How do Muslims justify their Prophet supposedly marrying a 9-year-old girl?

So, I am someone who likes using logic and I have defended Islam and my Muslim-ness many times from criticisms, some well-founded, others not so much. How can I defend Mohammad’s marriage to a young girl? He was old at the time. I can’t imagine being a child and being given away to an older man. Why did he think that was okay? How do you defend that without sounding like a pedophile apologist? -It is an honest question. How do other Muslims deal with this and remain moral?

The current theory is that Aisha’s young age was invented to defend her against the claims of the hypocrites and some of the Shia that she was an adulteress or unworthy of the Prophet, peace be upon him. By saying she was 9, they wanted to exaggerate her quality as a virgin. From Wikipedia:

Some traditional sources disagree. Ibn Hisham wrote in his biography of Muhammad that she may have been ten years old at the consummation. Ibn Khallikan, as well as Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi citing Hisham ibn Urwah, record that she was nine years old at marriage, and twelve at consummation. Modern author and journalist Sadakat Kadri points out that the recording of Aisha’s age by Ibn Sa’d and Bukhari (though the hadith was Sahih) came a couple of centuries after the Prophet’s death. Child marriage was not uncommon in many places at the time, Arabia included. It often served political purposes, and Aisha’s marriage to Muhammad would have had a political connotation.

Muslim authors who calculate Aisha’s age based on the more detailed information available about her sister Asma estimate that she was over thirteen and perhaps between seventeen and nineteen at the time of her marriage. Muhammad Niknam Arabshahi, an Iranian Islamic scholar and historian, has considered six different approaches to determining Aisha’s age and concluded that she was engaged in her late teens. Using the age of Fatimah as a reference point, the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement scholar Muhammad Ali has estimated that Aisha was over ten years old at the time of marriage and over fifteen at the time of its consummation.

From a historical perspective, it seems highly unlikely for Aisha to have consummated her marriage at the age of 9. Given the immense incentive for later Muslims to reduce her age at the time of marriage (to prove her virginity), the “9″ figure is extremely doubtful and almost certainly a fabrication.

While many Muslims live under the mistaken assumption that Sahih Bukhari is 100% reliable, recent research continues to poke holes into this view. Nothing in Sahih Bukhari is guaranteed to be 100% correct, only the Quran has this guarantee in our view. Everything in Sahih Bukhari (and other collections) must be judged by the Quran, by common sense and by our historical knowledge. Since what it says regarding Aisha’s age is highly questionable, we are fully entitled to doubt its statement on this regard and reject it.

Reply from a reader

Asalam Alakum, regarding Al- Bukhari a lot of Sunni scholars collectively agreed that his collection is the second most reliable source after the Quran.

I agree, and personally I love the Sunnah and try to follow it as much as I can. But the keyword is after the Quran. Traditional scholars have sometimes mistakenly assumed that this means that it is almost as good as the Quran, while it is more accurate to consider the Quran far more superior to it.

The superiority of the Quran over hadith is like the superiority of the Prophet, peace be upon him, over his companions. Hadith can never be taken as a guide by itself, and it must always be judged in the context of the Quran:

There will be after me narrators of hadith. Expose their narrations to the Quran; any of them that agree with the Quran, then follow those, and those that do not agree with it, then do not follow them. —The Prophet, peace be upon him, in an authentic narration.

The Prophet of God does not defy the Book of God, and whoever defies the Book of God cannot be a Prophet of God. Refuting any man who mentions a narration of the Prophet peace be upon him which goes against the Quran is not a refutation of the Prophet peace be upon him, and is not an act of calling him [the Prophet] a liar, rather, it is a refutation of someone who speaks falsehood regarding the Prophet peace be upon him, and the accusation [of speaking falsehood] is against that man and not the Prophet peace be upon him. —Abu Hanifah

Any hadith that you can recognize as going against reason or contradicting [well-established Islamic] principles, then know that it is a fabrication, therefore do not consider yourself compelled to act by it. —Ibn al-Jawzi

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