Thursday, 14 August 2008
The rebellion of the child-brides
By Johann Hari
Late last year, a tiny little ten year old girl turned up alone at the court in Sana, Yemen, and declared: "I have come to get a divorce." This hadn't happened before. According to the Yemen Times, in some parts of the country the average marriage age is ten, and some 50 percent of marriages are to underage girls. But Nujood Ali was unique in escaping to a court door, pleading for help.
Nujood explained how her father had married her off to a thirtysomething motorcycle courier. On their wedding night, he ordered her to share a bed with him. She ran out of the room, so he dragged her back and raped her.
At first she was ashamed. "But I passed through that," she said recently. "All I want now is to finish my education. I want to be a lawyer… I want to defend oppressed people. I want to be an example for all the other girls." After saying this, she ran off to play hide-and-seek.
The court eventually dissolved the marriage – and awarded compensation to her husband in apology. But Nujood has spearheaded a national revulsion against child-marriage. The conservative Islamic mullahs have reacted by saying there is nothing wrong with child-marriage – because Mohammed did it. I discuss this in my column today. It is true Mohammed did this. If you are trapped in the fundamentalist mindset of Mohammed-is-our-moral-exemplar, you have no way to answer back. The debate is resolved; Nujood's "husband" was in the right.
To get out of this bind, you need to leave behind a fundamentalist reading of Islam. You need to accept that parts of it are metaphor – or, better still, abandon supernatural explanations for life altogether.
This is far from confined to Yemen. The excellent reporter Amelia Hill discovered that child marriages are happening here in Britain too. She met a young Muslim woman who at the age of fourteen was forced to marry her cousin in an unofficial "community ceremony." She explained: "They kept whispering in my ear to ask why I wasn't smiling. I told them I was terrified and desperate, that I was just a child and far too young to get married. I pleaded with them to help me escape, but no-one saw anything wrong in what was happening. I begged my husband not to marry me, but he told me I had no choice." She was raped that night. "It was disgusting, awful. I used to scream and cry all night. I was too young, too tender inside. It killed me inside. Life became meaningless… I had my childhood taken away and missed out on all my teenage years. Sometimes I still wonder if it’s worth trying to have a future. Many days, I’m not at all sure it is." After two suicide attempts, she managed to escape, and when Hill found her she was living, alone, in a refuge.
Peter Cripps, head of the Community Safety Unit at my local police station in Shoreditch, told Hill these forced child-marriages "are happening and numbers are growing." Nobody is trying to figure out how many Muslim girls are suffering this way.
To call anyone who tries to help them "Islamopohobic" is an obscene betrayal of these young women. Some of the bravest critics of this barbarism are in fact British Muslim women: they staff and run a series of brilliant domestic violence refuges. But the fundamentalist literalist reading of Islam chokes their efforts. It will always tell the girls that child-marriage is acceptable, because Mohammed did it. If we can't criticize and reinterpret Mohammed without being threatened, then we may be unable – in the end – to cut away the intellectual justification for abusing these girls.
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It is an absolute travesty that Islam is allowed to treat women in this way. Still more because we in the west have become so complacent in the notion that women are liberated that we have forgotten (or are apathetic) to the plight of women around the world (the same goes for homosexuals). Thanks Johann for having the courage to write these columns. More of the same please!
Posted by: Tom Wood | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 01:11 PM
Well, the guy wouldn't have a leg to stand on in Islamic Jurisprudence. Just because Muhammed did it, doesn't mean anyone can do it. The stories say he was advised to do so by a higher being. Obviously most people wouldn't care about this but this guy wouldn't/shouldn't have a leg to stand on, in any Islamic court.
On a lighter note (light is hope), being someone who had to run away from home myself; the power of freedom most often lies with these women and they have to realise their strengths and choices, not just for freedom but because they deserve and have the right to demand the same respect that should be given to every human being.
It shouldn't happen to anyone, but it does, whether it's in the name of religion or just messed up desire.
Posted by: Somebody | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 02:03 PM
Good for her, I'm glad she managed to make her escape and hopefully the Yemani courts will now do something about this situation.
Tom Woods, don't get so xenophobic about Islam, christianity at the peak of its power wasn't any better and stood by as children were married off at even younger ages and said and did nothing, if anything they too were complicit! It wasn't unusual for a female child to be betrothed to an older, wealthier man before she reached her teens and married as soon as she had her first period, the first child following not long after.
Mostly what is happening here has little to do with Islam but with ignorance in a traditionally male dominated and unenducated society where women are still viewed as property.
Posted by: flipped | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 02:26 PM
Salam, (peace be upon you)
I'd like to point out that nowehere does Islam commend marriage at such young age. You cannot take examples from the life of Our Prophet (peace be upon him) and then apply them to yourself. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a human no arguements about this but we believe him to be the most unique human and unrivalled human in the history of mankind. There are certain aspects of his life where we follow his example and certain aspects where they do not apply to us ordinary human beings. We believe he split the moon in two and returned the sun after it had set now find me one person living on this planet who claims to do this let alone actually carry these acts out.
The authour of this article has mentioned that he thought twice about writing the article discussing the age of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) when she married Our Prophet (peace be upon him). He should have no fear if there are questions that need clarifying or remain unsatisfactorily unanswered then they should be raised otherwise how can one appreciate a religion without a healthy debate. I'd like to make it clear to everyone the age Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) has not categorically been accepted by scholars of Islam throughout the ages.
Within the grand picture of Islam today marriages taking place at such a young age are very rare. This barbaric practice is nothing to do with Islam this in itself goes against the rights of a human let alone a religion.
To everyone out there please visit:
Any questions about Islam and it's sometimes so-called bewildering practices come to my website and post a question (i cannot guarantee there won't be any fundamentalists idiots BUT I CAN GUARANTEE THAT THE MAJORITY WILL ALLOW YOU TO HAVE A HEALTHY DEBATE WHERE THE REAL PICTURE OF ISLAM WILL BE PAINTED):
Posted by: Yanabi User | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 02:34 PM
I'm sorry but the user CHRISTIAN is highlighting the fact that extremists views not only exist within Islamic Society (an opinion which Johan is trying to justify) but exists within every society.
when people mention the words extremists or fundamentalists they associate Muslims and Islam with these words. But these words aren't unique to one religion or society they are part and parcel of every religion every community every society.
Posted by: Yanabi User | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 03:50 PM
Johann has really shown courage with his column condemning cowardice in 'Opinion & Debate' Thurs 14th Aug.
The "respect" shown to Islam, and the invention of the word "Islamophobic" by those who should know better, has become a serious problem in the UK.
Religion is a form of organized madness which distorts its followers sense of self and reality. It keeps going because of the indoctrination of children, which practice should be seen as a form of child abuse.
I sincerely thank Johann for his courage, and intend to follow his example by being openly critical of Islam in particular and religion in general.
Posted by: Mike Godsell | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 06:29 PM
Well said Johann.
Posted by: Ophelia Benson | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 07:16 PM
"You cannot take examples from the life of Our Prophet (peace be upon him) and then apply them to yourself."
So we're *not* required to be homicidal genocidal pedophiles? Whew, that's a relief.
"Within the grand picture of Islam today marriages taking place at such a young age are very rare. This barbaric practice is nothing to do with Islam this in itself goes against the rights of a human let alone a religion."
Funny, thousands of Muslim clerics disagree.
As for Christian fanatics, yes, they exist, as they do for every sect/cult/religion. But you can count the violent atrocities they've committed in the past decade on two hands (which are unlikely to have been chopped off.) You couldn't do that for a *day's* worth of Islamic atrocities.
And even if the numbers were similar, bad behavior by one cult does not excuse bad behavior by another.
I don't judge people, or the groups they belong to, by what they say. I judge them by what the *do*. You can make all the claims about how peaceful and wonderful Islam is, but the daily atrocities they commit renders such excuses meaningless.
The more I see of Islam in action the more obvious it becomes that it is completely incompatible with civilization. Every manifestation of it should be opposed at every level, from the most important to the most trivial.
Posted by: Hittman | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 07:35 PM
"I'd like to point out that nowehere does Islam commend marriage at such young age."
That is incorrect.
Please read the Fatwa on child marriages by an islamic website:
Quran sanctions marriage to children.
The same interpretation of quran sanctioning marriage to children is given by many tafseers of very famous islamic scholars over the last 1400 years (ibn Kathir, Jalalyn, ibn Abbas, Tabari, Mawdudi, etc. etc.).
Posted by: A. Kafir | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 10:04 PM
Could it possibly be that men in Islamic societies and those still controlling their daughters in the Uk (and other places where they are settled) routinely mistreat girls and women in the atmosphere of an ( I assert) sexist religion, encouraged and/or brought up in a mysogynistic society- because "they can" and it perpetuates their power???
Yes, I am being sarcastic - it comes with the territory of being a woman myself- It is just so obvious to me!
Posted by: Jlow | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 11:33 PM
Another excellent article by Johann.
Posted by: Donald | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 11:37 PM
Im disappointed. Now why would you judge Islam but its minority and not its majority? I would think that the efforts of the Iraq and Afghani amry battling terrorist would be more representative of Islam than the terrorist themselves. Or how about all those Muslims who risked thier life to vote in reportedly free elections as demonstrative of Islam? I mean for every one terrorist you will have one million Muslims living lives of bread abd buttered issues. Lets be serious now.
And as for Christian fanatics... well... the past five hundreds years of European history, sorry, 100 years of European history doest exactly show them in a good light. Its a good thing they tired themselves out and gave all the wars and genocide a rest. Atleast for now. I hear the far right is back on the march so you never know.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:51 AM
"Every manifestation of it should be opposed at every level, from the most important to the most trivial."
Three cheers for religious freedom.
sarcasm now switched off.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:54 AM
I'm proud that this article was written, and I find it sad that people are able to dismiss rational debate purely by pronouncing "but that is not what I believe". I despise the fact that people (like Hittman) are willing to condemn all of Islam for the transgressions of a few, like with the Tabloid rumbles of outrage against the barest idea of Sharia law having any influence in this country when they are woefully ill-informed on the subject and equate it with the severing of limbs and stonings. Equally I find it repulsive that people use a Holy text to try and excuse abhorent behavior, and will label anyone who decries their abuse of power "infidel" and think that this legitimises offering (or inciting) violence. Congratulations Johann on an insightful
piece, and though it shouldn't need to be labelled brave ("i'll defend to the death your right to say it"), couragous too
Posted by: PAULA GLASSCOE | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 03:40 AM
"We believe he split the moon in two and returned the sun after it had set now find me one person living on this planet who claims to do this let alone actually carry these acts out."
ha ha ha! That is hilarious! Christianity likewise is just as insane. Bravo Johann!
Posted by: KEVIN DONNELLON | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 12:04 PM
keep the comments coming Johann, you are a breath of fresh air in the media. it is interesting to note that the barbaric practice of marrying off young girls is rare. hopefully as rare as the practice of female genital mutilation in east london via private surgeries. if you bury your head deep enough in the sand...
Posted by: kendo nagasaki ep | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 12:22 PM
"Islam should be, and most likely is, illegal in accord with most western constitutions. "
Really? I know someone, because it is friday, got up and went to the Mosque to pray. Will he be arrested soon because of Islam illegality?
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 01:09 PM
Let's face it, it is not, never has been, and never will be, acceptable to have sex with a child. There is no belief system, religious or secular, that can justify such an act. It is paedophillia, pure and simple, and all governments should be working towards making child marriages totally illegal.
All power to a little girl in the Yemen, how brave she is. The man who married her should be in prison, not compensated.
Posted by: Andrea | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 01:18 PM
“I sincerely thank Johann for his courage, and intend to follow his example by being openly critical of Islam in particular and religion in general. (Mike Godsell)”
Why do you have to be openly critical about Islam? If you have questions or are perplexed about an issue why not ask questions directly to a Muslim before being critical? It seems you’re trying to walk before you can crawl. Like I have said my door is always open at the Yanabi.com website you can be as critical as you like.
“Funny, thousands of Muslim clerics disagree.” (Hitman)
I have one request; can you name the thousands of Muslim Clerics? My point being that there’s this common misconception that the ones that shout loudest are the majority. There is a silent majority out there and you need to be aware of this before you can pass comment. As with all religions, were I alive in the age of the crusades no doubt I would have had the same feeling towards Christianity where the merciless crusaders carried out barbaric atrocities. At the same time Salahuddin Ayyubi (aka Saladin) preserved the peaceful message of Islam and is respected today by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We share the same sentiments as yourself but be aware of the facts, the legal age of a Muslim to marry in Yemen is 15:
“Quran sanctions marriage to children.” (A. Kafir)
Like in all other religions the holy texts are open to interpretation. Like the great debate taking place today in the Anglican Church over homosexuality the holy texts can be used to reinforce opposing views. You have to understand and accept that there is not a single path or a well-defined route mapped out for Muslims there are many different sects within Islam. Yes we have Shariah but again this is based on consensus and is ever evolving taking into account the environment and age we live in. We can go on forever quoting scholars of the past and still reach no conclusion, if you click on the link below you will find a ruling opposing the fatwa you quoted:
“The scholars like Ibn Shubrume, Uthman al-Betti, Abu Bakr al-Asam did not accept this standpoint. Allah commands in the Qur'an: "Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgement in them, release their property to them" (Nisaa, 6). In this verse childhood is restricted within the age of marriage. If early marriages were permitted, naturally, this restriction would be meaningless.”
“Yes, I am being sarcastic - it comes with the territory of being a woman myself- It is just so obvious to me!” (JLow)
Islam is a just and fair religion. During the time of Our Prophet (peace be upon him) there were many children relying on one parent families in most cases mothers. Research and surveys have highlighted the fact that being brought up in an unstable family especially single parent families leads to a greater chance of the child being involved in crime. There is wisdom in the actions of Our Prophet (peace be upon him):
“Yes, Yanabi, we do actually have a dozen people living on this planet who have actually walked on the Moon, unlike poor old Mohammad's hallucinations.” (Vaal)
(likewise KEVIN DONNELON)
You are entitled to your comments and you can ridicule me as much as you want. I am not forcing you to believe what I believe. Religion in itself requires a behaviour of faith which in turn relies on the heart and not the head.
“if you bury your head deep enough in the sand...” (kendo Nagasaki)
We come back to the old chestnut. Why do you paint everyone with the same brush??? Catholics oppose homosexuality but I’m not going to turn around and say all Christians abhor homosexuality am I?
“Johann, I bow to you, we need tons of free speech, our children, and the children of Muslims will thank us for it!” (Asgeir)
What a contradiction … before that last statement he was saying Islam should be banned! I’ll let all sane readers to judge for themselves – is he for freedom of speech or against?
“There is no belief system, religious or secular, that can justify such an act.” (Andrea)
Here, here, quite right!
“You know, the central prayer of Muslims - repeated 17 times a day - ends with words of not invoking God's wrath like the jews and not going astray like christians.
Sounds peaceful?” (Asgeir)
I’m sorry but this person might be referring to another religion here. Not one Muslim in any corner of the World is required to repeat prayers 17 times daily find me one and I’ll give you £100. Yes we are obliged to pray 5 times daily at certain times. As a Muslim I certainly do not invoke those words mentioned, yes we ask the Ultimate Creator to lead us to the straight path. Even if you are an atheist you’d want to be treading on a path that is righteous regardless if you believe in a divine power or not.
Another problem of society today … teenage mothers. I am not saying marrying young will solve the problem but if the whole essence of marriage is conversed to such young parents then maybe they will appreciate their responsibilities a bit more and consequently their offspring will not start their young lives with single parents which often leads to so many other hardships.
Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 01:44 PM
Lots of discussion here about whether we should criticize Islam, or allow ourselves to be silenced by "tu quoque" arguments about what Christians have done in the past. The record here has to be crystal clear - everyone has a right to speak critically of Islam, or any belief system. In no way should anyone be intimidated out of that right. This cannot be compromised, but if it is for the sake of protecting Islam from criticism, the fundamentalists will end up making many decisions for us, including the legal age of marriage, laws about domestic violence, rape, freedom of religion and restrictions on freedom of speech. Islam need criticism and deserves no protection. Muslims deserve no special respect for their beliefs or actions, and those which are inspired by Islamic holy texts, anyone has a right to point that out. Our freedom in this modern age of Muslim immigration to the Europe and America depends on it.
Posted by: Quijybo | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:04 PM
You are entitled to to your comments no one is denying you this right.
As a Muslim it does hurt me when people are making comments without any knowledge. They are being critical without knowing the full facts. No doubt if you did really have the correct understanding of Islam and what it stands for there would be no need for being crtitical in the first place.
The balance here has tilted to the point where Islam is being criticised because people feel the right to. Healthy debate is what is required where questions are posed rather than missiles of critique.
Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:12 PM
Yanabi User, people do have the right to critcise Islam and any other belief system if they wish to. And no, they don't have to spend hours studying the Koran in order to do so. They are entitled to criticise based on what they see and experience around them. I am critical of Catholocism, but I don't attend a Catholic Church. But I see the effect of denying condoms in Africa and other third world nations, I see and hear about the child abuse that has been perpertrated by priests, and I am critical. People do not need anyone's permission to be critical. When I read about a ten year old being married in the Yemen then I don't need to read the Koran or study Islam to know that it is wrong. There is no context in which it can be right. Nothing in the Koran would persuade me that it was right. If your prophet was to stand before me himself and tell me it was right I would still say it was wrong and I would be right.
I realise that paedophillia occurs in every race, culture and creed, but in most cultures and countries it is banned by the law and anyone breaking that law is a criminal who will be prosecuted if caught. The case in the Yemen shows a state (and religious) sanctioning of paedophillia, with the little girl's husband not only escaping prison for raping her, but being compensated. To me this is beyond comprehension.
Anyone who has sex with a child is a paedophile and should be treated as such.
Posted by: Andrea | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:48 PM
I think yanabi user is an exponent of da'wah.
secular governments get lured continue to get lulled into a false sense of security through this. its all as credible as my unswaying strong belief in the fairy god mother. and i cant understand why the government continues to fail to present the story of the fairy god mother as a viable alternative to evolution.
Posted by: kendo nagasaki ep | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:59 PM
"Yanabi User, people do have the right to critcise Islam and any other belief system if they wish to... When I read about a ten year old being married in the Yemen then I don't need to read the Koran or study Islam to know that it is wrong... If your prophet was to stand before me himself and tell me it was right I would still say it was wrong and I would be right." (Andrea)
No one is saying you shouldn't criticise, what I have been saying is criticism based on shallow knowledge or minority view doesn't help your cause, in fact it devalues the critic. I am not denying to right to criticise the fact that a 10yr old got married in Yemen but what has that got to do with Islam? just because the participants are Muslim? The overwhelming majority of Muslims would argue against this so don't use a minor issue to taint a vast religion, you are generalising things a bit too much here.
Please view the links that I have provided.
Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 03:32 PM
I forgot to say Andrea, if my beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) was to stand before you, you will be enlightened and I pray you will be enlightened one day.
"I think yanabi user is an exponent of da'wah.secular governments get lured continue to get lulled into a false sense of security through this" (kendo nagasaki ep)
What do you want the government to do? There are Catholics, Anglicans etc. within the current UK cabinet. Should they denounce all religions? you have so much respect for a secular goverment however some of the administrators follow a religion. You seem confused my friend. Secularism offers choice and I should be free to follow whatever religion I like just like yourself. Like it or not Muhammad is becoming as popular a babies name as Jack, why is this? it's not because we're breeding at an exponential rate superior to the rest of the UK citizens.
You can give my arguements a name (da'wah) if you want but it is simply my understanding of my religion and nothing else. Nothing sinister about it. I am still a student learning about the meaning and practices of my religion.
Before criticising a religion I would think twice three times or pass no comment. If I'm not armed with the knowledge about the religion I cannot deem myself fit to pass comment.
If I went up to Gordon Ramsey and said his food was rubbish then he would argue I know nothing about food. However, if a michelin food star critic was to pass an observation the this would be respected by Gordon because he is (deemed fit to pass comment) knowledgeable on the food the different tastes, textures, fusions etc.
Anyone can criticise Islam no one can deny someone this right but will it be valued? A critic is only deserved respect if he/she is an expert or has good knowledge on the subject.
Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:03 PM
"I think yanabi user is an exponent of da'wah."
And your objection is what exactly? In a liberal demoncracy where there is an open market place of ideas the last thing you should object to is someone expressing said ideas. Youre being silly.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:22 PM
"he even bragged about having abundance of widows and virgins (children?) to choose from. This fact even made it's way into the Koran, Allah was such a good friend of Muhammad!" (Asgeir)
Where in the Quran does it state this so-called bragging? I do know for a fact that Our Prophet (peace be upon him) became a father to orphaned children, married widowers and offered a hand of compassion and love.
The Quran does say this:
"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 deal justly (with them), then only one... to prevent you from doing injustice."
The Quran stresses upon the need for justice and fair treatment.
Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:25 PM
"hmm... depends on what the Imam was saying, and what your friend was praying for.
You know, the central prayer of muslims - repeated 17 times a day - ends with words of not invoking God's wrath like the jews and not going astray like christians.
Actually it doesnt depend on what the Imam was saying. If I am correct people are responsible for their own words and actions.
The fact that you would want to criminalize peoples' prayer is absurd.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:29 PM
"...talking of children of single mothers in Muhammad's time. Yes, Muhammad made a lot of widows as his followers lost their lives fighting for Muhammad, he even bragged about having abundance of widows and virgins (children?) to choose from. This fact even made it's way into the Koran..."
You might want to be specific about what is said the in Quran. In any event, if you knew even a little bit about the kind of society Arabia was in the 7th century, you would understand that internecine warfare amongst the tribes was common place. Women in such a society had only their men and their tribe as a means of subsistence. When the men and the tribe were gone, it was either starvation of prostitution. Best be married off or co-opted before the hunger pangs set in. Marriages was also a basis to solidify the mutual obligations of protection and trade between tribes.
"If you admire Muhammad, you could just as well admire Stalin, Adolf Hitler and their likes."
Because you want Islam to be illegal, even down to what Muslims may or may not pray about, one can only guess among the three aforemention historical figures you best admire or even borrowed ideas from.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:38 PM
"I realise that paedophillia occurs in every race, culture and creed, but in most cultures and countries it is banned by the law and anyone breaking that law is a criminal who will be prosecuted if caught."
The age of consent in countries all over the world have a mean of about 16. However there are a few countries, outside of the Islamic world, where the age of consent can be as low as 12- Spain, Mexico, and Zimbabwe come to mind.
What age do you think is appropriate for male of female to be able to consent to sex? Britain and the UK have come a long way presumably. It wasnt until the late 19th century that the legal age of consent ranged from 10-12 to 16. I doubt our forefathers intent was to abet perversion until the late 19th century.
Now there are one million reasons to have the age of consent be above 15 atleast but protecting children from pedophilia isnt be one of them. Because, as it so happens, the 16 year age of consent acorss the globe protects NO children from predators.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 05:07 PM
“The scholars like Ibn Shubrume, Uthman al-Betti, Abu Bakr al-Asam did not accept this standpoint. Allah commands in the Qur'an: "Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgement in them, release their property to them" (Nisaa, 6). In this verse childhood is restricted within the age of marriage. If early marriages were permitted, naturally, this restriction would be meaningless.”
The first link attempts to deny the hadees and the word of Aiesha herself.
The second quote needs to be understood in the light of the fact that the age of marriage in islam is 'first menstruation' for girls. In sharia there is no lower age limit for girls marriage. Girls as young as 3 to 5 five years are known to have menstruation. That is one reason why the companions of the prophet are known to have married five year olds. See the reference I gave above:http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/Fatwa/ShowFatwa.php?lang=E&Id=88089&Option=Fat
Yanabi had started out by saying: "I'd like to point out that nowehere does Islam commend marriage at such young age."
Johann's article states it exactly correctly. It is not only that muhammad married a child, but most of his companions did as well and so have the great islamic scholars over the last 1400 years. Even at present, many of the Sheiks, Imams, Ayatollahs, etc. have child brides.
Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 05:47 PM
Cont'd from above:
Instead of facing upto the fact that Muhammad and his companions were having sex with children which is wrong in light of what we know now (as Johann correctly states it ... it is painful and cruel), the muslim attempt is to preserve the myth that Muhammad is perfect by either denying that Muhammad married a child or denying that having sex with a child is wrong. Yanabi has chosen the first ... denying that Aisha was a child.
Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 05:56 PM
Yanabi writes: "I am not denying to right to criticise the fact that a 10yr old got married in Yemen but what has that got to do with Islam? "
It has everything to do with Islam. It is because marrying little girls is permitted in Islam that many many muslims ignore the "man made law of age of marriage is 15 years" and go by sharia where the age of marriage is first menstruation .
See the saudi mother trying to annul the marriage of her 8 year old child as the third wife: http://doctorbulldog.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/mother-fighting-to-annul-her-8-year-old-daughters-marriage/
How much more pain of little girls across the muslim world you have to see, before you are willing to see that pedophilia among muslims has everything to do with Islam and the example set by Muhammad?
Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 06:37 PM
Ok, raping children is not ordered in Koran, neither is genital mutilation. But why are the decent 'non paedophile, non mutilating' Muslims not absolutely dedicated to stamping out these cruelties - look what a bad name it is giving you!! What an impression, forced marriages, violence to women. Where is the 'real' Msulim campaign against such barbarities? You ought to be absolutely furious with these your 'brothers in religion', and put a stop to it.
Posted by: momogiraf | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 07:00 PM
except certain culture values make me revulse.
the central tenets of islam do not sit well with my cultural values. i fail to trust those who express an appearance of reasonableness when the text central to their irrational belief is pure poison.
Posted by: kendo nagasaki ep | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 07:40 PM
Islam allows marrying a one year old.
"Dr. Ahmad Al-Mub'i, a Saudi Marriage Officiant: It Is Allowed to Marry a Girl at the Age of One, If Sex Is Postponed. The Prophet Muhammad, Whose Model We Follow, Married 'Aisha When She Was Six and Had Sex with Her When She Was Nine"
And we do not even examine the sex that Shia Islam allows with two or three year old girls (See Khomenii and his fatwas, for example)!!!
Yanabi, an orphan girl who has her first menstruation is considered an adult and cannot be held as a dependent. Her guardian has to realse her property to her. The quranic verse you quote above (Quran 4:3) is used to justify the guardians in Islam marrying orphans as young as 7 or 8 if they have had their first menstruation. Read up on Islamic law about what constitutes "legal" maturity and no longer a dependent under a guardian.
Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:06 PM
Are you confusing betrothal with marriage? Understand that a bethrothal is when you enter into a formal agreement to marry.
BTW none of your links work. Can you provide others. I am particularly interested in the wives of the Companions. Thanks.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:29 PM
Except what makes you revulse, is not in line with your values, isnt the issue. It is whether people have a right to express those views in the open market place of ideas. You clearly object to people having those rights. I accept that your cultural views dont allow for people to be able to express themselves because of what you, and only you, find objectionable. I suggest you buy an island all to yourself where you can sit talk and consequently agree with everything you believe.
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:34 PM
Also I should mention that while in most countries the age of consent is about 15 or 16 there are nations like Spain, Zimbabwe and Mexico where the age is 12.
When it comes to betrothal children Islam and Judaism have that much in common. One wonder why these faiths having developed in similar environmenal and cultural circumstances would insist on these types of arrangements.
To add, it wasnt until the late 19th century that the age of consent in the UK and later in the American colonies was between 10 and 12. Do you believe that prior to that these Western societies were abetting child rape?
I think atleast for an Arabian society (bare in mind Aisha was "married" before Muhammed) it was used to solidify the bonds between otherwise warring tribes. What do you think?
Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:43 PM
Johann Haro forgets that in Islamic law the permission of the bride is obligatory- thus forced marriages are forbidden
Posted by: Mohammed Nur | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:59 PM
Muhammad "married" Aisha when she was six and had sex with her when she was nine. In islamic sharia a child can get "betrothed" at birth; there is no lower age for that. The age for sex is first menstruation; even if the girl is six years old. In Shia Islam sex with a prepubescent girl is allowed but not vaginal insertion. Sodomizing of the baby is allowed according to Khomenii and other Iranian Ayatollahs.
The url's worked for yanabi. But I give it again:
The url is broken over two lines. Please remove the newline and it should work. I paste the poritons on the companions below for you.
The issue is not the historical development and the reasons for the customs. The question is not whether pedophilia is wrong in the 7th century for ignorant barbarians but whether it is wrong in the here and now. Johann is pointing out that Muslims have a problem in accepting that the actions of Muhammad in the 7th century are not and should not be acceptable in the present.
Johann correctly points out that the discussion cannot proceed if we are not even willing to speak truthfully about the religious past. Yanabi incorrectly said that Islam does not have anything to do with sex with children. He is obviously wrong. The issue is what are the muslims willing to do about it in the present. I show you words of the imams who are clearly stating that it is acceptable because of the example of Muhammad. I find that very disturbing, and attempts by muslims to justify such behavior in the 21st century as unacceptable.
From the link given above:
There are many Ahadith which confirm that marriage at an early age was widespread among the companions and no one denied its permissibility. Getting married at an early age was not peculiar to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) as some people think, but it was general for him and for his Ummah.
The following are some of the actions of the Sahaba (companions):
1. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, married his daughter, Um Kulthum to Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, and she mothered a child before the death of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam). Omar got married to her while she was young before reaching the age of puberty.
This is reported by Ibn Saad in 'Al-Tabaqat'.
2. From Urwa Ibn Zubair: that Zubair, may Allah be pleased with him, married his daughter when she was very young. Reported by Saeed Ibn Mansour, in his Sunnah, and Ibn Abi Shaibah, in Al-musannaf, with a Sahih chain of narration.
Al-Shafie said in the book of Al-Um: "Many companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) married their daughters while these were still young."
Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 09:41 PM
Muhammad Nur writes:
"Johann Haro forgets that in Islamic law the permission of the bride is obligatory- thus forced marriages are forbidden"
That is true for adult women who have been previously married in Sharia but not for prepubescent children. The Wali (guardian) can make the decision for the girl. As the Hadiath says that "silence" of the child is equivalent to her acceptance of the marriage.
Malik related to me from Abdullah ibn al-Fadl from Nafi ibn Jubayr ibn Mutim from Abdullah ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah, SAAWS, said, "A woman who has been previously married is more entitled to her person than her guardian, and a virgin must be asked for her consent for herself, and her consent is her silence " [Malik's Muwatta, Book 28, Number 28.2.4]
The Prophet saaws said, "A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! How can we know her permission?" He said, "Her silence (indicates her permission)." [Sahih Al-Bukhari 7.67]
Have you ever wondered why the people would wonder why the people could not know about the "virgin's" consent? Are virgins incapable of speaking?
Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 09:50 PM
Another Brave Muslim woman fighting for the rights of children; trying to set the record of islam right. As Johann points out, silence on our part undercuts efforts of such brave muslims.
Ghada Jamshir: Authorized by religious law?!
Interviewer: Among the Shiites, yes.
Ghada Jamshir: Does the Islamic Shari'a authorize mut'ah marriages? Does the Islamic Shari'a authorize mut'ah according to the following classification: "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs." They have: "Pleasure from sexual touching." "pleasure from sexual contact with her breasts." "Pleasure from a little girl." Do you know what "pleasure from a little girl" means? It means that they derive sexual pleasure from a girl aged two, three, or four.
Interviewer: Let's not go into details...
Ghada Jamshir: Let me tell you what "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs" means...
Interviewer: Don't give me the details...
Ghada Jamshir: This is a violation of children's rights! This constitutes sexual assault of the girl. What does "pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs" mean? It means deriving sexual pleasure from an infant. How old is an infant? One year, a year and a half, a few months?
Other mufti's and their fatwas on the issue:
"With regard to the wedding-party of a young married girl at the time of consummating the marriage, if the husband and the guardian of the girl agree upon something that will not cause harm to the young girl, then that may be done. If they disagree, then Ahmad and Abu ‘Ubayd say that once a girl reaches the age of nine then the marriage may be consummated even without her consent, but that does not apply in the case of who is younger. Maalik, al-Shaafa’i and Abu Haneefah said: the marriage may be consummated when the girl is able for intercourse, which varies from one girl to another, so no age limit can be set. This is the correct view."
According to the Shari’ah, if a girl is a minor (did not attain puberty), she may be given in marriage by her father. When she attains puberty, she has the right to maintain the marriage or discontinue the marriage. There is no age limit to be intimate with one’s wife even if she is a minor.
Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 11:16 PM
This is astounding - and if true, raises the question of why so many muslim commentators seem to wish to deny that abuse of children either did or does take place.
that it did is a reality of history and hardly confined to the middle east - a great many men, it seems, enjoy the experience of sexual contact with children. That has its own grief, but can't be helped.
What can change is that this is condoned now. Every sane, progressive muslim must surely condemn this?
Posted by: CarolJ | Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 12:08 PM
Brilliant articles, as usual, by Johann Hari; of which I’ve just read! Thank you; for speaking bravely and wisely on behalf of oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims - straight, gays, women and girls, converts from Islam etc, all justified using Islam! We’ve been feeling let-down by many left from the west especially, who have been blindly supporting “Islamism” (a dogmatic political ideology), no matter how wrong it is and are actually helping to strengthen the ruling (male) power-base of extremists. I understand such lefties are trying to prevent the war towards Iran but it’s based on short-term thinking; and narrow-mindedness. Because they actually cannot empathize with these oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims’ pain since most of the Muslims they encountered in their real-life experiences are Muslims living in the west. Who have to abide by progressive universal and western human rights values, to a large extent. And unless these lefties live and abide to the (male) power-crazed game in Islam when they traveled to the oppressive Islamic-ruled countries and even so-called moderate Islamic-ruled ones such as in Malaysia here, these western lefties will not be able to really feel the unjust inequality and discrimination; and hence their misguided ‘liberal’ faith in defending Islam and all Muslims (regardless that some Muslims are in reality abusers of human rights such as the extremists), at all cost. Besides, being selective in defending several human rights’ principle ( i.e cultural-social rights) at the cost of others (i.e. civil rights, freedom of conscience, free speech etc). Whereas, all human rights are equally significant.
So, please Johann Hari, keep on speaking radically openly; we are counting on such genuine solidarity and wisdom!
Noor Aza Othman,
Women for Justice Support Group Project,
Posted by: Noor Aza Othman | Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 08:00 PM
another example of the barbarism of the arab world
Posted by: james | Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 10:12 PM
It is not only the arab world. Sharia is the law in Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan's law has the age of consent set at 16 years, but the Federal Sharia Court using the example of Muhammad having sex with the child Aisha overturned it. Many muslims in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other countries are demanding Sharia (Islamic law), and under islamic law sex with a female child is legal.
It is true (that is why I gave the URL's to the Islamic sites, so people can read it in the words of the Muslims themselves). Why do Muslims go into denial? Many really do not know, especially those in the western countries, and when they do come to know, they have to face the very very difficult issue of how does one follow a prophet ( the last prophet and a perfect prophet and acclaimed by God himself in the Quran to be an example for all mankind for all time ) who was a pedophile? If they accept that he was in error then what else was he wrong about? If they accept that this action of his is only valid in the 7th century and invalid now, then what other actions and laws are invalid today? The answers to those questions leads to blasphemy against Muhammad or worse to apostasy, and trust me those are very painful choices. Blasphemy and Apostasy are punishable by death in Islam. Apostates lose all contact with their families and are usually killed. You have read about honor killings ... parents killing their own daughters because the girls have dishonored the family name. There are hundreds of cases in the recent past where parents have killed their own child for leaving Islam.
Posted by: A. Kafir | Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 12:36 AM