A popular accusation anti-Islams and Islamophobes like to hurl at Muslims is that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a pedophile. Let’s see if there is any basis in this accusation.
What is the right age to marry? The answer has varied through time. Let’s keep in mind that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived more than a thousand years ago. The lifestyle and customs at the time were definitely different from ours.
I looked up the age of a few European royalties at the time of their marriage in Wikipedia. Here’s what I found.
- Marie Antoinette was married at age 15.
- Bianca of Savoy (Duchess of Milan) was married when she was 15, and gave birth to her eldest son a year later.
- Theodora Comnena was 12 or 13 when she married King Baldwin III of Jerusalem.
- Agnes of France was 9 when she married Andronicus Comnenus (Byzantine Emperor).
- St Elizabeth of Portugal (a.k.a. Elizabeth of Aragon) was 17 when she married King Denis of Portugal.
- Caterina Sforza was married at age 10.
- Lucrezia Borgia was 13 when she married her first husband.
- Beatrice d’Este was married at age 16.
As recent as 200 – 300 years ago, it was common for people to marry in their teens — an acceptable practice at their time. Is it fair to compare the customs of people who lived more than 1000 years ago to today’s standard?
The prophet had many enemies — people who didn’t like him preaching the worship of one God. His enemies called him a liar, a sorcerer, a mad man and all sorts of vile names. BUT, they NEVER called him a pedophile. Why not? That would’ve been a powerful weapon for them to use against him. How can someone so immoral be the messenger of God?
They never called him a pedophile because he wasn’t one.
In an attempt to stop him from calling people to Islam, his enemies went to see him and made him three offers. They asked him, what would it take for you to stop preaching this religion? Is it power that you want? We’ll make you our leader and make you the most powerful man in Arabia. The prophet answered, no.
The asked him, do you want money? We’ll give you all our money. We’ll give you everything we have, you’ll be the richest man in Arabia. The prophet said, no.
They asked him, do you want women? Tell us who you want, you can have her. The prophet said, no.
Why did they offer him women? Why didn’t they ask, do you want boys or girls? They didn’t make him this offer because they knew he wasn’t into having sex with children.
There are different opinions about Aisyah’s age when she married the prophet. Even if she married him at the age of nine (she didn’t), the marriage was not consummated until a few years later, which means Aisyah was a teenager by then. She was not much younger than the European royals when they were married. Have you ever heard anyone accuses the European monarchs of being pedophiles?
There is another reason why the accusation that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a pedophile is baseless. He didn’t fit the behaviour pattern of a pedophile. He first wife, Khadijah, was a widow aged fourty when they were married. During Khadijah’s lifetime, she was his only wife. His other wives (except for Aisyah) were also widows. All of his marriages were based on strengthening alliances with various tribes (you can read more about this in “The First Muslim“). If he was a pedophile, all of his wives would be young girls, but they weren’t… because he was not a pedophile.
Why would Muhammad marry a young girl?
This is another myth spread to give Muhammad a bad name. The reference is obviously to the Prophet Muhammad marrying Aisha, his youngest wife. The reality is as follows:
- She was the only one of the wives of the Prophet to be a virgin at marriage. The rest of his wives were widows and divorcees. If he was lusting after young women, he could have married the youngest women, and people would have readily given their daughters in marriage to him. But he didn’t.
- The first wife the prophet married was 40 years old and he was 25. Although one would usually marry someone yougner.
- He did not marry anyone while married to Khadija (the whole 25 years).
- The second time he got married, he was 50 and he married Sada who was around 80 years old.
- Aisha was young and bright and memorized every detail about what the prophet said and had done during their lifetime together and especially personal details about the prophet’s life style at home. This was one of the main reason he married a young person who could learn all this and teach it to everyone after hiss passing, and she did.
- As for the controversy surrounding her age, it is known that between the marriage contract and Aisha’s moving to the Prophet’s household, there was a 3-year gap during which she stayed with her parents.
- It is also known that her moving to the Prophet’s household took place in the first or second year after migration from Mecca to Medina.
- It is also known that the Meccan period lasted for 13 years, and the famous biographer Ibn Ishaq lists the name of Aisha among the very early persons who who accepted Islam in the first few months of the Prophet’s mission. If we were to add a minimum age of Aisha to understand what she was accepting, say 4 + 13 years in Meccas + 1 or 2 years in Medina, it adds up probably to 19 years and not only 9, which is the number reported in al-Bukhari.
- While the above is more than enough, it is noted also that many historians have debated the age of Aisha when she married the Prophet (pbuh). One is that some say that Aisha died in the year of 50 after migration (from Mecca to Medina), at the age of 67, which means that she was born 17 years old before migration and since her marriage was consummated one or two years after migration, it must have taken place at the age of 19.
- It is also known that her sister Asmaa was 10 years her senior. It is interesting to note that Asmaa died in the year 73 after migration, at the age of 100, this means she was born 27 years before migration (100 – 73). Since she was 10 years older, then Aisha was born 17 years before migration, which is consistent with these other reports.
Karen Armstrong, a non-Muslim historian who has studied the life of the Prophet Muhammad in detail, says in her book, “Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time”:
“There was no impropriety in Muhammad’s betrothal to ‘A’isha. Marriages conducted in absentia to seal an alliance were often contracted at this time between adults and minors who were even younger than ‘A’isha. This practice continued in Europe well into the early modern period. There was no question of consummating the marriage until ‘A’isha reached puberty, when she would have been married off like any other girl.”
~ End of plagiarism ~