April 19, 2013

My Message to the Misconceptionist: Responding to Nonie Darwish 2

Filed under: Religion and society — by Zuhair @ 5:22 pm


On underage marriages:

Darwish, in her interview speaks of the fact that men can marry under aged girls and have sexual relations with them. This is not entirely true.

Firstly, it might be true that in some parts of the world, men do marry very young girls. This might be because the girl’s family is very poor and a better option for them would be to hand her over in marriage so that she is taken care of.  This then comes down to poverty, something more than half of the world’s population cannot escape and as all society’s negatives lead to practices and habits, however cold and incomprehensible, poverty does too.

The idea then that her husband would be entitled to her sexually when she has still not come of age is disturbing. It is also not true because he is not supposed to have her until she does come of age.

When she does come of age, if she feels like the man she is married to has become too much of a father, she is entitled to ask for divorce and it should be granted. If the man forcefully takes her, it is up to the authorities to act upon it and they must. If they choose not to, it is not the fault of Islam but it is the fault of corrupted officials, whether they claim they follow Islamic law or not.

In a modern context, this kind of marriage is not really necessary. In fact, neither is the practice of taking many wives. In terms of child marriages, it really is up to the parents to ensure the protection of their child and if I am not mistaken, this is made much easier by the implementations of laws restricting underage marriages. It is in common sense to know that a child would not be happy in a marriage and she would certainly be scarred emotionally for having her childhood taken away from her.

Herein lies the problem with Darwish’s ideas about Islam. She is blaming Islam as a religion for the misuse of it by those in power (this includes both parents of the children and government officials) and by many of the misguided and unlearned Muslims.

It must be further said that there have been cases of underage marriage where the child, being unhappy took a stand and authorities were forced to intervene. One such case is that of Yemeni girl Nujood Ali. [1]  After fighting for a divorce, she had it granted. I regret to say that there have been others in her situation but I do not regret to say that some of them have, like her, asked for a divorce which was granted to them because according to Islamic law, it must be.

The reason I bring these reports to light is so my readers know that I am aware of child marriages and I am aware that some Muslims treat the issue very lightly. However, as a Muslim woman and more importantly as a human being, I know when an injustice has occurred and often times; such marriages are forced upon the child, therefore making it wrong in Islam.

According to Islam, no woman, or child for that matter can be forced into marriage. Therefore, if the child expresses dislike over the idea of getting married, even her father cannot force her. In fact, he is prohibited from forcing her into marriage. It is sad to say that girls are often forced into accepting a husband and this is a vice that leads to others. Perhaps, we must tackle the issue from here.

Abu Hurairah narrated that:

The Prophet said: “A matron should not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin should not be given in marriage until her permission is sought, and her silence is her permission.” (Sahih)[2]

Finally, most critics of child marriages attack Islam blaming the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) for his marriage with Hazrat Aisha (RA) when she was very young. To enlighten such misconceptionists and my readers on the issue, I suggest they listen to Yusuf Estes address the issue and I hope that he might put them and you at ease. [3]

I also advise misconceptionists and people who choose to publicly attack a faith that is not their own to do their homework first and put things into perspective, considering all relevant factors such as time period, society, etc.  The problem today is people look at things from a modern perspective and attack what they don’t understand before attempting to understand it.

Image: Child playing in the sand Greeting card. Google Images.

[1] Newton, Paula. Child bride gets divorced after rape, beatings. 2008. CNN.

[3] Yusuf Estes talks about Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) marriage to Aisha (RA). Uploaded by t6658. Originally uploaded by khalifaklothing. April, 2012. YouTube.


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