Smith was right, except for his statement that this was in the Qur’an. Child marriage is obliquely referred to in the Qur’an’s dictum that the three-month waiting period for divorce applies even to women who have not yet menstruated (65:4), but Muhammad’s marriage to six-year-old Aisha is not in the Qur’an. Nevertheless, 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.”
According to Amir Taheri in The Spirit of Allah: Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution (pp. 90-91), 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.
Note also the witless comment of 2GB’s program director David Kidd as he fired Smith: “We won’t be needing you, you can’t call a Deity a paedophile.’’ Muslims do not consider Muhammad a deity, and indeed, think the very idea offensive. Will Kidd now also have to be fired for offending Muslims?
“Shock jock Michael Smith dumped over prophet slur,” by Eamonn Duff, Sydney Morning Herald, June 28, 2014 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Broadcaster Michael Smith has been dumped from a guest slot on radio station 2GB after he referred to the prophet Muhammad as a paedophile.
Smith had been booked to present Chris Smith’s afternoon program for three weeks starting Monday.
However, he has revealed on his website that 2GB’s program director, David Kidd, phoned him on Friday evening and allegedly said: ‘‘We won’t be needing you, you can’t call a Deity a paedophile.’’
Mr Kidd declined to comment when approached by Fairfax Media on Saturday.
Smith’s controversial outburst came during an on-air exchange with Ben Fordham on Thursday. ‘‘The prophet Muhammad was a paedophile, a pederast, a sexual offender, a man who promoted the idea that it was OK to marry a six-year-old and consummate the marriage when the little girl was nine. And that’s written into their books, it’s part of the philosophy … the Koran. It’s factually correct,’’ he said.
Smith remarked that he was legally permitted to make the comments having previously been cleared by an Australian Communications and Media Authority investigation, following an almost identical rant when he was the 2UE afternoon host in 2011.
But his latest blast triggered a barrage of angry calls from listeners, and led to scathing criticism from veteran presenter Ray Hadley at the start of his program on Friday morning.
‘‘I value the worth of this station in the community … and sometimes I’ve been guilty of tarnishing its reputation … for that I’ve apologised,’’ he said. ‘‘… I want to go on record today and completely distance myself from Mr Smith’s comments as well. Yesterday I was insulted by what was said … and I’ve got to speak out against it.’’
Smith, however, is refusing to apologise for the comments.
He said on his website on Saturday: ‘‘I’ve thought about what I said in answer to Ben’s question. I think it’s wrong for a man in his 50s to have sex with a nine-year-old child. It is wrong, it’s a crime and it should be called out for what it is’’.
Smith told Fairfax he stands by his on-air words and the comments that followed on his website. He said he was unsure whether he had also now lost his guest slot on Fordham’s show in the future….