• Mohsin Ali

Understanding The Prophet’s (ص) Marriage to A’ishah (ر)

Updated: Dec 27, 2021


With the name and praises of Allah, the All-Knower, the All-Wise


Abstract


This article aims to address some of the major Western criticisms raised against the Prophet Muhammad's (ص) marriage to A’ishah (ر), given that he was nearly fifty years her senior and she was merely six at marriage and nine at its consummation.


It will begin by analysing the Qur’anic declarations on the minimum ages at which marriage and sexual relations are permitted and demonstrating that they are rational and agreeable. It will then utilise the Hadith literature to compare the Prophet’s (ص) marriage to A’ishah (ر) against the standards determined in the first section, and this will permit the conclusion that it too is free of criticism. Answers to certain objections raised by anti-Islam polemicists will also be provided and the Islamic and Western standards on these minimum standards briefly compared.


Introduction


Western critics of Islam have long opposed many important aspects of the Prophet’s (ص) life and of the most controversial is his marriage to A’ishah (ر). In fact, in most of their societies, a similar union today would generally be considered as child abuse and paedophilia, so it should not come as a surprise to Muslims that the immediate reaction from some in the West is to associate such terms with the Prophet (ص).


Unsurprisingly, Muslims are disgusted by and strongly oppose these assertions, but the usual retorts either denying A’ishah’s (ر) being six at marriage and nine (when she reached adolescence) at consummation; appealing to the cultural norms of seventh century Arabia; or claiming the benchmark for sexual ability to be at puberty seem unsatisfactory. Rejecting the clear and authentic Hadiths which explicitly mention A’ishah’s (ر) ages casts huge doubts on the foundations of the entire classical Islamic scholarly tradition. Arguing that such marriages were culturally acceptable at the time does not lend to their being ethical and justified if we are to maintain normative and universal standards; and finally, the majority of Islamic scholars do not consider puberty as the marker of full sexual development, so the third argument seems mistaken too (not to mention any medical issues therein).


Contrarily, by examining the possible rationale for Islam’s positions on the minimum ages for sexual relations and marriage against rational and generally accepted principles, this article hopes to address the Western contentions in a more rigorous manner. But this does not mean that it will attempt to reconcile the former’s standards to the latter’s either because despite what some Westerners may feel, they are not an objective standard for truth and ethics. Instead, we will let the Islamic tradition speak for itself and judge it accordingly.


The Minimum Criteria for Marriage and Sexual Relations in Islam


One of the key general principles in Islam is that God does not burden people with laws and actions that are beyond their inherent capabilities (cause them harm) or that are exceedingly difficult to their nature,


لَا یُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا...رَبَّنا ولا تُحَمِّلْنا ما لا طاقَةَ لَنا بِهِ [1]


Allah does not charge a soul except within its capacity...O our Lord, and do not burden us with what we have no power (over). (Quran, 2:286)


As a general rule, this applies to all aspects of shari’ah, be it worship, personal or civil matters, et cetera, so if for example someone is mentally or physically incapable of performing the hajj or keeping fasts, they will not be expected to. Similarly based on this rule, if they are unable to undertake marriage and its consummation, they will not be permitted (much less expected) to and regardless of their having attained any other potential benchmarks such as a certain age or adolescence. Besides this, there are no other natural barriers to marriage and its normative entailments in shari'ah, so we can only conclude that in absence of this constraint, marriage and sexual relations will be permitted regardless of a person's age or their having attained puberty.


وَإِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ أَلَّا تُقۡسِطُوا۟ فِی ٱلۡیَتَـٰمَىٰ فَٱنكِحُوا۟ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلنِّسَاۤءِ مَثۡنَىٰ وَثُلَـٰثَ وَرُبَـٰعَ


And if you fear that you will not be just concerning the orphans, then marry women who please you; two, three or four (Qur’an, 4:3)


This famous verse is often referred to when discussing Islam’s stance on polygamy, but what is usually overlooked is the context of the verse, which is not to permit marriage to up to four wives in itself (although evidently, this is also mentioned), but to ensure that orphans girls (who are by definition minors) are treated equitably in marriage. This is therefore permission for marriage to them[2], subject to their ability as above.


وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِ...الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساء


And say to the believing women to lower their gazes and guard their private parts, and (that) they should not reveal their beauty except what appears thereof, and (that) they should strike their head scarves over their (shirt neck) openings, and not reveal their beauty except to.. prepubescents who are not aware/capable over[3] the concealed areas of women. (Qur’an, 24: 31)

Here the Qur’an provides a leniency in restrictions for women being unveiled around prepubescent males, but crucially, this dispensation relates to only those male minors who are too young to recognise women's sexuality/are incapable of sexual relations (immature minors or prepubescents)[4]. Now the fact that there are immature male prepubescents according to the Qur’an necessarily means there are also those who are mature, and possess the necessary recognition and ability for intercourse even before reaching adolescence[5]. Given the key general principle above, sexual relations would therefore be prohibited with immature male minors and permissible with those who are mature (and by extension marriage too)[6].


More relevantly to our purpose, the Qur’an also mentions the ruling on sexual relations with females before their adolescence,


وَٱلَّٰٓـِٔى يَئِسْنَ مِنَ ٱلْمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَآئِكُمْ إِنِ ٱرْتَبْتُمْ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَٰثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَٱلَّٰٓـِٔى لَمْ يَحِضْنَ


And those women who despair from menstruation [menopausal women], if you are in doubt, then their waiting period [following divorce] is three months, and (also for) those who have not menstruated. (Qur’an, 65:4)


Almost all the major commentaries explain ‘not menstruated’ here to include (though not exclusively) prepubescent females[7], so this verse permits intercourse (and therefore marriage) with such females because ‘waiting periods’ following divorce essentially become applicable after a marriage has been consummated. Further evidence of this is adduced by the fact that Islamic scholars list one of the signs for females having reached adolescence to be pregnancy[8], and this is only be viable if marriage and intercourse are allowed prior to adolescence.


But as before, this permission is not absolute and is strictly tied to the key general Islamic principle of mental and physical ability[9], so the distinction between immature and mature minors also applies to girls[10]. Even in the Hadith literature, we find that whereas the Prophet (ص) married A’ishah (ر) whilst she was still a minor, he did not consent to his own daughter Fatimah (ر) being married to either of his close companions Abu Bakr (ر) or Umar (ر) for the same reason[11]. Critics will no doubt claim hypocrisy here, but the absence of any objections along this line from the Companions (ر) and Islam’s opponents at the time indicates the former explanation to hold greater viability.

Other rulings related to prepubescents (both male and female) who have been married and have or have not consummated it are numerous (see the footnotes for examples), with some jurists even dedicating exclusive chapters to them in their legal manuals[12]. Thus, the understanding of the classical Islamic jurists has always been that marriage to and sexual relations with prepubescents are permitted, provided they are mentally and physically able.

Finally, in addition to the safeguard of ability discussed above, there are a number of other rules to ensure the minors' protection within a marriage. These include the marriage being undertaken by the consent of their parents or their legal guardians[13]; the marriage being nullified if their parents or guardians are found to be lacking or the child is married off incompetently[14]; that it is on the basis of there being a significant strategic benefit for the child which would otherwise be lost if the marriage was not undertaken[15]; the impermissibility of the child living with their spouse until the benchmark of sexual ability is reached[16]; and their having the right to terminate the marriage after reaching maturity, if they were married off by other than their father or grandfather[17].

Responding to an Objection

Objection – it is all well and good that Islam conditions ability as the benchmark for marriage and sexual relations, but minors are neither capable of fulfilling the mental demands of marriage, nor the mental and physical demands of sexual activity. So by permitting marriage and intercourse with them, the Qur’an violates its own rule.

Response - In terms of the mental demands of marriage, under the Islamic paradigm, marriage comprises several elements, including worship, contract, and personal love and relationship. Only the second is necessary and sufficient for a marriage to be enacted and for its legal and social benefits, such as spousal rights, inheritance, et cetera to be activated, and this is also evident from the safeguards mentioned above. So the last element is not immediately necessary and can be allowed to develop naturally. Marriage can therefore, at least initially, be motivated by purely social and strategic reasons and void of the demands of attraction, love and relationship,


‘More fundamentally, while the contemporary Western ideal of marriage involves a relationship of love, friendship, or companionship, marriage historically functioned primarily as an economic and political unit used to create kinship bonds, control inheritance, and share resources and labor. Indeed, some ancients and medievals discouraged ‘excessive’ love in marriage. The ‘love revolution’ in marriage dates popularly to the 18th century.’[18]


This is not to say there is no attraction, love or relationship between spouses in the Islamic conception of marriage, far from it. The point is that the initial reasons can be purely strategic, and love and relationship can evolve naturally thereafter in the fullness of time.


In respect of minors being mentally and physically capable of sexual relations, the absolute and blanket statement that all minors are and forever have been incapable of it (and that their division into immature and mature categories in the Qur’an is unrealistic) is contrary to the collective human experience in various world societies, where prepubescent marriage and its entailments were practiced, or at the very least accepted (with some variations in the exact ages)[19].

Had the practices been harmful in all cases, they would certainly have been rejected as they would run contrary to basic human family values and survival. Yet, up until only relatively recently, there were no objections or criticisms levied against the Prophet (ص) for marrying and consummating his marriage to A’ishah (ر) when he did, not even from his most ardent enemies. Even if we limit minor marriage and its consummation to the Prophet’s (s) time and location (seventh century Arabia), this still holds true.

What do we make of any studies that may demonstrate that minors are generally incapable of sexual relations? Studies can only be based on the subjects of our time and then the minors of previous millennia and centuries analogised on their results. The general results of these studies cannot overrule the direct assessments and experiences of the people of those times in specific cases of minor marriage and consummation.

An Alternative Interpretation?

A popular notion amongst Muslims is that the minimum benchmark for intercourse in Islam is adolescence, and though some early Islamic scholars were of this opinion, as per our analysis above, it is contrary to the Qur’anic position. However, there are a couple of verses that at first glance seem to suggest otherwise, so it would be prudent to address them too.

وَابْتَلُوا الْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُوا النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُم مِّنْهُمْ رُشْدًا فَادْفَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ


And assess orphans until they reach ‘intercourse’. Then if you perceive from them sound judgement, give to them their wealth. (Qur’an, 4:6)


An orphan is defined in Islam as a prepubescent who is fatherless. Similarly to other minors, they are not subject to Islamic law until the normative benchmark of puberty, where upon they become adults and personally responsible. Since the ‘intercourse’ (al-nikah) or ‘the age of/ability for it’ in the verse has also been used as a benchmark for adulthood and personal responsibility in this verse (due to the instruction of making orphans responsible for their own wealth at this point in time), it can only be concluded that it is in reference puberty. Meaning that the age/ability for intercourse is at adolescence, which is of course contrary to what was determined in our analysis (a person’s ability regardless of their age or having reached puberty).


However, intercourse’ in this verse is not in reference to ‘the age/ability for it’, but in fact to ‘ejaculation’ (for males and as will be mentioned below, pregnancy for females)[20]. This is because intercourse serving as a reference to puberty is only viable if it involves ejaculation, as this is the relevant marker for puberty in Islam. So the minimum age of/ability for intercourse cannot be at puberty as the verse makes no reference to such a minimum, but it refers to ejaculation instead.


یَـٰۤأَیُّهَا ٱلَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لِیَسۡتَـٔۡذِنكُمُ ٱلَّذِینَ مَلَكَتۡ أَیۡمَـٰنُكُمۡ وَٱلَّذِینَ لَمۡ یَبۡلُغُوا۟ ٱلۡحُلُمَ مِنكُمۡ ثَلَـٰثَ مَرّ ٰت... وَإِذَا بَلَغَ ٱلۡأَطۡفَـٰلُ مِنكُمُ ٱلۡحُلُمَ فَلۡیَسۡتَـٔۡذِنُوا۟


O you who have believed, let those who your right hands possess and those who have not reached puberty among you, seek permission of you [before entering your private quarters] at three times [of the day]...And when the minors among you reach puberty, let them ask permission [at all times]. Quran (24, 58-59)

This verse discusses a similar scenario to Qur’an, 65: 4 in that there is a relaxation of regulations for prepubescents around the uncovered, but puberty in general is set as a marker for maturity and there is no distinction between immature and mature prepubescents.


However, the error in this interpretation is that the minors referred to here are those who have some understanding and recognition, and are old enough to converse. Otherwise, how else would they be able to seek permission and be taught to do so? The minors who are exempt from any permission are younger still[21], and the distinction between immature and mature minors is thus maintained.


The Prophet’s (ص) Marriage with A’ishah’s (ر)


عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ تَزَوَّجَنِي النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَنَا بِنْتُ سِتِّ سِنِينَ وَبَنَى بِي وَأَنَا بِنْتُ تِسْعِ سِنِينَ


Narrated from A’ishah (ر), ‘Prophet (ص) married me when I was a girl of six years and consummated (the marriage) with me when I was girl of nine years.’[22]


عَنْ عُرْوَةَ تَزَوَّجَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَائِشَةَ وَهْىَ ابْنَةُ سِتٍّ وَبَنَى بِهَا وَهْىَ ابْنَةُ تِسْعٍ وَمَكَثَتْ عِنْدَهُ تِسْعًا


Narrated from Urwah (ر), ‘The Prophet (ص) married A’ishah (ر) when she was a girl of six and consummated (the marriage) with her when she was girl of nine, and she stayed with him for nine (years).’[23]


From these reports, it is evident that A’ishah (ر) was married to the Prophet (ص) when she was six years old, but moved in with him and the marriage was consummated three years later when she was nine[24]. But a couple of other points are also worthy of note. Firstly, the reason for this delay was that it was only following three years of marriage that she developed the ability for sexual relations[25], so this was in line with the Qur’anic criteria discussed above. Secondly, the specific mention of A’ishah’s (ر) age when her marriage was consummated is therefore coincidental and cannot be taken as benchmark in itself[26].


Responding to Objections


Objection 1 – The Qur’an was revealed gradually over twenty-three years, so the ability criteria in the Qur’an could have been revealed after the Prophet (ص) married A’ishah (ر) and it may not have applied in her case.


Response - We probably do not have information on when the verses in question were revealed, but the following observations stand contrary to the objection:


1. As is evident from Quran 2:286, it has always been God’s way to not burden His creation with what they are inherently incapable of, so this was His universal law from even before the verse was revealed. Thus, avoiding harm was a key and central legal principle from Islam’s very inception, from before A’ishah’s (ر) consummation and even her marriage itself.


2. Additionally, even if A’ishah (ر) was incapable at the time of marriage, that she remained inherently underage (if we adhere to the critics’ standards) throughout her marriage to the Prophet (ص) necessitates that he would have been commanded to divorce her after Qur'an 2:286 was revealed. But there is no such command to be found anywhere.


3. The Prophet (ص) delaying consummation for three years following the marriage is proof enough that he allowed for her to mature.


4. Even if we accept the objection for argument’s sake, it still does not prove A’ishah (ر) was incapable because, as mentioned earlier, it runs contrary to normative family values and survival to harm one’s spouse in the way being claimed, and only a mentally deranged or morally bankrupt individual would do such a thing. Critics of course claim the Prophet (ص) was such a person, but then A’ishah (ر) herself never complaining about being incapable, nor her parents and nor even the Prophet’s (ص) enemies only adds to the high improbability of it.


5. The prohibition of marriage and sex with the incapable has been demonstrated in this article, but the permission is no where to be found in the Islamic sources, so it is a mere assumption with no evidence whatsoever.


Objection 2 – The Prophet (ص) may have been exempted from the law of ability, just as he was exempted from some other laws.


Response –The laws the Prophet (ص) was exempt from are subsidiary laws and are also clearly discernible in the Islamic sources, but the law of ability, as mentioned, is one that is central to shari’ah and not subsidiary. There is also no evidence whatever that the Prophet (ص) was exempt from it, so again, the objection is a mere assumption that has no evidence.


Objection 3 - A’ishah (ر) had no choice in being married off and even if she did, she would have been too young to decide what was in her best interests.


Response - The marriage was conducted with the consent of A’isha’s (ر) parents and whilst she was under their guardianship, they had the right to decide what was in her best interests, just as any parent would do for their children. And there are no signs of their being coerced or violating any of the marriage safeguards and rules detailed earlier.


Objection 4 – Hadiths describe how A’ishah (ر) would play with dolls whilst married to the Prophet (ص) and this is evidence that she was too mentally immature for marriage and consummation.


Response – If we presume for argument’s sake that A’ishah’s (ر) playing with dolls is indicative of a form of mental immaturity, utilising it as a marker for her absolute level of mental maturity (in all aspects and activities) is a false cause argument and at best reductive. This is evidenced by the fact that even in today’s world, there are many examples of fully-functioning grown adults who engage in activities usually targeted at those many decades younger, such as watching children or teenager films and animations, playing computer games or collecting dolls and toys, etc. so the two are not inexorably linked.


Additionally, if we define the mental ability for a certain activity to be the ability to undertake it without suffering mental harm, there is no evidence that A’ishah (ص) did not possess the necessary mental ability for marriage to and consummation with the Prophet (ص) or of any mental (or for that matter physical) harm ever being caused to her as a result.


Objection 5 - The three-year delay was because A’ishah (ر) was ill, not because she was being allowed to sufficiently mature.


Response – A narration recorded by Imam Muslim states in A’ishah's (ر) own words that her illness lasted for only one month, whereas the Prophet (ص) waited for three years,


قَالَتْ فَقَدِمْنَا الْمَدِينَةَ فَوعِكْتُ شَهْرًا

‘We arrived at Madinah, and I had fever for a month...’


Also, if A’ishah's (ر) ability was not a concern for the Prophet (ص), why would he have waited whilst she was ill? His supposed waiting for her to recover from illness surely demonstrates that A’ishah's (ر) well-being was a concern for him, and if this is true, why would it not be a concern regarding her ability to have sexual relations too? Finally, the order of incidents in the Hadith above is that the Prophet (ص) married A’ishah (ر), her family migrated to Madinah and stayed with the tribe of Khazraj and then she fell ill. So there was ample opportunity for the marriage to be consummated and for A’ishah (ر) to move in with the Prophet (ص) before she fell ill, but it was not taken.


Age or Ability?


Comparing Islam’s and the West’s standards on the minimum ages for marriage and sexual relations, though Islam sets the simple, rational and dynamic marker of ability in both cases (thereby allowing natural factors such as geography, environment, genetics, personality, intelligence, etc. to determine them on a case-by-case basis), the laws in the West, despite being intended to protect their subjects, are incongruent and subjective[27]. With marriage, the minimum age without a guardian in most countries is the ‘age of majority’ – usually eighteen years, and for sexual consent it mostly varies between fourteen and sixteen years. But there is no rational or scientific basis for either of these minimums, neither in mental nor physical developmental terms, and they appear to be motivated by secondary motives, such as political, educational and cultural reasons. Furthermore, many countries and regions within set these ages lower and/or permit exceptions.


Some in the West may ‘feel’ that the Islamic standard for marriage and sexual relations is too low in terms of a minimum age or the lack of it, regardless of it being contingent on an individual’s ability. But if we are to decide by a fixed age instead of ability, on what basis would this be? If not on the basis of ability, it can only be for historical and cultural reasons, subjective (as it is in the West) and thus, rationality unjustifiable. Any accusation of child abuse against the Prophet Muhammad (ص) from the West should therefore be tied to A’ishah’s (ر) ability and not a fixed age.


Conclusion


From our analysis, it is clear that the central criterion around which the minimum ages for marriage and sexual intimacy are based in Islam is that of an individual’s mental and physical capacity to undertake them, and it was no different for A’ishah (ر) in her marriage to the Prophet (ص). But despite the rationality of this position and the weakness of Western ideals in this area, that she was so young when she gained this ability will remain unpalatable to many Westerners. But in addressing sensitive comparative issues such as discussed here, preconceived notions, biases and emotions need to be kept aside and decisions made objectively, otherwise the entire enterprise of determining right from wrong becomes futile. It should also be borne in mind that this minimum standard theoretically permitting prepubescent marriages and consummation (providing the central criterion is fulfilled) does not mean it is recommended or in emulation of the Prophet (ص), to be practiced. Such decisions are to be made in view of prevailing laws, societal, and individual needs and dynamics.

And God the Most-High knows best.

 

[1] تفسير السمرقندي – (لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلَّا وُسْعَها) أي طاقتها. ويقال إلا دون طاقتها ويقال لا يكلف الصلاة قائماً لمن لا يقدر عليها... ثم قال (رَبَّنا وَلا تُحَمِّلْنا ما لا طاقَةَ لَنا بِهِ) يقول لا تكلفنا من العمل ما لا نطيق، فتعذبنا. ويقال ما يشق ذلك علينا، لأنه لو أمر بخمسين صلاة، لكانوا يطيقون ذلك، ولكنه يشقّ عليهم، ولا يطيقون الإدامة على ذلك

أحكام القرآن للجصاص - قَوْلُهُ تَعالى (لا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إلا وُسْعَها) فِيهِ نَصٌّ عَلى أنَّ اللَّهَ تَعالى لا يُكَلِّفُ أحَدًا ما لا يَقْدِرُ عَلَيْهِ ولا يُطِيقُهُ...ومِمّا يَتَعَلَّقُ بِذَلِكَ مِنَ الأحْكامِ سُقُوطُ الفَرْضِ عَنِ المُكَلَّفِينَ فِيما لا تَتَّسِعُ لَهُ قُواهم لِأنَّ الوُسْعَ هو دُونَ الطّاقَةِ وأنَّهُ لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِمُ اسْتِفْراغُ المَجْهُودِ في أداءِ الفَرْضِ نَحْوَ الشَّيْخِ الكَبِيرِ الَّذِي يَشُقُّ عَلَيْهِ الصَّوْمُ ويُؤَدِّي إلى ضَرَرٍ يَلْحَقُهُ في جِسْمِهِ... (رَبَّنا ولا تُحَمِّلْنا ما لا طاقَةَ لَنا بِهِ) قِيلَ فِيهِ وجْهانِ أحَدُهُما ما يَشْتَدُّ ويَثْقُلُ مِنَ التَّكْلِيفِ كَنَحْوِ ما كُلِّفَ بَنُو إسْرائِيلَ أنْ يَقْتُلُوا أنْفُسَهُمْ وجائِزٌ أنْ يُعَبِّرَ بِما يَثْقُلُ أنَّهُ لا يُطِيقُهُ...والوَجْهُ الثّانِي ألّا يُحَمِّلَنا مِنَ العَذابِ ما لا نُطِيقُهُ؛ وجائِزٌ أنْ يَكُونَ المُرادُ الأمْرَيْنِ جَمِيعًا واللَّهُ أعْلَمُ بِالصَّوابِ.

التيسير في التفسير – و معنى الآية لايأمر الله عبدا بما ليس في طاقته...(رَبَّنا ولا تُحَمِّلْنا ما لا طاقَةَ لَنا بِهِ) أي لا تكلفنا ما يشق علينا الدوام عليه

مدارك التنزيل – (لا يُكَلِّفُ اللهُ نَفْسًا) مَحْكِيٌّ عَنْهُمْ أوْ مُسْتَأْنَفٌ (إلا وُسْعَها) إلّا طاقَتَها وقُدْرَتَها لِأنَّ التَكْلِيفَ لا يَرِدُ إلّا بِفِعْلٍ يَقْدِرُ عَلَيْهِ المُكَلَّفُ كَذا في شَرْحِ التَأْوِيلاتِ وقالَ صاحِبُ الكَشّافِ الوُسْعُ ما يَسَعُ الإنْسانَ ولا يُضَيَّقُ عَلَيْهِ ولا يُحْرَجُ فِيهِ أيْ لا يُكَلِّفُها إلّا ما يَتَّسِعُ فِيهِ طَوْقُهُ ويَتَيَسَّرُ عَلَيْهِ دُونَ مَدى غايَةِ الطاقَةِ والمَجْهُودِ...(رَبَّنا ولا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنا إصْرًا) عِبْئًا يَأْصِرُ حامِلَهُ أيْ يَحْبِسُهُ مَكانَهُ لِثِقَلِهِ اسْتُعِيرَ لِلتَّكْلِيفِ الشاقِّ مِن نَحْوِ قَتْلِ الأنْفُسِ وقَطْعِ مَوْضِعِ النَجاسَةِ مِنَ الجِلْدِ والثَوْبِ وغَيْرِ ذَلِكَ.

تفسير أبي السعود -...سُنَّتُه لا يُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا مِنَ النُّفُوسِ إلّا ما يَتَّسِعُ فِيهِ طَوْقُها ويَتَيَسَّرُ عَلَيْها دُونَ مَدى الطّاقَةِ والمَجْهُودِ...(رَبَّنا ولا تُحَمِّلْنا ما لا طاقَةَ لَنا بِهِ) عَطْفٌ عَلى ما قَبْلَهُ واسْتِعْفاءٌ عَنِ العُقُوباتِ الَّتِي لا تُطاقُ بَعْدَ الِاسْتِعْفاءِ عَمّا يُؤَدِّي إلَيْها التَّفْرِيطُ فِيهِ مِنَ التَّكالِيفِ الشّاقَّةِ الَّتِي لا يَكادُ مَن كُلِّفَها يَخْلُو عَنِ التَّفْرِيطِ فِيها...وقِيلَ هو تَكْرِيرٌ لِلْأوَّلِ وتَصْوِيرٌ لِلْإصْرِ بِصُورَةِ ما لا يُسْتَطاعُ مُبالَغَةً وقِيلَ هو اسْتِعْفاءٌ عَنِ التَّكْلِيفِ بِما لا تَفِي بِهِ الطّاقَةُ البَشَرِيَّةُ حَقِيقَةً

و في التفسيرات الأحمدية في تفسير هذه الآية – و المقصود ههنا ان اهل السنة تمكنوا به في ان التكليف بما لا يطاق ليس بواقع و هذه قضية مشهورة بين المتكلمين

شرح الحموي على الأشباه لابن نجيم – (المشقة تجلب التيسير...و اعلم أن أسباب التخفيف...سبعة...المرض) المرض حالة للبدن يزول بها اعتدال الطبيعة

شرح القواعد الفقهية لأحمد الزرقا - لا ضَرر و لا ضِرار أي لا فعل ضرر و لا ضرار بأحد في ديننا...بغير ما أذن به الشرع... كالقصاص و الحدود...على أنها لم تشرع في الحقيقة إلا لدفع الضرر ايضا [2] تفسير السمرقندي – وَآتُوا الْيَتامى أَمْوالَهُمْ التي عندكم إذا بلغوا النكاح، يعني الحلم... وروى عروة عن عائشة رضي الله عنها أنها قالت كان الناس يتزوجون اليتامى ولا يعدلون بينهن، ولم يكن لهم أحد يخاصم عنهن فنهى الله المؤمنين عن ذلك فقال (وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتامى) الآية. ويقال إنهم كانوا يتزوجون امرأة لها أولاد أيتام، وكانوا لا يحسنون النظر إليهم، فنزل (وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتامى فَانْكِحُوا مَا طابَ لَكُمْ) يعني بغير ولد مَثْنى وَثُلاثَ وَرُباعَ. أحكام القرآن للجصاص – فَلَمّا قالَ (فِي يَتامى النِّساءِ) دَلَّ عَلى أنَّ المُرادَ الكِبارُ مِنهُنَّ دُونَ الصِّغارِ لِأنَّ الصِّغارَ لا يُسَمَّيْنَ نِساءً قِيلَ لَهُ هَذا غَلَطٌ مِن وجْهَيْنِ أحَدُهُما أنَّ قَوْلَهُ (وإنْ خِفْتُمْ ألا تُقْسِطُوا في اليَتامى) حَقِيقَتُهُ تَقْتَضِي اللّاتِي لَمْ يَبْلُغْنَ لِقَوْلِ النَّبِيِّ (ص) لا يُتْمَ بَعْدَ بُلُوغِ الحُلُمِ، ولا يَجُوزُ صَرْفُ الكَلامِ عَنْ حَقِيقَتِهِ إلى المَجازِ إلّا بِدَلالَةٍ والكَبِيرَةُ تُسَمّى يَتِيمَةً عَلى وجْهِ المَجازِ وقَوْلُهُ تَعالى (فِي يَتامى النِّساءِ) لا دَلالَةَ فِيهِ عَلى ما ذَكَرْتَ لِأنَّهُنَّ إذا كُنَّ مِن جِنْسِ النِّساءِ جازَتْ إضافَتُهُنَّ إلَيْهِنَّ مدارك التنزيل – قِيلَ كانُوا لا يَتَحَرَّجُونَ مِنَ الزِنا، ويَتَحَرَّجُونَ مِن وِلايَةِ اليَتامى، فَقِيلَ إنْ خِفْتُمُ الجَوْرَ في حَقِّ اليَتامى فَخافُوا الزِنا فانْكِحُوا ما حَلَّ لَكم مِنَ النِساءِ ولا تَحُومُوا حَوْلَ المُحَرَّماتِ، أوْ كانُوا يَتَحَرَّجُونَ مِنَ الوِلايَةِ في أمْوالِ اليَتامى ولا يَتَحَرَّجُونَ مِنَ الِاسْتِكْثارِ مِنَ النِساءِ مَعَ أنَّ الجَوْرَ يَقَعُ بَيْنَهُنَّ إذا كَثُرْنَ، فَكَأنَّهُ قِيلَ إذا تَحَرَّجْتُمْ مِن هَذا فَتَحَرَّجُوا مِن ذَلِكَ. ووقِيل (وَإنْ خِفْتُمْ ألا تُقْسِطُوا فِي) ننِكاحِ (اليَتامى فانْكِحُوا) مِنَ البالِغاتِ و كذا في تفسيرات الأحمدية [3] أحكام القرآن للجصاص – وقَوْلُهُ تَعالى (أوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ) قالَ مُجاهِدٌ هُمُ الَّذِينَ لا يَدْرُونَ ما هُنَّ مِنَ الصِّغَرِ. وقالَ قَتادَةَ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الحُلُمَ مِنكم. قالَ أبُو بَكْرٍ[الجصاص] قَوْلُ مُجاهِدٍ أظْهَرُ لِأنَّ مَعْنى أنَّهم لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ أنَّهم لا يُمَيِّزُونَ بَيْنَ عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ والرِّجالِ لِصِغَرِهِمْ وقِلَّةِ مَعْرِفَتِهِمْ بِذَلِكَ التيسير في التفسير – (الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ) قال القطبي اي لم يفهموا ذلك و لم يقفوا عليه...و قال الفراء اي لم يبلغوا ان يطيقوا النساء مدارك التنزيل – (لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِساءِ) أيْ لَمْ يَطَّلِعُوا لِعَدَمِ الشَهْوَةِ. مِن: ظَهَرَ عَلى الشَيْءِ؛ إذا اطَّلَعَ عَلَيْهِ. أوْ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا أوانَ القُدْرَةِ عَلى الوَطْءِ. مِن: ظَهَرَ عَلى فُلانٍ؛ إذا قَوِيَ عَلَيْهِ تفسير أبي السعود – (أوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ) لِعَدَمِ تَمْيِيزِهِمْ، مِنَ الظُّهُورِ بِمَعْنى: الِاطِّلاعِ. أوْ لِعَدَمِ بُلُوغِهِمْ حَدَّ الشَّهْوَةِ، مِنَ الظُّهُورِ بِمَعْنى: الغَلَبَةِ روح المعاني – (أوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ) أيِ الأطْفالِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَعْرِفُوا ما العَوْرَةُ ولَمْ يُمَيِّزُوا بَيْنَها وبَيْنَ غَيْرِها عَلى أنَّ (لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا) إلَخْ مِن قَوْلِهِمْ ظَهَرَ عَلى الشَّيْءِ إذا اطَّلَعَ عَلَيْهِ فَجُعِلَ كِنايَةً عَنْ ذَلِك. أوِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا حَدَّ الشَّهْوَةِ والقُدْرَةِ عَلى الجِماعِ عَلى أنَّهُ مَن ظَهَرَ عَلى فُلانٍ إذا قَوِيَ عَلَيْهِ ومِنهُ قَوْلُهُ تَعالى (فَأصْبَحُوا ظاهِرِينَ) تفسيرات الأحمدية – و الظهور بمعني الاطلاع او الغلبة اي الطفل الذين لم يطلعوا علي المباشرة و لم يغلبوا... تفسير السمرقندي – ثم قال (مِنَ الرِّجالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساء) يعني لم يطلعوا ولم يشتهوا الجماع

[4] This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the singular form for the genus ‘prepubescents’ (الطفل) is employed rather than the usual plural form الأطفال (such as in Qur’an 24:59 for example) thereby indicating on exemption (التخصيص), which is clarified by the relative clause (الصلة) that follows it. Secondly, even if we take the singular form الطفل to refer to all minors (العام), the causal status (العلة) of the relative clause, despite being qualitative (الصفة), permits exemptions (التخصيص) from the genus الطفل, specifically mature prepubescents. Its being non-causal would render it redundant and hence its effectiveness.

[5] أحكام القرآن للجصاص - وقَدْ أمَرَ اللَّهُ تَعالى الطِّفْلَ الَّذِي قَدْ عَرَفَ عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ بِالِاسْتِئْذانِ في الأوْقاتِ الثَّلاثَةِ بِقَوْلِهِ (لِيَسْتَأْذِنْكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أيْمانُكم والَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ) وأرادَ بِهِ الَّذِي عَرَفَ ذَلِكَ واطَّلَعَ عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ واَلَّذِي لا يُؤْمَرُ بِالِاسْتِئْذانِ أصْغَرُ مِن ذَلِكَ. وقَدْ رُوِيَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ﷺ أنَّهُ قالَ مُرُوهم بِالصَّلاةِ لِسَبْعٍ واضْرِبُوهم عَلَيْها لِعَشْرٍ وفَرِّقُوا بَيْنَهم في المَضاجِعِ، فَلَمْ يَأْمُرْ بِالتَّفْرِقَةِ قَبْلَ العَشْرِ وأمَرَ بِها في العَشْرِ لِأنَّهُ قَدْ عَرَفَ ذَلِكَ في الأكْثَرِ الأعَمِّ ولا يَعْرِفُهُ قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ في الأغْلَبِ [6] مجمع الأنهر - و إن كان [المانع للدخول] حقيقيا كالمرض و الصغر لا تجب [العدة في نفسها و تجب استحسانا] لانعدام التمكن حقيقة فكان كالطلاق قبل الدخول من حيث قيام اليقين بعدم الشغل و ما قاله [صاحب ملتقى الأبحر] قال به التمرتاشي و قاضيخان و يؤيده ما ذكره العتابي إلا أن الأوجوه على هذا أن يخص الصغير بغير قادر [اي أن يفسر الصغير بغير قادر]. و في موضع آخر – (يمنع الوطء) سواء كان منعه حقيقية أو حكما كما إذا كان يضره الوطء و في الخلاصة و غيرها و هو الصحيح [7] أحكام القرآن للجصاص – (إنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ)...ارْتِيابَ المُخاطَبِينَ في عِدَّةِ الآيِسَةِ والصَّغِيرَةِ التيسير في التفسير - (واللائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ) من الصغار اللائِي لم يبلغن و اللائِي يبلغن بغير الحيض مدارك التنزيل – (واللائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ) هُنَّ الصَغائِرُ تفسير أبي السعود – (واللائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ) بَعْدُ لِصِغَرِهِنَّ روح المعاني - (واللائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ)...الصِّغارُ اللّائِي لَمْ يَبْلُغْنَ سِنَّ الحَيْضِ تفسيرات الأحمدية – و هو يتناول الصغيرة و البالغة بالسن فقط دون الحيض و بكل ذلك صرح به صاحب الهداية حيث قال، و ان كانت لا تحيض من صغر او كبر فعدتها ثلاثة اشهر لقوله تعالى (واللائِي يَئِسْنَ...) القدوري و جامع أحكام الصغار – و ان كانت لا تحيض من صغر أو كبر فعدتها ثلاثة أشهر. و هذا الحكم في البدائع ايضا

المبسوط – و حجتنا قوله تعالى (و اللائي لم يحضن) بين الله تعالى عدة الصغيرة و سبب العدة شرعا هو النكاح و ذلك دليل تصور نكاح الصغيرة [8] كتاب جمل الأحكام – و للبلوغ الجارية خمس... و الحبل

جامع أحكام الصغار - البلوغ تارة يكون بالسن و تارة يكون بالعلامة فالعلامة في الجارية الحيض و الاحتلام و الاحبال [9] المبسوط – و فيه [كون عائشة (ر) عند النبي (ص)] دليل أن الصغيرة يجوز ان تزف الى زوجها اذا كانت صالحة للرجال... و جاء في الحديث انهم سمنوها فلما سمنت زفت الى رسول الله (ص)

الهندية - اختلفوا في وقت الدخول بالصغيرة فقيل لا يدخل بها ما لم تبلغ، وقيل يدخل بها إذا بلغت تسع سنين، كذا في البحر الرائق وأكثر المشايخ على أنه لا عبرة للسن في هذا الباب وإنما العبرة للطاقة إن كانت ضخمة سمينة تطيق الرجال ولا يخاف عليها المرض من ذلك كان للزوج أن يدخل بها وإن لم تبلغ تسع سنين وإن كانت نحيفة مهزولة لا تطيق الجماع ويخاف عليها المرض لا يحل

للزوج أن يدخل بها وإن كبر سنها وهو الصحيح

و كذا في المحيط البرهاني. و ايضا – فإن نقد الزوج المهر...فقال أب المرأة، إنها صغيرة لا تصلح للرجال و لا تطيق الجماع... فإن صلحت للرجال أمر [القاضي] بدفعها إلى الزوج

الدر المختار - و للزوج المطالبة بتسليمها ان تحملت الرجل

و كذا في أدب القاضي للخصاف

ابن عابدين - و ليس له تسليمها للدخول بها قبل اطاقة الوطء و لا عبرة للسن [10] كتاب الحجة على أهل المدينة – و لو كان كبيرا تزوج صغيرة لا يجامع مثلها لم يكن لها نفقة حتى تبلغ [أي صلاحية و إطاقة]...الجماع [و كذا في شرحه لمهدي حسن نقلا من الحاكم الشهيد و فتح القدير] البدائع الصنائع – العجز نوعان...أما الحقيقي...كانت المرأة صغيرة لا يجامع مثلها...

المحيط البرهاني – صغيرة لا يستمتع بها، زوّجها أبوها...

جامع أحكام الصغار – رجل تزوج صغيرة يجامع مثلها و لم تبلغ الحيض... اللباب في شرح الكتاب – (فإن كان المولي مريضا) بحيث (لا يقدر على الجماع أو كانت المرأة مريضة) أو رتقاء او صغيرة لا تجامع... [11] النسائي – (عن بريدة بن الحصيب الأسلمي) خطب أبو بكرٍ وعمرُ رضِيَ اللهُ عنهما فاطمةَ، فقال رسولُ اللهِ إنها صغيرة... [12] انظر الأصل و المبسوط و المحيط البرهاني مثلا

[13] This is a well-known principle

[14]

مختلف الرواية لأبي اليث السمرقندي – له (أي الإمام) أن الولاية بناء على دليل النظر و المصلحة و صدور التصرف من

كامل الرأي المبسوط - لأن ثبوت الولاية لكيلا يفوت الكفء [أي اغراض و مقاصد النكاح] الذي خطبها شرح جامع الصغير للصدر الشهيد – [الأصل أن] ولاية آباء ما ثبتت إلا بشرط النظر... فيبنى ذلك على السبب الداعي إلى النظر و هو قرب القرابة. و قال الكاساني في البدائع – و لأن الأب وافر الشفقة على ولده ينظر له ما ينظر لنفسه الهداية – و لنا أن القرابة داعية الى النظر كالأب و الجد و ما فيه من القصور اظهرناه في سلب الولاية الإلزام... و مع القصور لا يثبت ولاية الإلزام الدر المنتقى – و لا خيار لهم بالبلوغ...لوفور الشفقة إلا أن يكون الأب سكران أو معروفا بسوء الاختيار [اقول كون الأب مشهور بسوء الاختيار ليس شرطا] مجانة و فسقا فالعقد باطل عنده (أي الامام) و هو الصحيح كما لو زوجها من فقير أو محترف حرفة دنية و كذا في تنوير الأبصار و الدر المختار و رد المحتار [15] المبسوط – النكاح... يشتمل على اغراض و مقاصد... لا يتفق كل وقت... لو انتظر [الولي] بلوغها لفات ذلك... و لا يوجد مثله و لما كان هذا العقد يعقد للعمر يتحقق الحاجة الى ما هو من مقاصد هذا العقد فتجعل تلك الحاجة كالمتحقق للحال لإثبات الولاية للولي و كذا في كتاب الهداية بألفاظه [16] انظر [9] [17] و في لأصل تلخيصا – و اذا زوج الرجل ابنه و هو صغير أو ابنته و هي صغيرة...لا خيار لهما اذا ادركا...فإن كان الذي من زوجهما من غيره [أو من غير الجد كما في المبسوط و غيره] أن للصغير و الصغيرة الخيار اذا ادركا. و في موضع آخر – و اذا زوج الصبي و الصبية وليهما كائنا من كان ما خلا الوالد [أو الجد] فلهما الخيار إذا ادركا

[18] Brake, Elizabeth, ‘Marriage and Domestic Partnership’, The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (Fall 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2012/entries/marriage/ [19] Baugh, Carolyn G, ‘Minor Marriage in Early Islamic Law’, Studies in Islamic Law and Society, Vol. 41, Brill (2017), Leiden (The Netherlands)

[20] أحكام القرآن للجصاص – (حَتّى إذا بَلَغُوا النِّكاحَ) فَإنَّ ابْنَ عَبّاسٍ ومُجاهِدًا والسُّدِّيَّ قالُوا هُوَ الحُلُمُ، وهو بُلُوغُ حالِ النِّكاحِ مِنَ الِاحْتِلامِ

طِلبْة الطلبة – (وَابْتَلُوا الْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُوا النِّكَاحَ) أي إذا بَلَغٍ اليتَامى وقتَ القدرةِ على وطْءِ النِّساءِ. و في التيسير في التفسير زيادتا - (حَتّى إذا بَلَغُوا النِّكاحَ) أي االوطء، أي قدروا علي ذلك و هو حالة الانزال

مدارك التنزيل - حَتّى إذا بَلَغُوُا النِّكاحَ أيِ االحُلُم، لِأنَّهُ يَصْلُحُ لِلنِّكاحِ عِنْدَهُ، ولِطَلَبِ ما هو مَقْصُودٌ بِهِ، وهو التَوالُدُ. المبسوط – و المراد بقوله تعالى (حتى اذا بلغوا النكاح) الاحتلام [21] أحكام القرآن للجصاص - وقَدْ أمَرَ اللَّهُ تَعالى الطِّفْلَ الَّذِي قَدْ عَرَفَ عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ بِالِاسْتِئْذانِ في الأوْقاتِ الثَّلاثَةِ بِقَوْلِهِ (لِيَسْتَأْذِنْكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أيْمانُكم والَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ) وأرادَ بِهِ الَّذِي عَرَفَ ذَلِكَ واطَّلَعَ عَلى عَوْراتِ النِّساءِ واَلَّذِي لا يُؤْمَرُ بِالِاسْتِئْذانِ أصْغَرُ مِن ذَلِكَ. وقَدْ رُوِيَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ (ص) أنَّهُ قالَ مُرُوهم بِالصَّلاةِ لِسَبْعٍ واضْرِبُوهم عَلَيْها لِعَشْرٍ وفَرِّقُوا بَيْنَهم في المَضاجِعِ، فَلَمْ يَأْمُرْ بِالتَّفْرِقَةِ قَبْلَ العَشْرِ وأمَرَ بِها في العَشْرِ لِأنَّهُ قَدْ عَرَفَ ذَلِكَ في الأكْثَرِ الأعَمِّ ولا يَعْرِفُهُ قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ في الأغْلَبِ [22] صحيح مسلم [23] صحيح البخاري [24] الأصل – بلغنا عن رسول الله (ص) أنه تزوج عائشة (ر) و هي صغيرة ابنة ست سنين و بنى بها و هي ابنة تسع سنين و كانت عنده تسعا [25] انظر [9] [26] انظر [9]

[27] For information on Europe for example, refer to ‘Mapping minimum age requirements concerning the rights of the child in the EU’, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (20 November 2017), Vienna (Austria), URL = https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2017/mapping-minimum-age-requirements-concerning-rights-child-eu


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