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.”
Nor is this just some theoretic, theological point; the lives of many young girls are being destroyed because of this ruling. Recall, for instance, the 13-year-old girl who died while her much older husband was copulating with her (it was later revealed that, due to her reluctance, he was tying her up and “raping” her—as if there is another way to describe sex with children); or the 12-year-old who died giving birth to a stillborn; or the 10-year-old who made headlines by hiding out from her 80-year-old “husband.”
Then there are the countless anonymous girls who do nothing to warrant any media attention—such as die—and have learned to live with their elderly husbands pawing at them, like, no doubt, the girl who married Islam’s most popular cleric, Yusuf Qaradawi, when she was 14.
What do we make of the fact that it is always Islam’s religious, authoritative voices—not aberrant voices, not “terrorists,” “extremists,” or any other euphemism coined for the occasion—that are constantly demonstrating Sharia’s savageries? Weeks before this fatwa, a female politician and activist in Kuwait called for institutionalizing sex-slavery (recommending that Muslims buy and sell female Russian captives from the Chechnya war); a popular Egyptian preacher not only said the same thing, but added that the solution to Islam’s poverty is to go on jihad and plunder the lives and possessions of infidels.
Sounds odd? Perhaps; but it is perfectly consistent. After all, distilled and in the eyes of the non-believer, Sharia law is nothing less than a legal system built atop the words and deeds of a 7th century Arab, whose behavior—from pedophilia and sex-slavery to war mongering and plundering—was very much that of a 7th century Arab. Having enticed or enslaved his contemporaries into following him, his teachings continue to entice and enslave their descendants; and, now as then, it is always the innocent who suffer.