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.