Insha Marri's Blog


In my opinion, the age of Ayesha has been grossly misreported in the narratives of the incident. 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 stand point. My reservations in accepting the narratives, on the basis of which, Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage with the Prophet (pbuh) is held to be nine years are:

1. 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.

2. 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 shifted after living in Medinah for seventy-one years.

3. Tehzeeb al-Tehzeeb, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions ascribed to 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).

4. Meezaan al-Ai`tidaal, 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).

5. According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha was born about eight years before Hijrah. However, according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitaab al-Tafseer) Ayesha 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 had not only been born before the revelation of the referred Surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not even only 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 should we not accept this narrative to be more accurate.

6. According to a number of narratives, Ayesha 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 participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicates that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battlefields to help them, not to be a burden upon them.

7. According to almost all the historians Asma, the elder sister of Ayesha was ten years older than Ayesha. It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah that Asma died in the 73rd year after hijrah[2] when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma was 100 years old in the 73rd year after hijrah, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. If Asma was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus if Ayesha got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH then she was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.

8. Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr reports that Abu Bakr had four children and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah – the pre Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha 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.

9. According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Ayesha accepted Islam quite some time before Umar ibn Khattab. This shows that Ayesha accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Ayesha’s marriage at seven years of age is held to be true, Ayesha should not even have been born during the first year of Islam.

10. 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 was engaged at that time – and asked him to take Ayesha in his house as his son’s wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam. Subsequently, his son divorced Ayesha. Now, if Ayesha 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 had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.

11. According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah , when Khaulah 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 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”.

12. According to Ibn Hajar, Fatimah was five years older than Ayesha. Fatimah 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 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 age at the time of her marriage.

In my opinion, 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 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.

UNESCO language map
According to a recent UNESCO’s report, more than 200 languages will be extinct soon from the world.

For assessing the causes of extinction of these languages, please cost your vote from predefined answers or write you own.

Book: Road to Mecca
Road to Mecca by Mohammad Asad is a wonderful book of its kind because it has some unique features that give it many advantages over other books. It is more looks like an autobiography with a touch of spiritual mass that carrying a style of analytical narration of the political scenario of Middle East region of years around 1950 by the view point of the author.

Muhammad Asad was born as Leopold Weiss in 1900 CE in the city of Lvov (then a part of Austro-Hungary but now Ukraine). He moved to Berlin in the year of 1920, after from getting a journalist degree, he traveled to British mandate Palestine. It was there that he first came into contact with Arabs and Muslims. He embraced Islam there and changed his name and then began a long journey into Muslim lands and minds that eventually gave him a chance to look and analysis of the whole Arabian Peninsula and Middle East region with a different perspective. He performed Hajj and traveled all over the Arabia on a camel and the book “Road to Mecca” is mostly narrating the Author’s journey of same years.

The book first published in August 1954 and soon become a focus of critical acclaim by many politicians and intellectuals. This was the third book of Muhammad Asad that gets published. The same title also gets published in 1954 in London too and later on reprinted by the Islamic Book Trust, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, in 1996. This edition comprises 375 pages and is divided into twelve chapters:
Beginning of the Road
Spirit and Flesh
Persian letter
End of the Road.

This book does not look like an autobiography in nature but for many critical analysts, it does have many parts that concerned with the life of the author directly and they count it an autobiography of Mohammad Asad.

As mentioned above that Mohammad Asad was born to a Jewish Family but later on converted to Islam after closely analyses the teachings of Islam and its comparison with the teachings of Judaism. This book contains many explanations from the author about his reverting to Islam. He writes: “”Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other; nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking; and the result is a structure of absolute balance and solid composure.”
“It was not Muslims that had made Islam great; it was Islam that had made the Muslims great”. You may be familiar with this quote for long time but you would be surprised to know that these words are the words of Mohammad Asad, who disagrees with the stereotype western perception in this book that Islam actually is no more the a movement of Arab nationalism.

There is no doubt that “Road to Mecca” is considered today more political than a spiritual book by its readers but the title is clearly indicating that it does have the essence of spiritual message too.

It is a very old book, first published more than 50 years ago but I think it is worth for reading.

Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith is the winner of 2003 annual Wilbur Award for ‘Best Book of the year on a Religious Theme’ is a collection of essays mostly by American Muslims edited by Michael Wolfe, published by Rodale Press, Pennsylvania in 2003.

The book covers in-depth essays written by prominent scholars and personalities like Karen Armstrong, Yousuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Khaled Abouel Fadl, Ingrid Mattson and many more up to 35 prominent individuals mostly American Muslims to explain the peaceful teachings of their faith (Islam), its problems here in American soil and proposed solution for creating better understanding between mainstream Americans and Muslim Americans.

What was the main reason behind the compilation of such a work, Editor Michael Wolfe explains: “President Bush has said that Islam is a great religion that has been “hijacked” by terrorists. As a Muslim, and as an American, I fear that he is right. As a result, it’s become important for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to spend the time to understand this faith–not only what it has been but would it can and should be. I and many other Muslims, who believe in both Islam and democracy, are tired of seeing Islam defined by others. That’s why I’ve worked with Belief Net to create this book”.

I think that Taking Back Islam is a bold collection of voices from Islam who remain loyal and utterly convinced of Islam’s power to help create a just, ordered, peaceful and beautiful world but who are also unafraid to be critical of those who do not want to see Islam as a peer religion as parallel to their faith. Islam clearly denounces terrorism and violence in the world and there is a great need of work especially in media to not just present Islam as a peaceful religion in the world but also work in such a framework that will be further beneficiaries for the Muslim people especially American Muslim in long run. The most of writers of these essays are American Muslims who want to present Islam as a peaceful and respectful religion in the world.

Publishers Weekly have called this book “the thinking person’s guide to Islam in a post-9/11 America,” and an “eye-opening survey of the minds and passions” of American Muslims who “grapple with the complexities and paradoxes of Islam.”

I think, it is worth to read and distribute copies of this book to your fellow American friends and colleagues who want to better understand Islam and Muslim.

‘Mao Zedong: A life’ is just another edition of Penguin Books to cover the lives and legacies of the most influential and prominent personalities of the world, such as Winston Churchill and Napoleon Bonaparte.

The author Jonathan Spence has written many books on the topics related on China, its people and politics and this is his another attempt to narrate the life and the achievements of a great leader came across the great wall of China.

The size of the biography is only around five by three inches and it is considered as tiny by compare it to the sizes of the traditional books. Despite of being a short book, the biography covered the life of ‘Mao’ in comprehensively. This is for those readers, who want to know more about the mystic and disciplined life of ‘Chairman Mao’. The style of narrating by the historian makes impossible for anyone to put the book down without completing it in a single attempt.

In its true spirit, the biography is appreciating the Mao’s efforts to bring a socio politics revolution in China but raising a finger about the failure of the Chairman by not bring a ‘Cultural Revolution’ as well. The work is also covering the early life of Chairman in a unique style of narration. Nearly more than half pages of the biography are devoted to the life of the leader before the declaration and formation of People’s Republic of China.

A very informative biography with a touch of conciseness would be a good increment for a private and public libraries and also for those people who wants to achieve political fame in history.

Islam encourages artistic mind and talented people to participate in positive art for the satisfaction of their human creativity. Calligraphy is one of those arts that have crossed all racial and linguistic boundaries in the Islamic world, with Arabs, Iranians, Turks and Moguls all contributing greatly to the art.

Quranic calligraphy is probably one of the oldest forms of Islamic art, with copies of the Quran dating back to the Khilafat-e Rashida, in thick, both Kufic script Quranic verses decorate mosques and tombs of Muslim divines ranging from the gold embroidered Kiswa of the holy Kaaba in Mecca, to tiny village mosque in Central Asia and Indo-Pak subcontinent.

The Arabs are rightly credited with taking calligraphy to the lofty position it currently enjoys in the Muslim world. It is more notable among the Persian-speaking Iranians who did it with dedication, though at heart they remained persuaded of the superiority of their much more mellifluous language to Arabic.

Some of the most stunning examples of calligraphy can be found on the blue tiles walls and minarets of the shrine cities of Najaf, Karbala and Mashhad, while some of the most sophisticated texts are engraved on the interior walls of the Ottoman mosques of Turkey, such as the majestic Sultanahmet mosque of Istanbul.

While prohibition for drawing the human figure is generally considered to be responsible for calligraphy’s pre-eminence among the Arabs, scholars of Muslim history have detected far subtler reasons.

In ‘The Quranic Art of Calligraphy and Illumination’, Martin Lings attributes the origin of calligraphy to the Arabs’ “innate aversion to writing down precious words.” He writes, “There was absolutely no common measure between these two summits on the one hand, and the ungainliness of the only available script on the other. Their disdain for writing showed a sense of values; and … it was the reverse side of openness to calligraphic inspiration, as much as to say: since we have no choice but to write down the Revelation, then let that written record be as powerful an experience for the eye as the memorized record is for the ear when the verses are spoken or chanted.”

In the Indo-Pak subcontinent calligraphy has also attracted many a skilful hand. And Khurshid Alam Gauhar Qalam is one of he world-famous practitioners of this art. He has also written extensively on calligraphy: five of his books have been prescribed by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan in syllabi for Graduation and Master degrees in fine arts. His latest book “Pearls of Calligraphy”, contains, as the title suggests, specimens of some of the finest pieces of calligraphy done by him over the years.

Faisal Mosque Islamabad is one of the mosques that famous for its scribed calligraphy by Gauhar Qalam, which is kept in thirty showcases at the Faisal Mosque an outstanding piece of 406 styles. At the time of the extension of the mausoleum of Syed Ali Hujweria t Lahore Pakistan, he scribed Surah-e-Rehman over a total length of 308 feet and Darood-i-Taj over 108 feet, which could be a world record of wall Calligraphy. He is the only calligrapher from Pakistan whose work is on permanent display in the British Museum.

In his book “The Pearls of Calligraphy”, Gauhar Qalam writes: “When the Nabataean peoples rose to power, the Nabataean script was originated. From this script then was formed the Mullaqi script while about two hundred years before the arrival of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was invented the Hirah, following the name of the place. Afterwards, when Hirah came to be known as Kufa, this script was turned to the name of Kufic. At the advent of Islam, Kufic scrpt was already in use in its nascent fro known by the name of Jazm script. Thus the Holy Quran at the time of its revelation was scribed in this script. It may also be of interest to note that when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wrote letters to different rulers for the propagation of Islam, they were also written in this script.”
In Pakistan, there are lots of people who just not master on this art but also they are teaching youths to carry on this unique art to the next generations.

Mr. Gulgi of Pakistan was another famous name in the contribution of Quranic calligraphic not just in his own country but also in the Islamic world too. His scribed Quranic calligraphy on the wall of Faisal Mosque are absolutely mind blowing and rightly called pearls of calligraphy in the world.


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