By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
28 September 2017
A recent expose by a media organization
should put Indian Muslims to shame. Arab men coming to Hyderabad to hunt for
young Indian Muslim brides, some even legally minor. It is to the credit of the
local civil society that it brought this to the notice of the local police and
some of these Arab men are today facing tough police questions. Of course, all
this is not new. This has been going on for decades now. The only difference is
that today there is increasing media spotlight on the issue and some of these
heinous acts come to light and therefore become topic of discussion. What is
also important to realise is that there is a network of men and women working
behind the scene who work to facilitate such arranged marriages. Without the
support of such men and women, this ‘trade’ will not succeed. What is
astonishing is that most of the time, these men are close relatives of the
young girl in question. Since there is so much silence on the issue in the
Muslim community, this is really a social problem. Apart from police
surveillance, what is required is a debate in the Muslim community over the
whole issue of marriage itself.
But what drives such old men to come to
India and hunt for brides. In modern parlance, the desire to engage in sexual
acts with young girls is called paedophilia. This is a modern day crime in
which not just the Arab Sheikhs, but whole lot of other communities are also
involved. The whites engage in this forbidden through various charitable
networks which they supposedly work for or indulge in it through sex tourism in
places like Thailand and other places. Therefore this kind of a desire seems to
be a global problem. But there are fundamental differences when we talk about
such acts in the western world and in the Arab Muslim world. And that
difference has to do with the very different responses of these two parts of
the worlds to the problem. While the western world has outlawed this kind of
consummation of desire, the Arab world still thinks that it is normal. Not just
the legal framework, but even the two societies understand the problem and
react to it differently. While the western society has delegitimized it long
time ago, the Muslim world still has social sanction to this practice, often
through religion. And that’s a very big difference between the two contexts.
The pious utterances on television by
various Muslim personalities saying that this practice is un-Islamic and that
men indulging in such practices are doing it for fulfilling their baser
instincts is hardly convincing. After all, marriages around the world are
understood as the legitimate means of sexual gratification. So what is wrong if
these Muslim men are indulging in such marriages? The problem therefore is not
of lust which is a very normal human emotion The problem is informed choice.
The first and foremost problem with such a
marriage is that in a majority of cases it is driven by acute poverty. When a
family, too poor to feed itself and where a girl child is understood as a
burden the very idea of marriage appears appealing to the family. At least it is
one mouth less to feed since the girl becomes someone else’s burden and
responsibility. Scores of marriages take place because of considerations of
poverty and it happens amongst all communities. Because of poverty, neither the
family nor the persons involved have any real choice in such marriages.
But there is an added dimension when it
comes to Muslim society. And that is that such marriages are considered
legitimate and sanctioned by religion itself. After all, there are scores of
examples within Muslim history where much older men happen to get married to
younger girls. In a moving Afghan film, Osama, directed by Siddig Barmak, an
elderly village cleric takes pity on a young orphan and marries her. The movie,
made with extraordinary sensitivity, makes clear that in the mind of the
cleric, the prime question was not lust but to care for orphans which he
understood as a religious duty. As part of his religious duty, he also has to
consummate the marriage with this little girl which he does eventually. How
does then one separate matters of piety with matters of lust? While we can
condemn this village cleric as a man driven by his lust, the problem is not
that simple. It can be very well argued that he was performing his religious
duty as a Muslim. Not just this person, but the same religious call has been
answered by many others pious Muslims throughout its history.
But we hardly condemn those great
personalities in Islam who have done similar marriages. Why this double
standard? The important point is that such marriages are sanctioned within
Islam and it is time perhaps to raise voices against it. After all, the age of
marriage for girls within Islam is just after puberty: a time when the mental
faculties are not yet fully developed and neither is she emotionally ready for
such a union. It is heartening to note that some countries have reformed their
marriage laws and age of consent of Muslim girls has steadily risen but the
problem remains that within theology, this is still permissible. There has been
hue and cry from Muslim quarters within this country about raising the age of
consent for girls.
A large part of this discontent is driven
by Islamic legitimacy to marry young girls. We must understand that young girls
have no real informed choice to make in such unions and till the time Islam
accepts that such a choice is important, there cannot a resolution to this
issue Till such time, elderly men will keep marrying young girls, keep thanking
Allah, without any even a hint of remorse. Such unions should necessarily be
understood as a form of sexual slavery. It is time for Muslims to take a call
to make such unions theologically criminal.
Arshad Alam is a columnist with www.NewAgeIslam.com
Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic
Muslim News, Arab
World News, South
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Women and Feminism
The beginning of the
physiological cycles in a girl and nocturnal emissions in a boy are commonly
believed to be their age of marriage. To the unfortunate Mullah, everything
revolves around sex. A Hadith of Bukhari atrociously tells us that a girl can
have Nikah (the marital contract) at 6 and the marriage can be consummated at
age 9 since the exalted Prophet did that with Hazrat Ayesha! Is there any
wonder that the West call him a child-molester? Why don't then the
Sunnah-peddlers "marry off" their daughters at 6 and 9? Many
countries set an arbitrary 16 years for the girl and 18 years for the boy. The
Divine Wisdom enshrined in the Qur’an makes things so sensible. It sets up
three rational criteria that take into account physical as well as mental
maturity of the would-be bride and groom. The exalted Prophet did not violate
the Glorious Book once in his life.
1 -Sufficient maturity
to grant consent.
2 - Ability to sign a solemn, legal contract.
3 - Competence to take care of one's own finances.
4:19 O You who have
chosen to be graced with belief! It is not lawful for you to force women into
marrying or holding on to them in marriage against their will. ---.
5:5 This Day, all good
things of your choice are made lawful for you. …. And so are the virtuous,
chaste women of the believers and the virtuous, chaste women …..
4:21 And how could you
take the marital gift back from her after you have lived intimately with each
other and after she has taken from you a very Solemn Pledge of the marital
contract? (Meethaqan Ghaleeza).
4:6 Train and educate
the orphans well and test them. When they reach the age of marriage and attain
sound judgment, release their property to them. The marriageable age shall mean
attainment of physical and mental maturity when one can express free consent
and legally make a solemn contract (4:21). ----.
“Till When Will Islam Keep Sanctioning Such Marriages?”-Completely wrong heading for an article from a learned person!
After lengthy expose' of world practice you say-“So what is wrong if these Muslim men are indulging in such marriages?” as if it is OK and acceptable universal practice.
Hence if Muslim men indulge in pedophilia following some guy rasullullah’s religion from Bukhara Central Asia, does that mean that Islam of Quran allows underage marriage of girls to old men?
Is that what you are suggesting Muhammad rasullullah of Arabia did according to Quran's instructions?