Many people claim that Prophet Muhammad PBUH married Aisha RA when she was a child. According to an authentic Hadith, he married Aisha RA when she was 6 and he consummated the marriage when she was 9. However, what needs to be remembered is that puberty, sexual maturity, and mental maturity changes at different times throughout history. For example, in 1880 in America, the age of consent was set at 10 or 12 in most states. Delaware was even lower, being set at 7, which is even lower than when the Prophet PBUH consummated his marriage with Aisha RA! For a very long time in the United Kingdom, and only changing about a hundred years ago, the age of consent was 12. Today in Japan, it’s 13. Today in parts of Mexico, it’s 12. In western law, Richard II of England married Isabella of Valois in the year 1396 when she was 7 years old; when historians talk about this marriage, it’s only about how amazing it was and how it brought peace between England and France, with no mention of age. According to the consensus of Christian scholars, Mary married Joseph when she was 12 years old and he was 90. Also, in the Bible, Rebecca married Isaac when she was 3 years old. In Jewish Law, according to Jacob Neusner’s book, History of Mishnaic Law of Purities, women are ready for marriage at 3 years and 1 day old. Look at how all of these respected countries, people, and religions had a very low idea of the age of consent, with many being younger than the age of Aisha RA. Even the western countries, which many claim and believe are the most civilized, are among the countries that have been normalizing this until very recently. But no one says that the people who set these age requirements were all pedophiles, rather, they knew at that time girls were completely ready for marriage. Now imagine 1500 years ago and how different the women matured at that time! Back then, there was no school or education. A boy pretty much became a man when he was able to hunt animals and bring food home everyday and a girl pretty much became a woman when she could take care of the house. The fact of the matter is that it is well-known that people in the past would generally live a shorter life, therefore, back then, they matured quicker biologically as well, both physically and mentally. The average life expectancy at the time of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, which is the 6th century, was 30-35, but as of 2020, its 77 years old! A 9 year old today is not ready for marriage, but back then, they were more than ready. As noted above, even America and the UK pretty much thought the same thing only 150 years ago, which is nowhere near the the time of the Prophet PBUH. If one goes back closer to the time of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, the age that would be acceptable goes even as young as 3! Again, like mentioned earlier, all of this is merely due to the way people matured at certain periods in history.
Additionally, just the fact that Prophet Muhammad PBUH waited 3 years to consummate the marriage is enough evidence to show he waited until she was mentally and sexually ready, since there would be no other reason for him to do so. On top of that, Aisha RA was even engaged to someone else before the Prophet PBUH married her, which shows that this was something normal back then. Moreover, according to historical evidence, the biggest enemies of the Prophet PBUH at that time slandered him by calling him a madman, a magician, etc. However, what they never did was bring up the age of Aisha RA to ridicule him, since for them, it was normal. Now one might ask, “But isn’t the Prophet supposed to be a role model for all Muslims? How can he do this when it wouldn’t relate to today’s times?” This is exactly why the Prophet PBUH did not give a specific numerical age for marriage at all; the age of consent in Islam is when someone hit’s puberty and are both sexually and mentally ready. Therefore, to conclude, when one looks at the evidence, one quickly realizes that they are putting their cultural values, rooted in ethnocentrism, that they learned from society today and applying it to a place 1500 years ago where the situation and maturity of people would have occurred in a completely different manner.
And Allah knows best.