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Understanding the ‘Problematic’ Age of Aisha’

The age of `A’ishah, daughter of Abu Bakr, when she married the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is something that has only recently become controversial. The traditional account is that the marriage was consummated when she was nine years old, which naturally appears strange, if not uncomfortable, to many in a modern, western context.

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By Danesh Juyandeh

The traditional account is that the marriage was consummated when she was nine years old, which naturally appears strange, if not uncomfortable, to many in a modern, western context. Hence, some recent Muslims (of varying levels of intellectuality, motivations and scholarly qualifications) have re-visited the sources. They have discovered some evidence in the classical historical texts, and reinterpreted the traditionally adduced narrations, to suggest that `A’ishah may actually have been older (with various ages suggested). My aim, in this brief piece, is not to analyze the arguments for and against a young marriage age for `A’ishah, but rather to contextualize the entire discussion with a bird’s-eye view that remains intact regardless of which view (if either) an individual chooses to commit to.

The first (and most) important point to note is, as indicated above, is that the controversy is a relatively recent one. The Prophet’s own contemporaries took no issue with the Prophet’s marriage to `A’ishah; it was not problematic in their eyes. This includes both his disbeliever antagonists and his believing followers. Certainly, his antagonists were ever eager to discredit him, and the Qur’an itself records details of this. They accused him of being a sorceror, a madman or a soothsayer. They objected to his marriage to Zaynab, remonstrating that (according to pre-Islamic Arab culture) a man may not marry the divorcee of his adopted son just as he may not marry the divorcee of his biological son. Yet they did not attempt to discredit him on the basis of his marrying a girl too young for him. Neither in the Qur’an nor in any historical source is there any mention of such an objection having been raised, despite the fact that these sources do mention numerous other strategies used by the Prophet’s opponents.

So, if the Prophet’s contemporaries did not object to `A’ishah’s age of marriage, then we conclude with certainty that her age was within the norm. Logically, this in turn implies one of two things: either it was acceptable, in 7th century Arab culture, for older men to marry younger girls (even as young as 9), or the reason for their non-objection was that `A’ishah was in fact older. Once again, my aim here is not to prove one or the other, but to put the whole issue in perspective. The age of `A’ishah is not a central tenet of Muslim faith, nor should it eclipse the core message and teachings of Islam. Muslims contemplating the issue of `A’ishah’s age might find it beneficial to recall that, ‘Part of the excellence of a person’s Islam is his/her leaving aside what does not pertain to him/her.’

Non-Muslims would serve themselves better by contemplating the Prophet’s teachings of monotheism and righteousness, and the Book he presented as God’s revelation, rather than dwelling on what is, at most, a socio-culturally historical oddity.

The general character of the Prophet, and his marital history, speak clearly against the notion that he was other than upright. His first marriage, at age 25, was to a widowed woman (Khadijah) who was 15 years his senior, and he remained in a happy and solid monogamous marriage to her for a quarter-century (twenty-five years), the marriage ending only with Khadijah’s death, aged 65. If we are extrapolating general lessons from the Prophet’s life, then his marriage to Khadijah is far more relevant for paradigmatic value. It was only subsequent to that, and often under specific circumstances (as others have discussed) that he married other women, and all of them (other than `A’ishah) were either widows or divorcees. Some historical sources even record that one of the strategies his antagonists tried, to dissuade him from his preaching, was to offer him whatever wealth or wives he desired, but he refused this initiative.

Hence, without necessarily putting the two possibilities (regarding `A’ishah’s age) on equal footing, and without stifling those who wish to delve deeper into the scholarly (and sometimes non-scholarly) arguments on either side, it is sufficient for the Muslim to defer the issue to God, saying, “I believe whichever of the two is the truth before God.” There are many more useful and pressing issues for us to occupy ourselves with.

The modern option of upgrading `A’ishah’s age might offer a more immediate appeal, and an ‘easy’ and convenient solution, for which little further explanation or reasoning would be necessary. Indeed, in the absence of birth certificates, records of ages prior to the modern era can be expected to have some margin of error. However, it is worthwhile to look at the issue in a larger perspective, and to avoid viewing the veritable tapestry of human culture, across space and time, through the colored lenses of modern, western culture. A slight familiarity with anthropology is sufficient to convince one that there has been, and still is, remarkable variety in human cultural practices and norms. The Catholic Encyclopedia observes about the Virgin Mary (peace be upon her) that, “it is possible that Mary gave birth to her Son when she was about thirteen or fourteen years of age.”[1] In Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was only thirteen, yet her mother tells her that “ladies of esteem” younger than her are already mothers.[2] According to the “Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society,” both Christian Canon law and European civil law considered seven years as the age of consent, but judges in medieval England would approve marriages based on mutual consent at ages even lower than 7.[3] As recently as the nineteenth century, ages of consent of 13 to 14 were common in Western countries.[2] Now, we are responsible for acting in accordance with our conscience, and our own societal norms may well factor into this, but it may be a bit presumptuous to pass judgment on people of the past and future, and those of other cultures. People in the future may well look on some of our mores as bizarre.

The bottom line, is: God knows best about all the details of things. And, it remains well-established that Islam’s central message is one of monotheism, decency and morality. It is to this that our energies can be more profitably devoted.

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15464b.htm, accessed 06/11/2010

[2] Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 3.

[3] http://www.faqs.org/childhood/A-Ar/Age-of-Consent.html, accessed 06/15/2010

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent, accessed 06/11/2010

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53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. Avatar

    broAhmed

    October 13, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    I found the following video to be very helpful in addressing this topic from both a modern and historical perspective:

    Prophet Muhammad and Aisha

    The creators of it also took the time to cite all of their sources, which are available here:

    Sources

  2. Avatar

    TruthSeeker

    October 13, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    I guess it wouldn’t make much difference what her age was if Muslims today didn’t continue to emulate that behavior by taking children as brides in Muslim majority countries.
    You’re not doing your religion any favors by ignoring this uncomfortable reality in the Ummah. Just dismissing this issue is far more harmful to the community than having the discussion and forcing this kind of behavior into the light of day and trying to solve this problem by rejecting the people who condone it.

    Egypt: Marriage of government official to 12-year-old girl has inflamed long simmering battle over marriage to minors. http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=41860

    • Amad

      Amad

      October 13, 2010 at 2:49 AM

      The number of “minor” marriages that occur in Muslim countries is not different from non-Muslim majority countries. It is rare and more related to tribal/cultural practices and poverty levels than Islam. You will not find the practice among educated or well-off Muslims. I don’t know of any Muslim (and I know tons and tons) in Pakistan, Qatar or USA who was married under-15. And the two examples I know of 15-yr girls, the husband was like 18. And this is perfectly legal in many states.

      If you really wanted to be fair, you could look at the same child marriage issues in other cultures, like in India and some African countries for instance. So, is it a “hindu problem” in India?

      http://www.hindubooks.org/sudheer_birodkar/hindu_history/practices1.html

      Is it a Jewish problem?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_marriage_in_Judaism#Child_marriage

      Most general studies conclude that child marriage is more often related to developing countries, esp. where there is widespread poverty. Religion is hardly ever a factor.

      http://womensissues.about.com/od/violenceagainstwomen/tp/TenFactsAboutChildBrides.htm

      • Avatar

        TruthSeeker

        October 13, 2010 at 4:49 AM

        I just gave you a link in which a Saudi Government official who married and whose mother pushed him to rape his 12 year old bride, now it’s apparently a “national discussion”. If you think this has nothing to do with the only religion in the world that endorses such actions as a example of exemplary behavior, then I think you need to do a little soul searching and maybe try some critical thinking. What happens in those other countries could be tied into historical customs or backward uneducated single examples.

        If you try to explain away this behavior in the Ummah as just “culture” or try to say well it’s OK because everybody else has done it too. That’s a very childish way of sidestepping the issue, why don’t you rather challenge the people who make excuses for this disgusting and inhumane practice?

        • Amad

          Amad

          October 13, 2010 at 5:03 AM

          In other words, “what Saudi does” should be a standard for what a Muslim does?

          Should we apply Israel’s apartheid policies as a standard for “Jewish” practices too?

          I’ll start my soul searching as soon as you finish your biased reading of the situation.

          There is not a shred of proof for a cause (religion) and effect (child marriage) relationship. Just because some Muslims do it, or just because some Muslim countries allow it doesn’t make this an “Islamic practice”.

          The fact that the vast majority of educated/middle-class+ Muslims don’t do it, is enough proof that there is nothing in Islam to encourage this practice. Personally, I am sick of the generalizations… some Muslim kills his daughter, and now honor killing is a Muslim problem, as if no other non-Muslim has ever killed his child. Find some other dumb guy on the street to sell this argument!

          • Avatar

            TruthSeeker

            October 13, 2010 at 5:48 AM

            Just because all Muslims don’t do it means that it has nothing to do with Islam?

            Right…

            But when you ask the people who marry little girls and the reason is “it’s permitted because the Prophet did it” so that means it has nothing to do with Islam? Sure.

            I think you missed the focus of this article is wasn’t talking about “everyone else” it was specifically talking about Muslims in the Ummah and why this “phenomenon” goes on today and how it makes most Muslims look bad.

            It wouldn’t be a problem in any Muslim country if they outlawed it. Why won’t they? Because of the same people here making excuses. They won’t outlaw it because enough people don’t see anything wrong with it, and the reason is IN THE QU’RAN.

            I thought it would be reasonable to hold yourselves to a higher standard rather then, “well don’t look at me I’m not so bad other people do bad things too!”

          • Avatar

            Kashif

            October 13, 2010 at 6:10 AM

            “Should we apply Israel’s apartheid policies as a standard for “Jewish” practices too?”

            Why not? Isn’t the Israeli government actively working to synonymise “Israel” and “Jewish”

          • Amad

            Amad

            October 13, 2010 at 8:57 AM

            Just because it’s allowed doesn’t mean its appropriate for today’s world. There is nothing in Islam that is encouraging it or forbidding it (as long as the rules are met (including consent of both sides). Flexibility in Islam allows it to accept that circumstances change with time and culture, and in today’s time, it is not something that is normal so it doesn’t happen.

            It’s funny the same people who are so insistent about this issue would gladly accept homosexuality… maybe incest tomorrow between 2 consenting adults? And of course it’s okay for 2 teenagers, 12 and 13 to have sex? What do you think? Relative values aren’t the solution, because what man thinks is right today will be wrong tomorrow and vice-versa.

    • Avatar

      The Thinking Muslim

      October 13, 2010 at 10:47 AM

      So let me get this straight. If Muslims do it then it’s because of religion but if non-Muslims do it, then it’s a cultural and poverty problem? Completely hypocritical! Firstly, in Muslim countries where this is usually practiced, already come under the poeverty and high rate of illetracy umbrellas. I don’t know where such people get their logic from or how high there IQ is but using double standards to try and refute Muslims is not going to work!

      As far as saying that Muslims point to their prophet when they DO do it as an excuse is just laughable. I don’t know any Muslim who actually does that rather it’s just a cultural thing! That’s like saying that some of the Muslims still ride camels and avoid cars because they point to their prophet as the reason for doing it! That’s ridiculous! Some cultures just haven’t caught up to the western perspective of what is right and wrong culturally. And there is NO GUARANTEE whatsoever that this practice will AGAIN be made OK in a few hundred years as cultures change with time and place. So if any Muslims are pointing to their prophet for doing it, I guess from now on they can use the prophet ISAAC (since Muslims believe in him too) as an excuse as accordiing to the Jews he married his wife when she was THREE! There are so many narrations in the judo-Christian hitorical and religious literature regarding their saints and prophets marrying young girls that it’s shocking how hypocritical they are about this topic.

      Finally, I would recommend my brothers and sisters to look into a book called “Islamophobe’s glass House” by Hashimi. In it he goes into very details regarding the jewish, christian, hindu and other religous LAWS on child marriages. Very fascinating book! He also names Christian and Jewish saints and prophets marrying young girls from their own sources. You can download it here: http://www.islamic-life.com/forums/quran-hadith-prophet-muhammad/book-refuting-islamaphobes-claim-prophet-muhammad-pedophile-1441

    • Avatar

      leena :)

      June 11, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      @truthseeker I don’t get it! What is your aim!? Is it to make me realize what ur saying is the complete truth and u have opened my eyes :) I am going o leave this religon because YOU my openmindd friend just showed me the way? WHO do u think u are??? You’re not even important !!! What in the world made u think any Muslim cares what u think? Honestly you’re not changing any of our opinions and I beleive it is in everyones best intrest that YOU GET A LIFE and stop searching Islam nd commenting because you’re not changing our minds and u are looking prettttty pathetic see if u we confused or not sure and we were logically debating it would be ok but sadly you’re trying to prove to us one thing……..that u don’t have a brain and I’m happy to tell u it worked :)

  3. Avatar

    Asalaam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh.

    There is no refutation after this, alhamdulillah.


    Introduction:

    1- One can have intercourse with ones own wife if she is physically/mentally/emotionally fit for it.

    2- If she is not fit for it, you cannot.

    3 – Aisha was fit for it. She said about herself:


    إذا بلغت الجارية تسع سنين فهي امرأة
    “If a girl is 9 years old, she is a woman”

    (Sunan at-Tirmidhi”, Kitab al Nikah [Book on Marriage] #1027).


    (Aisha implied): A woman defined as not just menstruating, but physically a woman too
    (i.e. grown breasts, physically able to have intimate relations and bearing children without harm coming to her).


    Proof from Modern Research
    :

    Aisha’s statement is proven by modern Research. Referring to the whole of puberty:

    In the book Women: An Historical, Gynecological, and Anthropological Compendium, we read:

    The average temperature of the country or province is considered the chief factor here, not only with regard to menstruation but as regards the whole of sexual development at puberty.

    (Herman H. Ploss, Max Bartels and Paul Bartels; Woman: An Historical,
    Gynecological, and Anthropological Compendium, Volume I, Lord & Bransby,
    1988, p.563;

    HerWord.com says:


    There was a study conducted showing that girls who live in countries close to the equator started their menstruation earlier.

    (HerWord.com,
    http://www.herword.com/healthdesk/ot…s10.28.03.html)

    The book Women and Health Psychology says:


    Many factors have been reported to affect age at menarche and/or the regularity of menstruation—[such as] climate, altitude, race, height, weight, hereditary, stress/psychological factors, light, and nutrition.

    (Women and Health Psychology,
    Women and Health Psychology … – Google Book Search
    )


    Differences between Menses and Physical Maturity in Islamic Rulings:

    Mufti Maulana Husain Kadodia explains:

    In reality, puberty has two usages (in Islam).

    The first usage is with regards to physical development, whereas the second usage is with regards to menses:

    For (sexual) intercourse, [physical] developmental puberty is a precondition.

    Whereas for other rulings—such as being ordered to pray (and being responsible for ones deeds)—the menses usage applies.

    (Maulana Mufti Husain Kadodia, Ask Imam.com with Mufti Ebrahim Desai
    )


    Married to a man who’s 54?

    What we see is that the age of the man is largely irrelevant to the question, so long as he is still reasonably within the age of marriage. Prophet Muhammad had only around 12 white hairs when he passed away at the age of 63, and his description [see Shama’il Al Tirmidhi] proves he was not a senile old man like some people may think. Rather, he was strong and was even able to participate in expeditions well.

    Any marriage by a people is based on the cultural norms of the time. The marriage should be based on social norms. The Prophet Muhammad married according to the social norms of his society (marriage of younger women to older men was the norms), and we marry according to the social norms that we live in.
    Social norms are not a problem, so long as they do not contradict firmly set ethics, and it has been proven above that this marriage did not cause any harm to Aisha whatsoever, but caused a great deal of good. Every other marriage should be judged individually based on its own circumstances.


    Aisha played with Dolls, so she was a child?


    “It was with great reluctance that I packed up my Barbie dolls in their doll trunk
    for the last time at 14.”
    Back in Barbie’s early heyday, in the 1960s and 1970s, my
    story wasn’t unusual—girls often played with Barbie until their early teens.

    (About.com, Why Do Girls Outgrow Barbie Dolls At Such a Young Age?)

    So we see that in the 1970s, girls as old as 14 were playing with Barbie dolls. And in other parts of the world, this is still the norms for teenage young women.

    Please click here for a more detailed Refutation;
    http://www.islamic-life.com/forums/quran-hadith-prophet-muhammad/book-refuting-islamaphobes-claim-prophet-muhammad-pedophile-1441

    • Avatar

      TruthSeeker

      October 13, 2010 at 4:56 AM

      That was a very thorough and exhaustive excuse for some of the most disgusting behavior of what should correctly be categorized as pedophilia.

      In the days we live in today people don’t just live into their 40’s 50’s or 60’s, there is no reason whatsoever to ever need to marry a girl under 18 years old, if you marry a child it’s because you don’t see something wrong with it, and that is just vile.

      • Avatar

        Response

        October 13, 2010 at 6:26 AM

        The word ‘Paedophilia’ is a subjective term. Some countries legalise marriage at the age of 16, others legalise it earlier and and others later. So in one country your a paedophile and in another your not?

        There needs to be one firm ethical rule; If there will be harm in a marriage and intimate relations, such a person should not have intimate relations. If there will be no harm – then it is perfectly suitable for such a young adult to get married of their choice.

        If you question how one can figure this out, it is clear from seeing signs of their physical growth, aswell as seeing how this young adult is mentally and emotionally. If they are suited for it – then it is their right to go ahead with such a marriage relationship.

        Peace.

      • Avatar

        Rifai

        October 13, 2010 at 11:40 AM

        What defines “disgusting” beahviour – whatever you say?
        What defines who is or is not a child?? Again ,whatever you say?

        If you were born 500 years ago, in a Christian Europe that had nothing against such a practice, could we have realistically expected that you would be up in arms about this “disgusting” practice?Since you no doubt have such “children” as mothers in your lineage should we condemn your male ancestry as a bunch or perverts?

        The rationale for this practice in olden times is deeper than just a desire to “exploit” innocent little girls.Maybe the people of those time should have held off getting married and having kids when the average life expectancy was 30 – 40 years…Wonder what the population density would have ended up looking like then…

        As noted before, just because it is allowed doesn’t mean its appropriate for this day and age.If you have a problem with it, dont do it.

      • Avatar

        blah blah blah @ TruthSeeker

        October 15, 2010 at 9:17 PM

        This so-called TruthSeeker is not really seeking the Truth. He/she has been seen around other Muslim blogs always bickering about the silliest of things. I don’t know how hard it is for you to understand — not even the enemies (chrisitians, jews, idol worshipers, fire worshipers and whatever other religions) of the time of Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ever raised a word against his marriage to ‘Aa’ishah.

        I guess all those Anti-Islam folks were much less informed about the socially acceptable actions of their own culture & time than you…o wise one…who has come more than a thousand years later…
        Anyways man see you around at some other blog…and make sure you bring the usual garbage because you just gotta’ keep stinkin’!

        • Avatar

          Jeff

          October 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM

          In biblical times, people held slaves without the rebuke of their friends or enemies. However, society eventually matured to the point where people realized slavery was wrong. As such, I find the “no one objected to it at the time” argument a little weak. Now I do agree that it is futile, by and large, to judge the past by 21st century morality. However, when someone–be it Muhammad, Moses, Jesus, etc. (peace be on them all)–claims to be a representative of God, I think it’s fair to hold him to a higher standard.

          That’s just my opinion. No offense intended.

          • Avatar

            rifai

            October 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

            “I think it’s fair to hold him to a higher standard.”

            I understand the logic of this statement and agree but it does raise the question – who determines the standard?

            I believe the Ottoman empire had actually banned slavery within its borders when they were still a dominant force (dont have a link to back this up) – maybe someone can give us a link to a historical reference.

          • Avatar

            Danesh Juyandeh

            November 11, 2010 at 10:07 PM

            Jeff, to pick up on the slavery thread. Thomas Jefferson was a slave-owner. Does this detract from his positive ideas and contributions to society, or the values expressed in the US Declaration of Independence? We should not lose sight of the humanness of great men, and should be able to distinguish their core message and teachings from the specifics of their personal and socio-cultural circumstances.
            (This is aside from the issue of whether and to what extent there are absolute moral standards in issues such as this one. It is also aside from my belief that all the Prophets of God were respectable and righteous people.)

      • Avatar

        critic

        November 23, 2010 at 9:33 AM

        true seker and not accepting the truth, you are there just for criticism without accepting any truth, your heart and mind is locked and doesnt accept any truth, i suppose homosexuality is ok with you as per ur cultural norms, pedophelia is ok with you as the practice of bishops in your churches at least and yet all this vices is not objectionable at least in your point of view but marrriage with the consent of both matured parties is not acceptable!!! where is that mind which is seeking the truth??? or you r just cheating yourself????????

  4. Avatar

    akhuk

    October 13, 2010 at 2:52 AM

    Prophet Muhammad’s (s) Marriage to Aisha (ra) – Dr. Ali Shehata http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYpH3QL0i9w

    The Definitive Word on the Marriage of the Prophet Muhammad (s) to Aisha (r)
    An amazing lecture with PowerPoint given by Dr. Ali Shehata on Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Marriage to Aisha (ra). Dr. Ali discusses the noble character of the Prophet (pbuh), the authentic historical record of this matter, the cultural views in his era, the medical aspects related to puberty, a better understand of what constitutes pedophilia and the reasons behind the recent surge of relentless attacks on the Prophet (pbuh).

    .: A MUST SEE FOR EVERYONE :.

    “Of all the world’s great men none has been so much maligned as Muhammad.” – British author and University of Edinburgh professor emeritus, W. Montgomery Watt

  5. Avatar

    Kashif

    October 13, 2010 at 6:32 AM

    About 10 years ago Shibli Zaman wrote an excellent piece on this topic. From what i remember, he covered the subject from a similar angle as this one, but went into much more detail.

    It was actually the best treatment of this topic that i’ve ever read.

    I wonder if anyone possesses a copy of it?

  6. Avatar

    Sa`id

    October 13, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    In the United States, by the 1880s, most states set the age of consent at ten or twelve, and in one state, Delaware, the age of consent was only seven. …

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent

  7. Avatar

    Omar

    October 13, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I think most of us have heard the arguments before, but this is the first time I have seen them supported with Western scholarly references, good job masha Allah. However, to get to someone who is staunchly against the idea, and bombarded day in day out with stories in the media about thousands of deviants in his society raping children, we need dozens of very detailed credible references for each point, not one or two.

    On an intellectual level though, I find it very interesting that as Muslims, we defend this issue (and others like polygamy) essentially by saying it was a different time and we would not do it today, but we don’t accept this same argument from culture, relativism, or “nobody got hurt” when it comes to issues we consider disgusting, like fornication and homosexuality.

    I suppose the difference is we have an absolute reference and secularists don’t, but it seems to me it is virtually impossible to convince someone of “rightness or wrongness” without reference to God’s command, and even then, they need high Iman and trust in God to accept it if it does not fit with their social mores. Somehow we must be able to reference the fitra as well in support of good and evil, but it is lost in a sea of desires and difficult to distinguish from inclinations.

    Anyone have any ideas to share about this?

    • Avatar

      Tyler

      October 13, 2010 at 2:21 PM

      Assalamu Alaykum-

      “On an intellectual level though, I find it very interesting that as Muslims, we defend this issue (and others like polygamy) essentially by saying it was a different time and we would not do it today, but we don’t accept this same argument from culture, relativism, or “nobody got hurt” when it comes to issues we consider disgusting, like fornication and homosexuality.”

      I think the difference between accepting different ages of consent based on cultural practice back then and accepting fornication and homosexuality based on cultural norms of today is that the law doesn’t say marry at such n such an age, but the law does say do not fornicate. So there is a prohibitive command in one of these which can not be dismissed by culture, Allah Knows Best

  8. Avatar

    Xiaahmad

    October 13, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    Salam,

    Thing is till 19th century the age on consent in delaware was 7 years.
    so this whole issue has been created just coz of changing standard of the world.

    also she was engaged before marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PUBH) which shows further that marriage at that age was ok and not a issue

  9. Avatar

    Student

    October 13, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    salamu’alaikum

    Just a sincere advice and call to priorities..

    Given that people here are not separating 9-12 female bride practices in some countries with the ‘academic’ discussion of the age of our mother ‘Aishah radyAllahu anha..

    And also to the fact that there is a GIVEN – just because we’ve grown in our stay in the west and developed socially and spiritually to accept certain customs, does not necessitate that we impress the same standards on others and not give them the time to grow as well.

    Given these things.

    While we argue a NON-issue. I ask a simple question

    A blog that is dedicated to discussing muslim… matters and prides itself on talking about every taboo under the sun and claims open discussion on all topics related to muslims in the “west” – why does it consistently not discuss or, what seems like, systematically avoid other than your political stances here and there and neglect major issues in the world?

    Our MOTHER ‘Aishah radyAllahu ‘anha was cursed in the most atrocious of ways and this blog wishes to discuss her age?

    It’s utterly saddening.

    I hope we can prioritize ‘responses’ such as this and really DEAL with ‘muslim matters’ rather than continuing to chastize muslims, draw attention away from subjects that are too “hot”, and pretend other major issues don’t exist.

    I hope insha’aAllah someone translates this khutbah given by Sh.Muhammad al ‘Araify last jumu’ah about the disgusting events that took place by the Rafidhi, disgusting, Yasser (gair) al-Habib la’natullahi ‘alaih – so that we may bring attention to a real problem that we neglect or we are fired up about and lead to no action.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb8RcFHF6lM

    wAllahu ‘alam

    -Edited

  10. Avatar

    Sam

    October 14, 2010 at 5:01 AM

    I thought age and size did not matter, but for some it does:)
    Those who focus on Aisha(ra) age are those who are most ignorant of Islam and it is because they have a disease which in modern times called “narrow minded syndrom” and they only focus on issues with no relevance rather than analyzing the message of islam.

    They also tend to be lonely, have disfunctional family and they take pride in using big words without understanding their proper meaning (this is the only way they can pretend to be scholarly). And yes I am also allowed to make generalization.
    And my message to them is to accept and declare that “there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is His messenger and slave and so is Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and theyl have a wonderful and happy life.

    • Avatar

      Sadeeq

      October 14, 2010 at 10:17 AM

      its truth my friend. There just trying to insult our deen. And that God ll punish dem

  11. Avatar

    Sidiq

    October 14, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Great piece. Anybody that publicizes text defending the Mother of the believers obviously cares for Islam and you clearly have done your background reading on this.

    However, you did not do yourself any favours by appearing to be ignorant with regards to authentic statements about the matter in a bid to gain support from as wide a pool as possible. But no worries, this article will not turn out to be one where its comments below outstrip the quality of the actual article.

  12. Avatar

    Shahzad

    October 14, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    The fact that the title of this article contains the word “problematic” assumes there is a problem here. There is no problem. Nor is it an “historical oddity”. Marriage practices 1,400 years ago were completely different. The Prophet (saws) also married for political purposes and advised his sahabah to do the same. I’m sure westerners would have a problem with that too. None of the even most vehement opponents of the Prophet (saws) during his time criticised him for marrying young Aisha. This was an accepted practice at that time.

    The loving relationship of the Prophet (saws) with Aisha cannot in any way be compared to the ugly pedophiles that exist in the West and elsewhere these days. Aisha grew to be a scholarly woman and a leader.

    Christians who may criticise the Prophet (saws) over this should look no further than their own Bible and history to see how biblical prophets conducted their marriages.

  13. Avatar

    Danesh Juyandeh

    October 14, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    @TruthSeeker:
    This article was focussed on the historical side of things. The fact that one (dominant) interpretation of the historical facts is abused and taken out of context by some people is not sufficient grounds to revise (i.e. change) history. Yes, if one has other, internal grounds to reject a purported historical fact, that is a different matter. To cite a Christian parallel, the fact that some Christian men solemnly recite verses from the Book of Ezekiel while beating their wives, is probably not going to be solved by just trying to prtetend the Book of Ezekiel doesn’t exist in the Bible. Rather, one needs to engage the text, contextualize it, etc. — basically show why it does not justify wife-beating. Of course, one could conceivably dispute the status of the Book of Ezekiel as genuine divine revelation, but assuming one does not manage to convince some abusive men of that, wouldn’t it make sense reason with them on their own terms, in the interests of protecting the battered women? Similarly, my point is that regardless of which view one takes on the age of Sayyidah Aishah, it does not diminish from the rank of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). My intent is certainly not to ignore the social abuse of the common view of her young age. I did mention that the marriage to Khadijah “is far more relevant for paradigmatic value.” Perhaps, a separate article, on social ills such as the one you mention, would be useful, if Allah grants the time and tawfiq to myself or someone else.

  14. Avatar

    Bin Muhsin

    October 14, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    This is something that has and continues to baffle me.

    When confronted by staunch critics of Islam I’ve found it difficult to know how or even if I should respond vehemently to their attacks on the faith.

    I’m not sure if we should defend Islam by saying, for example, “Alcohol is not allowed because it’s bad for your health”. Someone who drinks alcohol can counter this by saying “Well I drink but not in excess. It’s actually good for your liver if drunk in moderation.” In reality we as Muslims abstain from alcohol simply because we were told by the Prophet of Allah that it is forbidden, not because its bad for our health. The fact is that we trust that whatever comes from the Prophet is revelation from Allah. So we don’t question it. Now this principle can apply to a host of other Islamic rulings.

    Maybe our dawah should resemble sort of like this – “There is a host of benefits in following this religion, but ultimately we accept the judgment of God when it comes to how we live our lives whether we understand it or not”. And I think we should follow this up with dawah about Allah and Rasullulah. If Allah is realized, and Rasullulah is found, there will be no need of “logical” debate.

    What do people think?

    • Avatar

      Danesh Juyandeh

      October 14, 2010 at 10:47 PM

      I think your last paragraph sums up the answer: We should try to keep the focus on the real issues when discussing Islam with non-Muslims: tawhid, prophethood, accountability; Not to be sidetracked too much into matters of ahkam.

    • Avatar

      Asim

      October 15, 2010 at 3:57 PM

      It is well acknowledged historically, that Aisha (R) was engaged before the Prophet (S), meaning she was well fit for marriage. Are people going to argue that she was an infant when she was engaged? It is also well acknowledged, per Tabari that she was born in the period of Jahilliya to Abu Bakr. The math obviously does not add up and the Arabs were not people who were keen on recording birth-dates.

      There were groups who were intent on casting Aisha (R) as immature and one unfit in her decisions, such that she played with dolls, and the majority of these groups resided in Iraq, the center of political turmoil.

    • Avatar

      jawab

      November 24, 2010 at 11:53 PM

      Many questions are already answered by Qur’an & Sunnah.

      A side note, from the Qur’an, 2:219 :
      They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit…”

      The married life of Aisha to the Prophet was perhaps better suited for a Shakespeare play, read numerous ahadiths concerning it, how they drink from same cup, racing each other, one combing the other’s hair, etc. Before her death, she has attained a position most women and even most men today can only dream of.

      Those that attacked the message (of Islam) will also attack the messenger (the Prophet).

  15. Avatar

    Danesh Juyandeh

    October 14, 2010 at 10:45 PM

    There are convincing grounds for asserting that the default is for spouses to be of similar age.
    – Both the men and women of Paradise, according to various accounts in the books of hadith and tafsir, are the same age of 33yrs.
    – Imam Nasai has a chapter in his Sunan entitled, “Marriage of a woman to someone comparable to her in age.”
    – The Prophet himself generally married women of a similar age to himself or older; Aishah was an exception.

    Hence, particularly if people in society are abusing the rights and welfare of younger females in terms of marriage, I feel it would be quite legitimate for Muslim authorities, in the interests of the greater good, to regulate such marriages closely (i.e. institute a system for checks and balances, and for raising and following up on grievances that arise), and perhaps even to forbid them as a matter of siyasah.

    In any case, education of the masses is undoubtedly an essential ingredient in the solution. Sadly, there is so much ignorance in our Muslim societies / countries nowadays. Marrying off younger girls (indeed, perhaps even selling them off) without consideration for their welfare is but one example of the consequences. We could mention many others: honor killings, corruption, racial and toher ethnic discrimination, ….

  16. Avatar

    Mezba

    October 15, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Those who believe the Prophet did wrong by marrying Aisha at a young age will continue to believe no matter what you say.

    Those who believe the Prophet is the best example to mankind will believe no matter what others say.

    The Prophet is a mirror on which people cast their own images and stereotypes.

    Most of the attacks on the Prophet come from societies where girls lose their virginity by high school (grade 9).

  17. Avatar

    Mansoor Ansari

    October 15, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Marriageable age was not a issue even 50 yrs yrs back in Middle East & South Asia. On my dad’s side my grandparents got married when they were 16 (gf) & 13 (gm) and on my mom’s side my grandad was 25+ while grannie was 14. They lived quite happily in the years I saw them. 3 of them of passed away last year, may grant them jannah and in the last years all they did was praise each other & tell how good their spouse was. I doubt ppl who r abused would do so.

    The ages i gave r approx as they never had birth certificates and have guessed it according to events that occurred around their birth. Age was not issue when they were growing up. Age… celebrations & depressions associated with r something our generation care too much abt, my parents don’t care abt it either.

    My brother got married when he was 30 to a 18 yrs old girl, if 50 -100 yrs from now, the elites of the society decide to change the legal age from 18 to 25, would my brother now be classified as a pedophile. Absurd!

    This society has huge issues with 14 yrs getting married & is illegal but 14 yrs old are indulging in fornication & r having children out of wedlock.. this is completely legal!!!

    If a 40 yrs old man has intercourse with a girl who turned 18 today it would fine & legal and he would not be classified as a pedophile but if were do the same yesterday then he would have been charged under statuary rape & labelled a pedophile…. totally senseless!

    Humans for centuries had puberty as the milestone for deciding when a person become adult & is eligible for marriage but it’s not even 100 yrs since this retarded laws were introduced… it surely stopped ‘under age marriage’ but gave rise to ‘under age’ premarital sex’.

  18. Avatar

    Jeff

    October 17, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    The basic premise of the defense presented in this piece is flawed. We cannot assume that a practice is moral simply because it is not questioned by others living at the same time. I was only using slavery as an example.

    • Avatar

      Rifaie

      October 17, 2010 at 9:20 PM

      I agree that just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make something moral and vice versa.But you have not provided us the yardstick with which you arrive at the morality of an action.
      For us it is religion and perhaps you derive it from some branch of philosophy.I believe that there would be convergence of quite some matters, but I expect that there will be a few conflicts at least.

  19. Avatar

    Brother

    October 17, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Ok, I got an idea. Why don’t you guys who have an issue with Ayesha’s age look at your own lineage and find out at what age your great, great… grandma got married at. And it doesn’t matter if your lineage traces back to the Pilgrims who came to America.

  20. Avatar

    Jeff

    October 17, 2010 at 10:12 PM

    Hi, Rifaie. I don’t mean to join in with those who bash Muslims over this issue. It’s just that someone sent me a link to the article, and I found the main point questionable. But the issue you raise is a good one: who decides the standards?

    In this case, especially since there are children involved, I want to be practical but sensitive to the children as well. It seems that if the female is old enough to procreate, then we should not be imposing our modern standards on the situation (as long as the female is willing, of course). But if she isn’t, it’s hard for me to see it as anything but child abuse.

    So, in this case, I disagree with the author: the age of the female involved is the central issue. And I understand that there is a wide range of disagreement over that.

    And again, I don’t mean to insult Islam. (Or, at least, when it comes to religions, I should prefer to be an equal-opportunity offender… or better still, not an offender at all!)

    • Avatar

      Sabour Al-Kandari

      October 17, 2010 at 11:11 PM

      Don’t worry about insulting anyone Jeff, you’re coming off as very reasonable and respectful. Believe me, we’ve dealt with the insulting type lol!

      Your points are also well taken. I think part of what the author is saying is that as we are taught in anthropology, social customs are not necessarily standards for morality. As an example, if you find some medieval Persian poetry, some of the descriptions they use for women speak of “attractive hair over the lip”. I think everyone would be disgusted by that today, but that’s exactly the point. Anyone who is disgusted by using social-norm standards of today would be vehemently approving of it at that time – so it’s not really a firm standard for morality.

      Another approach would be to think about it this way: bad things have bad consequences (for someone eventually) and good things have good consequences (for someone eventually). If the marriage to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) really was something bad, then the obvious victim would be Aisha herself. But rather we see the opposite, she really thrived in the marriage and spending those years with the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) lead her to become one of the greatest female scholars and activists of Islamic history.

      Of course, its applications today don’t necessarily entail “permission with no strings attached”. Strings are almost always attached in Islamic jurispudence. Even something like eating pork may become mandatory on a Muslim in a life or death situation, so it’s important to deal with individual cases with the care, scrutiny and critical thinking they deserve.

      I hope you feel welcome here Jeff, feel free to share your insight with us on other articles as well.

      • Avatar

        Jeff

        October 18, 2010 at 8:40 AM

        Hello, Sabour. Thanks for your kind words, and I certainly do feel welcome. It’s an odd situation in the US today. I tend to be critical of all religions and, when asked, I express myself as such. But nowadays there is such a concerted effort to ostracize and demonize Islam that it’s hard to express an honest opinion without appearing to be hopping on the anti-Muslim bandwagon. I appreciate that the people on this forum are able to tell the difference. In your shoes, I don’t know if I’d find it so easy.

        I came across this article as such: I have a friend who has been trying to convince me that Islam is particularly bad among world religions. We have had long and interesting discussions, but for him it always comes down to this issue with Aisha. Aware of this, my wife forwarded me a link to this article so that I’d be able to discuss the point with him more intelligently. It really is hard in 2010 to debate something that happened around 1400 years ago!

    • Avatar

      Rifaie

      October 18, 2010 at 9:09 PM

      Hello Jeff, Its clear from your tone that you are not trying to antagonize anyone. If only there were more who shared such sensitivity!

      “But if she isn’t, it’s hard for me to see it as anything but child abuse.”

      I cant blame you – given what we are all exposed to regarding Islam in the media – if you thought that such marriages can take place forcibly , that is , without consent on either side. However, in our tradition it is necessary to get approval from both parties to a marriage – a forced marriage is not valid.I fear even stating this fact sounds overly apologetic, but research into what classical medieval Islamic scholars have to say on this subject essentially yields as much.

      Sadly though, because of family pressures , you might come across cases of both men and women who have been married to someone against there will.

    • Avatar

      Rifaie

      October 18, 2010 at 9:19 PM

      A very detailed look into this whole issue comes from an e-book that you might be able to skim though at least.It might give you more perspective than you already have regarding this subject to decide where we stand.

      http://www.islamic-life.com/forums/quran-hadith-prophet-muhammad/book-refuting-islamaphobes-claim-prophet-muhammad-pedophile-1441

      • Avatar

        Jeff

        October 18, 2010 at 9:42 PM

        Hi, Rifaie. Thanks for the links! I would like to think I have a decent idea of Muslim marriages, at least in modern times… I have a niece, a Muslim from the U.A.E. who has just gotten engaged. I know that “arranged marriage” does not equal “marriage without consent.”

        One notion behind an “age of consent,” however, is that before a certain age, you’re not considered capable of making a fully rational rational decision. Sabour Al-Kandari brings up a good point with the “was any harm done?” standard. My view is still that Aisha’s actual age is the central issue. But I agree with many here that millions of people who know nothing about Islam use this point to attack it, having probably learned about it from a Google search or something like that. It’s probably a very tired issue for Muslims.

        I will check out the e-books when I have a sec. Thanks again.

        • Avatar

          Danesh Juyandeh

          November 11, 2010 at 9:42 PM

          Hi, Jeff
          As others have said, you are welcome to ask/comment respectfully.
          I recognize your point about capability for consent. In Islam, there are means available to the wife to end the marriage if she is not happy. So, even if one did assume that Aisha was too young to consent, she was still able to make up her own mind when she got older. The Prophet Muhammad was also ordered by God, in the Qur’an, to give all hi wives the option to stay with him, or to leave. (Being married to a Prophet of God was not a materially well-off life; he and his family lived very humbly). When the choice was given, neither Aisha nor any of the other wives opted to leave. And Aisha was not a timid, helpless woman either. She would often speak her mind to the Prophet himself, and was from a wealthy and respected family. In one of the conflicts after the Prophet’s death, she even participated in a battle on a camel, a a result of which the battle was famously named “The Battle of the Camel.”

  21. Avatar

    Danesh Juyandeh

    November 11, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Jeff, to pick up on the slavery analogy you raised. Thomas Jefferson was a slave-owner. Does this detract from his positive ideas and contributions to society, or the values expressed in the US Declaration of Independence? We should not lose sight of the humanness of great men, and should be able to distinguish their core message and teachings from the specifics of their personal and socio-cultural circumstances.
    (This is aside from the issue of whether and to what extent there are absolute moral standards in issues such as this one. It is also aside from my belief that all the Prophets of God were respectable and righteous people.)

  22. Avatar

    Jeff

    November 11, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Hi, Danesh. It’s funny you say that; I was thinking about the same thing just today. At first I thought Muhammad should be held to a higher standard than, say, the American founding fathers because of his “man of God” status, but the more I think about your comment (“We should not lose sight of the humanness of great men”) the more I agree. Thanks for the food for thought.

  23. Avatar

    Ridhwan

    June 8, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    According to a survey of all the evidences available, it is clear that Sayyida Aisha was not 9 years old but actually between 16 to 19 years of age when the marriage was consummated.
    Please see my article http://www.wlsis.org/multimedia/Age%20of%20Aisha.nov2010.htm
    for a convincing argument and decide the facts for yourself,
    was salam

  24. Avatar

    Mohammed Tahir

    July 22, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Salaam,

    This comes up again and again. You know, I was watching a programme on Peace TV with Dr Laurence Brown and he was reading out the statements from people that really hated Islam. These were statements from centruries ago about the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). What he was trying to show was that those who really despised Islam, when they studied the life of the Muhammad (pbuh), they could only heap praise upon him. We know that this goes right the way back to the Prophet’s time. It was reported by Dr Brown that 200 years ago in England to say anthing positive about the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was putting your life at risk – but they still wrote it. This is what his enemies think of him. What about those who admire him? From Mahatma Gandhi, published in “Young India”, 1924: “…It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission… When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life.”

    We also know that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) is one of our greatest scholars. She is revered by hundreds of millions of men and women around the world. Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) was already regarded as a Muslim scholar at the age of 18 years, when Muhammed (pbuh) passed away. For the next 50 years, until her own death, senior companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and Muslims consulted Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) for her extensive understanding of the Qur’an (she had memorised the entire Qur’an), Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and the Traditions (Sunnah). She was such an eloquent speaker. You can write volumes on this most brilliant of Muslim woman. What an example for both men and women.

    The first thing not to do is impose your culture on the one you’re observing. It doesn’t take much research to discover that the age of consent was different in years gone by. There was a campagn in 1885 in the the US to raise the age of consent from what was mostly 10/12 years to 16. In the state of Delaware, it was the 7 at that time. You will find similar stories from the around the world. What people do today is try to read modern prejudices and assumptions about what the proper age of consent should be into the past.

    Throughout her childhood, Mary I, the daughter of Catherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII, had future potential marriages negotiated for her by her father. When she was only two years old she was promised to the the infant son of King Francis I of France, but after three years the contract was repudiated. Isabelle of France (1389-1409), oldest daughter of King Charles VI, was around seven years old when she married Richard II as his second wife in 1396. Their engagement was announced the previous year. Some 700 years earlier, the marriage of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) to prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when Aisha was 6 (the marriage was not consummated until she reached puberty at 9) is considered by the modernists to be shocking!

    People know this history. They only object to this one marriage: the marriage of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) to prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Why? Because they have to find something to malign the Prophet’s (pbuh) character and they can’t find anything. No-one objected to prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) marriage to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), not even his enemies. Yet, all of a sudden, in the 21st century, almost 1500 years later, it’s an issue. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was engaged to Jubayr, son of Mut’im, before prophet Muhammad (pbuh) married her. It was Aisha’s (may Allah be pleased with her) father, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), who broke off that engagement. Clearly she was considered ready for marriage at the time.

    Whether it’s Isabelle or Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), that was their culture at the time. Its easy to brandish about numbers but what about their maturity at the time, their development and their environment? Why do we assume that they were ‘little girls’? Are all 12 years at the same maturity level, across all cultures, for all times? You can’t find two 12 years at the same maturity level in the same street. Islam doesn’t go by the man-made age of consent, instead it goes by when that person is physiologically and mentally ready for marriage, as everyone is different. Not only is puberty a requirement before you can consummate your marriage, you also have to be of a mental capacity to understand you are entering a marriage contract. That might not happen until several years later. Does this not apply to both men and women? This is the beauty of Islam.

    Where there is an age of consent set, for example, 13 as in Spain (used to be 12 before it was changed in 1999), if a person 1 second before their 13th birthday is considered to be immature and irresponsible, 2 seconds later, 1 second into their 13th birthday, they can engage in sex. The minimum age of marriage in Spain is 18 although you can marry at the age of 14 if you have special permission from a judge. This is the insane logic that is prevalent today: you can engage in sex when studies are showing the emotional and physiological damage it can cause when you are not ready, but you can’t get married which is about love and commitment, the perfect companions for sex. It’s the lack of commitment and the feeling of being used that is being reported.

    I started with the something of the characters of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) and the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to show you the calibre of the people we are dealing with. And look what the marriage produced – one of the truly great women in history. Is this an example of someone who has ’emotional and physiological’ damage? There is nothing for us to defend. Why do Muslims feel they have to hide anything? God Almighty gave you the gift of reasoning. How you can you reason without knowledge? Go and study, gain knowledge, men and women, as directed by God Almighty and let those who attack the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) consume themselves with their own hate. As someone once said, when the liquid coming out of barrel is diseased, so is the barrel.

    This is a short clip (about a minute), http://vimeo.com/26015814, from the seminar, ‘Legacy of Ibrahim – The Universal Model for Families & Nations’, which took place in Cambridge and is part of a series known as the ‘Cambridge Islamic Sciences Seminars’. This is what we should be focused on… :)

    Wasalaam

    Mohammed

  25. Avatar

    Best Refutation

    July 9, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Aisha said;

    إذا بلغت الجارية تسع سنين ف هي امرأة

    “When a girl [jaariyah] reaches [balaghat] 9 years old [tis’a sineen], then she is [fa hiyya] a woman [imra’ah] ”

    (Recorded in Sunan al “Tirmidhi”, Kitab al Nikah [Book on Marriage] 1027).

    Imam Al-Nawawi said:

    Aisha said;

    (تَزَوَّجَنِي رَسُولُ اللهِ-صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَسَلَّمَ- لِسِتِّ سِنِينَ، وَبَنَى بِي وَأَنَا بِنْتُ تِسْعِ سِنِينَ

    وقال مالك والشَّافعيُّ وأبو حنيفة: حدُّ ذلك أن تطيق الجماع

    قال الدَّاوديُّ: وكانت عائشة قد شبَّت شباباً حسناً- رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا‘

    Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) married me when I was six years old and was with me (i.e. began to live together) when I was 9 years old.”

    Malik (Ibn Anas), Imam Abu Hanifa and Ash-Shafi’ie (ALL respected scholars of Islam) have said: A Restriction Limit [arabic: hadd] (should be placed between marriage partners until maturity) that is able for (tuTeeq = able to handle) Sexual intercourse. (al jamaa’)

    “Al-Dawudi said: “And Aishah’s body had been matured. [i.e. reached ‘good Youthfulness’ (Shabaaban husna)] – may Allah be pleased with her“

    (“Sharh al-Nawawi” 9/207 [Explanation of Sahih Muslim]).

    LiveScience.com says:

    There is a range, and this has been part of the problem of establishing the “normal” age of puberty. Girls might enter full-blown puberty anytime between ages 9 and 15. (LiveScience.com, The Truth Behind Early Puberty | LiveScience)

    Young women will differ in Balaaghah (physical maturity) depending on a range of factors, especially depending on Where they Live and their Biological makeup;

    The average temperature of the country or province is considered the chief factor here, not only with regard to menstruation but as regards the whole of sexual development at puberty.

    Reference: (Herman H. Ploss, Max Bartels and Paul Bartels; Women: An Historical, Gynecological, and Anthropological Compendium,Volume I, Lord & Bransby, 1988, p.563;Woman.
    An historical, gynaecological and anthropological compendium.
    Volume 3 only by PLOSS, Herman Heinrich, BARTELS, Max & BARTELS,
    Paul Find or Buy Book Now!)

    Marriage to a Man who is 54?

    What we see is that the age of the man is largely irrelevant to the question, so long as he is still reasonably within the age of marriage. Prophet Muhammad had only around 12 white hairs when he passed away at the age of 63, and his description [see Shama’il Al Tirmidhi (Shamâ´il al-Muhammadiyyah (Description of Prophet Muhammad) by Abû ‘Isâ at-Tirmidhî)] proves he was not physically frail like some people may think.

    Any marriage by a people is based on the cultural norms of the time. The marriage should be based on social norms.
    The Prophet Muhammad married according to the social norms of his
    society (marriage of younger women to older men was the norms), and
    we marry according to the social norms that we live in. Social
    norms are not a problem, so long as they do not contradict firmly
    set ethics, and it has been proven above that this marriage did not
    cause any harm to Aisha whatsoever, but caused a great deal of
    good. Every other marriage should be judged individually based on its own circumstances.

    Conclusion

    The word ‘Paedophilia’ is a subjective term. Some countries
    legalise marriage at the age of 16, others legalise it earlier and
    and others later. So in one country you’re a paedophile and in
    another you’re not? Who decides?

    There needs to be One firm ethical rule; If there will be harm in a marriage and intimate relations, such a person should not have intimate relations. If there will be no harm – then it is perfectly suitable for such a young adult to get married of their choice.

    If you question how one can figure this out?, it is clear from seeing signs of their physical growth, aswell as seeing how this young adult is mentally and emotionally. If they are suited for it – then it is their right to go ahead with such a marriage relationship.

    Marriage-of-aisha.blogspot.com

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Changing the factual past in an attempt to gain political authority is one of the paradoxes of modern populism, where the target audience is presented a twisted and fake past as a nostalgic idealistic image. Populist politicians reminisce publicly about the benefits and pleasures of the days of yore, where facts often have to make room for emotions. 

This false representations of a national past on a micro-level is internationally recognizable, but it nonetheless becomes increasingly apparent on a macro-level. The modern European continent is such an example, where right-wing populism is rapidly gaining ground and threatens to achieve political successes.

The populist branch within the Flemish Nationalist thought lends itself particularly to such interpretations of the past, and makes severe historical mistakes in an attempt to uphold and protect that history.

Historically speaking, there’s no truth in an independent Flanders based on the territory of the current Flemish Region. The historical and geographical Flanders is the areas designated as Zealand, East- and West-Flanders and French-Flanders all the way up to Dunkirk. The provinces of Antwerp and Flemish Brabant belonged historically to the duchy of Brabant, and the modern-day province of Limburg was a patchwork of small governments under influence of the Holy Roman Empire, the largest of which was the County of Loon, part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.

And yet, nostalgic references are made to the Battle of the Golden Spurs, the County of Flanders and the Flemish Lion by right-wingers. These are mere emotional ideals for a people desperately in search of its own identity amidst a rapidly changing world.

That all of this “past” needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The average Limburgian shares less history with his West-Flemish countryman than with someone from Liège, often doesn’t matter any more.

It’s emotional support, and a form of political opportunism.

Das Abendland

In an almost romanticized narrative, Europe is presented as the so-called Abendland, the Evening Land, a common territory inhabited by people and societies that share a homogeneous cultural unity and a common history. It’s from this populist utopia that the resistance grows against the so-called illusion that Europe was partly formed by external influences and ideas from other continents around the world. It’s from this outset that an isolationist and supremacist historical thinking is pursued. It doesn’t come as a surprise that such theories aren’t only wrong on a historical level, but form an acute danger that threatens to separate people, based on ghosts from the past and vague ideals.

This Eurocentric thinking, in which Europe is considered the initiator and not the receiver, persists throughout colonial and post-colonial European thought. Besides, this trend is also observable in our modern Western high school system, where education tends to look at human history through a purely European lens, as if it was the exclusive result of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, Christianity, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Years of history classes are being taught within this framework, offering students just a limited amount of tools to effectively look beyond their own geographical and historical area. This is disastrous for the 21st century’s educational system. Such outdated curriculum only serves the interests of populists and idealists.

The history of the several African civilizations, more focus on the earliest states of the Fertile Crescent and some time on the rise and development of the United States were severely lacking during my high school experience, and I had to wait until university to be taught these subjects. What I found most lacking, however, was any in-depth attention for the complex relationship between Europe and the Islamic World.

The Absent Crescent

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Albanian Muslims in traditional clothing – 1873

The narrative that Europe is the sole result of a Judeo-Christian tradition with roots in ancient Greek and Roman antiquity needs to be swept aside, once and for all. By no means was there in Europe at any point up until the Second World War an example of cultural, religious or social unity. On the contrary! The continent has always been a patchwork of warring tribes, feudal kingdoms and modern nation states that had in most cases little more in common than their shared geographical position on the European land mass.

More than one third of Europe was under strong Islamic influence for several centuries; in the west, the Iberian Peninsula known as al-Andalus and in the east, Greece and the Balkan all the way up to Vienna. Important Islamic cities like Cordoba, Granada, Sarajevo and Istanbul are still standing in all their glory as we speak, effectively forming visual and tangible landmarks of the Islamic presence on the European continent. This part of history and its influence on modern Europe, however, is predominantly kept silent in the rich historical corpus this continent possesses so abundantly, just as much as in the average high schools so paramount in the formation of our youngest generations.

It is mere randomness that determined that Judaism and Christianity, both religions arisen from Semitic societies, are considered to be European and Islam, which equally emerged from a Semitic society, to be non-European. The fact that European Muslim scientists and philosophers like Ibn Zuhr, al-Zahrāwī, Ibn Rushd or Ibn-Ẓafar al-Ṣiqillī were often much more relevant to modern European science and philosophy than the ancient Greek and Roman thinkers, is long forgotten.

True European Islam

This Islam, that was equally and simultaneously influenced and touched by the proximity and contact with other European people, constitutes true European Islam, i.e. the Islam that grew on the European continent and which left its mark on the future development of states influenced by its presence.

That abhorrent mixture of Islam and liberal, secular and humanist ideals that people nowadays wish to propagate as ‘European Islam’ by presenting it as an acceptable alternative of the Islamic religion within Europe is in my opinion nothing more than a product of the European superiority thinking and undoubtedly also the inferiority complex lots of immigrants suffer from. European Islam predates all of this politicized circus for several centuries, and doesn’t need any dilution or mixing in order to be accepted as European.Click To Tweet

That abhorrent mixture of Islam and liberal, secular and humanist ideals that people wish to propagate as ‘European Islam’ by presenting it as an acceptable alternative of the Islamic religion within Europe is nothing more than a product of a European superiority complex and undoubtedly also the inferiority complex lots of immigrants suffer from. European Islam predates all of this politicized circus for several centuries, and doesn’t need any dilution or mixing in order to be accepted as European.

People like Ivan de Veenboer and Jan Janszoon probably don’t immediately ring a bell, and yet they were among the first Dutch Muslims who actively served as seafarers under the Ottoman Empire.

Ivan de Veenboer was an infamous Dutch corsair who sailed the Mediterranean Sea and converted to Islam somewhere at the start of the 17th century. He received the honorary title of ‘Sulaymān-Reis’  from the Dey of Algiers and was promoted to captain and commander of the Algiers corsair fleet, a promotion that heralded a highly successful career. His chief mate was another Dutch corsair, Jan Janszoon. He converted to Islam as well, and assumed command as Murād-Reis over the Fleet of Salé, a powerful squadron of seventeen privateers under Ottoman command. The word Reis is a derivative of the Arabic word for commander, raʾīs, and was given as an honorary title.

In 1566, the Ottoman Empire — under Sulaymān the Magnificent — as the sole foreign power offer its aid to the Dutch rebels of William of Orange. The Protestant Dutch were involved in a violent rebellion against Catholic Spain, and found an ally in the Ottomans. In 1574, Selīm II took Tunisia from the Spanish Empire in a successful attempt to lower the Spanish pressure on the Low Lands.

The History of  the Geuzen

The Geuzen, the Dutch guerrilla and privateering forces who opposed the Spanish Catholics during the Eighty Years’ War, wore a badge with the inscription: “Rather Turkish than Pope.” When the village of Sluis fell under control of the Dutch rebels in 1604, they found several Muslims among the Spanish galley slaves. The Dutch immediately chose to grant them their freedom and to transport them to the shores of North Africa as a sign of gratitude towards the Ottomans.

The Ottoman Caliph Aḥmed I asked the Dutch revolutionaries to send him an ambassador, effectively becoming one of the first world leaders to recognize the sovereignty of the Dutch Republic.Click To Tweet
HUIK_-_rouwkleding_-_Bernard_Picart,_1733
Two Dutch women wearing a so-called huik – 1733

The Ottoman Caliph Aḥmed I asked the Dutch revolutionaries to send him an ambassador, effectively becoming one of the first world leaders to recognize the sovereignty of the Dutch Republic. That ambassador’s name was Cornelius Haga, who arrived with a delegation in Istanbul in 1611. In 1612, he agreed on a very advantageous trade agreement with the Turks, exempting the Dutch from several taxes. Haga remained at the caliph’s court until 1639.

It’s regrettable that such examples are barely covered when speaking about the history of Europe, even in high school. This point of view can build a much broader insight among students with regard to the role of Islam and the Muslims in Europe.

Missed Opportunities and Right-Wing Historians

The fact that the average history lesson doesn’t speak a word about the complex relationships between European nations and Muslim empires, like the Umayyads and Abbasids, is a missed opportunity. In particular because the global history of the European nations can’t be detached from these Muslim empires and vice versa.

The fact that the average history lesson doesn’t speak a word about the complex relationships between European nations and Muslim empires, like the Umayyads and Abbasids, is a missed opportunityClick To Tweet

From Islamic Andalusia and Sicily through the Crusades all the way up to the Ottoman support for Ireland during the Great Famine, European states constantly existed in interaction with neighboring Muslim countries. Keeping silent about all of this benefits only the far-right populist establishment. Right-wing historians, like the Belgian Wim Van Rooy, go as far as denying the entire Islamic civilization and all of its achievements throughout the centuries, calling it an invention of 20th century Arab Gulf states.

The fact that the historical role played by Islam in Europe is reduced to an absolute minimum in popular modern historiography only contributes to a wrong understanding of the current question of Islam in the West. Islam existence on the continent has a long history, and didn’t just slip through the net as a result of mass immigration after the Second World War, as claimed by several populists.

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Marmaduke Pikthall

Many prominent Muslims lived on the continent in the early 90’s. Let’s take the example of Evelyn (Zainab) Cobbold was a Scottish noblewoman who converted to Islam after having spent several years in Algiers and Cairo. The 65 year old was, as a matter of fact, by 1933 the first British Muslim woman that ever performed the pilgrimage (Ḥajj) to Mecca.

British writer and journalist Marmaduke (Muḥammad) Pikthall, praised by great writers like H.G. Wells and D.H. Lawrence, converted to Islam publicly in 1917. In 1930, he published an English translation of the Quran, and in 1936 he was buried in the Muslim section of the famous Brookwood cemetery in London.

Sir Archibald (ʿAbdullāh) Hamilton, Etienne Dinet, Claude Alexandre de Bonnevalle, the Hungarian Jozef Bem and even the younger brother of Vlad Dracul, Radu, were all early European converts to Islam, and the list is much longer.

Can’t all of this be considered a common part of European history?

Mahomets Gesang

Goethe known for his love and fascination for the poetry of Saʿdī al-Shīrāzī, dedicated a poem of his to the Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Mahomets Gesang, Song of Muhammad.

The Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw didn’t make his admiration for the Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) much of a secret as well. His famous quote still emits a serene respect: “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality.” In the January 1933 issue of the Lahore The Light magazine in which he made this comment, Shaw added that “he forecast that within a century, Islam would be the religion of Europe.”

According to him, Islam was dismissed for centuries by Europeans as pagan heresy and nonsense, depicted as the embodiment of evil, but 18th and 19th century thinkers like Goethe, Gibbon and Carlyle brought a positive change in how Islam is viewed. All four of these thinkers, including Shaw, deviated from the contemporary traditional European historiography and observed instead the Middle-East, the Greek-Orthodox Church and the development of Islam. Not only did they get to know the Prophet Muḥammad as a religious symbol, but as an efficient political leader and a genius strategist.

Connection Instead Of Polarization

This entire message, however, won’t ring a bell to most, including Muslims themselves. It’s a message that gets lost amidst the deafening sound of disinformation, political opportunism and populist interests. If this information would be made into a new standard of European historiography and common knowledge, both in school as in public, more connections and mutual understanding will grow as opposed to the rising polarization of today.

Teach students to make connections. Teach them to look at the bigger picture, to understand the historical reality that nations simply need to interact with each other in order to survive, apart from culture or religion.Click To Tweet

Teach students to make connections.

Teach them to look at the bigger picture, to understand the historical reality that nations simply need to interact with each other in order to survive, apart from culture or religion. No one fell from Mars and left his mark on earth. Everything we can observe today arose as the result of a long historical process. When our newest generations then learn to think and reason inclusively and see the shared collectiveness of our world history, they’ll walk the Earth with an open-mind and they’ll be less inclined to think in terms like “supremacy” or “exclusivity”.

The last thing I want to do with this long read is to preach and to sum up lists of “how good Islam is”. No, but I do wish historical justice in the ugly face of the contemporary mass-populism. I want to demonstrate that the Islamic religion forms an integral part of European history, and that this religion can just be European as well, without the need to substitute its norms and values.

I want to demonstrate that the Islamic religion forms an integral part of European history, and that this religion can just be European as well, without the need to substitute its norms and values.Click To Tweet

We don’t need to search for a European Islam, because it already exists for centuries.

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About The Kaaba- Video

Kaaba
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Every Muslim knows the Kaaba, but did you know the Kaaba has been reconstructed several times? The Kaaba that we see today is not exactly the same structure that was constructed by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon them. From time to time, it has needed rebuilding after natural and man-made disasters.

Watch to learn ten things that most people may not know about the Ka’aba, based on the full article Ten Things You Didn’t Know About the Ka’aba.

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Emotional Intelligence: A Tool for Change

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Why do we consider emotional intelligence to be half of the Prophetic intellect? The answer lies in the word “messenger.” Messengers of Allah are tasked with the divine responsibility of conveying to humanity the keys to their salvation. They are not only tasked with passing on the message but also with being a living example of that message.

When ʿĀʾishah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, was asked to explain the character of the blessed Prophet ﷺ, her reply was, “His character was the Qurʾān.[1]” We are giving emotional intelligence a place of primacy in the construct of Prophetic intelligence because it seems implausible that Allah would send a messenger without providing that messenger with the means necessary to exemplify and transmit the message to others. If the Prophets of Allah did not have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass on the message to the next generation, the argument would be incomplete. People could easily excuse themselves of all accountability because the message was never conveyed.

We also see clear examples in the Qur’ān that this knowledge was being perpetually perfected in the character of the Prophet ﷺ. Slight slips in his Emotional Intelligence were rare, but when they did occur, Allah gently addressed the mistake by means of revelation. Allah says in the Qurʾān, “If you (O Muḥammad) were harsh and hardhearted, then the people would flee from you.” This verse clearly placed the burden of keeping an audience upon the shoulders of the Prophet ﷺ. What this means is that the Prophet ﷺ had to be aware of what would push people away; he had to know what would create cognitive and emotional barriers to receptivity. When we study the shamāʾil (books about his character), we find that he was beyond exceptional in his ability to make people receptive. He took great care in studying the people around him and deeply understanding them. Only after the Prophet ﷺ had exhausted all the means of removing barriers to receptivity would the responsibility to affirm the message be shifted to those called to it.

Another example of this Prophetic responsibility can be found in the story of Prophet Mūsa when he was commissioned to call Pharaoh and the children of Israel to Allah. When Allah informed him of the task he was chosen for, he immediately attempted to excuse himself because he had a slight speech impediment. He knew that his speech impediment could potentially affect the receptivity of people to the message. He felt that this disqualified him from being a Prophet. He also felt that the act of manslaughter he committed might come between the people and guidance. All of these examples show that Allah’s Prophets understood that many factors can affect a person’s receptivity to learning something new, especially when the implications of that new information call into question almost every aspect of a person’s identity. History tells us that initially, people did not accept the message of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ; they completely rejected him and accused him of being a liar.

One particular incident shows very clearly that he ﷺ understood how necessary it was for him to remove any cognitive or emotional barriers that existed between him and his community. When the people of his hometown of Makkah had almost completely rejected him, he felt that it was time to turn his attention to a neighboring town. The city of Ṭā’if was a major city and the Prophet ﷺ was hopeful that perhaps they would be receptive to the message. Unfortunately, they completely rejected him and refused to even listen to what he had to say. They chased him out of town, throwing stones at him until his injuries left him completely covered in blood. Barely making it outside the city, the Prophet ﷺ collapsed. Too weak to move, he turned his attention to his Lord and made one of the most powerful supplications made by a Prophet of Allah.

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي، وقلة حيلتي، وهواني على الناس، يا أرحم الراحمين، أنت أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي، إلى من تكلني؟ إلى عدو يتجهمني؟ أو إلى قريب ملكته أمري؟ إن لم يكن بك علي غضب فلا أبالي، غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي، أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات، وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة، من أن ينزل بي غضبك، أو يحل علي سخطك، لك العتبى حتى ترضى، ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بك”

“Oh Allah, only to You do I complain about my lack of strength, my insufficient strategies, and lowliness in the sight of the people. You are my Lord. To whom do you turn me over? Someone distant from me who will forsake me? Or have you placed my affair in the hands of my enemy? [2]

The Prophet ﷺ felt that he was the reason why the people were not accepting the message. His concern that “my low status in the eyes of the people,” informs us that he understood that people naturally judge the seriousness of a message based on the stature of the message bearer. The people of Ṭā’if were extremely ignorant, so much that they adamantly refused to enter into any dialogue. In reality, this was not due to any shortcoming of the Prophet ﷺ; he demonstrated the best of character and displayed extreme patience in the face of such ignorance. But the beginning of the supplication teaches us what he was focused on: making sure that he was not the reason why someone did not accept the message.

Because his message was not geographically restricted like that of other Prophets, those who inherited the message would have the extra burden of transferring the message to a people with whom they were unfamiliar. The intelligence needed to pass the message of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ around the world included an understanding of the cultural differences that occur between people. Without this understanding effective communication and passing on of his message would be impossible.

A sharp Emotional Intelligence is built upon the development of both intra- and interpersonal intelligence. These intelligences are the backbone of EQ and they provide a person with emotional awareness and understanding of his or her own self, an empathic understanding of others, and the ability needed to communicate effectively and cause change. Emotional Intelligence by itself is not sufficient for individual reform or societal reform; instead, it is only one part of the puzzle. The ʿaql or intellect that is referenced repeatedly in the Qurʾān is a more comprehensive tool that not only recognizes how to understand the psychological and emotional aspects of people but recognizes morally upright and sound behavior. After that this intellect, if healthy and mature, forces a person to conform to that standard. Therefore, we understand the ʿaql to be a comprehensive collection of intelligences analogous to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory.

Taking into consideration the extreme diversity found within Western Muslim communities, we see how both Moral Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are needed. Fostering and nurturing healthy communities requires that we understand how people receive our messages. This is the interpersonal intelligence aspect of EQ. Without grounding the moral component of our community, diversity can lead to what some contemporary moral theorists call moral plasticity, a phenomenon where concrete understandings of good and evil, right and wrong, are lost. Moral Education (Moral Education, which will be discussed throughout the book, is the process of building a Morally Intelligent heart) focuses on correcting the message that we are communicating to the world; in other words, Moral Intelligence helps us maintain our ideals and live by them, while Emotional Intelligence ensures that the message is effectively communicated to others.

My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.”

Interpersonal understanding is the core of emotional intelligence. My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.” From the perspective of Emotional Intelligence, this statement is very accurate. The way we interpret words, body language, verbal inflections, and facial expressions is based on many different factors. The subtle power of this book lies in the simple fact that your emotional intelligence is the primary agent of change and thus the most powerful force you have. You must understand how people perceive what you are communicating to them. What is missing from my father’s statement is the primacy of Moral Intelligence. Throughout this book, I attempt to show how the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ demonstrated a level of perfection of both of these intelligences.

*With the Heart in Mind is available for pre-order at https://www.qalam.foundation/qalambooks/with-the-heart-in-mind

[1]Bayhaqī, Shuʿb al-ʾĪmān, vol. 3, p. 23.

[2] Ibn Kathir, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol. 3, p. 136.

 

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