Contentions On Events In The Seerah
Certain episodes in the life of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) have been misconstrued and used as propaganda against his noble character. Our purpose is not to detail an exhaustive list of answers to contentions (these are widely available online). We will instead, look at three specific accusations and explain them in such a method that can be mapped onto answering any contention, where possible.
Answers must be presented appropriate to the audience; however when conveying the message, your job isn’t to serve as an “Islamic Advice Bureau” on answering contentions and simply arguing justification for your religion. So although you can discuss the biological, Historical or Societal viewpoint, of a contention with a person, you must realise that it must be in the process of giving Da’wah; else the task can become futile. This is important, especially since you will not have conveyed the message and/or will not have answers to every question.
Marriage to Aisha (RA)
• Societal (Ethnocentric Attitudes) – Any society generally conforms to a set of mutually accepted rules. The fact that Aisha(RA) herself was already engaged prior to deciding on marrying the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) shows that she was already considered marriageable in that society.
Morality is relative not absolute, it varies from culture to culture and society to society. What is perceived to be moral in UK may not hold to be true in other parts of the world, such as Africa and Asia. Morality is also relative to time, fornication/dating little time ago was regarded as taboo and a matter of shame for the family. However, now this is a common habit, dating can start as early as at the age of 10. Another example would be dress code, which was very modest in history but not so much now.
• Historical – The greatest answer to this contention is that throughout Historical evidence the age of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) or of Aisha (RA) were never used by enemies of Islam to slander the good name of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). While there are examples of where the enemies wrote demeaning poetry we don’t find details of this accusation.
History demonstrates that the age of marriage was low, in olden times women married when they reached puberty or even earlier. Even in the USA, two centurys ago, age of consent was 10 and as low as 7 in Delaware, even today in some countries like Mexico and Philippines, age of consent is as low as 12. It should not be too astonishing to find therefore that Aisha (RA) was mature enough, as medical evidences states that puberty can occur at the age of 9.
During the time of Jesus (peace be upon him) it was not unusual or shocking for prepubescent girls to be married, and these marriages would generally be followed by a waiting period to allow for the girl to reach a point of maturity before the marriage was consummated.[Vermes, Geza (1973) Jesus The Jew William Collins sons and Co Ltd, p.219-222]
Jewish commentaries point to the marriage of Rebecca (the Biblical mother of Esau and Jacob) when she was three years old to forty year old Isaac.
Ancient Jewish marriage customs evidently allowed for prepubescent girls to be married during Jesus’s lifetime without any objection. Arguably, Jesus (peace be upon him) could have just as easily done away with the custom of marrying prepubescent girls if such marriages were frowned upon.
In 385 C.E, Christian Theologian and Philosopher, St Augustine (known for his writings that influenced Western Christianity and Philosophy) ended an out of wedlock relationship of 15 years to enter an arranged marriage with a 10 year old heiress of higher social standing. (Read Saint Augustine of Hippo. (2006) The Confessions of Saint Augustine Translated by Edward Bouverie Pusey Echo Library)
• The marriage was revealed to the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) in a dream and the dreams of the Prophets are a form of revelation from God.
"Narrated 'Aisha: Allah's Apostle said (to me), "You have been shown to me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, 'This is your wife.' I uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself, 'If this dream is from Allah, He will cause it to come true.' "" (Sahih Bukhari,Volume 7, Book 62, Number 15)
There are many instances in the lives of the Prophets where they are directed by God to do a thing or other. The cases we look at in particular are the throwing of Moses (AS), while in the basket, into the river or the sacrificing of Ishmael (AS) by Abraham (AS). In both cases inspiration from God, seemingly strange, yet lead to very good consequences because God does not do evil. Aisha (RA) went on to become amongst the 7 most prolific narrators of the Prophets conduct (hadith) and in doing so was an integral part of the knowledge of the religion.
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998, definition of Paedophile is:
"Pedophile: also spelled PAEDOPHILIA, psychosexual disorder in which an adult's arousal and sexual gratification occur primarily through sexual contact with prepubescent children. The typical paedophile is unable to find satisfaction in an adult sexual relationship and may have low self-esteem, seeing sexual activity with a child as less threatening than that with an adult." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998.
Apart from Aisha (RA), all his wives were more than 16 years old at time of marriage. Indeed, his first wife was twice widowed before and was older than him by 15 years. All his wives except Aisha (RA) were widows. Therefore, it is evident that Prophet's marriage with Aisha (RA) was not a norm and the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) had absolutely no problems in having adult relationships.
Intervention against Tribe of Banu Quraiza
•Historical – They were sentenced according to mutual Jewish law. The Judgment passed by a former Jew, Sad ibn Mu’adh (RA), from the AWS tribe, was in accordance to the Torah as we see in Deuteronomy (20:10-14). The Banu Quraiza had agreed to take his verdict and it was him not Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) who sentenced them.
•Societal -traitors/treason – throughout history we see that countries have and will go to war if they are denied the right to exist. The Banu Quraiza broke the treaty between themselves and Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) in helping the attackers and not protecting the Muslims – had the attacking forces gained dominance the story could have been very different. Treason to the state is something which is still punishable by death in many countries. Even in the UK and its overseas territories it wasn’t until the adoption of the European charter on Human rights that all forms of death penalty were reconstituted to lesser sentences.
•The Qur’an speaks of how (33:26-27) the people of the scripture, in this case the Jews, had supported the Quraish during the battle of the trench and how God had caused them to become terrified and so give up the siege. They had broken their pledge with the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and hence with God.
•Historical –No prophet, including Jesus, in any of the monotheistic books states that polygyny is prohibited. Also from biblical sources we see that Abraham had 2 wives (Genesis 16:13), David had 2 wives (Samuel 27:3), Jacob had 4 wives (Genesis 29 to 30) and Solomon is reported to have had 700 wives (1Kings 11:3). The torah even classifies laws of inheritance for polygamous relationships (Deuteronomy 21:15-16). There are also examples of historical rulers or kings that had wives in the 1000’s (Emperor Taizong).
•Societal – The restrictions on wedlock were to keep the Christian faiths in line with pagan models; marry one wife yet have an unlimited number of concubines or prostitutes. Therefore the rights of property, inheritance and genealogy of children would only be a privilege of the one wife. Wars, work related injuries, female infanticide, growing male homosexuality, the fact that female foetus is stronger than the males and is therefore more prone to survive; cause the male population to fall below the female population – if there are not enough males for females what solution do we have for those women- who want to get married?
•Biological – In the absence of divine law, like many evolutionists propose, humans are nothing more than animals and our sole existence is survival – why even have wives? Why not just rampant satisfaction of urges? Why have the institutions of marriage with its laws and vows, with rules of inheritance and good keeping? Here we could open the door to the alpha male being the only one allowed to mate, therefore only he can take partners. You see how in the absence of God we are reduced to animals in name and also in nature.
•The Qur’an is the only religious text which actually advises to marry only one (see Qur’an 4:3); with the pretext to marrying up to a maximum of 4, being just (between them all).Even the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) was not allowed to take on any more wives at a certain point (see Qur’an 33:52). Also in terms of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) being allowed to marry more than 4 – there were, in contrast, acts of worship which he was obligated exclusively to perform such as night prayers (see Qur’an 17:79).