah. Allah is the Greatest!


There is no way to fully explain how my life changed. Alhamdulillah! I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam, I am nothing and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me I could not survive.


O Allah! let my heart have light, and my sight have light, and my hearing (senses) have light, and let me have light on my right, and let me have light on my left, and let me have light above me, and have light under me, and have light in front of me, and have light behind me; and let me have light.” (Bukhari, vol. 8. pp. 221, #329)


Oh my Lord! Forgive my sins and my ignorance and my exceeding the limits (boundaries of righteousness) in all my deeds and what you know better than I. O Allah! Forgive my mistakes, those done intentionally or out of my ignorance or (without) or with seriousness, and I confess that all such mistakes are done by me. Oh Allah! Forgive my sins of the past and of the future which I did openly or secretly. You are the One who makes the things go before, and You are the One who delays them, and You are the Omnipotent.” (Bukhari, vol. , pp. 271, #407)


Extracted 08/25/02 from Islam For Today

Yes, my journey did begin in the unlikely surrounds of an Afghan prison where I was being held by the Taliban


by Yvonne Ridley
Wednesday, March 05, 2003


[Courtesy of Q-News]


Islam is by far the most misunderstood religion in the world today thanks to centuries of medieval-style propaganda successfully peddled by bigots and Christian zealots. So I should not have been entirely surprised by the almost hysterical reaction in the mainstream media to news that I am considering becoming a Muslim. Some of the comments were bitchy and snide, other journalists asked me stupid questions showing a distinct lack of research or understanding. One even accused me of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome as a result of spending ten days in the hands of the Taliban!


My spiritual journey, like that for many converts/reverts, was meant to be a personal affair between myself and God. Sadly it has now become a very public issue and so I have decided to share with Q-News readers my feelings and thoughts on Islam to prevent any more misunderstandings or misconceptions.


Yes, my journey did begin in the unlikely surrounds of an Afghan prison where I was being held by the Taliban facing charges of entering their country illegally disguised in the all-enveloping burqa. One day, during my captivity, I was visited by a religious cleric who asked me what I thought of Islam and if I would like to convert. I was terrified. For five days I had managed to avoid the subject of religion in a country led by Islamic extremists. If I gave the wrong response, I had convinced myself I would be stoned to death. After careful thought I thanked the cleric for his generous offer and said it was difficult for me to make such a life-changing decision while I was in prison. However, I did make a promise that if I was released I would study Islam on my return to London. My reward for such a reply was being sent to a ghastly jail in Kabul where I was locked up with six Christian fanatics who faced charges of trying to convert Muslims to their faith. (After being bombarded with their bible readings, happy-clappy Christian songs and prayers twice a day, I think we can discount the accusations of Stockholm Syndrome).


Several days later I was released unharmed on humanitarian grounds on the orders of Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s one-eyed spiritual leader. My captors had treated me with courtesy and respect and so, in turn, I kept my word and set out to study their religion. It was supposed to be an academic study but as I became more engrossed with each page I turned I became more impressed with what I read. I turned to several eminent Islamic academics, including Dr Zaki Badawi, for advice and instruction. I was even given several books by the notorious Sheikh Abu Hamza AI-Masri whom I spoke to after sharing a platform at an Oxford Union debate. This latter snippet was seized upon by some sections of the media in such a ridiculous fashion that outsiders might have thought I was going to open a madrassa for AI-Qaeda recruits from my flat in Soho!


Thankfully the support and understanding I have been given from my brothers and sisters (for I regard them as that) has been unstinting and comforting. Not one of them has put pressure on me to become a Muslim and every convert/revert I’ve spoken to has told me to take my time. One of the big turning points for me happened earlier this year when the Israelis began shelling The Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, one of the most precious monuments for Christians. Every year thousands of school children re-enact the Nativity at Christmas time, a potent symbol of Christianity. Yet, not one Church of England leader publicly denounced the Israelis for their attack. Our Prime Minister Tony Blair, who loves to be pictured coming out of church surrounded by his family, espousing Christian values, was silent. Only the Pope had the guts to condemn this atrocity. I was shocked and saddened and felt there was no backbone in my religious leaders. At least with Islam I need no mediator or conduit to rely upon, I can have a direct line with God anytime I want.


While I feel under no pressure to convert/revert by Muslims, the real pressure to walk away from Islam has come from some friends and journalists who like to think they’re cynical, hard-bitten, hard-drinking, observers of the world. Religion of any form makes them feel uneasy, but Islam, well that’s something even worse. You’d think I had made a pact with the devil or wanted to become a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan.


Others feared I was being brainwashed and that I would soon be back in my burqa, silenced forever like all Muslim women. This, of course, is nonsense. I have never met so many well-educated, opinionated, outspoken, intelligent, politically aware women in the Muslim groups I have visited throughout the UK. Feminism pales into insignificance when it comes to the sisterhood, which has a strong identity and a loud voice in this country. Yes, it is true that many Muslim women around the world are subjugated, but this has only come about through other cultures hijacking and misinterpreting the Quran (Saudis take note).


I wish I had this knowledge (and I’m still very much a novice) when I was captured by the Taliban because I would have asked them why they treated their own women so badly. The Quran makes it crystal clear that all Muslims, men and women are entirely equal in worth, spirituality and responsibility. Allah ordained equality and fairness for women in education and opportunity. Fair property law and divorce settlements were introduced for Muslim women 1400 years ago; maybe this is where Californian divorce lawyers got their inspiration from in recent years! The Quran could have been written yesterday for today. It could sit very easily with any Green Party manifesto, it is environmentally friendly and it is truely an inspiration for the 21st century, yet not one word has changed since the day it was written, unlike other religious tomes. “It’s more punk than punk,” musician Aki Nawaz of the band Fun-da-Mental recently told me. And, of course he is right.

Perplexed or unfulfilled by their parents’ faiths, a growing number of women are becoming Muslims


by Michael Paulson, Boston Globe Staff, 5/13/2001


Ellen Anderson’s father was a lapsed Catholic, her mother an active Pentecostal, and she was confused. So at 14, torn between her father’s atheism and her mother’s fundamentalism, she dragged herself to the library and started reading about Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. She found herself drawn to Islam, which she believed rang truer than her mother’s Christianity. On March 8, the Wellesley College junior recited one sentence – “I believe there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is the messenger of God” – and became a Muslim. “Christianity seemed like going to church once a week and trying to be a good person, but Islam is a complete way of life,” Anderson said.


She is part of a growing number of women embracing Islam in Greater Boston, and in one mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge, they outnumber new Muslim men by as much as 2 to 1. That trend runs counter to the national picture; a recent survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that two-thirds of new Muslims in the United States are male. Women turning to Islam are aware that some people – including some of their own families – can’t understand why any American woman would choose a religion often depicted as oppressive of women. But they insist that depiction is a false image perpetuated by the media, and that in fact Islam is more forward-thinking about gender than many Western traditions. As evidence, they note that Islam allowed women to own property and vote long before Western cultures took similar steps. In modeling a more egalitarian form of Islamic culture in the United States than in some parts of the world, these women also say they may influence Muslims worldwide.


Unfortunately, the way Islam is practiced currently in some countries is not ideal,” said Christina Safiya Tobias-Nahi, 30, of Somerville, the child of a nonobservant Jewish mother and a Catholic father who became Muslim six years ago. “A lot of countries are looking to see how we practice it here, and we have the potential to be a really strong role model for men and women in other countries. “For white Christian women, the majority of those becoming Muslims at the Cambridge mosque, adopting Islam usually means a dramatic life change. These new Muslim women generally choose to cover their hair with a scarf called a hijab, to follow Muslim dietary laws that include prohibitions on pork and alcohol, and to pray five times a day.


Many of their families are profoundly unhappy. “My dad really freaked out and told me I’d never be able to get a good job or a good husband, and my mom started crying and calling on the name of Jesus,” said Anderson. “When I got home for spring break, my dad didn’t want his other kids to see me in my hijab. “Islam places a high value on family relationships, and Anderson is still working on repairing hers, but it’s difficult. Her father has stopped paying her college tuition. On the other hand, Anderson, who has waist-length curly blonde hair, says she finds the experience of wearing a hijab liberating. “I used to have random guys who would come up and say, `Can I touch your hair?’ and it would drive me crazy,” she said. “It’s liberating because people don’t look at you and think about your figure and your hairstyle and guys don’t look at you and think about making a pass at you.


“American Muslim women tend to view the subjugation of women in countries such as Afghanistan and Iran as aberrant examples of Islam. They point to the fact that while no woman has been a serious contender for president of the United States, Muslim women have led Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey and a Muslim woman is poised to become the next leader of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world.


But there remain issues for women in Islam – as in every major world faith. Some are critical of traditional Islamic inheritance laws, which give short shrift to women, and some balk at traditional Islamic dress, which requires women to cover their hair and wear loose, enveloping garments. Women in Islam can not lead men in prayer – a restriction similar to the ban on female clergy in Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Orthodox Judaism, and Mormonism. And in mosques, as in most Orthodox synagogues, women are separated from men during prayer, usually at the back of the mosque. Some Muslims have expressed concern that many, but certainly not all, mosques and Muslim advocacy groups have been slow to allow women to assume positions of leadership.



There is an intellectual revolution taking place, as women are raising their voices and pointing to the Koran and demanding their rights,” said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who in speeches to Muslim audiences argues that male-dominated organizations are vestiges of other cultures and not appropriate in the United States. “Our admonishment is that … all barriers against women participating in organizations should be removed, because that participation is their God-given right.”


Women who become Muslim in the United States offer a variety of explanations. Many American women encounter Islam by meeting, and often dating, a Muslim man. Some are drawn to the spiritual mysticism of Islam, while others are attracted to the conservative family values and structure of Islam, according to Marcia K. Hermansen, a Muslim theologian at Loyola University in Chicago. “In the new millennium, conversion seems to be hip,” Hermansen said. “There’s a different way of young people hearing about Islam and thinking about it as something radical and cool.”


Hoda Elsharkawi, who runs a support group/class for new Muslim women at the Cambridge mosque, says about one-third of her students come to Islam through boyfriend or male acquaintance, while others are introduced by friends, and still others explore it on their own. Many of the new Muslim women are highly educated and affiliated with tolerant college campuses; the majority in Cambridge are white, but some are African-American and Hispanic. Elsharkawi theorizes that women are drawn to Islam for the same reason that women fill many church pews – because they are often more concerned with faith and spirituality than men. Several of the new Muslims interviewed said their own faith background left them confused or dissatisfied.


Laura Cohon, a 20-year-old Harvard junior who wants to go to medical school, was introduced to Islam by a high school boyfriend, explored it over the Internet and in a college class, and then became Muslim one evening in her dorm room four months ago, reciting the pledge of faith. “Everything I found out about it made sense to me,” she said. “I was sitting at my desk, and I said the prayer, and it felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. “Only then did she start to interact with other Muslims, e-mailing the Cambridge mosque for advice. “It was an incredible relief, because I had felt very alone for a while,” she said.

The Ancient Myth Exposed


by T.O. Shanavas


A Christian friend asked me once, “Will you marry your seven
year old daughter to a fifty year old man?” I kept my silence.
He continued, “If you would not, how can you approve the marriage
of an innocent seven year old, Ayesha, with your Prophet?” I told
him, “I don’t have an answer to your question at this time.
My friend smiled and left me with a thorn in the heart of my faith.
Most Muslims answer that such marriages were accepted in those days.
Otherwise, people would have objected to Prophet’s marriage with


However, such an explanation would be gullible only for those who are
naive enough to believe it. But unfortunately, I was not satisfied with
the answer.


The Prophet was an exemplary man. All his actions were most virtuous
so that we, Muslims, can emulate them. However, most people in our Islamic
Center of Toledo, including me, would not think of betrothing our seven
years daughter to a fifty-two year-old man. If a parent agrees to such
a wedding, most people, if not all, would look down upon the father
and the old husband.


In 1923, registrars of marriage in Egypt were instructed not to register
and issue official certificates of marriage for brides less than sixteen
and grooms less than eighteen years of age. Eight years later, the Law
of the Organization and Procedure of Sheriah courts of 1931 consolidated
the above provision by not hearing the marriage disputes involving brides
less than sixteen and grooms less than eighteen years old. (Women
in Muslim Family Law
, John Esposito, 1982). It shows that even
in the Muslim majority country of Egypt the child marriages are unacceptable.


So, I believed, without solid evidence other than my reverence to my
Prophet, that the stories of the marriage of seven-year-old Ayesha to
50-year-old Prophet are only myths. However, my long pursuit in search
of the truth on this matter proved my intuition correct. My Prophet
was a gentleman. And he did not marry an innocent seven or nine year
old girl. The age of Ayesha has been erroneously reported in the hadith
literature. Furthermore, I think that the narratives reporting this
event are highly unreliable. Some of the hadith (traditions of the Prophet)
regarding Ayesha’s age at the time of her wedding with prophet
are problematic. I present the following evidences against the acceptance
of the fictitious story by Hisham ibn ‘Urwah and to clear the
name of my Prophet as an irresponsible old man preying on an innocent
little girl.


EVIDENCE #1: Reliability of Source


Most of the narratives printed in the books of hadith are reported
only by Hisham ibn `Urwah, who was reporting on the authority of his
father. First of all, more people than just one, two or three should
logically have reported. It is strange that no one from Medina, where
Hisham ibn `Urwah lived the first 71 years of his life narrated the
event, despite the fact that his Medinan pupils included the well-respected
Malik ibn Anas. The origins of the report of the narratives of this
event are people from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have shifted
after living in Medina for most of his life.


Tehzibu’l-Tehzib, one of the most well known books on
the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet,
reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah: “He [Hisham] is highly
reliable, his narratives are acceptable, except what he narrated after
moving over to Iraq” (Tehzi’bu’l-tehzi’b,
Ibn Hajar Al-`asqala’ni, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, 15th century.
Vol 11, p. 50).


It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives
of Hisham which were reported through people in Iraq: “I have
been told that Malik objected on those narratives of Hisham which were
reported through people of Iraq” (Tehzi’b u’l-tehzi’b,
Ibn Hajar Al-`asqala’ni, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol.11,
p. 50).


Mizanu’l-ai`tidal, another book on the life sketches
of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet reports: “When
he was old, Hisham’s memory suffered quite badly” (Mizanu’l-ai`tidal,
Al-Zahbi, Al-Maktabatu’l-athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol.
4, p. 301).




Based on these references, Hisham’s memory was failing
and his narratives while in Iraq were unreliable. So, his narrative
of Ayesha’s marriage and age are unreliable.




It is vital also to keep in mind some of the pertinent
dates in the history of Islam:

  • pre-610 CE: Jahiliya (pre-Islamic age) before revelation
  • 610 CE: First revelation
  • 610 CE: AbuBakr accepts Islam
  • 613 CE: Prophet Muhammad begins preaching publicly.
  • 615 CE: Emigration to Abyssinia
  • 616 CE: Umar bin al Khattab accepts Islam
  • 620 CE: Generally accepted betrothal of Ayesha to the Prophet
  • 622 CE: Hijrah (emigation to Yathrib, later renamed Medina)
  • 623/624 CE: Generally accepted year of Ayesha living with the Prophet

EVIDENCE #2: The Betrothal


According to Tabari (also according to Hisham ibn ‘Urwah, Ibn
Hunbal and Ibn Sad), Ayesha was betrothed at seven years of age and
began to cohabit with the Prophet at the age of nine years.


However, in another work, Al-Tabari says: “All four of his [Abu
Bakr’s] children were born of his two wives during the pre-Islamic
period” (Tarikhu’l-umam wa’l-mamlu’k,
Al-Tabari (died 922), Vol. 4, p. 50, Arabic, Dara’l-fikr, Beirut,


If Ayesha was betrothed in 620 CE (at the age of seven) and started
to live with the Prophet in 624 CE (at the age of nine), that would
indicate that she was born in 613 CE and was nine when she began living
with the Prophet. Therefore, based on one account of Al-Tabari, the
numbers show that Ayesha must have born in 613 CE, three years after
the beginning of revelation (610 CE). Tabari also states that Ayesha
was born in the pre-Islamic era (in Jahiliya). If she was born before
610 CE, she would have been at least 14 years old when she began living
with the Prophet. Essentially, Tabari contradicts himself.




Al-Tabari is unreliable in the matter of determining Ayesha’s


EVIDENCE # 3: The Age of Ayesha in Relation to the Age of Fatima


According to Ibn Hajar, “Fatima was born at the time the Ka`bah
was rebuilt, when the Prophet was 35 years old… she was five years
older that Ayesha” (Al-isabah fi tamyizi’l-sahabah,
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Vol. 4, p. 377, Maktabatu’l-Riyadh al-haditha,
al-Riyadh, 1978).


If Ibn Hajar’s statement is factual, Ayesha was born when the
Prophet was 40 years old. If Ayesha was married to the Prophet when
he was 52 years old, Ayesha’s age at marriage would be 12 years.




Ibn Hajar, Tabari an Ibn Hisham and Ibn Humbal contradict
each other. So, the marriage of Ayesha at seven years of age is a myth.


EVIDENCE #4: Ayesha’s Age in relation to Asma’s


According to Abda’l-Rahman ibn abi zanna’d: “Asma
was 10 years older than Ayesha (Siyar A`la’ma’l-nubala’,
Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, p. 289, Arabic, Mu’assasatu’l-risalah,
Beirut, 1992).


According to Ibn Kathir: “She [Asma] was elder to her sister
[Ayesha] by 10 years” (Al-Bidayah wa’l-nihayah,
Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, p. 371, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933).


According to Ibn Kathir: “She [Asma] saw the killing of her son
during that year [73 AH], as we have already mentioned, and five days
later she herself died. According to other narratives, she died not
after five days but 10 or 20, or a few days over 20, or 100 days later.
The most well known narrative is that of 100 days later. At the time
of her death, she was 100 years old.” (Al-Bidayah wa’l-nihayah,
Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, p. 372, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933)


According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani: “She [Asma] lived a hundred
years and died in 73 or 74 AH.” (Taqribu’l-tehzib,
Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, p. 654, Arabic, Bab fi’l-nisa’, al-harfu’l-alif,


According to almost all the historians, Asma, the elder sister of Ayesha
was 10 years older than Ayesha. If Asma was 100 years old in 73 AH,
she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of the hijrah.


If Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha should
have been 17 or 18 years old. Thus, Ayesha, being 17 or 18 years of
at the time of Hijra, she started to cohabit with the Prophet between
at either 19 to 20 years of age.


Based on Hajar, Ibn Katir, and Abda’l-Rahman ibn abi zanna’d,
Ayesha’s age at the time she began living with the Prophet would
be 19 or 20. In Evidence # 3, Ibn Hajar suggests that Ayesha was 12
years old and in Evidence #4 he contradicts himself with a 17 or 18-year-old
Ayesha. What is the correct age, twelve or eighteen?




Ibn Hajar is an unreliable source for Ayesha’s age.


EVIDENCE #5: The Battles of Badr and Uhud


A narrative regarding Ayesha’s participation in Badr is given
in the hadith of Muslim, (Kitabu’l-jihad wa’l-siyar, Bab
karahiyati’l-isti`anah fi’l-ghazwi bikafir). Ayesha, while
narrating the journey to Badr and one of the important events that took
place in that journey, says: “when we reached Shajarah”.
Obviously, Ayesha was with the group travelling towards Badr. A narrative
regarding Ayesha’s participation in the Battle of Uhud is given
in Bukhari (Kitabu’l-jihad wa’l-siyar, Bab Ghazwi’l-nisa’
wa qitalihinna ma`a’lrijal): “Anas reports that on the day
of Uhud, people could not stand their ground around the Prophet. [On
that day,] I saw Ayesha and Umm-i-Sulaim, they had pulled their dress
up from their feet [to avoid any hindrance in their movement].”
Again, this indicates that Ayesha was present in the Battles of Uhud
and Badr.


It is narrated in Bukhari (Kitabu’l-maghazi, Bab Ghazwati’l-khandaq
wa hiya’l-ahza’b): “Ibn `Umar states that the Prophet
did not permit me to participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was 14
years old. But on the day of Khandaq, when I was 15 years old, the Prophet
permitted my participation.”


Based on the above narratives, (a) the children below 15 years were
sent back and were not allowed to participate in the Battle of Uhud,
and (b) Ayesha participated in the Battles of Badr and Uhud




Ayesha’s participation in the Battles of Badr and
Uhud clearly indicates that she was not nine years old but at least
15 years old. After all, women used to accompany men to the battlefields
to help them, not to be a burden on them. This account is another contradiction
regarding Ayesha’s age.


EVIDENCE #6: Surat al-Qamar (The Moon)


According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha was born about
eight years before hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari,
Ayesha is reported to have said: “I was a young girl (jariyah
in Arabic)” when Surah Al-Qamar was revealed (Sahih Bukhari, kitabu’l-tafsir,
Bab Qaulihi Bal al-sa`atu Maw`iduhum wa’l-sa`atu adha’ wa


Chapter 54 of the Quran was revealed eight years before hijrah (The
Bounteous Koran
, M.M. Khatib, 1985), indicating that it was revealed
in 614 CE. If Ayesha started living with the Prophet at the age of nine
in 623 CE or 624 CE, she was a newborn infant (sibyah in Arabic)
at the time that Surah Al-Qamar (The Moon) was revealed. According to
the above tradition, Ayesha was actually a young girl, not an infant
in the year of revelation of Al-Qamar. Jariyah means young
playful girl (Lane’s Arabic English Lexicon). So, Ayesha,
being a jariyah not a sibyah (infant), must be somewhere
between 6-13 years old at the time of revelation of Al-Qamar, and therefore
must have been 14-21 years at the time she married the Prophet.




This tradition also contradicts the marriage of Ayesha
at the age of nine.


EVIDENCE #7: Arabic Terminology


According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death
of the Prophet’s first wife Khadijah, when Khaulah came to the
Prophet advising him to marry again, the Prophet asked her regarding
the choices she had in mind. Khaulah said: “You can marry a virgin
(bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)”.
When the Prophet asked the identity of the bikr (virgin), Khaulah
mentioned Ayesha’s name.


All those who know the Arabic language are aware that the word bikr
in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine-year-old girl.
The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier, is jariyah.
Bikr on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady without
conjugal experience prior to marriage, as we understand the word “virgin
in English. Therefore, obviously a nine-year-old girl is not a “lady”
(bikr) (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 6, p. .210, Arabic, Dar
Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut).




The literal meaning of the word, bikr (virgin),
in the above hadith is “adult woman with no sexual experience
prior to marriage.” Therefore, Ayesha was an adult woman at the
time of her marriage.


EVIDENCE #8. The Qur’anic Text


All Muslims agree that the Quran is the book of guidance. So, we need
to seek the guidance from the Quran to clear the smoke and confusion
created by the eminent men of the classical period of Islam in the matter
of Ayesha’s age at her marriage. Does the Quran allow or disallow
marriage of an immature child of seven years of age?


There are no verses that explicitly allow such marriage. There is a
verse, however, that guides Muslims in their duty to raise an orphaned
child. The Quran’s guidance on the topic of raising orphans is
also valid in the case of our own children. The verse states: “And
make not over your property (property of the orphan), which Allah had
made a (means of) support for you, to the weak of understanding, and
maintain them out of it, clothe them and give them good education. And
test them until they reach the age of marriage. Then if you find them
maturity of intellect, make over them their property…” (Quran,


In the matter of children who have lost a parent, a Muslim is ordered
to (a) feed them, (b) clothe them, (c) educate them, and (d) test them
for maturity “until the age of marriage” before entrusting
them with management of finances.


Here the Quranic verse demands meticulous proof of their intellectual
and physical maturity by objective test results before the age of marriage
in order to entrust their property to them.


In light of the above verses, no responsible Muslim would hand over
financial management to a seven- or nine-year-old immature girl. If
we cannot trust a seven-year-old to manage financial matters, she cannot
be intellectually or physically fit for marriage. Ibn Hambal (Musnad
Ahmad ibn Hambal, vol.6, p. 33 and 99) claims that nine-year-old Ayesha
was rather more interested in playing with toy-horses than taking up
the responsible task of a wife. It is difficult to believe, therefore,
that AbuBakr, a great believer among Muslims, would betroth his immature
seven-year-old daughter to the 50-year-old Prophet. Equally difficult
to imagine is that the Prophet would marry an immature seven-year-old


Another important duty demanded from the guardian of a child is to
educate them. Let us ask the question, “How many of us believe
that we can educate our children satisfactorily before they reach the
age of seven or nine years?” The answer is none. Logically, it
is an impossible task to educate a child satisfactorily before the child
attains the age of seven. Then, how can we believe that Ayesha was educated
satisfactorily at the claimed age of seven at the time of her marriage?


AbuBakr was a more judicious man than all of us. So, he definitely
would have judged that Ayesha was a child at heart and was not satisfactorily
educated as demanded by the Quran. He would not have married her to
anyone. If a proposal of marrying the immature and yet to be educated
seven-year-old Ayesha came to the Prophet, he would have rejected it
outright because neither the Prophet nor AbuBakr would violate any clause
in the Quran.




The marriage of Ayesha at the age of seven years would
violate the maturity clause or requirement of the Quran. Therefore,
the story of the marriage of the seven-year-old immature Ayesha is a


EVIDENCE #9: Consent in Marriage


A women must be consulted and must agree in order to make a marriage
valid (Mishakat al Masabiah, translation by James Robson, Vol.
I, p. 665). Islamically, credible permission from women is a prerequisite
for a marriage to be valid.


By any stretch of the imagination, the permission given by an immature
seven-year-old girl cannot be valid authorization for marriage.


It is inconceivable that AbuBakr, an intelligent man, would take seriously
the permission of a seven-year-old girl to marry a 50-year-old man.


Similarly, the Prophet would not have accepted the permission given
by a girl who, according to the hadith of Muslim, took her toys with
her when she went live with Prophet.




The Prophet did not marry a seven-year-old Ayesha because
it would have violated the requirement of the valid permission clause
of the Islamic Marriage Decree. Therefore, the Prophet married an intellectually
and physically mature lady Ayesha.




It was neither an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at
an age as young as seven or nine years, nor did the Prophet marry Ayesha
at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage
because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated.


Obviously, the narrative of the marriage of nine-year-old Ayesha by
Hisham ibn `Urwah cannot be held true when it is contradicted by many
other reported narratives. Moreover, there is absolutely no reason to
accept the narrative of Hisham ibn `Urwah as true when other scholars,
including Malik ibn Anas, view his narrative while in Iraq, as unreliable.
The quotations from Tabari, Bukhari and Muslim show they contradict
each other regarding Ayesha’s age. Furthermore, many of these
scholars contradict themselves in their own records. Thus, the narrative
of Ayesha’s age at the time of the marriage is not reliable due
to the clear contradictions seen in the works of classical scholars
of Islam.


Therefore, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the information
on Ayesha’s age is accepted as true when there are adequate grounds
to reject it as myth. Moreover, the Quran rejects the marriage of immature
girls and boys as well as entrusting them with responsibilities.


T.O. Shanavas is a physician based in Michigan. This article first
appeared in The Minaret in March 1999.


© 2001 Minaret


Extracted 09/06/02 from The

What Was The Age of Ummul Mu’mineen Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) When She Married To Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)?


(Courtesy of


Some people believe that Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) was nine years old at the time of her marriage with Mohammad (peace be upon him) was consummated.


The age of Ayesha (ra) has been grossly mis-reported in the ahadith. Not only that, I think that the narratives reporting this event are not only highly unreliable but also that on the basis of other historical data, the event reported, is quite an unlikely happening. Let us look at the issue from an objective standpoint. My reservations in accepting the narratives, on the basis of which, Ayeshas (ra) age at the time of her marriage with the Prophet (pbuh) is held to be nine years are:


  • Most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well known as the one being reported, should logically have been reported by more people than just one, two or three.
  • It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first seventy one years of his life has narrated the event, even though in Medinah his pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have had shifted after living in Medinah for seventy one years.
  • Tehzibu’l-tehzib, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah: “narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq”. It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq. (vol 11, pg 48 – 51)
  • Mizanu’l-ai`tidal, another book on the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that when he was old, Hisham’s memory suffered quite badly. (vol 4, pg 301 – 302)
  • According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (kitabu’l-tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur’an, was revealed, “I was a young girl”. The 54th surah of the Qur’an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (ra) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn `urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn `urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be more accurate.
  • According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) accompanied the Muslims in the battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Ayesha’s (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicate that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battle fields to help them, not to be a burden on them.
  • According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqri’bu’l-tehzi’b as well as Al-bidayah wa’l-nihayah that Asma (ra) died in 73 hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in 73 hijrah she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra), if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.
  • Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr (ra) reports that Abu Bakr had four children and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah — the pre Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha (ra) was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less than 14 years in 1 AH — the time she most likely got married.
  • According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam quite some time before Umar ibn Khattab (ra). This shows that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Ayesha’s (ra) marriage at seven years of age is held to be true, Ayesha (ra) should not have been born during the first year of Islam.
  • Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr planned on migrating to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mut`am — with whose son Ayesha (ra) was engaged — and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in his house as his son’s wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam, and subsequently his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha (ra) was only seven years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr decided on migrating to Habshah. On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume that Ayesha (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.
  • According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (ra), when Khaulah (ra) came to the Prophet (pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: “You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)”. When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed Ayesha’s (ra) name. All those who know the Arabic language, are aware that the word “bikr” in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine year old girl. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier is “Jariyah”. “Bikr” on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady, and obviously a nine year old is not a “lady”.
  • According to Ibn Hajar, Fatimah (ra) was five years older than Ayesha (ra). Fatimah (ra) is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Ayesha (ra) could by no means be less than 14 years old at the time of hijrah, and 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage.

These are some of the major points that go against accepting the commonly known narrative regarding Ayesha’s (ra) age at the time of her marriage.


Neither was it an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as nine or ten years, nor did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Ayesha (ra) at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage, because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated.

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