Revisiting the Issue of Muhammad’s Marriage with a child bride

[Part 2]

Sam Shamoun

We resume our analysis of Zawadi’s defense of Muhammad’s marriage with an immature girl.

The Issue of Umar’s Marriage with Umm Kulthum

In his section on Umar’s marriage to a minor, namely to Ali ibn Abu Talib’s daughter, Zawadi conveniently ignores most of my citations and chooses to focus on the one which he thinks he can address:

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

The evidence was provided by the other quotations which we had sourced such as the following:

Umar asked Imam Ali for the hand of Bibi Umme Kulthum (as) in marriage, to which Ali replied, 'O Commander of the Faithful, SHE IS A MILK FED CHILD'. To which Umar replied, 'By Allah! That is not true. You are seeking to avoid me'. 'Ali therefore ordered that Umm Kulthum have a bath and then wear a shawl. 'Ali told her to go to the Khalifa, 'give him my regards and ask him if he likes the shawl, he can keep it, other wise, he should return it'. When she came to Umar, he said, 'May Allah bless you and your father, I like it'. Hence Umm Kulthum came back to her father and told her that Umar did not open the shawl but just looked at me. Ali married her to Umar and they had a child named Zayd. (Ibn Sa'd’s Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Volume 8, p. 463, Dhikr Umm Kulthum; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

"'Umar asked 'Ali for the hand of his daughter, Umm Kulthum in marriage. 'Ali replied that SHE HAS NOT YET ATTAINED THE AGE (of maturity). 'Umar replied, 'By Allah, this is not true. You do not want her to marry me. If she is underage, send her to me'. Thus 'Ali gave his daughter Umm Kulthum a dress and asked her to go to 'Umar and tell him that her father wants to know what this dress is for. When she came to Umar and gave him the message, he grabbed her hand and forcibly pulled her towards him. 'Umm Kulthum asked him to leave her hand, which Umar did and said, 'You are a very mannered lady with great morals. Go and tell your father that you are very pretty and you are not what he said of you'. With that 'Ali married Umm Kulthum to 'Umar." (Tarikh Khamees, Volume 2, p. 384 ('Dhikr Umm Kalthum'); Zakhair Al-Aqba, p. 168)

For more references and details please consult this article.

Besides, why would the people disparage Umar for marrying Ali’s if not for her young age? What possible reason could they have had against their caliph marrying a girl if it were not because of the great age difference between them?

Zawadi then proceeds to employ circular reasoning when he says that:

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

Talk about begging the question! The reason for these Muslims still objecting to Umar’s marriage, despite knowing the fact that their prophet had done the same when he married Aisha, is because they may have assumed that the same rules did not apply to anyone except their prophet. After all, didn’t the Quran grant Muhammad certain privileges that were forbidden or others such as the following?

And any believing woman who dedicates herself to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed (nikah) her; this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large).

As for what was granted and made lawful (by Allah) to the prophet –pbuh– they are 16 issues…

Yastankih comes from the word yan’kah. For it is said in different forms nakaha and istankaha just as it is said ajab and istajab… It is permissible to use the word istankaha to mean one whom requests marriage or one who requests sexual intercourse. (Al-Qurtubi, Q. 33:50 – translation by Dimitrius; Arabic source; bold and capital emphasis ours)


"If Muhammad desired an unmarried woman, he had the right to have sexual intercourse with her without a marriage contract, or witnesses, or consent of a guardian, even without her approval. But if she was married and Muhammad desired her, her husband ought to divorce her so that he could marry her. If he [Muhammad] desired a slave, her master must offer her as a gift to him. Likewise, Muhammad has the right to marry any woman he wants of the men without her approval. He also has the right to marry during pilgrimage as he did with Maymuna. Moreover, he had the right to choose from the spoils of war whatever he wanted, whether it was a maid or anything else; that is, before the distribution of the spoils." (Burhan al-Deen al-Halabi, al-Sira al-Halabiyya, Volume III, p. 377)

But then again, Zawadi does have a point in that the Quran itself sanctions marriages with minors. Therefore, the response of these Muslims simply demonstrates that they knew deep down inside that it was morally wrong for a grown man to sleep with a child, even though their false prophet and his false scripture sanctioned it!

Zawadi on the use of Critical Methods of Analysis

Zawadi tries to sound impressive by waxing philosophical and claims that there are two types of critiques, one internal and the other external. Here, Zawadi has "borrowed" the arguments of Christian apologists and philosophers in order to defend the indefensible.

Be that as it may Zawadi defines the internal critique as internal consistencies, specifically examples of Muhammad failing to apply his own standards. Even though we have documented many instances where Muhammad broke his own rules and had no shame doing so (*).

His marriage with a minor wasn’t one of them since he legalized marriages with prepubescent girls. But this is precisely the whole point, specifically, whether the true God would actually sanction marriages with minors in the first place.

More importantly, even though he knows that Muhammad failed to live up to his own standards Zawadi, nonetheless, still tries to justify his prophet’s inconsistencies as opposed to criticizing him for not practicing what he preached. This shows that Zawadi is not really interested in truth but only cares to defend Muhammad’s immoral actions and blatant hypocrisy.

Zawadi then refers to the external critique, using an outside source to judge something, and breaks this down into two parts, one which he calls universal and the other he labels as ethnocentric.

The example he gives concerning a universal critique is one which actually begs the question, namely that raping a little child is something which everyone deems to be evil (except, of course, to those who are doing the raping!). We do agree with him that such an act is wrong simply because the God of the universe tells us that it is in his holy Word, the Bible (1, 2).

Yet for those who do not subscribe to the belief in God or moral absolutes how does Zawadi propose to convince them that raping young girls is an evil act? Who determines that it is – the majority? But isn’t the majority sometimes wrong?

Besides, the example that Zawadi sets forth as a universal critique comes back to haunt him since his own prophet condoned the raping of captive women even if they happened to be married!

Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath God ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, - desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and God is All-knowing, All-wise. S. 4:24 Y. Ali

The above passage not only allows for rape but also sanctions adultery since it is permitting Muslims to sleep with married women whom they have captured. And it did not remain an abstract theoretical right, but was readily put into practice by the Muslim jihadists:

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3371)

Abu Said al-Khudri said: The apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Quranic verse, ‘And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess’. That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Volume 2, Number 2150)

Ibn Kathir wrote:

<except those whom your right hands possess>

except those women whom you acquire through war, for you are allowed such women after making sure they are not pregnant.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri said, "We captured some women from the area of Awtas who were already married, and we disliked having sexual relations with them because they already had husbands. So, we asked the Prophet about this matter, and this Ayah was revealed…

<Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess>.

Consequently, we had sexual relations with these women." This is the wording collected by At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Jarir and Muslim in his Sahih. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 2, Parts 3, 4 & 5 (Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First edition, March 2000], p. 422; bold emphasis ours)

And, in light of the Quran permitting men to sleep with immature girls, this means that Muslim captors could even rape young minors who were taken as plunder, as spoils of war. Since Zawadi used this as an example of a universal critique, will he finally admit that his prophet was immoral and stands condemned according to Zawadi’s very own standards?

Who knows, maybe Zawadi will want his readers to really believe that women who have been captured, whose land Muslims have been pillaged, their people having been murdered, and whose captive husbands are right there before them, would actually consent to having sex with their captors!

Moreover, applying the ethnocentric critique also doesn’t help Zawadi’s case since the Judeo-Christian culture or worldview is based upon revelation, on divinely-inspired Biblical principles which led them to the realization that marriages with minors, was wrong:

It is not only fornication, but also the giving in marriage prematurely, that is called fornication; when, so to speak, one not of ripe age is given to a husband, either of her own accord or by her parents. (Clement of Alexandria, IX.-Fragment of the Treatise on Marriage, Early Church Fathers - Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume II; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

And since Muhammad took for granted that the Judeo-Christian worldview was valid to criticize his so-called "revelations":

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. S. 10:94 Pickthall

This implies that he comes under judgement and criticism for going against God’s moral standard for marriage.

Yet Zawadi thinks he has a response to this. He speaks presumptuously since he assumes that I haven’t proven that God forbids marriages with minors. As anyone having read my articles can clearly see I have demonstrated from the Scriptures that God takes for granted that the starting age of marriage in the case of girls is puberty. For the details please go here: 1, 2, 3, 4

Seeing that Muhammad married a minor who, according to the Islamic sources, hadn’t reached puberty or maidenhood Zawadi cannot avoid the fact that his messenger comes under the condemnation of the one true God of Abraham.

Furthermore, the Bible reveals that God has also revealed certain facts in creation and design:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged NATURAL RELATIONS for UNNATURAL ONES. In the same way the men also abandoned NATURAL RELATIONS with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." Romans 1:18-27

In these passages, Paul argues that lesbianism and homosexuality are wrong since these acts go against what is natural, i.e. the very design of the body and human sexuality. This means that one can draw moral inferences from creation, physiology etc., much like Paul did above.

Since we know that it is not mentally healthy for a nine-year old girl to engage in sex at such a young age, and that this also can have some serious physiological effects (1, 2), this once again proves that Muhammad comes under criticism and judgement for going against the clear witness that God has provided within the design of the female body that girls that young should not be having sex with fifty-four year old men.(1)

Zawadi then says that it doesn’t matter whether Muhammad lived up to the Biblical standards of morality and wants his readers to believe that the Quran doesn’t confirm the authority of the Holy Bible. For the refutation of Zawadi’s "responses" against the Quran bearing witness to the veracity of the Holy Scriptures we recommend the following articles that can be found here.

As one last act of desperation Zawadi criticizes the Holy Bible for teaching that Jesus followed the cultural norms of his day by referring to Gentiles as dogs and for supposedly dishonoring his mother, all of which have been refuted here: 1, 2, 3, 4

This shows nothing more than that Zawadi is grossly ignorant and may even be illiterate since he cannot comprehend what he reads. This is why it is a shame that such an ignoramus continues to write rebuttals thinking that he is actually refuting Christianity and defending his false and immoral prophet.

In conclusion, Zawadi failed to provide an INTELLECTUAL AND RATIONAL defense for his prophet's marriage to a minor.

It is rather unfortunate that Zawadi seeks to dupe and deceive people from allowing their better sense of moral judgement to come into the picture in order to see the immorality behind this marriage. Zawadi hides behind logical fallacies, by claiming it is the fallacy of appealing to emotion to assert that Muhammad’s marriage with a child is simply evil and vile. Zawadi may deceive Muslims by this trick but those whom God has blessed with a better moral sense can see how utterly disgusting it is for a fifty-four year old man to sleep with a nine-year old minor. This explains why true Christians will never leave the beauty and perfection of the Lord Jesus to follow a filthy and immoral man who deceived people into thinking he was God’s prophet.


(1) Zawadi’s proposed methods of criticism provide further documentation that he will not hesitate to lie and that he is blatantly inconsistent. For example, Zawadi will often bring up the examples of the OT wars to complain that the Bible condones brutality and evil. Yet does he apply the internal critique to see whether this is morally objectionable from the perspective of the Judeo-Christian worldview? Not at all, since if he did he would have to admit that these wars were thoroughly just in God’s eyes:

Moreover, is he applying the ethnocentric critique to condemn these wars? No, since these military acts would have been considered normal procedure by the peoples of that time. In fact, even his own false prophet condoned and accepted that these wars had God’s approval and were therefore just:

He surely can’t be applying the universal critique since apart from divine revelation how can he even argue that something is absolutely wrong or right? He can’t which means that he is left with his own personal preference, his personal likes and dislikes, or is appealing to secular human standards of what is ethical. Yet his opinion is merely that, his opinion, and carries no objective weight, and the same secular standards of morality that he uses can be turned more forcefully against Muhammad and the Quran to show that many aspects of the teaching of Islam are immoral, draconian and are simply outdated.

Rebuttals to Bassam Zawadi
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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