Muhammad, a “beautiful pattern of conduct” for believers according to Qur’an 33:21, married Aisha when she was six, and consummated the marriage when she was nine (Sahih Bukhari 7.62.88). That is what stands in the way of ending the practice of child marriage in Muslim countries. If Muhammad did it, it is not only lawful, but laudable, and to condemn it would be to imply Muhammad did something wrong, or at least that his example is not as relevant for all time.
That sort of thing doesn’t generally go over well. “Calls to end child marriages rejected,” from the Straits Times, December 8 (thanks to Twostellas):
KUALA LUMPUR – MALAYSIA’S law minister on Wednesday shot down calls to ban underage marriage, despite an uproar over the recent wedding of a 14-year-old Muslim school girl.
Siti Maryam Mahmod wed 23-year-old teacher Abdul Manan Othman last weekend in a mass wedding at a major mosque, after being given permission in an Islamic Sharia court.
Malaysian Muslims below the age of 16 are allowed to marry as long as they obtain the permission of the religious courts. Sharia law runs in parallel with civil law in the multi-ethnic country.
Nazri Aziz, a minister in the premier’s department in charge of legal affairs, said the government has no plan to review laws allowing for underage marriages because the practice is permitted under Islam.
‘If the religion allows it, then we can’t legislate against it,’ he told a press conference.
‘Islam allows it as long as the girl is considered to have reached her pubescent stage, once she has her menstruation,’ he added.