MUHAMMAD, BABY AISHA, ISLAM, AND CHILD BRIDES
I needed to edit and correct this article because I’ve learned some new details. Initially, I believed what many Muslims asserted: Muhammad sexually consummated his marriage to the nine year old Aisha following her first menstruation. HOWEVER, after reading brother Sam Shamoun’s articles (1, 2), I realized that the Quran, the Hadith, and Muslim scholar’s writings state that a Muslim husband can engage in sex with a child-bride before she has her first menses. Further, Muhammad actually did just this – he had intercourse with Aisha prior to her first menses!
This increases the weight and scope of my argument and places Muhammad and Islam in a far darker, more disreputable, light. Many Muslims don’t know this and by their own standards Muhammad did the wrong thing in having sex with a child. Muslims have to answer for their continued support for Muhammad because he transgresses their standards. When children are allowed to be used for sex then that is sexual exploitation; so why do they support the creator and establishment of a system that entrenches the abuse and sexual exploitation of children?
I am not trying to use cheap polemics. Surely you realize that for children there are painful ramifications behind Muhammad’s action. They need to be discussed in detail and in context. It might be offensive to some but it needs to be discussed.
2) EVIDENCE THAT ISLAM ALLOWS CHILDREN TO ENGAGE IN SEX BEFORE MENSTRUATION
3) EVIDENCE THAT AISHA WAS 9 WHEN SHE CONSUMMATED HER MARRIAGE
4) EVIDENCE THAT MUHAMMAD HAD SEX WITH AISHA PRIOR TO HER FIRST MENSES
APPENDIX 1: DEFINITION OF THE WORD TRANSLATED AS "CONSUMMATE"
APPENDIX 2: JEWISH CULTURE AND MARRIAGE
APPENDIX 3: SCIENCE AND PUBERTY (It does not begin with menarche).
APPENDIX 4: ISLAM AND DAMAGE TO YOUNG GIRLS
APPENDIX 5: AISHA’S ACTIONS
APPENDIX 6: ABUSIVE PRACTICES IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD TODAY
APPENDIX 7: MUHAMMAD'S REASONS FOR MARRYING AISHA
Picture this historical setting: A 49 year old man asks his best friend if he could have his permission to marry his 6 year old daughter. His friend agrees. The man then visits his best friend’s house and speaks with the 6 year old daughter. Her parents watch as the he proposes marriage to the child. He is serious; he wants to marry the little girl and is asking for her consent. The little child says nothing; she only stares at him in silence.
The Islamic source materials state that Muhammad proposed marriage to Aisha when she was 6. He assumed her silence constituted her consent. Some 2 to 3 years later, just after he had fled to Medina, he consummated his marriage with her. He was 52 and she was 9. This occurred prior to Aisha’s first menses and by Islam’s legal definition Aisha was still considered a child. Islam teaches that a child enters adulthood at the beginning of puberty. (This is scientifically inaccurate, the onset of puberty does not equal adulthood – see Appendix 3).
The bottom line is Muhammad, the creator of Islam, revered by his followers, had sex with a child! Worse, Muhammad's action and teachings on marriage established an Islamic precedent and Islamic law allows female children to be married off and engaged in sex provided they are able to handle a man’s penis (Quran 65:4). As will be shown, this leads to physical, and psychological, damage to the child.
2) EVIDENCE THAT ISLAM ALLOWS CHILDREN TO ENGAGE IN SEX BEFORE MENSTRUATION
First, we need to establish that Islam allows female children to be married and engaged in sex prior to their first menses (prepubescent). For that we turn to the Islamic source materials. Starting with the Quran:
If you are in doubt concerning those of your wives who have ceased menstruating, know that their waiting period shall be three months. The same shall apply to those who have not menstruated. As for pregnant women, their term shall end with their confinement. God will ease the hardship of the man who fears him. 65:4, Dawood
Brother Sam Shamoun comments on this verse:
The surrounding context deals with the issue of the waiting period for divorce, and remarriage. The Quran is telling Muslims to wait for a certain period of time before making the divorce final or deciding to forego it. The Quran exhorts men to wait a period of three months in the case of women who either are no longer menstruating or haven’t even started their menstrual cycles! (Source)
Since Muslim men are to wait 3 months before divorcing a prepubescent child it means that they have been engaging in sex with those children.
Borrowing from Sam’s work (*) I quote three Islamic scholars commentary related to 65:4 and the subject of sex with prepubescent children:
Ibn Kathir writes regarding 65:4
<divorce them at their `Iddah>, "The `Iddah is made up of cleanliness and the menstrual period." So he divorces her while it is clear that she is pregnant, or he does not due to having sex, or since he does not know if she is pregnant or not. This is why the scholars said that there are two types of divorce, one that conforms to the Sunnah and another innovated. The divorce that conforms to the Sunnah is one where the husband pronounces one divorce to his wife when she is not having her menses and without having had sexual intercourse with her after the menses ended. One could divorce his wife when it is clear that she is pregnant. As for the innovated divorce, it occurs when one divorces his wife when she is having her menses, or after the menses ends, has sexual intercourse with her and then divorces her, even though he does not know if she became pregnant or not. There is a third type of divorce, which is neither a Sunnah nor an innovation where one divorces A YOUNG WIFE WHO HAS NOT BEGUN TO HAVE MENSES, the wife who is beyond the age of having menses, and divorcing one's wife before the marriage was consummated. (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Al-Tabari said regarding 65:4
The interpretation of the verse "And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the 'Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubt (about their periods), is three months; and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their 'Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise". He said: The same applies to the 'idaah for girls who do not menstruate because they are too young, if their husbands divorce them after consummating the marriage with them.
Tafseer al-Tabari, 14/142 (Source: Islam Q&A (www.islam-qa.com)
(Question #12708: Is it acceptable to marry a girl who has not yet started her menses?)
Regarding sex with prepubescent children, Abu-Ala’ Maududi states:
"Therefore, making mention of the waiting-period for girls who have not yet menstruated, clearly proves that it is not only permissible to give away the girl at this age but it is permissible for the husband to consummate marriage with her. Now, obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Qur’an has held as permissible." (Maududi, volume 5, p. 620, note 13, emphasis added)
It is clear: Muslim men can engage in sex with prepubescent children!
3) EVIDENCE THAT AISHA WAS 9 WHEN SHE CONSUMMATED HER MARRIAGE
Now that we’ve established that Islam allows husbands to engage in sex with their child-brides, let’s move on to Muhammad and Aisha. The Islamic source materials state that Aisha was 9 when they consummated their marriage.
From the hadith of Bukhari, volume 5, #234
"Narrated Aisha: The prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six. We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Harith Kharzraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's messenger came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age."
Bukhari vol. 7, #65:
"Narrated Aisha that the prophet wrote the marriage contract with her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: "I have been informed that Aisha remained with the prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death).""
From the hadith of Muslim, volume 2, #3309
Aisha reported: Allah’s Messenger married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house at the age of nine….
From the hadith of the Sunan of Abu Dawud, volume 2, #2116
"Aisha said, "The Apostle of Allah married me when I was seven years old." (The narrator Sulaiman said: "Or six years."). "He had intercourse with me when I was 9 years old."
From "The History of Tabari", volume 9, page 131
"Then the men and women got up and left. The Messenger of God consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old. Neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered on behalf of me"...(The Prophet) married her three years before the Emigration, when she was seven years old and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old, after he had emigrated to Medina in Shawwal. She was eighteen years old when he died.
From the Encyclopedia of Islam, under "Aisha":
"Some time after the death of Khadija, Khawla suggested to Muhammad that he should marry either Aisha, the 6 year old daughter of his chief follower, or Sawda Zama, a widow of about 30, who had gone as a Muslim to Abyssinia and whose husband had died there. Muhammad is said to have asked her to arrange for him to marry both. It had already been agreed that Aisha should marry Djubayr Mutim, whose father, though still pagan, was friendly to the Muslims. By common consent, however, this agreement was set aside, and Muhammad was betrothed to Aisha... The marriage was not consummated until some months after the Hidjra, (in April 623, 624). Aisha went to live in an apartment in Muhammad's house, later the mosque of Median. She cannot have been more than ten years old at the time and took her toys to her new home."
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE OF AISHA'S AGE
The above references are just a sample of the Islamic source material statements that Aisha was 9 when her marriage was consummated. Over and over again the great Islamic scholars state that Aisha was 9 when her marriage was consummated. No serious Muslim scholar doubts this. Generally it is only embarrassed Muslims living in the West who challenge her age. For a more in-depth presentation of the evidence of Aisha’s age being 9, see Sam’s article here.
4) EVIDENCE THAT MUHAMMAD HAD SEX WITH AISHA PRIOR TO HER FIRST MENSES
We’ve seen that Islamic doctrine allows for prepubescent children to be engaged in intercourse, and that Aisha was 9 when Muhammad had sex with her for the first time. Now we’ll look at the evidence and see that Aisha was prepubescent when Muhammad had sex with her.
The hadith state that Aisha was taken to Muhammad’s house, as his bride, when she was 9 and she took her dolls with her as play toys. I’ll borrow some excerpts from Sam’s article here:
'A'isha reported that Allah's Apostle married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house AS A BRIDE WHEN SHE WAS NINE, AND HER DOLLS WERE WITH HER; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3311)
'A'isha reported that she used to PLAY WITH DOLLS in the presence of Allah's Messenger and when her playmates came to her they left (the house) because they felt shy of Allah's Messenger whereas Allah's Messenger sent them to her. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5981)
When the Apostle of Allah arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her.
He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4914)
A Muslim scholar says that it is okay for Aisha (and other children) to play with dolls because they are not considered adults:
Al-Khattaabee said: From this Hadeeth it is understood that playing with dolls (al-banaat) is not like the amusement from other images (suwar) concerning which the threat (wa'eed) of punishment is mentioned. The only reason why permission in this was given to 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) is because SHE HAD NOT, AT THAT TIME, REACHED THE AGE OF PUBERTY. (Source)
Examining the evidence from the previous sections we see
1. Islam allows sex with prepubescent children who are married
2. Aisha was playing with dolls after she consummated her marriage with Muhammad
3. Under Islam’s rules, female children were allowed to play with dolls because they had not yet entered puberty, i.e. had their first menses and became adults.
Therefore, the only conclusion that can be made is that Muhammad was having sex with a Aisha while still was a child! The Quran allows this, Muhammad did this, Aisha stated this, and the scholars affirm this. Now Islam’s children have to deal with this.
Most Muslims accept what the Hadith, Sira, and Muslim scholars say: Muhammad consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was 9. But many defend this by asserting that Aisha had had her first period, thus she entered puberty, and thus was considered an adult. Somehow they’ve been misled into believing that Aisha had her first menses before she consummated her marriage with Muhammad.
These same Muslims criticize the act of sexual intercourse with a girl who had not had her first menses. They would say that a man would be having sex with a child and that that was wrong.
But as shown above if one studies Islam’s teachings he will see that Islam allows sexual intercourse prior to the child’s first menses. Tragically, today throughout much of the Mideast, girls as young as nine are often married by men old enough to be their grandfather, just as Muhammad was old enough to be Aisha’s grandfather.
Muslims know in their heart that it is just plain wrong for a man to be using a child for sex, married or not. That is why so many of them have gone to great lengths to defend Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha because they assumed that she had her first period prior to their sexual consummation.
One such Muslim is Robert Squires. He has gone to great lengths to defend Muhammad’s action, predicated upon the assumption that Aisha had her first menses. You can read Robert Squires article here.
Here are some quotes from Mr. Squires’ article:
1. Puberty = Maturity = Marriage
2. Part of the wisdom behind the Prophet's marriage to Aishah just after she reached puberty is to firmly establish this as a point of Islamic Law, even though it was already cultural norm in all Semitic societies
3. There are many other references which should prove to any intelligent person what anthropologists and historians already know: in centuries past, people were considered ready for marriage when they reached puberty.
Unfortunately for Squires, if he studies the Islamic source materials, if he studies the analysis of the great scholars of Islam, he could only conclude that Islam allows sex with prepubescent children and that Muhammad had sex with Aisha prior to her first menses. Muhammad’s consummation with Aisha occurred before she reached puberty. Muhammad fails Squire’s "cultural" test.
Pity Robert Squires. He has put his heart, his mind, his strength, his reputation, indeed his very soul, into defending his prophet Muhammad. He built his defense upon the assumption that Aisha had menstruated. Now he faces the ugly fact that Muhammad has indeed done the dirty deed, and made a fool out of him. Muhammad has gone to a depth of depravity that Squires rejects as wrong. Squires’ beloved Muhammad was indeed an ugly man having sex with a child and Squires is stuck having to confront the naked truth. By Squires’ own standards, by Squires’ own reasoning, by Squires’ own sense of right and wrong, Muhammad did very wrong.
And above all, weep for the Muslim children who are allowed by their faith to be used for sex. Later I’ll mention some studies and writings that show that when children are put into the situation that Muhammad and Islam allow they indeed suffer. Islam brings misery upon its female children.
MUHAMMAD THE GOOD EXAMPLE?
Muhammad claimed greatness: his god praised Muhammad in the Quran:
"Surely in the Messenger of God you have a good example". 33:21
But when we examine what he did, we repudiate it. He was not "a good example." Let me ask you a question: If Muhammad were living in the West today and did what he did, wouldn’t he be thrown in jail and denounced as a pervert? Yes or no?
I thank God that our standards are better than his and those of Islam when it comes to protecting children. If Muhammad were a true prophet, why are the world’s standards better than his? Why are pagan cultures standards better than Islam’s? Where was the mercy or benefit for the children of Islam?
Let’s take a deeper look. Why do we find it objectionable? Muhammad did not live in our culture or under our law. Is the Western rejection of this practice merely cultural or is there a scientific or medical reason to reject Muhammad’s, and Islam’s norm? Indeed there are medical and scientific reasons to reject Islam’s position. If Islam were truly a scientific faith it would not have erred this greatly. This question is discussed at length in Appendix 4.
As mentioned earlier, some Muslims and Western writers have written that Aisha did not have sex with Muhammad until she was 14 or so. I've never seen any textual support for their position. They only have opinion and conjecture. Since the thought of their prophet committing such an act is embarrassing to them so they invent, or re-write, or ignore, documented Islamic history to make it more acceptable to their minds and the minds of other Western people as well.
A CASE STUDY
As note above, there are many Muslims who know that it is just plain wrong and harmful for men to have sex with children, as Muhammad had sex with Aisha. Muslim countries have passed laws outlawing what Muhammad had done. This week, in Indonesia a similar situation occurred. A Muslim cleric married a 12 year old girl. Here is the link: The Jakarta Post, 27 October 2008. Fox News then picked it up:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,444255,00.html
I’ll let the Indonesian Muslims make my argument and quote from the article:
All those involved in the case, he said, could be charged under Articles 81, 82 and 83 of the 2002 Law on Child Protection. If found guilty, they would face a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail and a fine of Rp 300 million (US$30,000), for "forcing", "swindling" and/or "trading" a minor to sleep with another person.
Hadi said it would require a psychological test to prove whether the cleric could be termed a pedophile.
"We hope the police or the court, if the case is brought to trial, can determine this," he added.
Pujiono reportedly married Lutfiana as his second wife in August and has declared he plans to marry two even younger girls -- a seven-year-old and a nine-year old. The "eccentric" cleric refused to name the children out of concern it would spark "wider criticism".
"Puji is a community leader who has many followers. If he is allowed to continue doing this, we're afraid that many other people will follow suit. This will victimize children," he said, adding that minors are neither physically nor mentally ready to engage in sexual activity.
Those in leadership in Indonesia recognize this for what it is: children being victimized, that they are not ready mentally or physically to be engaging in sex. It is fortunate that the Muslims in Indonesia are in better touch with reality and science than the Muslim leadership in the Mideast. The Indonesia Muslims are more caring for their children, the most vulnerable in their society. Instead of copying Muhammad stupidly they looked after the welfare of their children in this case.
Muhammad proposed to and married Aisha when she was 6. He had intercourse with her when she was 9 prior to her first menses. Islam establishes this practice. Since girls at that age are not fully mature either physically, emotionally, or psychologically, we know it is wrong for a man, regardless of his age, to engage a child in sexual relations.
Muhammad was just a man. He had both good and bad qualities. But he was not a prophet. What he did is nothing more than instituting man’s sex drive. Muhammad was a man and at times let his penis do his thinking for him. Tragically, what he instituted turned out to be harmful.
No one would expect a real prophet of a righteous God to engage in, justify, allow, and prescribe for his followers such an cancerous act. Muhammad’s god instructed him on what to eat, what to wear, even how to wipe himself! Wouldn’t this same god instruct Muhammad about the sexual abuse of children?
Muhammad proclaimed that his lifestyle was the one to be emulated, and in part, he bears the judgment for this child abuse in the Islamic world today. Girls at age 9 are not mature enough, either physically, emotionally, or mentally, to be put into those type of "marriage" situations. Shouldn't he be found guilty according to his own words and actions?
Jesus said, "You shall know them by their fruits", Matthew 7:20. We see that one of Muhammad's fruits was allowing young girls to be subjected to a brutal custom. Jesus told his followers that false prophets would arise and mislead many to hell. Muhammad is to be rejected as such a false prophet.
APPENDIX 1: DEFINITION OF THE WORD TRANSLATED AS "CONSUMMATE"
There has been some confusion about the definition of the word "consummate". In Sahih Bukhari, vol. 7, #64, the root word used is "dakhala". From the Hans-Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary p273, it means "to enter, to pierce, to penetrate, to consummate the marriage, cohabit, sleep with a woman".
I have also asked two native Arabic speakers to confirm the definition of the word used in Bukhari. They read Bukhari in Arabic for themselves, and did indeed state that it meant Muhammad had sexual intercourse with Aisha when she was 9.
APPENDIX 2: JEWISH CULTURE AND MARRIAGE
Robert Squires claims that what Muhammad did was no different than what Abraham and the Israelites allowed. His conclusion was "if it was good enough for Abraham it is good enough for me". Well, the fact is, it wasn’t good enough for Abraham and the Israelites.
The Baker Ency. of the Bible says about Jewish marriage customs in volume 2, page 1407, under "Marriage":
"Subsequently, minimum ages (for marriage) of 13 for boys and 12 for girls were set."
And Jim West, ThD, writes online, in "Ancient Israelite Marriage Customs":
"The wife was to be taken from within the larger family circle (usually at the "outset of puberty" or around the age of 13) in order to maintain the purity of the family line".
Even in the Mishnah, the age of maturity for a female is 12.5 years:
"she won her case in court before she matured [at the age of twelve years and six months], lo, they belong to the father." Mishnah Ketubot, 4:1.
Jewish culture allowed young girls to be married at an early age but not as young as 9.
APPENDIX 3: SCIENCE AND PUBERTY
How do the biological sciences address the topic of female puberty? Here are quotes from several college level text books. There is a great deal of info presented, but it is necessary to provide scientific details to fully understand puberty.
From "Adolescence", by L. Steinberg, pub. by McGraw Hill, 1993.
page 22: "Puberty derives from the Latin word "pubertas", which means "adult". Technically, the term refers to the period during which an individual becomes capable of sexual reproduction, that is, it denotes the series of biological changes leading up to reproductive capability. More broadly speaking, however, puberty is used as a collective term to refer to all the physical changes that occur in the growing girl or boy as the individual passes from childhood into adulthood."
page 23: "Puberty may appear to be rather sudden, judging from its external signs, but in fact it is part of a gradual process that begins at conception. (Petersen and Taylor, 1980). You may be surprised to learn that no new hormones are produced and no new bodily systems develop at puberty. Rather, some hormones that have been present since before birth increase, and other decrease."
page 26: "The effects of the endocrinological changes of puberty on the adolescent's body are remarkable. Consider the dramatic changes in physical appearance that occur during the short span of early adolescence. One enters puberty looking like a child and within FOUR years or so has the physical appearance of a young adult."
page 32: [This page shows a chart depicting that puberty lasts about 4 years in girls].
"Generally, full reproduction function does not occur until several years after menarche, and regular ovulation follows menarche by about two years (Hafetz, 1976)....
…The onset of puberty can occur as early as 8 years in girls and 9.5 in boys, or as late as 13 in girls and 13.5 in boys. In girls, the interval between the first sign of puberty and complete physical maturation can be as short as one and one-half years or as long as six years....In more concrete terms, it is possible for an early-maturing, fast-maturing youngster to complete pubertal maturation by the age of 10 or 11 - two years before a late-maturing youngster has even begun puberty."
pages 36-37: "(Although menarche does not signal the onset of puberty....) .....the average age at menarche generally is lower in those countries where individuals are less likely to be malnourished or suffer from chronic disease. For example, in western Europe and in the United States, the median menarcheal age ranges from about 12.5 years to 13.5 years. In Africa, however, the median menarcheal age ranges from 14 years to 17 years."
page 66: [There is a table depicting the four stages of cognitive development according to Piaget. It shows that the brain develops mature cognitive ability after age 11].
page 73: [On page 73 he presents a table showing that the brain is not fully mature until about the age of 16. From this table, I estimate that at age 9, the maturation of the brain is between 50 to 60%.].
From "ADOLESCENCE - TRANSITION FROM CHILDHOOD TO MATURITY", by Lambert, Rothschild, Altland, & Green, pub. by Brooks / Cole, 1978:
page 106: "The process of physical development that results in the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence involves three overlapping stages: Prepuberty, pubescence, and puberty. Although this sequence is the same for all individuals, the times of onset and the lengths of these periods differ from one person to another (Thornburg, 1975).
Prepuberty begins at the end of childhood with a rapid rise in hormone levels... It is also a period in which a rapid growth spurt begins and the secondary sex characteristics, such as the budding of the breast in girls and the enlargement of the testes and penis in boys, start to develop. Generally, girls experience theses changes two years before boys; the average age of onset of this stage is 10 for females, 12 for males (Tanner, 1975).
Pubescence, the second stage, is characterized by the proliferation of sex cells and near completion of the secondary sex characteristics (Thornburg, 1975). Pubescence begins with the menarche, or first menstruation, in girls.... The appearance of these characteristics, however, does not necessarily indicate that the reproductive system is complete. It may be a matter of months or even years before the body is capable of reproduction.
It is only with the third phase, puberty, that girls develop regular ovulatory menstrual cycles and the capability for procreation....This period generally spans about two years for girls and about three years for boys, ending when all of the secondary sex characteristics have fully appeared and reproductive ability has been reached. Most boys are well into puberty by age 14 (Marshall, 1975), most girls by the age of 15-16."
page 108: "... the gradual decrease in the average age at which menarche has been occurring among Western European girls and apparently among girls of the United States and Canada as well (Botstein & McArthus, 1976).... The fact that research has indicated that this trend is just as evident among girls in temperate climates as among girls in warm climates would also tend to destroy the myth that girls mature earlier in warm climates than in more moderate ones."
page 111: "Abnormal growth and delayed or precocious puberty are usually associated with disorders in hypothalamic hormonal changes (Schonberg, 1075; Sizonenko, 1975)."
pages 115-117: "In girls there initially appears a budding of the breasts, then the appearance of pubic hair, then the menarche, and finally ovulation. ... Breast development and pubic hair first become visible at about 10-11 years of age, whereas the menarche occurs, on the average, in the range of 11-13 years, or approximately two years after initial breast development. Menstruation during pubescence is generally irregular, partly due to factors of emotion, tension, and nutrition. Reproductive maturity is usually attained from one to two years after the first menstruation, with maximum fertility developing in the early 20s (Lamburg et al., 1973)....
The average age at menarche is 12.5 to 13. However, some normal girls may begin to menstruate as early as 9, while others may not start until the age of 16 (Offer & Offer, 1968)....
Genital growth is usually not complete when menstruation begins, and this growth continues slowly for several more years. The menarche is frequently followed by a period of sterility, which lasts until a regular ovulatory menstrual cycle is established. The duration of this period varies considerable; the first ovulation (the discharge of the first egg from the ovaries) may occur at menarche, or it may not take place until years later....
For several months following the menarche, there is usually a lack of regularity in the extent and timing of the menstrual flow."
WHAT ARE THE BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES TELLING US ABOUT PUBERTY?
To begin with, puberty does not begin with a girl's menarche. It begins about a year or two earlier. Islam missed the mark on this. Islam considers that puberty and adulthood begin with the menarche.
Further, science teaches that puberty does not end with menarche. It takes at least 2 more years for a child to sexually mature. Islam also missed the mark on this end. Science shows that usually the female body still has a ways to go from the time a girl has her menarche to the time she is sexually able to reproduce, or is considered to have an adult body.
Science further documents that there are times when a child may have "precocious puberty" and have menarche as early as age 8. This is usually due to a dysfunction or disorder within the child.
PUBERTY, MENARCHE, AND REPRODUCTION
There is a misconception that when a young girl has her first menarche, she is capable of getting pregnant. Many primitive cultures believed that a girl can become pregnant following menarche; Muhammad's culture probably believed this as well. However, science tells us this is very rare. Instead, the average time for a girl to become pregnant following menarche is one to two years. Clearly then, girls are not "mature" following their menarche. There are no biological grounds to marry and engage post-menarcheal girls in sexual activity; they cannot conceive children yet. Puberty does not equal maturity, and therefore this misconception should not lead to marriage.
Logically then, menarche is not a sign of a female being able to bear children. Only at the end of puberty can a girl conceive, not at the beginning, not at the middle. Puberty usually takes several years to complete.
APPENDIX 4: ISLAM AND DAMAGE TO YOUNG GIRLS
SCIENCE AND OTHER EFFECTS OF EARLY SEXUAL ACTIVITY
Besides the documented assessment of growth and puberty above, other scientific and research groups have specifically addressed the effects of teen pregnancy. Here are some excerpts from webpages that address this issue.
From the American
Academy of Pediatrics (*)
"... Improvements in prenatal care have resulted in decreases in medical complications among babies born to teenage mothers, but mothers aged 14 years and younger continue to experience unacceptably high rates of adverse outcomes. The most significant medical risks for infants of teenage mothers are likely related to the parental care those infants receive after the first year of life. Infants born to younger teenage mothers have a higher rate of mortality by their second birthday than infants of older adolescents and adults.  The incidence of prenatal mortality and low birth weight increases with subsequent pregnancies in adolescents.  The morbidity experienced by the infants of young mothers is more subtle to define but has been reported to include increased rates of hospitalization and increased risks of accidents, poisonings, burns, and superficial injuries. ...
... In several studies the cognitive levels of infants of younger v older mothers have been compared, and the results indicate lower cognition among the infants of younger mothers...
FROM THE UNITED WAY - MARCH OF DIMES BIRTH DEFECTS FOUNDATION: TEENFACTS (*)
"Health Risks to the Mother"
"A teenage mother is more at risk of pregnancy complications such as premature or prolonged labor, anemia and high blood pressure. These risks are even greater for teens who are less than 15 years old.(3)"
"Health Risks to the Baby"
"A baby born to a teenage mother is more at risk than a baby born to an older mother.
"Nine percent of teenage girls have low-birthweight babies (under 5.5 lbs.), compared to 7 percent of all mothers nationally.(1)"
"Low-birthweight babies may have organs that are not fully developed. This can lead to lung problems such as respiratory distress syndrome, or bleeding in the brain."
"Low-birthweight babies are 40 times more likely to die in their first month of life than normal-weight babies."
FROM THE UNITED NATIONS (*)
NOTE: The webpage I obtained this from was particularly gruesome to read. Some sections, that did not pertain to this topic, (like female genital circumcision, a practice found throughout the Islamic world and taught by one of the 4 major schools of Islamic theology), I could not finish reading myself. It was just too gross. Do not read it if you have a weak stomach, or are disturbed by reports about women being abused. In this paper, I have tried to edit out gruesome details that were not necessary.
"HARMFUL TRADITIONAL PRACTICES AFFECTION THE HEALTH OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN"
"An appraisal of harmful traditional practices and their effects on women and the girl child.
Traditional cultural practices reflect values and beliefs held by members of a community for periods often spanning generations. Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific group, such as women. These harmful traditional practices include female genital mutilation (FGM); forced feeding of women; early marriage; the various taboos or practices which prevent women from controlling their own fertility; nutritional taboos and traditional birth practices; son preference and its implications for the status of the girl child; female infanticide; early pregnancy; and dowry price. Despite their harmful nature and their violation of international human rights laws, such practices persist because they are not questioned and take on an aura of morality in the eyes of those practicing them....
(NOTE: most of these are practiced by the Islamic world).
... Child marriage robs a girl of her childhood-time necessary to develop physically, emotionally and psychologically. In fact, early marriage inflicts great emotional stress as the young woman is removed from her parents' home to that of her husband and in-laws. Her husband, who will invariably be many years her senior, will have little in common with a young teenager. It is with this strange man that she has to develop an intimate emotional and physical relationship. She is obliged to have intercourse, although physically she might not be fully developed....
... Health complications that result from early marriage in the Middle East and North Africa, for example, include the risk of operative delivery, low weight and malnutrition resulting from frequent pregnancies and lactation in the period of life when the young mothers are themselves still growing....
The work of the Committee has also permitted the identification of certain areas where law reform should be undertaken, in both civil and penal areas, such as the minimum age for marriage and establishment of the age of criminal responsibility as being the attainment of puberty. Some States have argued that girls attain their physical maturity earlier, but it is the view of the Committee that maturity cannot simply be identified with physical development when social and mental development are lacking and that, on the basis of such criteria, girls are considered adults before the law upon marriage, thus being deprived of the comprehensive protection ensured by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The International Conference on Population and Development, held at Cairo in September 1994 (see p. 36 below), encouraged Governments to raise the minimum age for marriage. In her preliminary report to the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, also recognized that the age of marriage was a factor contributing to the violation of women's rights ...
Early pregnancy can have harmful consequences for both young mothers and their babies. According to UNICEF, no girl should become pregnant before the age of 18 because she is not yet physically ready to bear children. Babies of mothers younger than 18 tend to be born premature and have low body weight; such babies are more likely to die in the first year of life. The risk to the young mother's own health is also greater. Poor health is common among indigent pregnant and lactating women. ...
An additional health risk to young mothers is obstructed labor, which occurs when the baby's head is too big for the orifice of the mother. This provokes vesicovaginal fistulas, especially when an untrained traditional birth attendant forces the baby's head out unduly....
Generally throughout the developing world, the average food intake of pregnant and lactating mothers is far below that of the average male. Cultural practices, including nutritional taboos, ensure that pregnant women are deprived of essential nutriments, and as a result they tend to suffer from iron and protein deficiencies...."
So not only does science teach us that young girls are not mature just because they have had first menarche, but science teaches us that teen, or worse yet, pre-teenage girls should not be bearing children. Their bodies are not ready for it. These type of pregnancies are frequently harmful both to the mother and the child.
However, Islam does not take into account the child's or mother's health. Consequently, this type of abuse occurs throughout the Islamic world. If anyone wants to see just how bad child abuse is in the Islamic world, read the above webpage posted by the United Nations. Most of the barbaric cultural practices listed there are generally practiced in the Islamic world.
MORE PHYSICAL DAMAGE TO YOUNG GIRLS
Modern medicine teaches that a female's body is not fully developed at age 9. Sexual intercourse at that age could damage a female's sexual organs. For instance, at the age of 9 years old, the cervix of the female is yet undeveloped, as are many of the child's sexual organs. Further, intercourse at this age leads to an 80% increased risk in her developing cervical cancer later in life.
PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE TO YOUNG GIRLS
There have been several studies done on females who were married at a very young age, and then taken into sexual intercourse. Following is a citation from two of them.
"Sexual contact between children and adults: A life course perspective."
Browning, Christopher R; Laumann, Edward O
Citation: American Sociological Review, v62n4, pp.540-560, Aug 1997
Number: 03374356 Features: Table; Illustration; References
Copyright: American Sociological Association 1997
"Research interest in the long-term effects of sexual contact between female children and adults has increased dramatically in the last two decades. Two sets of issues have driven this enhanced attention. The first concerns the nature and extent of the impact these experiences have on subsequent well-being in adulthood. Empirical research has offered evidence of the severe and wide ranging effects of adult-child sex by documenting its associations with a host of later "symptoms," such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction."
"In each reduced model (Model 1), we see that adult-child sexual contact is significantly associated with the outcome considered. Women who experienced adult-child sexual contact were 1.6 times as likely to report sexual desire dysfunction, 2.1 times as likely to report sexual response dysfunction, 2.4 times as likely to report high dysfunction, 1.6 times as likely to report low overall well being, 1.7 times as likely to report low relationship satisfaction, and had more sexual activities that they found appealing compared with those who had no coupled sexual experiences as children. For every outcome except high dysfunction and number of sex acts found appealing, the introduction of the sexual trajectory variables (Models 2 and 3) renders the adult-child sexual contact coefficient insignificant, indicating that the effects of adult-child sex on adult outcomes are largely indirect, mediated through sexual trajectories."
Another such study was done by Peter O. Ebigbo. In the German periodical for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychoanalysis his work was published. The abstract reads:
"Presents data on disturbed female clients whose marriages were arranged at age 9-13 years. When husbands had paid the dowry and fulfilled marriage customs, they were entitled to have sexual intercourse with their wives. Early sexual experience, mostly against the will of the underage girls, precipitated positive or negative reactions. In positive reaction cases, an imprinting fixation on the man took place. If the man died or rejected the young women, a disorientation took place, resulting mostly in an inability to have sexual relationships with other men. If the reaction was negative, the women did all she could to prevent sexual relationships with her husband through a variety of symptoms such as frequent pregnancies and secret love affairs."
APPENDIX 5: AISHA’S ACTIONS
A quick review of Aisha's life, during and following Muhammad's death, shows that she exhibited some psychological problems:
1) She was extremely jealous of some of Muhammad's other wives.
From Bukhari, 5.164:
I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadija (although) she died before he married me, for I often heard him mentioning her, and Allah had told him to give her the good tidings that she would have a palace of Qasab (i.e. pipes of precious stones and pearls in Paradise), and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would send her women-friends a good share of it.
2) She conspired with other wives and lied to and deceived Muhammad.
From Bukhari 7.192:
Narrated 'Ubaid bin 'Umar:
I heard 'Aisha saying, "The Prophet used to stay for a long while with Zanab bint Jahsh and drink honey at her house. So Hafsa and I decided that if the Prophet came to anyone of us, she should say him, "I detect the smell of Maghafir (a nasty smelling gum) in you. Have you eaten Maghafir?' " So the Prophet visited one of them and she said to him similarly. The Prophet said, "Never mind, I have taken some honey at the house of Zainab bint Jahsh, but I shall never drink of it anymore." So there was revealed: 'O Prophet ! Why do you ban (for you) that which Allah has made lawful for you ... If you two (wives of Prophet) turn in repentance to Allah,' (66.1-4) addressing Aisha and Hafsa. 'When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to some of his wives.' (66.3) namely his saying: But I have taken some honey."
3) She was a ringleader in the first Muslim civil war... the first time Muslims took arms up against other Muslims. According to the Hadith, Muslims went to hell for fighting in support of her. In the "Battle of the Camel", thousands of Muslims were killed fighting against each other. Aisha's side lost and she was basically put under house arrest by Ali.
From Bukhari 9.204:
(Al-Ahnaf said:) I went out carrying my arms during the nights of the affliction (i.e. the war between 'Ali and 'Aisha) and Abu Bakra met me and asked, "Where are you going?" I replied, "I intend to help the cousin of Allah's Apostle (i.e., 'Ali)." Abu Bakra said, "Allah's Apostle said, 'If two Muslims take out their swords to fight each other, then both of them will be from amongst the people of the Hell-Fire.' It was said to the Prophet, 'It is all right for the killer but what about the killed one?' He replied, 'The killed one had the intention to kill his opponent.'"
Narrated Abu Wail:
When 'Ali sent 'Ammar and Al-Hasan to (the people of) Kufa to urge them to fight, 'Ammar addressed them saying, "I know that she (i.e. 'Aisha) is the wife of the Prophet in this world and in the Hereafter (world to come), but Allah has put you to test, whether you will follow Him (i.e. Allah) or her."
So not only did Aisha help cause the death of thousands of Muslim men, she is pictured as acting against the very will of Allah.
One can only feel sorry for Aisha. Robbed of her childhood, becoming a bride to a man who had a large sexual appetite for many women, Aisha felt she had to at times lie to and deceive Muhammad to keep his attention. She is forbidden to marry after Muhammad death. Later she helps lead the first Muslim civil war, causing the death of thousands of Muslims, who according to Islam, would go to hell for fighting each other. Finally defeated, she is not executed but ordered to live the rest of her days, essentially under house arrest, in Medina.
APPENDIX 6: ABUSIVE PRACTICES IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD TODAY
Sandra Mackey, in "Saudis, Inside the Desert Kingdom" writes on page 161:
"Girls are considered marriageable from the time they reach puberty. The lower class marries very young. The ages for marriage and first pregnancy on Tarut
Island, off the east coast, were published in a rare study on women that I unearthed from a library. In the group as a whole, the mean age for marriage was fourteen, with the first pregnancy occurring at sixteen. Out of 193 girls, 3 married as young as ten. Among the Bedouins and the rural poor, a girl can be the second of two wives, married to a man older than her father, the mother of several children, and suffering from severe depression by the age of eighteen."
Jean Sasson writes in "Princess"
In Saudi Arabia, the appearance of the first menses means that it is time to select the first veil and abaaya.
A child enters the store, but a woman emerges, veiled, and on that day, of marriageable age. Her life changes in that split second.
There are other books I could quote from, but the above is enough to illustrate the point: the legal abuse of children exists in the Islamic world today. Many of them are coerced, either by their fathers, family, or their family’s financial situation, to accept marriage with a man old enough to be their grandfather. Other girls probably don't even understand what they are getting into when they are approached to marry a man.
Female children are valued greatly for their virginity, exploited by lustful old men, who purchase the girl with a dowry, and use them for sexual gratification. They are left to live as second class people in a culture based upon Muhammad's life. This is the Islam that Muslims in the West don't want to tell you about.
WAS AISHA MATURE ENOUGH TO DECIDE FOR HERSELF? ARE YOUNG GIRLS OLD ENOUGH TO DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES?
It is obvious from reading Aisha's accounts in the Hadith and Tabari's history that she raised no objection in marrying Muhammad. She wasn’t mature enough to understand Muhammad’s marriage proposal. She wasn’t mature enough to know what Muhammad was up to when she was sent into the room and he had her sit on his lap.
It all happened so quickly that she didn't know what was going on. This is not surprising. As stated, the brain's ability to be maturely cognitive occurs well after age 9. At age 9, Aisha was barely able to comprehend the world around her. She knew that Muhammad was someone special, she knew that her father loved him. Because Aisha raised no objection does not make it right. She was too young to truly think and decide for herself.
And what about all the other little girls in the Islamic world who are not "fortunate" enough to marry a celebrity like Muhammad? Do they really have a choice? Are their voices heard? According to what is documented, many are not. Many little girls become severely depressed following Muhammad's "Sunnah" in the Islamic world.
APPENDIX 7: MUHAMMAD'S REASONS FOR MARRYING AISHA
Another claim Muslims make to justify Muhammad's marriage to Aisha is that Muhammad was cementing his bond with Aisha's father, Abu Bakr. But, we read in Tabari that that was not the reason Muhammad married her.
Here is the quote from Tabari, volume 9, page 129.
"The Reason Why the Messenger of God Asked for the Hands of Both Aisha and Sawdah in Marriage ...
... When Khadijah died, Khawlah, wife of Uthman, who was in Mecca, said (to the Messenger of God), "O Messenger of God, will you not marry?" He replied, "Whom"?" "A maiden [virgin]", she said, if you like, or a non-maiden." He replied, "Who is the maiden?" "The daughter of the dearest creature of God to you," she answered, "Aisha bint Abi Bakr."...
She went to Abu Bakr's house, where she found Umm Ruman, mother of Aisha and said, "O Umm Ruman, what a good thing and a blessing has God brought to you!" She said, "What is that?" Khawlah replied, "The Messenger of God has sent me to ask for Aisha's hand in marriage on his behalf."
The story goes on to describe how Abu Bakr then gave his daughter in marriage when she was 6.
Note here there is nothing at all about "cementing ties", between Abu Bakr and Muhammad. Instead, all we see is a match making friend hooking Muhammad up with Aisha. Anyone familiar with Abu Bakr knows that his relationship to Muhammad needed no cementing. He put his life on the line for Muhammad many times and followed him through thick and thin.
Dawood, N. J., "The Koran", Penguin, London, England, 1995
Bukhari, Muhammad, "Sahih Bukhari", Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, India, 1987, translated by M. Khan
Muslim, Abu’l-Husain, "Sahih Muslim", International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1971, translated by A. Siddiqi
Abu Dawud, Suliman, "Sunan", al-Madina, New Delhi, 1985, translated by A. Hasan
al-Tabari, "The History of al-Tabari", (Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk), State University of New York Press 1993
Encyclopadia of Islam, published by Brill, Leiden, Netherlands
The Baker Ency. of the Bible
Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Spoken Language Services, Ithaca, NY, 1976
Danby, Herbet, "The Mishnah", Oxford University Press
Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, edited by Walter A. Elwell, Baker, Grand Rapids MI, 1997
"ADOLESCENCE", by L. Steinberg, pub. by McGraw Hill, 1993
"ADOLESCENCE - TRANSITION FROM CHILDHOOD TO MATURITY", by Lambert, Rothschild, Altland, & Green, pub. by Brooks / Cole.