Muslims are ordered to follow the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and abide by his Sunnah, which includes his sayings, acts, and approvals. Those who rightfully act in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet will take the advantage of accompanying him in Paradise. However, if a Muslim seeks this companionship, he or she should look for the sound understanding and application of the Sunnah through asking and learning from the people of knowledge.
A Muslim man who seeks to marry a child as his wife is blamed for their misconception and misapplication of the Hadeiths. Indeed, this way is how bid`ahs (innovations in religion) emerge.
The action of those people who marry children are not religiously permitted and does not represent an application of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) based on the following reasons:
First, some people do not distinguish between the various actions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Consequently, big mistakes are being made. It should be known that the Prophet's actions can be classified as follows:
1. Actions that are purely legislative and may be obligatory (such as performing the obligatory Prayers, fasting, Zakat, Hajj, and the other obligations), and actions that are recommended (such as performing the supererogatory Prayers)
2. Actions relevant to customs and habits
3. Actions related to the Prophet's human nature (such as his manner of walking and his use of such things as clothing, mattresses, furniture, utensils, etc.)
4. Actions related to particular privileges granted to him (such as marrying more than four women and observing continuous fasting for more than one day).
Second, in many cases, people understand religion according to their own desires and whims. Hence, their struggle becomes outside the field, just as someone who is chasing after the wind. The Prophet, who married `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) when she was 9 years old, married also Khadijah, who was married twice before her marriage to the Prophet. She married him at the age of 40. Also, He married widows and divorced women and did not marry any virgin woman except `A'ishah, although it was not acceptable or even popular among Arabs at that time to marry divorced women due to their jealousy. Thus, why are those men keen on marrying 9-year-old girls and why do they leave widows and older women?
Third,we should not neglect the importance of time and place, and their impact on the change of fatwas and legal rulings. As in Europe and most parts of the World, the very concept of "childhood" simply did not exist in early history. Most social scientists will agree that concepts such as childhood and adolescents are socially constructed ideas. So by taking `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) when she was 9 years old as his wife, the Prophet was not doing anything unconventional in the context of his time or place. In addition, those who are familiar with Islamic history know that a 12-year-old boy used to participate in battles, marry, and bear the responsibility of a family. There is a great difference between our time and theirs. Nowadays, a 20-year-old man in most countries is still under the care of his parents!
Some historians mentioned that Jubayr ibn Al-Mut`em ibn `Adiyy wanted to propose to `A'ishah and told his parents about that. At first, they accepted and went to Abu Bakr to propose to her. After a while, they feared that their son, influenced by `A'ishah's relatives, would leave the religion of his forefathers and embrace Islam. Therefore, they delayed the matter. At that time, Khawlah bint Hakim went to Abu Bakr and told him that the Prophet wanted to propose to `A'ishah. Immediately, Abu Bakr went to Al-Mut`em and asked him about his final decision regarding the marriage of his son to `A'ishah. Al-Mut`em apologized to him and left him free to act. Hence, we come to know that the Prophet did not break existing customs or collide with reality when he married `A'ishah at this young age.
Fourth, the marriage of a child is contrary to the contemporary reality: Nine-year-old girls in our countries are not able to take responsibility of husbands and families. Scientifically and realistically, they are too young for sexual intercourse, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. The work of child psychologist (esp. Piaget) clearly demonstrate that children are not simply physically different; but cognitively different from adults! Therefore, marriage at this young age quashes their childhood and cause them great harm and suffering, while our Prophet said that "no harm should be inflicted or reciprocated."
Fifth, marriage to a nine-year-old girl represents a violation of the laws of the land (be they The US, Saudi Arabia, England, Indonesia, or Australia), which does not contradict Islam. The Prophet — who said to his followers, "Pray as you have seen me pray" and "Take your rituals from me" — did not say to them, "Marry as you have seen me marry." Hence, we have to marry according to our time and place, as long as this does not contradict the Islamic Shari`ah.
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