Muhammad and Aisha Revisited:
An Examination of Muhammad’s Marriage to a Prepubescent Girl And Its Moral Implications
Not only Christians, not only Westerners, but many people from various cultures are troubled when they discover that Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, married a nine-year-old girl named Aisha. Some go so far as to accuse Muhammad of being a pedophile, using such emotive language as "child molester" to describe Muhammad for marrying a young prepubescent girl.
This has led many a Muslim to either reject the traditions which document Aisha’s young age when she married Muhammad, or to come up with some type of moral justification defending Muhammad’s marriage to a minor. Our focus here is to examine what the Muslim sources say about Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha and also address the common Muslim arguments that are raised either defending the story or rejecting it as simply erroneous.
We will break down our response into two parts. In this first section, we will present the data from recognized Muslim sources (primarily Sunni sources) in order to see what they say in regard to Aisha’s age at the time of her marriage. We will also be raising some other points that either directly or indirectly relate to the issue of Aisha’s young age at the time of her marriage.
In the second section, we will try to interact with the typical Muslim arguments that are often raised in relation to this topic.
The Islamic Evidence
We now present the Islamic data showing that Aisha was a girl of nine when Muhammad consummated his marriage to her. All bold, capital and underlined emphasis is ours.
The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234)
Narrated Hisham's father:
Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 236)
Allah's Apostle said to me, "You were shown to me twice (in my dream) before I married you. I saw an angel carrying you in a silken piece of cloth, and I said to him, 'Uncover (her),' and behold, it was you. I said (to myself), 'If this is from Allah, then it must happen.' Then you were shown to me, the angel carrying you in a silken piece of cloth, and I said (to him), 'Uncover (her), and behold, it was you. I said (to myself), 'If this is from Allah, then it must happen.'" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 140; see also Number 139)
that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64; see also Numbers 65 and 88)
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house at the age of nine. She further said: We went to Medina and I had an attack of fever for a month, and my hair had come down to the earlobes. Umm Ruman (my mother) came to me and I was at that time on a swing along with my playmates. She called me loudly and I went to her and I did not know what she had wanted of me. She took hold of my hand and took me to the door, and I was saying: Ha, ha (as if I was gasping), until the agitation of my heart was over. She took me to a house, where had gathered the women of the Ansar. They all blessed me and wished me good luck and said: May you have share in good. She (my mother) entrusted me to them. They washed my head and embellished me and nothing frightened me. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came there in the morning, and I was entrusted to him. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3309; see also 3310)
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3311)
SUNAN ABU DAWUD
Aisha said: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) married me when I was seven years old. The narrator Sulaiman said: Or six years. He had intercourse with me when I was nine years old. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Number 2116)
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) married me when I was seven or six. When we came to Medina, some women came. According to Bishr's version: Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him), and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4915)
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) used to kiss her and suck her tongue when he was fasting. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 13, Number 2380)
… When Hadrat Aisha passed nine years of marriage life, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fell in mortal sickness… ‘A’isha was eighteen years of age at the time when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away and she remained a widow for forty-eight years till she died at the age of sixty-seven. She saw the rules of four Caliphs in her lifetime. She died on Ramadan 58 A.H. during the Caliphate of Hadrat Amir Mu‘awiya… (Sunan Nasa'i: English translation with Arabic Text, compiled by Imam Abu Abd-ur-Rahman Ahmad Nasa'i, rendered into English by Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqui [Kazi Publication, 121-Zulqarnain Chambers, Gampat Road, Lahore, Pakistan; first edition, 1994], Volume 1, p. 108)
1876. ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) is reported to have said: Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) contracted marriage with me while I was (yet) a six years [sic] old girl. Then we arrived at Medina and stayed with Banu Harith b. Khazraj. I fell victim to fever; then my hair (of the head fell off (and became scattered). Then they became plenty and hanged down upto [sic] the earlobes. My mother ‘Umm Ruman came to me while I was (playing) in a swing alongwith [sic] my play-mates. She (the mother) called me loudly. I went to her and I did not know what he [sic] wanted. She seized my hand and stopped me at the door of the house and I was hearing [sic] violently until the agitation of my heart was over. Then she took some water and wiped it over my face and head. Then she admitted me to the house when some woman [sic] of Ansar were present in the house. They said, "You have entered with blessings and good fortune." Then she (the mother) entrusted me to them. So they embellished me and nothing frightened me but Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) (when he came there) in the morning and they (the women) entrusted me to him. On that day, I was a nine years [sic] old girl."
1877. Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said, "The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married ‘A’isha while she was a seven years [sic] old girl and took him [sic] to his house as a bride when she was nine years old and he parted with her (after his demise) when she was eighteen years old."
According to Al-Zawa‘id its isnad is sahih in accordance with the condition prescribed by Bukhari, but munqata because Abu ‘Ubaida did not hear from his father. Shu‘ba Abu Hatim and Ibn Hibban mentioned him amongst the authentic and reliable authorities. Tirmidhi in al-Jami’ and al-Mazzi in al-Atraf (has expressed the same opinion). Nasa‘i has transmitted this hadith in al-Sughra from the hadith ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her). (Sunan Ibn-I-Majah, Imam Abdullah Muhammad B. Yazid Ibn-I-Maja Al-Qazwini, English version by Muhammad Tufail Ansari [Kazi Publications, 121-Zulqarnain Chambers, Gampat Road, Lahore Pakistan, first edition, 1995], volume III, pp. 133-134)
He married ‘A’isha in Mecca when she was a child of seven and lived with her in Medina when she was nine or ten. She was the only virgin that he married. Her father, Abu Bakr, married her to him and the apostle gave her four hundred dirhams. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah (The Life of Muhammad), translated by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, tenth impression 1995], p. 792)
In this year also the Messenger of God consummated his marriage with ‘A’ishah. This was in Dhu al-Qa‘dah (May-June 623) eight months after his arrival in Medina according to some accounts, or in Shawwal (April-May 623) seven months after his arrival according to others. He had married her in Mecca three years before the Hijrah, after the death of Khadijah. At that time she was six or, according to other accounts, seven years old.
According to ‘Ab al-Hamid b. Bayan al-Sukkari- Muhammad b. Yazid- Isma‘il (that is, Ibn Abi Khalid)- ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Abi al-Dahhak- a man from Quraysh- ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad: ‘Abd Allah b. Safwan together with another person came to ‘A’ishah, and ‘A’ishah said (to the latter), "O so-and-so, have you heard what Hafsah has been saying?" He said, "Yes, O Mother of the Faithful." ‘Abd Allah b. Safwan asked her, "What is that?" She replied, "There are nine special features in me that have not been in any woman, except for what God bestowed on Maryam bt. ‘Imran. By God, I do not say this to exalt myself over any of my companions." "What are these?" he asked. She replied, "The angel brought down my likeness; the Messenger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage was consummated when I was nine; he married me when I was a virgin, no other man having shared me with him; inspiration came to him when he and I were in a single blanket; I was one of the dearest people to him, a verse of the Qur’an was revealed concerning me when the community was almost destroyed; I saw Gabriel when none of his other wives saw him; and he was taken (that is, died) in his house when there was nobody with him but the angel and myself."
According to Abu Ja‘far (Al-Tabari): The Messenger of God married her, so it is said, in Shawwal, and consummated his marriage to her in a later year, also in Shawwal. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Foundation of the Community, translated by M.V. McDonald annotated by W. Montgomery Watt [State University of New York Press, Albany 1987], Volume VII, pp. 6-7)
Sa‘id b. Yahya b. Sa‘id al-Umawi- his father- Muhammad b. ‘Amr- Yahya b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Hatib- ‘A’isha: When Khadijah died, Khawlah bt. Hakim b. Umayyah b. al-Awqas, wife of ‘Uthman b. Maz‘un, who was in Mecca, said [to the Messenger of God], "O Messenger of God, will you not marry?" He replied, "Whom?" "A maiden," she said, "if you like, or a non-maiden." He replied, "Who is the maiden?" "The daughter of the dearest creature of God to you," she answered, "‘A’ishah bt. Abi Bakr." He asked, "And who is the non-maiden?" "Sawdah bt. Zam‘ah b. Qays," she replied, "she has [long] believed in you and has followed you." [So the Prophet] asked her to go and propose to them on his behalf.
She went to Abu Bakr’s house, where she found Umm Ruman, mother of ‘A’ishah, and said, "O Umm Ruman, what a good thing and a blessing has God brought to you!" She said, "What is that?" Khawlah replied, "The Messenger of God has sent me to ask for ‘A’ishah’s hand in marriage on his behalf." She answered, "I ask that you wait for Abu Bakr, for he should be on his way." When Abu Bakr came, Khawlah repeated what she had said. He replied, "She is [like] his brother’s daughter. Would she be appropriate for him?"
When Khawlah returned to the Messenger of God and told him about it he said, "Go back to him and say that he is my brother in Islam and that I am his brother [in Islam], so his daughter is good for me." She came to Abu Bakr and told him what the Messenger of God had said. Then he asked her to wait until he returned.
Umm Ruman said that al-Mut‘im b. ‘Adi had asked ‘A’ishah’s hand for his son, but Abu Bakr had not promised anything. Abu Bakr left and went to Mut‘im while his wife, mother of the son for whom he had asked ‘A’ishah’s hand, was with him. She said, "O son of Abu Quhafah, perhaps we could marry our son to your daughter if you could make him leave his religion and bring him in to the religion which you practice." He turned to her husband al-Mut‘im and said, "What is she saying?" He replied, "She says [what you have heard]." Abu Bakr left, [realizing that] God had [just] removed the problem he had in his mind. He said to Khawlah, "Call the Messenger of God." She called him and he came. Abu Bakr married [‘A’ishah] to him when she was [only] six years old. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala [State University of New York Press, Albany 1990], Volume IX, pp. 129-130)
‘A’ishah states: We came to Medina and Abu Bakr took up quarters in al-Sunh among the Banu al-Harith b. al-Khazraj. The Messenger of God came to our house and men and women of the Ansar gathered around him. My mother came to me WHILE I WAS BEING SWUNG ON A SWING BETWEEN TWO BRANCHES AND GOT ME DOWN. Jumaymah, my nurse, took over and wiped my face with some water and started leading me. When I was at the door, she stopped so I could catch my breath. 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 and said, "These are your relatives. May God bless you with them and bless them with you!" 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. Only Sa‘d b. ‘Ubaidah sent a bowl of food which he used to send to the Messenger of God.
‘Ali b. Nasr- ‘Abd al-Samad b. ‘Abd al-Warith- ‘Abd al-Warith b. ‘Abd al-Samad- his father- Aban al-‘Attar- Hisham b. ‘Urwah- ‘Urwah: He wrote to ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwan stating that he had written to him about Khadijah bt. Khuwaylid, asking him about when she died. She died three years or close to that before the Messenger of God’s departure from Mecca, and he married ‘A’ishah after Khadijah’s death. 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 she was nine years old.
(The report goes back to Hisham b. Muhammad. See above, I, 1766). Then the Messenger of God married ‘A’ishah bt. Abi Bakr, whose name is ‘Atiq b. Abi Quhafah, who is ‘Uthman, and is called ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Uthman b. ‘Amir b. ‘Amir b. Ka‘b b. Sa‘d b. Taym b. Murrah: [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 Shawwal. She was eighteen years old when he died. The Messenger of God did not marry any maiden except her. (The History of al-Tabari, Volume IX, pp. 130-131)
‘A’ishah, daughter of Abu Bakr.
Her mother was Umm Ruman bt. ‘Umayr b. ‘Amr, of the Banu Duhman b. al-Harith b. Ghanm b. Malik b. Kinanah.
The Prophet married ‘A’ishah 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.
According to Ibn ‘Umayr [al-Waqidi]- Musa b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman- Raytah- ‘Amrah [bt. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Sa’d]: ‘A’ishah was asked when the Prophet consummated his marriage with her, and she said:
The Prophet left us and his daughters behind when he emigrated to Medina. Having arrived at Medina, he sent Zayd b. Harithah and his client Abu Rafi’ for us. He gave them two camels and 500 dirhams he had taken from Abu Bakr to buy [other] beasts they needed. Abu Bakr sent with them ‘Abdallah b. Urayqit al-Dili, with two or three camels. He wrote to [his son] ‘Abdallah b. Abi Bakr to take his wife Umm Ruman, together with me and my sister Asma’, al-Zubayr’s wife, [and leave for Medina]. They all left [Medina] together, and when they arrived at Qudayd Zayd b. Harithah bought three camels with those 500 dirhams. All of them then entered Mecca, where they met Talhah b. ‘Ubaydallah on his way to leave town, together with Abu Bakr’s family. So we all left: Zayd b. Harithah, Abu Rafi’, Fatimah, Umm Kulthum, and Sawdah bt. Zam‘ah. Ayd mounted Umm Ayman and [his son] Usamah b. Zayd on a riding beast; ‘Abdallah b. Abi Bakr took Umm Ruman and his two sisters, and Talhah b. ‘Ubaydallah came [too]. We all went together, and when we reached Bayd in Tamanni my camel broke loose. I was sitting in the litter together with my mother, and she started exclaiming "Alas, my daughter, alas [you] bride"; then they caught up with our camel, after it had safely descended the Lift. We then arrived at Medina, and I stayed with Abu Bakr’s children, and [Abu Bakr] went to the Prophet. The latter was then busy building the mosque and our homes around it, where he [later] housed his wives. We stayed in Abu Bakr’s house for a few days; then Abu Bakr asked [the Prophet] "O Messenger of God, what prevents you from consummating the marriage with your wife?" The Prophet said "The bridal gift (sadaq)." Abu Bakr gave him the bridal gift, twelve and a half ounces [of gold], and the Prophet sent for us. He consummated our marriage in my house, the one where I live now and where he passed away. (The History of Al-Tabari: Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors, translated by Ella Landau-Tasseron [State University of New York Press, Albany 1998], Volume XXXIX, pp. 171-173; underline emphasis ours)
Yunus b. Bukayr stated, from Hisham b. ‘Urwa, from his father who said, "The Messenger of God (SAAS) married ‘A’isha three years after (the death of) Khadija. At that time (of the contract) ‘A’isha had been a girl of six. When he married her she was nine. The Messenger of God (SAAS) died when ‘A’isha was a girl of eighteen. "
This tradition is considered gharib (unique in this line).
Al-Bukhari had related, from ‘Ubayd b. Isma‘il, from Abu Usama, from Hisham b. ‘Urwa, from his father, who said, "Khadija died three years before the emigration of the Prophet (SAAS). He allowed a couple of years or so to pass after that, and then he contracted marriage with ‘A’isha when she was six, thereafter consummating marriage with her when she was nine years old."
What ‘Urwah stated here is mursal, incomplete, as we mentioned above, but in its content it must be judged as muttasil, uninterrupted.
His statement, "He contracted marriage with ‘A’isha when she was six, thereafter consummating marriage with her when she was nine" IS NOT DISPUTED BY ANYONE, and is well established in the sahih collections of traditions and elsewhere.
He consummated marriage with her during the second year following the emigration to Medina.
His contracting marriage with her took place some three years after Khadija’s death, though there is disagreement over this.
The hafiz Ya‘qub b. Sufyan stated, "Al-Hajjaj related to us, that Hammad related to him, from Hisham b. ‘Urwa, from his father, from ‘A’isha, who said, ‘The Messenger of God (SAAS), contracted marriage with me (after) Khadija’s death and before his emigration from Mecca, when I was six years old. After we arrived in Medina some women came to me while I was playing on a swing; my hair was like that of a boy. They dressed me up and put make-up on me, then took me to the Messenger of God (SAAS), and he consummated our marriage. I was a girl of nine.’"
The statement here "muttawaffa Khadija", "Khadija’s death" has to mean that it was shortly thereafter. Unless, that is, the word, ba‘da, "after", originally preceded this phrase and had been omitted from the account. The statement made by Yunus b. Bukayr and Abu Usama from Hisham b. ‘Urwa, from his father, is, therefore, not refuted. But God knows best. (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume II, translated by professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Muneer Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, first paper edition, 2000], pp. 93-94)
Next, the Prophet… married Um Abdallah, Aishah, as-Siddiqah (the truthful one), daughter of as-Siddiq (the truthful one) Abu Bakr ibn Abi Qu’hafah, whom Allah has exonerated from above the seven heavens. ‘Aishah bint Abu Bakr was the beloved wife of the Prophet… The angel showed Aishah… to the Prophet… while she was wrapped in a piece of silk cloth, before he married her, and said to him. "This is your wife." The Prophet… married Aishah… during the lunar month of Shawwal, when she was six, and consummated the marriage in the first year after the Hijrah, in the month of Shawwal, when she was nine. The Prophet… did not marry any virgin, except Aishah… and the revelation never came to him while he was under the blanket with any of his wives, except Aishah. (Ibn Qayyim Al-Juaziyyah, Zad-ul Ma’ad fi Hadyi Khairi-l ‘Ibad (Provisions for the Hereafter, From the Guidance of Allah’s Best Worshipper), translated by Jalal Abualrub, edited by Alaa Mencke & Shaheed M. Ali [Madinah Publishers & Distributors, Orlando, Fl: First edition, December 2000], Volume I, pp. 157-158)
During the same year that followed Khadijah’s death, the Prophet dreamed that he saw a man who was carrying someone wrapped in a piece of silk. The man said to him: "This is thy wife, so uncover her." The Prophet lifted the silk and there was ‘A’ishah. But ‘A’ishah was only six years old, and he had passed his fiftieth year. Moreover Abu Bakr had promised her to Mut‘im for his son Jubayr. The Prophet simply said to himself: "If this be from God, He will bring it to pass." …
Meantime Abu Bakr approached Mut‘im, who was persuaded without difficulty to forgo the marriage of ‘A’ishah to his son; and, some months after the marriage of Sawdah, ‘A’ishah also became the Prophet’s wife, through a marriage contracted by him and her father, at which she herself was not present. She said afterwards, that she had her first inkling of her new status when one day she was playing with her friends outside, not far from their house, and her mother came and too her by the hand and led her indoors, telling her that henceforth she must not go out to play, and that her friends must come to her instead. ‘A’ishah dimly guessed the reason, though her mother did not immediately tell her that she was married; and apart from having to play in their courtyard instead of in the roads, her life continued as before. (Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources [Inner Traditions, International, Ltd.; Rochester Vermont, 1983], pp. 105-106)
The Prophet and his daughters now went to live with Sawda in her new house; and after a month or two it was decided that ‘A’ishah’s wedding should take place. She was then only nine years old, a child of remarkable beauty, as might have been expected from her parentage…
Small preparations were made for the wedding- not enough, at any rate for ‘A’ishah to have had a sense of a great and solemn occasion, and shortly before they were due to leave the house she had slipped out into the courtyard to play with her passing friend. In her own words: "I was playing on a see-saw and my long streaming hair was disheveled. They came and took me from my play and made me ready."
Abu Bakr had bought some fine red-striped cloth from Bahrain and it had been made into a wedding-dress for her. In this they now clothed her. Then her mother took her to the newly built house where some women of the Helpers were waiting for her outside the door. They greeted her with the words "For good and for happiness- may all be well!" and led her into the presence of the Prophet. He stood their smiling and combed her hair and decked her with ornaments. Unlike his other marriages, at this there was no wedding feast… then they all went their ways, and the bridegroom and the bride were left together.
For the last three years scarcely a day had passed by without one or more of ‘A’ishah’s friends coming to play with her in the courtyard adjoining her father’s house. Her removal to the Prophet’s house changed nothing in this respect. Friends now came every day to visit her in her own apartment – new friends made since her arrival in Medina and also some of the old ones whose parents, like hers, had emigrated. "I would be playing with my dolls," she said, "with the girls who were my friends, and the Prophet would come in and they would steal out of the house and he would go out after them and bring them back, for he was pleased for my sake to have them there." Sometimes he would say "Stay where ye are" before they had time to move. He would also join in their games sometimes, FOR HE LOVED CHILDREN [Sam- meaning Aisha was only a child like them] and had often played with his own daughters. The dolls of puppets had many different roles. "One day," said ‘A’ishah, "the Prophet came in when I was playing with the dolls and he said: ‘O ‘A’ishah, whatever game is this?’ I said: ‘It is Solomon’s horses,’ and he laughed." But sometimes as he came in he would simply screen himself with his cloak so as not to disturb them. (Ibid., pp. 132-134)
3. 'Aishah bint Abu Bakr: He married her in the eleventh year of Prophethood, a year after his marriage to Sawdah, and two years and five months before Al-Hijra. She was six years old when he married her. However, he did not consummate the marriage with her till Shawwal seven months after Al-Hijra, and that was in Madinah. She was nine then. She was the only virgin he married, and the most beloved creature to him. As a woman she was the most learnèd woman in jurisprudence. (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (THE SEALED NECTAR) Biography of the Noble Prophet, [Maktaba Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition 1995], "The Prophetic Household", p. 485; online source; underline emphasis ours)
And here is a religious fatwah that mentions Muhammad’s physical relations with Aisha:
Praise be to Allah and peace be upon the one after whom there is no [further] prophet.
After the permanent committee for the scientific research and fatwahs (religious decrees) reviewed the question presented to the grand Mufti Abu Abdullah Muhammad Al-Shemary, the question forwarded to the committee by the grand scholar of the committee with reference number 1809 issued on 3/8/1421 (Islamic calendar). The inquirer asked the following:
It has become wide spread these days, and especially during weddings, the habit of mufa’khathat of the children (mufa’khathat literally translated means "placing between the thighs" which means placing the male member between the thighs of a child). What is the opinion of scholars knowing full well that the prophet, the peace and prayer of Allah be upon him, also practiced the "thighing" of Aisha - the mother of believers - may Allah be please with her.
After the committee studied the issue, they gave the following reply:
It has not been the practice of the Muslims throughout the centuries to resort to this unlawful practice that has come to our countries from pornographic movies that the kufar (infidels) and enemies of Islam send. As for the prophet, peace and prayer of Allah be upon him, thighing his fiancée Aisha. She was six years of age and he could not have intercourse with her due to her small age. That is why [the prophet] peace and prayer of Allah be upon him placed HIS [MALE] MEMBER BETWEEN HER THIGHS AND MASSAGED IT SOFTLY, as the apostle of Allah had control of his [male] member not like other believers.. (Source: http://www.sout-al-haqe.com/pal/musical/mofakhaza.ram
The following link provides independent evidence that the above fatwah does indeed exist:http://www.islamic-fatwa.net/viewtopic.php?TopicID=8330
In the above link Islamic scholar Dr Ahmad Al-Hajj Al-Kurdi comments on the fatwah in question. He is responding to a person who is asking whether or not the fatwah actually exists, and whether or not Muhammad committed this action. In response he says that Muhammad most probably did this after he consummated the marriage at 9 rather than when she was 6. His point of contention therefore is concerning when Muhammad did this to the little girl, and not whether or not he did it.
We also read:
The inquirer asks: "My parents married me to a young girl who hasn't yet reached puberty. How can I enjoy her sexually?"
The imam answers him by saying: "Do not harm her if she cannot take intercourse but you may hug her, kiss her, and ejaculate between her legs" i.e. "thigh" her, as the fatwah in question indicates.
Here is another:
Can you explain to me the thing called "thighing" also pronounced "mufa
... The term Mufaakhathah means to have foreplay with the wife in between her thighs. It is reported in one narration that when the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, wanted to enjoy one of his wives who was in menstruation, he would put a piece of cloth on her vagina (i.e. cover it). [Ibn Maajah].
The author of Faydh Al-Qadeer interpreted the expression 'if he wanted to enjoy to mean having all permissible foreplay but avoiding the vagina [or the anus], like in between her thighs (i.e. Mufaakhathah).
Allah Knows best.
Fatawa Issuing Body : Islam Web
Author/Scholar : Dr. Abdullah Al-faqih
Date Of Issue : 1427 (Fatwa Management - World Fatwa Management and Research Institute, Fatawa: MEANING OF MUFAAKHATHAH; online sources: http://infad.kuim.edu.my/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=3423
The disgusting action which the fatwah describes is allowed to all other Sunni Muslims as can be seen by the following three fatwas:
There is also a Shia reference condoning the practice. In Ayatu Allah Al Khumaini's book, "Tahrir Al wasila," p. 241, issue number 12, it says:
"It is not illegal for an adult male to 'thigh' or enjoy a young girl who is still in the age of weaning; meaning to place his male member between her thighs, and to kiss her."
Aisha wasn’t the only young girl Muhammad had eyes for:
(Suhayli, ii. 79: In the riwaya of Yunus I. I. recorded that the apostle saw her (Ummu'lFadl) when she was a baby crawling before him and said, 'If she grows up and I am still alive I will marry her.' But he died before she grew up and Sufyan b. al-Aswad b. 'Abdu'l-Asad al-Makhzumi married her and she bore him Rizq and Lubab… (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, translated by A. Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi], p. 311)
Muhammad saw Um Habiba the daughter of Abbas while she was fatim (age of nursing) and he said, "If she grows up while I am still alive, I will marry her." (Musnad Ahmad, Number 25636)
According to official Sunni Muslim sources, Muhammad married Aisha when she was around the age of six or seven. This marriage took place three years before Muhammad’s migration to what eventually became known as Medina. Muhammad consummated the marriage to Aisha approximately four years later, or in the second year of his arrival to Medina when the latter was nine years old.
The Muslim sources generally date Muhammad’s migration to Medina (known as the Hijrah) in the year 622-23 AD. And these sources also say that Muhammad was born in the Year of the Elephant, the year 570 AD. This means that Muhammad was fifty years old when he married Aisha, and roughly fifty-four years old when he actually slept with her.
The problem is not merely that Aisha was nine when Muhammad married her, but that Muhammad was a man who was well into his fifties. Muhammad was old enough to be Aisha’s grandfather.
Aisha was the only virgin that Muhammad ever married. Muhammad gave the following reason for marrying young virgin girls:
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
I was accompanying the Prophet on a journey and was riding a slow camel that was lagging behind the others… When we approached Medina, I started going (towards my house). The Prophet said, "Where are you going?" I said, "I have married a widow." He said, "Why have you not married a virgin to fondle with each other?" I said, "My father died and left daughters, so I decided to marry a widow (an experienced woman) (to look after them)." He said, "Well done." … (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 38, Number 504)
Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:
While we were returning from a Ghazwa (Holy Battle) with the Prophet, I started driving my camel fast, as it was a lazy camel A rider came behind me and pricked my camel with a spear he had with him, and then my camel started running as fast as the best camel you may see. Behold! The rider was the Prophet himself. He said, 'What makes you in such a hurry?" I replied, I am newly married " He said, "Did you marry a virgin or a matron? I replied, "A matron." He said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you may play with her and she with you?" When we were about to enter (Medina), the Prophet said, "Wait so that you may enter (Medina) at night so that the lady of unkempt hair may comb her hair and the one whose husband has been absent may shave her pubic region. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 16)
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
When I got married, Allah's Apostle said to me, "What type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron." He said, "Why, don't you have a liking for the virgins AND FOR FONDLING THEM?" Jabir also said: Allah's Apostle said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 17)
Hence, Muhammad’s comments indicate that his reason for marrying Aisha while a young virgin is so that he could fondle and sexually play with her!
Muhammad also had eyes for an infant girl, promising to marry her when she grows up. Ibn Ishaq places this event during the time of the Battle of Badr in 624 AD when Muhammad was roughly 54 years old. (Guillaume, pp. 310-312)
Now let us be generous and assume that Muhammad would have waited for the girl to reach the age of ten to marry her, Muhammad would have been at least 62 years old at that time! 
So here we have two instances where a man well over fifty has his eyes on two prepubescent girls! Now this is a problem.
Beyond even this, Muhammad died when Aisha was eighteen years old, leaving her a widow for the rest of her life. This now brings us to our next section.