This is something that I want to zone in on. It is at the back end of the EF Dawah video discussion with Elizabeth Mooney. I caught it in Jonathan McLatchie’s 4th (fourth) video in his commentary on that discussion (yes I wound up listening to a bit more of that commentary – it’s about 5 hours in total there’s no way I’m listening to it all!)
Western Secularist polemics being dressed up as “Christian”
Elizabeth Mooney states the Prophet had a 6 year old wife and then asks if that is somebody you think you should follow
Hamza Myatt states there are two schools of thought: the first being the marriage was conducted at the age of 6 and the consummation/living together began when the parents of Aisha ra deemed her of age (the Sahih Hadith record Aisha stating her age was 9 at this time)
Hamza states the other opinion has her older and gives the figure of 13/14 at which Liz still objects to.
Let’s stick to the first one – there’s no need to consider what other opinions may or may not say. Liz wasn’t even willing to accept 13/14. I have no problems with the age in the Sahih Hadith tradition. It’s not a problem if one can contextualise and is willing to show elements of fairness and academic rigour.
What Liz is doing here is a back-projection of cultural norms in today’s West and using them unfairly to produce a polemic. To be fair to her this did not originate from her; this is sadly something that Christian missionaries and apologists pass onto their co-religionists uncritically and it spreads like wild-fire. The reality is the Prophet’s marriage to Aisha is not unBiblical and that practice in marriage would have been considered the norm in Jewish cultures at the time of Jesus (and even earlier, Moses).
I’ve written on this topic before using Prof. Geza Vermes but in short, the custom back then was to marry the girl (prior to her having come of age) and waited years till she came of age before sending her to live with her husband. It’s exactly the same as the marriage of Aisha to Muhammad p Aisha’s parents decided when she was ready to live with the Prophet after betrothal. She had been betrothed to somebody else prior to her betrothal to the Prophet showing the cultural norm taking place here.
Betrothal of minors was a Jewish norm awaiting for maturity
Standard Jewish practice at the time was the betrothal of minors – females attained maturity at the age of twelve or whenever they started to menstruate. Prof. Geza Vermes:
Quite apart from the subordinate status of women in Jewish Law, in the rabbinic era and no doubt earlier too, the bride-to-be was by definition a minor, a person not yet of age. It should be noted that in the Mishnaic-Talmudic legislation girls attained majority when they started to menstruate, or on the day after their twelfth birthday, whichever came first. In the rabbinic perspective, majority and attainment of puberty were coterminous. By the age of twelve years and six months a young woman became, in the terminology of the rabbis ‘mature’ (bogeret), and was expected already to be married. In any case, by then her father no longer had the right unilaterally to betroth her.
Now, the marriage of Aisha and Muhammad has helped Muslim jurists to form marriage laws around minors which is similar to those of our Jewish friends throughout history. Here’s Dr Jonathan Brown:
… It was most appropriate for the bride, groom and the bride’s guardian to determine the appropriate age for intercourse.
The norm that the ulama did come to consensus on was only a general guideline: they prohibited sexual intercourse for girls ‘not able to undergo it,’ on the basis that otherwise sex could be physically harmful. If the groom and his wife or her guardian disagreed about her capacity for sex, a Shariah court judge would decide, perhaps after a female expert witness examined her. This was also based on the Prophet’s marriage to Aisha. The couple had concluded the marriage contract when Aisha was only six but waited to consummate the marriage until she reached physical maturity. ..A Scottish physician resident in Aleppo in the mid 1700s noted how families endeavoured to marry their children off (i.e. complete the marriage contract) at a young age but that they would not consummate the marriage until the girl ‘had come of age”. Historical evidence from nineteenth-century Ottoman Palestine suggests that the husbands having sexual intercourse with wives before they reached puberty did sometimes occur. But it was rare, condemned socially and censured by Shariah court judges. Shariah courts in French Algeria in the 1850s considered it equally despicable. ‘Misquoting Muhammad’, Jonathan A.C Brown, Kindle p143
In fact, the Qur’ān clearly stipulates that marriage can only take place between individuals who have matured in their biological and psychological development (puberty). In reference to footnote 1 which cites Quran 4:6.
So why is this type of polemic never directed at our Jewish friends? Why don’t Christian polemicists say Judaism is false because it doesn’t conform with 21st century Western norms?
Inconsistency: The Prophet’s marriage is not against the Bible
The inconsistency goes deeper. Prophet Muhammad’s marriage is not in opposition to the Bible; the Biblical age of consent according to Jonathan McLatchie’s colleague is puberty.
So somebody like Elizabeth Mooney is really not being helped by Christian apologists like Jon who either don’t know this or just don’t speak up.
Age of marriage is puberty according to the Bible. We have already seen Ezekiel 16 being used as a proof text by a Christian apologist to show the Biblical age of consent is puberty:
…Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare. 8 ” ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love… [taken from Ezekiel 16]
“…Thus, we have a biblical text establishing puberty as the minimum age for marriage…” [See here for more from the Christian apologist]
In this section I will also throw in a couple of quotes of interest that I sourced from “Brother of Jesus”, a commentator on BT:
“The Bible gives us no indication as to the age of marriage for women, which would not be appreciably different from the age at which childbearing begins. However, based on the tenuous calculations of the marriage age of certain Judean kings (e.g. Josiah: age 14; Amon: 14) and the rabbinic stipulation of twelve as the minimum age of marriage for girls and thirteen for boys, an early age for marriage can be presumed (de Vaux 1961: 29). Similarly, the relatively short life spans of the ancient world, particularly in plague epochs, would lead to the conclusion that marriage took place soon after puberty, with betrothal preceding marriage perhaps by many years.” (Meyers, C. L. (1996). Procreation, Production, and Protection: Male-Female Balance in Early Israel. In Charles E. Carter & Carol L. Meyers (eds.), Community, Identity, and Ideology: Social Sciences Approaches to the Hebrew Bible. United States: Eisenbrauns. p. 507)
“The Bible gives us no information about the age at which girls are married. The practice of marrying the eldest first was not universal (Gn 29:26). On the other hand, it seems certain that girls, and therefore presumably boys too, were married very young; for centuries this has been the custom of the East, and in many places it still obtains to-day.” (De Vaux, R. (1997). Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (John McHugh, trans.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. EerdmansPublishing Co. p. 29)
Can cultural oddities be used as polemics?
Polemics like these are not only inconsistent but are actually self-refuting as they can be applied to our great grand parents’ generation and the rest of our ancestors . Ironically, this type of argument may be applied to us (including Liz, Jon and co.) by future generations. Surely, that’s a sign of a failed argument:
Non-Muslims would serve themselves better by contemplating the Prophet’s teachings of monotheism and righteousness, and the Book he presented as God’s revelation, rather than dwelling on what is, at most, a socio-culturally historical oddity…
… In Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was only thirteen, yet her mother tells her that “ladies of esteem” younger than her are already mothers. According to the “Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society,” both Christian Canon law and European civil law considered seven years as the age of consent, but judges in medieval England would approve marriages based on mutual consent at ages even lower than 7. As recently as the nineteenth century, ages of consent of 13 to 14 were common in Western countries. Now, we are responsible for acting in accordance with our conscience, and our own societal norms may well factor into this, but it may be a bit presumptuous to pass judgment on people of the past and future, and those of other cultures. People in the future may well look on some of our mores as bizarre. [Danesh Juyandeh]
“Is that somebody you should be following” – Liz Mooney. Jesus according to Trinitarians allowed what???
Look, this goes beyond ages of consent. This issue of inconsistency is not only offensive to Muslims and an impediment to sincere dialogue in the Christian-Muslim discussion room but it’s problematic as it’s setting Christians up to leave the Abrahamic tradition.
Liz found the idea of an older man even marrying a 13/14 year old problematic and questioned following Prophet Muhammad p by asking whether one should follow a man who had such a marriage but if we extrapolate that and apply it to what Trinitarians believe about Jesus then she’s condemning the “Trinitarian Jesus” (so too are the Christian apologists and the right wing bigots who use this polemic) and is setting up a standard which will ultimately leave the one who applies that standard consistently to reject the Bible and Biblical figures.
Jesus according to Trinitarians:
~Allowed the severe beating of female slaves as long as they got up after a couple of days [Exodus 21:20]
~Ordered the killing of children, infants and WOMEN [1 Samuel 15:3]
And seen as we have mentioned our Jewish brothers, the Christian who applies that standard consistently will end up at the door of the synagogue questioning Jews for following Moses as the Bible teaches he ordered the killing of boys and of non-virgin women [Numbers 31:17]
Why the Muslims?
The question has to be asked, why are Christian apologists predominantly using these flawed and offensive arguments against Muslims? Come on, there has to be a reason.. right? Why aren’t they telling the Sikhs their religion is false because Guru Gobind Singh married a 12 yr old. Why aren’t they telling the Jews their religion is false because the rabbis allow sex with 12 year old girls? Why aren’t they not telling Jews about what Moses did in the OT and asking them to reject him as a Prophet?
And closer to (their) home, why aren’t they not knocking on their co-religionists’ doors and yelling at them to stop following the Trinitarian view of Jesus as that teaches he allowed the beating of females and even the killing of children and women.
If you’re a Muslim who comes across that type of argument just stand up to it. It’s literally an internet argument that folk like the EDL use to offend Muslims – yes Tommy Robinson and co. come out with that drivel (I’m not linking Liz or Jon with that band of racists and thugs – I’m highlighting the level of the polemic!)
So why are Christian apologists using such low-level arguments? And why aren’t folk like Jon not saying hang on here folks we need to stop using inconsistent arguments to try and convert Muslims into believing in the Trinity idea?
I say it’s because there’s a load of group-think and herd mentality taking place in Christian apologetics (to Muslims) right now and nobody is willing to go against the grain and start calling inconsistent arguments (and those based on total fabrications) out. They allow these arguments to fester and spread amongst their apologetics and missionary communities. They tell us they have the Holy Spirit but I just don’t see anything holy in these arguments.These arguments are unholy – they are intellectually dishonest, inconsistent, offensive, unChristian and unBiblical.
I know Jon’s friend has recently rebuked James White for inconsistency, nasty treatment of Christians and arrogance despite having bit his tongue for years (indicating just how difficult it is for a Christian apologist to go against the grain and speak out against obviously problematic behaviour amongst Christian apologists).
Folks, don’t you not see how self-refuting your argumentation style actually is? You say you have the Holy Spirit and you want us to believe you yet we see the offensive and inconsistent arguments you allow to spread and propagate. Self refutation.
Message to Jonathan McLatchie
You had an ideal opportunity to say: hold on, this argument is invalid, it’s offensive, unfair and it will lead to Christians leaving Christianity if it is applied consistently. Why did you not say such? Ask yourself…
There was a segment where David Wood was being championed by one or more of your (Jon’s) colleagues, Wood is the guy who plagiarised an Islamophobic Coptic Christian priest and spread the sex with a dead body lie. He’s the same bloke who totally misunderstood the Arabic and claimed Prophet Muhammad was a cross-dresser (in the process he actually wore his wife’s nightwear on camera contravening the Biblical law against crossdressing), not to mention the thighing hoax amongst other such claims. anybody who looks at David Wood’s (as well as Jay Smith’s) arguments critically will see the inconsistencies and how they arm Christians with standards that will inevitably mean the consistent will leave Christianity
I don’t understand why Muslims are still waiting for a Christian who claims to have the Holy Spirit to actually speak up and clean up the offensive polemics that are rampant in Christian apologetics. You know about the Trinity channel you work with – they’ve had Christians on there wanting to nuke Muslims or use Iraq to have a proxy war with Iran nevermind firing wild-eyed polemics at Muslims. Perhaps them just showing us “love”?
Hmm, I know Christians talk big about love but I don’t see it coming from Christian apologists towards Muslims. Or perhaps love is redefined as trying to get young Muslims to cower in corners, belittlement, mockery and slanders when it comes to dealing with Muslims.
Can we have a Christian, PLEASE, who is sincere and courageous enough to clean Christian polemics up and regulate Christian apologists/polemicists a little. Please…