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Was Muhammad a Pedophile?

June 30, 2017 Leave a comment

One of the often repeated attacks on Islam is the accusation that Muhammad had sexual relations with a nine year old girl. Many critics of the religion mistakenly think that this is in the Koran. Others cite sources outside of the Koran as authoritative proof that he actually did this. I want to look at this accusation rationally and provide some possible alternative explanations.

First of all, I need to clear up a misconception regarding this alleged incident. Nowhere in the Koran does it say how many wives Muhammad had. We know from Arabic grammar that he had at least three wives because Arabic nouns have singular, dual, and plural number. Respecting the nouns and most pronouns, the plural number indicates three or more. However, the Koran limits the number of wives that a man can have to four. (Koran 4:3) Muhammad claimed to follow the Koran. (Koran 6:50; 7:203; 10:15; 46:9) So, it is reasonable to assume that he had no more than four. The names of his wives are not mentioned in the Koran. The ages of his wives are not mentioned either. We do not know from reading the Koran if Muhammad had a wife named Khadijah who was fifteen years older than he. We do not know from the Koran that Muhammad married a six year old girl named Aisha and had sexual relations with her when she was nine.

So, where do these tales about the Islamic prophet’s wives come from? The answer is from the Sunnah. The Sunnah is a large collection of stories about Muhammad. Many contain alleged sayings of Muhammad. Those sayings and stories are called hadiths (in Arabic, ahadith).

Here are the hadiths that talk about Muhammad having sexual relations with a nine year old girl named Aisha.

Narrated Hisham’s father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married `Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old. (Sahih al-Bukhari 3896)

Narrated `Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death). (Sahih al-Bukhari 5133)

Narrated `Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have been informed that `Aisha remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death). (Sahih al-Bukhari 5134)

Narrated ‘Urwa: 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). (Sahih al-Bukhari 5158)

A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah’s Apostle married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old. (Sahih Muslim 1422b)

Narrated ‘A’isha: ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah’s Apostle married her when she was six years old, and he (the Holy Prophet) took her to his house when she was nine, and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old (Sahih Muslim 1422d)

Narrated ‘Aishah: The Messenger of Allah married me when I was seven years old. The narrator Sulaiman said: or Six years. He had intercourse with me when I was nine years old. (Sunan Abi Dawud 2121) Grade: Sahih

It was narrated from ‘Aishah that the Messenger of Allah married her when she was six years old, and consummated the marriage with her when she was nine. (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3255) Grade: Sahih

The hadiths are graded sahih (authentic), hasan (good), or daif (weak). All of the above hadiths were graded by the compilers as sahih (authentic).

Now, before someone jumps to a conclusion, it is good to know more about these hadiths and their compilers. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sahih al-Bukhari was born in 810 and died in 870. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sahih Muslim was born in 815 and died in 875. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sunan Abi Dawud was born in 817 and died in 889. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sunan An-Nasa’i was born in 829 and died in 915. Muhammad died in 632. The hadith compilers based the truthfulness of the hadiths on a chain of narrators. That chain of narrators is called an isnad. The isnad appears in the Arabic text of the hadith collections but not in the English translations of those collections. It basically says something like, “So-and-so narrated that so-and-so narrated that so-and-so narrated that so-and-so narrated that so-and-so said or did…” Since so much time has passed and none of these hadith compilers were alive between 632 and 810, it is impossible for them to verify the truthfulness of the isnad. They would need a time machine. To this date, no man has ever possessed a time machine. Another thing to remember is that the hadith compilers were Persians. The first Muslims were Arabs. The Arabs and the Persians fought against each other. The Persians did not like the Arabs. So, people from an ethnic group that hated the Arabs were compiling hadiths for Arab Muslims to use in their religion.

Basically then, those hadith collections are nothing more than a large collection of hearsay compiled by people who were members of an ethnic group that hated Arabs. Why should anyone believe any of those hadiths? They are simply a bunch of fabricated stories which, for all that we can really know, may very well have no basis in fact at all.

Think of an ancestor of yours who died 200 years ago. Can you produce a nine volume encyclopedia containing factual accounts of what that ancestor said and did? Can you produce six or seven different nine volume encyclopedias containing such factual accounts about that ancestor? I know that I could not do that. Use your brain then. Those hadiths are hearsay. Would any Superior Court judge in the United States admit those hadiths as evidence in court? No, of course not.

Maybe a ninth century pedophile wanted to justify his pedophilia before various religious leaders and court judges. Maybe that ninth century pedophile invented this story about the Islamic prophet to do that. Maybe the Persians wanted to make fools of the Arabs and have them marrying nine year old girls. Maybe they invented this story about Muhammad and Aisha so that they could do that. Maybe there is some truth to the hadiths regarding this matter.  Maybe Muhammad pretended to do all of that with a nine year old girl, but never really did that. Maybe he did all of that in order to hide his virtues. There are many Christians Saints who have done things to hide their virtues. Muhammad could have been doing the same thing.

Anyway, the Koran teaches that women have a choice regarding whom they marry.

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

A man has the right to choose his wife and women have similar rights to men. So, they have the right to choose their husbands. A woman cannot be inherited from a deceased relative against her will.

O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. (Koran 4:19, Yusuf Ali)

A divorced woman can choose whom she marries. Her next marriage is formed by an agreement between her and her next husband in kindness.

And when ye have divorced women and they reach their term, place not difficulties in the way of their marrying their husbands if it is agreed between them in kindness. This is an admonition for him among you who believeth in Allah and the Last Day. That is more virtuous for you, and cleaner. Allah knoweth; ye know not. (Koran 4:232, Pickthall)

A man who owns a slave girl is forbidden to force her into prostitution.

Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 24:33, Pickthall)

Since a slave girl can decide to preserve her chastity, her master cannot automatically expect her to become his wife or provide him with sexual favors outside of wedlock. A man may marry his slave girl, but only then with her permission. If he wants to have sexual relations with her, HE MUST MARRY HER!

And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. Allah knoweth best (concerning) your faith. Ye (proceed) one from another; so wed them by permission of their folk, and give unto them their portions in kindness, they being honest, not debauched nor of loose conduct. (Koran 4:25, Pickthall)

Concerning slavery, the Koran actually encourages masters to emancipate their slaves. (Koran 2:177; 24:33; 90:12,13) Slavery existed in the seventh century among the Muslims because they lived in a non-Islamic culture that denied women the same rights as those of men. The Muslims used that institution of slavery to protect unmarried women (divorced women and widows) from prostitution. If a woman lost her husband back then, she could not go get a job at a convenience store on the corner of Main Street and Sixth Avenue. She was very dependent on men to help her or she would have to prostitute herself in order to survive. Remember that Arabia is a desert. People lived in the desert, not in a rainforest or subtropical environment with trees and vegetation.

As for this girl named Aisha if she really existed at all, she would have been too young to consent to marriage. She would have needed to have been older in order to make an informed decision. A young six year old girl is under the authority of her parents. She really would not have a choice if her father wanted her to marry a fifty year old man. Marriage is a choice granted to both men and women according to the Koran.

But then again, maybe that girl Aisha was nineteen and not nine when she had sexual relations with Muhammad. Maybe they both agreed to marry each other and then made love after the wedding. I really do not give much credence to that large collection of hearsay called the Sunnah anyway. So, I really do not care what those hadiths say.

 

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