Saturday, December 10, 2011

Young Marriage In History and Culture


Young Marriage In History and Culture.

I stumbled upon a very annoying statement made by a Malay Singaporean regarding the marriage of Prophet Muhammad with Aisyah r.a. Frankly speaking I'm getting bored of it. But for boredom sake, 

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. married Aisyah r.a. between 623 or 624 and the marital age of brides during George Washington of America was 10 years old and that was around 1789-1797. 

1. The 100 year war between France and Britain was ended with a similar marriage. Hundreds of years after the Prophet's marriage.

“And yet it is the case that in 1396, Richard II of England was joined in marriage to young Isabel of France, who had been 7 years old when their engagement was announced the previous year in Paris. Not only was there no uproar; there was considerable happiness expressed over the assumed probability that this marriage would end the Hundred Years War then in one of its periodic states of truce between the two kingdoms. Peace was to be ensured by joining together this man and this little girl in marriage.”

John McLaughlin, PhD
English Department, East Stroudsburg University, Now Emeritus

2. Christian Byzantium royals married at similar age.

"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. Agnes's age, then, was not unusual, especially as it was customary for young engaged couples in Constantinople to be brought up together in the house of the socially superior partner".

3. A young lady in Thailand gave birth normally to a healthy baby and yes she's a wife of somebody and this took place in 2001. 

Wanwisa Jamuk.

4. Natrah was married when she was between 12 to 13 years old and my grandmother said that back then the Malays would marry off their daughters when they are no longer little girls since they have the ability to conceive and give birth to babies. Sadly I don't and can't find any written proof; luckily the Natrah incident shed some light on the marriage age of Malays in the 1950s.

5. Romania still practised similar marriage.

6. Roman law practised similar marriage up until the 19th century.

"Roman law gave the minimum age for marriage as that of puberty which was 14 for boys and 12 for girls; these remained the legal age for marriage until the late 19th Century in Britain though that for girls seemed to be assumed also to be 14."

7. In the twelfth century, Pope Alexander III ruled:

“If a girl of tender age is betrothed and delivered to her husband, and afterwards desires to marry a different man, her petition is not to be granted if her husband swears that he has had carnal knowledge of her even at the early age of eleven or twelve.”

Quoted in John Fulton, The Laws of Marriage (New York: E. and J.B. Young, 1883), 112.

8. "Traditionally the age of consent for a sexual union was a matter for the family to decide, or a tribal custom. In most cases this coincided with signs of puberty, menstruation for a woman and pubic hair for a man"

Sadly we would never know all the age of the brides of the years after the Prophet’s marriage. Why? Because they were insignificant to history writers, that’s why. It does not mean that young marriages did not occur as certain events do get written down the history lane.

Others point of view regarding the marriage of the Prophet.

a. According to ibn Sa’d (The Women of Madina ) Aisha was in fact already promised in marriage even before she was married to the Prophet. It shows that arranging marriages at young ages was quite normal. 

b. "But do you mean to tell me that the man who in the full flush of youthful vigour, a young man of four and twenty (24), married a woman much his senior, and remained faithful to her for six and twenty years (26), at fifty years of age when the passions are dying married for lust and sexual passion? Not thus are men's lives to be judged. And you look at the women whom he married, you will find that by every one of them an alliance was made for his people, or something was gained for his followers, or the woman was in sore need of protection."

- Dr Annie Besant (Dr Annie Besant in 'The Life and Teachings of Mohammad,' Madras, 1932)

Further reading,

One last thing, the Prophet married other wives and Aisyah r.a. was the only one of a young age. A husband that marries a woman with approval from the woman, the parents, the society, the law and norm of the society and culture is not a criminal. Would you dare to say that we were born out of a freak law of nature?
Free sex or sex outside of marriage is always a crime in almost all good abiding moral society regardless of faith and religion. Regardless of age for that matter.

Do read on and thank you for your kind attention.

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