Thursday, April 17, 2008

BBC on child marriage in Yemen: Move along folks, nothing Islamic to see here

In Yemen you don't have to spell out D-I-V-O-R-C-E to hide what's going on from the kids, because it's the kids who are getting divorced. The BBC reports:

A Yemeni court has annulled an eight-year-old girl's marriage to a man in his 20s, after she filed for divorce.

The girl, Nojoud Mohammed Ali, took a taxi to a judge’s office on her own, after running away from her husband.

Lawyer Shatha Nasser told the BBC she heard about Nojoud by chance and instantly decided to represent her.

"Child brides are common in parts of Yemen, but this case received wider attention because it reached court," she said.

The report adds that Yemen has no legal minimum age for marriage, although the wife is only allowed to live with her husband once she has reached puberty. Nojoud told the court she had signed the marriage contract two-and-a-half months ago on the understanding that she would stay with her parents until she was 18, but her parents forced her to go and live with her husband a week later. The court was told that the marriage had been consummated.

The CIA factbook lists the religion of Yemen as 'Muslim, including Shaf'i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shi'a), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu'. And Wikipedia states: 'Less than 1% of Yemenis are non-Muslim, adhering to Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.'

So I suppose the reluctant bride and her groom could have been members of a gun-toting, bible-bashing minority Christian sect clinging to ancient traditions like child marriage out of a sense of bitterness. However, while I wouldn't want to go jumping to conclusions, given that Nojoud's father is called Mohammad it's highly likely that they were Muslims.

And the BBC defers to no-one in its skill at navigating the minefields of multiculturalism, so it manages to report the story without mentioning the ‘M’ or ‘I’ words.
Perhaps the BBC doesn't think that Islam is issue here. After all, it also reports that:

Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries.


The courtroom was packed with members of the press and human rights activists, who are using the case to highlight the need for more child protection in Yemen.

So there you go - the problem of 8-year-olds being married and sexually abused can probably be sorted out by lifting Yemenis out of poverty, and getting social services involved.

Compare the BBC's kid-gloves approach to the eccentricities of Islam with its recent reporting on the polygamy sect bust in Texas:

Texas authorities have continued raids on a ranch belonging to a breakaway Mormon sect, removing a total of almost 200 women and children since Thursday.

No problem mentioning the religion there. Every BBC report on the story refers prominently to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and some mention Bibles.

Most reports also include the following stock sentence:

Members believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven. Women are taught that their path to heaven depends on being subservient to their husband.

Maybe the BBC could included a similar sentence, by way of establishing context, in reports such as today's from Yemen. Here's a suggestion:

There is no minimum marriage age for men or women under Islamic law. Mohammed was betrothed to his second wife, Aisha, when she was aged six, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine and he was 52.

Of course, they'll do no such thing, despite the fact that in a recent lecture the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, stressed that broadcasters should not shy away from reporting on sensitive issues regarding any religion (the lecture is linked at the top-right of the page):

...we have a special responsibility to ensure that, whatever the difficulties and the sensitivities, the debate about faith and society and about the way people with very different beliefs encounter each other – that this debate should not be foreclosed or censored.

Thompson's words are laughable. Time and again the BBC cows to threats, and even the possibility of threats, by Islamists, whether apologising for jokes made by presenters, calling Muslims who killed Christians in Turkey 'nationalists', changing the plots of dramas to avoid causing offence, or apologising for showing the merest glimpses of the Mohammed cartoons.

Perish the thought that, confronted with honest reporting about extreme aspects of Islam, Westerners might be more resistant to millions of people arriving in their countries from Islamic countries, free to practise their customs and under no obligation to assimilate. And perish the thought that people might be a little more supportive of US-led efforts to stop Islamic extremists dominating the Middle East.

You can find a serious discussion of child marriage in Islam, by a Muslim writer, here.

Of course, the BBC aren't the only ones in the UK living under self-imposed dhimmitude.

Update: Freeborn John links, and has extended thoughts on both child marriage in the Islamic world and the BBC's bias in general. Also linked by Pajamas.


akhter said...

what happened in Yeman was wrong,should you not use one of the 1.8 millions abused as one of your main headline, no they are not Muslims!!!

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Sexual Abuse of Children

Renee Z. Dominguez, Ph.D.*
Connie F. Nelke, Ph.D.**
Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.***

Encyclopedia of Crime & Punishment

Berkshire Publishing Group
Great Barrington, MA
In Press: 2001

This is a ChildTrauma Academy version of a chapter to be published in Encyclopedia of Crime & Punishment, 2001.

Official Citation:

Dominquez, R. Z., Nelke, C.F. and Perry, B.D. Child Sexual Abuse in: Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment Vol 1.(David Levinson, Ed.) Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks pp 202-207, 2002

* ChildTrauma Academy, Houston, TX and La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Chicago, IL
* * ChildTrauma Academy, Houston, TX and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
*** ChildTrauma Academy, Houston, TX and Children’s Mental Health Programs, Alberta Mental Health Board, Calgary, CA


Child sexual abuse is a significant public health problem in the United States and across the world. In the United States one out of three females and one out of five males have been victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18 years. Sexual abuse occurs across all ethnic/racial, socioeconomic, and religious groups. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is considered a relatively common experience in the lives of children. A report released by the National Institute of Justice in 1997 revealed that of the 22.3 million children between the ages of 12 and 17 years in the United States, 1.8 million were victims of a serious sexual assault/abuse. There are gender differences with regard to sexual abuse incidents; specifically, girls are at twice the risk than boys for sexual victimization throughout childhood and at eight times the risk during adolescence. Because significant physical, emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral problems are related to childhood trauma, the need to more effectively address the issue has become paramount.

There are a number of commonly held misconceptions regarding child sexual abuse in the United States. These include the following: sexual abuse is limited to sexual intercourse between an adult and a child; the perpetrator of the sexual abuse is always a stranger; and rape occurs with adult women, not children. However, these beliefs are false. Sexual abuse involves a range of activities including non-contact and contact offenses (see Table1); stranger abuse comprises only a small percentage of total victimizations; and children are approximately three times more likely than adults to be victims of rape. In fact, among females, almost 30% of all forcible rapes occur before the age of 11 years, and another 32% occur between the ages of 11 and 17.

Researchers in this area use somewhat different “criteria” for sexual abuse; the most common definition of sexual abuse, however, is any sexual activity involving a child where consent is not or cannot be given. Sexual contact between an adult and a minor child, as well as an older teen and a younger child, are both examples of sexual abuse. Depending upon the age at which a state deems a child capable of giving consent, sexual abuse between two minors can also occur. For example, the law in Texas dictates that there be greater than a three-year age differential between children in order to be considered sexual abuse. The types of sexual abuse vary widely and include both physical contact as well as non-contact offenses. Despite the choices made by laws and research criterion, the impact of a forced or coerced sexual activity can be devastating on a child even if the action cannot be legally or academically described as sexual abuse.

All states require some kind of mandated child abuse reporting. Child abuse reporting laws most often require specified professionals (e.g., physicians, teachers) who have contact with children to report to law enforcement, the department of social services, or children protection agencies incidents in which abuse is suspected. These laws were developed in order to better protect children. From state to state, it varies as to who is mandated to report and what abuse acts require reporting. For example, according to California Penal Code there are two categories of sexual abuse that are reportable: sexual assault and sexual exploitation. According to the code, sexual assault includes rape and rape in concert, oral copulation and sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14, penetration of a genital and/or anal opening by a foreign object, and child molestation. Sexual exploitation includes conduct involving matter depicting minors engaged in obscene acts; promoting, aiding, or assisting a minor to engage in prostitution; a live performance involving obscene sexual conduct, or posing for a pictorial depiction involving obscene conduct for commercial purposes; and depicting a child in or knowingly developing a pictorial depiction in which a child engages in obscene sexual conduct.

benning said...

Good post! Sister Toldjah sent me here. Oh, and I'm in Largo, Florida.

I'll head to your main page and see what else you've written.

Or I could copy and paste a few chapters of my novel. Whaddya think? Is my short comment looking a bit thin compared to the previous comment?


Anonymous said...

When Muhammed, Islam's prophet, had sexual intercourse with a 9 year old when he was in his 50's,. and Muslim-dominated societies are ruled by religious law, or if not religious law through gov't then an angry mob could show up at your door if you criticise Muhammed, then what do you expect?

akhter said...


A Christian friend asked me once, “Will you marry your seven year old daughter to a fifty year old man?” I kept my silence. He continued, “If you would not, how can you approve the marriage of an innocent seven year old, Ayesha, with your Prophet?” I told him, “I don’t have an answer to your question at this time.” My friend smiled and left me with a thorn in the heart of my faith. Most Muslims answer that such marriages were accepted in those days. Otherwise, people would have objected to Prophet’s marriage with Ayesha. However, such an explanation would be gullible only for those who are na├»ve enough to believe it. But unfortunately, I was not satisfied with the answer.

The Prophet (PBUH) was an exemplary man. All his actions were most virtuous so that we, Muslims, can emulate them. However, most people in our Islamic Center of Toledo, including me, would not think of betrothing our seven years daughter to a fifty-two year-old man. If a parent agrees to such a wedding, most people, if not all, would look down upon the father and the old husband.

In 1923, registrars of marriage in Egypt were instructed not to register and issue official certificates of marriage for brides less than sixteen and grooms less than eighteen years of age. Eight years later, the Law of the Organization and Procedure of Sheriah courts of 1931 consolidated the above provision by not hearing the marriage disputes involving brides less than sixteen and grooms less than eighteen years old. (REF: Women in Muslim Family Law, John Esposito, 1982). It shows that even in the Muslim majority country of Egypt the child marriages are unacceptable.

So, I believed, without solid evidence other than my reverence to my Prophet (pbuh), that the stories of the marriage of seven-year-old Ayesha (ra) to fifty-year-old Prophet are only myths. However, my long pursuit in search of the truth on this matter proved my intuition correct. My Prophet was a gentleman. And He did not marry an innocent seven or nine year old girl.

The age of Ayesha (ra) has been erroneously reported in the hadith literature. Furthermore, I think that the narratives reporting this event are highly unreliable. Some of the hadith regarding Ayesha’s age at the time of her wedding with prophet are problematic. I present the following evidences against the acceptance of the fictitious story by Hisham ibn `urwah and to clear the name of my Prophet (pbuh) as an irresponsible old man preying on an innocent little girl.

EVIDENCE # 1 Reliability of Source

Most of these narratives printed in the Hadith books are reported only by Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. First of all, more people than just one, two or three should logically have reported. It is strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first seventy one years of his life has narrated the event, even though in Medinah his pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. The origins of the report of the narratives of this event are people from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have shifted after living in Medinah for seventy-one years.

Tehzibu'l-tehzib, one of the most well known books on the life and the reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) report that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah:

" He [Hisham] is highly reliable, his narratives are acceptable, except what he narrated after moving over to Iraq." (REF: Tehzi'bu'l-tehzi'b, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqala'ni, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, 15th century. Vol 11, p. 50).

It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq:

“I have been told that Malik [ibn Anas] objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq." (REF: Tehzi'b u'l-tehzi'b, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqala'ni, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol.11, p. 50)

Mizanu'l-ai`tidal, another book on the life sketches of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports:

"When he was old, Hisham's memory suffered quite badly" (REF: Mizanu'l-ai`tidal, Al-Zahbi, Al-Maktabatu'l-athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol. 4, p. 301)

CONCLUSION: Based on these references, Hisham’s memory was failing and his narratives while in Iraq were unreliable. So, his narrative of Ayesha’s marriage and age are unreliable.

Now let me state some of the pertinent dates in the history of Islam:

Jahilliyya Before Revelation

First Revelation 610 CE

Abu Baker accepts Islam 610 CE

Public preaching 613 CE

Emigration to Abyssenia 615 CE

Umar bin al Khattab accept Islam 616 CE

Generally accepted betrothal of Ayesha 620 CE

Hijarah 622 CE

Generally accepted year of Ayesha living

with Prophet 623 or 624CE (1 or 2 AH)

EVIDENCE # 2 Betrothal

According to Tabari (also according to Hisham ibn ‘urwah, Ibn Hunbal and Ibn Sad), Ayesha was betrothed at seven years of age and began to cohabit with Prophet at the age of nine years. However, in another work, Al- Tabari says:

"All four of his [Abu Bakr's] children were born of his two wives -- the names of

whom we have already mentioned -- during the pre-Islamic period."(REF: Tarikhu'l-umam wa'l-mamlu'k, Al-Tabari (died 922), Vol. 4, p. 50, Arabic, Dara'l-fikr, Beirut, 1979)

If Ayesha was betrothed in 620 CE (at the age of 7 years) and started to live with Prophet in 624 CE or 2 AH (at the age of nine years), she was born in 613 CE {(Year of living with Prophet MINUS Ayesha’a age at that time of living with Prophet EQUALS the date of birth of Ayesha (624CE – 9 yrs = 613 CE)}. So, based on one account of Al-Tabari the numbers show that Ayesha must have born (613 CE) three years after the beginning of revelation (610 CE). And yet another place Tabari says that Ayesha was born in Pre-Islamic time (in Jahilliyyah). If she were born in pre-Islamic time (before 610 CE), she would have be at least 14 years old. So, Tabari contradicts himself.

CONCLUSION: Al-Tabari is unreliable in the matter of determining Ayesha’s age.

Contradicting Reports

EVIDENCE # 3 The Age of Ayesha in Relation to the Age of Fathima.

According to According to Ibn Hajar,

“ Fatimah (ra) was born at the time the Ka`bah was rebuilt, when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old... she (Fatimah) was five years older that Ayesha (ra).” (REF: Al-isabah fi tamyizi'l-sahabah, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Vol. 4, P. 377, Maktabatu'l-Riyadh al-haditha, al-Riyadh, 1978)

So, based on Ibn Hajar, Fathima was born when Prophet was 35 years old and Ayesha was 5 years younger than Fathima. If Ibn Hajar’s statement is factual, Ayesha was born when Prophet was forty years old (Prophet’s age at the birth of Fathima PLUS 5 years = 40 years). If Ayesha was married to Prophet when he was 52 years old, Ayesha’ age at marriage would be 12 years {(Prophet’s age at the time of marriage MINUS Prophet’s age at Ayesha’s birth (52 yrs – 40 years = 12 yrs)}.

CONCLUSION: Ibn Hajar, Tabari an Ibn Hisham and Ibn Humbal contradict each other. So, the marriage of Ayesha at seven years of age is a myth.

EVIDENCE # 4 The Age of Ayesha in Relation to the Age of Asma

According to Abda'l-Rahman ibn abi zanna'd:

“Asma (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha. (REF: Siyar A`la'ma'l-nubala', Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, p. 289, Arabic, Mu'assasatu'l-risalah, Beirut, 1992)

According to Ibn Kathir:

"She [Asma] was elder to her sister [Ayesha] by ten years". (REF: Al-Bidayah wa'l-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, p. 371, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933)

According to Ibn Kathir:

"She [Asma] saw the killing of her son during that year [i.e. 73 AH], as we have already mentioned, and five days later she herself died. According to other narratives she died not after five days but ten or twenty or a few days over twenty or a hundred days later. The most well known narrative is that of hundred days later. At the time of her death, she was 100 years old." (REF: Al-Bidayah wa'l-nihayah, Ibn Kathir (died 1333), Vol. 8, Pg. 372, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933)

According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani:

"She [Asma (ra)] lived a hundred years and died in 73 or 74 AH." (REF: Taqribu'l-tehzib, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, Pg 654, Arabic, Bab fi'l-nisa', al-harfu'l-alif, Lucknow)

According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). If Asma was 100 years old in 73 AH, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijra { Asma’s age MINUS 73 hijrah EQUALS the age of Asma at the time of Hijrah( 100 – 73 or 74 = 27 or 28)}.

If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah, Ayesha (ra), being younger by 10 years, should have been 17 or 18 years old {Asma’s age at the time of Hijarah MINUS the age difference between Asma and Ayesha EQUALS the age of Ayesha at the time of Hijarh (27 or 28 –10 = 17 or 18 yrs)}. Thus, Ayesha (ra), being 17 or 18 years of at the time of Hijra, she started to cohabit with Prophet between 19 to 20 years old (The Age of Ayesha at the time of Hijra + the year of Ayesha cohabiting with Prophet (19-20 + 1-2 Hijra) = The Age of Ayesha when she cohabit with Prophet (19 or 20 years).

Based on Hajar, Ibn Katir, and Abda'l-Rahman ibn abi zanna'd, age of Ayesha at the time living with Prophet would be 19or 20 years. In evidence # 3, Ibn Hajar suggests that Ayesha is 12 years old and in evidence # 4 he contradicts himself with a seventeen or eighteen-year-old Ayesha (ra). What is the correct age, twelve or eighteen?

CONCLUSION: Ibn Hajar is an unreliable source for Ayesha’s age.

EVIDENCE # 5 Battles of Badr and Uhud

A narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) participation in Badr is given in Muslim, Kitabu'l-jihad wa'l-siyar, Bab karahiyati'l-isti`anah fi'l-ghazwi bikafir. Ayesha (ra) while narrating the journey to Badr and one of the important events that took place in that journey says: "when we reached Shajarah". It is quite obvious from these words that Ayesha (ra) was with the group travelling towards Badr.

A narrative regarding Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle of `uhud is given in Bukhari, Kitabu'l-jihad wa'l-siyar, Bab Ghazwi'l-nisa' wa qitalihinna ma`a'lrijal:

"Anas reports that On the day of Uhud, people could not stand their ground

around the Prophet (pbuh). [On that day,] I saw Ayesha (ra) and Umm-i-Sulaim

(ra), they had pulled their dress up from their feet [to avoid any hindrance in their movement]."

CONCLUSION: Ayesha (ra) was present in the battles of Uhud and Badr.

It is narrated in Bukhari, Kitabu'l-maghazi, Bab ghazwati'l-khandaq wa hiya'l-ahza'b:

"Ibn `umar (ra) states that the Prophet (pbuh) did not permit me to participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was fourteen years old. But on the day of Khandaq, when I was fifteen years old, the Prophet (pbuh) permitted my participation."

Summary: Based on the above narratives, (a) the children below 15 years were sent back and were not allowed to participate in the battle of `uhud, (b) Ayesha participated in the battles of Badr and Uhud

CONCLUSION: Ayesha's (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicates that she was not nine old but at least 15 years old or older. After all, women used to accompany men to the battlefields to help them, not to be a burden on them. This account is another contradiction about Ayesha’s age.

EVIDANCE # 6 Surat al Qamar

According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (kitabu'l-tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said:

"I was a young girl (jariyah)" when Surah Al-Qamar was revealed. (REF: Sahih Bukhari, kitabu'l-tafsir, Bab Qaulihi Bal al-sa`atu Maw`iduhum wa'l-sa`atu adha' wa amarr)

The 54th surah of the Qur'an was revealed eight years before Hijrah (REF: The Bounteous Koran, M.M. Khatib, 1985). So, it was revealed in 614 CE {Year of Hijrah MINUS year of revelation of Al Qamar (622 CE – 8 = 614 CE)}. If Ayesha started living with Prophet (pbuh) at the age of nine in 623 CE or 624 CE, she was a newborn infant (a sibyah) {Year of Ayesha living with Prophet MINUS age of Ayesha when she started to live with Prophet (623 CE or 624 CE– 9 years=614 0r 615) at the time the Surah Al-Qamar was revealed.

According to the above tradition, Ayesha (ra) was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) in the year of revelation of Al Qamar. “Jariyah” means young playful girl (Lane’s Arabic English Lexicon). So, Ayesha, being a Jariyah not a sibyah (infant), must be somewhere between 6-13 years at the time of revelation of Al-Qamar, and thereby she must have been 14-21 years (6-13 + 8= 14-21 years) at the time she married Prophet.

CONCLUSION: This tradition also contradicts the marriage of Ayesha at the age of nine.

EVIDANCE # 7. Arabic Term

According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (ra), when Khaulah (ra) came to the Prophet (pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding the choices that she had in her mind. Khaulah said: "You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)". When the Prophet (pbuh) asked the identity of the bikr (virgin), Khaulah proposed Ayesha's (ra) name.

All those who know the Arabic language, are aware that the word "Bikr" in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine-year-old girl. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier is "Jariyah". "Bikr" on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady without conjugal experience prior to marriage, as we understand the word, virgin, in English. Therefore, obviously a nine-year-old girl is not a "lady" (Bikr). (REF: Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 6, p. .210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut.)

CONCLUSION: The literal meaning of the word, Bikr (virgin), in the above Hadith is adult women with no sexual experience prior to marriage. Therefore, Ayesha was an adult woman at the time of her marriage.

EVIDENCE # 8. The Qur’anic Text

All Muslims agree that the Qur’an is the book of guidance. So, we need seek the guidance from the Qur’an to clear the smoke and the confusion created by the eminent men of the classical period of Islam in the matter of the age of Ayesha at her marriage. Does the Qur’an allow or disallow marriage of an immature child of seven years of age?

There are no verses that explicitly allow such marriage. However, I found a verse that guides us in our duty to raise a child deprived with the death of one or both parents. I believe that guidance of the Qur’an on the topic of raising orphans is also valid in the case of our own children. The Verse states:

“And make not over your property (property of the orphan), which Allah had made a (means of) support for you, to the weak of understanding, and maintain them out of it, clothe them and give them good education. And test them until they reach the age of marriage. Then if you find them maturity of intellect, make over them their property……” (Qur’an 4:5-6).

In the matter of children who has lost a parent, a Muslim is ordered to (a) feed them, (b) clothe them, (c) educate them, and (d) test them for maturity “until the age of marriage” before entrusting them with management of finances. Here the Qur’anic verse demands meticulous proof of their intellectual and physical maturity by objective test results before the age of marriage in order to entrust their property to them.

In the light of the above verses, no responsible Muslims would hand over financial management to a seven or nine year old immature girl. If we cannot trust a seven-year-old to manage the financial matters, she cannot be intellectually or physically fit for marriage also. Ibn Hambal (REF:Musnad Ahmad ibn Hambal, vol.6, p 33 and 99) claims that Ayesha at the age of nine was rather more interested to play with toy-horses than to take up the responsible task of a wife. Therefore, I would not believe that Abu Baker, a great Moimin, would betroth his immature seven-year-old daughter to fifty-year-old Prophet. Similarly, I would not believe that Prophet (pbuh) would marry a seven-year-old immature girl.

Another important duty demanded from the guardian of a child is “to educate them.” Let us ask the question, “How many of us in the Islamic Center believe that we can educate our children satisfactorily before they reach the age of seven or nine years?”

The answer is “none.” It is a logically impossible task to educate a child satisfactorily before the child attains the age of seven. Then, how can we believe that Ayesha was educated satisfactorily at the claimed age of seven at the time of her marriage? Abu Baker (ra) was a better judicious man than all of us. So, he definitely would have judged that Ayesha was a child at heart and was not satisfactorily educated as demanded by the Qur’an. He would not have married her to any one. If a proposal of marrying the immature and yet to be educated seven-year-old Ayesha came to Prophet (pbuh) he would have rejected it outright because neither Prophet (pbuh) nor Abu Baker (ra) would violate any clause in the Qur’an.

CONCLUSION: Marriage of Ayesha (ra) at the age of seven years would violate the maturity clause or requirement of the Qur’an. Therefore, the story of the marriage of the seven-year-old immature Ayesha is a myth.

EVIDENCE # 9. Consent in Marriage

A women must be consulted and get her permission to make the marriage valid (REF:Mishakat al Masabiah, translation by James Robson, Vol. I, p.665). So, in the Muslim marriage, a credible permission from women is a pre-requisite for the marriage to be valid. By any stretch of imagination, the permission by a seven-year-old immature girl cannot be a valid authorization for marriage. It is unconceivable to me that Abu Baker, an intelligent man, would take seriously the permission of a seven-year-old girl to marry a fifty-year-old man. Similarly, Prophet would not have accepted permission given by an immature girl who, according to Muslim, took her toys with her when she went live with Prophet (pbuh).

CONCLUSION: Prophet (pbuh) did not marry seven-year-old Ayesha because it would have violated the requirement of valid permission clause of Islamic Marriage Decree. Therefore, Prophet married intellectually and physically mature Lady Ayesha.

Summary: It was neither an Arab tradition to give away girls in marriage at an age as young as seven or nine years, nor did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Ayesha (ra) at such a young age. The people of Arabia did not object to this marriage, because it never happened in the manner it has been narrated.

Obviously, the narrative of the marriage of nine year old Ayesha by Hisham ibn `urwah cannot be held true when it is contradicted by many other narratives reported above. Moreover, I see absolutely no reason to accept the narrative of Hisham ibn `urwah as true when other scholars including Malik ibn Anas view his narrative, while in Iraq, as unreliable.

The quotations from Tabari, Bukhari and Muslim show they contradict each other regarding Ayesha's (ra) age. Furthermore, many of these scholars contradict themselves in their own records. Thus, the narrative of Ayesha's (ra) age at the time of the marriage is not reliable due to the clear contradictions seen in the works of classical scholars of Islam. Therefore, I see absolutely no reason to believe that the information on Ayesha's (ra) age is accepted as true when there are adequate grounds to reject it as myth. Moreover, the guidance from the Qur’an is against the marriage of immature girls and boys and also against entrusting them with responsibilities.

ANSWER TO MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND: We do not know the exact age at the time of her marriage due to lack of reliable records. Based on the evidences presented above, the marriage of fifty-two-year-old Prophet (pbuh) with Ayesha (ra) at nine year of age is only a proverbial myth. On the contrary, Ayesha (ra) was an intellectually and physically mature Bikr (virgin = adult unmarried woman with no sexual experience) when she married Prophet (pbuh).

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