It is common for a discussion about Islam to naturally derail into criticism and attack on the Islamic early marriage and maligning Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam’s marriage to Aisha radiyAllahu anha.

First, a Muslim in the name of being westernized, civilized or modern should not get embarrassed or questions the sanctity of Muhammad allAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam’s and Aisha marriage. The marriage was divine as it was just. There is no need to hide facts or twist history as if Allah owes anyone any explanation before he makes his decision. Apart from the fact that child marriage was a global custom even before the prophet was born, it should suffice a Muslims to belief that Allah who created Aisha (RA) and Muhammad (SAW) decided this marriage by whatever age difference.

There is no need to create excuses like “she was matured”, “Arabs grow fast” or she was tall”, it means we are admitting that there is something wrong with Allah’s decision. Some even go as far as negating facts by saying that “she may not have been 6”. The most authentic narration told us that Allah showed her to the prophet twice in a dream, and that she was married to the prophet when she was 6 and the prophet 50 and the marriage consummated when she reached puberty at 9 and it remains so.

Those who keep on maligning this marriage cannot even cite any instance when Aisha was ever displeased with her marriage to Nabee more so she turned out as one of the greatest women of Islam and a champion of the prophet’s legacy till her death. Abu Musa Al-Ashari narrated that “Never had we any difficulty but we approach Aisha for the solution and never did we meet her that we didn’t get any useful information from her. (Tirmidhi)

Child marriage was practiced without any restriction among the Greeks, Asians and Europeans. Roman Christians of the Byzantium Empire practiced it never saw it as improper in the historical context since a person at puberty was considered an adult and not a child as the modern word defines it.

In the medievial jewish community of Ashkenazi, girls were married off as a ketannah. A ketannah (literally meaning little [one]) was any girl between the age of 3 years and that of 12 years plus one day; a ketannah was completely subject to her father’s authority, and her father could arrange a marriage for her without her agreement

In early Christian European societies, children were betrothed to each other as young as infants and would marry when they meet the age of consent 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Christian royal monarchs’ children were married as early as early as age 8-10 mostly to secure a political and/or financial tie. The betrothal is considered a binding contract upon the families and the children. The breaking of a betrothal can have serious consequences both for the families and for the betrothed individuals themselves.

Anne de Mowbray 8th countess of Norfolk died as a child bride at the age of nine. She was the bride of Richard of Shrewsbury

Richard II, aged 29, married his 2nd wife Isabella of Valois in when she was 6, yes 6. They were married for 4 years until his death. The marriage was political, never consummated, and actually grew to like each other as friends if a 29 year old can be “friends” with a 6 year old.

Henry VIII, aged 49, married Catherine Howard when she was about 16 years old.

Lady Jane Grey was about 15 when she married her child groom who was about 16 or 17.

King James I, aged 23, married Anne of Denmark when she was 14.

Charles I, aged 25, married Henrietta Marie of France when she was 13.

William III and Mary II ruled jointly. Mary was 15 when she married her 27 year old 1st cousin.

Richard III, aged 19, married Anne Neville when she was 16.

Henry VI, aged 23, married Margaret of Anjou when she was 15.

Henry IV, aged 14, married 1st wife Mary de Bohun when she was 12.

Richard II, aged 14, married 1st wife Anne of Bohemia when she was 15.

Edward III, aged 13, married Philippa of Hainault when she was 13.

In mexico they have what is called a “quinceanera (coming-of-age), parties for 15-year-old girls that send the signal that they are ripe for marriage.

Marriage as early as age 7, which was considered the “age of reason”, or directly after puberty was the norm for the vast majority of all human society even until the 19th century. According to the Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, the “age of consent” throughout history usually coincided with the age of puberty” with “the absolute minimum at seven”. Both that Journal and Encyclopedia Britannica state that age of consent laws were passed from Roman law to the Church to English Common Law which states: “between 7 years and puberty there could be consent but not consummation” until puberty, with no parental consent required from the age of 12. This was confirmed in 1877 by the US Supreme Court. 6 states and the District of Columbia allow this Common Law marriage and such marriages are then constitutionally recognized in all 50 states.

Puberty marks the transition from childhood to adulthood and is associated with emergence of libido and frequent sexual urge. This may explain why premarital sex, rape and pornography is rampant among teenagers under the guises that “puberty comes with a lot of sexual feeling”. So why should that urge not be retrained and fulfilled within the confines of marriage?

Globally,the average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12-14. Every year in the world’s richest countries, there are 1.25 million teen pregnancies and 500,000 teen abortions. Non Islamic societies have the higher rates of child abuse, child prostitution and trafficking, child pornography, incest and even legal “beastiality”, sex with animals. These atrocities are not completely absent in Islamic society but when they occur, they are an exception and not the norm and never at the same alarming epidemic proportion.

It is sheer hypocrisy for people with perverted and distorted ideas about morality to consider early marriage a crime yet condone teenage premarital sex under the guise of freedom and support it with contraception and abortion clinics. The usual excuse is that “they are not mentally, emotionally or psychologically matured for marriage and so the marriage will end in failure. The fact is that even until the 18th century, reaching puberty meant becoming an “adult”, in terms of maturity, behavior and responsibility, as stated in the Journal of Social History. It was only in the industrial mid-18th century that late marriage mentality and psychological maturity started to delay, due to side effects that are proven to delay maturity such as: increasing comforts of life, overindulgence, diminished parental discipline, degraded sexual values and children remaining children longer to complete their education.

In the past, children struggle alongside their parents for physical and economic survival. They carry out chores and responsibility, participate in family or societal decision making and contribute to family or societal progress. This is proven to speed psychological maturity which prepares them for the future role and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.

Today young men and women have been wired to believe that they are still kids and so see themselves as boys and girls. They are being spoon fed, overpambered and overindulged by their parents in the name of showing them love or giving them the best. They have been allowed to grow up sleeping till 9 in the morning and throughout the weekends instead of preparing the family breakfast or washing the family car. They do nothing for themselves because they have parents, house helps or relatives from the village always at their beck and call. With this attitude unbated, they grow up careless, irresponsible, incompetent and unproductive with zero respect for elders and rules. And the worse is they imagine themselves as civilized individual.

The society wants husband as hardworking, honest and responsible as the Sahabas, and women as patient, submissive and unmaterialistic as the wives of the sahaba. But with the late marriage mentality and the soc


Our selective hypocrisy: the child bride debate

In Europe they have camps for teenage unwed mums where those teenage girls who get pregnant go to be kept by the government, complete with food allowances, schools and day care centers where they can keep those babies while they go out frolicking (AGAIN) in town at night. I watched a documentary showcasing the lives of these girls and I cried. The girl who was showcased in particular was 17 had a 2 1/2 year old daughter and was already heavily pregnant again. The father of her child is a boy who wanted nothing to do with her and she wasnt sure who the owner of her pregnancy was and she is still only 17! If you do the math, you will see that she got pregnant at age 13.5, had her baby at 14.5 and now two and a half year later is 17 or something to that effect. Bottom line is, she got pregnant before age 14, got help from the government with all her bills and is now comfortable enough to get pregnant again! These girls dont have ANY sanctions in their lives. They just get given a government sponsored accommodation in the guise of ‘help’ with all their needs and those of their babies taken care of and all the freedom in the world to continue their sexual activities. Till today, I cant say what the aim of that project is and how they British govt sees it as a way to help these girls.

In the same UK, I had my baby in the hospital right next to another girl (also 14) who wasnt married but had a boyfriend and very proud parents who used to come visit her. That boy couldnt have been more than 2 years older than she was he was probably also 14. She was as unprepared for the baby as she was prepared for the sexual exploits that landed the baby in her laps. At night when everyone had gone home and left us alone in the room, she would sit up and cry, unable to do anything for her crying baby. Most times I had to pacify my baby and go help pacify hers because she simply didnt know what to do with the poor child but obviously knew all the sexual moves in the world from the look of things that usually transpired between her and the stupid boyfriend.

Having said that, I dont think heaping blames on those who are against early marriage is the solution. The same way the west has destroyed their society by their refusal to acknowledge the need for sanctions in their children’s sexual exploits is the way we are refusing to acknowledge the fact that we have completely abandoned Islam in our ways and have more or less reverted to the jahilliyyah methods of doing things. All the Islam we practice these days ends on our lips. Our actions have nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with tradition.

Men who are the worst examples of what Islam stands for still want women who are the best examples of Muslim women. Women want nothing more out of a marriage than material gains. Their husbands can sleep with whomever they wish outside and so long as they give them money, they are very ok with the arrangement. Why would I want my young son to marry a girl whose mother has taught her that she has no spiritual contributions to offer her husband? A girl who wont help him grow spiritually, whose only concern is with his material growth? Why should I encourage my young daughter to marry a boy whose only model of what a husband is his father who in turn was just a Muslim in name? Who saw nothing wrong with zina? Who had 4 wives and a hundred girlfriends outside? Who believed those wives were little more than slaves built solely for his sexual enjoyment, with no further use to society beyond that.

We are as guilty as the west. They are guilty in their own way and we are guilty in ours. Lets all go back and draft a new code of ethics based solely on Islamic teachings and devoid of selfish traditional practices.

Zainab Magaji

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