Now wait a minute. The exemplary Moderate Muslim Tarek Fatah just grew monumentally indignant when Wafa Sultan dared to point out that (as is recorded in the earliest, most reliable Islamic sources) Muhammad was 54 when he consummated his marriage with the nine-year-old Aisha. Fatah assured us greasy Islamophobes that Aisha was actually fourteen or fifteen at the time she married Muhammad.
But then why do the Islamic leaders in Yemen not seem to understand this? In Islam, Muhammad is the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21). Thus he is exemplary even in his marriage to a child: Muslims take this seriously and imitate Muhammad in this. Article 1041 of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran states that girls can be engaged before the age of nine, and married at nine: “Marriage before puberty (nine full lunar years for girls) is prohibited. Marriage contracted before reaching puberty with the permission of the guardian is valid provided that the interests of the ward are duly observed.”
The Ayatollah Khomeini himself married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight. Khomeini called marriage to a prepubescent girl “a divine blessing,” and advised the faithful: “Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house.”
Time magazine reported in 2001: “In Iran the legal age for marriage is nine for girls, fourteen for boys. The law has occasionally been exploited by pedophiles, who marry poor young girls from the provinces, use and then abandon them. In 2000 the Iranian Parliament voted to raise the minimum age for girls to fourteen, but this year, a legislative oversight body dominated by traditional clerics vetoed the move. An attempt by conservatives to abolish Yemen’s legal minimum age of fifteen for girls failed, but local experts say it is rarely enforced anyway. (The onset of puberty is considered an appropriate time for a marriage to be consummated.)”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that over half of the girls in Afghanistan and Bangladesh are married before they reach the age of eighteen. In early 2002, researchers in refugee camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan found half the girls married by age thirteen. In an Afghan refugee camp, more than two out of three second-grade girls were either married or engaged, and virtually all the girls who were beyond second grade were already married. One ten-year-old was engaged to a man of sixty.
And now Islamic clerics in Yemen say that to oppose child marriage takes one out of Islam.
What would the exemplary Moderate Muslim Tarek Fatah say to them? What do you bet that if he responds to this at all, it will be not by saying anything to them at all, but by calling me names — the way Moderate Muslim spokesmen in the West always respond to such challenges?
“Yemen: Ban on Child Brides Is Imperiled,” from the Associated Press, March 22 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Some of Yemen’s most influential Muslim leaders have declared supporters of a ban on child brides to be apostates. The religious decree, issued Sunday, imperils efforts to salvage legislation that would make marriage illegal for people younger than 17. A 2009 law that did that was repealed and sent back to Parliament’s constitutional committee for review after some lawmakers called it un-Islamic….