The Age Of Khadija At The Time Of Her Marriage With The Prophet



Waqar Akbar Cheema


With the onset of modernity, the biographic details of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) have come under a lot of scrutiny along with, in some cases, attempts at revisionism. One such controversy is surrounding how old was Khadija when she married the Prophet, the first wife of the Prophet, at the time of her marriage to him. This paper surveys the various transmitted opinions regarding her age at the time of her marriage, and, with analytical rigor, establishes that the traditional convergence on the forty-year opinion has substantive backing from the earliest sources as compared to the recently resurgent twenty-eight-year opinion.[divider]

1. Introduction

It is generally agreed among historians, both Muslim and orientalist, that at the time of her marriage with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) – may the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah be upon him – his first wife, Khadija, was forty years old. In recent decades, however, some scholars have articulated the opinion that she was in fact twenty-eight. Among those who have popularized this opinion are Dr. Hamidullah and Dr. Akram Diya al-‘Umri. More recently, popular speakers like Dr. Yasir Qadhi have suggested that her being twenty-eight at the time of the marriage is in fact the stronger opinion. In an age where the biographic details of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) have become the subject of a lot of discussion, this new opinion has brought with it the suggestion that the traditional and more well-known opinion is based on apologetic considerations. It is, therefore, important to undertake a rigorous analysis of the available information. This paper is an attempt to do the same.

There are quite a few opinions transmitted about the Khadija age when married to the Prophet. Oddly, thirty[1] and forty-five years[2] are also mentioned as her age, but the most widely discussed are the Forty-Year opinion and the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion.

2. Evidence for the Forty-Year Opinion

The evidence for the popular Forty-Year opinion is of two types. Firstly, there are reports that clearly mention the age of Khadija at the time of her marriage with the Prophet, and secondly, there are narrations that mention her age at the time of her death in the tenth year after the proclamation of the message.

2.1 Reports Plainly Mentioning the Age

There are four reports that establish the Forty-Year opinion. Two of these reports come from Hakim bin Hizam, the nephew of Khadija:

أخبرنا محمد بن عمر. أخبرنا المنذر بن عبد الله الحزامي عن موسى بن عقبة عن أبي حبيبة مولى الزبير قال: سمعت حكيم بن حزام يقول: تزوج رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – خديجة وهي ابنة أربعين سنة ورسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ابن خمس وعشرين سنة. وكانت خديجة أسن مني بسنتين. وولدت قبل الفيل بخمس عشرة سنة وولدت أنا قبل الفيل بثلاث عشرة سنة.

Muhammad bin ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] said that al-Munzar bin Abdullah al-Hizami narrated from Musa bin ‘Uqba that Abi Habiba, the freed-slave of al-Zubair, said, I heard Hakim bin Hizam say: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married Khadija when she was forty and he was twenty-five. Khadija was two years older to me. She was born fifteen years before the Incident of the Elephant and I was born thirteen years before it.[3]


أخبرنا محمد بن عمر. أخبرنا مغيرة بن عبد الرحمن الأسدي عن أهله قالوا: سألنا حكيم بن حزام أيهما كان أسن رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أو خديجة. فقال: كانت خديجة أسن منه بخمس عشرة

Muhammad bin ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] reported that Mughira bin Abdul Rahman al-Asadi narrated from his family, who said: We asked Hakim bin Hizam who was older, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) or Khadija? He said: Khadija was fifteen years older to him.[4]

The third narration comes from Nafisa bint Munya, the very person who brought Khadija’s proposal to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Towards the end of her report about the proposal and the marriage, she mentions the ages of the couple. Muhammad ibn Sa‘d states:

قال: أخبرنا محمد بن عمر بن واقد الأسلمي. أخبرنا موسى بن شيبة عن عميرة بنت عبيد الله بن كعب بن مالك عن أم سعد بنت سعد بن الربيع عن نفيسة بنت منيةقالت: … وتزوجها رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وهو ابن خمس وعشرين سنة. وخديجة يومئذ بنت أربعين سنة. ولدت قبل الفيل بخمس عشرة سنة

Muhammad bin ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] narrated from Musa bin Shaiba, who narrated from ‘Umaira bint ‘Ubaidullah from Umm Sa’d bint Sa’d that Nafisa bint Munya said: … The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married and he was twenty-five years old. At that time Khadija was forty years old. She was born fifteen years before the Event of the Elephant.[5]

Moreover, al-Waqidi (d. 207/737) reports:

حدثنا محمد بن عبد الله، عن الزهري، قال: وحدثنا كثير بن زيد، عن المطلب بن عبد الله بن حنطب قالا: كانت أول امرأة تزوجها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قبل النبوة خديجة بنت خويلد … ثم تزوجها رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وهو يومئذ ابن خمس وعشرين سنة وخديجة ابنة أربعين سنة

Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah narrated to us from al-Zuhri and Kathir bin Zaid who narrated to us from al-Muttalib bin Abdullah bin Hantab: The first wife of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) before the pronouncement of the Prophethood was Khadija bint Khuwaylid.… Then the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married her when he was twenty-five and Khadija was forty years old.[6]

Likewise, al-Tabari (d. 310/923) quotes:

قال هشام بن محمد: نكح رسول الله ص خديجة، وهو ابن خمس وعشرين سنة، وخديجة يومئذ ابنة أربعين سنة.

Hisham bin Muhammad [al-Kalbi] stated: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married Khadija when he was twenty-five years old and Khadija was forty years old.[7]

2.2 Reports about Khadija’s Age at the Time of Death

It is established that Khadija died in the tenth year after the Prophet’s proclamation of the message, twenty-five years after her marriage with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).

عن هشام بن عروة قال: توفيت خديجة بنت خويلد رضي الله عنها وهي ابنة خمس وستين سنة

Hisham bin ‘Urwa said: Khadija bint Khuwaylid died at the age of sixty-five.[8]

محمد بن صالح، وعبد الرحمن بن عبد العزيز، قالا: توفيت خديجة لعشر خلون من شهر رمضان وذلك قبل الهجرة بثلاث سنين وهي يومئذ بنت خمس وستين سنة

Muhammad bin Salih and Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz both said: Khadija died on the tenth of Ramadan. It was three years before Hijra and Khadija was then sixty-five years old.[9]

 Likewise, al-Waqidi reports through the same narrators from the first report above:

حكيم بن حزام يقول:  توفيت خديجة بنت خويلد في شهر رمضان سنة عشر من النبوة وهي يومئذ بنت خمس وستين

Hakim bin Hizam said: Khadija bint Khuwaylid died in Ramadan in the tenth year of the Prophethood. She was then sixty-five years old.[10]

Similarly, in the report of al-Zuhri and al-Muttalib bin Abullah bin Hantab, it is stated:

وتوفيت خديجة لعشر خلون من شهر رمضان في السنة العاشرة من النبوة قبل الهجرة بثلاث سنين وهي بنت خمس وستين سنة

Khadija died on the tenth of Ramadan in the tenth year of Prophethood, three years before Hijra. She was sixty-five years old.[11]

2.3 Comparison with the age of Hakim bin Hizam

As already noted Hakim bin Hizam was a nephew of Khadija, though only two years younger to her. It is narrated from multiple sources that he died at the age of 120 in the year 54 A.H.[12] This means he was thirteen years older than the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) which in turn proves that Khadija was fifteen years older than the Prophet (ﷺ) and, therefore, confirms the Forty-Year opinion.

3. Evidence for the Twenty-Eight-Year Opinion

In terms of explicit narrations, the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion is based on the following two accounts.

أخبرنا هشام بن محمد بن السائب عن أبيه عن أبي صالح عن ابن عباس قال:كانت خديجة يوم تزوجها رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ابنة ثمان وعشرين سنة 

Hisham bin Muhammad bin al-Sa’ib reports from his father [Muhammad bin al-Sa’ib al-Kalbi] from Abu Salih that Ibn ‘Abbas said: At the time of marriage with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), Khadija was twenty-eight years old.[13]


عن محمد بن إسحاق، أن أبا طالب وخديجة بنت خويلد هلكا في عام واحد، وذلك قبل مهاجر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى المدينة بثلاث سنين، ودفنت خديجة بالحجون، ونزل في قبرها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وكان لها يوم تزوجها ثمان وعشرون سنة

Muhammad bin Ishaq said: Abu Talib and Khadija bint Khuwaylid died in the same year. This was three years before the emigration of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to Madina. Khadija was buried in al-Hajun. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) buried her in her grave. She was twenty-eight years old when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married her.[14]

4. Comparative Analysis of Evidence

The comparison between the evidence for the two opinions discussed above can be made along a number of lines.

4.1 Number of Narrations

The difference between the number of narrations for the two opinions is very significant.  For the Forty-Year opinion, we have three reports from Hakim bin Hizam, one from Nafisa bint Munya, and a report each from al-Zuhri, al-Muttalib bin ‘Abdullah bin Hantab, Hisham bin Muhammad al-Kalbi, Hisham bin ‘Urwa, Muhammad bin Salih, and ‘Abdul Rahman bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz. On the other hand, there are only two reports for the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion – one from Ibn ‘Abbas through the two Kalbis and another from Ibn Ishaq.

4.2 Authenticity of Narrations

All but one of the narrations for the Forty-Year Opinion come through Muhammad bin ‘Umar al-Waqidi who, though severely criticized,[15] is known for his extensive knowledge and is recognized as indispensable when it comes to historical accounts of the biographic details of the companions and the campaigns of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).[16]

For the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion, the narration from Ibn ‘Abbas comes through the notorious link “Abu Salih – Muhammad bin Sa’ib al-Kalbi” which falls in the “chain of lies.”[17]

Furthermore, scholars have stated that al-Waqidi, despite the criticism he has received, is far better than the two al-Kalbis. Ibn Taymiyyah states:

ومعلوم أن الواقدي نفسه خير عند الناس من مثل هشام بن الكلبي وأبيه محمد بن السائب وأمثالهما

It is known that for people al-Waqidi is better than Hisham bin al-Kalbi and his father Muhammad bin al-Sa’ib and the likes of them.[18]

4.3 The Original Informers

For the Forty-Year opinion, the original narrators are Hakim bin Hizam, who was the nephew of Khadija and only two years younger than her, and Nafisa bint Munya, who carried the proposal and its acceptance. For the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion, the only companion narrator, Ibn ‘Abbas, was born after or about the time of the death of Khadija.[19] All the other narrators for the two opinions are from later generations.

4.4 Consistency of Narrations

The reports for the Forty-Year opinion are consistent in that its narrators, including al-Waqidi, the main narrator, relay no other opinion,[20] whereas Hisham bin Muhammad al-Kalbi who falls in the chain of Ibn ‘Abbas’ narration for the Twenty-Five-Year opinion is also quoted by al-Tabari as giving the Forty-Year opinion.

4.5 Acceptance with the Scholars

Even in terms of acceptance with the scholars, both early and late, the Forty-Year opinion tarries better than the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion.

Al-Waqidi, besides giving numerous reports for the Forty-Year Opinion, states:

ونحن نقول ومن عندنا من أهل العلم إن خديجة ولدت قبل الفيل بخمس عشرة سنة. وإنها كانت يوم تزوجها رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بنت أربعين سنة.

We and the scholars around us [all] say that Khadija was born fifteen years before the Event of the Elephant and when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married her she was forty years old.[21]

Likewise, another early authority al-Baladhuri (d. 279/892) states:

وتزوج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خديجة وهو ابن خمس وعشرين سنة، وهي ابنة أربعين سنة. وذلك الثبت عند العلماء

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) married Khadija when he was twenty-five years old and she was forty years old. This is established with the scholars.[22]

Along with the narrators of the Forty-Year opinion, the scholars who preferred the Forty-Year opinion by either narrating only this or narrating this positively (bil-jazm) and the other(s) in a doubtful tone (sigha al-tamrid) include Ibn Habib (d. 245/860)[23], al-Mutahhir al-Maqdisi (d. circa 355/966),[24] al-Mawardi (d. 450/1058),[25] Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463/1071),[26] Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201),[27] Ibn al-Athir al-Jazari (d. 630/1233),[28] Ibn Sayyid al-Nas (d. 734/1334),[29] Ibn Jam’ah al-Kinani (d. 767/1366),[30] al-Maqrizi (d. 845/1441),[31] al-Malti (d. 920/1514),[32] and al-Zarqani (d. 1122/1710).[33]

On the contrary, there are not many scholars who prefer the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion. While al-Hakim (d. 405/1015) gives a narration of Ibn Ishaq (d. 151/768)  in favor of this opinion, it is neither found in Ibn Ishaq’s work on Sirah nor in Ibn Hisham’s better-known rendition of the same. At the least, I failed to find any well-known author of the Prophet’s biography referring to it except those from very recent times. Al-Hakim is apparently the only classical scholar who preferred the Twenty-Eight-Year opinion. After giving Hisham bin ‘Urwa’s narration for the Forty-Year opinion, al-Hakim states:

هذا قول شاذ، فإن الذي عندي أنها لم تبلغ ستين سنة

This is an anomalous [shadh] opinion. In my view she did not reach sixty years of age.[34]

It is, therefore, clear that among the well-known scholars only al-Hakim (d. 405/1015) preferred the Twenty-Eight-year opinion over the Forty-Year opinion whereas contemporaries and teachers of authorities like al-Waqidi (d. 207/737) and al-Baladhuri (d. 279/892) and many subsequent scholars of note clearly preferred the Forty-Year opinion.

4.1 On the alleged Mus‘ab b. ‘Abdullah statement

Some have referred to an alleged statement of Mus‘ab b. ‘Abdullah al-Zubairi (d. 236/851) suggests that he too preferred the Twenty-Eight opinion.[35] Before analyzing the claim let us see the full quote from the work cited in this connection. Al-Baihaqi (d. 458/1066)) mentions:

قال أبو عبد الله: قرأت بخط أبي بكر بن أبي خيثمة قال: حدثنا مصعب بن عبد الله الزبيري قال: أكبر ولد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم القاسم , ثم زينب، ثم عبد الله، ثم أم كلثوم، ثم فاطمة، ثم رقية قال مصعب: هم هكذا: الأول فالأول، ثم مات القاسم وهو أول ميت من ولده، مات بمكة، ثم مات عبد الله، ثم بلغت خديجة خمسا وستين سنة، ويقال خمسين سنة وهو أصح،

Abu ‘Abdullah [al-Hakim] said: I read in the writing of Abu Bakr b. Abi Khaithama that he said: Mus‘ab b. ‘Abdullah al-Zubairi related to us: First child of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was al-Qasim, next was Zainab, then ‘Abdullah, then ‘Umm Kulthum, then Ruqayya. Mus‘ab said: They were in this order. Thereafter, a-Qasim died and he was first of his children to die and he died in Makkah. Then ‘Abdullah too died. Khadija had then reached sixty-five years of age; and it was also said that she had reached her fifties and this is more correct.[36]

While one does get the impression that the final part in the above quote relevant to our topic had also comes from Mus‘ab b. ‘Abdullah, this is not actually the case.

Luckily the work of Mus‘ab b. ‘Abdullah is extant and has been published. It has come under the title Nasab Quraish. In Mus‘ab’s work the report goes as:

فولد رسول الله – صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ -: القاسم، وهو أكبر ولده؛ ثم زينب؛ ثم عبد الله؛ ثم أم كلثوم، ثم فاطمة؛ ثم رقية؛ هم هكذا، الأول فالأول. ثم مات عبد الله. ثم ولدت له مارية بنت شمعون بن إبراهيم، وهي القبطية التي أهداها إلى رسول الله – صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – المقوقس صاحب الإسكندرية، …

Al-Qasim was born to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and he was eldest of his children. Then was Zainab, then ‘Abdullah, then ‘Umm Kulthum, then Fatima, then Ruqayya, They were in this order. Then ‘Abdullah died. Thereafter Mariya bt. Sham‘un bore him a son named Ibrahim. Mariya was a Copt gifted to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) by Maquqas, the ruler of Alexandria …[37]

Mus‘ab’s own work, one can see, has no comment on the age of Khadija. A number of later scholars have quoted these lines from Mus‘ab’s nephew Zubair al-Bakkar (d. 256/870) and as a rule, have nothing on the age of Khadija.[38] They either go on to give the fuller quote from Mus‘ab mentioning the birth of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) children and the death of his sons from Khadija followed by the mention of birth of Ibrahim from Mariya as with Ibn Asakir (d. 571/1176)[39] and Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373)[40] or they turn to some other quote or discussion as with Ibn Manda (d. 395/1005)[41] and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463/1071).[42] The signal omission of any comment on the age of Khadija with these authors tells us that the comment with al-Baihaqi was not actually from Mus‘ab but from al-Baihaqi himself or at best his teacher Abu ‘Abdullah al-Hakim who we know opined thus, as already noted. What substantiates this reading is the fact that Mus‘ab’s published work is based on the transmission through Abu Bakr b. Abi Khaithama (d. 279/893)[43] in whose writing al-Hakim had read Mus‘ab’s statement. The absence of the words under consideration in the actual work al-Hakim perused confirms our understanding that they cannot be attributed to Mus‘ab.

5. ‘Rational’ Argument on Biological Grounds

In the past century, however, we have seen people using rationalist arguments based on biological contentions to undermine the Forty-Year opinion and highlight the other opinions. This has been done by scholars from both the orientalist camp and (mostly) non-traditionalists in the Muslim camp.

Among the orientalists, Montgomery Watt (d. 2006) says:

The age of Khadijah has perhaps been exaggerated. The names of the seven children whom she bore to Muhammad are mentioned in the sources – al-Qasim, Ruqayyah, Zainab, Umm Kulthum, Fatimah, ‘Abdallah (at-Tayyib), and at-Tahir; of these the boys all died young. Even if, as one of Ibn Sa’d’s authorities says, they came at regular yearly intervals, that would make her forty-eight before the last was born. This is by no means impossible, but one would have thought it sufficiently unusual to merit comment; it is even the sort of thing that might well have been treated as miraculous. Yet no single word of comment occurs in the pages of Ibn Hisham, Ibn Sa’d, or at-Tabari.[44]

Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah (d. 2002) writes:

According to most chroniclers, she was forty years old at that time, but Ibn Habib and Baladhuri assure us that she was only 28.[45]

In notes to the above he adds:

this latter reports [sic] seems preferable on biological grounds, since seven children were born to her from the Holy Prophet.[46]

The same has been mentioned by Dr. Akram Diya al-‘Umri[47] and Dr. Yasir Qadi[48]. Hakim Niaz Ahmad, in his uselessly laborious work on revisionist contentions around the age of Aisha, also questions the Forty-Year pinion about age of Khadija for the same kind of ‘rationalist’ contentions.[49]

As accepted by Watt, bearing children during her 40s is by no means impossible for a woman. This is especially true if we consider the following observation made by an expert of genealogies Al-Zubair bin Bakkar:

قال: الزبير وسمعت علماءنا يقولون لا تحمل امرأة بعد ستين سنة إلا من قريش، ولا بعد خمسين إلا عربية.

I have heard the scholars saying, ‘No woman bears a child after sixty except if she is from the Quraysh nor does she bear one after fifty except if she is an Arab.[50]

Al-Jahiz (d. 255/869) makes a similar observation:

أنه يقال إن النساء لا يلدن إذا بلغن الستين إلا ما يحكى عن نساء قريشٍ خاصة

It is said that women do not bear children when they reach sixty, except for what is told of the women of Quraysh in particular.[51]

This proves that it was not weird for an Arab or Qurayshi woman to bear children during her 40s or even 50s. The statement of al-Zubair bin Bakkar comes with the mention of a woman who bore a child in her 60s. Another possible example can be Umm Ayman who was married to Zaid bin Haritha and bore him Usama bin Zaid when she was nearly sixty years old.[52].

‘Aisha too is said to have mentioned that it was rare for women in their fifties to be able to conceive except for the women of Quraish.[53]

According to most authorities, Khadija had four daughters and two sons. The youngest of them was ‘Abdullah about whom the scholars differ on whether he was born before or after the proclamation of the message.[54] The latest estimate is that he was born a year after the proclamation of the message when the Prophet (ﷺ) was forty-one and Khadija fifty-six.[55] Therefore, it makes little sense to advance biological reasons or lack of awe on the part of early historians to question what has been widely accepted from the earliest times.

6. Conclusion

The well-known opinion that Khadija was forty years old at the time of her marriage with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) is overwhelmingly strong in terms of both direct and indirect evidence. Compared to it the other opinions, including the Twenty-Eight-Year one, are either signally weak or altogether baseless.


References & Notes:

[1] Al-Zarqani, Sharh Mawahib al-Ladinya, Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-‘Ilmiyya, 1996, Vol.4, 364

[2] Al-Nawawi, Tahdhib al-Asma’ wa al-Lughat, Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-‘Ilmiyya, Vol.2, 342

[3] Ibn Sa’d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, 1990, Vol.8, 13

[4] Ibid., Vol.8, 12

[5] Ibid., Vol.1, 105

[6] Ibid., Vol.8, 174

[7] Al-Tabari, Muhammad bin Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wal Muluk, Beirut: Dar al-Turath, 1387 AH, Vol.2, 180

[8] Al-Hakim, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Mustadrak, Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, 1990, Vol.3, 201 No. 4838

[9] Ibn Sa’d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.8, 14

[10] Ibid., Vol.8, 15

[11] Ibid., Vol.8, 174

[12] Al-Busti, Ibn Hibban, al-Thiqat, Hyderabad: Da’ira al-M’arif, 1973, Vol.3, 71; al-Baghawi, Abu al-Qasim, Mu’jam al-Sahaba, Kuwait: Dar l-Bayan, 2000, Vol.2, 112; al-Nawawi, Tahdhib al-Asma’ wa al-Lughat, Vol.1, 157; al-Sam’ani, ‘Abdul Karim, al-Ansab, Hyderabad: Da’ira al-M’arif, 1962, 214

[13] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol.8, 13

[14] Al-Hakim, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Mustadrak, Vol.3, 200 No. 4837

[15] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib at-Tahdhib, Hyderabad: Da’ira Ma’arif an-Nizamiya, 1326 AH. Vol. 9, 366-367

[16] Al-Dhahabi, Shams al-Din, Tadhkira al-Huffaz, Beirut: Dar al-Kitab, 1998, Vol.1, 254; also al-Dhahabi, Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubala, Cairo: Dar al-Hadith, 2006, Vol.8, 158; and al-Hamawi, Shihab al-Din, Mu’jam al-Adaba, Beirut: Dar al-Gharab al-Islami, 1993, Vol.6 No. 1096

[17] Al-Suyuti, Jalal al-Din, Tadrib al-Rawi fi Sharh Taqrib al-Nawawi, Dar al-Tayba, n.d., Vol.1, 198

[18] Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu’a al-Fatawa, Madina: Kind Fahad Printing Press, 1995, Vol.27, 469

[19] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari, Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifa, 1379 AH, Vol.11, 90; also see al-Dhahabi, Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubala, Vol.4, 383

[20] Ibn Kathir attributes to al-Waqidi the opinion that Khadija was forty-five years old, al-Sira al-Nabawiya, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifa, 1976) Vol.4, 581. However, it is untenable as it is not substantiated by any chain of narrators or a reference to an earlier work.

[21] Ibn Sa’d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.8, 13

[22] Al-Baladhuri, Ahmad bin Yahya, Ansab al-Ashraf, Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1996, Vol.1, 98

[23] Ibn Habib, al-Muhabbar, Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Jadida, n.d., 79

[24] Al-Maqdisi, al-Mutahhir, al-Bad‘ wa al-Tarikh, Port Said: Maktaba Thaqafa al-Diniya, n.d., Vol.4, 138 and Vol.5, 10

[25] Al-Mawardi, Abu al-Hasan, A’lam al-Nubuwwa, Beirut: Maktaba al-Hilal, 1409, 180

[26] Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Isti’ab fi Ma’rifa al-Ashab, Amman: Dar al-A’lam, 2002, 888 No. 3279

[27] Ibn al-Jawzi, Abu al-Faraj, al-Muntazam fi al-Tarikh, Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-‘Ilmiya, 1992, Vol.2, 315

[28] Al-Jazari, Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghaba, Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1989, Vol.6, 80 No. 6867

[29] Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, ‘Uyun al-Athar, Beirut: Dar al-Qalam, 1993, Vol.1, 64

[30] Al-Kinani, Ibn Jam’ah, al-Mukhtasar al-Kabir fi Sirat al-Rasul, Amman: Dar al-Bashir, 1993, 91

[31] Al-Maqrizi, Ahmad bin ‘Ali, Imta’ al-Asma’, Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, 1999,  Vol.6, 29

[32] Al-Malti, Zain al-Din, Ghaya al-Sul fi Sira al-Rasul, Beirut: ‘Alam al-Kitab, 1988, 32

[33] Al-Zarqani, Sharh Mawahib al-Ladinya, Vol.4, 364

[34] Al-Hakim, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Mustadrak, Vol.3, 201

[35] Dr. Yasir Qadhi’s video lecture, “Mothers of the Believers pt.3 | Khadija bint Khuwaylid (pt.1)” Time Slice 1:06:10 – 1:11:35

[36] Al-Baihaqi, Abu Bakr, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, 1988) Vol.2, 70-71

[37] Al-Zubairi, Mus‘ab b. ‘Abdullah, Nasab Quraish, Edited by Évariste Lévi-Provençal (Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif, n.d.) 21

[38] Al-Tabarani, Abu al-Qasim, al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, (Cairo: Maktaba Ibn Taimiyya, 1994) Vol.21, 397 Hadith 987

[39] Ibn ‘Asakir, Abu al-Qasim, Tarikh Damishq, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1995) Vol.3, 131

[40] Ibn Kathir, al-Sira al-Nabawiya, Vol.4, 608-609

[41] Ibn Manda, Ma‘rifah al-Sahaba, (Al-Ain: UAE University Press, 2006) 930

[42] Al-Qurtabi, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifa al-Ashab, (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1992)  Vol.4, 1818-1819

[43] Lévi-Provençal, Évariste (editor) / al-Zubairi, Mus‘ab b. ‘Abdullah, Nasab Quraish, 7-8 (Muqaddima)

[44] Watt, Montgomery, Muhammad at Mecca, London: Oxford University Press, 1953, 38

[45] Hamidullah, Dr., Le Prophete de l’Islam: Sa Vie et Son Ouvre/ The Life and Work of the Prophet of Islam, Translated by Dr. Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, New Delhi: Adam Publishers, 2007, 49. This is really a strange assertion on the part of Dr. Hamidullah as we have seen above both Ibn Habib and al-Baladhuri preferred the Forty-Year opinion over the Twenty-Eight Year opinion.

[46] Ibid., 54

[47] Al-‘Umri, Akram Diya, al-Sira al-Nabawiya al-Sahiha, Madina: Maktaba al-‘Ulum wa al-Hikam, 1994, 113

[48] See his video lecture, “Seerah of Prophet Muhammed Episode 9 – Marriage to Khadija & Re-building Kaa’ba”, Time Slice 21:39 – 24:44

[49] Ahmad, Hakim Niaz, Kashf al-Ghumma ‘an ‘Umar Umm al-Umma – Tahqiq ‘Umar Aisha, Karachi: Mashkur Academy, n.d., Vol.2, 3-5

[50] Al-Baghdadi, Khatib, Tarikh Baghdad, Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 2002, Vol.15, 11

[51] Al-Jahiz, Abu ‘Uthman, “Fakhar al-Sudan ‘ala al-Bidan” included in Rasa’il al-Jahiz, Cairo: Maktabat al-Khaniji, 1964, Vol.1, 213; elsewhere al-Jahiz records statements suggesting that Arab women used to maintain good looks till they were well advanced in age, al-Mahasin wa al-Aḍdad, Beirut: Maktaba al-Hilal, 187. This is not to suggest that women above forties appeared like girls but perhaps this is one reason it was not considered weird or abnormal to marry older women. This answers Hakim Niaz Ahmad who could not make sense of the Prophet (ﷺ) marrying a 40-year-old lady at the age of twenty-five, and instead attributed it to an alleged desire on the part of Muslims to see something ‘unnatural’ in Prophet’s conduct, Kashf al-Ghumma, Vol.2, 3

[52] Zaid was ten years younger to the Prophet (ﷺ) (Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol.3, 32) whereas Umm Ayman had nursed him (Al-Bukhari, Al-Sahih, Hadith 3737). Zaid and Umm Ayman were married after the Prophet (ﷺ) had pronounced the message (al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, Hadith 6910) This means Zaid was about thirty-five and Umm Ayman nearly sixty years old when Usama was born.

[53] Al-Baji, Abu al-Walid, al-Muntaqa Sharh al-Muwatta, (Cairo: Dar al-Kitab al-Islami, n.d.) Vol.1, 126; see also al-Dakhil, Sa‘id Fadel, Mawsu‘a Fiqh ‘Aisha Umm al-Mu’minin Hiyatuha wa Fiqhuha, (Beirut: Dar al-Nafa’is, 1989) 95-96

[54] Ibn al-Qayyim, Zaad al-Ma’ad, Beirut: al-Risala Publishers, 1994, Vol.1, 101

[55] Al-Faluza, Muhammad Ilyas, al-Mawsu’a fi Sahih al-Sirah al-Nabawiya, Makkah: Matabi’ al-Safa, 1423, 139

About the author

Waqar Akbar Cheema

1 comment

  • Masha Allah, very well written and defended.

    It’s pretty ignorant to claim that a woman after 40 has some biological limitations to bear children. Living in this country, I have personally seen women having 10-12 children and a good majority of them were born after the woman crossed 40.

    I think it’s just an unnecessary exercise to make the traditional Seerah dubious.

    BarakaAllahu feek. Very comprehensive.

    May Allah protect us all.