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Ontario Imam: “Islam defines that puberty is the age of consent for marriage”

Based on Mohammad’s marriage to 9-year-old Aisha, a prominent Imam from London, Ontario explains, that Islam defines puberty as the minimum age of consent for marriage and adds capability as a condition.

On November 25, 2016, Mazin AbdulAdhim, who is affiliated with the radical Islamic global movement of Hizb ut-Tahrir,, wrote on his Facebook page the following:

As for his marriage to A’isha at a young age, Islam defines that puberty is the age of consent for marriage.

Unlike you, we actually believe in the design of God, where human beings are able to have children at the age of puberty, and many young adults around the age of 12-14 often have the maturity of 25+ year olds.

Inversely, there are many 18 year olds who are not fit for marriage, even though the law says they are old enough.

Islam defines the minimum limit for marriage to be puberty, but also adds capability as a condition, as marriage is a responsibility.

A’isha was known for her unusual maturity for her age, and she was married to the Prophet (pbuh) with the knowledge of the whole society.

It was not hidden. In addition to that, she became the single greatest female scholar in the history of Islam, and we take a large portion of Islam from her narrations and her Islamic opinions, and we honor her by calling her “the mother of the believers.”

So, she was not some poor, abused child, rather she was a leader among mankind, and she married the greatest man to walk this earth, and the result of the great life she led in her youth shows in her great status in her old age and for centuries to come.”

Imam Musleh Khan, who was recently appointed to Toronto Police Service’s Muslim chaplain, expressed similar views.

In a lecture during the Islamic Awareness Week at the University of Saskatchewan organized in 2014 by the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Musleh Khan explained how gently and cleverly Mohammad treated his 9-year-old wife Aisha. The following are excerpts from Khan’s speech:

He [Mohammad] marries a woman by the name of Aisha, my Allah be pleased with her. Aisha was much younger woman [9-year-old girl].

So there’s a lot of interesting things about her that we learned and we we really get from his whole life story with this one particular wife.

Aisha, she was young [9-year-old girl]. So she didn’t really understand what marriage, what it took for a woman to be in a marriage. She didn’t really understand the maturity or the responsibility of being in a marriage.

So why is that important? Because what this should indicate that one party, so in this case it’s the husband [Mohammad]. The husband got to be somebody that’s very tolerant and he’s got to have wisdom. He’s got to have wisdom and how to speak to a person like this [9-year-old wife]. How to build a relationship with an individual like this[9-year-old wife].

In a Q&A session in 2015 at Ummah Nabawiah Mosque in Etobicoke, Ontario, Musleh Khan said that it is permissible in Islam to marry a 9-year-old girl, but the implementation of it has its time and place. The following are excerpts from Khan’s answer:

Question:

“[Aisha] was 9-year-old… she was young and why is this it allowed? “

Musleh Khan:

“OK, you tell me what the age is to get married. What is the age that you should get married? Puberty. What else?

“What’s the age here in Toronto in Canada to get married? What’s the minimum age? 16 with parental consent. Right?

“You actually have to have a guardian to sign a document that allows you to get married at that age. When you’re I believe 18 then you can do it on your own. In some parts of Europe it’s 15, OK. In some parts of Africa it’s even lower than that. Everywhere you go in the world you’re finding different ages.

“So what is the real age to get married if it’s so different everywhere you go? The answer it’s our prophet [Mohammad] peace and blessings be upon [who ruled] at the age of puberty.

“Now pause, because for some people who don’t understand this, they’ve already gotten the heart attack. So let’s just explain ourselves here. The first mistake you make with this issue is don’t compare that time to 2015.

Don’t compare that time to 2015. A 9-10-year-old back then is what most 25 and 30 year olds are now. OK. The maturity level is completely different.

“People in thess days and age mature very slowly. That’s why you have guys that are still living at home. They’re like 35 years older still playing video games. They don’t want to get married, they can’t get a job they can’t do this, they can’t do that.

“But back then 9 years olds, you know, you were mature enough and you could get married. You could have a child.

“But our society is so socially poisoned, then when we hear the figure [9-year-old girl], we jump at the conclusion right away without looking at the circumstance, without looking at the culture and by the way, statistically guess how many 9 year olds got married from the time of the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, and until today.

Guess how many 9 year olds in the world have been have been married. Less than one percent. It’s literally nothing from all the way to the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, until now.

“I don’t know anybody who’s done this, and I honestly believe the average Muslim doesn’t even know anybody who’s done this. Why? Because our culture doesn’t allow or know how to accept that practice today. If you try to implement that practice today you’re going to get into a lot of problems.

However, your belief (عقيدة), your belief is, if the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, did it, you have to believe that it was permissible. It’s permitted in our Sharia [Islamic Law] but it has its time and place. That’s what I to tell non Muslims.

“I don’t get into these theoretical discussions and talk about: well, you know, when he was there, he actually didn’t consummate the marriage until later on, so it’s two different things, when he did that the marriage (نكاح) it was far earlier. I don’t even get into none of that.

“I just start talking about: look, look around you do see anybody doing this stuff? No. It was a different time, a different place, a different culture.

Yes, it’s in our Sharia [Islamic Law], but we don’t shove it down anyone’s throat. We don’t tell people: Hey, make sure, you know, this is also a candidate as well. We don’t do that.

No Islamic culture in the world is doing that. Why? Because the times are different. That’s what I would say to a non-Muslim.

“But certainly I want to just at least say: Don’t deny this. Because some Islamic teachers and speakers have started getting into a lot of doubts (شبهات) about this, a lot of doubts about this. So a lot of them actually deny and reject that this actually ever happened. They say that the prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, never actually married Aisha at that age [9-year-old girl] and they start denying it, and start finding all of these cracks in the wall in certain ahadiths [Islamic narrations attributes to Mohammad’s sayings and deeds] and using them as evidence to support: look, this is not true. This hadith [narration] is still questionable. There’s a problem here, there’s a problem and got into so much doubts (شبهات), so many doubts.

Don’t do that. This religion is very simple, just keep it that way which you have to have wisdom with this religion. It has its time and place.”

Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a Canadian Muslim scholar and Imam and the Chancellor of the Islamic Online University , sees no wrong in the marriage between Mohammad and Aisha. In a lecture few years ago, Bilal Philips explained that Islam defines puberty, meaning menstruation and capability of bearing a child, as the dividing line between childhood and maturity. He claimed that 1400 years ago 9-year-old girls were more mature than children today and life was much shorter.

However, he maintained that marrying a matured 9-year-old girl remains legitimate. “If a Muslim man in his 50s, even today, wanted to marry a young woman who was 9 or 10, she reached puberty, it is legitimate,” he said.

The following is a transcript of Bilal Philip’s lecture:

So what is the way in which we should understand this? First and foremost, it is important for us to understand it within, you know, the context of the time, that in these times people have set laws in terms of what ages people can marry at, and what ages they can’t.

They have set a certain set of laws where if one has relations with a woman who is, or a young lady, who is below a certain age then they will consider that to be paedophilia, and if she is a above that age that is considered to be, and it is consensual, consensual sex, was OK.

The point is that when you go and look at the numbers across Europe, you’ll find that it varies from country to country, varying all the way from 12 to 18 to just depends on which country you go to, from France to Germany to Netherlands to Italy to Spain. You know you’re going around those different countries you’ll find the numbers varying from 12 to 18. So what may be considered acceptable relations in one country is considered to be paedophilia in another country. So they have numbers and they have set to define where consensual sex is acceptable or not.

For us and Islam we have a natural principle, a natural dividing line, which is for a woman to be considered an adult or that she may be married and have sexual relations etc. that dividing line is puberty. That is a natural dividing line. Puberty is the body saying that that young lady is now capable of bearing a child. That’s what puberty is about for females, menstruation.

So whether one, in this society, considers that person still to be a child or not, that’s not the issue. The issue is that biologically, she is now an adult capable of bearing a child.

That is the bottom line and it’s a natural division, and that will take into account variations which exist amongst people, amongst tribes, areas of the world etc., because you’ll find that number varied.

In Arabia, 9 was a common age for puberty, other countries it varied. So that was the point. This was the dividing line.

When we’re talking about paedophilia, what is paedophilia anyway? Is paedophilia really adults going and marrying children? No.

The paedophiles who are coming out of Britain and Germany, this is the most largest body of paedophiles, and the US, you know, going into Southeast Asia, to Thailand, to Sri Lanka, the Philippines, these countries where people are in poverty, right? and where you know young children have sold themselves, so sell their bodies to earn money, and where parents will be willing to sell their children for money.

These people who go there, they’re going to marry these kids? No, They’re going there to abuse them, just to take pleasures and then leave. So it’s not about marriage at all.

So when we look in terms of the Prophet’s [Mohammad], peace be upon him [PBUH], situation, this was marriage.

So one, we have a natural dividing line – puberty. Two – we have the issue of whether it was marriage or whether it was sexual abuse.

And when we consider really 1400 years ago what were the ages in which people are considered to be marriageable or not, I’m sure, I’m not, I haven’t studied British history or not, but I’m sure if you go back in British history 1400 years ago, and look at that marriage customs of that time, it’s not going to be any different. So he would end up having to go back and label the British kings as paedophiles and all other kind of things too.

The point is that in the world at that time, they didn’t have, they had not set these old ages that we now find 18 and 16 and 18, this type of thing, as they have here today. People matured faster and life was shorter. You know if you made it to 50 you know you’re an old, really an old person, you know, this you’ve lived your life out.

People died 35 as an old person, 35, 40, you died then you died ad an old person. So life was, people developed much faster. As soon as the child reached a certain age they were taught the basic things that a person should know how to run a family, take care of a home, cook and all the different things that were needed, children learned that. What we call children today learned that.

So where today you can find a woman in her 20s studying in University, she still does not how to cook, she can’t iron, you know, she’s basically a baby, so going to university, I mean, there is something in those days that is inconceivable.

So the attitude of society towards responsibility and all this kind of thing have changed. Consider Usama ibn Zayd, whom the Prophet PBUH made the head, military commander for the Muslim armies, 17 years old. Imagine putting you know 17 year old the head of the Pentagon, you know, he’s got his finger, he can press any button and send missiles all over the world. Hey, we would be in World War 3 in a minute, right?

So we know that, there was a whole different level of maturity, people matured at a whole different pace. So we always have to look at these things within the context.

And then we look at the consequences. People who have suffered from paedophilia in childhood. What about those people when they reach adulthood? These people have problems. They’ve got psychological problems. They’re going to psychiatrists and you know, they’ve got all kinds of.

Who was Aisha [9-year-old girl who was married to Mohammad, the founder and prophet of Islam]? Aisha was one of the leading scholars of the Ummah [Islamic nation], the fourth most prolific narrator of hadith [narrations attributed to Mohammad and his way of life and rulings], you know. Scholar of Sharia [Islamic Law], honored by the Ummah [Islamic nation].

She was the person with you know psychological problems and all these kind of things and her life was shattered? No.

So obviously, that whole marriage situation was a legitimate marriage. It had nothing to do with paedophilia in any way shape or form. It was a legitimate marriage which produced you know positive and good results. And it was a marriage of that time.

But it remains legitimate, that if a Muslim man in his 50s, even today, wanted to marry a young woman who was 9 or 10, she reached puberty, it is legitimate.

The fact that the world is not doing it, and most places people are not doing it, it doesn’t mean that it no longer is permissible. No. It remains.

And in some societies, I know for example in India, though you know the whole issue of what they call child marriages, they tried to ban it. It is officially illegal, but they have shown that well over 50 percent of marriages taking place in India today, in spite of the banning and everything else, the girls are marrying under age what they consider to be underage, it is like 16.”

In one of his lectures (Published on YouTube on June 11, 2015), Bilal Philips addressed the “consequences of delaying in Marriage.” He argued the delaying the marriage bring about moral corruption, such as pornography, masturbation, lesbianism and homosexuality. The following is the transcript of Bilal Philips’ lecture:

Here in our lives where this attitude of time, spare time, we have time, you don’t need to do this now, is the area of marriage. Young people when they reach the age of marriage. Parents are saying to them. Don’t get married, no. Wait, finish your studies and. Wait until you’ve got a job and you earned enough and you can build this thing and that, yeah, that’s the time. So that doesn’t happen until you are in your thirties. Right? That may be ok for the man. But for the woman it becomes a problem.

It becomes a problem. Delaying Marriage. And the Prophet [Mohammad] peace be upon him told us: يا معشر الشباب من استطاع منكم الباءة فليتزوج O young people who ever among you are able should get married.

He said get married young. Get married young and we delay. So what happens? Those years, which are the most critical years, the years in which hormones are flowing, desires are strong. We tell them don’t get married.

So what happens? People just turn it off and say ok. Turn off the desires, I’ll carry on. No. They end up in corruption. Either they’re watching, you know, pornographic stuff, which they shouldn’t be watching the channels etc. Now that these things are all available in this society or they engage, get caught up in masturbation or something like this, whatever they’re going end up doing things that they don’t need to be doing things, which are harmful to them. harmful to the society.

That’s the consequence. Once we delay it brings in corruption. Worse than that, you end up with lesbianism, homosexuality gets born out of those circumstances.

So the harm is great. We should marry young. We should marry our children young. And just so that you don’t think he’s saying that. It’s easy for him to say that. You know, my son was 16 years old, I got him married at 16. His wife was 18.

They now have 6 kids, live in Dubai. Having a happy life. A good life God Willing (انشالله). My other son who just turned 17, he’s going to get married in August, God Willing, his wife is 15. So it can be done.

You know who am I, you know, I‘m a convert Muslim. When I was studying in [the City of] Madeenah, I met one brother. Saudi in Madeenah. He had gotten married when he was 3 years old. I was shocked, 3 years old. Yeah, he got married [when] his wife was 2 and he was 3. Yeah. Not a problem. Praise be to Allah [الحَمْد لله] they are happily married, have bunch of kids and, you know, sure.

When the Prophet [Mohammad] peace be upon him said, marry young and have a lot of kids, you see, he has all the opportunity. I mean you’ll be able to to to play with your great grandchildren, you know, you would not be so old you can’t even, you know, you’re lying on the bed all you can do is look at them and you can actually go and play with them, your great grandchildren.

So, Praise be to Allah, I’m not going to say that you have to go and do that with your kids now, but I‘m just saying that you know, it works. There’s no harm in it in fact it prevents corruption and prevents corruption.”

In his book “Contemporary Issues” from 2002, which was accessible for downloading in the online library of the website Muslims of Calgary, Bilal Philips among other things justified the rationale of early marriage in Islam.

The following are excerpts from Bilal Philips’ book:

CHILD MARRIAGES

“The Prophet (PBUH) has been accused of being a pedophile due his marriage to Aa’ishah at the age of 9…

“3. Islam sets the age of marriage at puberty, as it is the natural dividing line between childhood and adulthood. Menstruation indicates that a young girl has reached childbearing age. This age may vary from country to country, but it is discernible and not arbitrary…

“5. Islam stipulates that a girl or boy married before puberty will not live with their spouse until they have attained puberty. Furthermore, they have the right to cancel or proceed with the marriage when they reach puberty.

“6. Aa’ishah was seven when she was married off to the Prophet (PBUH) and she came to live with him when she reached puberty at nine…”

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, the Imam of the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat of Toronto and the Jaffari Islmic Centre in Thornhill Woods, discusses in his book “Marriage and Morals in Islam” the Islamic law and rulings regarding to the age of puberty and early marriage.

The followings are excerpts from chapter three “The Islamic Sexual Morality (2) Its Structure”:

Sexual desire is aroused in human beings at the age of puberty. In Islamic legal definition puberty (bulugh) is determined by one of the following: 1. age: fifteen lunar years for boys and nine lunar years for girls…”

Since the sexual urge begins at puberty and as Islam says that sexual urge should be fulfilled only through marriage, it has allowed marriage as soon as the boy and the girl reach the age of puberty. In the case of girls, it not only allows them to be married as soon as they become mature, but also recommends such marriage. It is based on such teachings that Islam discourages girls from postponing their marriage because of education; instead, it says that girls should get married and then continue their education if they wish to do so.”

Physical maturity by itself, however, is not enough for a person to handle the marriage responsibilities; rushd (maturity of mind) is equally important…”

If a person does not marry soon after maturing and finds it difficult to control his or her sexual desire, then the only way to fulfill the sexual desire is mut’a.”

In Islamic laws, according to the Shi’ah fiqh, marriage is of two types: da’im, permanent and munqati’, temporary. The munqati’ marriage is also known as mut’a…”

I cannot overemphasize the temporary nature of mut’a. The message of Islam is quite clear: marry on a permanent basis; if that is not possible, then adopt temporary abstinence; if that is not possible, only then use the mut’a marriage.”

Nine years in lunar year, the minimum age according Islam for girl to marry, is in fact 8 years and nine months in solar year, as the lunar year is shorter by 11-12 days of the solar year.

These Islamic rulings regarding the age of puberty are being taught in Islamic schools in North America. For instance, the textbook for 7 Grade students of the Islamic Shia Study Centre West Madrasah (ISSC) in Brampton, Ontario explains the definition of puberty in Islam, and consequently the duties (wajib) applicable to all mature males and females.

The following is an excerpt from “Lesson 6 Gender-Specific (for Girls)” appears on page 100 of the aforementioned textbook which also appeared on the site of :

Signs of Bulugh

As boys and girls grow into men and women, they change physically and emotionally. This age of maturity is also called the age of puberty (or bulugh in Arabic). Boys mature (become bāligh) closer to the ages of 13-15 years. Girls mature earlier and in Islām are considered to be bāligha from the age of 9 (i.e. on her 9th Islāmic birthday). This means whatever is wājib on adults like praying (salāh), fasting (sawm) and hijāb is also wājib on a Muslim girl from the age of 9.”

Jasser Auda, a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Ottawa and a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, claims that there is no basis in Islam for legalizing early marriage.

In his recent lecture on the book of the medieval Andalusian Muslim polymath Averroes (Ibn Rushd) “Distinguished Jurist Primer (Bidayat Al-Mujtahid)”, Auda opined that Aisha married Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, when she was 16 or 17 years old, and not 9 years old.

The following is an excerpt from Auda’s lecture at the Islamic Institute of Toronto (Published on September 30, 2016):

The ummah [nation] of Mohammad, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, is defined by following Mohammad, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, and following Mohammad means to follow his Shariah [Islamic Law]. So the Sharia is the core identity of this Ummah [Muslim nation]…

He [Averroes] mentioned things in the family law that has to do with forcing girls to marry by the custodian [wali والي].

Even though he disputed the institution of wali to start with, he said that the wali though could enforce the girl, the young [اجبار الصغيرة على الزواج], that the young girl could be forced to marry somebody, and he cited hadith [narration attributed to] Aisha [the youngest of Mohammad’s wives], may Allah be pleased of her, when she was 9 when [she] married the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.

I think that all of this is wrong, and I take the opinions that Aisha, may Allah be pleased of her, was 16 when she married the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, because she had converted to Islam with Abu Bakr [her father – اسلمت مع ابيها].

There is another narration, yes I know, both narrations are in the reliable books of hadiths [صحاح] and in fact, the 9 and 7 narration is more authentic than the narration that she converted with her father when she was 5 or 5 and then 11 years later, she married the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, in Medina.

But I think that based on what I understand is the spirit of Islam, and knowing that a 9 year old is really small, unless you know humanity was very different at that time, which we really have no evidence for, biologically speaking, that 14 hundred years a 9 year old was like a 16 or 18 year old today.

I don’t think that this had happened and therefore personally I object to this in his fiqh [jurisprudence] and I think that the opinion that talks about Aisha, may Allah be pleased of her, the historical evidence of her being 16 or 17, to me is evidence that makes sense and is compatible with what Islam is about.

I don’t care about the the laws, the laws, yes, we have to respect them, but they don’t define the Shariah [Islamic Law]. The Sharia is defined from within, from the hadith and the Quran. We don’t define the Shariah based on the law. So I’m not sure what the law is saying here about the marriage age. Yes, we should respect that, because we are citizens of this country, but in terms of the Shariah, I think that the opinion that she was much later in her life 16 or 17 is better.”

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About Jonathan D. Halevi

Jonathan D. Halevi
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is co-founder and editor of CIJnews and a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is also a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.

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