Thursday, March 14, 2013

Georgetown University Islamic Scholar Jonathan Brown Defends Young Age of Aisha

The Muslim sources are filled with passages reporting that Muhammad married Aisha when she was six years old, and that he consummated the marriage (i.e. had sex with her) when she was nine years old. Sahih al-Bukhari, Islam's must trusted source on the life of Muhammad, contains numerous passages such as the following:

Sahih al-Bukhari 3896—Khadijah died three years before the Prophet departed to Madina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consummated that marriage when she was nine years old.

Sahih al-Bukhari 5133—Aisha narrated that the Prophet married her when she was six years old, and he consummated her in marriage when she was nine years old. Then she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).

Many Muslims in the world today live far better lives than their prophet lived. Not surprisingly, some of them are horrified when they hear that their highest moral example (Qur'an 33:21) had sex with a little girl. It is therefore becoming popular to manufacture weak arguments in an effort to conceal Aisha's age.

Recently, Jonathan Brown, an Islamic scholar who teaches at Georgetown University, was confronted by Adam Deen (of the Deen Institute), a Muslim who is apparently concerned about Aisha's young age. Adnan Rashid chimes in as well, and Brown defends the traditional age of Aisha.

Brown gives the best defense that can be given for Muhammad's marriage to Aisha, namely, that the world was different back then. But there are two massive problems with his response. First, consider Brown's "Goat Herder" defense. He asks us to picture a young seventh-century teenage boy, in the midst of a puberty-induced hormone rage, tending his goats. With nothing else to do, why wouldn't such a boy get married? Notice that even if we agree with this defense, it has little to do with Muhammad's marriage to Aisha. Muhammad was not a young boy in the throes of puberty. He was more than fifty years old. So the question isn't "Why would a young boy marry a young girl?" but "Why would a man whose life is nearing its end marry a prepubescent girl?" This problem is magnified by the fact that Muhammad's wives weren't allowed to remarry after his death (Qur'an 33:53), which left Aisha as a widow for the rest of her long life.

Second, when it comes to Muhammad, one can't appeal to cultural differences as a defense of obviously immoral actions. For Muhammad is the highest moral standard for Muslims of all times, not simply for the Muslims of his own time. Muhammad is the standard of correct behavior, which means that his marriage to Aisha was a pattern that may be followed even today. Thus, in defending Muhammad's sexual relationship with a prepubescent girl, a Georgetown University scholar just defended a Muslim's moral right to have sex with prepubescent girls.

Notice also the inconsistency of this "cultural" defense. Muslims tell us that one of the great things about Muhammad was that he challenged the immoral practices of his time, such as female infanticide. But wasn't female infanticide an accepted cultural practice for some groups during Muhammad's time? If so, why challenge the practice? It seems that Muslims want to use culture in whatever way seems convenient. If Muhammad changed an evil cultural practice, Muslims say, "You see! This proves that he was a prophet, since he challenged his culture instead of going along with it!" But if Muhammad engaged in an evil cultural practice, Muslims say, "But you can't condemn him for it, since it was accepted in that culture!"

For more on Muhammad's relationship with Aisha, see:


gabriella oak said...

The guy asking the question is obviously desperate to find a rebuttal to all the nasties who point out Aisha's age. As though he hoped the speaker would produce some magic hadith/defence from up his sleeve that has been hidden from ordinary Muslims for 1400 years.

I'll find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow before a single Muslim finds a half-decent argument to defend " the prophet who cannot sin. "

Quran is Corrupt said...

Muhammad is the PERFECT example FOR ALL TIME for all Muslim men.

ALL TIME, not back in the 7th century.

Nothin'ButTheTruth said...

Why would they be ashamed of it if he is an example to follow? I wonder.

Sivraj Jarvis said...

I am surprised by what I read at your blog because you gave information that I was not given in this Zondervan post:

Search 4 Truth said...

I have to hand it to him. He isnt lying. But he is using logical fallacies and contradictions. ALL Muslims have to in an attempt to rationalize the irrational. Islam is just a load of inconsistencies obviously fabricated by man and inspired by Satan!

Sivraj Jarvis said...

I want to add also that this is a very serious issue. In India, child marriage was the norm for many centuries. When missionaries came they were horrified and fought against it.

It would not be until The Age of Consent Act of 1891 was passed that that this practice would suffer a major. The Consent Act however came at a price:

The prior year, 1890, A 11 year old girl, Phulmani, who was the wife of a 35 year old man, Hari Mohan Maiti, died when she was forced to have intercourse with her husband. It took a tragic event like this to really push the Consent Act through.

Its a very serious issue . . .

cheryl_maree said...

My question would be is a 9 year old girl's body any different in the 7 century than it is today in 2013? Did 9 year old girls body image change? There is no way that any 9 year old girl is ready for sexual intercourse at that age. If she were to get pregnant the birth could kill her. When I look at 9 year old girls today they are just children and in no way are they ready for some nasty old man to take and do that to them. It's perverted and that is the bottom line, it was perverted then and it is perverted now. I have heard muslims say "she loved mohammed and she never spoke ill of him after his death" well she was brainwashed and she couldn't because they would have killed her, could they be serious?

John 8:24 said...

@Sivraj Jarvis,

Child marriages in India started during the Muslim rule of India. If you read the Indian history you will find that Muslim invaders ruled major portions of India from the 12th century until the British colonization. Child marriages, veiling and segregation of women (called the Purdah system) and even honor killings in India, if seen in the light of history, are actually a result of the Muslim influence on the Indian culture. The Muslim conquest has had a significant impact on the Indian culture, especially on how women are viewed and treated in the society.

Yusuf Alamo said...

The sad irony of all this talk about A'isha's age, may Allah be pleased with her, is that most non-Muslim girls here in the U.S. are unfortunately having premarital sexual relations even at the junior high school level. The fact is that A'isha, may Allah be pleased with her, was biologically an adult female who was legally married when she consummated her nuptials to the Prophet Muhammad, Peace and Blessings be upon him. Surprisingly, you seem far more upset about this than the young girls today who're going out, dressing provocatively, and having intimate relations outside of marriage. I mean, look at who many of the young girls are looking up to today as examples;- Britney Spears, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, etc. I remember the times when my mother taught me about great examples of women throughout our nation's history, women like Shirley Chisholm (the first Black American woman elected to Congress, the first Black American and the first woman to be nominated as a Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States) and Mae Jemison (the first Black American female astronaut to travel in orbit around the Earth). Most of the young girls in our country today know more about and look up to pop stars like Beyonce, J Lo, and Taylor Swift, than they do these women. My mother also took the time to teach us about great women from the Bible like Esther, Ruth, Sara, and Mary, the mother of Prophet Jesus, Peace and Blessings be upon him. While I am no longer a Christian, I can still appreciate the fact that I didn't grow up in a household where my mother allowed pop culture, or the media, dictate how women should be viewed by her children. Praise be to Allah, this benefited me greatly in the future as I now look to women like Mary, Sara, Hajr, Khadijah, A'isha, and Fatima, may Allah be pleased with them all, as being the greatest paradigms of womanhood for all time.

David Wood said...

I hope everyone is paying attention to Yusuf's comment. I see some disturbing trends among Muslims. First, Yusuf says that Aisha was "biologically an adult female." So nine-year-old girls, according to Yusuf, are biological adults who are ready for sex and reproduction? Only Muslims make these comments (which totally contradict established medical evidence).

Second, Yusuf exaggerates the plight of non-Muslims in the West. Statistics show that around 13% of teens have sex by age 15 (, yet Yusuf tells us that "MOST" girls are having sex in junior high school.

Behold the effect of Islam on a young man's mind: He minimizes the problems in his own religion (even when they come directly from his prophet), and he exaggerates the problems outside his religion (since this makes him feel better by comparison).

Anyone surprised?

So Yusuf, if you were looking for a bride, and you were living in a country that doesn't forbid marriage to young girls, would you consider marrying a six-year-old and having sex with her when she reaches the ripe-old-age of nine?

Sivraj Jarvis said...

~ Thanks for your comments. Teen sex and such things are sad problems in the US. And indeed it does not help to have the media icons promote such things. In these things we are in agreement.

However what I want say is that if you do a google search on child marriages, you will find that it is still practiced in many Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia is notorious here for this. Yes - there is legislation now pending that ups the age to 16 - only - but its still practiced.

Take a look at this article from the Saudi Gazzette:

It begins as follows:

"A social expert from Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University said to date there were at least 5,622 recorded cases of Saudi girls getting married before they turned 14."

That said, I don't know what led to you leaving Christianity, but I hope you consider taking a second look.

Take care and peace out...

Yusuf Alamo said...

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Peace be unto those who follow righteous guidance.

No, Mr. Wood. I can honestly say that were I living in a Muslim country that allowed a Muslim man to marry a Muslima female who reached her menses at the age of nine, that I WOULDN'T want to marry her at that age. But that has more to do with my own personality, as well as my cultural upbringing and preference, than it has to do with whether or not I believe it is wrong for Muslims (living within the borders of Muslim lands) to marry once both parties have reached the biological age of adulthood according to medical science. I don't, as long as the marriage is within the boundaries of the law, meaning that it must be legal;- a woman should not be forced to marry, she should absolutely have the right to consent or not. She should also be granted her right to the dowry of her choosing, the right to participate in the making of the marriage contract, as well as the right to change her mind and refuse the marriage altogether. In the case of females, physical adulthood is reached biologically when menses occur. A girl can attain her menses anywhere from nine years old to sixteen years old. So, no, when I was looking for a bride, a girl who had just reached biological adulthood at the age of nine was not on my list of preferences. Being a born and bred American, I just don't even see a need for it as neither I, nor anyone I know here, live under the harsh conditions of a 7th century environment, society, or tribal existence that might require marrying a woman that young for the purpose of clan survival. Just to emphasize my own preference, I married my current wife when she was twenty-three years old with the support of her family, her tribe, and the entire Muslim community.

Mr. Jarvis, as far as taking a "second look" into Christianity, no thank you. I'm much happier as a Muslim than I ever was as a Christian. Islam provided me with everything Christianity did not. For that, I am extremely grateful.

May Allah guide us all, aameen.

Search 4 Truth said...

@ Yusef

So your saying that legitimizing child molestation by the virtue of marriage is moral and just and those?
I say preposterous. Islam and Mohamed have legitimized the victimization of children. Thats like saying oh well people are doing it so lets make it a moral standard by marrying them.

So Islam and Mohamed are in the wrong for legitimizing something that is immoral and psychologically and physically harmful to women.

Science tells us that menstruation is not the completion of puberty but a symptom. The reproductive organs are not fully developed at the onset of menstruation. Science refutes Islamic doctrine and Mohamed. Not to mention the undeveloped mind and psyche of the child.

"Adolescence", by L. Steinberg, pub. by McGraw Hill, 1993.

page 22: "Puberty derives from the Latin word "pubertas", which means "adult". Technically, the term refers to the period during which an individual becomes capable of sexual reproduction, that is, it denotes the series of biological changes leading up to reproductive capability. More broadly speaking, however, puberty is used as a collective term to refer to all the physical changes that occur in the growing girl or boy as the individual passes from childhood into adulthood."

"ADOLESCENCE - TRANSITION FROM CHILDHOOD TO MATURITY", by Lambert, Rothschild, Altland, & Green, pub. by Brooks / Cole, 1978:

page 106: "The process of physical development that results in the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence involves three overlapping stages: Prepuberty, pubescence, and puberty. Although this sequence is the same for all individuals, the times of onset and the lengths of these periods differ from one person to another (Thornburg, 1975).

It is only with the third phase, puberty, that girls develop regular ovulatory menstrual cycles and the capability for procreation....This period generally spans about two years for girls and about three years for boys, ending when all of the secondary sex characteristics have fully appeared and reproductive ability has been reached. Most boys are well into puberty by age 14 (Marshall, 1975), most girls by the age of 15-16."

Search 4 Truth said...

@ Yusef

It's irrelevant if you feel no need to marry a child because of your geological location or are living under harsh locations. Islam has ordained this for all eternity. It doesnt state only marry children if you are living in the 7th century under harsh conditions. I only wish Islam was dead and gone in the 7th century. But unfortunately it is for all times. And Mohameds sunnah verifies that as well as sura 65:4.
Islam and Mohameds sunnah is suppose to be emulated and followed for all time. Not just 1400 years ago.

Islam has provided you with much in the way of confirmation bias, logical fallacies, inconsistencies and the inability for critical thinking. At least thats all I can see for now. Im not sure what else it has brought you. And as for Dowry children are being sold by their Fathers to old men all around the Islamic world. Im curious what you think Islam has provided you.

So you have chosen an ideology that has sanctioned and legitimized child molestation over an ideology that abhors and forbids it.

Good for you.

gabriella oak said...


You have scrambled eggs for brains. If not that, then you are knowingly promoting paedophilia and the sexual molestation of young girls.

Therefore you are either an imbecile or a sexually deviant freak.

Which is it ?

Baba Wayo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baba Wayo said...

Excellent clip - Yusuf has taken the time to explain the Muslim position and his opinion is sound. Westerners start with the fixed false belief that Muhammad is a false prophet and cannot let go of it. His marriage to Aisha is not an argument - since their marriage concords with the necessity of desert survival. The same applies to polygyny it is as essential as running water to clan survival. Christian protestations are banal anachronistic bias from a culture that threatens life on this planet.

The Riz said...

Actually, Christians (even Modern, Post-Enlightenment, Humanist Christians) thought nothing was wrong with it until around the 1900s (Post-Modernism kicks in) as is evidenced by the records of the Age of Consent Laws as recorded from 1880 by research from George Mason University (here's looking at you Delaware).

Seems either:
1) Christian scholarship totally screwed up for about 19 centuries on that one - for the record, I think Aquinas could put all the bishops and pastors of today in his pocket.
2) Islamic practice totally would not have been alien to a Europe and America that was morally superior than they are today (unless pornography and gay marriage were ubiquitous) - as he says, nobody says a word until Margoliouth. Sorry if this bursts anyone's bubble, but the universal claims of moral legitimacy did not have to wait until Post-Modernism came on the scene. If certain modern societies do not want to allow it, Islam is fine with that, if other 'peasant' societies want to allow it, Islam is fine with that too.
3) You need to revisit your assumptions.

If one wants to (without hypocrisy) apply this accusation (child-rapist, pedophile, enabler) against their own ancestors (prior to Post-modernism in the 1900s), feel welcome to do so. Beware you are opening yourself to being charged with calumny by the same people who birthed you on the Day of Judgement.


Hadrian said...

"Actually, Christians (even Modern, Post-Enlightenment, Humanist Christians) thought nothing was wrong with it until around the 1900s (Post-Modernism kicks in)"

Sounds like a 'Tu quoque fallacy' coming in.

We now know better and that the overwhelming majority of 9 year olds (throughout history) are incapable of providing valid consent to school trips, let alone to sex and marriage to a 50 year old polygamist, as well as child marriage not being beneficial in regards to a child's welfare. (I'm sure you wouldn't want your 9 year old daughters life to be ruined with a child marriage to a 50 year old polygamist)

This is why we have numerous child welfare charities and organizations working towards limiting and prohibiting child marriage (a common practice in numerous Muslim majority states) and the detrimental effects it can have upon children, despite opposition from some Muslims due to such Muslims viewing a limitation/prohibition of child marriage to be in conflict with Muhammad's example and Islamic scripture.

"If one wants to (without hypocrisy) apply this accusation (child-rapist, pedophile, enabler) against their own ancestors (prior to Post-modernism in the 1900s), feel welcome to do so..."

Such accusations are leveled at Muhammad and not on my and many others ancestors, due to the former being recommended and viewed by a large part of the human population (Muslims) as an exemplary role model for all humanity.

This is contentious,given some of practices Muhammad took part in, viewed to be repulsive and reprehensible by others, such as this issue of Muhammad's child marriage.

If my and others ancestors partook in child marriage and then claimed to be or were viewed by others, as the "perfect, timeless and moral" example for all humanity, then I wouldn't hesitate to express my opposition to that statement and proceed to criticism of that individual.

Ash said...

Prophet Muhammad's first wife was 15 years his senior and twice widowed with previous children. With her, Khadija, he had a 25 year monogamous relationship, an anachronism of its time. After her death when he began practicing polygamy, most of his wives were divorced or widowed. At least one was post menopausal. Yet, we pick out the one young girl and decide that SHE is what defines his preference. When even SHE, Aisha, was jealous over how much he still loved his dead wife Khadija. The claim here is that Muslims believe that Prophet represented ideal of all time. Well, if your issue rests on what Muslims claim, they also claim his marriages after Khadija were strategic, political alliances, they established age limits from puberty to post menopause, and that Aisha was an outlier in his wife portfolio because her young age of knowing him meant she could relate her knowledge and scholarship on Islam for decades after the Prophet`s death, when Muslims struggled to record the Prophet`s legacy.