Sunday, August 18, 2013

Refuting arguments against the Prophet's marriage to Aisha

It is also interesting to note that Aisha considered herself to be a woman at the age of nine when she stated:
When the girl reaches nine years of age, she is a woman. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Kitab: al-Nikah, Bab: Maa Jaa'a fee Ikraah Al Yateemah 'alaa al tazweej, Hadith no. 1027, Source)
Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri in his commentary on Sunan al-Tirmidhi said:

أن عائشة قد كانت أدركت وهي بنت تسع سنين

Aisha knew (that she hit puberty) when she became nine years old. (Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri,Tuhfat AI-Ahwadhi, Kitab: al-Nikah, Bab: Maa Jaa'a fee Ikraah Al Yateemah 'alaa al tazweej, Hadith no. 1027, Source)

Thus, we have a statement from Aisha herself that clearly seems to indicate that she was aware of hitting puberty at age nine.
One may argue that this still doesn't mean that all nine year old girls are physically or psychologically capable of engaging in sexual intercourse and could be physically or psychologically harmed if they did so.
However, we must remember the "don't harm yourself or cause harm to others" principle in Islam.
Something might generally be deemed to be permissible or even recommended, yet could be forbidden at times.
For instance, fasting could be prohibited for a person with diabetes:
If fasting is difficult for him and will cause him harm, such as a man who has kidney disease or diabetes and similar cases where fasting will cause harm. In this case fasting is haraam. (Source)
We must remember to apply this principle to all situations. Therefore, if it happens to be that a woman will undergo physical or psychological harm if she were to engage in sexual intercourse at an early age, then doing so will be haram for her.
We have no reason to believe that Aisha has undergone such problems. Thus, why can we object then?
Also, regarding the narration that stated that when Aisha was fourteen the Prophet (peace be upon him) found her dolls; the narration does not say that she was playing with them. It only says that they were in her possession. The only way the Prophet (peace be upon him) found out was because they were uncovered by the curtain covering her storage room. So this narration only shows that she was still in possession of them, but not necessarily playing with them. Plus, if she was in a habit of playing with them, why would she cover them up with a curtain in her storage room and why did the Prophet (peace be upon him) just find out about them? He would have seen her always playing with them.
There was nothing immature about playing with dolls. Interestingly one says:
The toy dolls that existed before the 1700's served chiefly as playthings for adults as well as for children.At that time, adults and children were more alike in their attitudes and interests than they are today, and childhood as we know it did not really exist. Youngsters were regarded as little adults and were expected to act like them. They shared the work of supporting the family with their parents. People of nearly all ages enjoyed the same simple toys, including dolls and jack-in-the-boxes. Most of the dolls were shaped and dressed like adults.
Adults first came to regard childhood as a special time during the 1700's and especially the 1800's. The first dolls specifically for children probably were made in the 1700's. The dolls themselves looked the same but could be dressed as babies, children, women, or men. In the West, the first doll to be designed as a baby appeared at the London Exhibition of 1851 and came from Japan. (Source)

Many over aged girls even today still keep their Barbie dolls. Look at what this individual says:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:29:00 PM  
I love Barbie. As an only girl, I played with her a lot. When I got Ken, Barbie's first boyfriend, they would go out on dates in Barbie's car. Barbie was very independent & she always wanted to pick Ken up.

Thanks to my special niece I could continue to play with Barbie as an adult...we would have a lot of fun! My niece is getting older now and I'm afraid it's true that the Brat dolls have all but taken over her playroom. I like the Bratz dolls but I will always be most fond of Barbie :)
Happy Birthday Barbie xoxo


I also personally know of a 23 year old girl in my Masters class who is very intelligent and still keeps a teddy bear in her car.

Thus, to argue that Aisha must have not hit puberty because she played with or was in possession of dolls is not a strong nor is it a convincing argument.

Companions of the Prophet Thought That Aisha Was Immature
Sam Shamoun said:
There are other narrations which provide additional (albeit implicit) support that Aisha was too young for consummation due to the fact that she was prepubescent:
Narrated Urwa bin Al-Musayyab, Alqama bin Waqqas and Ubaidullah bin Abdullah:

About the story of 'Aisha and their narrations were similar attesting each other, when the liars said what they invented about 'Aisha, and the Divine Inspiration was delayed, Allah's Apostle sent for 'Ali and Usama to consult them in divorcing his wife (i.e. 'Aisha). Usama said, "Keep your wife, as we know nothing about her except good." Buraira said, "I cannot accuse her of any defect except that she is still A YOUNG GIRL who sleeps, neglecting her family's dough which the domestic goats come to eat (i.e. she was too simpleminded to deceive her husband)." Allah's Apostle said, "Who can help me to take revenge over the man who has harmed me by defaming the reputation of my family? By Allah, I have not known about my family anything except good, and they mentioned (i.e. accused) a man about whom I did not know anything except good." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, 
Number 805)
. Buraira said, 'No, by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, I have never seen in her anything faulty except that she is a girl of IMMATURE AGE, who sometimes sleeps and leaves the dough for the goats to eat.' . (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 829)
'A'isha said. The women in those days were light of weight and they did not wear much flesh, as they ate less food; so they did not perceive the weight of my haudaj as they placed it upon the camel as I was A YOUNG GIRL at that time. Barira said: By Him Who sent thee with the truth, I have seen nothing objectionable in her but only this much that she is A YOUNG GIRL and she goes to sleep while kneading the flour and the lamb eats that. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6673)
Many years after Muhammad had married Aisha and she is still described as being young and immature! Obviously, a girl who is described in such a manner is far from being ready for consummation with a grown man. The question that should be asked is what business did a fifty-four year old man have marrying such a girl in the first place?
My Response:
Looking at the Arabic text أنها جارية حديثة السن , I don't see word "immature" anywhere. It only states that she is a young girl, which we will already know. But if someone is young that doesn't necessarily imply that he or she is immature.
Secondly, the companion was not criticizing Aisha for her age. Rather, he was saying that her fault was that she:
goes to sleep while kneading the flour and the lamb eats that
Imam Nawawi states in his commentary:

ومعنى هذا الكلام : أنه ليس فيها شيء مما تسألون عنه أصلا , ولا فيها شيء من غيره إلا نومها عن العجين .

And the meaning of this statement is that there are no faults about her (Aisha) to begin with. There is nothing wrong about her except that she sleeps while kneading the flour. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Tawbah, Bab: Fee Hadeeth Al Ifk Wa Qubool Tawbat Al Qaazhif, Commentary on Hadith no. 4974,Source)

The companion might have attributed her carelessness due to the fact that she was young and did not take seriously her responsibility over her tasks. However, this does not imply she was immature or psychologically incapable of being married.
Even in my workplace when we bring in new marketing research trainees who are fresh graduates and are in their early twenties, our managers would criticize them for being careless in their jobs, since they haven't matured and are too young for these kind of responsibilities and tasks. Now, in no way would that imply that these individuals are immature or incapable of being married. However, their age and inexperience does play a role in them not being efficient and serious at the work place like someone who has been working for several years.
I believe that the companion who spoke about Aisha had the same intentions when he uttered that statement regarding Aisha.
Nevertheless, nothing that Shamoun has presented shows that Aisha was too incompetent to have been married to the Prophet (peace be upon him)

The Companions Condemned Umar ibn Al Khattab For Marrying a Young Girl
Sam Shamoun said:
In fact, Haddad himself cites a reference where Umar spoke out against those who would ridicule him for marrying a girl so young:
He came to the Muhajirun among the Companions as they sat between the Grave and the Pulpit ? their usual place for meeting `Umar to discuss news: "Felicitate this newlywed!" Then he told them he had married `Ali's daughter Umm Kulthum and said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah say, upon him blessings and peace: 'Every lineage and means will be severed on the Day of Judgment except my lineage and my means.' I have kept company with him and wished to add this also." Later he again said, on the pulpit: "DO NOT DISPARAGE ME [FOR MARRYING A YOUNG GIRL], for I heard the Prophet say may upon him blessings and peace: 'On the Judgment Day every means will be cut off and every lineage severed except my lineage.'" (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The sharp reader should be able to see why the foregoing data poses problems for the claim that such marriages were culturally acceptable at that time. If marrying nine-year-old girls were permissible during that time then why did Ali and the other Muslims vehemently oppose and object to Umar's marriage proposal to Ali regarding his daughter? If Umm Kulthum was too young for Umar even though she was approximately 11 years old at that time, and Umar was roughly 58 years of age, then wouldn't this prove that Aisha was too young for Muhammad in light of her age being nine and Muhammad was fifty-four years old when they consummated their marriage?
My Response:
I visited the link for Dr. Haddad's article and I saw that Dr. Haddad has not provided a reference for this story. No where can I find this story.
Secondly, notice that Dr. Haddad put "FOR MARRYING A YOUNG GIRL" in brackets. This seems to indicate that it is not part of the original text and is only an interpretation of Umar's statement. Where is the evidence that this is what Umar ibn Al Khattab intended to say? Other evidence suggests that the reason why Umar ibn Al Khattab might have uttered this statement is because the companions were concerned that him getting married would distract him from his duties as a Caliph. Nothing is mentioned about the age difference.
Thirdly, evidence from other sources seems to indicate that the companions received the news quite well. Instead of opposing Umar, they all prayed that Allah blessed their marriage. (Sunan Al-Bayhaqi al- Kubra: Volume 7, page 64. However, this narration is mursal)
Thus, unless we can see that the narration regarding Umar's statement is authentic I am going to doubt it.
Another good reason to doubt that the companions objected to Umar's marriage is that they would not do such a thing if they already knew that it was something that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would do (i.e. his marriage to Aisha).
It was also a normal habit of the Arabs at that time:
- Imam Al-Shafi'e said in Siyar A'lam Al-Nubala', Volume 10, p. 91 "During my stay in Yemen I have come across girls at the age of nine whom menstruated so often"
- Imam Al-Bayhaqi in Sunan Al-Bayhaqi Al-Kubra, Volume 1, p. 319 narrated that Imam Al-Shafi'e said: "I have seen in the city of Sana'a a grandmother while she was twenty one. She menstruated at the age of nine and gave birth at the age of 10"
- Ibn Al-Jawzi narrated similar stories from Ibn U'qail and U'bad Al-Mahlby in his Tahqeeq Fi Ahadith Al-Khilaf, Volume 2, p. 267
[Quick Acknowledgement: Thanks to brother Ayman bin Khaled for the above quotes]

Thus, it doesn't make sense that the companions would object to Umar's marriage as being immoral.
Shamoun is required to find the reference for that statement for Umar and to provide the authentic chain of transmission for it as well if he wants to convince us Muslims about the effectiveness of his "rebuttal".

Muhammad Should Have Established a Higher Moral Standard
Sam Shamoun said:
Putting it simply, theists expect that God would inspire his prophets to set a higher ethical code for humans to emulate, not merely subscribe to the cultural norms of their time, especially when such norms are morally reprehensible. This is irrespective of whether those prophets were able to live up to such standards, so long as God didn't justify their failure to comply with his moral standard.
My Response:
Shamoun speaks and asserts, but does not prove. How does he know what constitutes a "higher ethical code" or not without God stating so Himself?

Both Muslims and Christians believe in the Divine Command Theory, which teaches that our morals are derived from God's commands. One cannot presuppose that something is moral or immoral and then judge whether something is moral or immoral. Rather, one has to know what is moral and immoral by knowing what God has said about the matter.

Dr. William Lane Craig himself states:

So the problem isn't that God ended the Canaanites' lives.  The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them.  Isn't that like commanding someone to commit murder?  No, it's not.  Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God's commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder.  The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God's command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command. (William Lane Craig, Slaughter of the CanaanitesSource)

As Dr. Craig rightfully states, we can't state that something is immoral unless we have evidence that God has not divinely approved of it.

So when Shamoun states that the Prophet's marriage to Aisha is immoral, he is begging the question that Islam is false. What Shamoun is trying to do is show that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a false prophet by putting forth this argument. However, he can't do such a thing. What he has to do is first prove that Islam is false and then put forth this claim.

In order to put forth a successful argument Shamoun must level a stronger critique.

There are two kinds of critiques that one can form.

1)      Internal critique:

This is criticizing someone or something by pointing out its internal inconsistencies. This is usually a strong argument. Now, has Shamoun put forth an internal critique against the Prophet's marriage to Aisha? Actually, he hasn't. He has not shown how the Prophet (peace be upon him) contradicted Islamic principles when he married Aisha.

2)      External critique:

This is using an external standard to judge somebody or something in order to critique that person or thing.

There are two types of external critique:

i)                    Universal external critique:

This is appealing to universal standards and beliefs (e.g. raping a little child is wrong according to everyone) as a standard. However, has Shamoun shown that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) marriage to Aisha violates universal standards? Of course not.

ii)                  Ethnocentric external critique:

This is appealing to one's own cultural or religious beliefs as a standard for critiquing. Philosophers have stated that this form of argumentation is weak unless one can prove that the standard that he is using should be binding upon everyone.

Now, this is the kind of critique that Shamoun is launching.

Shamoun must be using a moral law in order to judge whether the Prophet's marriage to Aisha is moral or not. If he is using a moral law, then that implies that there is a moral law giver that he is appealing to.

Now, since Shamoun is a Christian we are going to assume that his moral law giver is the God of the Bible. Has Shamoun proven that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) marriage to Aisha violates biblical standards for morality? No he has not.

Secondly, even if Shamoun was able to prove that Muhammad (peace be upon him) violated Biblical standards for morality then SO WHAT?

Why should I care if Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not live up to the moral standards of the Bible? Has Shamoun shown us that the Bible is the complete true word of God and that it is binding upon us? The answer is no.

If he would like to reply back and say that the Qur'an affirms the Bible and that means that Muslims should hold the Bible as authoritative, then I ask the reader to refer here.

It is also funny how he says:

Putting it simply, theists expect that God would inspire his prophets to set a higher ethical code for humans to emulate, not merely subscribe to the cultural norms of their time,

Yet, the Biblical Jesus "subscribed to the cultural norms of his time" when he referred to the gentiles as "dogs" and spoke disrespectfully about his mother. See here.

In conclusion, Shamoun cannot provide an INTELLECTUAL AND RATIONAL argument against the Prophet's marriage to Aisha. He can only provide an EMOTIONAL argument.

However, Muslims let their rationality overcome their emotions and don't fall for these silly appeal to emotion arguments. That is probably the main reason why we aren't Christians.

What a joke! Shamoun is stating that it was okay for innocent civilians to be murdered at that time, yet it is not so in the 21st century. I can barely hold my self from laughing (and puking for that matter).

So basically Shamoun is arguing that these things are not okay today since God's laws have to adapt to changing cultures and societal behavior. Surely this is absurd and it should actually be the other way around.

In conclusion, Shamoun has not provided a rational and objective basis for any of his arguments.

NOTE: I am not going to kindly request Shamoun to stop insulting my beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I don't kindly request anything from foolish thugs. All I am going to say is that if he continues to insult, then I will insult right back. If Shamoun removes his insults, then I would promise to edit this article and remove my harsh comments as well. He needs to be tamed and understand that in interfaith dialogue we have to be sensitive about the other person's feelings, since these topics are very sensitive to people.

We apologize for offending any other Christians, since it wasn't our intention.

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