Imran Ali has tried to defend what is arguably one of the worst facts of the Islamic religion: the consensus among most muslims is that the prophet Mohammed, at age 53, had sex with 9 years old Aisha bint Abi Bakr. There is no reason to doubt this, so trying to defend an immoral act as vile as child rape is rather stupid, perhaps as stupid as William Lane Craig’s completely misguided attempt at defending the Israelite massacre of the Canaanites as narrated in the Bible. Craig’s disgusting defense of genocide now has a counterpart on the Islamic side.
Somewhat predictably, in Resolving Misconceptions Regarding A’isha Bint Abi Bakr’s Age at Marriage, Imran doesn’t employ subtle sophistry. He merely tries to shift blame, misdirect and resort to equivocation:
The issue of A’isha Bint Abi-Bakr, Prophet Muhammad’s youngest wife, has arisen purely due to the fact that she happened to be much younger than him unlike his other wives most of whom were even older than him
No. The issue is not the age difference. The issue is that she was a child when she got married (at age 6) and only 9 years old when Mohammed forced her to have sex with him. No-one would have accused Mohammed of child rape had Aisha been 19 and he 73 (an even greater age difference).
There have been misconceptions and controversy regarding her exact age at the time of her marriage partly because we are dependent on reported information and even with accurate reporting, it is difficult to sustain 100% accuracy all the time regarding the exact time period, and partly because this issue has been misappropriated by the enemies of Islam who have popularized the wrong accounts to defame the Messenger of God.
While it is difficult to establish 100% accuracy, here a mere 80% accuracy is sufficient. Yet, due to the numerous different sources that are in agreement, it is trivial to establish with grater than 90% accuracy that Aisha was 9, at most 10 years old when Mohammed ‘consummated’ his marriage to her. But even if we add a year, she would still have been be a pre-teen.
The generally agreed-upon sources to establish Aisha’s age are Sahih al-Bukhari and the accounts of historian Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi. Both accounts are difficult to misappropriate, and the majority of all muslims agree that these sources are accurate:
Sahih al-Bukhari narrates that
the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).
and Sa’d al-Baghdadi even quotes Aisha herself:
“The Prophet married me in the month of Shawwal in the tenth year of his prophecy, three years before the Hijra, when I was six years old.”
These dates are specific. They are easy to verify by cross-reference, and few people would ever accuse either author of wanting to slur Islam. It is exceedingly difficult to misappropriation these facts, and few muslims have ever denied these accounts.
Imran even quotes the same source as he continues:
Ibn-e-Sa’d has stated in at-Tabaqat al-Kubra that when Abu Bakr (A’isha’s father) was approached on behalf of the Prophet, he replied that the girl had already been betrothed to Jubair and that he would first have to settle the matter with him. This shows that A’isha must have been approaching maturity at the time.
No. It merely shows that child marriage was common at the time, a fact that is borne out by many independent accounts and records. It does not establish anything about Aisha’s age or sexual maturity. In civilized countries today it may have been an indicator that she was sexually mature. At that time – no. Even today child marriages are a problem in many regions of the world.
Imran then continues with a rather disquieting discourse of questionable veracity on human female biology for the sake of proving that Aisha could have reached sexual maturity, arguing that perhaps no physical damage was done and conveniently ignores any psychological damage that such an act can inflict on children.
After that unpleasantness, he posits:
Aisha married willingly under circumstances that supported that marriage in an age when it was not an unusual thing and at an age when a girl normally reaches puberty
Just how ‘willing’ can a six-years-old girl be? Of course at the time women and girls were treated as property. Of course child rape was not a crime when the sex toy belonged to you. Whether the girl had actually reached puberty or not was no issue either. And by the way: humans reach sexual maturity at 12-15 years of age, not at 9.
The youngest “mothers” of the world (married or unmarried) mostly happen not to be Muslims, but from amongst those who are most critical of A’isha’s young age at marriage, i.e. from the West. […] It shows the degree of moral degradation of the West and the westernized minds that they have no objection about having boyfriends and indulging in illicit sex at an early age but it is not acceptable to marry and have a husband at the same age to perform the same act legally with moral and religious sanction.
Here Imran goes completely overboard, deliberately conflating adolescent sex, paedophilia, and puritanical taboos about sex. The issue at hand, Imran, is not young mothers nor teens having sex – but old men having sex with children, i.e. child rape! What a disgraceful attempt at misdirection and shifting the blame. Calling the west ‘morally depraved’ while advocating adults having sex with children is a new low even for religious apologists.
All equivocating aside: it is a fact that 50-plus years old men must not have sex with pre-teens. Just like slavery is and always was evil (and therefore makes the Bible morally unacceptable on this account), so has sex with children always been, and will always be, immoral. The problem isn’t so much that Mohammed’s deed was socially acceptable at the time, it is that in many regions of the world his precedent is used to permit child rape today; it makes raping children socially acceptable today.
Let’s be blunt: these are not misconceptions. Muhammed was 52, and Aisha was 9 (or 10) when he forced himself on her. At the time it was socially acceptable. Today this constitutes child rape. Because Mohammed was 52 and Aisha still a child, the accusation of paedophilia has some merit, even if Mohammed wasn’t in the strictest sense a pedophile: he regularly did have sex with a child.
Imran, who I suspect is equally revolted by child rape, is doing girls everywhere a great disservice when he tries to defend, or at least lessen, the crime of child rape. It’s indefensible, and you are ill advised to try to make it look better or gloss over how damaging it is to its victims.
Imran – Some things in your scripture are simply evil. Accept that. By trying to argue the merits of child rape you make yourself look as immoral and ethically inept as Professor Craig when he defends genocide in the Bible.