Muslim “child-marriage” — euphemism for pedophilia — is making headlines again, at least in Arabic media: Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, a prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, just issued a fatwa asserting that there is no minimum age for marriage, and that girls can be married “even if they are in the cradle.”
Appearing in Saudi papers on July 13, the fatwa complains that “Uninformed interference with Sharia rulings by the press and journalists is on the increase, posing dire consequences to society, including their interference with the question of marriage to small girls who have not reached maturity, and their demand that a minimum age be set for girls to marry.”
Fawzan insists that nowhere does Sharia set an age limit for marrying girls: like countless Muslim scholars before him, he relies on Koran 65:4, which discusses marriage to females who have not yet begun menstruating (i.e., are prepubescent) and the fact that Muhammad, Islam’s role model, married Aisha when she was 6 years old, “consummating” the marriage — or, in modern parlance, raping her — when she was 9.
The point of the Saudi fatwa, however, is not that girls as young as 9 can have sex, based on Muhammad’s example, but rather that there is no age limit whatsoever; the only question open to consideration is whether the girl is physically capable of handling her husband/rapist. Fawzan documents this point by quoting Ibn Batal’s authoritative exegesis of Sahih Bukhari:
The ulema [Islam’s interpreters] have agreed that it is permissible for fathers to marry off their small daughters, even if they are in the cradle. But it is not permissible for their husbands to have sex with them unless they are capable of being placed beneath and bearing the weight of the men. And their capability in this regard varies based on their nature and capacity. Aisha was 6 when she married the prophet, but he had sex with her when she was 9 [i.e., when she was deemed capable].
Fawzan concludes his fatwa with a warning: “It behooves those who call for setting a minimum age for marriage to fear Allah and not contradict his Sharia, or try to legislate things Allah did not permit. For laws are Allah’s province; and legislation is his excusive right, to be shared by none other. And among these are the rules governing marriage.”
Fawzan, of course, is not the first to insist on the legitimacy of pedophilia in Islam. Even the former grand mufti of Saudi Arabia supported “child-marriage,” since “the Koran and Sunna document it.”
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