Does The Quran Really Permit Child Marriage?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Islam is that it permits child marriage, and is therefore looked down upon as medieval, oppressive and illogical by non-Muslims. Shockingly, instead of viewing this as a downright tarnation and disgrace to Islam, Muslims in complete ignorance of the Quran actually defend and support this point of view! If Muslims, themselves, are going to portray such an image of their religion, then I really don’t see why they would get agitated with the criticism on Islam.

I say this with my deepest regrets, but Muslims have become their own worst enemies. Practically abandoning the pivotal commandment of Islam on independent reasoning, they have substituted it with an unprecedented trust in the “authorities” on Islam. And yet again, they have succeeded to bring shame to us all.

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Recently, The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) passed a ruling that “Pakistani laws prohibiting marriage of underage children are un-Islamic, and that according to Islam, there is no minimum age of marriage. However, the Rukhsati (consummation of marriage) is allowed only in the case that both husband and wife have reached puberty. Furthermore, Under shariah, a man is not bound to seek approval for second marriage from the first wife,” declared the spokesperson.

What a way to celebrate Islam!

How we allow them to get away with such a ridiculous statement is beyond me. Not only are these rulings contrary to common sense and human dignity; they have no basis in the Quran whatsoever. As the Quran is the primary source of guidance in Islam, secondary sources can only be accepted if and only they do not contradict the Quran, or add additional rules to it. For, the Quran is fully detailed, perfect, and complete (6:114-115) and acts as the Criterion (Furqan) above all (25:1).

Without taking anymore of your valuable time, let’s get straight to the crux of the matter!

Part 1: Child Marriage

The Quran equates marriageable age to a mature and sound judgment:

“And test the orphans [in your charge] until they reach a marriage­able age; then, if you find them to be mature of mind/sound in judgment, hand over to them their possessions…” (Quran, 4:6)

Please pay close attention here. Marriageable age is equated to sound judgment; an age in which a person can responsibly handle their possessions. For heaven’s sake, are you really trying to tell me that a person is sound in judgment at the tender age of, say, 12? Give me a break!

It is illogical to assume that a 12 year old child has a mature intellectual level. After all, those years are meant to be a learning curve for the child: a crucial time in which a child shapes his whole personality by exploring different paradigms and attaining valuable experience on life. Undertaking such a huge responsibility would greatly affect the child psychologically, as they would be deprived of the time and space required to undergo a personal change and discover themselves.

Furthermore, such scenarios are by default rapes of children, since children have not developed and matured in sexual awareness to comprehend sex. To make it worse, traditional teachings involves psychological and sexual imposition of a man upon a girl who then surrenders under the circumstances, probably scarring her for life.

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The Quran advises Muslims to marry Monotheists:
“Do not marry the females who set up partners until they acknowledge.  An acknowledging servant is better than one who sets up partners, even if she attracts you. Similarly, do not marry the males who set up partners until they acknowledge. An acknowledging servant is better than one who sets up partners even if he attracts you” (Quran, 2:221)

A similarity of belief systems and common ground are necessary to establish a healthy relationship. How can children be expected to have a grasp of theology, when they are mentally incapable to do so? Usually, at that age, children would blindly follow whatever their parents teach them. This type of enforcement of beliefs is severely discouraged in the Quran on many occasions. As mentioned earlier, parents have to give children their own space to formulate their views before they even think of marrying them.

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The Quran terms marriage as a solemn oath:
And how could you take it away (marital gift) after you have given yourselves to one another, and she has  received a most solemn pledge from you? (Quran, 4:21)

Marriage is no child’s play. It demands a huge amount of responsibility from both individuals: something children are definitely not ready for.  Therefore, the Quran makes no compromises on this fact, terming marriage a “most solemn pledge.” To suggest that Allah would even allow, leave aside encourage, an individual to get into a “solemn pledge” without discovering themselves from a psychological, physical, and social perspective is nothing short of insulting the idea of creation.

The Quran forbids forcing women to marry by compulsion:

O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! It is not lawful for you to force women into marrying or holding on to them in marriage against their will. (Quran, 4:19)

Would an innocent child, on their own merit, entertain the idea of marriage? The immense responsibility of marriage is one that children do not even have the intellectual capacity to grasp thoroughly. They would only entertain it if they are heavily influenced by the parents. This, as you see above, is severely discouraged.

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The Quran expects the male partner to financially support his wife:
Let them (the divorced women) live where you live with the same standard of living that you have, and according to your best means. Harass them not to make life difficult for them. And if they are pregnant, spend on them freely until they deliver their burden. Then, if they nurse your baby, give them their due recompense.  And frequently consult together amicably.  And if both of you find it difficult, let another woman suckle the baby on her behalf.  (Quran, 65:6)

So, Mr. enlightened soul, how do you expect a 12 year old to earn a living now? Is he supposed to get an education, or is he supposed to labor in order to be able to financially support his spouse? Another ruling should be in order: Education is un-Islamic for children who attain puberty! Go make a living and support your teenage wife! Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised!

Part 2: The Misconception about Verse 4, Chapter 65

And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women – if you doubt, then their (waiting) period is three months (relating to divorce), and [also for] those who did not menstruate. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. (Quran, 65:4)

Here, traditional voices would have you believe that “those who did not menstruate” refers to prepubescent girls who have not “yet” attained puberty, thereby concluding that Islam permits child marriage. What is shameful is that they deliberately add the word “yet” to justify their medieval thought, which is to be found nowhere in the Arabic text of the verse.

Let’s dissect the verse, shall we? The verse starts off by discussing the waiting period for women who have ceased to menstruate, in the case of a divorce. Therefore, it has laid the context of adult women who are of menstruating age. Obviously then, “those who did not menstruate” is from the context of adult women who are supposed to menstruate, but did not do so. This medical condition is called Amenorrhea where a woman does not have menstrual periods. The waiting period for such women, then, is the same – 3 months.

Part 3: Is the permission of the first wife necessary to marry a second wife?

Polygamy is only to be practiced in exceptional cases:

If you fear that you will not be just/equitable to the orphans, then marry as permissible for you, women, two, three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then only one, or to whom you are committed to by oath. That is better so that you do not deviate from the right course”. (Quran, 4:3)

Without getting into too much detail, it is obvious from this verse that polygamy is not allowed to satisfy sexual lusts of men. It can only be practiced in the case of taking care of orphans (by marrying their mothers).

Moreover, the verse emphasizes on the fact that all wives must get a just and equitable treatment, in the unusual case of polygamy. If a man were to marry another woman without getting the consent of his first wife, how on earth can you call that justice?  Justice is only served when both parties receive it. “But if you fear that you will not be just, then only one…”

 

Conclusion

When-they-commit-anIt is absolutely clear from the Quran that child marriage is something God never authorized. Child marriage is detrimental to the overall well-being of children, and quite frankly, is another form of slavery. The psychopathic mentality that allows this is a sign of a very sick and disturbed mind, something that seems to be much abundant within the clergy-class. Any rational person can immediately identify the evils of such an oppressive act. It surprises me to see how a beacon of light is manipulated by a bunch of misogynistic individuals to enslave billions around the world!

“Have you considered those who were asked to accept judgment from Allah’s Book? When they are asked to accept judgment from Allah’s Book, some of them turn their backs and walk away!” (Quran, 3:23)

Would you then, O fellow Muslim, rethink your stance?

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United Sects Of Islam: A Different Perspective on Unity and Sectarianism

A popular argument employed by atheists (and other like minded people) against people who subscribe to a religion is that religion has split mankind into factions resulting in much violence; therefore religion is evil and must be abolished. Obviously a valid point, though  blaming it all on religion is quite biased, I think. It’s not religion, exclusively, that divides people; rather people fight over all sorts of things, race being an example. Should we, or rather, can we get rid of the diversity of our colors?

I believe things are neutral. Religion, too, is neutral. It’s your attitude towards it that determines whether you choose to unite, or divide with others. Shifting the blame doesn’t solve anything. Therefore, we need to identify the problem and look for solutions.  Education, as with everything else, is required to curb oppressive ideologies like racism and sectarianism, which is what the Quran aspires to do.

The Quran stressing on Unity:

You must hold fast, all of you together, to the Bond of God and be not divided into sects. Quran, 3:103

And do not be like the ones who became divided and differed after the clear proofs had come to them. And those will have a great punishment.Quran, 3:105

Those who break the unity of their Deen and become sects, you have nothing to do with them whatsoever. Their case will go to God and He will then tell them what they had been doing. Quran, 6:159

(And do not be) of those who have divided their Deen and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has. Quran, 30:32

Steadfastly uphold the  Deen (Way of Life), and do not break up your unity therein. Quran, 42:13

What went wrong?

Despite these very clear and straight-forward commandments, the “Muslim World” is quite the hub of violent sectarianism that causes much bloodshed within those regions. We have this nasty habit of cherry-picking the verses we choose to follow. So, the verses that call for unity often get ignored and are replaced with scholarly opinions that promote sectarianism. Furthermore, fundamentalism and bigotry play a part as well.

Let me take you through the mindset of a sectarian, as I myself have been through that phase. It is the unshaken belief that my sect is the only ‘right’ version of Islam and worthy of salvation, while all others are misguided and headed for doom. Instead of compassion, there is a strong sense of fear and hate for them. Assuming infallibility for one’s self, religion becomes a tool to satisfy the ego by calling others infidels and other derogatory labels. All in all, it is either my way, or the highway.

If we were to measure spiritual maturity in terms of our biological growth, then fundamentalism is the childhood. A natural phase, but something you must grow from. (You may read my full piece on stages of consciousness here.)

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What a beautiful saying, isn’t it? Unfortunately, a sectarian might even have a problem with why I shared a “Hindu” proverb!  You see? So, forget that. Let me show you verses in the Quran that completely shatter sectarianism. Contrary to popular opinion, there is not only ONE “correct” path to Islam (Peace), rather there are MULTIPLE paths:

Through this Book, God guides to PATHS of Islam (Peace), those who seek His Approval. He brings them out of darkness into the light of His grace, and guides them to the straight path. Quran, 5:16

As for those who sincerely strive for Us, We surely guide them onto PATHS that lead to Us. God is with those who do Good. Quran, 29:69

How can we Unite?

Let me start by clearing a misconception. Unity does not equate to uniformity. Some people have the view that unity can only be achieved among people who have the same (or identical) set of beliefs, cultural practices, and paradigms. This is not only highly improbable, but is also flawed conceptually. See, human beings are complex creatures, having unique experiences that shape their paradigms. Forget billions of Muslims, you would not find two people who are exactly the same.

To me, unity can be achieved regardless of the beliefs of others. It is the internalization that God has created people with a free will of their own, and that they may choose whichever spiritual path which makes them the closest to God, turning them into a better human being. I am not discouraging rational debate, I must add. Indeed, debate is crucial for growth and reform. However, you stop playing God, as you realize that judgment belongs to God alone (13:40). All it takes is spiritual maturity and broad-mindedness from your side.

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Dropping the labels does not solve the problem.

One of the solutions put forward to achieve unity is to identify yourself as only a Muslim instead of a Sunni Muslim, a Shia Muslim, a Quranist Muslim, or a Sufi Muslim. For a long time, I agreed with this notion. However, now I think that it’s superficial at best. Labels don’t create sects; sectarian behavior does.The problem with identifying yourself as only a Muslim is that sectarian behavior may still exist within. You may consider yourself a “true Muslim” and others “not so true Muslims”. I have experienced this first-hand, so I’m convinced that this is not the answer.

Let’s face the reality here. You simply can’t expect every Muslim to share the same interpretation of the Quran. Therefore, labels help us identify one another. And, identification is a crucial factor in dialogue. Let’s take an example. If you were to ask me about my country of origin, and I responded by saying that I am a “citizen of the world”, would you expect the conversation to evolve from there? Possibly not. There is a lack of information, so it might stop there and then. However, if I say I’m an American, you may share your personal stories that are relevant, and the dialogue furthers.

So, the problem doesn’t lie in the labels, it lies in sectarian behavior which is a psychological construct and can be eradicated through education. The sectarian ideology is the real culprit here, which needs to be addressed. The ideology that since X and Y are different from me, they must be my enemies. Different approaches to Islam are not a threat to unity, bigotry is!

The key word in those verses, as we saw above, is to “not divide into sects”. You can be a Sunni Muslim who does not discriminate against Shias, for example. In this case, you find that Sunni Islam makes the most sense to you, but for others, it might be Shia Islam or Quranist Islam. Realizing that freedom of belief is a gift of God, you not only unite with other Muslims, but also free yourself from the negative energy of hate.

In a nutshell, sectarianism causes division. Division causes hate. Hate causes extremism. Extremism causes bloodshed. Hence, this becomes the perfect recipe for an unstable society and precisely why sectarianism has been severely discouraged in the Quran.

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Final Thoughts

O Muslims! We must stop dividing over petty issues and instead unite to fight the power-mongering psychopaths that seek to cause disharmony between us.  Disunity can never bring about any good! Let us put all the barriers of race, gender, sex orientation, religion, and politics to rest and respect people for what they are, provided they are not harming another human being. I call for unity! I call for Islam (Peace)!

The question is, will you respond?

 

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Does A Woman’s Clothing Really Make Men Want To Rape Them?

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“Oh, that pork looks yummy! Guess I can’t control myself now, better have a bite at it!”  Assuming you’re a Muslim, do you realize how stupid and preposterous this sounds? Yeah, I thought so. But, wait a minute. I’ve heard something similar: “If a woman is not dressed ‘properly’, she is inciting rape.” And this is popular opinion in the society I live in.

Right. So, a few months ago, I was completely taken by surprise when a person tried to partially justify the perpetrator of a rape case. “See, if the woman was dressed properly, he wouldn’t have done it. It is these women who need to dress up properly, only then can rape be minimized.” I couldn’t believe my ears, and I wanted to shake him up! “What the HELL is wrong with you?”

The Quran was sent down for a purpose. And that purpose is to read it in Arabic and earn rewards develop the reader’s character to the point where he is a responsible, productive, and a noble human being. Yes, a human being who makes informed choices instead of an animal that just follows its impulse.

Chapter 12, which narrates the account of Yousuf (Joseph), deals extensively with character development. It is here that we learn a vital lesson on curbing desires no matter what the situation at hand. As you might (and should) know, the lady of the house in which Yousuf was brought into, tried to seduce him sexually. But, when she tried to advance at him, what did he do? He resisted. He didn’t give into that weak moment. In fact, he immediately became conscious of evil, and sought protection from Allah.

“The lady of the house, tried to seduce him. She closed the doors and said, “I am all yours.” He said, “May God protect me! Truly, He is my Lord and He has bestowed upon me a good moral character and granted me a position of honor. The wrongdoers do not prosper.” Quran: 12:23

 

This speaks volumes about his character! Mind you, he was only young when this incident happened. But this young man realized that no matter how strong the incitation be, only he was responsible for his actions: a perfect role model on issues pertaining to modesty.

These are the role models that need to revived among Muslims! If we are oblivious to them, how can we ever emulate them? Mind you, following the prophets does not equate to following their cultural norms. Otherwise, wouldn’t we be still riding camels? What we have forgotten is the fact that we were commanded to follow their character! No great man would want his followers to adopt his culture, rather he would want them to adopt his morality, ethics, and character. Let’s please not fall into the trap of being penny wise, and pound foolish.

Now, I do advocate modest clothing, but more importantly, I also advocate developing one’s character to the point where external factors don’t affect your behaviors. What good did religion do to you if you can’t even control your impulses? We have got to stop cherry-picking verses we want to follow, and instead embrace the message holistically.

No matter what a woman is wearing, we as Muslims, are commanded to guard our gaze (24:30). It’s not the clothes that incite rapists; it is the sick mindset of such people that is to be blamed and addressed.  Instead of sympathizing and standing up for the victim, we have come to the point where we try to justify the perpetrator? Does it get any worse than this?

 

Still not convinced?

For those of you that still think clothing is a factor in rape, ask yourself this: “What about the children who get raped? Are their clothes ‘provocative’ too?” Let that sink in.

So, what is the solution?

Unless we start addressing the real issue here, we simply cannot make any progress. The first step to overcoming a problem is to identify it. Hence, instead of exhausting our efforts on how women should dress, we should more importantly deal with issues such as attitude towards women, and educating/sensitizing men.

The biggest problem, in my view, is the “macho” crap that is widespread in every society. As men, we are brainwashed to think that it is “alright” to play with the feelings of a woman and to use them for our petty desires. This becomes further encouraged when their male peers cheer them when they do such acts. This, I believe, is the fundamental cause of the oppression done on women. On a personal level, we need to take a stand against this.

In addition, unless men become sympathetic to the problems that surround women in their daily life (such as being cautious at all times), we cannot expect empathy and compassion between them. We have got to stop objectifying women, and treat them how we treat women in our households. How would we really feel if our mothers, daughters, and sisters had to go through this? Would we still blame them?

I really hope this changes your perspective. And that you become a voice for the oppressed.

P.S – Just to clarify, I am not implying that only Muslims think this way. This is a popular opinion in many societies. My point, however, is that considering the teachings of the Quran, Muslims should be the last people to believe in such an irrational statement. We have a gem of a reformation program in the form of Quran, and this is what needs to be propagated to Muslims.