myriamfrancoiscerrah

Just another WordPress.com site

CIF: The truth about Mohamed and Aisha

with 49 comments

My piece over at the Guardian’s CIF section can be found here, or a longer version is below.

Writing about Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, the Orientalist scholar W Montgomery Watt wrote: “Of all the world’s great men none has been so much maligned as Muhammad.” His quote seems all the more poignant in light of the islamophobic film which has sparked riots from Yemen to Libya and which, among other slanders, depicts Muhammad as a paedophile.‎

This claim is a recurring one amongst critics of Islam and so its foundation ‎deserves close scrutiny.‎

Critics allege that Aisha was just six years old when she was
betrothed to Muhammad, himself in his fifties, and only nine when the marriage was consummated. They base this on a saying attributed to Aisha ‎herself, and the debate is further complicated by the fact some Muslims ‎also believe this to be a historically accurate account. Although most ‎Muslims would not consider marrying off their nine year old daughters, ‎those who accept this saying argue that since the Quran states that ‎marriage is void unless entered into by consenting adults, Aisha must ‎simply have been an “early bloomer”. They refer to the much shorter life ‎expectancy in 7th century Arabia and to the custom, widespread across ‎many cultures, to define adulthood according to the onset of puberty. ‎Indeed what defines ‘adulthood’ is often contentious. In his book, “The ‎Invention of Childhood” Hugh Cunningham traces the historically ‎constructed notion of childhood and its variation across time. There have ‎been epochs, including in European history, where puberty equated to ‎adulthood. Indeed, five centuries after Islam, King John of England was 44 ‎years old when he married 12 year old Isabella of Angouleme. ‎Interestingly, of the many criticisms of Mohamed made at the time by his ‎opponents, none focused on Aisha’s age at marriage. ‎

According to this perspective, Aisha may have been young, but she was no ‎younger than was the norm at the time. Other Muslims doubt the very idea ‎that Aisha was nine at the time of marriage, referring to historians who ‎have questioned the reliability of historical narrations concerning Aisha’s ‎age. In a society without a birth registry and where people did not ‎celebrate birthdays, most people estimated their own age and that of ‎others. Aisha would have been no different. What’s more, Aisha had ‎actually been engaged to someone else before she married Mohamed, ‎suggesting she’d already been mature enough, by the standards of her ‎society, to consider marriage for a while. It seems difficult to reconcile this ‎with her being nine or younger even.‎

In addition to this, some modern Muslim scholars have cast doubt on the ‎veracity of the saying, or hadith, used to assert Aisha’s young age. In Islam, ‎the hadith literature (sayings of the Prophet) is considered secondary to the Quran. While the Quran is considered to be the verbatim word of God, the hadiths were transmitted over time through a rigorous but not infallible methodology. Taking all known accounts and records of Aisha’s ‎age at marriage, estimates of her age range from nine to nineteen. Because ‎of this, it is simply impossible, many argue, to know with any certainty ‎how old Aisha was.‎

What we do know is what the Quran says about marriage: that it is valid only between consenting adults, and that a woman has the right to choose her own spouse. As the living embodiment of Islam, ‎Muhammad’s actions reflect the Quran’s teachings on marriage, even if the ‎actions of some Muslim regimes and individuals do not.‎

Sadly, in many countries, the imperatives motivating the marriage of ‎young girls are typically economic. In others, they are political. The fact ‎that Iran and Saudi Arabia have both sought to use the saying concerning Aisha’s age as a justification for lowering the legal age of marriage tells us a great deal about the patriarchal and oppressive nature of those regimes, and nothing about Mohammed, or the essential nature of Islam. The stridency of those who lend credence to these
literalist interpretations by concurring with their warped view of Islam does not help those Muslims who seek to challenge these
aberrations.

The islamophobic depiction of Muhammed’s marriage to Aisha as
motivated by misplaced desire fits within a broader orientalist
depiction of Muhammed as philanderer, which emerged during the ‎Crusades. According to the academic Kecia Ali, “accusations of lust and sensuality were a regular feature of mediaeval attacks on the prophet’s character and by extension, on the authenticity of Islam.”

Since the early Christians heralded Christ as a model of celibate virtue, Muhammad – who had married several times – was deemed to be driven by sinful lust. This portrayal ignored the fact that before his marriage to Aisha, Muhammed had been married to Khadija, a powerful businesswoman 15 years his senior, for 25 years. When she died, he was devastated and friends encouraged him to remarry. A female acquaintance suggested Aisha, a bright and vivacious character. Aisha’s union would also have cemented Muhammed’s longstanding friendship with her father, Abu Bakr. As was the tradition in Arabia ‎(and still is in some parts of the world today), marriage typically
served a social and political function – a way of uniting tribes, resolving feuds, caring for widows and orphans, and generally strengthening bonds in a highly unstable and changing political environment. Of the women Muhammed subsequently married, the ‎majority were widows. To consider the marriages of the prophet outside of these calculations is profoundly ahistorical.‎

What the records are clear on, is that Mohamed and Aisha had a loving and ‎egalitarian relationship, which set the standard for reciprocity, tenderness ‎and respect enjoined by the Quran. It was on Aisha’s lap that he breathed ‎his last and insights into their relationship, such as they liked to drink out ‎of the same cup or race one another, are indicative of a deep connection ‎which belies any misrepresentation of their relationship.‎
To paint Aisha as a victim is completely at odds with her persona – she was ‎certainly no wallflower. During a controversial battle in Muslim history, ‎she emerged to lead the troops riding a camel. She was known for her ‎assertive temperament and mischievous sense of humour – with Muhammed sometimes bearing the brunt of the jokes. During his lifetime, he established her authority and knowledge by telling the
Muslims to consult her in his absence; after his death, she went to be become one of the most prolific and distinguished scholars of her time.

A stateswoman, scholar, mufti, and judge – Aysha combined
spirituality, activism and knowledge and remains a role model for many Muslim women today. The gulf between her true legacy and her depiction in islamophobic materials is not merely historically inaccurate, it is an insult to the memory of a pioneering woman.‎

Those who manipulate her story to justify the abuse of young girls, and ‎those who manipulate it in order to depict Islam as a religion which ‎legitimises such abuse, have more in common than they think. Both ‎demonstrate a disregard for what we know about the times in which ‎Muhammad lived and for the affirmation of female autonomy which her ‎story illustrates.‎

About these ads

Written by myriamcerrah

September 17, 2012 at 14:13

49 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Salam,
    Looks like I’m the first to comment on this one! :) I would like to comment on the hadith in question here which puts the age of Aisha(R.A) to 6 & 9 at the time of marriage and and the time of it’s consummation with the Prophet(S.A.W). This one is from Bukhari and Sahih Muslim if I’m not wrong. How would you deny a tradition that is so highly regarded in the Ummah? That would lead us to question almost everything we dont agree with in the hadith!
    Before some one jumps on me :), let me clarify that I am merely trying to understand the arguments that are brought out to justify a different age for Aisha(R.A), and if they are backed by scholars with names if possible.

    Suhail

    September 17, 2012 at 15:00

    • That something is in Bukhari and Muslim merely means the chain of narration has been verified according to stipulated criteria – but that is beside the point – that Aisha’s ‘real’ age could have been mis-transmitted is not down to erroneous transmission but to the fact people didn’t really record age in the way we think of it today

      myriamcerrah

      September 17, 2012 at 17:36

      • Issuing birth certificates didn’t start until Omar Ibn Al Khattab may Allah be please with him became the Khalifa.

        MSaber

        September 17, 2012 at 19:35

      • Alhamdulliah sister,Please keep clarifying the doubts.In India Muslim community respect you a lot as you are giving Dawah to Muslim and Non-Muslim alike.We Muslims have forgotten Dawah which is a core principle of Islam.We are proud of have a sister like you in our fold.I will share this article with my non-Muslim friends who very often ask this question.Earlier I used to be embarrassed but now I have got an answer.May Allah reward you for protecting the wife of Prophet Muhammad(saw).

        Allah Hafiz
        Soha Ali

        Soha

        September 19, 2012 at 07:38

  2. Even the staunchest enemies of prophet Muhammad (SAS) in his times, Abujahl, Abu ‘Afak, Al Nadr ibn al-Harith, the most eloquent rebukers, poets, propagandists and writers of the time will shy away. They couldn’t imagine the philander, pedophilic traits. And nobody did until recent Christian propagandists, caught badly between liberalism and atheism. Actions like these only portray their errant ideological bankruptcy, finally resorting to such immoral, meanest and shameful means. Thanks to almighty Allah that Muslims respect and believe in Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, and all His Prophets, may peace and blessings of almighty be upon all of them. Muslims are far from the dirt, and God willingly will remain so until end of this worldly life.

    Mubeen

    September 17, 2012 at 16:44

  3. Sister Myriam,

    Well done, very interesting and informative piece! I love that you have managed to present the whole picture and incorporate it with live examples of falsified uses of Sharia in our life today….
    The western world doesn’t understand that this was during the 7th century where there were no constitutions or national laws. Being an adult back then was measure by hitting puberty for both sexes which suited the conditions back then and I personally believe it still suits the conditions nowadays too….. If it fulfills the needs of both counterparts, we should be against it.

    May Allah grant you the strength to keep representing Islam in such a moderate way !

    MSaber

    September 17, 2012 at 19:17

  4. In the days of our prophet Muhammad it was the norm to marry / consumate at that age … maybe humans just developed quicker in those days. as they say age is just a number …

    some more examples in the following link show that the same had been going on in the west until the last century.

    http://www.faqs.org/childhood/A-Ar/Age-of-Consent.html

    Irfan

    September 17, 2012 at 19:20

  5. The main reason for Islamophobia and anti-Islamic mentality in the West is because they view Islam as a threat to their not so good way of life. A lot of high profile people (including leaders) believe that the Islamic religion has real converting power and capability to spread across the world like wild-fire (even buddists have converted – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvCU-4TE-ec). Islam is the only true monolithic religion thats tells it’s believers to believe in one God, all previous scriptures and Abrahamic prophets. The only religion which convinces it’s followers to consider one wife. The only religion to abolish slavery at it’s inception (first free black slave (Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi) converted and became first muezzin ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilal_ibn_Rabah_al-Habashi ) and the only religion that totally rejects racism.

    Muhammed last sermon: “”All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a White has no superiority over a Black nor a Black has any superiority over a White except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.” [.....]

    “O People, it is true that you have certain rights over your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under God’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers. It is your right and they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste…” — http://www.themodernreligion.com/prophet/prophet_lastsermon.htm

    Omar

    September 17, 2012 at 23:05

  6. The Islamic prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying

    “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”

    Omar

    September 17, 2012 at 23:16

  7. I recall studying this when i first started looking into Islam around 2002.I believe that here ,the wish is the father of thought,in that you suggest a reference to her age as the only source.But the hadith also tell of her playing with dolls and stuffed animals , how she sat on a swing and was led by hand by older woman how she sat on his knee watching African warriors performing dances or mocked combat.a grown woman would not do so.Then I must have missed any of the characteristics of her personality.The only racing i recall was a hadith where she sneaks after muhammad to a graveyard to pray and he runs after her ,but he was angry not playful and pushed her in the chest in a painful way.I remember that hadith because Muslims would argue that Muhammad never hurt his wives.

    Sander

    September 18, 2012 at 01:48

    • Glad that you studied Islam or at least looked into it, because many don’t even care to give it a read before being judgmental. However, I would encourage you to take a little deeper and a wholistic view of “Islamic system of life” of human society, culture, civilization, and the peace progress and prosperity it brings to humanity. With the internet around, this information is just couple clicks away.

      First of all,

      Aaishah (Radhiallahu ‘Anha) said: “Allaah’s Messenger (S.A.W) never hit anything with his hand ever, except when fighting in the path of Allaah. Nor did he ever hit a servant or a woman.” [Recorded by Ibn Maajah. Al-Albaanee graded it Saheeh.]
      The racing hadith you are recalling is from Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 2127. Where Aisha said- “He pushed me (lahadani) in the chest (fi sadri) with a push (lahdatan)which made me sore (awja’atni).”

      This calls to an important matter that is related to the Hand imposition of the Prophet – Allah bless him – because it is a gesture associated with driving away evil influence (waswâs) and conferring blessing as the following reports show:

      1. Ubay ibn Ka`b said:

      “There occurred in my mind a sort of denial which did not occur even during the Days of Ignorance. When the Messenger of Allah – Allah bless and greet him – saw how I was affected, he slapped me on the chest. I broke into a sweat and felt as if I were looking at Allâh in fear.” (Sahih Muslim)

      2. Jarir narrates:

      “I went along with a hundred and fifty horsemen but I could not sit steadily on horse. I mentioned it to the Messenger of Allah – Allah bless and greet him – who then struck his hand on my chest so hard that I could see the trace of his fingers on it, saying: ‘O Allah! Grant him steadfastness and make him a guide of righteousness and a rightly-guided one!’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

      Regarding Aisha’s marriage it is important to know that:

      Allah Almighty never allowed marriage with a child! According to Quran, Children must reach ashuddah (full strength and growth) and adulthood. Playing, swinging or watching African warriors perform isn’t the criteria to measure adulthood of a person.

      Aisha’s parents were the ones who married her to our Prophet, and that no Muslim ( including Aisha )or even pagan objected to the marriage because it was widely practiced.

      Aisha had no problems when she moved in with the Prophet, nor did she show signs of distress from being away from her mother or father, rather she was very happy, obviously not the type of emotion you would get from a supposed child now would you? A child will want to be with its mother and father, and if it is taken away from them it will cry a lot and will be very distressed, yet no such signs were shown from Aisha.
      It is important to know that girls during the Biblical and Islamic days used to be married off at young ages when they either had their first periods, or when they turn into “women”, then they get married off. It was quite different for men on the other hand, because physical power and the ability of living an independent life had always been and will always be a mandatory requirement for men to have in life. So men waited much longer than women in terms of getting married. The guy had to develop both his body and mind before he was ready for marriage.

      That is why you see girls as young as 9 or 10 were married to men as old as 30 or even older. The culture back then and in many third world countries today (NON-MUSLIM ONES TOO) is quite different than what you live in today.

      Child brides as young as 8 (eight) were common (and not exceptions! ) among the Byzantine emperors and nobility! And even until today in 3rd world countries (Muslims and non-Muslims), little girls as young as 9 or 10 do get married.

      Mubeen

      September 18, 2012 at 10:50

      • What is the source of the magic hand? I did not know Muhammad was recorded as performing miracles.I dont think there is a mention of him hitting her due to this.He was angry over her following him.Her parents did not offer her to muhammed but muhammad wanted to marry Aisha Abu Bakr objected and said but you are my brother,and muhammad said only in religon she is ok for me to marry.He also stalled payment of the dowry to Muhammad hence married at 6 consumated at 9.Muhammad is the example of conduct to follow for Muslims for all time.That is not the case for Byzantine emperors.It is a problem but while child marriage might be bad I think there is a lot more troubling material in the Islamic sources that conflict with basic human right standards.

        Sander

        September 24, 2012 at 01:34

  8. Hey,

    I’m not islamic, but I read the piece on the guardian website and would just like to comment that this article was very thought provoking and intelligent. I am ashamed at some of the ignorance my fellow atheists are willing to display, and the willingness to believe without question any text that reinforces their perception of what Islam is or is not without questioning the reliability of the historical source, I hope you get to write many more articles.

    Damion

    September 18, 2012 at 15:59

    • wow-thanks Damion, little rays of light like that really help brighten up my day – thanks you :)

      myriamcerrah

      September 18, 2012 at 16:00

      • No need for thanks, just keep writing! Just remember that most of those that write on the guardian do so with pre conceived ideas and you could tell half of them don’t even read the article. I doubt some of them leave their bedrooms all day.

        Just leave the armchair generals to their petty comments, and carry on with the articles and the blog! I saw you posting on the guardian article which was brave, I myself have spent all afternoon arguing in the comments section about historical sources with someone who absolutely didn’t know what they were on about! I’ve really got to stop doing that and get on with some work :))

        Damion

        September 18, 2012 at 18:13

      • thanks and yes, back to the thesis on that note…!

        myriamcerrah

        September 18, 2012 at 18:40

    • Damion, the age of Aisha at the time of marriage is now immaterial except for those over religious people who want to project their Prophet as a role model.

      What is material is that, the so-called Islamic Scholars are using the same incident to give legitimacy to marriage of minor girls, often against the wishes.

      To my knowledge there not even one Islamic Country (or shall we call Muslim Majority Country) where the age of marriage has been fixed as 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys, the deemed “age of consent” in most of the other countries.

      A Religion is what its followers are. Proof of pudding is in eating.

      JGN

      September 19, 2012 at 10:49

      • Hi JGN

        I understand your concern . We all should be when it comes women’s progress. There are still lot of works to be done.Muslim countries are no different. Problem is we look at women in Hollywood movies and dramas and think women ‘liberation is done’. Again if we look at another side of Hollywood ie movies like ‘Showgirl’ we can see how far women have come so far !

        I dont have any statistics in my hand. But I can tell you that Muslim countries probably produced more women Head of States than whole of Europe. Now I understand it does not mean ‘wholesale progress’ of women.

        Where did you get this information that there’s not a single Muslim country where the minimum age of marriage for girls (18) has been fixed. I can tell you the that country’s name . Its Bangladesh.

        I knw this. I was born there. I did have some education there. I can confirm it to you with certainty .

        Please do not mislead people with wrong information.
        Yes some poor people in the rural areas sometime marry their young girls off. Its true . It does not mean it’s commonplace.

        fktipu2012

        September 19, 2012 at 19:18

      • Hi jgn,

        I’m not sure where you are from, and I can’t speak for marriage in Islamic countries, but here, in Britain, you can get married from the age of 16, with the consent if parents. I’m not sure what your point is with 18 and 21. I know in some parts of the US it’s as young as 14 with the parents consent off the top of my head.

        I would like to quote part of the final paragraph of the article though, as I think it’s a bit fitting;

        “Those who manipulate her story to justify the abuse of young girls, and ‎those who manipulate it in order to depict Islam as a religion which ‎legitimises such abuse, have more in common than they think.”

        Damion

        September 19, 2012 at 20:38

      • JGN,

        who gets to decide what the age of marriage should be? the government? the parents? the individual? exactly who has that authority and based on what logic? why is 18 any better than 17? why not 25? why not when you have shown that you are responsible and able to deal with the complications of marriage and parenting? who says there is some magic number that overnight turns a dipsy, irresponsible, hysterical teenager into a calm, sensible, hardworking woman (or man) ready for the responsibility of marriage?

        secondly, you only show your ignorance when you say that 18 and 21 is the age of consent in most countries – a bit of research will show you otherwise. and i might point out that the age of consent is the age when individuals can legally have sex, not get married; and in most “civilised Western countries” kids are having sex and getting pregnant far earlier, i.e. BREAKING THE LAW, without any legal consequences; which is proof if one was needed that the age of consent in such countries is a mere joke, not ever enforced.
        So if Ayesha got married a young girl, and young girls in Western countries (many younger than Ayesha) are sleeping around as the norm, than my question is – perhaps the age of marriage should be lowered dont you think? at least then these hormone-charged young girls would not be breaking the law! seeing how these young girls fare, and the impact they have on society, i would say Ayesha got a far better deal, i.e. a loving husband who took care of her, respected her, protected her, supported her and did not just use her and then discard her, as is the case with all these young women who freely give themselves to men who dont give a damn about them – Western women seriously need to get some self-respect instead of allowing men to treat them like doormats.

        S

        September 20, 2012 at 11:56

    • Hi Damion
      Thank you for making such a bold and enlightened comment. I know there are plenty of good-hearted open minded western people who do not share the stereotypical views of those like Sam Bacile about Islam. One thing they we do not understand we all religious groups are neighbours on this planet. How can you do something intentionally to insult your neighbours? Constructive criticism is welcome everywhere by everyone about anything even religion. How do they justify ”pure name-calling” as free speech?

      fktipu2012

      September 19, 2012 at 11:14

      • Hi fktipu 2012,

        I think some people purposefully insult their neighbours in order to cause problems unfortunately. They want to reinforce their own views whilst swaying others to their opinions. Rather than encourage discourse they welcome conflict although publicly denouncing the violence.

        The key is to keep to intelligent debate and not to loose patience when insulted. I realise passions run high, but insults (and I’m thinking specifically of cartoons here) really are more of an indictment of the small minded pettiness and bigotry of the illustrator et al than anything else. In the west we have the freedom of expression, but people are also free to be cretins as well and abuse those freedoms.

        Damion

        September 19, 2012 at 20:54

      • Hi Damion

        You are so right ‘they welcome conflict although publicly denouncing the violence’. I understand
        Muslim leaders have got a lot of works to do. We should do more to stop these ‘couple of hundred’ people in some cities rampaging through streets.
        Now another cartoon in France ! I just hope it’ll pass peacefully !

        Your last comment is interesting ‘people are also free to be cretins and abuse freedom’. Do you really think we should allow some imbeciles ( but devious) people to abuse their freedoms to incite another group of morons to cause violence ?

        If I tell my neighbour Mr Ruskin ”this is my aunt Ruth and (for some reason) I love her more than my own mother” can he , a month later without any provocation , write a poem depicticting my aunt as a ‘whore’ and circulate it in my neighbourhood ? Now obviously I wud be angry. But certainly I shoud not be violent in expressing my anger. Question is same level of reaction you cannot expect from every offended person. That’s why we have crimes in the society.This seems to commonsense.Different people react in different way

        Remember what Zidan did in 2008 World Cup? He was about to win the Cup for the second time . An insult to his mother or sister ( though we dnno exactly wat ) made him so crazy he didn’t think twice to headbutt and throw away the world cup .He put his mother above his most glorious achievement . Now if he had a knife in his hand that time who knows he might have used ‘em .
        Anyway it’s far more complicated than we think

        fktipu2012

        September 20, 2012 at 00:28

      • Hi fktipu 2012,

        Sorry about the confusion, what I meant by being “free to be cretins as well and abuse those freedoms” is that with all the best efforts to help prevent it, some people will always want to stir up trouble. The best thing we can do is educate people as to why the troublemakers (such as the film makers, or cartoonists) are irresponsible to cause problems or mistaken in their beliefs that their right to a freedom of expression outweighs other people’s right to live without abuse. For example on the radio a few months back someone argued certain rights outweigh others, such as “my right to my freedom of expression by writing something on your forehead is totally outweighed by your rights to walk around with a forehead clean of ink”

        I am totally off topic now! :))

        Damion

        September 20, 2012 at 22:29

      • Hi Damion

        No you aren’t off topic. I can’t agree more on this with you. That’s a brilliant idea.

        Yes they ‘ll keep coming back with their outrageous and ingenious ways of offending
        ‘others’. Now we Muslims have got the difficult task to educate and keep our ‘tiny group
        of troublemakers away’ from the streets’ .

        It’s not easy. You can understand it’s very sensitive.But more Muslim leaders should do more .
        Let’s see if I can start a campaign based on your idea at least among my Muslim friends !!
        I’m serious not joking

        fktipu2012

        September 20, 2012 at 23:30

  9. Dear Mariam,

    Allow me first to communicate my up most respect to your thought, work, and kind-self.

    As for the article, I wrote about this a few years back (in Arabic though).

    Based on many organizations, (such as womenshealth.org, American Congress of Obstrecians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the Family Education Association, and others) Menarche, i.e. when a girl turns into a woman, starts anywhere between 8 years old and 15. And incorporating what you stated about when are marriages consummated in the old ages, this makes the prophet’s marriage pretty much within the norm.

    Secondly, I highly recommend googling ‘Age of Consent’. In France, Napoleon enforced a 10 year old minimum, in Spain it was 12 untill 1995, in the UK it was 12 (then raised to 13 and now 16). This clearly shows that what is considered ‘appropriate’ and ‘not appropriate’ during the old times is much much different than now.

    As for the article itself, I find it very thought provoking. I enjoyed reading it very much.

    My only point of confusion would be that I cannot see the tie between Saudi & Iran’s ‘oppressive’ regimes and the fact that they enforce these marriage laws.

    Thanks!

    Mishary

    misharyalibraheem

    September 18, 2012 at 18:01

  10. Hi your article is great and i would like to thank for writing i wish you included the information that our Prophet PBUH married another woman who was older than him BEFORE he married Aisha ra.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawda_bint_Zam%CA%BFa

    Ahmad

    September 19, 2012 at 05:15

  11. Great article, very well argued.
    I agree that we can’t know Aisha’s age with certainty, but I think the more important point here is that marriage in Islam is between two consenting adults. A particular age is not important (any minimum age for marriage is going to be arbitrary anyway), I believe the key point is that people are physically and psychologically ready for marriage and that’s the general Islamic ruling.

    However, I have a feeling that the vast majority of people who use this vulgar polemic aren’t really interested in an argument or evidence. They’ll just repeat the claim “Hey your Prophet married a 9 year old” ad nauseam.

    Tamer

    September 19, 2012 at 09:41

  12. very good piece.Karen Amstrong has written the same thing in her renowned book on prophet Muhammed.congrats for your effort.

    Emmar

    September 19, 2012 at 09:46

  13. Sister Myriam
    Thanks for writing another wonderful article on a much-talked issue. It’s very helpful to those Muslims too who cannot use ‘original sources’ as they do not understand Arabic well . I donno if you ‘ve written anything on Muslim men having 4 wives. I’m curious to find out what Islamic scholars say about that.
    How do they interpret this law ?
    Is it like ‘any man who can afford it -can do it ‘?
    Is it stictly restricted with some preconditions ?
    Is it related with some special situations ie ORPHANS in the society ?

    I beacme curious about the 3rd question when I read that paricular verse 3 in Chapter 4 which says

    ”If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the ORPHANS
    Marry women of your choice two or three or four;
    But if you fear that you shall not be able to to deal justly (with them )
    Then ONLY ONE that your right hands possess,
    That will be MORE SUITABLE
    To prevent you from doing injustice” ( Trns. Abdullah Yusuf Ali , Page 83)

    Now we all hear about this issue is that ”yes Muslim men are allowed to marry 4 women”. Why ?
    In no way I consider myself fit to comment on issues like this.
    I wud like to know more about it

    fktipu2012

    September 19, 2012 at 11:42

    • i recommend reading Kecia Ali’s book on this and related issues.

      myriamcerrah

      September 19, 2012 at 14:30

  14. @ fktipu2012, this is what Wiki says about the age of consent in Bangladesh:

    The 1860 Indian Penal Code was inherited by Bangladesh and makes the age of consent 14.

    JGN

    September 20, 2012 at 11:10

    • jgn

      The Indian Penal Code 1860 was introduced by the British. I feel very embarrassed having to ‘remind’ you this commonsense fact . We have come a long way since then .
      First that Penal Code was dissected in 1939 a few years before the British rule ended . That Act was ‘ Muslim Marriage and Dissolution Act 1939′

      Then after 1947 during the rule of Mr Ayub Khan ( Pakistan and Bangladesh was East Pakistan ) Muslim Family Law was ameded drastically in 1962 .
      That Act was called ‘ Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1962′ . That law fixed age of marriage for girls at 16.

      Again that Act was amended in 1985 and Age of Marriage for Girls was fixed at 18 . You can google this .

      fktipu2012

      September 20, 2012 at 22:42

  15. Hi Damion, a girl of 14 years or 16 years is NOT old enough to shoulder the responsibilities of a family and child-bearing nor a boy of less than 21 years can take the responsibility of a family. So I would prefer the legal age of consent to be 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys which is the norm in modern socities.

    I am not at all interested to be dragged into the controversey of Aisha’s age at the time of marriage as that happened more than 1400 years back.

    Even the first wife of Prophet Mohd was a business woman but at present woman cannot go out without the company of a male relative, cannot get a driving licence and also do not have any voting rights in Saudi Arabia, the birth place of Islam. So I would request our Muslim friends not to rest of past laurels.

    JGN

    September 20, 2012 at 11:59

    • “Hi Damion, a girl of 14 years or 16 years is NOT old enough to shoulder the responsibilities of a family and child-bearing nor a boy of less than 21 years can take the responsibility of a family. So I would prefer the legal age of consent to be 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys which is the norm in modern socities.”

      Personally I agree that 14 is not old enough, however I was using those cases as examples of ages where girls can get married in western societies before 18 or 21, thereby rendering the argument that the age of consent is exclusively low in Islamic society/states is total rubbish. I am also interested that you haven’t put up examples of 18 and 21 year old restrictions on the age of marriage in the west, as if this is the norm, it should be easy to find examples. Im pretty much certain in Europe, where I am from it is between 16 and 17 depending on the country. Where is the minimum legal age of marriage 18 or 21?

      “Even the first wife of Prophet Mohd was a business woman but at present woman cannot go out without the company of a male relative, cannot get a driving licence and also do not have any voting rights in Saudi Arabia, the birth place of Islam. So I would request our Muslim friends not to rest of past laurels.”

      Completely agree that women should have totally equal rights in all things (I assume that is what you are getting at), but using SA as an example of restrictions of women’s rights in islam is really setting up a straw man. Why not use turkey as an example? Could it be that by using SA as an example it allows you to reinforce negative stereotypes? That goes for this as well;

      “For instance, in 2008 a Saudi court refused to annul a marriage between an 8 year old girl and a 58 year old man. A prohibition on marriage under the age of 14 was being considered by the Ministry of Justice in late 2008. According to cleric Ahmad Al-Mu’bi, the appropriate minimum age for sex “varies according to environment and traditions.””

      You use this arguement to reinforce the stereotype that Islam allows the marrage of young girls. Well, what if took the same argument and argued that christanity allows for the abuse of children by the catholic church? I know this not to be true, but it is exactly the point you are making; that the actions of the few dictate the character or values of the majority which is blatantly untrue.

      Damion

      September 20, 2012 at 22:12

      • Hi Damion, then Religion has got nothing to do with some people being good or some people being bad. Every individual is a unique product.

        “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” ― Steven Weinberg

        JGN

        September 22, 2012 at 10:00

    • JGN, There are numerous 18 year old girls and 21 year old boys who have no idea or capability of shouldering the responsibilities you talk about; that is why they are busy sleeping around and taking morning-after pills – so that they dont have to face any consequences for their actions. You preferring a certain age doesnt make it the right age. You denouncing a certain age doesnt make it the wrong age. Its not about personal choice, as I said before; Who decides, and based on what???

      Seems like you are fairly ignorant about Saudi Arabia and eager to subscribe to all the stereotypes that your media has churned out over the years. I have lived in Saudi for over 2 decades, and travelled without the company of a male relative, and held jobs where I was working with men, all without any problems. My Saudi female friends are running businesses, and involved in charity work alongside their male counterparts. I grab a cab when I need to get somewhere, at any hour of the day or night, and when I walk back home at 3 in the morning I am not harassed, raped or abducted. Saudi Arabia is without a doubt the safest place to live for a woman, and though I am not Saudi I can say that its a great place to live. Yes they dont allow women to drive or vote, but again, you confuse culture with religion; this prohibition is part of their bedouin culture, and nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. In the Prophet’s time, Muslim women were voting, owning property and business, and ‘driving’ their own horses and camels long before women in Europe got any of those rights. So I suggest you come down from your high horse and realise that Muslim women were liberated, free and independent at a time when European women were the property of their husbands and inherited not a dime from their fathers.

      S

      September 21, 2012 at 12:29

      • Well said sister whoever you are. There are far bigger issues and problems right now right here at the ‘door-step’ of enlightened Europe which always seem to be ‘escaped’ from the scrutiny of Western scolars academics social scientists. I don’t want to go into details. We have our problems but it does not mean the whole world should be debating that every week of the year.

        It’s so strange that every day 3 out of 5 news items are about Muslims. I sometimes jokingly tell my friends that ‘World News’ should be called ‘Muslim News’ these days !!

        fktipu2012

        September 21, 2012 at 21:28

      • @ S, it seems that you are trying to mislead.

        1) To my knowledge, “The Qatiff Girl” incident took place in Saudi Arabia!!!!!!!!!

        2) >>>>>Yes they dont allow women to drive or vote, but again, you confuse culture with religion; this prohibition is part of their bedouin culture>>>>>> In the Prophet’s time, Muslim women were voting, owning property and business, and ‘driving’ their own horses and camels long before women in Europe got any of those rights>>>>>>then both incidents are either due to “bedouin culture” or due to your Prophet (or Islam)!

        3) >>>>Muslim women were liberated, free and independent at a time when European women were the property of their husbands and inherited not a dime from their fathers>>>>>> then that is also due to “their bedouin culture”! Even now a Muslim women can only half of what her brother inherits and her testimony is also worth half of that of a man!!!!!!!

        4) A few months back I had seen to video of the Saudi Religious Police beating a woman at a shopping mall for not being accompanied by a male-relative!!!!

        JGN

        September 22, 2012 at 09:15

  16. Hi Damion, this is what Wiki says about Saudi Arabia:
    Any kind of sexual activity outside marriage is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but there is no restriction on the age of marriage. For instance, in 2008 a Saudi court refused to annul a marriage between an 8 year old girl and a 58 year old man. A prohibition on marriage under the age of 14 was being considered by the Ministry of Justice in late 2008. According to cleric Ahmad Al-Mu’bi, the appropriate minimum age for sex “varies according to environment and traditions.”

    JGN

    September 20, 2012 at 12:51

  17. May Allah swt bless u my muslim
    Sista, u put things so eloquently but more important correctly, sista u need to be more on the mainstream tv so that other sistas can see u as a shining example of islamically and academically highly educated sistas defending islam and themselves rather than the imperialistic colonizers pretending2 liberate muslim women when there own women really need the help

    Kadafi

    September 20, 2012 at 16:23

  18. @ S, Pl go thru this report:
    In Saudi Arabia, another country where women cover themselves completely and are nearly totally segregated from men in public life, women report harassment as well, according to Saudi activist Majid al-Eissa

    Harassment across Arab world drives women inside
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-12-15-sexual-harassment_N.htm

    JGN

    September 22, 2012 at 09:51

  19. AsalamualIkum Sr Myriam

    May Allah reward you for posting the article on defending the prophet (pbuh) and mother Aisha (ra).

    Keep up the good work.

    Jilu

    September 22, 2012 at 10:53

  20. Great article. I wonder why people in general give “name callers” the time of day. Why respond at all?
    Think of this: Just because a jack ass brays, doesn’t mean we have to answer.

    Eileen Moroni

    September 22, 2012 at 17:15

  21. A really well-written & thoughtfully put article. I enjoyed reading I’m glad that their are people like you willing and able to put some perspective on a topic that seems to always generate more heat than light in Europe.

    mozibur ullah

    September 26, 2012 at 01:53

  22. Interesting article but as a non-Muslim I simply don’t understand how you decide which Hadith to believe and which to ignore. It seems you have chosen the ones that back up your view of their marriage and her feisty personality yet downplay the inconvenient details relating to her age. She was the daughter of one of Mohamed’s greatest friends – I think they would have known her age. I certainly knew my daughter’s age without checking her birth certificate.

    I applaud your modern tolerant interpretation of Islam but not the arbitrary selection of sources.

    Mark

    September 29, 2012 at 12:55

  23. Assalam aleikum Sister,

    First and foremost we are proud to say that we muslim Ummah have a personality like Myriam Francois Cerrah.Sister we want to organize an Islamic conference.Is it possible that you also participate and enlighten us.Please let us know.You are quiet famous in India.Muslims and Non-Muslims alike respect you a lot.

    Regards
    Sohaa Ali

    Sohaa ali

    September 29, 2012 at 15:31

  24. The term islamaphobia is misused by those who refuse to accept that Islam is fertile ground for evil men who believe that by killing others they are doing Gods duty. I agree not all terrorists are mulisms , there have been fascists and Nazis who have committed evil but the difference is that at least they did it despite their religion not because of it. Those who distaste Islamaphobia must acknowledge that this phobia is not without merit. The true Muslims have excused these terrorist and not condemned them for bring

    Uber

    December 15, 2013 at 15:40


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 738 other followers

%d bloggers like this: