Sadly we currently see the efforts of the Christian missionary activity
focused primarily on derailing Islam now more than any other period in
history. Thus, we witness numerous travesties and parodies coming from them
in their attempts to twist, manipulate and totally abuse historical and
etymological facts. These polemics range from a variety of the utterly
hilarious to the outright abusive and cruel. One such dishonest Christian
missionary polemic has been the allegation of the young marriage of `Aishah
(R) to the Prophet Muhammad(P). The missionaries try to accuse the Prophet
of being a child molester, albeit in politically correct terms, due to the
fact that `Aishah(R) was betrothed (zawaj) at the age of 6 years old and the
marriage was consummated (nikah) a few years after the marriage at 9 years
old when she was in full puberty. The lapse of time between the zawaj and
nikah of `Aishah (R) clearly shows that her parents were waiting for her to
reach puberty before her marriage was consummated. If it were not for the
fact that some gullible Christians have been parroting the claims without
understanding the reasons behind it, we would have not even bothered with a
refutation. Such a claim is based only on conjecture and moral relativism,
and not on fact. This article seeks to refute the allegation, insha'allah.
Puberty And Young Marriage In Semitic Culture
The hilarity of the whole saga of Christian missionaries accusing the
Prophet(P) of committing "child molestation" is that this contradicts the
basic fact that a girl becomes a woman when she begins her menstruation
cycle. The significance of menstruation that anyone with the slightest
familiarity with physiology will tell you is that it is a sign that the girl
is being prepared to become a mother.
Women reach puberty at different ages ranging from 8-12 years old depending
on genetics, race and environment. We read that
There is little difference in the size of boys and girls until the age of
ten, the growth spurt at puberty starts earlier in girls but lasts longer in
We also read that
The first signs of puberty occur around age 9 or 10 in girls but closer to
12 in boys[.]
Women in warmer environments reach puberty at a much earlier age than those
in cold environments.
The average temperature of the country or province is considered the chief
factor here, not only with regard to menstruation but as regards the whole
of sexual development at puberty.
Marriage at the early years of puberty was acceptable in 7th century Arabia
as it was the social norm in all Semitic cultures from the Israelites to the
Arabs and all nations in between. According to H?alm???avl?which the Jews
regard as their "oral Torah", Sanhedrin 76b clearly states that it is
preferable that a woman be married when she has her first menses, and in
Ketuvot 6a there are rules regarding sexual intercourse with girls who have
not yet menstruated. This is further collaborated when Jim West, ThD, a
Baptist minister, observes the following tradition of the Israelites:
The wife was to be taken from within the larger family circle (usually at
the outset of puberty or around the age of 13) in order to maintain the
purity of the family line.
Puberty has always been a symbol of adulthood throughout history.
Puberty is defined as the age or period at which a person is first capable
of sexual reproduction, in other eras of history, a rite or celebration of
this landmark event was a part of the culture.
The renowned sexologists, R.E.L. Masters and Allan Edwards, in their study
of Afro-Asian sexual expression states the following
Today, in many parts of North Africa, Arabia, and India, girls are wedded
and bedded between the ages of five and nine; and no self-respecting female
remains unmarried beyond the age of puberty.
Were There Any Objections to the Marriage of the Prophet(P) to `Aishah(R)?
The answer to this is no. There are absolutely no records from Muslim,
secular, or any other historical sources which even implicitly display
anything other than utter joy from all parties involved over this marriage.
Nabia Abbott describes the marriage of `Aishah(R) to the Prophet(P) as
In no version is there any comment made on the disparity of the ages
between Mohammed and Aishah or on the tender age of the bride who, at the
most, could not have been over ten years old and who was still much
enamoured with her play.
Even the well-known critical Orientalist, W. Montgomery Watt, said the
following about the Prophet's moral character:
From the standpoint of Muhammad's time, then, the allegations of treachery
and sensuality cannot be maintained. His contemporaries did not find him
morally defective in any way. On the contrary, some of the acts criticized
by the modern Westerner show that Muhammad's standards were higher than
those of his time.
Aside from the fact that no one was displeased with him or his actions, he
was a paramount example of moral character in his society and time.
Therefore, to judge the Prophet's morality based on the standards of our
society and culture today is not only absurd, but also unfair.
Marriage At Puberty Today
The Prophet's contemporaries (both enemies and friends) clearly accepted the
Prophet's marriage to `©shah(R) without any problem. We see the evidence for
this by the lack of criticism against the marriage until modern times.
However, a change in culture has caused the change in our times today.
Even today in the 21st century, the age of sexual consent is still quite low
in many places. In Japan, people can legally have sex at age 13, and in
Spain they can legally have sex at the age of 12 years old. A 40-year-old
man having sex with a 14-year-old woman may be a "pedophile" in the United
States, but neither in China today, where the age of consent is 14, nor in
the United States in the last century. Biology is a much better standard by
which to determine these things, not the arbitrariness of human culture. In
the U.S. during the last century, the age of consent was 10 years old.
California was the first state to change the age of consent to 14, which it
did in 1889. After California, other U.S. states joined in and raised the
age of consent too.
Islam And the Age of Puberty
Islam clearly teaches that adulthood starts when a person have attained
puberty.nFrom the collection of Bukhari, we read the following tracts:
The boy attaining the age of puberty and the validity of their witness and
the Statement of All?
"And when the children among you attain the age of puberty, then let them
also ask for permission (to enter)." Qur'?24:59.
Al Mughira said, "I attained puberty at the age of twelve." The attaining
of puberty by women is with the start of menses, as is referred to by the
Statement of All?
"Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them
prescribed period if you have any doubts (about their periods) is three
months." [Qur'? 65:4]
Thus, it is part of Islam to acknowledge the coming of puberty as the start
of adulthood. It is the time when the person has already matured and is
ready the responsibilities of an adult. So on what basis do the missionaries
criticize the marriage of `Aishah(R) since her marriage was consummated when
she had reached puberty?
We also read from the same source that
.Al-Hasan bin Salih said, "I saw a neighbour of mine who became a
grandmother at the age of twenty-one."(1)
(1) The note for this reference says: "This women attained puberty at the
age of nine and married to give birth to a daughter at ten; the daughter had
the same experience."
Thus, it is clear that if the charge of "child molestation" were to be
advanced against the Prophet(P), we would also have to include all the
Semitic people who accepted marriage at puberty as the norm.
We have thus seen that:
a.. It was the norm of the Semitic society in 7th century Arabia to allow
b.. There was no reports of opposition to the Prophet's marriage to
`©shah(R) either from his friends or his enemies.
c.. Even today, there are cultures who still allow pubescent marriage for
their young women.
In spite of facing these well-known facts, the missionaries would still have
the audacity to point a finger at the Prophet Muhammad(P) for immorality.
Yet, it was he who had brought justice to the women of Arabia and raised
them to a level they had not seen before in their society, something which
ancient civilizations have never done to their women.
When Muhammad(P) first became the Prophet of Islam, the pagans of Arabia had
inherited a disregard for women as had been passed down among their Jewish
and Christian neighbours. So disgraceful was it considered among them to be
blessed with a female child that they would go so far as to bury this baby
alive in order to avoid the disgrace associated with female children.
"When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child)
his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide
himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain
it on (sufferance and) contempt or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil
(choice) they decide on!"
Through the teachings of Islam, Muhammad(P) put a swift and resounding end
to this evil practice. God tells us that on the Day of Judgment, the female
child will be questioned for what crime she was killed.
"When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned - for what crime she
Not only did Muhammad(P) severely discouraged and condemned this act, he(P)
also used to teach them to respect and cherish their daughters and mothers
as partners and sources of salvation for the men of their family.
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri narrated that
The Prophet(P) said: 'If anyone cares for three daughters, disciplines
them, marries them, and does good by them, he will enter Paradise.'
Abdullah the son of Abbas narrated that
The Prophet(P) said: 'If anyone has a female child, and does not bury her
alive, or slight her, or prefer his male children over her, All?will bring
him into Paradise.'
The Prophet(P) is also cited in Saheeh Muslim as saying
'Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come
on the Day of Resurrection like this'; and he joined his fingers.
In other words, if one loves the Messenger of God(P) and wishes to be with
him on the day of resurrection in heaven, then they should do good by their
daughters. This is certainly not the act of a "child molester", as the
missionaries would like us to believe.
Finally, we end this with a citation from the Holy Prophet(P), who said
"I have come to defend the two oppressed peoples: women and orphans." -
The Prophet Muhammad(P)
Appendix: A married nine-year old in Thailand gives birth
Below is a news article from The New Straits Times, Malaysia, dated 10th of
March, 2001 about a nine-year old girl living in northern Thailand giving
birth to a baby girl. The fact that a nine-year old girl is mature enough to
give birth proves the point above about girls reaching puberty earlier than
Should the husband of this young girl be accused of "child molestation", as
insinuated by the Christian missionaries?
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