This week, I was planning to write about a different subject until I came across this video (by chance on Twitter). Watching this 55-second-long arabic video was enough to convince me that this topic should not be ignored.
In this video, the Egyptian scholar Sheik Mustafa El Adawy answers questions from the public on the religious TV channel Al-Nas. The questions were as follows: what is the Islamic rule of marrying a girl who didn’t reach puberty? Is it halal or haram? If halal, does she have to take a purification bath after intercourse, even if she didn’t “ejaculate any sexual fluid”?
Sheik Mustafa’s reply was as follows: “Yes it is allowed to marry a girl before puberty, if she can cope with the sexual marital relation.” Then, he added: “She has to have a purification bath because it is a must after any intercourse.”
Now let’s try to explain this strange episode: An Islamic ‘scholar’ sanctions the marriage of a child who has not reach puberty. He even acknowledges that the girl will be as dry as a bone and unresponsive to this sexual relation; still, he insists that she would be somehow unclean and need to be purified.
Before I go any further, I really hope that this is not true. I pray that Sheik Mustafa did not issue this verdict. If this is the case, now is the opportunity for him to denounce the video and the fatwa. It is also worth saying that I do not know Sheik Mustafa and never came across him before watching this video.
However, if this video is indeed true and Sheik Mustafa issued this fatwa, then I am frankly angry, disgusted and shocked. How can a scholar sanction exploitation of children? How – in his opinion – can a family decide that their child who clearly has not reached puberty should have a sexual relationship? Does Sheik Mustafa think humans are robots without feelings? Does he sanction exploitation?
It seems that humanity for some scholars is merely a set of rules and regulations that have to be fulfilled. To them, the mental and emotional welfare of children is not important as long as the children are “clean”.
Some may ask why I chose to raise this issue. They may argue that this cleric is not part of the mainstream, just a fringe of extreme radicals followed by a tiny minority of Muslims. They may also highlight concerns that my timing is not right, that it may be unwise to address such a sensitive issue during the current global crisis following the anti-Islam film “ The Innocence of Muslims.”
My reply is simple. It is precisely because of the silly anti-Islam movie and the global rage that ensued that I am deciding to highlight this video. I am deeply alarmed that these kinds of videos don’t trigger any response in the Muslim world.
Muslims are enraged if the “West” had denigrated or mocked them, but it seems that we are indifferent to the radicals who consistently sideline us. I am, by no means, advocating a reversion to idiocy and a repeat of last week’s violent protests, but I am hoping for some response; at least similar to the genuine outrage expressed in social media against the controversial Newsweek cover (Muslim Rage).
I want to ask my people – does the innocent victim of this fatwa not deserve our attention? I shudder from the thought of her ordeal and what she is going through as a result of this sanctioned marriage. For her and for others who may have the same fate, I wrote this piece.
I wish Muslims would stop obsessing over how the West portrays them. The Arab awakening has taught us that our desire for freedom did come from within, like the desire to reform Islamic thoughts. Like we revolted against tyrants, we should also revolt against religious nerds who are hiding under the guise of Islam. This is the only path for our salvation. In this critical stage of our history, we simply cannot afford to turn a blind eye to these fatwas and hope they will fade without causing much disruption. Those fake scholars are now stronger than ever; they are here to stay, equipped with satellite channels and social media and probably financial support.
I hope many Muslims will be enraged once they read this blog piece, and I dream they protest “peacefully” in front of the El- Nas TV channel and demand a withdrawal of this obscene verdict. I also wish Sheik Mustafa will reflect on his thoughts and change his mind; that would be even better. I modestly hope of a successful Twitter campaign under the hashtag #NoToChildMarriage. I can hope, dream, and wish, but I am not holding my breath.
Didn’t the “prophet” do the same with a nine year old? I’m sure that good people can find the good in islam, but the bad can equally find evil. It seems that Islam is a mass of cognitive dissonance that cannot be reconciled.
the issue of the age of Aysha (r.a. the wife of prophet Muhammed (pbuh)) is one of controversy there are some who say she WAS 9 and there are some who say she was older…the evidence for the latter is that the Arab’s used a strange system to count the years the year would be labeled by a major event that had happened that year so the only 2 companions during the time of Muhammed (pbuh) were Abu-Bakr (r.a.) and Muhammed (pbuh) also another thing to note is that THIS act of marrying young women was VERY common back in those times as well as in the time of the forefathers of USA. Also, Aysha(r.a.) was engaged to another man BEFORE Muhammed (pbuh).
I appreciate your reply, and appreciate that there is ambiguity regarding the age issue, and will gladly defer to your more expert judgement on this matter.
Also, I understand and respect (while not in agreement with it) the idea of betrothal–marriage by promise–provided that the arrangement doesn’t permit sexual intercourse. But IF we are talking about a nine year old child having sexual relations with Mohammed, isn’t this is a serious cause of concern at the core of Islam?
While I think you have good motives here, I do not have respect for the point that since it was commonly done back in the times it is, by implication, OK. Intercourse with someone so young lead to permanent damage to a child and her ability to have children in the future, not even considering the emotional trauma. It also causes one to wonder about the judgement and capacities of men who would perform such acts and the religious leaders motivating Nervana’s post that would justify the practice.
Thank you for highlighting this abomination.
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It isn’t a weird nor an outrageous Fatwa as you might think!.. Actually, his verdict is the right – but short – answer to the question.
Details are here:
The condition here is for the girl\wife to be able “physically and otherwise” stand\endure\bear the act of penetration.. and it is a separate issue from reaching puberty.
Research it if you don’t believe me!
I read all that and it is very unconvincing.How a father can assess that his daughter who didn’t reach puberty, so doesn’t have the hormonal changes associated, which lead to breast enlargement and pubic hair, how he can assess that she can cope with sexual intercourse? Those scholars legalise pedophilia.
No woman of any age should have to “stand\endure\bear the act of penetration”. Would you be happy for your sister or daughter to have sex forced on her like this, at such a young age? No girl of this age is emotionally able to cope with this if the “otherwise” you mean is the emotional impact. Think about any girl children of this age in your immediate family – would you want this for them? It can damage them not only physically, but change their emotional and mental attitude to sex for life, and that will NOT make for a happy marriage, for the woman or the man.
Excellent article! I see this is more offensive and dangerous to Islam than some hateful people making a movie about Islam.
Many thanks Aymen.
Just read a few lines
How naive !
First time to know such a thing ?!
Are you living in another planet?!
You’ll know much more if you started reading instead of watching tv
Thanks. In my ” naive” life in Egypt where I was born and lived for years I never come across an Egyptian scholar ths sanction pre- puberty marriage, Egypt was NEVER Afghanistan.
aside from the subject matter as i dont believe that someone should decide for another person whether he should get married or not even if they were your parents, but what i wanted to comment her is about all those channels and sheyokh who are giving away opinions and fatwah as you call it without the supervision of azhar, i believe that el azhar should ratify any religious opinion issued from any sheikh before people start to follow misguided rules.
Couldn’t agree more!
Damn. Don’t know whether to consider myself naive, beyond shocked, or both. This fellow was an Egyptian mufti? I thought such religious scholars historically had to have a ” license to teach and issue legal opinions” ? However, to put some perspective on this, marriage of pre-pubescent girls was a feature of the Lacandone Maya in tropical Mexico into the 1980s. I personally recall a 60+ year old, pagan, polygamous Mayan man with a 10 year old bride during my younger days doing early environmental toxicology studies there. However, he distinguished between the marriage and the act of consummation, saying he until her teens by agreement with the parents. I was shocked then, but this wasn’t in th heartland of Arab thought and culture.
I would add to this that protests still need to be made about the high percentage of women in Egypt subjected to female genital mutilation. Tradition and religion are no excuse or justification for these practices. Islam is supposed to be a religion that treats women justly, it is one of the reasons I embraced Islam, despite reservations about how I see it practiced by some, and the stupidity (sorry, there is no other word for it) of some statements made by some called religious scholars. These practices are not just. If those scholars think I, or Nervana, or anyone else is bad for speaking out against them, that is their problem. Between myself and Allah, I could not be at peace if I did not state repulsion at these practices, and join the appeal for change.
FGM is not a “Muslim” practice – it is mainly a North African practice that many many non-Muslims have practiced for generations in that region. It is not practiced in Muslim countries that are not in North Africa. It is a tribal custom that cuts across religious lines. An abomination, yes. Not a specifically Muslim abomination, however.
Thanks, but the piece is NOT about FGM, it is about age of marriage. This Sheik sanctioned marriage for girls even before they reach puberty.
Thank you Nirvana for a great article! I would like to show you a map in a link below, a result of a study done in 2011 on female genital mutilation. In addition to fight against child marriages this issue should be on top of the agenda for everyone who fights against human torture and discrimination. I believe this fight cannot succeed without a strong group of women leaders around the world to take the lead. Other women will follow, guaranteed. Since women represent about 50% of all human population we can guess how big force that is. It is just that it needs to be utilized, sooner the better. It is high time to start thinking about solutions, instead of repeating the issues, over and over…If any of you need somebody to help out with planning and organizing activities on FB let me know. I would be happy to help.
Thank you Nirvana for a great article! I would like to show you a map in a link below, a result of a study done in 2011 on female genital mutilation. In addition to fight against child marriages this issue should be on top of the agenda for everyone who fights against human torture and discrimination. I believe this fight cannot succeed without a strong group of women leaders around the world to take the lead. Other women will follow, guaranteed. Since women represent about 50% of all human population we can guess how big force that is. It is just that it needs to be utilized, sooner the better. It is high time to start thinking about solutions, instead of repeating the issues, over and over…If any of you need somebody to help out with planning and organizing activities on FB let me know. I would be happy to help. Twitter azra13
Dear jeff in islam we believe that anything that the prophet prayers and peace be upoun Him has Made is inspired by Allah for the reasons that Allah knows better and till now no scientist or writer or a man of religione proved that anything that the prophet made has harmed or hurted anybody in his time or in the modern world we r living now or Even has a bad effect or that his acts are wrong or mad on the contrary till now and we muslims believe till forever everything proved that anything in islam that the qurran says or the prophet did are the best for humanity , the relationships, the family, the health etc etc secondly there are some rules and orders specified only for the prophet thirdly study all the sayings and story of aysha his wife may allah be pleased with her and how she describes and speak about the prophet prayers and peace upoun him and their marriage how happy her life was and how she is one of the most important masters for islam for the muslims me as a muslim girl i am not with or Against this fatwa cause in islam before u speak or judge u have to study and learn and have the proof and compare so please read more to know better and When u read choose the reliable and truthfull sources to know the truth thanks and may Allah god guide us all to the right road
Thank you Om Bilal for your comment. however I am a bit alarmed that you did not comment on the original piece.It is NOT about Aisha and the Prophet.Islam did not sanction marriage for children! One more observation, who told you that every human would be as perfect as the Prophet? Thanks
Dear OM Bilal:
I think every religion has a share of both very moderate peaceful people and very extreme uncompromising people. Today it seems that extreme people are always able outflank moderates, not just in Islam. Non-Muslims would have a better image of Islam if we heard more from thoughtful peaceful people like you and Nervana.