The History of al-Tabari forms one of Islam‘s major religious sources, containing the most complete recension of Ibn Ishaq’sSirat Rasul Allah. There have been several false yet popular claims made concerning al-Tabari’s History.
Aisha’s Age at Consummation
A recurring claim is that Tabari states Aisha was at least ten years of age at the consummation of her marriage to ProphetMuhammad. As evidence, a Wikipedia article is often cited. The primary and secondary sources cited by Wikipedia are Tabari, Volume 9, Page 131; Tabari, Volume 7, Page 7 and the work of Karen Armstrong.
However, Volume 7, Page 7 says she was aged nine. Nowhere does it claim she was ten. Volume 9, Page 131 says three times that she was nine. Nowhere does it claim she was ten. Volume 39, Pages 171-173 also confirms the same thing.
The angel brought down my likeness; the Messenger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage wasconsummated when I was nine
; he married me when I was a virgin, no other man having shared me with him
I was then brought [in] while the Messenger of God was sitting on a bed in our house. [My mother] made me sit on his lap… Then the men and women got up and left. The Messenger of God consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old
. Neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered on behalf of me.
The Messenger of God saw ‘A’ishah twice-[first when] it was said to him that she was his wife (she was six years old at that time), and later [when] he consummated his marriage with her after coming to Medina when she was nine years old
[The Prophet] married her three years before the Emigration, when she was seven years old, and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old
, after he had emigrated to Medina in Shawwil. She was eighteen years old when he died.
The Prophet married Aishah in Shawwal in the tenth year after the [beginning of his] prophethood, three years before Emigration. He consummated the marriage in Shawwal, eight months after Emigration. On the day he consummated the marriage with her she was nine years old
Authenticity of Material
There is also the claim that Tabari left it to later scholars to distinguish the authenticity of his work. This is often mentioned as an attempt to sway others into dismissing Tabari’s works in their entirety.
However, contrary to this claim, Tabari provides the chain of narrators for each narration, and often, very explicitly, comments on their authenticity. Take for example, the narrations concerning the Islamic Creation story:
Consequently, because this is so and the report on the authority of the Messenger of God is sound
-namely, that he reported that what remained of the time of this world during his life was half a day, or five hundred years
Now then, this being so, there is [also] a sound tradition from the Messenger of God
told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr)'” -Abu Bakr b. ‘Ayyash-Abu Sad al-Baggal -‘Ikrimah Ibn ‘Abbas:
Our statement about the duration of the periods (azman) of this world from its very beginning to its very end is the most firmly established of all the statements we have
, on account of the testimony to its soundness as explained by us.
The two reports transmitted by us from the Messenger of God have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created after God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas on the authority of the Messenger of God
indicates that God created the sun and the moon on Friday.
These reports, mentioned by us on the authority of the Messenger of God and those who mentioned them on his authority
, have made it clear that God created the heavens and the earth before He created time, day and night, and the sun and the moon. God knows best!
As can be seen, this criticism of Tabari’s work has no merit. Readers are provided both the chain of narrators and their grading in some cases by Tabari himself.
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