Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Muhammad's (PBUH) marriage to Aisha(ra): A Historical Perspective.

Due to the availability of Sahih(sound) hadiths, we are privy to the marital life of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh)amongst other parts of his illustrious life. According to Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88:
Narrated 'Ursa:

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).

This hadith shows that the wife of Muhammad(pbuh) was young when she was betrothed to him. We can also see from the hadiths that Aisha(ra) had reached puberty at the time she was still living with her parents ie. before she moved to the prophet's(pbuh) house, according to the following hadith.

Volume 1, Book 8, Number 465:
Narrated 'Aisha:

(the wife of the Prophet) I had seen my parents following Islam since I attained the age of puberty. Not a day passed but the Prophet visited us, both in the mornings and evenings. My father Abii Bakr thought of building a mosque in the courtyard of his house and he did so. He used to pray and recite the Qur'an in it. The pagan women and their children used to stand by him and look at him with surprise. Abu Bakr was a Softhearted person and could not help weeping while reciting the Quran. The chiefs of the Quraish pagans became afraid of that (i.e. that their children and women might be affected by the recitation of Quran)."

So, this gives us an idea that pubescence was at least one of the criteria for eligibility to get married, or consummate marriage.

Historically, this is not the first or the last time, or the only civilization that such marriages occurred. In ancient Rome, puberty was a preceding factor in consideration for marriage. Usually when someone reached puberty, marriage is expected soon after[1]. In some cases, for instance that of Octavia, the daughter of Clauduis, who was given in marriage at the age of one to L. Junius Silanius, puberty was not a prerequisite[2].

There are also such examples up to and beyond 12th century AD. One of the influential Christians at this time, and a proponent of the Canon Law, Gratian, argued that the age of consent should be puberty[3]. In 17th century Great Britain, there were records of brides as young as nine years of age, claiming the estates of their late husbands[4]. Up to a third of the estate is bequeathed to the wife.

A study of medieval records especially of the period between 1236 AD - 1384 AD shows that there were females married at the age of nine. These records show that some of the marriages of girls in their early teens were to much older men[5]. As late as the 19th century United States of America, the age of consent was as low as ten years old[6].

It is clear from the above that the practice of early marriage is abundant in history, and not a monopoly of the Arabs. Different cultures, and civilizations used puberty as a yardstick for the determining of maturity or the age of which an individual can consent to marriage.

1. Freidlander L. 1913 "Roman Life and Manners Under the Early Empire. London: Gough. pp. 228

2. Balsdon J.P.V.D 1962 "Roman Women: Their History and Habits" London: The Bodley Head pp. 177

3. Brundage, James. 1987. "Law Sex and Society in Christian Europe" Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

4. Furnivall, Frederick J. 1897. Child Marriages, Divorces, and Ratifications in the Diocese of Chester, AD 1561-6. London: Early English Text Society. pp xxxvi

5. Post, G.B. 1974 "Another Demographic Use of Inquisitions Post Mortem." Journal of the Society of Archivists. 5: 110 - 114

6. Posner, Richard A. and Katherine B. Silbaugh 1996. "A Guide to America's Sex Laws" Chicago: University of Chicago Press pp 44.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Other Side of Guantanamo

The horrendous treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison often overshadows any other occurrences that may go on there. This link provides one of such other occurrences. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Watch What you Publish about Israel for it may cost you your Job.

The following article was sent to Debbie Ducro, an American-Jewish journalist who worked with the Kansas City Chronicle. Who would have known that publishing it would get her fired? 

Quest for justice 

By Judith Stone 

I am a Jew. I was a participant in the Rally for the Right of Return to
Palestine. It was the right thing to do. 

I've heard about the European holocaust against the Jews since I was a
small child. I've visited the memorials in Washington, DC and Jerusalem
dedicated to Jewish lives lost and I've cried at the recognition to what
level of atrocity mankind is capable of sinking. 

Where are the Jews of conscience? No righteous malice can be held
against the survivors of Hitler's holocaust. These fragments of humanity
were in no position to make choices beyond that of personal survival. We
must not forget that being a survivor or a co-religionist of the victims
of the European Holocaust does not grant dispensation from abiding by
the rules of humanity. 

"Never again" as a motto, rings hollow when it means "never again to us
alone." My generation was raised being led to believe that the biblical
land was a vast desert inhabited by a handful of impoverished
Palestinians living with their camels and eking out a living in the
sand. The arrival of the Jews was touted as a tremendous benefit to
these desert dwellers. Golda Meir even assured us that there "is no
Palestinian problem".

We know now this picture wasn't as it was painted. Palestine was a land
filled with people who called it home. There were thriving towns and
villages, schools and hospitals. There were Jews, Christians and

In fact, prior to the occupation, Jews represented a mere seven per cent
of the population and owned three per cent of the land. 

Taking the blinders off for a moment, I see a second atrocity
perpetuated by the very people who should be exquisitely sensitive to
the suffering of others. These people knew what it felt like to be
ordered out of your home at gun point and forced to march into the night
to unknown destinations or face execution on the spot. The people who
displaced the Palestinians knew first hand what it means to watch your
home in flames, to surrender everything dear to your heart at a moment's
notice. Bulldozers levelled hundreds of villages, along with the remains
of the village inhabitants, the old and the young. This was nothing new
to the world. 

Poland is a vast graveyard of the Jews of Europe. Israel is the final
resting place of the massacred Palestinian people. A short distance from
the memorial to the Jewish children lost to the holocaust in Europe
there is a levelled parking lot. Under this parking lot is what's left
of a once flourishing village and the bodies of men, women and children
whose only crime was taking up needed space and not leaving graciously.
This particular burial marker reads: "Public Parking". 

I've talked with Palestinians. I have yet to meet a Palestinian who
hasn't lost a member of their family to the Israeli Shoah, nor a
Palestinian who cannot name a relative or friend languishing under
inhumane conditions in an Israeli prison. Time and time again, Israel is
cited for human rights violations to no avail. On a recent trip to
Israel, I visited the refugee camps inhabited by a people who have
waited 52 years in these 'temporary' camps to go home. Every Palestinian
grandparent can tell you the name of their village, their street, and
where the olive trees were planted. Their grandchildren may never have
been home, but they can tell you where their great-grandfather lies
buried and where the village well stood. The press has fostered the
portrait of the Palestinian terrorist. But the victims who rose up
against human indignity in the Warsaw Ghetto are called heroes. Those
who lost their lives are called martyrs. The Palestinian who tosses a
rock in desperation is a terrorist. 

Two years ago I drove through Palestine and watched intricate sprinkler
systems watering lush green lawns of Zionist settlers in their new
condominium complexes, surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire in the
midst of a Palestinian community where there was not adequate water to
drink and the surrounding fields were sandy and dry. University
professor Moshe Zimmerman reported in the Jerusalem Post (30 April,
1995), "The [Jewish] children of Hebron are just like Hitler's youth." 

We Jews are suing for restitution, lost wages, compensation for homes,
land, slave labour and back wages in Europe. Am I a traitor of a Jew for
supporting the right of return of the Palestinian refugees to their
birthplace and compensation for what was taken that cannot be returned? 

The Jewish dead cannot be brought back to life and neither can the
Palestinian massacred be resurrected. David Ben Gurion said, "Let us not
ignore the truth among ourselves...politically, we are the aggressors
and they defend themselves...The country is theirs, because they inhabit
it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we
want to take away from them their country...".

Palestine is a land that has been occupied and emptied of its people.
Its cultural and physical landmarks have been obliterated and replaced
by tidy Hebrew signs. The history of a people was the first thing
eradicated by the occupiers. The history of the indigenous people has
been all but eradicated as though they never existed. And all this has
been hailed by the world as a miraculous act of God. We must recognise
that Israel's existence is not even a question of legality so much as it
is an illegal fait accompli realised through the use of force while
supported by the Western powers. The UN missions directed at Israel in
attempting to correct its violations of have thus far been futile. 

In Hertzl's 'The Jewish State' the father of Zionism said: "We must
investigate and take possession of the new Jewish country by means of
every modern expedient." I guess I agree with Ehud Barak ( 3 June 1998)
when he said, "If I were a Palestinian, I'd also join a terror group."
I'd go a step further perhaps. Rather than throwing little stones in
desperation, I'd hurtle a boulder. 

Hopefully, somewhere deep inside, every Jew of conscience knows that
this was no war; that this was not G-d's restitution of the holy land to
it's rightful owners. We know that a human atrocity was and continues to
be perpetuated against an innocent people who couldn't come up with the
arms and money to defend themselves against the western powers bent upon
their demise as a people. 

We cannot continue to say, "But what were we to do?" Zionism is not
synonymous with Judaism. I wholly support the rally of the right of
return of the Palestinian people.