Spittoon has an article on the banning by the AwamiNazi League in ‘Bangladesh’ of the popular Muslim speaker Bilal Phillips.
Of course we’re kidding!
Mr Gazi attempts to hide his animus for Bilal Phillips by justifying the ban because of his alleged support for child marriage.
A practice that of course is completely unknown in Awami League East Pakistan
Indeed it appears that the sick Hindu practice of selling children for marriage appears to have reached the Bengali disapora too!
Since this article is written by Faisal ‘cant read’ Gazi it of course has contradictions a few lines after each other:
Philips has called for the death penalty of homosexuals. As a prominent Muslim scholar, he extols the virtues of child marriage and justifies marital rape. He justifies violence against women in reference to Quranic scripture which contains passages which mention “punishment”. He upholds the legal practice of Hudood as the only form of penal law compliant with the Qu’ran and Sharia as the “right of God” (“haqq Allaah”). He calls for strict corporal and capital punishment for 6 offences: “drinking alcohol. theft, armed robbery, illicit sex [homosexual, paedophilia, bestiality], sexual slander and apostasy.
but of course the AwamiNazi league is anti-ALL extremists not just Muslim ones. It and Faisal Gazi would have exactly the same attitude towards Hindu extremists being invited to the country.
And just to put things further in context here’s an article Spittoon posted from 2010 charmingly titled:
Did Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, rape a nine-year old girl called Aisha?
It seems all the Islam hating ex-Muslims were reading from the same hymn book. Their mantra: A Muslim cannot be a “moderate Muslim,” unless they renounce their faith.
Farzana Hassan, author of Islam, Women and the Challenges of Today, who has faced her fair share of death threats at the hands of Islamists, on learning about this controversy, asked the rhetorical question. “Should a moderate Muslim simply become a lackey who accepts every insult hurled their way?” She wrote:
“Moderate Muslims, reserve the right to defend any unwarranted criticism of either the founder of Islam or the faith. This is not to suggest that a great deal of the criticism is not justified. It is. Moderate Muslims, without hesitation, and at great risk to our lives, unequivocally condemn all atrocities committed in the name of Islam. We continuously work toward eliminating gender inequalities among Muslims including child marriages. Nonetheless, the charge against Mohammad as a child molester, however, is unjustified for the following reason: His relationship with Aisha was a loving relationship between two consenting adults. It is more than likely that Aisha was closer to being nineteen than nine at the time of marriage. This claim is supported by historical data that puts Aisha at least 15 at the time, though it is likely she was older.”
It is not just Islam-haters who have a stake in reaffirming the myth that Muhammad had a child bride. The fact is that throughout Islamic history, many a caliph and mulla has committed pedophilia and then justified the act by invoking the supposed tradition of Muhammad in consummating a marriage with a nine-year old girl. Even today in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Muslim girls have been given away by their fathers, brothers or uncles to middle-aged men with no sense of guilt or shame, since they are told their very own beloved Prophet had sanctioned child marriage.
As far as men and women who consider Islam the enemy of human civilization, the story of Muhammad and Aisha is one that can be trusted to generate intense hatred towards the Muslim community. It does not help that instead of denouncing child marriages, the Islamists and the orthodox clergy of Islam continue to defend the practise as Islamically permissible, legal and honourable. The fact that a four-year old girl walks into Yemeni court asking for a divorce from her aging husband does not awaken these supposedly holy men to the crime being committed in the name of Islam. These men undoubtedly commit statutory rape when they force themselves onto these children.
It is in the vested interest of both Islam-haters as well as Islamists to continue to uphold the myth that Muhammad married a nine-year old Aisha. To the former, it is the juiciest scandal with which to deride Islam and Muslims, while for the Mullahs, it is a license to sanction pedophilia and child rape for themselves and their patrons.
This begs the question: How do people like Wafa Sultan or the Islamists claim to know for a fact that the age of Aisha was nine when her marriage to Muhammad was consummated? There are no birth records from the time and there is not a single piece of physical paper that can be traced back to seventh century Arabia that mentions the age of Aisha. In the absence of hard evidence, we have two choices:
- We rely on medieval hearsay and gossip that has unfortunately seeped into Islamic literature, the Hadith and Sharia law, or;
- We calculate the age of Aisha based on actual agreed upon indisputable chronology of events.
While the Islamists and Wafa Sultan rely on medieval gossip, I have chosen to make a rational estimate of Aisha’s age based on acknowledged historical timelines.
Most medieval Islamic history books were written 200-300 years after the advent of Islam and it is true that all of them state emphatically that Aisha was only nine when she became Muhammad’s bride. However, all of them rely on, and quote, one single individual as the source of this information. His name was Hishām ibn Urwah, a prominent narrator of sayings of the Prophet (the Hadith), who died in the year 756AD. He was Aisha’s great-grand nephew, who first suggested that his great-grand aunt was only nine-years old on the day of her wedding, 125 years after the said event.
Prior to his utterance, a century after the fact, there is no mention or reference to the age of Aisha. Hisham bin Urwah lived and taught in Medina for 70 years, yet no one else—not even his famous pupil Malik ibn Anas—reported Aisha’s age. It is no coincidence that the growth of harems of the Abbasid caliphs mushroomed to hundreds of wives and concubines–many young girls– at the time the sharia law based on bin Urwah’s report, legalized child marriage.
Instead of relying on the words of bin Urwah as so many Islam-haters and Islamists do, I suggest we look at a few facts that prove that Aisha’s age on the day of her wedding could not have been lower than 14 years of age.
The historian al-Tabari informs us in his treatise on Islamic history that the father of Aisha, Abu Bakr had four children and all them were born before the year 610AD, the year of the advent of Islam. If, as is generally accepted, Aisha became Muhammad’s bride in the year 624AD, then she had to be at least 14 years of age, if not older on the day of her wedding.
Other calculations based on historical events place Aisha as old as 20 when she was became a bride. Ibn Hisham, the historian, reports that Aisha accepted Islam quite some time before Umar (the second caliph). This means she must have been at least a young girl in the year 610. Assuming she was five years old when Abu Bakr and his family converted to islam, the information puts the age of Aisha at 20 or more at the time of her marriage with Muhammad was consummated in 624AD.
Furthermore, most Islamic historians agree that Asma, the elder sister of Aisha, was ten years older than her. It is also reported that Asma died in 683AD at the ripe age of 100. If this is true, then Asma would have been 31 years old at the time of Aisha’s wedding with Muhammad in 624 and the bride would have been 21.
Of course, these facts do not suit either the Islam-haters or the Mullahs who sanction child marriage. Had the medieval caliphs or their court appointed clerics in the 8th century accepted these timelines, it would have taken away their right to fill their harems with young girls of their choice.
My critics may argue that I am juggling the dates to validate my thesis, but where is the evidence that suggests my timeline of historical events is wrong? If the critics of Islam argue that there needs to be a reformation in Islam, then why would we not err on the side of an argument that could end child marriages in the Muslim world? In the absence of any documentary evidence that Aisha was nine years old when she became Muhammad’s bride, why cling to to the gossip of one man, ibn Urwah, who served the courts of the caliphs. These were the very people who trampled all over Islamic doctrine by governing as hereditary kings and building empires on the backs of slaves.
However, if one hates Islam and Muslims with the ferocity and vengeance of Wafa Sultan, then it will be difficult to them her believe that the relationship between Muhammad and Aisha was one of love and adoration, not one between a rapist and his victim. There is little evidence to suggest that any rape victim has ever fallen in love with her a rapist.
If one is consumed by the hate of Muslims, logic and reason is least likely to influence someone like Wafa Sultan. She makes little secret of the fact that she considers the world’s one and half billion Muslims as people suffering from a disease that she wants to treat. Such is her contempt for Muslims, as a physician, Sultan told a Jewish fundraiser in LA that “I have 1.3 billion patients.” Her remarks were so offensive that one of the attendees, Rabbi Stephen Stein later wrote in the LA Times, he had to walk out of the fund raiser. Not only does she consider all 1.3 billion Muslims as suffering from a disease that needs treatment, her disdain for Muslims crosses all thresholds of rational discussion. Demonstrating her contempt for Muslims, she rails in her book:
“God placed donkeys and mules at Muslims’ disposal, while the West gave them mastery over new forms of transportation …”
So deep is her hatred of her heritage, she suggests we Muslims were a primitive peoples before the arrival of the Europeans and Americans. She writes:
“Before oil was discovered in the Gulf states, Muslims lived in primitive existence. Then, in the twinkling of an eye, the modern world descended upon their campsites, disfigured their world with palaces, high-rises, cars, and technology, and threatened the unchanging silence of their environment. …When people make an overnight transition from the Stone Age to the age of the airplane and the Internet, it is inevitable that they should undergo some kind of internal struggle in the process, and find themselves subject to depression and other psychological ills, specially when they continue to cling desperately to the teachings and social structure of their former environment. Muslims ran before they had learned to crawl, and tried to climb a ladder they had not even reached.”
Zeroing in on her own Arab community, Sultan claims:
“When an Arab revokes his agreement he justifies himself by insisting that he had never agreed in the first place, as he had not said yes, but had merely smiled and nodded his head. This ambiguity means that Muslims’ relationship with others are capricious and uncertain, and this has made it hard for people to trust them. People who cannot differentiate between yes and no and can express neither unambiguously have a confused notion of concepts in general.”
I have lived in the Arab world and among Arabs for a decade. I admit, there is much they can be criticized for. However, not even the Arabs’ worst enemy would accuse them of being uncultured or inhospitable. On the contrary, one could argue the hospitality of the Arab is their saving grace. Their poetry, their language and their generosity has charmed the likes of Moshe Dayan and Amos Oz. Yet, so blinded is Wafa Sultan with her hatred of the Arab, she told the Toronto Jewish Tribune that it was only when she came to the USA that she learned to say “Thank you” or “excuse me.” The Jewish Tribune quoted her as saying:
“I practised medicine for nine years in Syria. Believe it or not, I learned how to say thank you [only] when I came to America. For the first time. Because you have to thank Allah and Mohammed, nobody else. I learned how to say please, how to say excuse me.”
Perhaps I as a Pakistani-Canadian could teach Wafa Sultan how to say, “Shukran” (Thank you) or “Min Fadlaq” (please) or maybe her hatred of the Arab has caused her to be deaf to these words, since they are the two most oft-repeated words one hears in an Arab capital or village. However, if her loathing for the Arab is couched in cultural disdain, her contempt for the non-Arab Muslim is blatant. She does not consider non-Arab Muslims to be true muslims. In her eyes, if the Arab is an inferior being, the Pakistani is worse, not even worthy of the Islam she hates.
Mehnaz M. Afridi is Professor of Judaism and Islam at the Antioch University in Los Angeles. The Pakistani-American academic recounts a talk at a Jewish Temple where she shared the head table with Wafa Sultan. She told me, “I had the inopportune moment to present at a Jewish Temple in Los Angeles with Wafa Al-Sultan. We were asked to show similarities between Judaism and Islam, and I did. I was the first presenter, she was second and gave a talk on how awful Islam was and how I was not a real Muslim because I am South Asian [of Pakistani descent]. Her beef with Indo-Pakistani Muslims was that we have ‘mangled’ the Islamic message to make it appear more positive.”
In her book, Wafa Sultan dismisses non-Arab Muslims, claiming,
“a Christian born and brought up in Jordan is more Islamic in his behaviour and way of thinking than a Pakistani Muslim.”
At the 2006 LA fundraiser where rabbi Stein staged a walkout, he recalls Wafa Sultan’s racist attitude towards non-Arab Muslims. He writes:
“Then this provocative voice said something odd: ‘Only Arab Muslims can read the Koran properly because you have to speak Arabic to know what it means — you cannot translate it.’ Any translation is, by definition, interpretation, and Arabic is no more difficult to accurately translate than Hebrew. In fact, the Hebrew of the Bible poses many more formidable translation problems than Arabic. Are Christians and Jews who cannot read it ill-equipped to live by its meanings?”
If Wafa Sultan was against child marriage in medieval Islam, then perhaps she should have also dealt with the institution of child marriage in Jewish laws of the same period, since her speech was made in a synagogue and her audience was primarily Jewish.
Wafa Sultan should also have considered the Talmudic Jewish traditions on child marriage that too permitted child brides. Not being an expert on Jewish law on child marriage, I had to rely on the Jewish Encyclopedia. I also requested two rabbi friends of mine to help me with this area One expressed his regrets, saying he was not an expert in the area, but my other friend acknowledged that although it is possible for marriages to be arranged in childhood, but no physical contact can happen before the age 13.
The Jewish Encyclopedia had more details. According to it, rabbis reckon “the age of maturity from the time when the first signs of puberty appear , and estimated that these signs come, with women, about the beginning of the thirteenth year, and about the beginning of the fourteenth year with men. From this period one was regarded as an adult and as responsible for one’s actions to the laws of the community. In the case of females, the rabbinic law recognized several distinct stages: those of the “keṭannah“, from the age of three to the age of twelve and one day; the “na’arah“, the six months following that period; and the “bogeret“, from the expiration of these six months. In the case of males, distinction was made in general only between the period preceding the age of thirteen and one day and that following it, although, as will be seen below, other stages were occasionally recognized.”
A ketannah was completely subject to her father’s authority, and her father could arrange a marriage for her, whether she agreed to it or not; similarly her father could accept a divorce document (get) on her behalf. If however the father was dead, or missing, the brothers of the ketannah, collectively, had the right to arrange a marriage for her, as had her mother. In the Talmud, there is inconclusive debate about whether the na’arah should be treated like theketannah in relation to marriage, or whether she should have the freedom to marry as she wished, like the bogeret.
In mediaeval times, cultural pressure within Jewish communities lead to most girls being married while they were still children – before they had become abogeret. Boys too, were under cultural pressure; several Talmudic rabbis urged that boys should be married as soon as they reach the age of majority. Indeed, anyone unmarried after the age of twenty was said to have been cursed by God; rabbinical courts frequently tried to compel an individual to marry, if they had passed the age of twenty without marriage. In the middle ages, many rabbis tried to abolish child marriage altogether; this, however, was due to their distaste formi’un. Effectively, child marriage became nearly obsolete in Judaism; in modern times, it is an extremely rare event, as most areas with large Jewish communities have national laws against it.
Now, if it is okay for the Jewish community to abandon child marriage despite evidence that it was permitted and practised in medieval times, then why is the standard set differently for Muslims? Even if I were to concede–and I do not– that Muhammad married a nine-year old, isn’t it more important that we work–both Jew and Muslim–to end this practise? However, it seems this does not fit the agenda of either the Islam-haters or the Islamists.
The Hollywood screenwriter and television producer Kamran Pasha (of Sleeper Cell fame) who has authored a brilliant fictional novel about the life of Aisha,Mother of the Believers, told me that in his research for the book, he had concluded that Aisha was at least in her early teens when she became Muhammad’s bride. However, he chose to confront the critics head on. In the author’s note to his fascinating novel, Pasha writes:
“In my novel, I have chosen to directly face the controversy over Aisha’s age by using the most contentious account, that she was nine at the time she consummated her wedding. The reason I have done this is to show that it is foolish to project modern values on another time and world. In a desert environment where life expectancy was extremely low, early marriage was not a social issue–it was a matter of survival.”
Tarek Fatah is author of The Jew Is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism to be published by McClelland & Stewart in October this year. His first book, Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an IslamicState (Wiley 2008) was shortlisted for the prestigious Donner Prize.