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How old was Aisha when she first had full penetrative vaginal sexual intercourse?

Posted by on May. 16, 2013 at 7:09 PM
  • 62 Replies

 

Poll

Question: How old do you think she was?

Options:

6 - 9

9 - 12

12 - 15

15 - 18

18+


Only group members can vote in this poll.

Total Votes: 33

View Results

In another thread, a Christian asked "Why is the Bible open fodder for criticism but not the Koran?" and then challenged the members of this group to start a thread, implying that Islam is so violent that none of us would dare.

So let's jump in feet first with one of the most controversial questions out there:

How old was Aisha when she first had full penetrative vaginal sexual intercourse?

To start off with, let's discuss how we should discuss such a question...

One obvious problem is that there are no neutral sources out there.   There are pro-Islamic sites (which argue for ages in the range of 13 - 19 years old, usually about 15) and there are anti-Islamic sites (which argue for ages in the range of 6 - 12 years old, usually about 9).

These sources base their arguments upon a variety of hadiths (which don't necessarily agree), but also upon claims of what would have been usual for the society of that time, what would have been legal, when women enter puberty or even at what age women stop playing with dolls.

So is this a resolvable argument?  Or are the sides doomed to conclude "Well, she might have had sex as late as 19, and we think that's what must have happened because the prophet was an honourable man"

Is it an important issue to discuss?  Can it be avoided by claiming that early sex and marriage was just usual for those times?  Or suppressed as being similar to the blood libel against Jews (that they used the blood of Christian babies as sacrifices for their religion) - something so terrible that even raising the question is to support bigotry?

I'd argue that, whatever the outcome, it is something that ought to be discussed rather than suppressed because it is an issue that commonly gets raised as an allegation, and sunlight is the best disinfectant.

by on May. 16, 2013 at 7:09 PM
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Replies (1-10):
momtimesx4
by Gold Member on May. 16, 2013 at 7:13 PM

hehe first post

manifer_momma
by Member on May. 16, 2013 at 7:15 PM
Well, the ages in the poll overlap...

ETA
I'm thinking she was about 15.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
ashellbell
by shellbark on May. 16, 2013 at 7:17 PM
I think, like most religions (especially the abrahamic ones), Islam is just another story recycled through the ages. I'm thinking she was the same age that the character Mary was.
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on May. 16, 2013 at 7:18 PM
1 mom liked this

To kick things off, here's a piece written by a Muslim woman in a serious British newspaper:

(source)

The truth about Muhammad and Aisha

Innocence of Muslims repeated the claim Muhammad was a paedophile, but the story is more complex and interesting than that

Writing about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, the Orientalist scholar W Montgomery Watt wrote: "Of all the world's great men, none has been so much maligned as Muhammad." His quote seems all the more poignant in light of the Islamophobic film Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked riots from Yemen to Libya and which, among other slanders, depicts Muhammad as a paedophile.

This claim is a recurring one among critics of Islam, so its foundation deserves close scrutiny.

Critics allege that Aisha was just six years old when she was betrothed to Muhammad, himself in his 50s, and only nine when the marriage was consummated. They base this on a saying attributed to Aisha herself (Sahih Bukhari volume 5, book 58, number 234), and the debate on this issue is further complicated by the fact that some Muslims believe this to be a historically accurate account. Although most Muslims would not consider marrying off their nine-year-old daughters, those who accept this saying argue that since the Qur'an states that marriage is void unless entered into by consenting adults, Aisha must have entered puberty early.

They point out that, in seventh-century Arabia, adulthood was defined as the onset of puberty. (This much is true, and was also the case in Europe: five centuries after Muhammad's marriage to Aisha, 33-year-old King John of England married 12-year-old Isabella of Angoulême.) Interestingly, of the many criticisms of Muhammad made at the time by his opponents, none focused on Aisha's age at marriage.

According to this perspective, Aisha may have been young, but she was not younger than was the norm at the time. Other Muslims doubt the very idea that Aisha was six at the time of marriage, referring to historians who have questioned the reliability of Aisha's age as given in the saying. In a society without a birth registry and where people did not celebrate birthdays, most people estimated their own age and that of others. Aisha would have been no different. What's more, Aisha had already been engaged to someone else before she married Muhammad, suggesting she had already been mature enough by the standards of her society to consider marriage for a while. It seems difficult to reconcile this with her being six.

In addition, some modern Muslim scholars have more recently cast doubt on the veracity of the saying, or hadith, used to assert Aisha's young age. In Islam, the hadith literature (sayings of the prophet) is considered secondary to the Qur'an. While the Qur'an is considered to be the verbatim word of God, the hadiths were transmitted over time through a rigorous but not infallible methodology. Taking all known accounts and records of Aisha's age at marriage, estimates of her age range from nine to 19.

Because of this, it is impossible to know with any certainty how old Aisha was. What we do know is what the Qur'an says about marriage: that it is valid only between consenting adults, and that a woman has the right to choose her own spouse. As the living embodiment of Islam, Muhammad's actions reflect the Qur'an's teachings on marriage, even if the actions of some Muslim regimes and individuals do not.

Sadly, in many countries, the imperatives motivating the marriage of young girls are typically economic. In others, they are political. The fact that Iran and Saudi Arabia have both sought to use the saying concerning Aisha's age as a justification for lowering the legal age of marriage tells us a great deal about the patriarchal and oppressive nature of those regimes, and nothing about Muhammad, or the essential nature of Islam. The stridency of those who lend credence to these literalist interpretations by concurring with their warped view of Islam does not help those Muslims who seek to challenge these aberrations.

The Islamophobic depiction of Muhammad's marriage to Aisha as motivated by misplaced desire fits within a broader Orientalist depiction of Muhammad as a philanderer. This idea dates back to the crusades. According to the academic Kecia Ali: "Accusations of lust and sensuality were a regular feature of medieval attacks on the prophet's character and, by extension, on the authenticity of Islam."

Since the early Christians heralded Christ as a model of celibate virtue, Muhammad – who had married several times – was deemed to be driven by sinful lust. This portrayal ignored the fact that before his marriage to Aisha, Muhammad had been married to Khadija, a powerful businesswoman 15 years his senior, for 25 years. When she died, he was devastated and friends encouraged him to remarry. A female acquaintance suggested Aisha, a bright and vivacious character.

Aisha's union would also have cemented Muhammad's longstanding friendship with her father, Abu Bakr. As was the tradition in Arabia (and still is in some parts of the world today), marriage typically served a social and political function – a way of uniting tribes, resolving feuds, caring for widows and orphans, and generally strengthening bonds in a highly unstable and changing political environment. Of the women Muhammad married, the majority were widows. To consider the marriages of the prophet outside of these calculations is profoundly ahistorical.

What the records are clear on is that Muhammad and Aisha had a loving and egalitarian relationship, which set the standard for reciprocity, tenderness and respect enjoined by the Qur'an. Insights into their relationship, such as the fact they liked to drink out of the same cup or race one another, are indicative of a deep connection which belies any misrepresentation of their relationship.

To paint Aisha as a victim is completely at odds with her persona. She was certainly no wallflower. During a controversial battle in Muslim history, she emerged riding a camel to lead the troops. She was known for her assertive temperament and mischievous sense of humour – with Muhammad sometimes bearing the brunt of the jokes. During his lifetime, he established her authority by telling Muslims to consult her in his absence; after his death, she went to be become one of the most prolific and distinguished scholars of her time.

A stateswoman, scholar, mufti, and judge, Aisha combined spirituality, activism and knowledge and remains a role model for many Muslim women today. The gulf between her true legacy and her depiction in Islamophobic materials is not merely historically inaccurate, it is an insult to the memory of a pioneering woman.

Those who manipulate her story to justify the abuse of young girls, and those who manipulate it in order to depict Islam as a religion that legitimises such abuse have more in common than they think. Both demonstrate a disregard for what we know about the times in which Muhammad lived, and for the affirmation of female autonomy which her story illustrates.

kailu1835
by Ruby Member on May. 16, 2013 at 7:18 PM
1 mom liked this

In writings attributed to her, she said that she was 9 years old when Muhammed took her into his house.  I don't remember reading when the marriage was actually consummated.

mehamil1
by Platinum Member on May. 16, 2013 at 7:19 PM

I don't know how old she was. But I do know she was very young. Mary was very young (about 13 or 14) when she had Jesus. It was common in those days. People didn't live very long, especially women. For a variety of reasons. So as soon as a girl was menstruating she was married off. I do believe that her and Mohammad consummated their marriage after she hit puberty. 

12hellokitty
by Ruby Member on May. 16, 2013 at 7:19 PM
1 mom liked this

Clairwill do you think Aisha was a real person?  

BlueRay
by Bronze Member on May. 16, 2013 at 7:19 PM
Who is she supposed to be?
SuperChicken
by on May. 16, 2013 at 7:21 PM

One of Muhammad's wives.


Quoting BlueRay:

Who is she supposed to be?


 

Momtoela
by on May. 16, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I have never read any of the sources for myself, but I have heard anywhere between 9 and 15. 

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