Friday, March 18, 2011

Muhammad and Aisha

A beliefnet interview with Deepak Chopra quotes him as saying "some of the {facts of Muhammad's life} are not very palatable. There's the beheading of the Jews, there's the marriage to Aisha, a girl of 6 -- we are told all this from history, confirmed by scholars."

I've already written about the beheading of the Jews, but I suppose this is as good a time as any to discuss his relationship with Aisha. For many people,this story is a deal breaker that completely devalues everything else Muhammad ever did. For that reason, it is important to paraphrase the two most common responses to this issue by modern Muslims.

1) Some Muslims say it was a different time and that this sort of thing was acceptable back then. Some have pointed out that in the 19th century USA, the age of consent was 10 in almost every state. According to the only Hadith that deals with this issue, Aisha was 6 when she married Muhammad, and consummated the marriage at 9. Are we really going to label Muhammad a monster over a one year difference? Ignoring Muhammad's alleged behavior on this issue does not require us to approve of it. Muhammad was often ahead of his time, but perhaps on this particular issue he wasn't. Like George Washington and Abraham, he also kept slaves. No one claims that Washington's numerous other accomplishments and virtues should be completely ignored because he was a slave holder. Why not give Muhammad similar allowances for the customs of his time?

2) There are also many Muslim scholars who are highly critical of the single hadith that supports this claim. It was from a highly questionable source-a male friend of Muhammad's who obviously wasn't there at the time- and is not confirmed by any other source. This source claims that he heard the details from Aisha, but Aisha herself was one of the greatest contributors of hadiths, and makes no mention of it. There are also other historical sources which seem to contradict it. For example, Aisha was reported to have been present at a battle which was only a few years after her wedding, and she would have been too young to be permitted on the battlefield if she had gotten married at six. Scholars who use these alternative sources usually date Aisha's wedding age as around fourteen or fifteen.

So how about focusing on Muhammad's teachings, and ignoring thousand year old gossip? Chopra's claim that this incident is "confirmed by scholars" is an overstatement at best, and the incident is not that important even if it occurred.

3 comments:

  1. hey salaam
    I just came across your blog by chance just wanted to say Thank you for your beautiful mannerism and the respect you have for my beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa Salala hu alawyhi wasalam(means peace be upon him :P) Me being a Muslim
    am not used to hearing someone praise our Prophet nobody acknowledges the greatness and the beautiful
    character he possessed and i am so happy that you are aware of this and acknowledge it . Thank you reading your profile had me in tears he is indeed a jem and I pray to Allah to keep you safe and happy and may he always guide you to the right path Ameen x
    May Allah reward you for your efforts

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  2. this nasheed describes the character of our Prophet peace be upon him you'l love it

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMvfp1EsRO4

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  3. Hi, I just came across your website, and I would like to say...God Bless you. Thank you for showing our prophet and our religion respect, like their should be respect to every religion, but sadly, there isn't. You are one of the people making a difference in this world, and I really wish there were more people like you.

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