Christianity

Debating The Marriage Of ‘Aisha (Article III): The Christian Polemicist Standard

Dr. Tabasum Hussain                                                                                                        

Muslim Debate Initiative, Canada

 

Introduction

Much of the criticism against the marriage of young ‘Aisha has been spearheaded by Christian polemicists, and two of the main points of criticism are:

  • ‘Aisha was too young for marriage at age six.
  • ‘Aisha was prepubescent, and too young to consummate marriage at age nine.

While the criticism itself becomes the focus of attention, the standards defining the measuring stick used against the marriage of young ‘Aisha are often overlooked.  In reference to the Prophet Muhammad and his marriage with young ‘Aisha, a Christian polemicist under the alias Silas writes, “I thank God that our standards are better than his and those of Islam when it comes to protecting children”.[1]  What exactly are the standards of Christian polemicists like Silas against which the marriage of young ‘Aisha’ allegedly fails?  Undoubtedly, the standards that Silas is referring to as a Christian polemicist are the Judeo-Christian tradition and scripture.  If ‘Aisha was too young for marriage at age six and consummation of marriage at age nine according to the standards of a Christian polemicist, then it follows that these standards need to be examined more closely.  Is there a Judeo-Christian reference point or standard that gives the Christian polemicist a higher moral ground that defines a “right age” for marriage and consummation of marriage or sex for a girl?

Christian polemicist Sam Shamoun asserts Christians certainly looked down upon marriages with immature girls, and supports this claim by quoting an early church father, Clement of Alexandria:

It is not only fornication, but also the giving in marriage prematurely, that is called fornication; when, so to speak, one not of ripe age is given to a husband, either of her own accord or by her parents. [Emphasis added] [2]

Notably, this early church father was objecting to the girl being given prematurely to her husband before she is of ripe age; there was no objection to a young girl having a husband before she was of ripe age, or being given to her husband once she was of ripe age.  Evidently, this early church father would not have objected to ‘Aisha having a husband at age six, or being given to her husband three years later at age nine when she was considered to be of ripe age in accordance with what was acceptable and in line with the social norms and customs of the time.  Claims that marriage was consummated with young ‘Aisha while she was still prepubescent will be addressed in a later article in this series.

While Sam Shamoun asserts that Christians looked down upon marriages with immature girls, fellow Christian polemicist David Wood acknowledges that such marriages may have been common during Biblical times, however he adds that this would have been a cultural phenomenon, he writes:

…Muslim apologists often claim that marriage to young girls was common in biblical times. This may be correct, but it is because these marriages were part of the culture, not because God endorsed them.[Emphasis added] [3]

Notably, it is acknowledged that marriages of girls as young as ‘Aisha were culturally acceptable during Biblical times; the Muslim response that such marriages were culturally and socially acceptable in the pre-modern era regardless of religious or geographical boundaries is often dismissed as a weak defence of a marriage that should be condemned irrespective of time.  The statement that such marriages were not endorsed by God further points to claims by Christian polemicists that Islam supports and promotes consummation of marriage with prepubescent children, as allegedly alluded  to in certain verses in the Qur’an, and by way of example via the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage with young ‘Aisha.   Before the latter claims against Islam are addressed in this series, it is important to first ascertain what exactly “God endorsed” according to Christian polemicists who now claim the higher moral ground and condemn the Prophet Muhammad for his marriage with young ‘Aisha.

Age and puberty are the focus of criticism and polemics surrounding the marriage of young ‘Aisha.  The validity or credibility of arguments presented by Christian polemicists in an effort to condemn the marriage and ultimately demonise the Prophet Muhammad heavily depends on how the terms “puberty”, “child”, and “age” are applied or understood through a Judeo-Christian lens (and through a secular and an Islamic lens, as will be examined later in this series) in context of marriage and sex.  The current article focuses on Judeo-Christian scripture with respect to what a Christian polemicist would consider a morally acceptable age for marriage and/or sex.

 

What did God endorse according to Judeo-Christian scripture and tradition?

Ezekiel 16:4-14 and sexual maturity 

The following commentary on Biblical law and ethics states:

Although the Old Testament nowhere explicitly states the typical ages for marriage, the mention of the age for (sexual) love’ in Ezek. 16:8 may suggest that women generally married soon after puberty.[Emphasis added] [4]

Consummation of marriage or sexual maturity has traditionally coincided with a child attaining puberty; the definition and understanding of what constitutes puberty in this respect has varied across cultures.  In his book Jesus the Jew, Geza Vermes notes that during the time of Jesus it was not unusual for prepubescent girls to be married, followed by a waiting period, and the marriage would generally be consummated a month after menarche (age of first menstruation).[5]  Has menarche provided the defining point for puberty, demarcating the “right time” for sex or consummation of marriage according to Judeo-Christian tradition?

Ezekiel 16:4-14 states:

You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare. Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. [Emphasis added]

When Islam is condemned or criticised for allegedly permitting or establishing the practice of sex with prepubescent children, much emphasis is placed on menarche (first menstruation) as a defining point for puberty.[6]  According to the verses quoted from Ezekiel 16, puberty and sexual maturity in girls is defined on the basis of two signs of physical development; development of breasts (thelarche) and growth of pubic hair (pubarche); menarche or menstruation does not warrant mention. Christian polemicist Sam Shamoun confirms and supports the interpretation that a girl is deemed physically and sexually mature on the basis of two physical signs of development defining puberty, he writes:

God mentions that the young babe attained the age for lovemaking after her breasts had formed and her pubic hairs had grown, clear signs of puberty [Emphasis added][7]

In short, in accordance with Ezekiel 16:4-14 a girl is ready for “lovemaking” on the basis of only two clear signs of puberty; pubic hair growth and breast development, and menarche or menstruation is not required as a sign of puberty that defines sexual maturity.  Notably, Sam Shamoun confirms his support for the view that Ezekiel 16:4-14 defines a girl’s sexual maturity without a need for manifestation of menstruation as a sign of puberty by quoting from both Jewish and Christian sources:

Ezek. 16.7 names the development of the breasts and the growth of pubic hair as signs of puberty (when the girl became eligible for marriage).[8]

Developed breasts and appearance of pubic hair were signs of puberty and signalled the woman’s physical preparedness for marriage (see Ezek 16.7).[9]

The creative command turned into fact, and the baby grew into adolescence and sexual maturity, marked by breasts and pubic hair [emphasis added] [10]

After cross-referencing Sam Shamoun’s article in an effort to present the parable in Ezekiel 16 as a credible Christian reference point for a girl’s sexual maturity, the Christian polemicist under the alias Silas then asserts:

…the average time for a girl to become pregnant following menarche is one to two years. Clearly then, girls are not “mature” following their menarche.  There are no biological grounds to marry and engage post-menarcheal girls in sexual activity; they cannot conceive children yet. Puberty does not equal maturity, and therefore this misconception should not lead to marriage. [Emphasis added] [11]

While subscribing to Biblical guidelines permitting sexual intercourse with a girl who has not yet menstruated, Silas then argues that a girl cannot be considered sexually or physically mature for up to two years even after menstruating.  Silas further adds that puberty does not define maturity in a girl, an opinion that clearly runs contrary to what God outlines in the parable of Ezekiel 16, the same parable that defines sexual maturity and puberty in a girl in absence of menstruation.  Condemning the Prophet Muhammad for allegedly consummating marriage with young ‘Aisha prior to her first menstruation, Silas states:

He had intercourse with her when she was 9 prior to her first menses. Islam establishes this practice.  Since girls at that age are not fully mature either physically, emotionally, or psychologically, we know it is wrong for a man, regardless of his age, to engage a child in sexual relations. [Emphasis added] [12]

While the Islamic stance on the issue will be examined in a later article in this series, Biblical guidelines do clearly establish the practice of sex with a girl prior to her first menses according to the parable in Ezekiel 16 that clearly outlines two physical signs defining puberty and sexual maturity in a girl, without mention of menstruation.  If a girl at age nine who has not yet menstruated is still a child according to Christian polemicist under the alias of Silas, then Ezekiel 16:4-14 clearly permits a man regardless of his age, to engage a child in sexual relations.

1 Corinthians 7:36 and marriageable age

Does the Christian polemicist have a Biblical reference point outlining a specific age to define the “right time” for marriage or sex?  Christian polemicist Sam Shamoun references 1 Corinthians 7:36 in the New Testament to suggest age guidelines for marriage at some point after puberty as implied by the word hyperakmos in this Biblical passage [13]:

John Calvin’s Commentary on  the Bible: 

By the flower of her age he means the marriageable age. This lawyers define to be from twelve to twenty years of age. [emphasis added]

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

The Jews say that the time of marriage is from 16 or 17 to 20; while some of the Gentiles specify from 30 to 35. [emphasis added]

John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible:

If she pass the flower of her age; that is, one that is arrived to years of maturity, is ripe for marriage, and is what the Jewish doctors call בגרת; who, according to them, was one of twelve years and a half old, at which age virgins were judged fit to marry: hence that saying of theirs. [emphasis added]

The difference in suggested age guidelines between commentaries presented for 1 Corinthians 7:36 clearly lends support to the fact that there is no specific agreed upon Judeo-Christian scripture-based numerical age to demarcate when a girl passes “the flower of her age” and would then be considered sexually mature and ready for marriage.  In fact, Professor of Religious Studies and specialist in New Testament and Christian Origins, Dale Martin comments:

the meaning of hyperkamos is unclear, most commentators taking it to refer to chronological age (someone who is past his or her prime) or to sexual passion (someone who is overly passionate)…[14]

Evangelical New Testament scholar, Professor Bruce William Winter writes:

 …in the semantic field of sexuality, it is concluded that neither “past childbearing age nor puberty is the appropriate translation… hyperakmos or huperakmos in 1 Corinthians 7:36 may function in the role of a synonym for ‘sexual necessity’.[15]

A “wife” in accordance with Proverbs 31:1-31

Some Christians insist that a girl cannot be considered ready for marriage if she is not able to fulfill the criteria as outlined for a wife in Proverbs 31:1-31.  At best, Proverbs 31 simply points to the duties a woman should strive to fulfill to become the ideal Christian wife, rather than forbidding marriage or intercourse until she fulfills what has been outlined.  Would a woman still be considered a wife if she fails to perfectly fulfill everything outlined in Proverbs 31?  If the answer is yes, then it follows that a girl can still become a wife even if she fails to achieve perfection as the ideal Christian wife according to the criteria outlined in Proverbs 31.

large_why-you-should-teach-your-children-to-be-christian-rua2jxeo

A girl is expected to be capable of sexual intercourse as soon as she has developed breasts and grown pubic hair according to the parable outlined in Ezekiel 16:4-14; there is no disclaimer stating that a girl cannot be considered “ready for lovemaking” on manifestation of pubarche and thelarche unless she can fulfill her role as a perfect wife in accordance with Proverbs 31.

The Mishnah and marriage

 Christian polemicist Sam Shamoun also turns to the Mishnah as a credible source from which to derive a minimum numerical age reference point for a girl’s sexual maturity; the minimum age guideline for marriage outlined as twelve years and six months.[16]  However, marriages were not always restricted to or dependent on the age of consent or the law of the land.  In reference to Jewish women and child marriages in the sixteenth century across parts of the Levant, Ruth Lamdan writes

The numerous references to child marriage in the 16th- century Responsa literature and other sources, shows that child marriage was so common, it was virtually the norm [emphasis mine].  In this context, it is important to remember that in halakha, the term ‘minor’ refers to a girl under twelve years and a day [emphasis mine]. A girl aged twelve and a half was already considered an adult in all respects. [emphasis added] [17]

Notably, Maimonides’ Mishnah Torah outlines permissibility for betrothal by an act of intercourse with a girl who is three years and one day old with the consent of her father.[18]  The Mishnah Torah has been described as a standard against which other later codifications were often measured, exceptional for its logical construction and extraordinary learning, and is still considered to be one of the chief authoritative codifications of Jewish law and ethics.[19]   A commentary on Mishnaic law states:


… in the matter of the legal status of children, female and male. The girl three years and one day old is deemed capable of sexual relations [emphasis added]If the girl is less than three years and one day old, we do not regard the sexual relationship as of legal consequence. [emphasis added] [20]

Ultimately, according to Jewish tradition, three years and one day would demarcate a minimum numerical age acceptable for sex for a girl, and it would be deemed preferable, yet not mandatory, to wait until a girl was twelve years of age.  According to the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament:

Girls could in fact already be given in marriage long before actual physical maturity, perhaps even as young as five years old (cf. Lev. 27:5), and it did happen that marriages were already consummated with prepubescent girls. [Emphasis added] [21]

In addition to the Mishnah, Sam Shamoun references The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible in volume 2, page 1407, under “Marriage”, as subsequently setting the minimum age for marriage at twelve years for a girl.[22]  Historian John Coyle O`Dea writes that according to one Christian scholar:

If it could be satisfactorily proved that puberty . . . was actually attained by the boy before the completion of his fourteenth year, or by the girl before the completion of her twelfth year, then . . . the party could enter upon a valid marriage.” [23]

In his book Papal Enforcement of Some Medieval Marriage, Charles Smith notes that sexual intercourse below the age of discretion (seven) was not considered a crime, but merely “invalid”, and subsequently inconsequential as under Jewish law.[24]

Romans 13:1-3 and secular law

In absence of any specific God-endorsed or scriptural numerical age for sex or consummation of marriage, Christian polemicists may simply comply with, and accept the “age of consent” under secular law or the law of the land, as some Christians do, by turning to Romans 13:1-3 as the Biblical reference point[25][26][27]:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. [emphasis added]  

In view of living in any given country in the present day context where the age of consent is 16 or above, this particular Biblical injunction may be a convenient claim to having the higher moral ground.  However, would the same Christians turn to the same passage if the age of consent was ever under 16?  According to Christian canon law, a minor was once considered responsible, with an ability to reason at age seven.[28]  It was based on the age of discretion as outlined in Christian canon law that in 1886 the age of consent was set at seven years in Delaware, U.S.A.[29]  Essentially, for Christians subscribing to Romans 13:1-3, the age of consent as set at seven years would have been deemed morally acceptable because Christians would be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

In today’s context the age of consent varies from one country to the next.  Under secular law, the ages of consent in Chile and Spain are twelve and thirteen respectively (these may be subject to change); for Christians living in these countries and subscribing to Romans 13:1-3, this would be acceptable.[30][31]  However, ages of consent set at twelve or thirteen would be considered shocking and abusive by Christians subscribing to the same Romans 13:1-3 living under the law of most other secular nations worldwide where the legal age of consent may range between 16 to 21.  While the Christian polemicist under the alias Silas asserts that Muslims subscribe to a religion that allows for a child to be used for sex by their faith, a Christian polemicist subscribing to the Mishnaic age guideline of twelve years and six days would inevitably invite criticism and condemnation for allowing a “child” to be used for sex by their faith across nations where the legal age of consent may range between 16 to 21.

Questioning the age gap between ‘Aisha and Muhammad

As already discussed, irrespective of age discrepancy, in 1396 C.E. King Charles IV of France arranged and contracted the marriage between his 7 year old daughter Isabel and 29 year old King Richard II in the hope of securing good relations between France and England to bring an end to the Hundred Years War.[32]  The union was facilitated, accepted, and celebrated by church authorities and the general public across England and France, and young Isabel was known to have developed a love and respect towards her husband, and vice versa.   On the age discrepancy between marriage partners, in 1526, the Dutch scholar Erasmus stated:

It is no uncommon case, especially in France, for a girl of scarce ten years to be married and a mother next year… It seems portentous, and yet we sometimes see it, especially in Britain and Italy, that a tender child is married to a septuagenarian [ie. a man in his seventies]… Yet Church laws do not rescind such nuptials [emphasis added]… [33]

Since such marriages were not in conflict with what was deemed permissible by God according to the Bible, Church laws did not rescind such nuptials. A Christian polemicist would not argue that God was younger than 54 years old in the parable outlined in Ezekiel 16:4-14 that permits sexual engagement with a girl on manifestation of two physical signs of development.  In short, there is nothing in Judeo-Christian scripture that provides the basis for condemning the age gap between the Prophet Muhammad and young ‘Aisha.  Historian John Coyle O’Dea writes:

The matching of a man with a woman young enough to be his daughter or even granddaughter was generally accepted…  An honest examination of the historical record indicates that Biblical law and the Judeo-Christian tradition, far from condemning pedophilia, often condoned sexual relations between adults and children.  The contemporary social and legal taboo against sex with children developed only gradually over the centuries, and did not become firmly established until the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries.[34]

Undoubtedly, our Christian friends would contest the claim that Biblical law and Judeo-Christian tradition permit pedophilia.  However, this historian reasons that such marriages were socially and legally accepted up until the late nineteenth century and this would inevitably mean that such marriages would not have been viewed as acts of pedophilia. In summary:

  • There is nothing in Judeo-Christian tradition or scripture that states that a girl who is prepubescent cannot marry or engage in sexual intercourse unless she has menstruated.
  • There is no Biblical reference point that outlines a specific age deemed “the age” for puberty, marriage, or consummation of marriage.
  • There is no Biblical reference that stipulates a maximum or minimum age gap between spouses.

Christian polemicist, Sam Shamoun quotes a Muslim’s expression of discomfort when confronted with a question often posed to Muslims in relation to the marriage of young ‘Aisha:

A Christian friend asked me once, “Will you marry your seven year old daughter to a fifty year old man?” I kept my silence. He continued, “If you would not, how can you approve the marriage of an innocent seven year old, Ayesha, with your Prophet?” I told him, “I don’t have an answer to your question at this time.”[35]

A similar question posed to Christian polemicists demands a response in light of what God endorses according to the Bible.  Would a Christian marry his seven year old girl to a fifty year old man?  If not, how can God according to the Bible condone or approve of such a marriage?  According to the Bible, a girl is deemed sexually capable and mature once she develops breasts and grows pubic hair, and for this, no specific age has been outlined.  Like Muslims, a Christian polemicist may reject such a proposal based on personal choice to not engage in something that is challenged by a present day shift in social norms.  If something is permissible according to scripture this does not necessarily mean that it becomes a command, especially in a time period or social setting where it no longer serves to benefit a young girl.  However, the same Christian polemicist could not appeal to a higher moral or scriptural basis to reject or condemn such a union.

 

The status of a Prophet versus what God endorsed

The marriage of young ‘Aisha has been used by Christian polemicists to support the assertion that Muhammad could not be a Prophet of God.  In reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage with young ‘Aisha, Christian polemicist Sam Shamoun writes:

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.[36]

If theists expect that God would inspire His Prophets to set a higher ethical code to emulate, then depiction of Biblical Prophets in the Old Testament fails to live up to this Christian polemicist’s expectation.  According to the Biblical narrative, Lot engaged in sexual intercourse with his daughters under the influence of alcohol, a despicable act of incest attributed to the Prophet Lot that was never condemned by God in the Old Testament.[37]  According to the same Biblical passages, Lot’s act of incest was justified by his daughters as a means to continue their father’s lineage.  Lot’s act of incest would at the very least qualify for condemnation by God rather than an accepted means of continuing the Prophet Lot’s lineage.  Again, Lot was not stripped of his status as a Prophet of God.  When according to the Bible the Prophet David planned for Uriah the Hittite to be killed in battle so that he could acquire his wife, God rebuked him yet did not strip him of honour and recognition as Prophet of God.[38]  Despite the Prophets of the Old Testament being depicted in a negative light, God reaffirms their raised status when addressing Jesus in New Testament passage in Matthew 5:11-12:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.[39]

Whatever it is that a Christian polemicist insists a theist expects from a Prophet of God, the above-mentioned Biblical passage further confirms that a man’s credibility and reputation as a Prophet of God did not rely on him conforming to the social or cultural demands of the day, and in turn, was not dependent on the acceptance or rejection of the people he was assigned to by God.  Ultimately, it is important to note that a Christian polemicist has no Biblical reference point to support the claim that the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage with young ‘Aisha failed to comply with God’s moral standard, or that his status as a Prophet could be brought into question on the basis of this marriage.

In his book, A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, Rabbi Isaac Klein writes:

Child marriages were very common in ancient days.  Since marriages were arranged by parents and the consent of parties was not necessary, age was not the factor in coming to an agreement. The physical factor related only to the consummation of the marriage.[40]

It was not unusual or shocking for prepubescent girls to be married during the time of Jesus, and these marriages would generally be followed by a waiting period to allow for the girl to reach an age of maturity before the marriage was consummated.[41]   In light of ancient Jewish marriage customs that allowed for prepubescent girls to be married during Jesus’ lifetime, there is nothing in Judeo-Christian tradition or scripture that points to Jesus objecting to such marriages.  Undoubtedly, if an individual remained silent in view of what a Christian polemicist would now consider open sexual abuse of a child, then it would be reasonable to assume that the same individual would share the burden of blame by failing to intervene, failing to raise an objection, or even failing to report the abuse.  The Christian polemicist under the alias Silas comments [42]:

Muhammad’s god instructed him on what to eat, what to wear, even how to wipe himself! Wouldn’t this same god instruct Muhammad about the sexual abuse of children?

Was Jesus’ lack of condemnation or silence on the matter of child marriages indicative of God’s failure to instruct Jesus about marriages of prepubescent girls being comparable or equivalent to the sexual abuse of children?  If Christian polemicists regard the marriage of young ‘Aisha to be morally or socially unacceptable irrespective of historical context, then they may be forced to consider the following options with respect to Jesus’ failure to do away with, or at least condemn Jewish marriage customs that allowed for prepubescent girls to be married:

  • To believe that God, or the triune hypostatic union of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, failed to recognise, identify, or address the ancient Jewish custom of marrying prepubescent girls as the sexual abuse of children.

 

  • To believe that Jesus lacked integrity or concern to speak out against, or to put an end to the custom of child marriages. Christian polemicists who now consider the marriage of young ‘Aisha to be morally reprehensible irrespective of social norms of any time period would inadvertently consider themselves morally elevated above Jesus by now taking the initiative to speak out against such marriages.

 

  • To take the Muslim position, that the custom of marrying prepubescent girls followed by a waiting period before consummation, did not warrant criticism or condemnation by God as sinful or immoral.

 

Concluding comments

Christian polemicist David Wood asserts that Muslims “rely heavily” on the tu quoque fallacy as means of addressing condemnation of the marriage of young ‘Aisha, explaining that tu quoque “is a type of fallacy that attempts to ignore a criticism because of some hypocrisy found in the critic.”[43]

As this series of articles unfolds it will become clear that the criticism surrounding the marriage of ‘Aisha is far from ignored, at the same time the hypocrisy and misinformation underlying the condemnation of the marriage of young ‘Aisha is exposed, and the credibility or validity of the criticism is brought into question.  The Bible does not shy away from exposing and condemning hypocrisy and hypocrites:

How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.[44]

The Christian polemicist under the alias Silas writes, “If Muhammad were a true prophet, why are the world’s standards better than his?” [45]  What are the world’s standards against which the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad with young ‘Aisha over 1400 years ago allegedly fails?  The next article in this series examines the marriage in light of the concept of age of consent, and the development and understanding of the terms “child” and “puberty”.

N.B. These articles are a detailed follow-up to a video lecture presented by Dr. Tabasum Hussain (‘The Marriage of Young Aisha: A Muslim Response’, Dr. Tabasum Hussain [MDI Canada])

Previous articles in this series (in order):

Debating The Marriage Of ‘Aisha: Introduction & Overview

Debating The Marriage Of ‘Aisha (Article II): Historical Context

[Disclaimer: The benedictions “peace and blessings be upon him” after the name of Prophet Muhammad, “peace be upon him” after the names of other respected Prophets of God (ie, Jesus, David, Lot), and “may Allah be pleased with her” after the name of ‘Aisha, or “may Allah be pleased with him” after respected family members and Companions of the Prophet Muhammad have been omitted for the sake of continuity, and is left to the discretion of the Muslim reader to observe.]

 

[1] www.answering-islam.org/Silas/childbrides.htm

[2] www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/prepubescent2.htm

[3] www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Wood/pedophile.htm

[4] Hugenberger, G.P. Marriage as a Covenant: Biblical Law and Ethics as Developed from Malachi p.315

[5] Vermes, Geza (1973) Jesus The Jew William Collins sons and Co Ltd, p.219-222

[6] See [1]

[7] www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/marriage_age.htm

[8] Keel, O. (1986) The Song of Songs: A Continental Commentary p.278

[9] Bergant, D., Cotter, D.W. (2001) Berit Olam Studies: In Hebrew Narrative & Poetry The Song of Songs p.100

[10] Allen, L.C. (1994) Word Biblical Commentary: Ezekiel 1-19  Word Book Publishers, Dallas TX  p. 237

[11] See [1]

[12] Ibid

[13] See [7]

[14] Martin, D. B. (1995) The Corinthian Body Yale University p.219

[15] Winter, B. W. (1998) Puberty Or Passion? The Referrent of ΥΠΕΡΑΚΜΟΣ In 1 Corinthians 7:36. Tyndale Bulletin 49.1 71-89.

[16] See [7]

[17] Lamdān R. A Separate People: Jewish Women in Palestine, Syria, and Egypt in the Sixteenth Century p.47

[18] Twersky, Isidore. (1980) Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah), Yale Judaica Series, vol. XII (New Haven and London: Yale University Press). passim, and especially Chapter VII, “Epilogue,” pp. 515–538

[19] Neusner, Jacob. A History of the Mishnaic Law of Purities. Niddah p. 83

[20] Maimonides, M. (1972) Book of Women: Code of Maimonides Book IV. Transl. I. Klein. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.

[21] Botterweck G. J., Ringgren, H., Fabry, H-J. (1997) Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament Volume 8 p.144 – 145

[22] See [7]

[23] O’Dea, J. C. (1944) The Matrimonial Impediment of Nonage: An Historical Synopsis and Commentary. The Catholic University of America Press.

[24] Charles Edward Smith, Papal Enforcement of Some Medieval Marriage Laws (Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1940), 142-44.

[25] Romans 13:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

[26] www.growingupgirls.info/Answers2009/02-26n.html#

[27] www.theseason.org/romans/romans13htm

[28] Title VI. Physical and Juridic Pesons (Cann. 96 – 123) Chapter I. The Canonical Condition of Physical Persons

[29] David J. Pivar, D.J. (1973) Purity Crusade: Sexual Morality and Social Control, 1868-1900 Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p.141-43.

[30] http://www.ageofconsent.com/ageofconsent.htm

[31] http://www.avert.org/age-of-consent.htm

[32] Fabyan, Robert (d.1513) Marriage of Richard II. and Isabel of France Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.  Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century.

[33] Coulton G.G. (1944) Medieval Panorama New York: MacMillan, p.639

[34] See [23]

[35] See [7]

[36] See [7]

[37] Genesis 19:30-38

[38] 1Kings 15:5

[39] Matthew 5:11-12 New International Version

[40] Klein, Isaac. A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice p.396

[41] See [5]

[42] See [1]

[43] See [3]

[44] Luke 6:42 New International Version (NIV)

[45] See [1]

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  1. 1.1. Prophet Jacob’s daughter, Dinah was given away in marriage when she was below the age of 9-years-old to Shechem. The marriage didn’t last long as Dinah’s brothers murdered members of Shechem’s family due to Shechem’s act before the marriage: “Bible: How Old Was Dinah When She Was Married To Shechem?”

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/08/02/bible-how-old-was-dinah-when-she-was-married-to-shechem/

    1.2. There is also the case wherein King David in his old age wasn’t getting warm in his bed. His nurses (doctors) proposed to bring a young girl to warm him up. To bring him back to his youthful strength. This is while King David was 70-years-old, the girl Abishag was no older than 12-years-old when she was married off to him: “King David’s Marriage To 12 Year Old Abishag – Bible“. Another two piece articles have been written about this incident, please see here, and here.

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/09/17/king-davids-marriage-to-12-year-old-abishag-bible/

    Part 2,
    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/09/21/exploring-1-kings-14-knew-her-not-king-davids-12-year-old-bride/

    Part 3,
    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/09/25/bible-evidence-that-david-married-12-year-old-abishag/

    1.3. The most common marriage that is widely known among scholars is that of Isaac and Rebecca. Some very early scholars have pointed out that she was no older than 3-years-old when she was married off to Isaac. However, this number is not in accord with the Biblical text. I wrote a very detailed article on this showing that Rebecca was anything below the age of 9, but not three. The Biblical text support the evidence provided that Isaac was 40-years-old when he married 8-year-old Rebecca: “The Age Of Rebecca When She Married Isaac – Biblical Perspective“. Here is another piece on Rebecca and Isaac’s marriage.

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/10/26/the-age-of-rebecca-when-she-married-isaac-biblical-perceptive/

    Part 2,

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/11/14/was-rebekah-3-10-years-old-when-married-off-to-isaac/

    1.4. The apocryphal writings report that Mary was 12-years-old when she was given away in marriage to 80-year-old (other reports say 90-year-old) Joseph the carpenter. Some modern Christians uncomfortable about this account have dismissed it. Mary being married off at 12-years-old is not just reported in apocryphal writings, this is well attested also by some of the earliest Church fathers: “Mary the wife of Joseph The carpenter”.

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2013/09/30/marriage-of-mary-to-joseph-the-carpenter/

    1.5. There is also the case with Moses and his men marrying prepubescent girls, this is related in the Biblical verse, Numbers 31:18.

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/08/07/a-detailed-historical-examination-of-numbers-3118/

    1.6. Away from the Bible, just over 100 years ago, the age of consent in America and Europe was 10, and in the State of Delaware it was as low as 7: “Age of Consent in European and American History“. The New York Times, in 1895 mentions the age of consent laws in a publication: “The Age Of Consent Laws In America, 1800s“.

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2013/09/09/age-of-consent-in-european-american-history/

    Part 2,

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/09/13/the-age-of-consent-laws-in-america-1800s/

    More info here,

    https://discover-the-truth.com/2017/02/28/5-facts-about-aisha-and-muhammeds-marriage/

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