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Posts tagged ‘Marriage’

Was Aisha a Child Bride?

One of today’s most fascinating controversies among Muslims and non-Muslims is the debate over Aisha’s ages when she married the Prophet and subsequently if that made him a pedophiliac or not.  

Putting the age debate to the side for a moment, If Prophet Mohamed were in fact a pedophile why would he settle for only one child?  Unless perhaps Aisha was not 9 years old has history has led us to believe.

All Islamic sources and historians claim/ agree on the following Islamic timeline:

570: Prophet Mohamed’s Birth.

610: Year of the divine revelation

615: Migration to Ethiopia

622 (01 H): Muslims migrated from Makah to Madina  

632 (10 H): Death of Prophet Mohamed at the age of 63

These sources claim that Aisha was only seven when she was wed to Mohamed, and 9 or 10 when the marriage was consummated right after the Prophet’s arrival to Madina, in 622. (Almost three years later) …

Accordingly she would be born in the year 612 (if she were 10 in the year 622)


However, the follow events (taken from the same sources) show a contradiction in Aisha age:  

1)     a- Aisha was among the 12 Male and 12 Female Muslims to migrate to Ethiopia. She was identified as one of the 12 females and not an infant/ child though according to the sources (if she were born in 612) she would have been only 3 years old.

b-  Aisha recalled that she remembers how the Prophet used to visit her father on a daily bases, after the revelation and before the Hijra (migration) to Madina. She also recalled the migration to Ethiopia. Either she had a 3 year old’s über-memory or a big miscalculation has occurred.

2)      Aisha’s sister, Asma, is 10 years her senior. Asma was 14 old during the revelation (in 610). Accordingly, Aisha would be 4 years old in 610 and thus born 606, while Asma born in 596. (This makes Aisha about 9 years old when she went to Ethiopia and 16 when the marriage was consummated)

3)      Asma died at the age of 100 following tragic events in the Islamic history in 692 (73 H). Accordingly, she would have been born in 592 and Aisha 602. (Adding 4 years to her age in point 2)

4)      Aisha died in 678 at the age of 65… Accordingly, she would be born in 613. However; at the time of her sister’s death, Asma would be 75 and in 692 (year of her reported death) she would be 89 years old. (Where did the 11 years difference go?)

5)      Aisha was already a Muslim when Omar bin Khattab converted to Islam in 616….. If she were indeed born in 612, that would make her 4 years old during Omar’s conversion… In this case, it is very doubtful that she would be considered a convert but a child reared in a Muslim household. However, emphasis on Aisha’s Islam, in comparison to Omar’s, might indicate that she was already practicing and aware of a new religion in Makkah.

If she were born in 606: that would make her 10 years old when Omar converted. At that age a child becomes accountable and is required to perform religious duties. Thus, making it obvious that Aisha was a Muslims rather than a child whose parents are Muslims.

The first youngest known person to convert was the Prophet’s 10 year old cousin, Ali. This was in 610. So, where does baby Aisha fit into this? Wouldn’t she have taken the lead as the youngest convert, had she been only 4 years old? Islamic history is pretty good in listing the first converts and it does not shy away from mentioning the female pioneers. So, there would be no reason to exclude Aisha from the list of child pioneers. Unless she wasn’t a child

This would also lead to another question: Could children be considered converts? Although a 10-year-old child 1400 years ago might be more mature than today’s 10 year old, they were still considered children.  

6)      Fatima Al-Zahra’ a, prophet Mohamed’s daughter was born five years before the revelation (605). She is said to be five years older than Aisha, who would then be born in 610) another inconsistency with the above “sources”.

These are just a few of the argument presented by some of those who oppose the traditional view on Aisha’s age. It’s been said that the first person who presented this new calculation was as Egyptian writer Abbas el-Akkad (1889-1964), and again by other such as Saudi Human Rights activists Suhaila Hamad, journalist Islam Biheri.. etc

Perhaps this inconsistency does not give a clear indication of Aisha’s age. But if anything it shows that there is a further need to reexamine history with an objective perspective.

It is believed that one of the main reasons for the union between Aisha and Prophet Mohamed is to legitimize her stay in his house and thus learn from him and recite his hadiths (saying by the Prophet) . It has been reported that she narrated around 2210 but only 174 Hadith are commonly agreed upon by religious scholars. Yet Islam from a female’s perspective is nowhere to be found. Where are the rest of the hadiths? Until this day, there is perhaps only one, and very hard to find, book, that addresses these hadiths. So, why aren’t there more efforts to publish these hadiths and make them known?


What’s Wrong with Marrying a non-Saudi Man?

   In theory? Nothing! Especially if he posses the qualities of a good “human being”, though it’s a subjective concept, the couple is compatible and gets along fine with each other. But, we don’t live in the perfect world or in a land where theories are always applied.  

Unfortunately, we live in a far-from-perfect world. The right to marry a non-Saudi male becomes a difficult task filled with major consequences. But thankfully, there has been a lot of media exposure about the lack of choice in marriage. Maybe in the near future things will chance.    

Growing up, I remember hearing about a Saudi female who married a US citizen. She was the talk of female gatherings. I wonder if they ever had the decency to say something in her face. The most comment I heard over and over again was “oh the poor thing! No Saudi wanted her so she married a foreigner”.  The husband was African-American, which translated into: She couldn’t even find a white American to marry! Equality of Muslims, whether black or purple, was thrown out of the window. (But this is another topic)

This was the only time that I came across social implications of Saudi women marrying non-Saudis. A few years back a Saudi man, mid to late twenties, told me he was thinking of gathering  his friends to beat up a non-Saudi for daring to date a Saudi girl. Apparently, this is a huge blow to his self-esteem, as a privileged male Saudi. To my knowledge the non-Saudi was not beaten up but this gangster’s attitude is not born out of nothing.

Marriage comes with a responsibility, especially towards children. Whatever the parents’ choices are will, sooner or later, reflect on the children. This is even more so when the parent is from another country or culture, and more specifically when the father is the one who is non-Saudi.  

The law is clear on the aspect of citizenship, which is based on a paternal Jus sanguinis principle, Latin for “right of blood” and contrasts with jus soli (Latin for “right of soil”). People are born Saudi because their fathers are Saudi; a Saudi man needs permission to marry a non-Saudi female; she is eligible for citizenship after four years of marriage or when if she gives birth; and a Saudi woman needs permission to marry a non-Saudi. Her foreign husband will always carry a permit status, not automatically up for renewal, and her children will not inherent her citizenship or any of her assets (though I heard this has changed). By law, the children would be treated like Saudis in to education and priority in employment. But in our not-so-perfect world laws aren’t always fully applied.

This is what makes marrying a non-Saudi non-favorable. Laws don’t change easily. So until then, A Saudi woman should think twice before getting married in general and ten times before marrying a non-Saudi.  This is especially for the Saudi girls who think life is just as in the movies “Love Conquers All” and life in the west is about having a good job and drinking coffee with your BFF at the local coffee shop or during lunch after shopping for designer clothes.

I think it is wonderful that such news is making headlines, but on the other hand, Saudi men are somewhat forgotten in this quest for rights to marry. It is true that they still have it better than their female citizens but at the end of the day we live in a society where a family is judged by the individual’s actions. In many tribal families, for a man to take a non-Saudi wife is such a big ordeal that his sisters might not get marriage proposals as a result of his “holy union”. Again the female is the victim.  For a man to take a non-Saudi wife is an indicator that he was rejected by Saudi families for health or moral reasons and so the family becomes unsuitable to have marital ties with….

Marriage is a complex issue in Saudi Arabia.