Islam: “Muhammad married Aisha when she was 6 and had sex with her when she was 9, but she didn’t say no, her parents said yes, and she remained happy, so what’s the problem?”, read a quote on a page run by atheists in Kenya on Twitter. As at the time I came across the tweet, I was with Abdi Razak, a colleague at work in a barbershop.
“Chief, ati Muhammad married a lady called Aisha when she was 6?”
“No! She was 9 by the time she was married,” he retorted.
“Why would God’s prophet marry a child?”
“I know all that is in your mind. Let alone bedroom matters, Aisha was married by Prophet Muhammad for a reason. The reason she was married was so that she could get an education and through her, all her age mates could get educated on the principles of Islam.”
She could as well have been taught the principles of Islam without being married, I thought to myself. For the avoidance of stirring religious emotions, I left it at that and decided to check it up on my own.
Many religious scholars do not dispute the fact that Aisha had a very important role in early Islamic history. She is portrayed as scholarly and inquisitive. She contributed to the spread of Muhammad’s message and served the Islamic community for 44 years after the death of Muhammad. She is also known to have narrated 2,210 hadiths (stories) not only about Muhammad’s private life but also issues revolving around inheritance, pilgrimage, and eschatology. She had incredible intellectual discernment and an excellent memory. She set a par of excellence as one of the top religious scholars of her time. According to Razak, all these, she couldn’t achieve unless she was married to the Prophet.
According to an article in Dar Al-Ifta Al-Missriyyah, the marriage of Prophet Muhammad to lady Aisha was based on a divine command as lad Aisha narrated that angel Gabriel came to Prophet Muhammad carrying a green silk cloth with her image on it and said, “this is your wife in this world and the hereafter” narrated by Tirmidhi.
I did not get any conclusive reason as to why she had to be married at 9 though.
Curiosity led me to Mary the mother of Jesus. Some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, she was 12 – 14 years old. According to ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12. In the year 2017, Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of pursuing a relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl at a time when he was 32 years old. Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler defended him vehemently by saying, “…take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus… There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
That there wasn’t an intellectual argument but an emotional one that would leave the judge demented. We live in a very different society from the one that existed in Galilee in the first century BC and, regardless of what people 2,000 years ago thought, in our society, it is completely unacceptable for a man in his early thirties to seek sexual relations with a fourteen-year-old.
The gospel books of the Bible however do not provide anything about the ages of Mary or Joseph at the time of Jesus’s birth or any other time. The entire of the New Testament does not hint anything on the same.
Most parents who were born between 1965 and 1980 were privy to early marriages. The moment a lady began her menses, she was ready for marriage and begin childbearing. The moment a young man of 13 years was able to hunt, he was considered with the ability to provide for a family. Today, according to UNICEF, 23% of Kenyan girls are married before their 18th birthday and 4% are married before the age of 15. Kenya has the 20th highest absolute number of child brides in the world. If you ask me, there is nothing more wrong than that. In 2020, aspects such as education and financial stability are mandatory requirements before delving into marriages. The alleviation of poverty levels is also more reasons for ladies to get married after at least having a bachelor’s degree. Adolescent pregnancies should be unheard of. Traditions upholding early marriages are as well obsolete.
It is crucial we normalize marrying and getting married at the right and opportune age.