Following in the paedophile steps of Mohammed?
When Charles Moore writing in The Spectator dared to juxtapose the name ‘Mohammed’ with the term ‘paedophile’, the suggestion was met with outrage. The Muslim Association of Britain quickly announced that the piece was ‘a clear incitement to religious hatred’, as well as ‘full of falsehoods, lies, skewed interpretations and poisonous remarks’. The MAB called for his dismissal, and reminded him of Rushdie affair, with implicit death threats.
The problem for these ignoramuses is that Charles Moore's assertion was based on Islam’s own scriptures - the hadiths - which record quite clearly that Mohammed was betrothed to Aisha when she was six years old, and the marriage consummated when she was just nine and he was in his early 50s (Sahih Bukhari Vol 5, Bk 58, No 234; Sahih Muslim Bk 008, No 3310, 3311). And prior to that, there is written record of a good deal of ‘thighing’, which is the practice of laying the erect penis between the girl’s thighs, and doing sufficient to cause ejaculation.
Since a nine-year-old is now deemed to be incapable of giving consent, this practice would be considered child abuse. Indeed, it would be considered rape, exacerbated by the 43-year age difference, which would have cries of ‘dirty old man’ following Mohammed wherever he went, and crowds of angry parents baying for blood, spurred on by the tabloid mentality of rags like The Sun.
By modern standards, Mohammed is indeed a paedophile. But he belonged to another culture and another age. And the practice of childhood betrothal or arranged marriages has existed from time to time in all cultures.
Mary was approximately 14 years old when she became pregnant with Jesus, and some Bible commentaries conjecture that she was as young as 12. And she may have been, and Joseph would doubtless have been older. It is therefore likely that they would have been betrothed when Mary was between 7-9 years old, and it would not have been uncommon for Joseph to have been in his 20s or 30s.
Yet Joseph has never been called a paedophile or child molester, and the Holy Spirit who ‘impregnated’ Mary without her consent, has never, to Cranmer’s knowledge, been termed a rapist.
Child brides in some cultures are considered an economic necessity. This does not make it right, but early betrothal is often necessitated by poverty. In many parts of Africa, Asia, and South America, young girls are often engaged by the age of eight, and leave their homes to join their husbands by 12. And in many cases, the younger the girl, the more her family receives in the form of a dowry. The practice is endemic in the most rural and poverty-stricken regions of Ethiopia, for example, and only an economic revolution could begin to change the culture.
And it might also be recalled that until a century ago, the age of consent in many American states was just 10 years old. The important consideration is that few (if any) exhort 19th-century America to be a paragon of moral virtue. The problem for Islam is that Mohammed sets the perfect example, and is to be emulated throughout all ages.