Sunday, September 9, 2012

Under-age marriage, the Qur'an and the Prophet Mohammad

The Sunday Times today reveals the tragic prevalence of under-age marriages within the Muslim community in the UK. The fact that Muslim clerics are using religious authority to knowingly justify their breaking of the law to condemn girls as young as 10 to a life of being abused  is both disturbing but inevitable.

I shall not go over the well-worn ground of whether the Prophet married a 7 year-old and consummated the marriage when she was 9. The evidence is clear if you believe the ahadith, and the retired imam quoted by the Sunday Times makes it clear he certainly follows the actions of the Prophet described therein: "We have to follow the way of the Holy Prophet. We are his followers and that is what you have to explain to your daughter." 
Rather I shall look to the Qur'an to see if the supposed words of God make clear or clearer what Allah really wants or expects of us in this regard.

One of the most oft-quoted verses to defend the notion that the Qur'an actually explicitly requires girls to be mature before marriage  is this: 
4:6  And test the orphans [in your charge] until they reach a marriage­able age; then, if you find them to be mature of mind, hand over to them their possessions [...]

Note the very clear implication that the author doesn't necessarily equate marriageable age with sound mind. In any case, the verse is hardly a ringing endorsement of the necessity for maturity. The verse is dealing, after-all, with orphans. 

Let us then turn to an Islamic site to see if they can clarify matters. 

Misconceptions about Islam helpfully lists the verses in the Qur'an that give guidance on the age of marriage:

What does The Quran say on the age of marriage?The Quran does not state a specific legal age of marriage, however it does give a guideline and mentions situations and conditions that should be considered before marriage:
  • Determining mutual attraction/compatibility [2:221, 2:235, 30:21, 33:52]
  • Ascertaining whether the potential partner is of similar beliefs/faith [2:221, 60:10]
  • Discussion of and agreeing to the level of dower and other terms (if any) [4:4, 4:24]
  • Understanding and mutual acceptance of marriage as a solemn/strong oath/contract [4:21, 2:232, 2:237, 24:33]
  • If male, capable of providing for the family/household [2:228, 2:233, 4:34, 65:6]
  • To have physically matured / post-puberty [4:6, 24:31, 24:58-59]
Given the latest revelations in the Sunday times it seems prudent to focus on the last of these: those lines which apparently guide believers to take wives who have physically matured or who have past puberty.  I have quoted 4:6 above. Let's now look at the next verse chosen by the Islamic apologists: 24:31

24:31 (Picktall) And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.

Hmm...Am I being stupid or is there little here to reassure us that Mohammad/Allah intended his followers not to marry children? Let's ignore the awkward references to slaves and eunuchs (how we marvel at the  universality and timelessness of the advice contained in the Qur'an...) and the laughable (I'm sorry, but it is) injunction on stamping feet in case your boobs wobble, and focus on the message. Nothing about ensuring your putative wife is mature enough to know her own mind or physically capable of sex without harm. Not a hint. But let's be generous and assume that Misconceptions simply quoted the wrong verse.

So let's examine the next verse.

24:58 -9 (Picktall) O ye who believe! Let your slaves, and those of you who have not come to puberty, ask leave of you at three times (before they come into your presence): Before the prayer of dawn, and when ye lay aside your raiment for the heat of noon, and after the prayer of night. Three times of privacy for you. It is no sin for them or for you at other times, when some of you go round attendant upon others (if they come into your presence without leave). Thus Allah maketh clear the revelations for you. Allah is Knower, Wise.
And when the children among you come to puberty then let them ask leave even as those before them used to ask it. Thus Allah maketh clear His revelations for you. Allah is knower, Wise.

Well that's cleared that up once and for all, hasn't it. Allah maketh clear, my arse.

I'm going to be presumptuous here and risk Allah's wrath (but hey, with this blog I'm going to have the the mother of all saunas anyway, so what the hell...) and suggest an improvement on how He could have made this issue clearer and saved countless children the awful bloody fate of being hitched to old abusers without recourse to any help whatsoever during their miserable lives.

Women, you (hi - sorry I've ignored you for so long) will not marry until and unless you are both physically and mentally mature and you want to. No-one shall force you against your will.
Men, you shall listen to the wishes of those you desire to marry and to your daughters' wishes. Under no circumstances shall there be compulsion in marriage or in sex. Let me make that quite clear.
I don't think even the ridiculous brain-washed old imam quoted in the Sunday Times could have misunderstood that, do you?

Actually, don't answer that.


  1. You seem to accept the myth that Muhammad (pbuh) married Aisha at age 7 and consummated the marriage when she was 9.
    Please see this site
    for incontrovertible proof that this is not the case. She was probably around 17.

    And yes, I'm afraid you will have to answer for your actions (this blog included) when Judgement Day arrives.

    1. Thank you for your comment Anon.
      I read the evidence presented on the site you reference here.
      It seems circumstantial at best and cherry-picking at worse.
      But as I say in my post, I am concerned with what the Qur'an says rather than the hadith here.
      Can you please furnish me with clear evidence from the Qur'an that Allah intends for us not to allow young girls to get married?

  2. After the expected flash, Ahmed felt nothing. Then the light forced his eyes open. Surrounded by a light haze, with nothing coming into focus, Ahmed lifted his head and looked around. His gaze fell upon the face of a concerned young woman, her face was the nmost beautiful he could ever recall. In fact, he could not reall ever seeing such a beautiful face. "Wher am I?" he asked this vision of perfection. "You have reached that place which your preachers have promised." she replied, in a soft, velverty, voice which sent tingles up and down his spine. Her mere voice reflecting his vision of paradise. "Who are you?" he groaned, his member growing long and thick, purely from her presence. "You are where you wre promised you would be." she replied, each word eliciting a groan of ecstatic sensation from him. "Is this paradise?" he asked, knowing that every word of her answer would propel him further towards the ultimate, sensual, sensation. "You are where you believe yourself to be." she replied, softly. At this point, Ahmed knew that he could not hold back and his back arched as he spent his seed into his clothing. She smiled down at him and said, "Don't worry. This is just the beginning of your eternity. I am here to serve you, as are the other 71 houris waiting for you. From now on, your life is to experience pleasure as you have nerver known it before. No matter what you do to us, it will be our pleasure and privilege to cater to your desires. And, no matter what you do or wish, when you awaken, we will revert to being chaste and untouched, ready to be taught by your knowledge and experience." Ahmed, stretched and realised that he was already erect and ready for the pleasures promised him for being a martyr of Islam. For many untimed periods, for their are no clocks, or need of them, in paradise, Ahmed, lay with one or more houris who attended his bed as virgins. Each time he lay with one, he was greeted with the words, "Oh, master, that is so big, it wioll not fit inside me. Truly, you are a monster amongst men who will split me asunder." No matter how softly, or gently, he approached his nightly conquest, he was greeted with squeals of pain, uncoordinated and involuntary movements of the sexually inept and uneducated trying very hard to cater to his sexual whims. Over a millenium, Ahmed, began to dread the whining, pleading, moans and groans of the never ending virgins who had no idea of how to sexually please a man and who were only intent in doing the minimum to alleviate their pain and discomfort while giving the impression of pleasing the one to whom they had been allocated. Ahmed tried to close his ears to the sounds of the whinging sexually ignorant females and shouted that he had no idea that paradise would be so bloody boring and sexually frustrating. After all, hadn't he given his life to the martyrdom of Islam? What he really wanted was a whore trained and experienced in the many ways of giving a man pleasure. This was not what he expected paradise to be. A dark cloud which had appeared in the previously cloudless sky seemed to form itself into two lips, then becoming a mouth. As Ahmed looked at this cloud, it seemed the 'lips' moved while at the same time he heard a voiuce, satying, "What makes you think you came to paradise?"

    1. Excellent - work of art!

    2. Thanks Penseivat - good thought-provoking stuff!

  3. Thanks for your comments. I know it was off-topic, but as I was reading it, I became interested more in what appears to be the general Islamic outlook on social mores as it relates to that religion compared to the rest of society. Perhaps I'm being harsh but it seems to me that the more radical, or perhaps hard traditional Islam can tend to be confrontational to those who don't agree with their views. This slight tangemntial view made me start thinking about other beliefs of Islam and the image of a 'martyr's paradise' came into my head. It is often said that not everything is as it seems and perhaps this could also apply to that view of the promised paradise to loyal followers. The latest article, and others, have referred to the contradictions in the Koran and related texts which makes me suspect that, like all organised religions, Islam has 'grown by committee' with different, powerful, Imams, scholars and teachers all wanting their own personal views to be included! It also didn't flow as well as I would have liked but I wanted to get it all down while it was fresh in my mind. I have discussed this with a couple of Muslim friends who state that the words in the Koran are those of Allah 'as received and accepted by man'. Perhaps that's why my own views on religion in general tend towards the sceptic. I would like to apologise for the extremely bad spelling. I'm not a confident or able typist and have to go back over a piece several times before I send it, but on this occasion, pressed the 'publish' button before checking it.
    All in all, a very interesting article which has given me moe ammunition in future 'amiable arguments'.

  4. The following Qur'anic verse concerning divorce, clearly explains the process for divorcing a girl who has not yet reached puberty.

    Q65:44 Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses {wives not yet reached puberty} it is the same.

    This verse endorses child marriage by specifying a waiting period of three months after divorcing a female who has not yet commenced menstruation. Therefore not only could you marry a child, but you could also divorce her before puberty.

    - Azim

    1. Thank, Azim.
      Once again you've nailed it.

    2. How about giving the full true verse of the Quran and stop taking the verse out of context and people will see that this chapter and verse of the Quran is talking about divorce and talking about women yes WOMEN not kids who have reached menopause and women who are or maybe pregnant or who's period has been delayed for what ever reason.

      QURAN 65:4
      And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months, and of those too who have not had their courses; and (as for) the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah He will make easy for him his affair.