In western secular societies, marriages of young girls are often frowned upon. Because, they argue, she has not experienced the world yet, which includes losing her virginity. Hence, the absurd ‘logic’ is, she should live like a married woman before getting married! Whilst being critical of young girls becoming a bride, society turns a blind eye to girls as young as 12 or earlier becoming sexually active; on the contrary encouraged by the gutter Tabloids cover such stories with an underlying tone of approval and titillation, enforcing the notion of sexual freedom without responsibility. This contradictory mindset is partially responsible for viewing the marriage of young Ayesha as ‘immoral’, because according to their ‘wisdom,’ she did not chose the ‘moral’ route of gaining experience first! How ironic.
In recent times, the issue of Ayesha’s age has been exploited in a vile manner, and some may argue this is natural in the hostile Islamophobic climate of post 9/11. On the point of her age, the question is how accurate is the information. That depends on how society values the need to record such information accurately and preserve them. What is certain is that Ayesha was the only virgin wife of the Prophet (saw), and the youngest bride, others were considerably older; therefore, the nasty allegation of Pedophilia is built on the lone example, conveniently ignoring the other contradictory examples.
Ayesha’s age is recorded in the reported Hadiths, and this is not definite, because of other contradictory evidences. It is plausible as recording such information diligently was not customary for the society, unlike the world that we live in today. Even our grandparents do not know the exact dates of births and deaths of the various members of the family, other than in relation to certain key events. The issue of ascertaining her age is analyzed by several distinguished authors, (the articles can be found on the website: http://www.radicalviews.org/index.php/civilisation/islamophobia/marriage-of-ayesha). There is consensus that she was definitely older than 12, most likely between 16 and 18.
Here we continue to examine the merit of the nasty allegation of Pedophilia, on the assumption that she was nine-years-old at the time of her marriage. This type of allegation forms part of the catalogue of abuse hurled against the Prophet of Islam by the Islamophobic brigade; they are usually associated with the far-right, and many factions receive substantial support from the Zionist camp behind the scene.
Any impartial observer can distinguish between crass insults, and scholarly criticisms of Islam. Insults are self-evident, conveyed using pejorative terms that are intended to denigrate and mock. Such crude language is inappropriate for the mainstream media and the government, hence, they disseminate the ideas using refined language, present it as scholarly opinions by citing selected academics. However, even a cursory investigation reveals that these so-called scholarly ‘opinions’ are primarily based on the works of other hostile critics of Islam, whilst opinions of the proponents, or even those who are relatively neutral, are not given any serious consideration. It is a pity that scientifically advanced nations are behaving like some medieval state in dealing with Islam by disseminating insults in various ways, using the pretext of free speech.
They use specific examples to construct a general argument and simultaneously ignore how those arguments contradict other cases. For example, they describe the Prophet (SAW) of Islam as violent by citing cases where retribution was applied, concurrently ignoring the numerous occasions when He forgave offenders, and at times repeat offenders. Another well-known allegation is that the Prophet (SAW) was driven by lust for having many wives, which was also the case for many of the Biblical Prophets; Solomon (AS) for example had seven hundred wives and numerous concubines. Some of the wives of the Prophet were much older, and did not engage in conjugal relationship. If the Prophet was a lustful person, he would have sought the prettiest women during the prime of his youth, and certainly he would have fulfilled his desires when he became the most powerful ruler of Arabia. In fact, for the most of his early years, he was content with Khadija (RA) in a monogamous relationship, an older woman, a divorcee with children.
Similarly, they slander Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as a ‘pedophile’, because of the sole example of His marriage to young Ayesha (RA), arguing that she was a child by contemporary standards and the age difference between Prophet Muhammad (aged 54) and Ayesha (age 9) is inappropriate. The nasty critics of the Islamophobic camp can be classed into two categories, the secular fundamentalists, and the Bible bashing Christian-Zionists. The following questions posed answers the baseless allegation:
- Was Ayesha a pre-pubescent child?
- Was the marriage immoral due to the age gap?
- Empirical evidence: Where does pedophilia thrive?
Was Ayesha (RA) a pre-pubescent child?
The conventional definition of a Pedophile is: someone who REPEATEDLY engages in sexual act with prepubescent children. All the reports state that Ayesha (RA) went to live with the Prophet (SAW) as His wife, after she had reached puberty, and her parents fully consented to the marriage. From the definition of Islam, Ayesha was a woman. Islam makes puberty (physical capacity) and mental capacity the distinguishing factor between a responsible adult and a child.
However, the allegation persists, because they argue that Ayesha (RA) was still a child regardless of her attaining puberty. In that case, what is the universally accepted definition that distinguishes a child from an adult for all periods of time? Surely it cannot be something as arbitrary as 18 or 16, as is the case in many Western countries, and such distinction is meaningless when you consider that substantial number of people below those ages are sexually active. Even today the age of consent in many parts of the world is around 12-14. Age of consent in the USA was 10 hardly 100 years ago and 11 in the UK. The Christian Byzantine emperors and nobilities also had brides as young as 8 years old. With the passage of time, this has changed, which includes the Muslim societies.
Sexual intercourse with an underage female is usually described as statutory rape, not pedophilia. Therefore, at most one can only make parallels to statutory rape by applying western standards. In any case, is there a compelling argument to accept their assertions in blind-faith that Ayesha was a child by the standards and conventions of the society at that time?
Was the marriage immoral due to the age gap?
Another aspect subject to criticism is the age difference; an older man should not marry a much younger girl, even though such cases are rife today across all societies. How often we see beautiful young women marry much older wealthy men? If the age difference is an issue, then the critics should state the maximum and minimum age difference between the couples, and why that definition is universal for all times as one is judging case that is 1500 years old. Burden of proof is on the one who makes the allegations.
Earlier, selected cases from the Bible highlighted the Prophets of God married women considerably younger , and the Mary the mother of Jesus was also married around the age of 8. Even a child as young as 3 can be taken as a bride , according to Talmudic laws derived from the Old Testament.
As for the secular critics, they do not recognise heterosexual marriage as a sacred institution; they consider it as an outdated religious tradition, which is being replaced by cohabiting. In addition they are encouraging other forms of abnormal relationships including homosexuality, under the guise of sexual freedom. These are the people argue that the Prophet (SAW) has allegedly acted immorally for marrying Ayesha, while they issue moral ‘certificates’ for every form of sexual acts. The argument seems to be that it is wrong for a man to marry a much younger woman and everything else from sodomy, incest to bestiality is acceptable; is it morally consistent to permit such deviant activities while criticising the normal heterosexual marriage of Ayesha (RA) on the basis of an age gap? At least a heterosexual relationship conforms to nature and fulfills the role of reproduction.
If sexual freedom is the reason for permitting various types of sexual activities that are not considered the norm, then surely, by that freedom, there should be no objection if two individuals willingly enter into a marital contract, regardless of their age differences! Would it be perceived in the same light, if a sexually active 12 year old male wanted to marry a 60 year old woman willingly, exercising their freedoms?
Empirical evidence: where does Pedophilia thrive?
If there is any truth to the allegation of pedophilia being practiced by the Prophet or somehow endorsed by Islam, then it should be supported by empirical evidence to some degree; therefore, such activities should surface among Muslim communities, but the statistics supports this. In contrast, whenever media repots cases of Pedophilia or serial killers or sexual abuse of children, the culprits are pre-dominantly white male, this is reflected in the statistics; Jimmy Savile of the BBC was a prominent case in recent times that has sent shockwaves through the nation. If the secular critics were genuinely opposed to pedophiles as opposed to using this as a political tool to bash Islam, they would have focused on eradicating the practice in their own community first. A cursory search on the web will reveal a growing number of such sites are hosted in Western secular countries and it would be rare to find in Muslim countries.
The foul mouth Zionist-Christian preachers slander the Prophet of Islam, with venom and hate, while waving the flag of ‘love’! The number of cases of Christian priests abusing children in their care outweighs the number of cases found among the Muslim Imams. The truth is, no religion endorses this, and culprits will always exist everywhere. Before pointing the fingers at other, the Zionist-Christian preachers need to explain the various Biblical texts that seem to endorse relationship with a pre-pubescent child. Consider the following verse:
“Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” (Numbers 31:17-18)
The verse orders the killing of all males including children of any age and that is pretty gruesome. As for “kill every woman who has slept with a man” according to the scholars of the Jewish Talmud , this resulted in killing of every girl 3 years upward, ordered directly by Prophet Moses himself. The verse applied to women who were not virgins as well as those who had the capacity for committing sexual intercourse. The Rabbis elaborate this is 3 years upwards, as they explicitly state  numerous times in the Talmud: "A girl three years old may be betrothed through an act of sexual intercourse". At present times, a three-year old girl is definitely a pre-pubescent child, however maybe that was not the absolute case when the Rabbis issued the above verdict. Maybe such opinions derived from the Biblical text were incorrect in the first place but that is for the Christian theologians to elaborate upon.Yamin Zakaria (www.radicalviews.org) London, UK Originally published in 2006 www.radicalviews.org http://yaminzakaria.blogspot.com  http://www.answering-christianity.com/aisha.htm  http://www.answering-christianity.com/age3.htm