“The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with ‘Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).” — Bukhari 7.62.88
This is Muhammad’s example. It will be essentially impossible to keep Muslim men from emulating his example as long as he is held up as the supreme model for conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21).
Sharia Alert from the Kingdom of the Two Holy Places: “Child marriage still an issue in Saudi Arabia,” by Joel Brinkley for the San Francisco Chronicle, March 13:
Saudi Arabia has a serious child-marriage problem.
It’s emblematic of the nation’s struggle between modernity and traditional Islam. But the lives of thousands of little girls are being destroyed as the Saudi government ponderously debates a solution.
Child marriage has been acceptable, even encouraged, in many Islamic states since the religion was born. After all, among the prophet Muhammad’s dozen wives was Aisha, who is believed to have been 6 or 7 years old when the two were married. But in Saudi Arabia, at least, the practice slammed headlong into modern values last spring, when a Saudi court refused to nullify the marriage of an 8-year-old girl from Unaiza to a man in his late 50s.
Over the past few years, long-standing social practices in Saudi Arabia have been thrown into the glare of world opinion, embarrassing the state and forcing at least cosmetic changes.
In 2006, for example, a judge sentenced a young woman to 200 lashes and several months in prison for being alone in a car with a man she was not related to, where they were attacked and she was raped. Opprobrium from around the world rained down on Riyadh. President George W. Bush asked: “What happens if this happens to my daughter? I’d be angry at a state that does not support the victim.” King Abdullah commuted the sentence.
In 2008, one of the nation’s most senior religious authorities directed that two reporters for a mainstream Saudi newspaper be executed for publishing stories suggesting that religions other than Islam are worthy of respect. Once again, the cleric’s remark spawned international outrage, and the cleric’s order was ignored. Then came last spring’s court ruling on that 8-year-old wife….
Saudi Arabia is hardly the only state facing this problem. Last year, Turkey made it legal for 12-year-olds to marry, if their parents agree. The Turkish Statistical Institute estimates that one-third of the state’s brides are under 18. In Yemen and Bangladesh, even among some sects in Burma, child marriage is commonplace. The victims, in those places and elsewhere: little girls who are forced into wasted, often miserable, lives….