Talk:Asmā' bint Abi Bakr

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Edits in April 2014[edit]

Asma’s Date of Birth[edit]

Recent changes have altered Asma's birthdate to 592. This is apparently because Asma died in 692, and according to her grandson Hisham ibn Urwa, she was 100 years old.

However, Hisham would have calculated this in lunar years. The solar year is about 11 days longer than the lunar, and 100 x 11 days is about three years. Therefore Asma would have been only 97 solar years old, giving her a birthdate of 595 CE (as the original form of this article stated).Petra MacDonald 04:32, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Ten Years Older than Aisha?[edit]

Several versions of this article have included the claim that Asma was “ten years older” than her sister Aisha. Since this information is of minimal interest to the article, it seems to be an unsubtle attempt (for polemic reasons) to suggest that Aisha was much older than nine when she married Muhammad. In particular, it is odd that this alleged age-difference was mentioned next to the statement about Asma’s age at death instead of in its natural place, the beginning of the article, where Asma’s family-members are listed.

The “almost all historians” who say that Asma was ten years the elder are all quoting a single narrator, Abdul Rahman ibn Abi Zinnaad. He was born too late to be an eyewitness, did not cite his sources, and is considered a weak narrator on technical grounds. Important historians like Al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir and Ibn Hajar quote Ibn Abi Zannaad, but they never say they agree with him. For example, Al-Dhahabi quotes on the same page another tradition stating that the age-difference was “a few more than ten years.” Since it is very well attested that Aisha was born in 614, and there is no serious doubt that Asma was born in 595, it would appear that Ibn Abi Zinnaad’s “ten years” calculation was incorrect. While we could insert a paragraph in the main article explaining all this, it really doesn’t seem to be of sufficient importance to the life of Asma. In an article of this length, surely it is sufficient to give her dates of birth and death and the fact that she was Abu Bakr’s firstborn?Petra MacDonald 04:32, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Note: I have edited my original statement above because I had attributed the quote to the wrong person. Dhahabi (same person as Zahabi) was only quoting Ibn Abi Zinnaad (a different person). The link to the secondary source was broken so I have removed it. I have how seen the primary source (Dhahabi vol. 2 entry #143) with my own eyes.Petra MacDonald 10:22, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Petra here doesn't seem to be a competent person and her claims are false.--5.107.81.93 (talk) 16:45, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
5.107.81.93, please stop making personal attacks against other editors. You have been warned about this before.[1] [2] Edward321 (talk) 22:06, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Servant or Slave?[edit]

An anonymous editor removed two references to slavery. The hypothetical one (“Asma did not own a slave”) was removed completely, and the factual one (“Abu Bakr gave Asma a slave”) was altered to “servant”, with Asma’s personal commentary (“I felt set free”) removed. The truth is, the early texts did not always distinguish between “servant” and “slave”. For example, a free female servant who did a slave’s work could be indiscriminately referred to as a jariya, the everyday word for a “female slave”. So without more information, we do not know this person’s legal status.

However, the referenced translator, Aisha Bewley, used the English word “slave”. It should not be changed unless there is clear evidence from the Arabic original that “servant” would be more appropriate. The fact that Abu Bakr “gave” this person (as a gift?) suggests slavery (but does not prove it). Of course, Asma might have freed the slave later; that is a completely separate issue.Petra MacDonald 04:32, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Wife-Beating[edit]

The same anonymous editor removed the reference to Asma being beaten by her husband. The reason given was that this is “not in Tabari,” whose book “Tahthib al-Athar was never finished.”

In fact the incident was referenced to a secondary source, the Iranian scholar Ali Dashti, who cited two early sources for the story. One was Zamakhshari, and no reason was given for discrediting this reference. The other was the Tahthib al-Athar, with no explanation of how its unfinished nature implies that Dashti could not have accessed the information from the part that was finished.

The expression “X was harsh towards women,” here referenced to Ibn Saad, is a euphemism that means “X beat his wives”. So I see nothing implausible about Dashti’s assertion that he found a more specific reference to Al-Zubayr’s wife-beating twice over.Petra MacDonald 04:32, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Age relation to sister in death section[edit]

The sentence " According to almost all the historians, Asma, the elder sister of Aisha, was 10 years older than Aisha" does not belong in the section about her death, contains weasel words that are not supported by reliable sources, and it a direct quote (without attricution) from http://www.discoveringislam.org/aisha_age.htm. I tried to remove it and it keeps being re-added. Hopefully someone else can help address and weigh in on this. The sources being given are difficult to check due to not being in English nor readily available online, but the statement contradicts well sourced information elsewhere that indicates this is not the consensus view of "almost all historians". As noted above, this view is isolated to a very small minority of sources. UnequivocalAmbivalence (talk) 14:15, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

I must notify that the above user is WP:INCOMPETENT and WP:NOTHERE. The sources are available online in the Arabic language. If you lack competence to read in Arabic, then this is not our problem. Editing articles without being competent enough to edit them will only lead to WP:Disruptive editing. The statement is well-sourced and it perfectly matches with what the sources are saying.--5.107.81.93 (talk) 14:38, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Please Avoid Personal Attacks and Assume Good Faith. Comments like yours are aggressive and unnecessary, and do much to discredit your points. As to your assertion that it is not your problem that I cannot read Arabic, I would direct you to WP:NOENG which states: "Citations to non-English sources are allowed. However, because this is the English-language Wikipedia, English-language sources are preferred over non-English ones whenever English sources of equal quality and relevance are available. As with sources in English, if a dispute arises involving a citation to a non-English source, editors may request that a quotation of relevant portions of the original source be provided, either in text, in a footnote, or on the article talk page.". So instead of non-constructively insulting me, perhaps you could provide a quote and translation from those sources that support your position.UnequivocalAmbivalence (talk) 23:56, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Here are two quotations:--5.107.81.93 (talk) 16:47, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Original text: وكانت هي وأختها عائشة وأبوها أبو بكر الصديق، وجدها أبو عتيق، وابنها عبد الله، وزوجها الزبير صحابيين رضي الله عنهم. وقد شهدت اليرموك مع ابنها وزوجها، وهي أكبر من أختها عائشة بعشر سنين
English translation: She, her sister Aisha, her father Abu Bakr, her grandfather Abu Atiq, her son Abdullah, and her husband al-Zubair were Companions - God bless them -. She participated in the Battle of Yarmouk with her son and her husband, and she is ten years older than her sister Aisha.

— Ibn Kathir, the Beginning and the End. Volume 8. Page 345.[1]

Original text: قال ابن أبي الزناد: وكانت أكبر من عائشة بعشر سنين.
English translation: Ibn Abi al-Zinad narrated: and she (Asma) was ten years older than Aisha.

— Ibn 'Asakir. History of Damascus. Volume 69. Page 8.[2]
Thank you, it is helpful to have those translation. However, those are still not enough to cover the claim that all/most historians agree with this. It could be included that they are saying this, but it needs specific attribution to them, as neither of those are recent sources and thus cannot speak for all current academic views. UnequivocalAmbivalence (talk) 00:32, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

Your Request about Abu Bakr's Daughters[edit]

First response - just the facts[edit]

Al-Dhahabi has his own Wikipedia article, which links to the text of his book Siyar a‘lam al-Nubala’ (The Lives of Noble Figures). His article about Asma bint Abi Bakr is number 143 and it is in volume 2. The full text is here. https://ar.wikisource.org/wiki/%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B1_%D8%A3%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A1/%D8%A3%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%A1_%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%AA_%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%8A_%D8%A8%D9%83%D8%B1

The article begins with her name, then a long list of the people who narrated hadith from her. The next words are:

وكانت أسن من عائشة ببضع عشرة سنة

This means something like:

She was older than Aisha by ten years plus a few.

The word "few" is precise in Arabic: it means "three to nine". So it could be translated:

She was thirteen to nineteen years older than Aisha.

Then he goes on to talk about her emigration to Medina and her participation at Yarmouk. There is no reference for any of these basic facts about Asma. Probably Dhahabi assumed them to be so well attested that no reference was required (similar to "Muhammad was born in Mecca and he died at Medina"). From our point of view, of course, we are left with the disadvantage that we don't know what the source was.

However, he does cite sources for the less well-known information later in the article. After a narration from Asma on another topic, we read:

قال عبد الرحمن بن أبي الزناد كانت أسماء أكبر من عائشة بعشر

This means something like:

Abdulrahman ibn Abi’l-Zinaad said that Asma was older than Aisha by ten.

Then he moves on to the next narration. He makes no comment about the contradiction with the previous tradition, let alone on the reliability of either narration.

One fact should be obvious to us without further research. It is not true that "all the historians agree that Asma was ten years older than Aisha". Dhahabi does not agree with it because he cites two contradictory narrations with no comment on which one to prefer.Petra MacDonald (talk) 06:38, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

Second response - the other two historians[edit]

I double-checked the other two references. Long story short, our friend 5.107.81.93 has shown absolute good faith in providing valid sources. It's only his use of the sources that I would question.

As the user says, Ibn Asakir writes:

قال ابن أبي الزناد: وكانت أكبر من عائشة بعشر سنين

This means:

Ibn Abi'l-Zinaad said: "She was older than Aisha by ten years."

Although the wording is not identical to Dhahabi's, it is still sourced to the same narrator (Ibn Abi'l-Zinaad) and the meaning is the same.

Ibn Kathir writes:

وهي أكبر من أختها عائشة بعشر سنين.

This means:

She was older than her sister Aisha by ten years.

He does not cite his source. The wording is a third variant (addition of the word "sister" as well as "years" and using a pronoun instead of "Asma"). Either he is citing a different tradition or he is giving a paraphrase.

Note that Ibn Kathir also wrote this about Aisha's age (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, Le Gassick's translation, vol. 2, p. 94):

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.

Therefore to claim Ibn Kathir's authority for the tradition about the sisters' age-difference to "prove" that Aisha was any other age would be to misrepresent Ibn Kathir's conclusions.

Third response - general observations[edit]

These three historians are authorities: unlike, say, Discovering Islam, which just seems to be someone's blog and an unsuitable resource for Wikipedia, they should be taken seriously.

However, it is not correct to pin a whole case on two citations of a single source plus a third anonymous citation that may or may not be independent while ignoring the body of evidence that states something different. The overall case seems weak when we consider that we are dealing with three claims, one of which must be false.

  1. Asma was born in 595.
  2. Aisha was born in 614.
  3. The age-difference was ten years.

The assertion most likely to be correct is the one about Aisha because it is multiply attested and derives from Aisha herself. It could only be wrong if Aisha were mistaken or lying; it is not possible that so many different witnesses all misrepresented her identically. The assertion of Asma's age is not as strong because (as far as I know) there is only one tradition, deriving from Asma's son. If there is a mistake about either sister's age, it is more likely to be Asma's than Aisha's. The weakest assertion is that of the ten-year age-difference because it derives from a weak narrator who was not a contemporary. It also contradicts an alternative tradition that the age-difference was 13-19 years, although that is only important if the strength of this tradition can be established.

You can cut and paste any or all of this to Asma's talk page if you think it would help.Petra MacDonald (talk) 12:37, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

Response from Msayati[edit]

Thanks for your comprehensive quotes and references. I do not agree that the assertion of Asma's age is not strong since there are reliable references that mentioned Asma's birth time. There is no discussion about Asma's birth among Muslim scholars, however, there is still discussion about Aisha's birth time. What is derived from Asma's son is used to estimate her death that she passed a way a few nights after her son died.

Original text: قال ابن ابی الزناد کانت اسما اکبر من عایشه بعشر سنین و عن الحافظ ابی النعیم قال ولدت اسما قبل هجره رسول الله بسبع و عشرین سنه.
English translation: Ibn Abi al-Zinad narrated: and she (Asma) was ten years older than Aisha. and Alhafiz Ibn Naeem narrated Asma born 27 years before Hegira.[3]

Original text: کانت اخت عایشه لابیها و کانت اسن من عایشه ولدت قبل التاریخ بسبع و عشرین سنه، و قبل مبعث النبی بعشر سنین.
English translation: She is Aisha's sister and she is older that Aisha. She born 27 years before Tarikh and ten years before Mab'as (Muhammad becomes prophet).[4]

You might know that History of Damascus is one of the most important books about Islamic history. There is possibility that Aisha were mistaken but more probable the narration might not be correct. Msayati (talk) 23:06, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

I agree with you that the tradition of Asma's birthdate being 27 BH is "strong enough" for all normal purposes, and I believe her birth-year is best represented as "c.595". However, this is not as strong as the traditions about Aisha's birthdate, which is exceptionally well attested.
The problem with your suggestion that "the narration" about Aisha reciting her age "might not be correct" is that it is not just one narration. It comes from multiple independent sources.
  1. Ibn Saad (Bewley vol. 8 pp. 54-55) cites Urwa via his servant Habib.
  2. Muslim 8:3311 (1) is from Urwa via the historian al-Zuhri.
  3. Muslim 8:3311 (2) is from Al-Aswad.
  4. Nasa’i 4:26:3381 is from Abu Salama ibn Abdulrahman.
  5. Nasa’i 4:26:3259 is from Abu Ubayda.
  6. Bukhari 7:62:64 is one of several versions via Urwa’s son Hisham (the same Hisham who testified to the age of Asma).
  7. Tirmidhi 2:6:1109 narrates a different kind of tradition. It is asserted, "The Prophet married a nine-year-old," as a fact that was not in dispute in the next generation, and Aisha is quoted, in words that have obvious autobiographical reference: "If she reaches the age of nine years, she is a woman."
You would not only have to prove that each of these narrations was false, but account for how they had all managed to be false in exactly the same way, before you could make a case for the narration not being correct.
By contrast, there is really only one primary source for Asma's birth. While several strong historians give this as 27 BH, multiple citation is not the same thing as independent attestation. If several high-quality secondary sources cite the same primary source, that testifies to the soundness of the primary source. That is not at all the same thing as saying that there are multiple primary sources. Multiple citations of Urwa do not transform him into multiple sources; they all seem to be quoting the same tradition.
Ibn Asakir, who lived 500 years after the eyewitnesses, is certainly a strong secondary source. However, in your citation above, the numbers don't add up. He says Asma was born in 27 BH (595 AD) and also that she was born in 10 years before the first revelation (600 AD). Obviously we'd like to know more about why Ibn Asakir contradicted himself in a single sentence - what were his primary sources for the two assertions? Two other observations:
  1. Asma's son Urwa was born in 645 (or possibly the last few days of 644). If Asma was really born in 595, she was 49 or 50 when she gave birth to him. That is not completely impossible, but it does raise a few doubts.
  2. Elderly Arabs frequently exaggerated their ages. For example, Abu Talib is said to have died at the age of 120 and also at 82. Huwaytib ibn Abdul-Uzza claimed to be 120 years old but in the same breath he also claimed to have been 60 when Mecca was conquered in 630 - and he died in 674! It is obvious that some of these large numbers were never intended to be taken literally. So there is an element of doubt over Asma's claim to be exactly 100.
The tradition that I do call "weak" is the assertion that Asma was "ten years older than Aisha". I'm not sure who Alnavooi was (are there any alternative spellings of his name or of the title of his book?) but if he was an important historian, he should have known, and stated, that Ibn Abi al-Zinad is considered unreliable. Ibn Abi al-Zinad's claim of a ten-year age-difference has to be taken as one of his unreliable narrations, since it contradicts the tradition that the difference was 13-19 years and it also contradicts the known birthdates of the two sisters (Asma in 595, unless Ibn Asakir is correct in placing it in 600; Aisha in 613-614, and in fact almost certainly in January/February 614).
If there is "discussion about Aisha's birth time" among Muslim scholars, then by all means quote the scholars. The problem with this discussion so far is that no real scholars have been cited. The nearest was the reference to Asma Afsaruddin, who is a real scholar, but who was somewhat misquoted in order to make the point.Petra MacDonald (talk) 12:26, 29 January 2016 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Ibn Kathir, the Beginning and the End. Published by Dar Al-Fikr in 1407 AH, 1986 CE. Volume 8. Page 345.
  2. ^ Ibn 'Asakir. History of Damascus. Volume 69. Published by Dar al-Fikr in 1419 AH, 1998 CE. Page 8.
  3. ^ Alnavooi. Tahzib o Alasma va Alloghat. Volume 2. Page 328.
  4. ^ Ibn 'Asakir. History of Damascus. Volume 69. Page 8.