Few things are more abundantly attested in Islamic law than the permissibility of child marriage. Islamic tradition records that Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, was six when Muhammad wedded her and nine when he consummated the marriage:
“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).
Another tradition has Aisha herself recount the scene:
The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. 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 Allright, 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 Apostle 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 5.58.234).
Muhammad was at this time fifty-four years old.
Marrying young girls was not all that unusual for its time, but because in Islam Muhammad is the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21), he is considered exemplary in this unto today. And so in April 2011, the Bangladesh Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini declared that those trying to pass a law banning child marriage in that country were putting Muhammad in a bad light: “Banning child marriage will cause challenging the marriage of the holy prophet of Islam, [putting] the moral character of the prophet into controversy and challenge.” He added a threat: “Islam permits child marriage and it will not be tolerated if any ruler will ever try to touch this issue in the name of giving more rights to women.” The Mufti said that 200,000 jihadists were ready to sacrifice their lives for any law restricting child marriage.
Likewise the influential website Islamonline.com in December 2010 justified child marriage by invoking not only Muhammad’s example, but the Qur’an as well:
The Noble Qur’an has also mentioned the waiting period [i.e. for a divorced wife to remarry] for the wife who has not yet menstruated, saying: “And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women, if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated” [Qur’an 65:4]. Since this is not negated later, we can take from this verse that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl. The Qur’an is not like the books of jurisprudence which mention what the implications of things are, even if they are prohibited. It is true that the prophet entered into a marriage contract with A’isha when she was six years old, however he did not have sex with her until she was nine years old, according to al-Bukhari.
Other countries make Muhammad’s example the basis of their laws regarding the legal marriageable age for girls. 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.”
Iran’s 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 to give their own daughters away accordingly: “Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house.” When he took power in Iran, he lowered the legal marriageable age of girls to nine, in accord with Muhammad’s example.
MANSEHRA: A local jirga in Shamali area of Battagram has decided to marry off an eight-year-old girl to a 26-year-old man to settle a dispute between two families.
Local sources said that the jirga was held last week to settle a dispute, which was result of the second marriage of the father of the minor girl. They said that father of the minor girl eloped with a married woman few years ago.
The custom of handing over women to rival party for settling a dispute is called vani in the area. The practice is still common in remote parts of upper Hazara.
“We have registered an FIR against a cleric, who solemnised the marriage of Farnaz Bibi with Sadiq Shah, and 12 other people including family members of both the bride and bridegroom,” said Jehanzeb Khan,” the district police officer of Battagram, on Sunday.
He said that Meherban Shah, the father of victim girl, contracted second marriage with the wife of Sadiq Shah some three years ago and fled the area.
The official said that local elders convened a jirga to settle the feud in accordance with the local tradition last week. The jirga issued a decree to hand over the minor daughter of Meherban Shah to the former husband of his second wife, he said, adding the knot was tied in the same jirga.
The official said that Syed Mehboob Shah, the maternal uncle of the victim girl, approached police to register an FIR on Saturday.
He said that FIR was registered against 13 people including Maulvi Ghufran Shah, Sadiq Shah, Nanga Shah, Mudasser Shah, Syed Ali Shah, Mehtab Shah, Akbar Shah, Zubair Khan, Younas Shah, Yousaf Shah, Bashir Shah and Meherban Shah.
Mohammad Rafique, the SHO of Shamlai police station, told journalists that raids were being conducted to arrest the people, nominated in the FIR.
Mr Rafique said that though nikah of the minor girl was performed in the jirga yet the wedding ceremony was scheduled to be held after some time.