Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Was the Prophet Muhammad a Pedophile?

The word ‘Pedophile’ is defined in the dictionary as:
·         An adult who is sexually attracted to young children.(1)

The popular Psychology Website, ‘Psychology Today’ says of Pedophilia:

Pedophilia is considered a paraphilia, an "abnormal or unnatural attraction." Pedophilia is defined as the fantasy or act of sexual activity with prepubescent children. Pedophiles are usually men, and can be attracted to either or both sexes. How well they relate to adults of the opposite sex varies.Perpetrators often delude themselves into viewing their actions as helpful to children. They might tell themselves they are contributing to a child's development…(2)

Now, my Muslim brothers and sisters, please do not be alarmed or feel persecuted by the question this article poses, for it is a fair question given the evidence.

I have recently begun my research into Islam and I should first explain my methodology.  As I have done with other religions and mythologies, I began by buying three notebooks.  One for the central texts, which I read and write out, verse for verse, with my own personal commentary on verses that grab my attention, another notebook for commentaries on both the central and peripheral texts, along with traditions arising from these texts, by members of that religion/mythology, (if available) and the third notebook for critical and impartial commentary.   I work on all three notebooks at the same time, allotting portions of each day, for each of the three aspects of my research.   On my third day, working with the materials I have at present, (anxiously awaiting the arrival much more) I came across this little curiosity.   You see, when I start looking at the commentaries, I read through the contents of the commentaries, and begin where I find something that grabs my attention.  I feel that combining both chronological and random methods of research works well for me and keeps me inspired. 

Here is what I found that garnered my attention and led me to look a little deeper into the issue.  You see, in the peripheral Islamic body of texts, known as the Hadith, (specifically within the Sahih Bukhari; ‘Sahih’ meaning ‘reliable’ and Bukhari, being the name of the Imam, Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari (810-870 CE), who compiled these particular Hadith), I discovered something quite disturbing about the Prophet Muhammad and his favourite wife, Aishah.   Perhaps I should let Aishah tell the story herself, as there is nothing better than letting the subject of an investigation speak for themselves, if we can in fact, trust these alleged “holy texts”:

My marriage (wedding) contract with the Prophet was written when I was a girl of six (years).  My mother, Umm Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became normal, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari [recent Muslim converts] women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Messenger came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.(3)

Ok, so how old was Muhammad when he took his prepubescent bride?  He was just over 50 years of age.(4)  And how old was Aishah, when he had sexual intercourse with her?  She was 9 years old! (5).

In her revealing book, Sexual Ethics & Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qu’ran, Hadith and Jurisprudence, Professor of Religion, Kecia Ali says:

According to Sahih Bukhari, viewed by Sunni Muslims as the most authentic compilation of hadith reports about the Prophet and his companions, Aishah was a girl of six when her father,Abu Bakr, married her off to his close friend Muhammad. Accounts in Sahih Muslim, the second most respected compilation, suggest an age at marriage of either six or seven.4 The accounts agree, however, that she was “a girl of nine” when Muhammad consummated the marriage. (6)

This is what the ‘reliable,’ or Sahih Hadith says.  Now, add to this the definition of the word, ‘pedophile,’ furnished above and we have perfectly reasonable grounds for asking the question; was the prophet Muhammad a pedophile?

If not, then how do we explain the following law from the “perfect and complete” Qur’an, which prescribes a 3 month waiting period before divorcing women who have commenced menstruation (reached puberty) and:

“The same shall apply to those who have not yet menstruated”       Surah 65:4

Further, if Muhammad did not set this precedent, then why in Muslim countries like Iran, which are under Sharia (Islamic) Law, for example, is the legal age for marriage (for girls) set at the age of 9?(7)

If you have any further information about this issue, I would love to hear it. 


1.   http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pedophile?s=t

2.   http://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/pedophilia

3.   Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1.  Book 6.  No. 304. Cited in: Robert Spencer. Islam Unveiled. Encounter Books. (2002). p. 47.

4.   Sahih Bukhari. Volume 7. Book 67. No. 5196. Ibid.

5.   Sahih Bukhari. Book of Marriage. No. 64, 65, 88. Cited in: Kecia Ali. Sexual Ethics & Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qu’ran, Hadith and Jurisprudence. Oneworld Publications Oxford (2006). p. 135.

6.   Ibid.

7.   Lisa Beyer, “The Women of Islam,” Time, 25 November, 2001.

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