Wednesday, 29 November 2017
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) wrote, in his Diwan, on intercession of Prophet (s.a.w.) after his life, “The family of the Prophet (s.a.w.) they are my means in this life and the next life; through them, I hope to be Given my records in my right hand on the Day of Judgement.”
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) approved of, and practiced, tawaswswul. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) used to make tawaswswul through the Prophet (s.a.w.) a part of every du’a, according to Imam ‘Ala’ ad-Din al-Mardawi (r.a.). He wrote, in his al-Insaf fi Ma’rifat ar-Rajih min al-Khilaf ‘ala Madzhab al-Imam al-Mubajjal Ahmad ibn Hanbal, “The correct position of the madzhab is that it is permissible in one’s supplication to use as means a pious person, and it is said that it is desirable. Imam Ahmad said to Abu Bakr al-Marwazi, ‘Let him use the Prophet (s.a.w.) as a means in his supplication to Allah.’”
To corroborate, this same report is found in Imam Ahmad’s (r.a.) Kitab al-Manasik, narrated by his student, Imam Abu Bakr al-Marwazi (r.a.). The lengthy wording of the tawaswswul according to the Hanbali madzhab, as established by Imam ibn ‘Aqil (r.a.), in his Tadzkirah, was cited fully by Imam al-Kawtsari (r.a.) in his appendix to Imam Taqi’ ad-Din as-Subki’s (r.a.) as-Sayf as-Saqil.
Furthermore, as recorded in Imam al-Bayhaqi’s (r.a.) in Shu’ayb al-Iman, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad (r.a.) said that he heard his father, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) saying, “I performed hajj five times: thrice on foot and twice riding,” or the other way around. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) said, “Once, when I was on foot, I lost my way. I started to say, ‘O slaves of Allah, show me the way.’ I kept on repeating this until I came back on track.”
Tuesday, 28 November 2017
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following was a discussion thread on my Wall, regarding one of my Quora questions: If today, Muhammad (s.a.w.) comes to your home, and says he wants to marry your 6-year-old daughter, then what would you do?
Sister Sofia Chequer: This is one thing I have never understood. It is pretty damn clear that ‘Aishah (r.a.) was not 9 when she got married. Why do so many scholars, and I do not mean just the radical ones, insist on that?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Because, particularly the Shafi’i scholars, they spent several hundred years being invested in the idea that Swahih al-Bukhari is free of error. If they accept this, they have to admit that the entire madzhab made a mistake edifying a book. They may claim to argue out of piety; I think it is simply their collective ego.
Sister Sofia Chequer: But does not Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) also states other sources for her age?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Yes, as I pointed out in my response, the same person, Shaykh Hisham ibn ‘Urwah (r.a.), who said ‘Aishah (r.a.) was nine in 2 AH, also said, in another report, that she was 67 in 50 AH.
Brother Khaled Ahmad: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, would it not be far more likely that he got her age wrong when she is older? The difference between a fifty and a forty-year-old woman is far subtler than the difference between 9 and 18.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: If the narration of her being younger was correct, why is it not found by in the books of any of the Madinan muhadditsin of the period? Secondly, we have multiple sources for their ages, year of birth and of death. Even a swahih hadits cannot be accepted over mathematics.
Brother Ed Moad: How many years have you being invested in the idea that your contingent, subjective, socially conditioned emotional responses are error free indicators of what is universal moral truths?
Brother Khaled Ahmad: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, in my opinion, it is far more likely that the dates are incorrect than the age is. Looking into books of jarh wa ta’dil show how far off dates of birth and death can be, sometimes even differing by upwards of 10-15 years. Especially considering how new the Hijri calendar was at the time and how inconsistent people were at applying it, such as, for example, whether you count the first year as year one or year zero.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Fair point, and I considered that. And that is why we anchor dates to recorded events as indicators. We get a discrepancy of, perhaps 5 to 10 years, and this is already a huge deviation. But 15 years? Then that means more work must be done.
Brother Sajeed Abdul Kader: The following is a video by Mufti Abu Layth: Age of ‘Aishah (r.a.) at the Time of Marriage by Mufti Abu Layth.
Brother Marquis Dawkins: That was a lot of pearls before swine; you gave an exceptional answer and information to people who did not deserve it, but great response.
Brother Khalil Andani: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, this is a very, very good response here. What are the references for the “uncontested” dates you give? Shaykh ibn Hisham (r.a.)?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I used various dating sources, as well as my own calculation. Please refer here: ‘Aishah’s (r.a.) Age at the Time of Marriage.
Sister Saira Malik: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, thank you so much for this.
Brother Khalil Andani: Brother Abdullah Sameer, you should seriously read this and revise your video accordingly.
Brother Sri Nahar: Brother Khalil, and Brother Terence; here is a scholarly paper on the same, from a Hanafi perspective: A Modern Matn Criticism on the Tradition on ‘Aishah’s (r.a.) Age of Marriage.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Very nice. Thank you very much.
Brother Latheef Quadri: Masha’Allah. Very good work. Clearly explained.
Brother Fahim Ayman Faruk: Have you read Brother Jonathan AC Brown’s works on this?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Yes. I consider it an apology for paedophilia.
Brother Fahim Ayman Faruk: That is a gross mischaracterisation. What do you make of your own mentioning of the idea that puberty was fast tracked under those circumstances, and that this was clearly an exceptional case precluding any predominant patterns that would have been present in genuine cases of “paedophilia”?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I mentioned that because it is an Ahl al-Ahadits position, but it is not something I believe in. I prefer ra’yy over ahadits, the traditional Hanafi approach, which is superior to the Shafi’i one.
Brother Fahim Ayman Faruk: Okay, then do you see this matter as one with legitimate difference of opinion or not in the madzahib, for example?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: It is ikhtilaf, but that does not mean that on a personal level, I cannot consider this defence of obviously flawed narrations in Swahih al-Bukhari to be abhorrent and immoral. I think Imam al-Maturidi’s (r.a.) criticism of ridiculous narrations from Swahih al-Bukhari are as valid now as they were then.
Brother Jonathan AC Brown: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, thanks. That is really generous. So, every Muslim scholar in history who said that the Prophet (s.a.w.) married a six-year-old was an apologist for paedophilia? But you, blossom of our age of reason, have seen the truth, and are thrusting it back in time by cobbling together inferences... happy trails.
Brother Khaled Ahmad: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, what is your opinion of the Hanafis who also agree with this opinion?
Brother Jonathan AC Brown: But I have to say, I like the way you framed your article.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Brother Jonathan AC Brown, whilst we respect their scholarship, that does not preclude that they are wrong in this case. Imam al-Maturidi (r.a.) stated that a narration that goes against verifiable facts, or is contrary to our ‘aqidah should be rejected without the need to examine the silsilah and matn. And that is the position I am taking.
Brother Khaled Ahmed, which Hanafi scholars? The Indian subcontinent and the mutually antagonistic Barelvis and Deobandis? They are Hanafi in name and have long abandoned its jurisprudential principles for literalism and textual primacy.
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: At the very least, anything other than this modernist neo-Hanafi scholarship that's nothing more than a Mu’tazili superimposition of secular modernist morals upon a classical school of thought. I would like actual quotes from classical Hanafi jurists before we attribute this modern idea to the classical Hanafi school.
Brother Nazmul Hasan: I love how 21st century, post-industrial society gender roles are being shoved down the throat of an Arab from 1,400 years ago. If you go to areas in modern Sudan today, girls, and boys, as young as 13 are taking care of so many responsibilities that a Libtard would cry, “Child abuse!”
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: Heck, even my grandmother just a few decades ago got married at the age of 11 to a man whom the entirety of the western world would agree was a fully grown adult man.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: That is exactly the problem here, is it not? Because it is something that you have not heard, it is “neo-Mutazilite”; disregarding the calculation of the dates, you want another narration; and values that are supposed to be fithrah are now “secularist”. Citing a personal anecdote does not make the primary contention a fact. That is another logical fallacy.
We will agree to disagree, because we will never be in accord on this. I did not use my intellect to leave my Catholic faith and come to Islam to simply “follow”; that makes Islam exactly the religion I left behind. We have no clergy, and we should not encourage one.
Brother Nazmul Hasan: Brother Ikram Al-Islam, your grandmother was an apologist for paedophilia then. I am sorry to say. So was mine. Damn, now I need to kill myself because almost everyone in the world a few hundred years ago were paedophiles.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, I simply want to ask if you think cultural norms can be different in different settings and times. It is not an article of faith in Islam to get married to a 13-year-old.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Was she six or nine years old when she was sexually penetrated by a much older man? Also, we cannot take the practices of a backward place and claim it is a laudable value. No, it is not an article of faith to marry a 13-year-old. Do not confuse jurisprudential contentions with creedal ones.
Brother Nazmul Hasan: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, must something either be laudable or hated? Is it laudable to ride a horse?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: You are segueing from the points of contention into a non-sequitur argument. Are we going to discuss the sexual habits of horses in your grandmother’s time now?
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: I actually have no issues with modern opinions based on accepted methodology and evidences, which, in this case, I know are plenty because I have studied this stuff. I do have a problem when people try to superimpose those modern opinions upon a classical school of thought, such as a certain contemporary British-based Mu’tazili phenomena masquerading as Hanafiyyah. This is misrepresentation of facts, and it is very unprofessional.
Brother Nazmul Hasan: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, though to be clear, I do not find the argument of ‘Aishah’s (r.a.) age to be 9 to be convincing. But even if it were, I do not find it world shattering.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Now, you are getting emotional, and that is immature.
Consider this first: Muhammad (s.a.w.) is the Final Prophet, as well as the light of Creation for all time. Would the values of the Prophet (s.a.w.) follow societal norms even if they were zhulm, or would he hold on to a higher standard? The societal norm of Arabia was also female infanticide, slavery and idolatry. Are you imposing a specific human societal inadequacy upon the Prophet (s.a.w.) to justify your own position?
Secondly, there are contentions even within this hadits, from the state of mind of Shaykh Hisham ibn ‘Urwah (r.a.), to the fact that other ahadits from him, on the same issue have a contradiction in timeline. It can even be argued that this chain is ahad at Shaykh Hisham (r.a.), an ‘Iraqiyyah chain that was rejected by the likes of Imam Malik (r.a.) and Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (r.a.).
But for me, there are more than enough people who have written about the chains and I have seen some good arguments back and forth, from both sides. My focus is on the timeline since no narration, even if mutaffaq ‘alayh, can be accepted if there is certainty that there is an irrefutable error in the timeline. Age is not subjective.
Now, you may argue that it is not “world shattering”, Nazmul Hasan, and that is personal opinion and a fair statement, But I deal with converts, I give talks to non-Muslims, I teach classes, and I deal with Muslim and non-Muslim groups at a policy level, and this matters to them. Saudi Arabia and Yemen cite this hadits as a reason to allow child marriages, often coerced, often ending in domestic and sexual abuse. So, this is not just an academic discussion in many parts of the world.
Brother Fahim Ayman Faruk: Brother Moinul Abu Hamza Hussain, are you familiar with the various opinions on this issue?
Brother Jonathan AC Brown: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, is not the establishment of historical fact what is being disputed? If she was 9, it cannot be in our ‘aqidah to say she was not. And the only way to establish her age is by weighing historical evidence.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I agree on the historical evidence. And that is why my focus has been the timeline.
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: The argument from temporal inconsistency is compelling if you are a historian, but if your religious epistemology excludes all things without documented asanid, as is typical of Shafi’iyyah and Hanabilah, then you would be hard-pressed to accept these “irrefutable timeline errors” that do not have a shred of documented evidence as far as asanid are concerned. None. Only some obscure writings from some historians. It is not hard to understand why almost the entirety of our ummah accepted her age being 9.
Brother Nazmul Hasan: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, I do not think coerced and abusive marriages are allowed in Islam; correct me if I am wrong. Seems one can argue from fiqh principles to reach the end which you are suggesting without definitively proving this narration wrong. I also don't think marrying young in a tribal, nomadic society where survival is first, is some sort of “inadequacy”. It certainly is in a society where young people are not mentally mature enough to tie their shoe laces yet.
Brother Brown, a naive student question: Did scholars did not really give much attention to evaluating this hadits because the age was never a problem for them?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: In all those years of studying Islam, I have heard so many people say, “almost the entirety of our ummah accepted” for all sort of things, and that turned out to be untrue, just like it is with this issue.
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: Your statement could have legitimacy if some major classical scholars could be cited in support of your position. But I have yet to see such citations. Inductive reasoning is great, but not in absence of actual statements.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Why should we go down that road? We are talking about mathematics and timelines, not examining the matn and sanad. I could, but that would validate the very methodology of a madzhab I dislike - that we must take even weak narrations, whether ahadits, atsar or otherwise over ra’yy.
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: You are under no obligation to, but you must have missed my earlier comment. “Timeline inconsistency” is not simply a matter of ra’yy. It is actually based on textual evidence. The difference between a weak hadits and a history book is that the former has a weak sanad, while the latter had no sanad. Hence, why the muhadditsin generally ignored their reports.
You are not backing a fundamentally different methodology; you are just inconsistently applying the same weak methodology, that is, giving a source with no sanad priority over sources with questionable asanid.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Brother Ikram Al-Islam, there is a paper on a sub-thread above that has that, if you are inclined. It is not as extensive as what I would have written, but it has more than enough from primarily Hanafi sources. Despite your erroneous assertion, the traditional Hanafi do not accept this narration, amongst many narrations. You may find some interesting criticisms in Imam al-Maturidi’s (r.a.) Kitab at-Tawhid, and, some personal attacks as well, on Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.).
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: No doubt that many of the Ahnaf reject the legal authority of some of the gharib ahadits in Swahih al-Bukhari due to it contradicting stronger evidence vis a vis the Qur’an and mutawatir ahadits. That is a part of their legal theory. But that does not mean they rejected the report altogether. They still accepted the age of 9, with some saying 10-11, such as Imam ath-Thabari (r.a.). If you have any sources proving me wrong, please do direct me to them. I am quite open to learning.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Please refer to the article posted then. Interestingly, it was posted by a non-Muslim; the article was written by another convert.
Brother Abu Salih: Brother Jonathan AC Brown, although you had a disagreement with Brother Ayman bin Khaled, I think you would be interested to read his analysis on the matter: A Refutation on the Doubt Regarding Aishah’s (r.a.) Age When Married. I suggest the original poster read it as well. I am also interested to hear what he has to say about the age of Joseph and Maryam (a.s.) as per Biblical analysis, which would also make Biblical figures “paedophiles”. The criticisms regarding Shaykh Hisham ibn ‘Urwah (r.a.) are addressed in the analysis I posted.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: The age of Joseph is irrelevant, by the way, since he likely did not exist, and was a fabrication. I came to that conclusion while I was still a Catholic theologian, and that is one of the reasons I left Catholicism, and came to Islam.
Brother Fahim Ayman Faruk: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, I am not knowledgeable enough on the science of ahadits to contribute here. What I can say is that Islamic principles are universal, however sometimes application is contingent upon circumstantial context. Further, even for Rasulullah (s.a.w.), such a practice, even on the views the accept the account of a younger age of marriage of ‘Aishah (r.a.), was an exception Enjoined by Allah (s.w.t.) Himself. The premise is that puberty had been reached, and sufficient psychosocial maturation had undergone.
There are ahadits in which 14-year-old boys participated in war, and yet, the factual nature of those ahadits does not entail that we automatically allow 14-year-olds to do so in a modern industrial context. My point, therefore, is that while some scholars used the opinion of a younger marriage age to permit marriage to 6 or 9-year-old girls in general, this is not necessarily entailed even by accepting that ‘Aishah (r.a.) was; they would need to establish many other details, and bear in mind even principles that apply to adults under modern secular-liberal definitions who are seeking marriage, still apply like for men - being a just wali, able to provide, and so forth.
That is patently fallacious and so, I believe it is also not grounds for the charge of paedophilia, not to mention the accepted psychiatric definition requires one to predominantly or even significantly prefer prepubescent children sexually.
Additionally, if objective moral values and truths exist because Allah (s.w.t.) Exists, and Rasulullah (s.a.w.) is a perfect example, then even any exceptional acts he committed, though they may not apply to all, cannot be said to be immoral or lewd or described in some derogatory way, as a principle. Now, this principle coexists with other principles such as, we cannot ascribe false practices to the Messenger (s.a.w.), so I am not stating it as a fallacy of affirming the consequent, the age of ‘Aishah (r.a.). Rather, I mention it as an important reminder of our moral epistemology. The fithrah is a compass, but not fool proof, especially depending on one’s conditioning. Subjective ethical outrage is just that.
Lastly, this was not a primary point, but you caught my eye when you mentioned your conversion from Catholicism. Masha’Allah. Yet, you are not following an unverified text, or an unfalsifiable tradition even when you do “follow”. Your critical thinking is important though, especially because you rightfully mention that each camp may make unsubstantiated claims of what the majority believed throughout history, and these claims should be investigated via the proper channels.
Brother Abu Salih: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, is it safe to say that during Biblical times, similar marriages took place between much older men and much younger women? The disparity is well known, and Biblical sources indicate a gap of 40+ years. Mary (a.s.) is cited to have been 12-14. Now whether Joseph was factual or not is another issue. But it does set a precedent of the time where customs were concerned. And I would like for you to have a look at the article I posted from Brother Ayman bin Khaled.
Brother Ikram Al-Islam: Brother Terence, if you are referring to the article posted by Brother Sri Nahar, I have read it. It is all istiqra’, without any quotation from classical Hanafi fuqaha’ explicitly expressing that she was older than 9. Perhaps, I am overlooking something here.
Brother Syed Shaheeruddin Ahmed: Given now we have accepted homosexuality, if in unforeseen future, we accept child brides, will the question be revised? This kind of objection is purely based on a combination of presentism and appeal to disgust. The epistemic basis is very weak. There are no major ahadits scholars of the past who explicitly argued against this fact by rejecting the report of ‘Aishah (r.a.) herself in Swahih al-Bukhari. As Brother Ikram noted, the essence of deriving the date of the marriage of ‘Aishah (r.a.) is more like ad hoc.
Brother Ikram, you are not overlooking much. There is almost no strife among classical scholarship regarding this issue. I mean sure people would bicker on the hadits, but that happens for every narration. To note, Sunnis argued over if the hadits follow the Qur’an and sunnah in al-Muwaththa’ is authentic or not. But that does not mean that Sunni scholars believed we should kick the sunnah out. Magnifying one and then using ad hoc means to derive on a desired result is a bit of a stretch as you noted.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: There is no contention, even from the Christians of Mary (a.s.) being 12 when she conceived, since there is no such mention of age in the Gospels. But there was no marriage to a “Joseph”; Mary (a.s.) is Described, in the Qur’an, as “ahswanat”, so that virginity was perpetual.
Brother Imraan Sumar: Are there any philosophical or mystical treatments discussing the conception from a state of perpetual virginity from within our tradition? Huston Smith, God Rest his soul, used to say that “something” significant happened though he never dared speculate. Have we a metaphysics for a virgin conception or do we just put it down to a “miracle”?
Brother Dan Wolf: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, the Bible does not give us an age for Mary (a.s.).
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Brother Dan Wolf, no it does not. It is taken from sources outside the Gospels.
Addressing the use of Mary’s (a.s.) betrothal to Joseph to justify the alleged position of ‘Aishah (r.a.) being married, this is problematic. In the Christian tradition, it is the majority position that the Virgin Mary (a.s.), the mother of Jesus (a.s.), was married to Joseph the carpenter. In Islam, we reject that claim. The Qur’an not only does not support the claim of her marriage, it also denies that May (a.s.) had further children. Essentially, she remained a virgin.
The Gospels state Mary (a.s.) was betrothed to Joseph the carpenter:
18 And this was the manner of Christ’s birth. His mother, Mary, was espoused to Joseph, but they had not yet come together, when she was found to be with child, by the Power of the Holy Ghost.
26 When the sixth month came, God Sent the angel, Gabriel, to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 where a virgin dwelt, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Also, four men in total are named as Jesus’ (a.s.) “brothers” in the New Testament. And he was said to have sisters as well.
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son, whose mother is called Mary, and his brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And do not his sisters, all of them, live near us? …
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? Do not his sisters live here near us? ...
The exact nature of their relationship to Jesus (a.s.) is never clarified in the New Testament. The various Christian denominations differ regarding whether the virginity of Mary (a.s.) was until the miraculous birth of Jesus (a.s.), or whether it was a “perpetual virginity” throughout her life. The predominant view of the Catholic and Orthodox churches is that Mary (a.s.) was always a virgin. This is also the position of most of the Lutheran and Anglican churches. There is no real consensus.
The Qur’an and the ahadits do not mention a betrothal for Mary (a.s.). They do not mention Joseph. They do not mention a later marriage. And thus, they do not mention any siblings. Whilst the Qur’an has an entire chapter Named after Mary (a.s.) that Mentions the story of the virgin birth, it does not mention the betrothal. Something that significant is unlikely to have been left out. The Qur’an does State Explicitly that Mary (a.s.) was a virgin; and that she was never married before or during the time of the birth of Jesus (a.s.). She was surprised when told she would have a child:
She said, “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” (Surah Maryam:20)
Imam Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuthi (r.a.), in his Tafsir al-Jalalayn, distinguished the first reason Mary (a.s.) gave, that, “no man has touched me,” from the second reason, “and I am not unchaste,” because the first reason signified being “touched” in lawful wedlock, whereas the second reason meant she had never committed fornication. Thus, her virginity at the time of the birth is established.
With regards the Biblical claim that Mary (a.s.) was only “betrothed” to Joseph but had not yet consummated her marriage, Jewish law viewed a betrothal as a binding as a marriage contract. It is unlikely that Mary (a.s.) would have reacted as such she when Told that she would bear a son. It was going to be a problem, and that means she was most certainly not married or even close to it.
Allah (s.w.t.) Praises Mary (a.s.) as “the one who guarded her chastity,” twice:
And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We Breathed into her of Our Spirit, and We Made her and her son a Sign for all peoples. (Surah al-Anbiya’:91)
And Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We Breathed into her (body) of Our Spirit; and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants). (Surah at-Tahrim:12)
The Arabic word translated as “guarded” is “ahswanat.” The root word is “hiswn,” meaning, “fortress.” The active verb form of the root means, “cause to be inaccessible”, implying that Mary (a.s.) actively guarded her chastity. Imam al-Baqa’i (r.a.) commented, in his Tafsir, that Mary (a.s.) preserved herself from that which was lawful, meaning marriage, and that which was unlawful, meaning fornication, to a degree that it deserved to be Mentioned in the Qur’an. He said, “Because of the highest level of chastity, abstinence, and disavowal of worldly pleasures, preferring to be cut-off from all creatures and being isolated in the worship of Allah Ta’ala,” meaning that she was a zahidah, an ascetic. We understand, from this statement, that the position of the scholars of Islam is that Mary (a.s.) was never married, or even betrothed since she one actively preserved herself from lawful sexual relations. Betrothal eventually implies consummation; the avoidance of it means that she would not be betrothed in the first place. The verse implies Mary’s (a.s.) abstinence from intercourse, and from the social contract of marriage in order to devote herself exclusively to worship.
For the miracle of the virgin birth to be an effective Sign from Allah (s.w.t.) to the Children of Israel, there could be no element of doubt. Mary’s (a.s.) betrothal would have supplied that element. Had she been betrothed, the community would have simply concluded that the child was conceived though intercourse. As it is, people insinuated that she was guilty of fornication:
At length, she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said, “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!” (Surah Maryam:27-28)
When she became pregnant, she fled knowing that her people would accuse her of fornication. And this had severe penalties. It was a great test for a woman who had spent her whole life chaste and in constant worship. She feared to be a fitnah of the people against the religion itself since she was known as the most pious woman of her time. Throughout her ordeal, she relied on Allah (s.w.t.) Alone. Allah (s.w.t.) Himself Defends her from all charges and slander.
In that same surah, there is Mention that Jesus (a.s.) is Commanded to look after his mother. There is no mention of any siblings or further family:
“And He hath Made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath Enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live; (He) hath Made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable.” (Surah Maryam:31-32)
Joseph is not mentioned in the Qur’an and ahadits, and neither is there mention of any marriage, husband, fiancé or siblings. Some books of Qur’anic exegesis do mention him though, such as Tafsir ats-Tsa’labi and Tafsir ath-Thabari; but it is clear that these reports are taken from the Christians. They are akin to the Isra’iliyyat narrations, apocryphal stories of biblical figures found in sirah literature. They are not to be taken as any proof. No serious mufassir, exegete, ever held the opinion that there was Joseph betrothed to Mary (a.s.). All of them mentioned it as weak, with no real basis in Scripture. Some speculated that Joseph was a male cousin, guardian after the passing of her uncle, the prophet, Zakariya (a.s.). Others thought he was merely the person who helped her to flee the tyrant Herod. In any case, this is also weak considering that slaughter of the innocents has not historical proof. From a Christian perspective, Christian theologians have long debated the authenticity of this “Joseph”. Some, including myself, held the opinion that he was inserted at a later date.
Accounts of Mary’s (a.s.) betrothal to Joseph are almost all linked to Shaykh Wahb ibn al-Munnabih (r.a.), who was weak. He was known for relating Isra’iliyyat narrations, accounts from the Judeo-Christian tradition with no real basis in Islam. His narrations, while recorded, were never taken seriously as a basis for sirah. They were recorded as literature of the People of Scripture, and not used as a source for theology or jurisprudence.
Imam al-‘Aluwsi (a.s.), in his Ruh al-Ma’ani, summarised the Muslim theological position based on this verse:
And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We Breathed into her of Our Spirit, and We Made her and her son a Sign for all peoples. (Surah al-Anbiya’:91)
He wrote, “And thus, it is known that that which the scholars have come to consensus on is that Mary had no other son save Jesus.” He summarised the position of the Christians around him, the Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Churches, that after she gave birth to Jesus (a.s.), she married Joseph the Carpenter, and she bore him three sons. He wrote that “The reliable position amongst them is that when she was in her childhood, she was betrothed to Joseph the Carpenter and he contracted marriage with her but did not go near her.” He also reported that they said, that when she gave birth, she stayed in his care with Jesus (a.s.), Joseph helped to raise him and was a guardian over him along with children from another wife, and that Joseph never went near her at all sexual relations despite marriage. Islam does not accept this since the Qur’an Explicitly Mentions only Jesus (a.s.) being told to look after his mother.
He said, “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath Given me Revelation and Made me a prophet; and He hath Made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath Enjoined on me prayer and Charity as long as I live; (He) hath Made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; so Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! (Surah Maryam:30-33)
We note, also, that in ahadits, Mary (a.s.) is honoured as “al-Batul” and “al-‘Adzra’”, both essentially meaning, “chaste maiden.” Imam Raghib al-Asfahani (a.s.) wrote, in his Mufradat Alfazh al-Qur’an, “In Arabic, ‘tabattul,’ means ‘to cut oneself off in worship, and he continued, “And in this context, it means cutting off from marriage. And from this meaning, Maryam was called, the virgin, because she completely cut herself off from men.” “Batul” is an intensive form showing emphasis.
Imam ibn al-Atsir (a.s.) wrote, in an-Nihayah fi al-Gharib al-Ahadits, “‘al-‘Adzra’’ means, ‘a young woman whom no man has touched, and she is a virgin.’”
Mary (a.s.) was given these epithets by the companions, in ahadits recorded by Imam Ahmad (r.a.), Imam Hakim (r.a.), Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) and others. These ahadits record the occasion when the companions, when in Abyssinia, had to explain the Muslim position on Mary (a.s.) and Jesus (a.s.) to the Negus (r.a.), the Christian king. These epithets, the companions learned from the Prophet (s.a.w.). All this is sufficient for us.
Brother Ahmad Hussain: Does age matter? Everyone matures, physically and mentally at different ages.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Of course, it does. That is why we have ahadits about the age of forty, for example.
Brother Abu Salih: Did you read the article I posted?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I did.
Section one, I agree.
Section two is disputed, and I heard the exact same argument from Shaykh Gibril Haddad, as well as the contention.
Section three is disputed, and both sides will likely never agree.
Section four is conjecture.
Section five, I disagree. And the complication is the same with section three.
Section six, I disagree, and I further contend that we should not take from Imam ath-Thabari (r.a.) in isolation since there are contentions in many other passages of his work.
Section seven, is, likewise, disputable.
Section eight, I cannot comment since that level of Arabic morphology is not my competent field of knowledge.
Section nine, I have no contentions on the matter, since I never addressed that point before.
Brother Ahmad Hussain: I am not sure, brother. Because if number of times the planet rotated around the Sun determined a person’s maturity, we would not have had exceptional teens in the front lines fighting the jihad for Allah (s.w.t.).
Brother Shafqat Baig: Jazakallah, Brother Terence, for putting it so succinctly. May you be Blessed with more knowledge!
Brother Sri Nahar: Whilst we hold that the Mother of God was betrothed to St. Joseph and they were married, we hold that he never approached her physically. I would say that the New Testament and early Christian tradition support such a position, which is why when the heretic Helvedius taught that Mary had other children beside Christ, St. Jerome et al condemned him, saying that he was teaching a wholly new doctrine, unheard of by the Church.
That Mary is Ever-Virgin is taught dogmatically by the Catholic Church, and while we Orthodox have not done so, we affirm the same in the Divine Liturgy, so it is de facto dogma: “Remembering our Most-Holy Lady, Ever-Blessed, Most-Pure, Most-Glorious, Ever-Virgin Mother of God, Mary ...”. Even Martin Luther, Christianity’s ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, did not deny her Ever-Virginity. Many Protestants today do so, but that does not mean there is no real consensus, for this doctrine is affirmed by the entire historical Church. Protestant disbelief in the same is as irrelevant as the opinions of Wahhabis regarding tawaswswul.
Regarding this: “With regards the Biblical claim that Mary (a.s.) was only ‘betrothed’ to Joseph but had not yet consummated her marriage, Jewish law viewed a betrothal as a binding as a marriage contract. It is unlikely that Mary (a.s.) would have reacted as such she when Told that she would bear a son. It was going to be a problem, and that means she was most certainly not married or even close to it.
You are correct in noting that in Jewish law, a betrothal was nearly tantamount to a marriage -- if a betrothed couple had sex, it was not considered to be fornication. That said, the Gospels also record a similar reaction from the Mother of God at the Annunciation:
34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can that be, since I have no knowledge of man?”
If she was betrothed, and she was open to consummating her marriage, then she would not have asked such a question - she would just have assumed that St. Gabriel was talking about the child she would conceive with St. Joseph. But tradition tells us that the Mother of God had taken a vow of virginity; she was dedicated to the service of the Temple, and spent her life in prayer and fasting, refraining from all sensual activities. For her to ask such a question is evidence that she never intended to know a man at all. The marriage between her and St. Joseph, who was already an old man and a widower with children of his own, was so that someone would support her. Neither of them intended to consummate said betrothal.
Brother Al Nimr: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, with regards to you following the Ahl ar-Ra’yy Hanafi methodology, do the Hanafis themselves not permit the marriage of a pre-pubescent boy or girl when their guardian gives them in marriage? In fact, Imam Muhammad ash-Shaybani (r.a.) quoted the very ḥadits of Swahih al-Bukhari on the age of Aisha being 6 at the time of nikah to prove the validity of such a marriage, in his Kitab al-Aṣwl.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Brother, taqlid is about following the methodology, not the fatawa. That is why there is ikhtilaf on many issues within a madzhab. I am not obliged to accept every single legal opinion of my madzhab, otherwise there would be a discrepancy since some of them contradict each other.
Brother Al Nimr: So, with regards to ra’yy and its application, where do you believe we should draw the line in rejecting ahadits because we may consider them unreasonable or illogical? Reason I ask is because if we leave this method unrestricted then what is to stop someone rejecting the ahadits collections as a whole like the “Quranists”?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Leaving aside the technical examination of the matn, the sanad, the silsilah and the manaqib, strictly within the Hanafi madzhab, there are certain conditions for rejecting a hadits, as per Imam al-Maturidi’s (r.a.) Kitab at-Tawhid.
For example, we should reject the hadits about drinking camel urine. This would contradict our understanding that urine is najasah.
For example, some of the Maliki and the Hanafi state that we should reject the ahadits of the Prophet (s.a.w.) being a victim of sihr, since that would call the veracity of Revelation during that period into question.
For example, we should reject the ahadits on rajm, stoning, for zina, since that would contradict the Qur’an, where the penalty is lashing, and we do not believe that ahadits can abrogate the Qur’an.
For example, we should reject the hadits that there were verses on rajm being lost, and eaten by a goat, since that would contradict reason. The Qur’an was compiled from mutawatir narrations. How can we believe that Allah (s.w.t.) could not protect His Revelation, when He Said He would? And how can we believe that the many huffazh of the Qur’an forgot that exact same verse?
So, a hadits that contradicts reason, that contradicts the Qur'an, that contradicts our ‘aqidah and contradicts facts is discarded without the need to examine the matn and sanad. And this is where the Hanafi madzhab clashed with the Shafi’i. Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) was a student of Imam ash-Shaybani (r.a.), but they differed on this, and Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) left. It was not particularly amicable.
Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) criticised the emphasis on ra’yy by Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.), in his Adab al-Mufrad and elsewhere. Imam al-Maturidi (r.a.), in turn, was severe in his criticism of Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.).
In any case, people are free to choose their madzhab. Personally, I am very critical of the Shafi’i madzhab’s methodology, and the way the Hanafi madzhab in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere has departed from the spirit of Imam Abu Hanifah’s (r.a.) jurisprudential philosophy. That is why, when I converted, I chose the Hanafi madzhab.
Brother Fahim Ayman Faruk: By the way, when you say, in the unlikely situation where Rasulullah (s.a.w.) asks, you would say “no”. Do you think anything he would ask or did do, can possibly be immoral? Especially on such essential human matters.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: No, the Prophet (s.a.w.) is perfect. Thus, anything that is untoward cannot be him or from him.
Brother Fahim Ayman Faruk: Absolutely, but do you approach this from a top down or bottom up perspective. That is, do you presume to know all that is immoral independent of him and his character, in conjunction with, or solely through his example and the Revelation he brought.
Brother Faizaan Gagan: We know what the Prophet (s.a.w.) does is perfect, but from a singular narration, do we “know” what he did? No, we cannot “know”; certainly not from ahad narrations.
Brother Hussayn Hussayn: Even someone many broadly disagree with, like Brother Atabek Shukurov from Avicenna, when discussing this matter, did bring his position that the 9-years-old hypothesis is not certain, but said, in any case, whatever the Prophet (s.a.w.) did is correct by definition.
The question does come up that, okay, even if we bring it up to 12-13 or even 15-16 due to some revision, people will still be approaching this matter maliciously. Besides, the reports that almost all girls among the population used to be married at the age of puberty are so many that rejecting them would be like rejecting the existence of Arab Hijazis at that time. If people want to call Islamic Law as paedophiliac, that is their problem, but that is a problem they would have with Allah (s.w.t.) and His Way, and that is a problem we Muslims definitely do not want to have.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Stop being so dramatic. Nobody called “Islamic Law” a paedophile. “Islamic Law” is not a person, in any case. There is no argument on the rightness of the Prophet (s.a.w.). The contention is whether he had sex with a child, which I find abhorrent and against fithrah. Claiming that this was done by the Hijazi Arabs, and therefore done by the Prophet (s.a.w.), is also a facetious argument. The Hijazi Arabs did some terrible things that a prophet was Sent to correct. Even today, a thousand and a half years after Islam, the Arabs are still barbarians in many aspects.
Brother Hussayn Hussayn: There is no drama about this, if the Prophet (s.a.w.) did something, that is correct by definition. Again, even the age being put up to 12 or 15 or even 18 does not solve the “sex with a child” or “disgusting sex” allegation. Let us be honest about this and stop pretending like all these “revisions” will solve anything. And yes, if the Prophet (s.a.w.) came to my house and asked for my 6-year-old daughter I would very happily give her to him (s.a.w.), the Master among the Creation in this World and the Next (s.a.w.).
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I contend we must first honest about the fact that there is a disagreement in the ummah about this idea of ‘Aishah (r.a.) being a child. There is no ijma’, and it is dishonest to manufacture one.
Brother Hussayn Hussayn: That is one issue, even if we assume no consensus: One could potentially look at the evidences from different angles and, perhaps, come up with a different conclusion, but then as would be the case with matters of ikhtilaf, one should also be ready to make do with the potential, for example, that the age as they conclude may be moved even down perhaps or only very slightly up. If one wants an academic Islamic discussion, then it should remain within Islamic modes of discourse and derivation of conclusions; this is about everything connected to the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) life, sayings, and actions, knowing very well that millions will unfortunately feel bad about the conclusions of the research.
Brother Faizaan Gagan: Brother Hussayn Hussayn, if 9 is not certain, then people should first break their idol of Swahih al-Bukhari and think about feasibility of what is narrated by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.). And along with its obvious problems, not even do the calculations match and neither do various narrations agree with each other. And if still, there is something there from your side to say, better think on this. If your 9-year-old daughter becomes physically mature, would you marry her off to a guy in his late 20s, as a concession, and if at all the answer is no, then how dare you attribute it to the Best of the Creation (s.a.w.)?
Brother Hussayn Hussayn: The initial question was asked about the Best of Creation (s.a.w.), and the answer is what I gave. I do not see any Muslim worth his shahadah would dare oppose the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) wishes.
Concerning the second question, if my daughter is mature in such a circumstance, yes, it is possible, and I would not doubt about this, even the fiqh of our opponents agrees with me in this case - even the rationalists of yesteryear agree with this, and they know this is squarely within the realm of the Qur’an and the sunnah.
Brother Ahmed Obeidallah: If you all were born just 100 years ago, we would not be having this discussion. Even the staunchest opponents of Islam and Muhammad (s.a.w.) never criticised his marriage to ‘Aishah (r.a.) until the 20th century. And, yes, they were well aware of the normative position that her age was 9 when the marriage was consummated. So, 1,300 years go by and not a word of criticism even by his worst enemies. This shows you that this is purely a 20th / 21st century phenomenon.
Either way, it is not from out pillars of faith to believe she was 9. Believe what you will, but disparaging other Muslims and Islamic scholars and scholarship for the sake of this modern criticism is really sad.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: This is a point that I have heard since my conversion. I cannot deny that there is some validity to it and it would be remiss to simply discard it. My thoughts on the matter is that we, as Muslims, should be stricter than any non-Muslim on these matters. Thus, it is irrelevant if they never raised this issue, and that, in itself can be either enervating or damning for the age.
Pederasty was a norm, from Arabia to the Roman Empire, to the Near East. When all partake in the same sin, or vice, no one complains about it. When child marriages were common, it was not a point of contention. However, morally, that does not make it right.
One of the assumptions here is that the Muslims of earlier ages were more enlightened and ethical than we are. We all cite the hadits on the Salaf, but we also recognise that merely living in that age does not make one of that Salaf. No Muslim, in their right mind, would say Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah was one of the Salaf; he was contemporaneous with them.
The contention here, is not that child marriages did not exist; they are still practiced in places like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The contention here is whether the Prophet (s.a.w.) practiced it.
The Ahl al-Ahadits position, the Shafi’i and Hanbali, that Swahih al-Bukhari is almost sacrosanct is problematic. The Ahl ar-Ra’yy position, the Maliki and Hanafi, is that Swahih al-Bukhari has ahadits that have no place in the corpus. Here, I cite often, the position of Imam al-Maturidi (r.a.), one of Imam al-Bukhari’s (r.a.) most strident critics.
Coming from an ‘aql position, there are many contentions with the sanad, the silsilah, the manaqib and the sharh of the hadits of ‘Aishah (r.a.). We admit that these contentions are insufficient to state that this hadits is dha’if purely on the examination of the text and chains. However, these contentions also make it difficult to state irrefutably, that the Prophet (s.a.w.) had a child marriage, and by extension, it is somehow a basis for a sunnah.
I believe that the Prophet (s.a.w.) is the best of Creation, and I am confident that no one here will dispute that. I do not believe that the Best of Creation (s.a.w.) would marry a child, and it is my husn azh-zhan to believe that the latter position of ‘Aishah (r.a.) being older is much more plausible. If we consider that there is Divine Wisdom in this, certainly Allah (s.w.t.) would not allow such a fitnah to be true, and this seeming defect is a misrecording of a narration.
Brother Ahmed Obeidallah: I would ask you, where is the evidence that marrying, or consummation in this instance, a girl who has reached puberty, though young, is haram? I am already aware that scholars have already spoken on this topic and said that it is haram to harm a young bride. So, if sexual relations would bring irreparable harm to the young bride, then one must not do so and wait until a time in which no harm will occur. This can vary from person to person.
One cannot put a number on it. We see it in our day and age young women who are very early teenagers or hardly teenagers who look in many ways like grown women and have reached puberty and they are sexually active, though with males similar to their age. Obviously, I am not saying this promiscuity is okay. But we find that biologically many of them are capable of sexual relations without any irreparable physical harm.
As for mental harm or being mentally mature, people in the past were known to become mature mentally at a much, much younger age. There are authentic reports from the Salaf of some of their young men getting married at 11 years old. And they were not censored for it. To us, in our times, 9 sounds very young. I personally have no problem believing she was a bit older. And I do not fault anyone for believing so or being critical of the narrations where the criticism is valid.
My issue is, if she truly was 9, firstly, it is not paedophilia, as she had reached puberty. And secondly, it is plausible that not only could a 9 could have reached puberty, but it is also possible that mentally, she was as mature as any 18 or 20-year-old girl is nowadays. We are talking about people who lived in one the harshest and most difficult environments on the face of the Earth, 1,400 years ago, when the life expectancy was, on average, in the 30-40 year range.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Sexual penetration of a minor by an adult can and has led to damage to the sexual organs, including tearing of the vagina, shattering the cervix and internal bleeding. That is scientific fact, documented and verified. This alone is sufficient basis to say it can be haram.
How young people behave, this sexual promiscuity, should not be used as some justification for advocating early marriage. That would hardly be addressing the reasons this behaviour, which is one of values.
Coming back to paedophilia, you are using the biological definition, that childhood ends upon sexual maturity. But from a sociological context, sexual maturity alone is insufficient since a person of diminished responsibility can also be sexually mature. Also, sexual maturity is brought about by hormonal changes that can have biological or environmental triggers. This alone is insufficient.
The legal definition of paedophilia also differs, and this pertains to the age of maturity of various places, so it is not standard. Sexual penetration of a minor is an offence regardless, with the contention being the definition of minor.
Brother Ed Moad: There are two points of uncertainty: whether our current moral sentiments are universally and objectively valid; and whether the historical fact in question is true. Is that not enough to let it go? The most I can say is that I do not know how old ‘Aishah (r.a.) was when she married. I would feel better to think she was older than 9. I do not think that feeling has anything to do with any universaliseable moral judgments.
Brother Sebastian van 't Hoff: Several scholars have established that she was 18.
Brother Ayman Attia: It is an honour for Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) to ask me to marry my daughter to him, however how old she is. I would agree without thinking.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: That is concerning.
Brother Ayman Attia: The Qur’an States:
It is such as obey Allah and His Messenger and fear Allah and do right, that will win (in the end). (Surah an-Nur:52)
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Quoting verses does not detract from the point of concern.
Brother Ayman Attia: If prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) asks for something, it means that Allah (s.w.t.) Ordered him to do it:
Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than Inspiration Sent down to him: (Surah an-Najm:3-4)
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: You misunderstand. The concerning part is the belief that Allah (s.w.t.) would suspend His Own ‘Adl, and the Prophet (s.a.w.) would be someone who would ask such a thing. When Islamophobes say the Prophet (s.a.w.) was a paedophile, they have only to look towards statements like these. I think there is an inadequacy in the understanding of ‘aqidah and the husn azh-zhan of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
Brother Ed Moad: Then, you are shifting. I agree that, in my limited understanding, I do not think the Prophet (s.a.w.) would ask to marry my 9-year-old in our context, because that would be unjust. But you asked if the prophet asked, which itself hypothetically entails different conditions. And given that ‘Aishah (r.a.) was the top in her field because of the education she learned at the feet of the Prophet (s.a.w.), one could hardly argue she suffered, regardless of her age.
Brother Faizaan Gagan: Even among the Hanafis, you will find variety of ideas and people will try to back up their claims from various books. However, theological issues should be taken from theologians and after Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.), nobody came who was more consistent, thoughtful, and credible as Imam Abu Manswur al-Maturidi (r.a.). I like to call him “Abu Hanifah as-Saghir”. You can find muhadditsin like Imam ath-Thahawi (r.a.), and jurists like Imam Abu al-Layts as-Samarqandi (r.a.), but when it comes to theology, there is only Imam Abu Manswur al-Maturidi (r.a.) after Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.).
Brother Wajahat Hussain Al-Hanafi: Beautiful comment. I would love to add Imam al-Jaswswasw (r.a.). He created a bridge between fiqh and theology in his al-Fuswul fi al-Uswul.