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The Wikipedia entry about Aisha says:
Aisha's importance to revitalizing the Arab tradition and leadership among the Arab women highlights her magnitude within Islam. Aisha became involved in the politics of early Islam and the first three caliphate reigns: Abu Bakr, 'Umar, and 'Uthman. During a time in Islam when women were not expected, or wanted, to contribute outside the household, Aisha delivered public speeches, became directly involved in war and even battles, and helped both men and women to understand the practices of Muhammad.[additional citation needed]
The citation about Aisha delivering public speeches  refer to this book (page 51). I searched for "aisha speech" in the book but that didn't show any results.
According to John's comment, "the reference appears to be wrong."
Are there any historical accounts of Aisha (the wife of Muhammad) giving public speeches?
Much of what I'm reading comes from Short Biography of Aisha Int Bakr Al-Siddiq
Battle of Camel, sometimes referred to as the battle of Jamal, November 7, 656, found A'isha (Mohommed's widow at this point) leading 3000 troops against Ali in the first Fitna (Moslem Civil war ), and talking peace terms with Ali before the battle and addressing the 3000 opposing Ali.
During his lifetime, Mohommed established her authority by telling Muslims to consult her in his absence;
Mustadrak of Hakim, vol.4, p.11.
Men and women came from far and wide to benefit from her knowledge.
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, by Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari Hadith 4.643. Musa Ibn Talha (r.a.) says,
"I did not see anyone more eloquent than Aisha"
After Mohommed's death, she went on to be become one of the most prolific and distinguished scholars of her time.
A Muslim scholar, she is credited with narrating more than two thousand hadith. She had a great love of learning and became noted for her intelligence, learning and sharp sense of judgement.Aishah (r.a ) memorized quite a number of Surahs of the Qur'an. Her father was a man of learning and she inherited his love of knowledge.
There is a lot of writing about Aisha as a child bride. I would just add that King John of England married 9-12 year old Isabella of Angoulême in 1200 so young brides happened in antiquity.
Mohammed and Aisha – Answering the Apologists
Apologists for the Islamic religion have created a set of arguments for a Western audience to try and deflect criticism of the marriage and its implications. In general it seems that there is no absolute consensus in the Islamic world about what age Aisha was when she “married” Mohammed, but if anything most Sunni Muslims in the world seem to take the statements in the 6 main hadiths literally when they are actually aware of them. Discovering what the Shia texts say is more difficult, but as I mentioned in the previous post, Islamic authorities in Iran have argued that current age of marriage restrictions are un-Islamic, so it seems the Shia take a similar view. To summarize here are some of the main arguments/claims that apologists usually resort to:
- Aisha wasn’t really 9 when Mohammed consummated the marriage with her. This argument ignores the rather obvious fact that of the 6 most important hadiths in Sunni Islam 3 of them state she was 9 (or 10) at the time in multiple places in those hadiths. None of these 6 hadiths contradict these statements. A religion is defined by its core religious texts, not what may or may not really happened. This argument is based on the claim that there is contradictory evidence in other texts (such as biographies) that proves that Aisha was a lot older than 6 when she married Mohammed. One problem with this argument is that there is also the evidence of what the texts regarded as the most authoritative by Muslims explicitly say in those multiple places. There will always therefore be room for doubt in the matter.
- The marriage was a happy one. However, since Mohammed’s behaviour is an example for Muslims generally there is a big problem – you cannot know when a girl is six how the marriage will turn out. By effectively condoning such marriages, Islam opens the door for very unhappy marriages and much worse – marital rape.
- The age of puberty varies over time, and perhaps Aisha had already reached puberty by the age of 9. The problem with this argument is that there is a long way from the first signs of puberty to the point where a woman becomes ready for childbirth. Although such variations no doubt exist it is a very long stretch to think that a girl of 9 was ready for childbirth. Worse there seems to be a suggestion in the Koran that a girl who hasn’t yet reached puberty may still be ready for marriage (Koran 65:4). Furthermore many Muslims in the Islamic world do not take such variations into account when deciding if child marriage is moral or not.
- The marriage was acceptable according to the norms of the 7th century society Mohammed belonged to. Once again, the problem with this argument is that Mohammed’s life is supposed to be an “excellent” or “beautiful” example for Muslims. There is no suggestion made that this “excellent” example only applied to people living in 7th century Arabia. If his example was only applicable in those times then what is the point of following the Sunnah now, in the 21st century?
- The medieval Kings and Queens argument – that European Kings and queens in the middle ages were just as bad because they also sometimes married children. The problem with this argument is that nobody in the modern West regards those Kings and Queens lives as “excellent” or “beautiful” examples to follow, quite the reverse in many cases.
- That there is a contradictory statement in the Koran that says that marriage should only occur “between two consenting adults”. In the examples I look at the apologists mysteriously fail to say which statement/verse they are referring to. I think this idea *may* be derived from Koran 4:6 and/or 4:19. 4:6 seems to specifically refer to Orphans (it may be directed mainly at male orphans) and it seems to be mostly about when to release their possessions to them more than marriage. 4:19 seems to be specifically about the wives of deceased relatives (see the Pickthall translation which refers to your deceased kinsmen) who would be unlikely to be particularly young in any case. It also, again, conveniently overlooks 65:4.
- That the hadiths are unreliable and only the Koran should be viewed as authoritative. This is really a branch of Islam called Quranism. This still leaves the problem of Koran 65:4. The exact number of people who follow this branch of Islam is not known but it is likely to be very small, so the impact of this approach is probably minimal in the Islamic world. Sunni Muslims by comparison make up about 80% of the world’s Muslims.
- That the Old Testament also condones similarly immoral marriages such as child marriages and forced marriages. This argument is ridiculous for one thing because if Christianity really was also as bad, then that would not make Islam any less bad. Also since Jesus’s message is really the most important message of Christianity it generally overrides the Old Testament barbarity and Jesus did not in any way condone such behaviour. Jesus did not himself marry any children (or anybody) according to the New Testament.
- That Mohammed’s life was the most perfect example and therefore he could not have done anything as bad as marrying a six-year old girl. The point of religions is usually that they give moral guidance, but this argument seems to work backwards – making a moral judgement about a behaviour first and then deciding that a religion cannot possibly be condoning that behaviour because the behaviour is immoral.
Zaynab's father was Jahsh ibn Riyab, an immigrant from the Asad ibn Khuzayma tribe who had settled in Mecca under the protection of the Umayya clan. Her mother was Umayma bint Abdulmuttalib, a member of the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe and a sister of Muhammad's father.  : 33 Hence Zaynab and her five siblings were the first cousins of Muhammad.
Zaynab was said to be quick to lose her temper but also quick to calm down.  She was a skilled tanner and leather-worker. She continued with this line of work throughout her life, even after she no longer needed the money.  : 74, 77
The name of her first husband is not known, but he had died by 622.  : 180 At that time Zaynab, who had become a Muslim, was among those who accompanied her brother Abdullah on the Hijra to Medina. 
Circumstances of the marriage Edit
Around 625 Muhammad proposed to Zaynab that she marry his adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah. Zayd had been born into the Kalb tribe but as a child he had been kidnapped by slave-traders. He had been sold to a nephew of Khadija bint Khuwaylid, who in her turn had given him as a wedding present to her husband Muhammad. After some years, Muhammad had manumitted Zayd and had adopted him as his son.  : 6–10
Zaynab, supported by her brother Abdullah, at first refused the proposal on the grounds that, "I am the widow of a Quraysh."  : 180 They presumably meant that Zaynab's social status was too high to allow her to marry an ex-slave. It has been asserted that these social differences were precisely the reason why Muhammad wanted to arrange the marriage:
"The Prophet was well aware that it is a person’s standing in the eyes of Allah that is important, rather than his or her status in the eyes of the people. their marriage would demonstrate that it was not who their ancestors were, but rather their standing in the sight of Allah, that mattered." 
It has also been suggested that he wanted to establish the legitimacy and right to equal treatment of the adopted.  By contrast, Montgomery Watt points out that Zayd was high in Muhammad's esteem.
"She can hardly have thought that he was not good enough. She was an ambitious woman, however, and may already have hoped to marry Muhammad or she may have wanted to marry someone with whom Muhammad did not want his family to be so closely allied." 
When Muhammad announced a new verse of the Qur'an:
It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error, 
Zaynab acquiesced and married Zayd.   Muhammad personally paid the dower of 160 dirhams in cash, a cloak and veil, a coat of armour, 50 mudd of grain and 10 mudd of dates. 
Circumstances of the divorce Edit
The marriage lasted less than two years. 
The 9th-century historian al-Tabari gives two independent accounts of a visit that Muhammad paid to Zayd's house. The hairskin curtain that served as Zayd’s front door was blown aside, accidentally revealing Zaynab dressed only in her shift. Zaynab arose to dress herself, advising Muhammad that Zayd was not at home but he was welcome to visit. However, he did not enter. He exclaimed to himself, "Praise be to Allah, who turns hearts around!" and then departed.  : 181  : 1–4
When Zayd came home, Zaynab told him what had happened. Zayd went to Muhammad, saying: "Prophet I have heard about your visit. Perhaps you admire Zaynab, so I will divorce her." Muhammad replied, "No, fear Allah and keep your wife."  : 2  After this there was conflict between the couple, and Zaynab shut Zayd out of the bedroom.  : 181
However, this story has been rejected by most Muslim scholars    mainly because of its lack of having any chain of narration and its complete absence from any authentic hadith. Some commentators  have found it absurd that Muhammad would suddenly become aware of Zaynab's beauty one day after having known her all her life if her beauty had been the reason for Muhammad to marry her, he would have married her himself in the first place rather than arranging her marriage to Zayd. 
Zayd divorced Zaynab in December 626.  : 182
Preparation for the marriage Edit
Muhammad expected criticism if he married Zaynab. Pre-Islamic custom disapproved of marriage between a man and his adopted son's former wife.  Arab society would have viewed this union as profoundly wrong because they considered an adopted son was truly a "son", for a man to marry his adopted son's wife - even if she was divorced - was considered incestuous.   Therefore, he "hid in his heart" the idea that he might marry her. This internal conflict is mentioned in the Qur'an 33:37:
Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah's command must be fulfilled.
After this verse was announced, Muhammad proceeded to reject the existing Arabian norms.   Thereafter the legal status of adoption was not recognised under Islam. Zayd reverted to being known by his original name of "Zayd ibn Harithah" instead of "Zayd ibn Muhammad".  : 9
In Pre Islamic Era the Arabs used to consider an adopted person exactly like a real son or daughter as far as rights including right to inheritance and sanctities are concerned. 
After marriage the sponsored children lost their inheritance rights and were known as children of biological parents. The sponsored children after attaining puberty cannot live with the sponsor family. The sponsored children are funded after puberty. The purpose was to reduce enmity of biological children towards sponsored children and to prevent mingling of male sponsor with adult sponsored female. 
Skeptics have pointed to this surah as an example of a self-serving revelation that reflected Muhammad’s desires rather than the will of God.      Some Muslim historians have understood the discrepancy between Muhammad's private thoughts and his expressed words to refer, not to a desire to marry Zaynab, but only to a prophetic foreknowledge that the marriage was going to happen.  
Medinese Hypocrites , a term that refers to those who convert to Islam while working against it , made lot of rumours against this marriage. 
The wedding Edit
Muhammad married Zaynab as soon as her waiting-period from her divorce was complete, on 27 March 627.  : 182 He went into her house when she did not expect him and without knocking. She asked him: "Is it going to be like this, without any witnesses or trustee (wali) for our union?" Muhammad replied: "Allah is the witness and Gabriel is the trustee."  
Muhammad gave Zaynab a dower of 400 dirhams.  Later he held a wedding banquet for her and slaughtered a sheep. Anas ibn Malik said there were over seventy guests, and that none of Muhammad's other wives was given such a large banquet.
Anas narrates: The marriage of Zainab bint Jahash was mentioned in the presence of Anas and he said, "I did not see the Prophet giving a better banquet on marrying any of his wives than the one he gave on marrying Zainab. He then gave a banquet with one sheep."
Anas narrates: "The Prophet offered a wedding banquet on the occasion of his marriage to Zainab, and provided a good meal for the Muslims. Then he went out as was his custom on marrying, he came to the dwelling places of the mothers of the Believers (i.e. his wives) invoking good (on them), and they were invoking good (on him). Then he departed (and came back) and saw two men (still sitting there). So he left again. I do not remember whether I informed him or he was informed (by somebody else) of their departure."  : 75 
As soon as the men had departed, Muhammad announced a new ayat of the Quran.  : 76–77, 126–127
O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter and when you have eaten, disperse without seeking to remain for conversation. Indeed, that was troubling the Prophet, and he is shy of [dismissing] you. But Allah is not shy of the truth. And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it is not for you to harm the Messenger of Allah or to marry his wives after him, ever. Indeed, that would be in the sight of Allah an enormity. 
Life in Medina Edit
Aisha believed that Muhammad's favourite wives, after herself, were Zaynab and Umm Salama.  : 81 She said: "Zaynab was my equal in beauty and in the Prophet's love for her."  Umm Salama said of Zaynab: "The Messenger of Allah liked her and he also used to become vexed with her."  : 74 On two occasions, when Muhammad divided a gift of food among all his wives, Zaynab was displeased with her portion and sent it back to him.  : 138
Several traditions indicate conflict between Zaynab and her co-wives. She used to boast to them: "You were given in marriage by your families, while I was married (to the Prophet) by Allah from over seven Heavens."    In one quarrel, Zaynab shouted insults at Aisha while Muhammad was present. Aisha retaliated with "hot words until I made her quiet." Muhammad only commented that Aisha was "really the daughter of Abu Bakr."  Another time Zaynab refused to lend her spare camel to Safiyya Muhammad was so angry that he did not speak to Zaynab for over two months.  : 90 Aisha related that the wives were divided into two factions, one led by herself and the other by Umm Salama. Zaynab was allied to Umm Salama, together with Umm Habiba, Juwayriyya and Maymunah. 
Yet it was Zaynab who defended Aisha when the latter was accused of adultery. Muhammad asked her if she knew anything about it, and Zaynab replied: "O Allah's Messenger! I refrain to claim hearing or seeing what I have not heard or seen. By Allah, I know nothing except goodness about Aisha."  Aisha conceded: "I have never seen a woman more advanced in religious piety than Zaynab, more God-conscious, more truthful, more alive to the ties of blood, more generous and having more sense of self-sacrifice in practical life and having more charitable disposition and thus more close to God, the Exalted, than she was." 
Zaynab had a reputation for being prayerful.  : 74 She prayed so much by night that she hung a rope between two pillars in the mosque and held onto it when she became too tired to stand. When Muhammad discovered the rope, he removed it and told her that when she became tired, she should stop praying and sit down. 
After Muhammad’s death, Zaynab never left Medina again.  : 146 She was a widow for nine years, during which time she narrated eleven ahadith. 
She continued to work at tanning and leather-crafts, and she gave away all her profits in charity.  : 74, 77 Even when Caliph Umar sent her the pension of 12,000 dirhams that he allowed to all of Muhammad's widows, Zaynab gave it all away to various poor families in Medina.  : 78–79 At her death, her heirs did not find a single coin in her house.  : 81
Zaynab died during the caliphate of Umar in the summer of 641, being the first of Muhammad's widows to die after him.  : 79–81 She was 53 (lunar) years old.  : 182
Novel on prophet's wife pulled for fear of backlash
A romance novel about the child bride of the prophet Muhammad has been withdrawn because its publisher feared possible terrorist acts by Muslim extremists.
The Jewel of the Medina was to have been released on August 12 by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, with an eight-city tour for first-time novelist Sherry Jones, 46.
But the publishers apparently panicked after a professor in Texas who had been approached for a pre-publication blurb, strenuously objected to the work.
Denise Spellberg, who teaches Islamic history at the University of Texas at Austin, later described the novel as "soft core pornography".
Jones rejects the charge. "It's ridiculous," she told the Guardian today.
"I must be one heck of a writer to have produced a pornographic book without any sex scenes. My book is as realistic a portrayal as I could muster of the prophet Muhammad's harem and his domestic life. Of course it has sexuality, but there is no sex in my book."
The withdrawal of the novel, first reported this week by the Wall Street Journal, set off an intense debate on the web among feminists, young Muslims, and academics.
Many of the bloggers recalled the death threats and uproar 20 years ago following the publication of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
There were also references to the global upheavals that followed the publication of cartoons in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, deemed offensive to Islam. More than 100 people died in the ensuing protests.
The saga of the Jewel of the Medina began unspoolling last April when the publishers sent out galleys to scholars and writers for recommendations. Until then, the publishers had raised no concerns about the novel, Jones said.
She said she became interested in the topic after 9/11 and spent two years researching the novel, posting a 29-book bibliography on her blog. Jones suggested Spellberg for an endorsement because she had drawn from her work.
"It was my hope that my book would be a bridge builder, develop empathy for this other culture that we know so little about in this country," she said. "It has always rankled me the way history focuses on men and wars and men's politics and leaves women out. I wanted to honour the women in Muhammad's life by giving them a voice."
Spellberg, however, seems to have been horrified by the end product. The book's marketing blurb and the prologue, both available online, give some indication of her fears.
The novel is an amalgam of bodice ripper and historical fiction centred around Aisha, the favourite wife of the prophet Muhammad.
The marketing blurb compared the work to Memoirs of a Geisha.
"Married at nine to the much-older Muhammad, A'isha uses her wits, her courage, and her sword to defend her first-wife status even as Muhammad marries again and again, taking twelve wives and concubines in all," the plot summary reads.
The book's prologue opens with an account of a story that will be familiar to Muslims of an episode when Aisha was accused of adultery after she became separated from Muhammad and his entourage in the desert.
In Jones's account, Aisha, now aged 14, is not entirely satisfied with her marriage, and is making her scandalous return to Medina in the company of another man.
The novel also imagines the consummation of the marriage between Muhammad and Aisha, who was nine years old at the time. "I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography," Spellberg told the Journal.
She immediately called a colleague and editor of a Muslim website to share her misgivings. The guest lecturer, Shahed Amanullah, told the Wall Street Journal that Spellberg asked him to warn other Muslims about the novel. "She was very upset."
The novel became a topic of discussion on a number of Muslim websites, with one blogger putting forward an action strategy to email blast the publisher.
Spellberg also raised her concerns with Random House. "Denise says it is 'a declaration of war . explosive stuff . a national security issue'," said an email from Jane Garrett, an editor at another Random House imprint that was quoted in the Journal.
"Think it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses and the Danish cartoons."
The email from Garrett went on: "thinks the book should be withdrawn ASAP".
Jones said today the publishers were not aware of the discussion taking place on Muslim websites when they told her agent on May 2 they were considering postponing publication. Three weeks later, Jones was told that publication was indefinitely postponed.
Random House said today that it had been advised by security experts and Islamic scholars that the novel was offensive to Muslims and that "it could incite acts of violence by a small radical segment".
The statement added: "We felt an obligation to take these concerns very seriously."
Jones, who had a two-book deal with Random House, was released from her contract to try to sell the book elsewhere. She said today she was confident of finding a new publisher.
She was also adamant that the book poses no danger. "There have been no Muslim threats," she said. "I haven't received any and Random House hasn't received any. They received a prediction of terrorist attacks from Spellberg."
Was Muhammad a pedophile ?
Edited by KING
Through the centuries, orientalists have advance numerous accusations and far-fetched theories to discredit Islam and its last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). Praise be to Allah alone, all such accusations have been successfully refuted by the Muslims Ummah. Currently, one of the ‘reinvented’ accusations against the noble character of the Prophet is about his marriage to young Aisha Siddiqa ®.
Let’s probe some of the orientalists’ charges in detail in the light of modern research, historic evidence and the Islamic sources of the Quran and the Sunnah to separate truth from falsehood, and display to the world that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is indeed an exemplary for all of mankind.
Two main theories are often advance by orientalists to attack the pure character of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on his marriage to Aisha ® at her young age.
A. He was a Pedophile.
B. He was involved in child abuse.
Let’s analyze each theory to dig out the truth, through the Guidance of Allah (SWT).
A. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) married Aisha ® because he was a pedophile?
Definition of a Pedophile:
“Pedophile: also spelled PEDOPHILIA, psychosexual disorder in which an adult’s arousal and sexual gratification occur primarily through sexual contact with prepubescent children. The typical pedophile is unable to find satisfaction in an adult sexual relationship and may have low self-esteem, seeing sexual activity with a child as less threatening than that with an adult.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998
“pe.do.phil.ia n [NL] (1906): sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object — pe.do.phil.i.ac or pe.do.phil.ic adj.” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
The diagnostic criteria for pedophilia according to American Psychiatric Association:
# Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent intense sexual urges and sexual arousing fantasies involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children.
# The person has acted on these urges, or is markedly distressed by them.
# The person is at least 16 years old and at least 5 years older than the child or children in A.
DSM-III-R Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ed 3, revised, copyright American Psychiatric Association.
“In addition to their pedophilia, a significant number of pedophiles are concomitantly or have previously been involved in exhibitionism, voyeurism, or rape”. (Voyeurism’s the recurrent preoccupation with fantasized or acts that involve seeking out or observing people who are naked, or are engaged in grooming or in sexual activity”. Synopsis of psychiatry, Harold I.Kaplan et al., 5th ed., pg360, Publishers: Williams and Wilkens, 1988
Does the Prophet fit the above criteria of a pedophile?
With the above criteria of a pedophile in mind, lets analyze the lifestyle of the prophet and his marriages.
|Name of Bride||Bride’s age at marriage||Comments|
|Khadija bint khawilad||40||Twice widowedbefore|
|Sauda Bint Zama||50||Widow|
|Aisha bint Abu Bakr||9||Started living with the prophet at the age of 9.|
|Hafsa Bint Umar bin Khattab||22||Widow|
|Zainab bint Khuzaima||30|
|Umm-I-Salma bint Abu Umayia||26||Widow|
|Zainab Bint Jahash||38||Widow|
|Juwaeria Bint Harith||20||Widow|
|Umm-I-Habiba bint Abu Sufyan||36||Widow|
|Marya Qibtiya bint shamun||17||Virgin, Egyptian|
|Safia bint Hayi bin Akhtab||17||Widow|
|Raihana bint umru bin hanafa||Not available|
|Maimuna bint harith||36||Widow|
Source: The Prophet of Islam, the Ideal Husband, by Syed Abu Zafar Zain, Kazi Publications, Lahore, Ist Ed., pg. 10-12
Statistics from the above table:
Percentage of his wives who were 17years and older = 91 %
Percentage of his wives who were widows = 75%
Comment: The statistics show that the prophet’s marriage to Aisha at her young age was an exception and not a norm of his other marriages. Furthermore ‘a pedophile’s main mode of sexual satisfaction is with prepubescent girls’, which is contradictory to the 91% of prophet’s marriage to women 17 years and over. An unbiased examination of Prophet’s life and his marriages to his wives blatantly rejects the notion of his lifestyle fitting that of a pedophile. All his brides were aged widows (except Aisha and Marium).
Moreover, according to the criteria in the references cited above in ‘Synopsis of Psychiatry’, a vast majority of pedophiles possess a history of exhibitionism, voyeurism, or rape. Again, there is no single reference from either religious or secular sources that the noble Prophet ever indulged in such sadistic behavior (God forbid). This truth is observed and accepted by both Muslims and unbiased non-Muslims scholars.
“It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.” – Annie Besant, THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD, Madras, 1932, p. 4.
B. Others claim that the noble Prophet (peace be upon him) indulged in child-abuse when he married Aisha at her young age.
Let scrutinize this allegation…
Definition of Child Abuse:
Child Abuse, also called CRUELTY TO CHILDREN, the willful and unjustifiable infliction of pain and suffering on children. The term can denote the use of inordinate physical violence unjustifiable verbal abuse the failure to furnish proper shelter, nourishment, medical treatment, or emotional support incest other cases of sexual molestation or rape and the making of child pornography. Frequently described by the medical profession as the “battered-child syndrome,” abusive treatment of children is almost universally proscribed by criminal statutes. Child abuse can have serious future consequences for the victims involved. Delays in physical growth, impaired language and cognitive abilities, and problems in personality development, learning, and behavior are common following instances of child abuse or neglect.Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998
Comment: None of the criteria of child-abuse applies to the noble life of the Prophet (pbuh). There is no single incident of any infliction of pain and suffering by the prophet on Aisha or any other human being for that matter. Neither any instance of verbal or sexual abuse can be concluded from the relationship of the prophet with Aisha ® or any of his wives.
An abused child can have serious future consequences…delayed physical growth, impaired language..learning and behavior…etc (above definition). As one examines the chaste life of Aisha ®, her personality, physical, mental and spiritual development are all contrary to that of an abused child. In fact through the Prophet’s marriage and his guidance to Aisha, history testifies that she should be labeled not as an abused child but as a ‘blessed child’.
After analyzing and refuting the accusations against the noble character of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the only viable alternative left with us is:
C. The Prophet married Aisha for the benefit of Islam and Humanity.
# The Prophet married Aisha primarily for three reasons:
# To reinforce the friendly relations already existing with Abu Bakr (his closest companion).
# To educate and train Aisha so she may serve the purposes of Islam.
# To teach her to utilize her capabilities for the sake of Islam.
# Her Marriage with the prophet was a Wahi (Divine Revelation). She, herself relates from the Prophet, ‘He said, “I saw you in dreams three times. The angel brought you to me and you were clad in white silk. He (the angel) said that it was your consort and he (angel) showed me by opening your face. You are just like that…” Sahih Muslim, Vol.2, p.285.
# Aisha ® was born after her parents had embraced Islam. Therefore, she was free from the defilement of polytheism right from her birth.
# In her youth, already known for her striking beauty and her formidable memory, she came under the loving care and attention of the Prophet himself. As his wife and close companion she acquired from him knowledge and insight such as no woman has ever acquired.
Aishah lived on almost fifty years after the passing away of the Prophet. She had been his wife for a decade. Much of this time was spent in learning and acquiring knowledge of the two most important sources of God’s guidance, the Quran and the Sunnah of His Prophet. Aishah ® was one of the three wives (the other two being Hafsa ® and Umm Salamah ®) who memorized the Revelation. Like Hafsa ®, she had her own script of the Quran written after the Prophet had died.
# So far as the Hadith or sayings of the Prophet is concerned, Aishah ® is one of four persons (the others being Abu Hurrah, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Ana ibn Malik) who transmitted more than two thousand sayings. From her, 2210 Hadith have come, out of which 174 Hadith are commonly agreed upon by both Bukhari and Muslim. Many of her transmissions pertain to some of the most intimate aspects of personal behavior which only someone in Aishah’s position could have learnt. What is most important is that her knowledge of Hadith was passed on in written form by at least three persons including her nephew Urwah who became one of the greatest scholars among the generation after the Companions. It is the claim of the Scholars of Islam that without her, half of the Ilm-I-Hadith [knowledge, understanding of the Hadith (and Islam)] would have perished.
# Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefited from Aishah’s knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: “If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aisha about it.”
“Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said from Said ibn al-Musayyab that Abu Musa al-Ashari came to Aishah, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said to her, “The disagreement of the companions in a matter which I hate to bring before you has distressed me.” She said, “What is that? You did not ask your mother about it, so ask me.” He said, “A man penetrates his wife, but becomes listless and does not ejaculate. “She said, “When the circumcised part passes the circumcised part ghusl is obligatory.” Abu Musa added, “I shall never ask anyone about this after you.” Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik Hadith 2.75
Arwa Bin Zubair says, “I did not find anyone more proficient (than Aisha ®) in the knowledge of the Holy Quran, the Commandments of Halal (lawful) and Haram (prohibited), Ilmul-Ansab and Arabic poetry. That is why, even senior companions of the Prophet used to consult Aisha ® in resolving intricate issued“.Jala-ul-Afham by Ibn Qaiyem and Ibn Sa’ad, Vol.2, p.26
Abu Musa al-Ashari says: “Never had we (the companions) had any difficulty for the solution of which we approached Aisha and did not get some useful information from her“.Sirat-I-Aisha, on the authority of Trimidhi, pg. 163
# As a teacher she had a clear and persuasive manner of speech and her power of oratory has been described in superlative terms by al-Ahnaf who said: “I have heard speeches of Abu Bakr and Umar, Uthman and Ali and the Khulafa up to this day, but I have not heard speech more persuasive and more beautiful from the mouth of any person than from the mouth of Aishah.”
The Prophet said, “The superiority of ‘Aisha to other ladies is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. meat and bread dish) to other meals. Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Mary, the daughter of Imran and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh.” Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, Narrated by Abu Musa Al Ashari Hadith 4.643
Musa Ibn Talha ® says, “I did not see anyone more eloquent than Aisha ®” Mustadrak of Hakim, Vol.4,p.11
# Men and women came from far and wide to benefit from her knowledge.
Aisha’s great interest in the study of the Qur’an is understandable. She was an eye-witness to a number of revelations and had therefore a clear idea of the circumstances in which they were revealed. It was on her bed alone (and no other consort’s) that the Prophet received Wahi (Divine Revelations) several times. This helped her in interpreting the verses.
# At the time of the Prophet’s death, the Prophet’s head was on her lap. It was in her quarters that the Prophet was buried.
The life of Aishah (R) is a proof that a woman can be far more learned than men and that she can be the teacher of scholars and experts. Her life is also a proof that a woman can exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. Aisha (R) is a continuing inspiration and role model to today’s youth who are diligently searching for an example amongst the pop stars, movie actresses and sports stars. May the memory of her’s live forever in the heart of the Muslim Ummah and may Allah grant her the highest abode in Paradise…Aameen.
It was the aforementioned qualities of Aisha ® and the Prophet’s guidance in molding these capabilities for the service of Islam, were the main reasons, why the Prophet Married young Aisha ®, and not the perverted reasons brought forth by misguided orientalists.
Muslims invite all sincere humans to study the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon) in the light of the authentic sources of the Quran and the Sunnah (exemplary sayings and deeds of the Prophet) and judge for themselves where the truth lies. Indeed, by recognizing the truth of Islam as the final and complete Guidance sent by our Creator can humanity find lasting peace in this world and a means of salvation from the hell fire in the hereafter.
“I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” George Bernard Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM, Vol. 1, No. 81936.
Though, the Prophet is not among us in his flesh, but his exemplary life has been preserved for all humanity to follow.
When Truth comes Falsehood disappears, Islam came, now Shirk (polytheism) must clear!
Why I’m No Longer Talking to Muslim Men About Equality
I was distracted by the beep from my phone as I settled down to nap. I stretched forward to turn off the ringer but ended up sneaking a peek: two direct messages and four mentions. A sister on Twitter called my attention to an article written in response to one of my essays on the mutual inclusivity of feminism and Islam. I read it and wasn’t surprised.
The writer tactfully excommunicat e d me from my faith, arguing that Muslim women need to be extricated from the religion entirely before anything close to equality can be achieved. He alluded to a “promised land” that Muslim feminists rely on “secular counterparts” to reach, a land that either does not exist or exists outside the faith.
Such laughable ignorance and religious blackmail always seem to come from men — the ones who can only feel big when they make women feel small. They tell me who I am, and what I should or shouldn’t say or do. I am an unrighteous woman who should know her place, an ingrate trying to sneak liberalism into Islam.
Nothing injures the pride of a man with exaggerated self-importance like the joy of a free-spirited woman who knows her worth.
For years now, I have been vocal about issues relating to Islam, Muslims, and gender on various media platforms. In one sense, I choose to do this work, but in another, this work chose me. It’s framed by the way others attempt to represent and control me, more or less obliging me to respond. Sometimes I do feel uneasy. But I grow stronger every time, wielding a weapon of humor rather than anger. Nothing injures the pride of a man with exaggerated self-importance like the joy of a free-spirited woman who knows her worth.
I forwarded the article to a friend, who suggested I engage the writer in conversation. That’s the last thing I would do: waste my time talking to men ignorant to the oppression of women. It’s stunting, exhausting, and counterproductive. Agency is not men’s to give. It’s women’s to have. And all my activism from now on will be tailored toward helping Muslim women take their agency.
A few days after that article was published, a new wave of activism against rape and sexual violence started to spiral on Twitter. It began with the story of a girl named Uwa, who was raped and murdered inside the hall of a church in Benin City, Nigeria, where she had been studying for exams. This happened just days after 11 men were arrested for the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl in Jigawa. The Nigerian inspector general of police announced that, in the last five months, Nigeria had experienced at least 717 reported rapes.
We talk about how a woman immediately feels unsafe and threatened by the presence of a man walking behind her on the sidewalk at night. She doubles her pace. Sometimes she runs, her long legs like a whippet’s, as she vanishes down the street. I am that woman. Every woman is that woman. And it happens everywhere: on the street, in a Lyft, at the gym.
We talk about how men don’t live this way, how they don’t spend every day of their lives feeling at risk, feeling vulnerable. They don’t spend their lives pondering the safety of where they’re going, what time is safest to leave and return. Freedom of movement and choice is a privilege men enjoy every day, yet it’s a luxury to women.
We tell men that by virtue of being men, they are part of rape culture. We talk about how they perpetuate the attitudes and behaviors that are rape culture. But these men are still not listening. They are angry that we are talking about these issues. They tell women to not go out at night, to carry pepper spray, a knife, to not dress provocatively. And this last point is where Muslim men jump on the bandwagon, amplifying their abysmal takes, their religious manipulation: “If every Muslim woman wore a hijab and didn’t go out without their mahrams, they would never be sexually harassed.” As if it’s that simple.
There is the case of Barakah, another victim of rape and murder, an 18-year-old Muslim woman in hijab. This story drove Muslim women out in numbers against the Muslim men who use religion to oppress and silence them. It surfaced the many stories of women harassed while wearing hijabs. Muslim women have been sexually harassed during pilgrimage, have been raped in a land that’s supposed to be holy. Muslim women have been raped by their male relatives, the very people supposed to “protect” them.
In a blur of extreme exhaustion and exasperation, I find myself wondering how best to use my words as an instrument for change. I will not try to convince Muslim men that Muslim women are like them, full humans, equal to them and deserving of every human right. It would be a waste of time.
Muslim misogynists and Western feminists have said a lot. Now Muslim women who fight sexism and inequality must be heard. I am here to tell Muslim women to take what’s theirs and not wait for it to be handed to them.
Susan Carland, in her work Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith, and Sexism, made mention of Canadian scholar Jasmin Zine’s observation that “it’s not just our actions but also our very identities that are constantly being shaped by dual, competing discourses that surround us. There’s the fundamentalist, patriarchal narrative… but there are also some Western feminist discourses that seek to define our identities in ways that are… backward, oppressed, with no hope of liberation other than to emulate whatever Western notions of womanhood are on offer… Both arms deny Muslim women the ability — indeed the right — to define our identities for ourselves, and especially to do so within the vast possibilities of Islam.”
Caught between these two contrasting discourses, we seem to have been given some predetermined scripts to live by. And it is left to us — the Muslim women who fight sexism — to rework these structures and reclaim our identities.
One of the hypocrisies in the article responding to my essay was the allegation that I tried to reinvent the wheel by “disparaging” centuries of scholarship to further my own agenda. But ancient scholarship was influenced by cultural and environmental factors. There are stark differences in interpretation of verses of the Qur’an by various scholars. After all, some of these scholars deemed “that a woman who cannot have children is worse than a doormat,” or, “if a man’s heart is attached to a woman, she will rule it and destroy it,” or that “a man is a sayyid and women are men’s captives.”
Women were not completely absent from this history. There is the historical account of a woman who challenged a caliph on a ruling that would have become a part of Islamic law. “Umar [the caliph or ruler of the time]… wanted to cap the value of the mahr, a gift that must be given to a woman for her personal use. The woman criticized his plan using Qur’anic verses to justify her disagreement, and upon hearing her argument, Umar rescinded, saying, ‘The woman is right, and Umar is wrong.’”
While the term “Muslim feminism” is recent, the act of Muslim women fighting sexism is nothing new.
Yet Muslim men today appear alarmed by Muslim women speaking up against sexism in Muslim communities. Men pull out the “secularism” card. They maliciously assert that Muslim women are introducing a foreign concept into Islam — a ridiculous line of thought that ignores the history of Muslim women’s opposition to sexism and the plurality of its approach.
As Roja Fazaeli, a scholar in Islamic civilization, tells us, while the term “Muslim feminism” is recent, the act of Muslim women fighting sexism is nothing new.
Carland states that the history of Muslim women fighting sexism dates back to the time after the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Aisha (RA), the wife of the Prophet, was known for issuing fatawa (religious rulings) on numerous issues but is especially renowned for giving rulings that remind people not to view women negatively when there was no religious basis to do so. In one instance, when a rumor was circulating among some Iraqis that the prayer of a man is nullified if a woman and some lowly animals pass in front of him, Aisha declared:
Listen, oh people of Iraq. You think that a donkey, a dog, a woman, and a cat passing in front of a man praying cuts [ruins] his prayer? You have equated us, women, with them?! Push away whoever comes in front of you as much as is possible for you. For nothing cuts the prayer.
Another version of this ruling has Aisha criticizing the man who was circulating this lie, saying to him, “You have made women like the worst animals!”
The agency of Muslim women in the time of the Prophet (PBUH) was highlighted by their right to grant refuge to a stranger or enemy. Umm Hani, a female companion of the Prophet (PBUH), said: “Oh Messenger of God, the son of my mother claims that he is going to kill a man to whom I have granted protection, So-and-so son of Hubayrah. The Prophet said: ‘We have granted protection to whoever you have granted protection to, Oh Umm Hani.’”
The issue of veiling as a prerogative of the women is also evident in the story of Aisha bint Talha, whose husband told her to “either stay within your home or cover your face when you go out!” Aisha replied to him, “Since the Almighty has put on me this stamp of beauty, it is my wish that the public should view the beauty and thereby recognize His grace unto them. On no account, therefore, will I veil myself.”
For centuries, Muslim women have been challenging sexism in their communities. In the words of Muhammed Akram Nadwi in his work, Al Muhaddithat, “The sheer number of examples from different periods and regions… establish that the answer to some of the ‘If men can, why can’t women?’ questions is ‘Men can, and women can too.’”
Present-day misogyny has been shaped by philosophers like Aristotle, whose ideas not only shaped societies but also infiltrated the Muslim world. Aristotle propounded theories that called men “active” and women “passive.” Abeda Sultana, in “Patriarchy and Women’s Subordination,” stated that for Aristotle, the woman was a “mutilated male,” someone who does not have a soul. In Aristotle’s view, the biological inferiority of a woman makes her inferior also in her capacities, her ability to reason, and therefore, her ability to make decisions. Because man is superior and woman inferior, he is born to rule and she to be ruled.
Indeed, some of the most important architects of institutionalized Muslim misogyny weren’t actually Muslim. According to Max Fisher, “They were Turkish, Ottoman, British, and French. These foreigners ruled Arabs for centuries, twisting the cultures to accommodate their dominance. One of their favourite tricks was to buy the submission of men by offering them absolute power over women. Colonial powers employed it in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and in South Asia, promoting misogynist ideas, and misogynist men, who might have otherwise stayed on the margins, slowly but surely ingraining these ideas into the societies.”
The actual origin of patriarchy is murky and controversial. Was it simply because men are bigger and could fight their way to dominance? Was it a subconscious fear of the inherent power of women that led men to keep women in check, particularly female sexuality? Or was it that the control over and exploitation of women’s lives meant that men could benefit materially, deriving concrete economic gains from the subordination of women? This is a concept that Sylvia Walby called the “patriarchal mode of production” in her book Theorizing Patriarchy.
According to Walby, “housewives are the producing class, while husbands are the expropriating class. Their back-breaking, endless, and repetitive labour is not considered work at all, and housewives are seen to be dependent on their husbands. So, there is a material basis for patriarchy.” The material basis for patriarchy, then, does not rest solely on childbearing in the family but on all the social structures that enable men to control women’s labor. Unfortunately, we don’t hear these theories cited much in conversations about feminism and misogyny. What Muslim men do repeatedly cite is religion.
It starts from men weaponizing the hijab and veil to exclude women from public life, likening a woman’s face to her genitals. Thus, what Muslim women wear as an act of obedience to God as well as an affirmation of their faith has become excessively politicized and has come to represent far more than religious observance. According to Sheikh Muhammed Akram Nadwi, “The meaning of the hijab is not that women should be absent or invisible, it is that they be present and visible with the power of their bodies switched off.”
The deliberate attempt by many Muslim men to lump Muslim women’s activism under the umbrella of secular feminism in order to bully the latter into silence no longer holds any weight. According to historian Margot Badran, “the West is not the patrimonial home of feminism, from which all feminisms derive and against which they must be measured.” Feminism isn’t about “we must never bow to the evil oppressor male!” It’s about having the choice to live our lives as we wish, to choose what we think is best for us.
Despite the ideological differences between the various Muslim feminist groups, they are united in their rebellion against this hierarchical relationship between men and women. It is no longer accepted as biological destiny. Sex is biological, but gender is social.
I am no longer talking to Muslim men about equality because of the deep-seated hypocrisy that has penetrated the hearts of most of them — the one that makes them quick to chant, “Islam has given women rights,” even when they know too well that women’s rights, under Islamic law, are often not implemented. These men will never speak up against gender injustice. They do nothing to ensure that the rights of Muslim women are enforced in their communities. They will never be on the side of women, because they use religion as a tool to conserve their dominance. They have interpreted religion, molding it to perpetuate patriarchal domination.
I’m no longer talking to Muslim men about equality because they dismiss the calls for gender equality as just another form of imposition, insisting that Islam does it differently without showing us how it is done. The louder our calls for gender equality become, the easier they are to wave away.
Just a few days ago, a Muslim man I initially believed was in favor of gender equality told me that women in Islam cannot occupy leadership positions, ignoring the rich history of female leadership in the Muslim world from the time of the Prophet (PBUH). This man based his argument on a single hadith narrated by one man who — during the historical battle of the camel when Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (PBUH), took up arms against the Caliph — relayed after a quarter of a century that he heard the Prophet say no nation that appoints women as leaders will prosper. It was this hadith that formed the basis for the scholarly ruling that women are prohibited from taking leadership positions, a hadith that was not in existence at the time the second caliph of Islam, Umar (RA) appointed Ash-Shifa bint Abdullah, a woman, as a minister for trade and commerce. This hadith was also not invoked when Khayzuran, another woman, governed the Muslim Empire under three Abbasid caliphs in the eighth century or when Malika Asma bint Shihab al-Sulayhiyya and Malika Arwa bint Ahmad al-Sulayhiyya both held power in Yemen in the 11th century or when Sitt al-Mulk became a Fatimid queen of Egypt in the 11th century
I’m no longer talking to Muslim men because I cannot channel my energy into a discussion that yields nothing but futility.
If Muslim men want to be the true allies of Muslim women, as stated in the Qur’an, then they must walk with empathy and humility befitting true allies. If they ignore the pain and the struggles of their sisters, their presence only serves to destroy the work done by women instead of elevating us all to new heights.
The objections of Islamic modernists
Though they constitute a very small minority, many Islamic modernists have protested against the Islamic tradition and its understanding of the Islamic scriptures which straightforwardly appear to instruct men to beat their wives. While these modernists have had extremely limited influence in the Muslim world, they have frequently been embraced by Western media outlets as possible enactors of religious reform in Islam. Serious, mostly non-Muslim scholars of Islam have been similarly heartened by such voices but remain highly skeptical of those modernists who attempt to 're-write' the past by denying the Islamic tradition's historical embrace of some sort of physical domestic discipline against women. Moreover, to many in the Muslim world, this attempt at 'modernizing Islam' appears to be a sort of contemptible moral concession to the west, analogous, even, to holding the door wide open for enemies with ambitions of 'intellectual colonialism'. As the 2021 edition of the widely acclaimed Muslim 500 puts it, "Islamic modernism remains popularly an object of derision and ridicule, and is scorned by traditional Muslims and fundamentalists alike". ⎠]
Pamela K. Taylor
References to Quranic verses
Pamela K. Taylor is the co-founder of Muslims for Progressive Values, former director of the Islamic Writers Alliance, and a strong supporter of the female Imam movement. On the Faith Panelist Blog, she writes:
The relevant portion of Quran 2:229 reads as follows: "The divorce (is) twice. Then to retain in a reasonable manner or to release (her) with kindness." The relevant portion of Quran 2:231 reads: "And when you divorce the women and they reach their (waiting) term, then retain them in a fair manner or release them in a fair manner. And (do) not retain them (to) hurt so that you transgress." Both of these verses speak of men 'retaining' their women, denoting possession and one-sided agency. Quran 2:233 speaks of the gender-specific roles that men and women must play in raising a child - a far cry from gender equality. The Arabic word zauj simply means spouse. Quran 2:187, while equal in its application of the 'garment' metaphor to both genders, is also a stand out example of how the Quran conceives of itself as primarily addressed to men, and not both genders equally - it opens with the following: "Allowed unto you, on the night of fasts, is consorting with your women."
Taylor states that 'domestic violence is indeed against the teachings of Islam'. This statement does not withstand historical scrutiny, as attested by 14 centuries of Islamic legal thought, all of which endorses wife-beating. It is equally unacceptable as a description of Islamic scripture, a representative sampling of which has been quoted in the above portion of the present article. In light of these observations, it is perhaps unsurprising that Taylor's work as an activist has been consistently ridiculed by the broader Islamic community.
References to hadiths
The hadiths cited by Taylor doubtless exist and, discussed above in present article, make it clear that Muhammad made attempts to moderate the severity of the beatings being undertaken by his companions and, for a brief period, even prohibited these beatings outright. Notably, Taylor does not mention that, in the very same hadith she quotes, Muhammad at first forbids wife beating, but then changes his mind on the advice of Umar (see Sunan Abu Dawud 11:2141). Later, in the same hadith, when some women complain as a result, he makes the remark about the men who beat them quoted by Taylor. That the hadith Taylor chose to cite as evidence that domestic violence is 'indeed against the teachings of Islam' is also the same hadith which marks Muhammad's transition to the final position he took at the behest of Umar which once again legalized domestic violence - a strange decision on Taylor's part.
Contestation of the word daraba
Daraba is used for many, many things in the Qur'an, from sexual intercourse to parting company, from metaphorically striking a parable to physically striking a person or thing. The vast majority of commentators, have understood the meaning of 4:34 to mean hitting. Modern interpreters such as Ahmed Ali and Laleh Bakhtiar, have made a case that this interpretation is wrong.
Bakhtiar's argument is particularly strong.
Taylor cites Laleh Bakhtiar, an Islamic modernist who argues that Islam does not instruct violence against women and that the word daraba in Quran 4:34 means 'to send away'. Bakhtiar's influence has generally been confined to the Western academy (outside of Islamic studies departments) and has, alongside Taylor's work, been all but comprehensively ridiculed by the wider Islamic world. Her decision to translate Quran 4:34 to suit her modernist interpretation in her English translation of the Quran triggered immense controversy, and many Islamic scholars issued statements denouncing what they described as her 'alteration' of scripture, resulting in the Islamic Society of North America banning the sale of her work in Islamic bookstores in Canada.
Taylor describes Bakhtiar's argument as 'particularly strong'. While this may be Taylor's view, no serious scholar has endorsed Bakhtiar's interpretation (see Wife Beating in the Qur'an).
Muhammad never hit a woman
"Then, how," she asked, "do you explain that when he had problems with his wives, he admonished them, he refrained from sleeping with them for a month, but he never went to the third step and hit them? Was he being disobedient to Allah, or have we misunderstood verse 4:34?" To which, she says, the scholars had no answer.
Her answer is that we have misunderstood 4:34, and that we have to look at what the Prophet actually did after that month's separation -- which was to offer his wives the choice of divorcing him or remaining with him while resolving to avoid the behaviors he found so objectionable. While, she translates "daraba" as "to go away from them," (which is the most common usage of the term in the Qur'an), it seems that it might be better rendered as "to strike a bargain with them."
While second-hand anecdote presented by Taylor may well be true, there are several hadith accounts (quoted and discussed above in the present article) which directly contradict Aisha's report about Muhammad never striking a servant or woman - interestingly, the hadiths which record Muhammad striking women, including Aisha herself, and allowing his companions to do the same are found in more reliable hadith collections (that is, Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari) than the collection in which the hadith from Aisha quoted by Taylor is found (Sunan Abu Dawud). It is also probable that Islamic scholars would reject the idea that Muhammad ever struck his wives, as this would perhaps undermine his theological status as the Insan al-Kamil (lit. 'the perfect man') - this, however, amounts to theological dissonance rather than a historically-sound objection.
Taylor also suggests that the usage of the word daraba in Quran 4:34 can plausibly be read to mean 'separate from them' or even 'strike a bargain with them'. She presents in evidence of this suggestion that the word daraba is most often used throughout the Quran in the former sense. This particular claim does not withstand scrutiny, as the word is most often used in the Quran to mean 'strike'. Countless traditional Islamic scholars and linguistic authorities - one of whom, it should be mentioned, Taylor is not - have shown such readings, time and again, to be bereft of linguistic merit.
Aisha, Muhammad’s Child Bride: A Rebuttal of Lesley Hazleton
‘Quick-witted’, ‘tart tongued’, ‘daring’, ‘headstrong’ and ‘assertive’ are not five phrases I would immediately attribute to Aisha when I hear them. What springs to mind is rather ‘prepubescent child-bride’ the authority for this assertion consists of multiple Islamic sources rather than speculative, cringeworthy platitudes. This is the issue we face when dissecting one of the most popular videos from the Emir-Stein Center, ‘Who Is Aisha?’ , featuring Lesley Hazleton. In this edition of Emir-Stein’s video series whitewashing Islam, Hazleton attempts to distract the viewer with irrelevance, willfully neglecting to expand upon some of the most significant parts of Aisha’s story.
Aisha is frequently mentioned in Islamic sources, but Hazleton speculates this is because she is a daring young upstart, rather than just Muhammad’s favourite wife, which Hazleton also acknowledges. Hazleton even asserts that Aisha led an entire army, but this isn’t quite true.
When Hazleton moves to address Aisha’s age, the deflection begins. She seems unable to condemn Muhammad’s marriage, apparently to a nine-year-old girl, as wrong. She first suggests that Muhammad’s later marriages were political, which I would dispute, as Muhammad had clear attraction to these women his marriages to them were not simply a forced, political move. Hazleton states: ‘Aisha would later claim she was only nine and while other accounts have her nine when she was betrothed and married at age twelve, few people cared to openly contradict Aisha. Besides, being married at nine would make her unique and she was proud of her uniqueness’.
There are three serious framing errors here. Not only does Hazleton insist that Aisha’s saying she was nine was simply a later claim, but she refutes herself when she says that many of the writings stating this were early. The second is that Hazleton contradicts herself again by claiming that later writers were afraid to contradict what Aisha had said. If that were true, Hazleton would have no sources for her claim that the betrothal took place when Aisha was nine and the marriage when she was twelve. The third framing error is the most disgraceful attempting to paint a marriage between a fifty-three-year-old man and an apparently nine-year-old girl as positive in some way. Who else would defend such a marriage today by claiming the child wants to be unique?
When we look at the earliest and most trusted Islamic sources, they are unapologetically unanimous regarding the age of Aisha when she was married, as well as about the age of consummation and the details of the marriage. The fact that the consummation took place when Aisha was still so young also shows that the marriage was not solely political, but we do not need this fact to prove Muhammad’s intentions. If we look at Sahih al-Bukhari 268 and 5068, we read the following two accounts of Muhammad and his wives: ‘The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number. I asked Anas, “Had the Prophet the strength for it?” Anas replied, “We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men).” And Sa`id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven)’. ‘The Prophet used to go round (have sexual relations with) all his wives in one night, and he had nine wives’.
Muhammad married Aisha at the age of six, not nine, in multiple Islamic sources. I could be picky here and detail how the people used a lunar calendar, so she would more likely be four at the time of the marriage and six at the time of the consummation, as opposed to six at the time of the marriage and nine at the time of consummation, but we will take the trusted sources at face-value. Sahih al-Bukhari 5133, Sahih al-Bukhari 5158, Sahih Muslim 3481, Sahih Muslim 3482 and Sunan Abu Dawud 2121 all unanimously repeat that Aisha was married to Muhammad at age six or seven and that the consummation of the marriage took place when she was nine years old.
The sources also show that Aisha was prepubescent. In Sahih Muslim 3481, when she was taken to consummate the marriage, we read ‘A’isha reported that Allah’s Apostle married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her and when he died she was eighteen years old’. Because she was playing with dolls, which is forbidden as they are images, it confirms her prepubescence: young children are not held to observance as strict as that to which older people are held. In Sahih al-Bukhari 6130, it is said: ‘I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah’s Messenger used to enter they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for `Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.)’
Hazleton then asks, given Aisha’s insults to Khadija among other examples, ‘how ironic it is then for the outspoken Aisha to serve as the excuse, the rationale, for one of the most misogynistic interpretations of the Qur’an, one that would force women into silence’. This is a straw man. The misogyny that Hazleton objects to so strenuously can be found throughout the commands of the direct, perfect, uncheangable, eternal, perfectly preserved word of Allah, the Qur’an.
Surah 2:228 depicts Allah saying a man has to wait three monthly cycles before he can divorce his wife in Surah 65:4, it gives exceptions to that rule: women who are too old, women who are too young, or women who are pregnant. This shows that child marriage was permissible. Additionally, the chapter heading of Sahih al-Bukhari 5133 is ‘Giving young children in marriage is permissible by virtue of Statement of Allah’. The chapter cites verses 65:4 as well as the words of Aisha, who repeats that Muhammad consummated their marriage when she was nine years old.
Women are property when married, as Surah 4:24 states: ‘And married women [are also forbidden], except all that your right hand possesses. This is the decree of Allah for you. And it is lawful to you, besides this, to seek out women with your money, chaste without fornication. So, whatever you enjoy by it (their sexual parts) from them, so give them their wages it is an ordinance’. This is followed by Surah 4:34, where Allah says ‘Men are in charge of women’ and ‘of whom you fear rebellion, so preach to them and separate from them in the beds and scourge them’. Equality is not present in the sources. If a man wants to engage in an extra-marital sexual affair, it is legitimised in Sahih al-Bukhari 5075.
Surah 2:282 shows that a woman is half as intelligent as a man, as two women are required in the place of one man to judge: ‘if one of them should make an error, the other may cause her to remember’. In Sahih Muslim 7099, Muhammad says ‘Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler’. This, yet again, does not fit in with Hazleton’s feminist Qur’an, and you cannot change the direct and perfect word of Allah, so reform in such passages is impossible.
Jannah would be a hellish place for Lesley Hazleton. Aside from disgusting sources such as page 351 of Al-Suyuti Al-Itqan fi Ulum Al-Qur’an and Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd 39, we find many references to Jannah in the Qur’an. Surah 78:31-34 involves ‘Surely to the fearing ones triumph, gardens and vineyards, and women of equal age with large breasts, and a cup dihāqan (filled, a non-Arabic word of Mesopotamian origin)’ while in Surah 55:56-57, Allah asks ‘In them those who restrain their eyes, whom neither human nor jinn has ever had sex with before them. So which of the bounties of your lord will you deny?’, before asking the same question in 55:70-73: ‘In them, good and beautiful maidens. So which of the bounties of your lord will you deny? Hūr confined in the khaima. So which of the bounties of your lord will you deny? No human nor jinn has ever had sex with.’ Hūr are defined as ‘the ever-virgins of the gardens with white skin, large dark eyes, and large breasts’. Khaima means tents, a word of Abyssinian origin. More details about Jannah can be seen in Surahs 41:51-55, 56:22-24 and 56:35-37.
Hazleton’s segment about Aisha’s adultery story is mostly irrelevant, aside from her last statement on it: ‘extremist scholars would twist this horrible, arguing that in the lack of four eye-witnesses, an impossibility, any woman that testified to having been raped was be default admitting to adultery and therefore to be punished accordingly. If Aisha could have foreseen this, she’d have been horrified, outraged and anything but silent’. This is all simply speculation, as the idea of four witnesses for an accusation was well established at the time of Muhammad (as well as in the Qur’an at 24:4 and 24:13). Muhammad was not an ‘extremist scholar’. If rape could not be proven, the woman would be admitting to intercourse with the man, which would be adultery. Aisha would have had ample time to stand up to this idea, but there are no recorded sources where she did so.
Lesley Hazleton ends her presentation with the following ‘It seems to me like Aisha’s life is so full of irony precisely because she could not be pigeon-holed [or] cast in the stereotypically feminine role, so while I may not know if I’d have liked her, I do know that as a feminist I have to admire her, this fearless 7 th century woman whom I suspect would be utterly at home in the 21 st [Century].’ Reading these sentiments back into the sources is incredibly odd. Hazleton’s only evidence for the character of Aisha she wants to portray is the fact that she was ‘leading’ an army in a battle the Muslims comically lost and compiled many Islamic sources. These things do not make her ‘fearless.’
Women in Islam are horrifically abused, often accepting the abuse as it is morally righteous from Allah and Muhammad, and this must be remembered. In Sahih al-Bukhari 6971, we read Muhammad saying: ‘Her (a virgin girl) silence means her consent’. Add the requirement of the hijab from Surahs 24:31 and 33:59 and the result is a worrying picture of women in Islam, one that Hazleton would quickly want to erase. There are many additional Islamic sources that degrade woman to an unbelievable level, but I will conclude now with a quote from Aisha herself, the teenage girl who had to wash semen off the clothes of her elderly husband and witness her fellow Muslim women beaten until their skin turned green, from Sahih al-Bukhari 5825: ‘I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women.’
Al-Waqidi asserts that he stayed there for fifteen days and then returned to Medina.
According to Al-Waqidi: Then the Messenger of God went on an expedition at the head of two hundred of his companions in the month of Rabi' al-Akhir (which began October 2, 623), and reached Buwat. His intention was to intercept the caravan of Quraysh, led by Umayyah b. Khalaf with a hundred men of Quraysh and two thousand five hundred camels. In the end he returned to Medina without fighting. His banner was carried by Sa'd b. Abi Waggas, and he left Sa'd b. Mu'adh in command of Medina during this expedition.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. ] ] Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections these occur as a result of the body's defenses being compromised by the primary disease. ] ] Secondary infections, in turn, can result in tissue loss causing fingers and toes to become shortened and deformed, as cartilage is absorbed into the body. ] ] ]
Prophet Muhammad taught others to "run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion." ] He also put an end to two of his relationships with women on account of them being afflicted with leprosy. Amra bint Yazid, whom he divorced in circa 631 before consummating the marriage when he saw she had symptoms. ] ] ] ] And Jamra bint Al-Harith, whose own father informed Muhammad in circa 631 that she suffered from the disease, whereupon Muhammad broke off the engagement (later chroniclers claim her father lied but arrived home only to find that she really had been afflicted with leprosy). ]