Refuting Sam Shamoun's Arguments Regarding the Prophet's Marriage to Aisha


Bassam Zawadi


Sam Shamoun has written a number of articles regarding the Prophet's marriage to Aisha:

Since there are plenty of articles on the Internet that have already addressed much of what Shamoun has stated, I will only be focusing on four specific arguments that he has put forth and has not seen direct refutations to:

           - Aisha Playing with Dolls Proves She Was Too Immature To Marry the Prophet

           - Companions of the Prophet Thought That Aisha Was Immature

           - The Companions Condemned Umar ibn Al Khattab For Marrying Umm Kulthum

            - Muhammad Should Have Established a Higher Moral Standard 

Aisha Playing with Dolls Proves She Was Too Immature to Marry the Prophet

Sam Shamoun said:

Moreover, the hadiths provide further support that Aisha had not reached puberty since they speak of her playing with dolls:

'A'isha reported that she used to PLAY WITH DOLLS in the presence of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and when her playmates came to her they left (the house) because they felt shy of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), whereas Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent them to her. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5981)

The reason why Aisha was permitted to play with dolls in front of Muhammad is because she hadn't attained puberty yet:

Narrated 'Aisha:
I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, NOT YET REACHED THE AGE OF PUBERTY.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, 
Number 151)

Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet was screening me with his Rida' (garment covering the upper part of the body) while I was looking at the Ethiopians who were playing in the courtyard of the mosque. (I continued watching) till I was satisfied. So you may deduce from this event how a little girl (who has not reached the age of puberty) who is eager to enjoy amusement should be treated in this respect. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, 
Number 163)

Squires thinks he has a way of undermining the significance that Aisha's playing with dolls has on establishing the position that she was prepubescent when Muhammad slept with her:

Now in regards to the various hadiths ([1][2][3][4]) that anti-Islamic apologists have employed in an attempt to prove that 'Aishah - radi Allahu 'anha - was still a young girl who was playing with dolls at the time of her marriage. Well unfortunately for them, they've jumped to some hasty conclusions since none of these hadiths ([1][2][3][4]) explicitly indicate whether the marriage had been consummated at this time. Rather, one could just as easily conclude - especially in light of the evidence I've presented above - that the incidents in which 'Aishah - radi Allahu 'anha - was playing with dolls along with her young friends occurred at a time when she was still living with her parents (i.e. after the betrothal and prior to the consummation). Actually, based on the fact that the Prophet - salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam - was known to regularly visit 'Aishah's father Abu Bakr - radi Allahu 'anhu, these events could have taken place anytime during 'Aishah's childhood - radi Allahu 'anha. (Source: bold and underline emphasis ours)

Let's see if Squires' claim holds any weight:

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house AS A BRIDE WHEN SHE WAS NINE, AND HER DOLLS WERE WITH HER; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3311)

It is rather unfortunate for Squires that he did not read the hadiths carefully since they quite clearly show that Muhammad did consummate his marriage with Aisha while the latter was still playing with her dolls at the age of nine.

As if this weren't bad enough he dares to misquote Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani's position:

* Even Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani concludes that: "To say with certainty 'that she was not yet at the age of puberty' is questionable"' and this view is seemingly based on considering this hadith in isolation without taking textual evidence from other sources in account...but Allahu 'alim. Thus in the final analysis, the so-called "evidence" and "proof" that this hadith provides to those trying to spin a case of prepubescent marriage is anything but decisive.

This is the same al-Asqalani who stated in Fateh-al-Bari, Volume 13, page 143, that the reason why Aisha was even allowed to play with dolls is because she hadn't reached puberty! This seeming contradiction is easily resolved when we realize that Al-Asqalani's comments were not made in regard to Aisha's age or maturity at the time of her marriage. They refer to this specific hadith:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:

When the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her.

He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4914)

Here is the context of al-Asqalani's quote:

Al-Haafiz goes on to say:[43: Fath al-Baaree 10/400, Baab (91), related to Hadeeth no.5954, 5955.]
Abu Daawood and An-Nasaa'ee have narrated with another chain (wajh aakhar) from 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said:" The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) returned from the battle of Tabook or Khaibar...".

Here he mentioned the Hadeeth about his (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) tearing down the curtain which she (may Allah be pleased with her) attached to her door. She (may Allah be pleased with her) said:" Then the side of the curtain which was over the dolls of 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was uncovered. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: What is this, O 'Aa'isha? She said: My dolls. She then said: then he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw amongst them a winged horse which was tied up. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: What is this? I said: A horse. He said: A horse with two wings? I said: Didn't you hear that Sulaiman (Solomon - peace be upon him) had horses with wings? Then he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) laughed"[44].

Al-Khattaabee said: From this Hadeeth it is understood that playing with dolls (al-banaat) is not like the amusement from other images (suwar) concerning which the threat (wa'eed) of punishment is mentioned. The only reason why permission in this was given to 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) is because SHE HAD NOT, AT THAT TIME, REACHED THE AGE OF PUBERTY.

[al-Haafiz says:] I say: To say with certainty, [that she was not yet at the age of puberty] is questionable, though it might possibly be so. This, because 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was a fourteen year old girl at the time of the Battle of Khaibar - either exactly fourteen years old, or having just passed her fourteenth year [and entering into the fifteenth year], or approaching it (the fourteenth year).

As for her age at the time of the Battle of Tabook - she had by then definitely reached the age of puberty. Therefore, THE STRONGEST VIEW is that of those who said: "It was in Khaibar" [i.e. WHEN SHE WAS NOT YET AT THE AGE OF PUBERTY], and made reconciliation (jam') [between the apparent contradictory rulings, of permissibility of dolls, in particular, and the prohibition of images, in general] with what al-Khattaabee said (above).

[al-Khattabee said that images are prohibited, except in the case of dolls for young girls]. This, because to reconcile (make jam') is better than to assume the ahaadith to be in contradiction (at-ta'aarud). Here Shaykh Bin Baaz concludes his quotation from al-Haafiz, saying: The above is the essence of the words of al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar. (The Beneficial Response Concerning the Islamic Ruling of Pictures/Images, by Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Ibn Abdullah Ibn Baaz, rendered in English by Abu Muhammad Abdur-Ra'uf Shakir; source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Al-Asqalani was not disputing whether Muhammad married Aisha before puberty, but whether she was still prepubescent during the expedition against Khaybar. Al-Asqalani claims that the strongest view is that she hadn't attained puberty even at that time when she was already 14 years old! Thus, al-Asqalani soundly refutes and exposes Squires' assertion that Aisha was pubescent when Muhammad married her.

My Response:

Let's take some of Shamoun's statements individually and address them.

He said:

The reason why Aisha was permitted to play with dolls in front of Muhammad is because she hadn't attained puberty yet:

Scholars have said children below puberty may play with dolls, which is forbidden for adults. However, that doesn't mean that adults are forbidden to play with dolls that are not haram.

The dolls that are forbidden to play with (for adults) have a face.

As Shaykh Uthaymeen said:

With regard to those in which the shape is incomplete, in which there is only a part of the limbs or head, but the shape is not clear, there is no doubt that these are permissible, and these are like the dolls with which 'Aa'ishah used to play. (Narrated in al-Bukhaari, 6130; Muslim, 2440). 

But if the shape is complete, and it is as if you are looking at a person - especially if it can move or speak - then I am not entirely at ease with the idea of them being permissible, because this is a complete imitation of the creation of Allaah. It seems that the dolls with which 'Aa'ishah used to play were not like this, so it is preferable to avoid them. But I cannot say that they are definitely haraam, because there are concessions granted to young children that are not granted to adults in such matters. It is natural for young children to play and have fun, they are not obliged to do any of the acts of worship so we cannot say that that they are wasting their time in idle play. But if a person wants to be on the safe side in such matters, he should cut off the head or hold it near the fire until it softens, then he should press it until the features disappear. (Majmoo' Fataawa al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him), 2/277-278, citedhere)

As Shaykh Uthaymeen argues Aisha's dolls might have been shaped in a way that it wasn't haram for an adult to "play with" or entertain one's self with. Maybe the doll had no eyes or facial components, thus making it halal.

Ibn Abbass said:

"What constitutes the picture is the face, so if it were to be removed, then it is not a picture anymore" [Sheikh Albani declared this narration to be authentic in Silsilah Al-Saheeha, Hadith no. 1921]

Thus, if Aisha's dolls had no face or weren't structured in a way that was haram, then we don't have to argue that it was permissible for her to have them or play with them because she didn't hit puberty.


Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 3, Book 31, Number 181: 

Narrated Ar-Rubi' bint Mu'awadh: 

"The Prophet sent a messenger to the village of the Ansar in the morning of the day of 'Ashura' (10th of Muharram) to announce: 'Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it.' "She further said, "Since then we used to fast on that day regularly and also make our boys fast. We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for, he was given those toys till it was the time of the breaking of the fast." 

The above Hadeeth proves that dolls of children were nothing like what we know as dolls nowadays since they are nothing but sticks wrapped with wool that take no shape, and if someone looked at them, he wouldn't be able to recognize what they symbolize. Knowing that, we can explain why the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not acknowledge the toy of Aisha (he didn't know that it was a horse) and, therefore inquired about it to the extent that he could not tell the wings as it was just extra piece of wool or sheet added to the toy.

Shamoun said:

This is the same al-Asqalani who stated in Fateh-al-Bari, Volume 13, page 143, that the reason why Aisha was even allowed to play with dolls is because she hadn't reached puberty!

Actually, it was not Ibn Hajar that said that. It was Al Khattabi and Ibn Hajar was simply quoting him.  

Shamoun said:

As for her age at the time of the Battle of Tabook - she had by then definitely reached the age of puberty. Therefore, THE STRONGEST VIEW is that of those who said: "It was in Khaibar" [i.e. WHEN SHE WAS NOT YET AT THE AGE OF PUBERTY], and made reconciliation (jam') [between the apparent contradictory rulings, of permissibility of dolls, in particular, and the prohibition of images, in general] with what al-Khattaabee said (above).

Notice Shamoun's deception. In brackets, he puts "WHEN SHE WAS NOT YET AT THE AGE OF PUBERTY."

Where did Shamoun get the idea that Ibn Hajar supported the view that Aisha did not hit puberty? Let us quote Ibn Hajar's view in context (emphasis will be mine):

[al-Haafiz says:] I say: To say with certainty, [that she was not yet at the age of puberty] is questionable, though it might possibly be so. This, because 'Aa'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was a fourteen year old girl at the time of the Battle of Khaibar - either exactly fourteen years old, or having just passed her fourteenth year [and entering into the fifteenth year], or approaching it (the fourteenth year).

Notice that Ibn Hajar said that the idea that Aisha did not hit puberty is only a POSSIBILITY, not a CERTAINTY. Why did Ibn Hajar say this?

Well, Ibn Hajar follows the Shafi school of thought. According to the Shafi school of thought, if someone reaches the age of fifteen, then that person has certainly hit puberty regardless of whether the person has grown pubic hairs, gone through her menstrual cycle, etc.

Ibn Hajar stated that Aisha was fourteen years old at the time. So if she was fourteen years old and you don't have any actual evidence to prove that she had her menstrual cycle, grew her pubic hairs, etc., then that means that it is possible that she still didn't hit puberty. The Shafi school of thought does not teach that anyone below the age of fifteen did not hit puberty. They only teach that if one is fifteen, then that person has definitely hit puberty.

Sheikh Salih Al Munajjid states:

Puberty has signs which are well known for both males and females. For a male, puberty is reached when one of three things happens: the emission of semen, the growth of coarse hair around the private part, or reaching the age of fifteen.  

For a female, puberty is reached when of these three things happens, and there is a fourth sign, namely menstruation.  

It is not essential that all of these signs appear, rather one sign is sufficient to establish that a person has reached puberty.  

See: al-Sharh al-Mumti', 6/202. (Source) 

Therefore, for Shamoun to successfully argue that Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not marry Aisha when she hit puberty, he must prove that Aisha did not emit any sexual fluid, begin her menstrual cycle, or grow pubic hair at the time she consummated the marriage with the Prophet (peace be upon him). How he can prove such a thing is beyond me.

Is it difficult to believe that Aisha could have hit puberty and been able to consummate at that age?

The Cambridge World History of Food says:

Albrecht von Haller (1775), for example, claimed that girls in the southerly regions of Asia, where the climate was warm, were marriageable in their eighth year and gave birth in their ninth or tenth year; conversely, women in Arctic regions did not menstruate until age 23 or 24.  This view was shared by other eighteenth-century writers, most notably J.F. Freind (1738), Herman Boerhaave (1744), and Montesquieu (1751).  (The Cambridge World History of Food, p.1455, Source)

The Christian royals were marrying girls as young as nine, according to an article written by Professor Lynda Garlandofthe University of New England:

Child brides, whether Byzantines or foreign princesses, were the norm rather than the exception, especially from the late twelfth century. Irene Ducaena, wife of Alexius I Comnenus, was twelve at her marriage, and empress before she was fifteen; the Byzantine princess Theodora, Manuel's niece, was in her thirteenth year when she married Baldwin III of Jerusalem; and Margaret-Maria of Hungary married Isaac II Angelus at the age of nine. (Professor Lynda Garland of University of New England, Agnes-Anna of France,wife of Alexius II and Andronicus I of the Comneni Dynasty, Source)

It is also interesting to note that Aisha considered herself to be a woman at the age of nine when she stated:

When the girl reaches nine years of age, she is a woman. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Kitab: al-Nikah, Bab: Maa Jaa'a fee Ikraah Al Yateemah 'alaa al tazweej, Hadith no. 1027, Source)

Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri in his commentary on Sunan al-Tirmidhi said: 

أن عائشة قد كانت أدركت وهي بنت تسع سنين

Aisha knew (that she hit puberty) when she was nine years old. (Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, Tuhfat AI-Ahwadhi, Kitab: al-Nikah, Bab: Maa Jaa'a fee Ikraah Al Yateemah 'alaa al tazweej, Hadith no. 1027, Source) 

Thus, we have a statement from Aisha herself that clearly seems to indicate that she was aware of hitting puberty at age nine.

One may argue that this still doesn't mean that all nine-year-old girls are physically or psychologically capable of engaging in sexual intercourse and could be physically or psychologically harmed if they do so.

However, we must remember the "don't harm yourself or cause harm to others" principle in Islam.

Something might generally be deemed to be permissible or even recommended, yet could be forbidden at times.

For instance, fasting could be prohibited for a person with diabetes:

If fasting is challenging for him and will cause him harm, such as a man who has kidney disease or diabetes and similar cases where fasting will cause harm. In this case, fasting is haraam. (Source)

We must remember to apply this principle to all situations. Therefore, if it happens to be that a woman will undergo physical or psychological harm if she were to engage in sexual intercourse at an early age, then doing so will be haram for her.

We have no reason to believe that Aisha has undergone such problems. Thus, why can we object then?

Also, regarding the narration that stated that when Aisha was fourteen, the Prophet (peace be upon him) found her dolls, the narration does not say that she was playing with them. It only says that they were in her possession. The only way the Prophet (peace be upon him) found out was because they were uncovered by the curtain covering her storage room. So, this narration only shows that she still possessed them, but not necessarily playing with them. Plus, if she was in the habit of playing with them, why would she cover them up with a curtain in her storage room, and why did the Prophet (peace be upon him) find out about them? He would have seen her always playing with them.

There was nothing immature about playing with dolls. Interestingly, one says:

The toy dolls that existed before the 1700's served chiefly as playthings for adults as well as for children. At that time, adults and children were more alike in their attitudes and interests than they are today, and childhood as we know it did not really exist. Youngsters were regarded as little adults and were expected to act like them. They shared the work of supporting the family with their parents. People of nearly all ages enjoyed the same simple toys, including dolls and jack-in-the-boxes. Most of the dolls were shaped and dressed like adults.

Adults first came to regard childhood as a special time during the 1700's and especially the 1800's. The first dolls specifically for children probably were made in the 1700's. The dolls themselves looked the same but could be dressed as babies, children, women, or men. In the West, the first doll to be designed as a baby appeared at the London Exhibition of 1851 and came from Japan. (Source) 

Many overaged girls, even today, still keep their Barbie dolls. Look at what this individual says:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:29:00 PM  

AnchorAnchorI love Barbie. As an only girl, I played with her a lot. When I got Ken, Barbie's first boyfriend, they would go out on dates in Barbie's car. Barbie was very independent & she always wanted to pick Ken up.

Thanks to my special niece I could continue to play with Barbie as an adult...we would have a lot of fun! My niece is getting older now and I'm afraid it's true that the Brat dolls have all but taken over her playroom. I like the Bratz dolls but I will always be most fond of Barbie :)
Happy Birthday Barbie xoxo


I also personally know of a 23-year-old girl in my master class who is very intelligent and still keeps a teddy bear in her car.

Thus, arguing that Aisha must not have hit puberty because she played with or was in possession of dolls is not strong or convincing.

Companions of the Prophet Thought That Aisha Was Immature

Sam Shamoun said:

There are other narrations which provide additional (albeit implicit) support that Aisha was too young for consummation due to the fact that she was prepubescent:

Narrated Urwa bin Al-Musayyab, Alqama bin Waqqas and Ubaidullah bin Abdullah:

About the story of 'Aisha and their narrations were similar attesting each other, when the liars said what they invented about 'Aisha, and the Divine Inspiration was delayed, Allah's Apostle sent for 'Ali and Usama to consult them in divorcing his wife (i.e. 'Aisha). Usama said, "Keep your wife, as we know nothing about her except good." Buraira said, "I cannot accuse her of any defect except that she is still A YOUNG GIRL who sleeps, neglecting her family's dough which the domestic goats come to eat (i.e. she was too simpleminded to deceive her husband)." Allah's Apostle said, "Who can help me to take revenge over the man who has harmed me by defaming the reputation of my family? By Allah, I have not known about my family anything except good, and they mentioned (i.e. accused) a man about whom I did not know anything except good." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 805)

. Buraira said, 'No, by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, I have never seen in her anything faulty except that she is a girl of IMMATURE AGE, who sometimes sleeps and leaves the dough for the goats to eat.' . (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 829)

'A'isha said. The women in those days were light of weight and they did not wear much flesh, as they ate less food; so they did not perceive the weight of my haudaj as they placed it upon the camel as I was A YOUNG GIRL at that time. Barira said: By Him Who sent thee with the truth, I have seen nothing objectionable in her but only this much that she is A YOUNG GIRL and she goes to sleep while kneading the flour and the lamb eats that. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6673)

Many years after Muhammad had married Aisha and she is still described as being young and immature! Obviously, a girl who is described in such a manner is far from being ready for consummation with a grown man. The question that should be asked is what business did a fifty-four year old man have marrying such a girl in the first place?

My Response:

Looking at the Arabic text أنها جارية حديثة السن, I don't see the word "immature" anywhere. It only states that she is a young girl, which we will already know. But if someone is young, that doesn't necessarily imply that he or she is immature.

Secondly, the companion did not criticize Aisha for her age. Rather, he was saying that her fault was that she:

goes to sleep while kneading the flour and the lamb eats that

Imam Nawawi states in his commentary: 

ومعنى هذا الكلام : أنه ليس فيها شيء مما تسألون عنه أصلا , ولا فيها شيء من غيره إلا نومها عن العجين .

And the meaning of this statement is that there are no faults about her (Aisha). Nothing is wrong with her except that she sleeps while kneading the flour. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Tawbah, Bab: Fee Hadeeth Al Ifk Wa Qubool Tawbat Al Qaazhif, Commentary on Hadith no. 4974, Source) 

The companion might have attributed her carelessness to being young and not taking her responsibility for her tasks seriously. However, this does not imply she was immature or psychologically incapable of being married.

Even in my workplace, when we bring in new marketing research trainees who are fresh graduates and are in their early twenties, our managers criticize them for being careless in their jobs since they haven't matured and are too young for this kind of responsibilities and tasks. Now, in no way would that imply that these individuals are immature or incapable of being married. However, their age and inexperience do play a role in them not being efficient and serious at the workplace like someone who has been working for several years.

I believe that the companion who spoke about Aisha had the same intentions when he uttered that statement regarding Aisha.

Nevertheless, nothing that Shamoun has presented shows that Aisha was too incompetent to have been married to the Prophet (peace be upon him)

The Companions Condemned Umar ibn Al Khattab For Marrying a Young Girl

Sam Shamoun said:

In fact, Haddad himself cites a reference where Umar spoke out against those who would ridicule him for marrying a girl so young:

He came to the Muhajirun among the Companions as they sat between the Grave and the Pulpit ? their usual place for meeting `Umar to discuss news: "Felicitate this newlywed!" Then he told them he had married `Ali's daughter Umm Kulthum and said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah say, upon him blessings and peace: 'Every lineage and means will be severed on the Day of Judgment except my lineage and my means.' I have kept company with him and wished to add this also." Later he again said, on the pulpit: "DO NOT DISPARAGE ME [FOR MARRYING A YOUNG GIRL], for I heard the Prophet say may upon him blessings and peace: 'On the Judgment Day every means will be cut off and every lineage severed except my lineage.'" (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The sharp reader should be able to see why the foregoing data poses problems for the claim that such marriages were culturally acceptable at that time. If marrying nine-year-old girls were permissible during that time then why did Ali and the other Muslims vehemently oppose and object to Umar's marriage proposal to Ali regarding his daughter? If Umm Kulthum was too young for Umar even though she was approximately 11 years old at that time, and Umar was roughly 58 years of age, then wouldn't this prove that Aisha was too young for Muhammad in light of her age being nine and Muhammad was fifty-four years old when they consummated their marriage?

My Response:

I visited the link for Dr. Haddad's article and saw that he has not provided a reference for this story. I cannot find this story anywhere.

Secondly, notice that Dr. Haddad put "FOR MARRYING A YOUNG GIRL" in brackets. This indicates that it is not part of the original text and only interprets Umar's statement. Where is the evidence that this is what Umar ibn Al Khattab intended to say? Other evidence suggests that Umar ibn Al Khattab might have uttered this statement because his companions were concerned that his getting married would distract him from his duties as a Caliph. Nothing is mentioned about the age difference.

Thirdly, evidence from other sources indicates that the companions received the news quite well. Instead of opposing Umar, they all prayed that Allah blessed their marriage. (Sunan Al-Bayhaqi al- Kubra: Volume 7, page 64. However, this narration is mursal)

Thus, I will doubt the narration of Umar's statement unless we can see that it is authentic.

Another good reason to doubt that the companions objected to Umar's marriage is that they would not have done such a thing if they already knew that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would do it (i.e., his marriage to Aisha).

It was also a regular habit of the Arabs at that time:

- Imam Al-Shafi'e said in Siyar A'lam Al-Nubala', Volume 10, p. 91, "During my stay in Yemen, I have come across girls at nine who menstruated so often."

- Imam Al-Bayhaqi in Sunan Al-Bayhaqi Al-Kubra, Volume 1, p. 319, narrated that Imam Al-Shafi'e said: "I have seen in the city of Sana'a a grandmother while she was twenty-one. She menstruated at the age of nine and gave birth at the age of 10."

- Ibn Al-Jawzi narrated similar stories from Ibn U'qail and U'bad Al-Mahlby in his Tahqeeq Fi Ahadith Al-Khilaf, Volume 2, p. 267

[Quick Acknowledgement: Thanks to brother Ayman bin Khaled for the above quotes]

Thus, it doesn't make sense that the companions would object to Umar's marriage as being immoral.

Shamoun must find the reference for that statement for Umar and provide the authentic chain of transmission for it if he wants to convince Muslims about the effectiveness of his "rebuttal."

Muhammad Should Have Established a Higher Moral Standard

Sam Shamoun said:

Putting it simply, theists expect that God would inspire his prophets to set a higher ethical code for humans to emulate, not merely subscribe to the cultural norms of their time, especially when such norms are morally reprehensible. This is irrespective of whether those prophets were able to live up to such standards, so long as God didn't justify their failure to comply with his moral standard.

My Response:

Shamoun speaks and asserts but does not prove. How does he know what constitutes a "higher ethical code" or not without God stating so Himself? 

Muslims and Christians believe in the Divine Command Theory, which teaches that our morals are derived from God's commands. One cannot presuppose that something is moral or immoral and then judge whether it is. Rather, one has to know what is moral and immoral by knowing what God has said about the matter. 

Dr. William Lane Craig himself states: 

So the problem isn't that God ended the Canaanites' lives.  The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them.  Isn't that like commanding someone to commit murder?  No, it's not.  Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God's commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder.  The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God's command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong. 

On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command. (William Lane Craig, Slaughter of the CanaanitesSource) 

As Dr. Craig rightfully states, we can't declare something immoral unless we have evidence that God has not divinely approved of it. 

So when Shamoun states that the Prophet's marriage to Aisha is immoral, he is begging the question that Islam is false. What Shamoun is trying to do is show that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a false prophet by putting forth this argument. However, he can't do such a thing. What he has to do is first prove that Islam is false and then put forth this claim. 

To put forth a successful argument, Shamoun must level a more robust critique. 

There are two kinds of critiques that one can form. 

1) Internal critique: 

This is criticizing someone or something by pointing out its internal inconsistencies. This is usually a strong argument. Now, has Shamoun put forth an internal critique against the Prophet's marriage to Aisha? Actually, he hasn't. He has not shown how the Prophet (peace be upon him) contradicted Islamic principles when he married Aisha. 

2) External critique: 

This is using an external standard to judge somebody or something to critique that person or thing. 

There are two types of external critique: 

i)   Universal external critique: 

This is appealing to universal standards and beliefs (e.g., raping a little child is wrong according to everyone) as a standard. However, has Shamoun shown that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) marriage to Aisha violates universal standards? Of course not. 

ii)  Ethnocentric external critique: 

This involves appealing to one's own cultural or religious beliefs as a standard for critiquing. Philosophers have stated that this form of argumentation is weak unless one can prove that the standard used should be binding upon everyone. 

Now, this is the kind of critique that Shamoun is launching. 

Shamoun must use moral law to judge whether the Prophet's marriage to Aisha is ethical. If he is using a moral law, then that implies that there is a moral lawgiver to whom he is appealing. 

Since Shamoun is a Christian, we will assume that his moral lawgiver is the God of the Bible. Has Shamoun proven that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) marriage to Aisha violates biblical moral standards? No, he has not. 

Secondly, even if Shamoun was able to prove that Muhammad (peace be upon him) violated Biblical moral standards, then what? 

Why should I care if Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not live up to the moral standards of the Bible? Has Shamoun shown us that the Bible is the complete, true word of God and that it is binding upon us? The answer is no. 

If he would like to reply and say that the Qur'an affirms the Bible and that Muslims should hold the Bible as authoritative, then I ask the reader to refer here. 

It is also funny how he says: 

Putting it simply, theists expect that God would inspire his prophets to set a higher ethical code for humans to emulate, not merely subscribe to the cultural norms of their time, 

Yet, the Biblical Jesus "subscribed to the cultural norms of his time" when he referred to the Gentiles as "dogs" and spoke disrespectfully about his mother. See here. 

In conclusion, Shamoun cannot provide an INTELLECTUAL AND RATIONAL argument against the Prophet's marriage to Aisha. He can only provide an EMOTIONAL argument.

However, Muslims let their rationality overcome their emotions and don't fall for these silly appeal to emotion arguments. That is probably the main reason why we aren't Christians.

Shamoun replied to this article and I responded.


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