Revisiting the Age of Aisha Pt. 2

We proceed with our response to Brown’s assertions.

Here is what Brown further wrote in an attempt to defend Muhammad’s marriage to a minor:

“The reason that no pre-modern critics paid attention to the Prophet’s marriage to a ten-year-old was because marrying girls considered underage today was commonplace in the pre-modern world. Under Roman law, the earliest permitted age for marriage WAS TWELVE. In the heyday of the Roman Empire (2nd century CE), BY FOURTEEN a girl was considered an adult whose primary purpose was marriage. In many pre-modern law codes, such as Hebrew biblical law and Salic Frankish law, marriage was not a question at all. It was assumed that when a girl REACHED PUBERTY and was able to bear children, she was ready for marriage.

“As a result, we find that average marriage ages in the pre-modern world were remarkably young. Surviving evidence from several centuries of imperial Roman history suggests that as many as 8% of women married at ten or eleven. In Italy in the 1300s and 1400s, the average age for women was sixteen to seventeen. Even in an 1861 census in England, over 350 women married under the age of fifteen in just two countries that year. According to both Christian and Muslim teachings, the Virgin Mary was not the mature maternal figure seen in artwork about the Bible. She was at most in her MID-TEENS, having only just begun menstruating, and is reported to have been as young as ten years old.

“Muhammad’s decision to consummate his marriage to a ten-year-old would have been based ON THE SAME CRITERIA AS MOST PRE-MODERN SOCIETIES: AISHA’S SEXUAL MATURITYand readiness to bear a child. Consummation of the marriage would have occurred when she had menstruated AND STARTED PUBERTY. As the great Muslim historian al-Tabari (d. 923) reported, ‘At the time of her marriage contract Aisha was young and not capable of intercourse.’ Three or four years later, however, she was able. Aisha herself would later remark that a girl can menstruate as young as nine and thus, ‘become a woman’.” (Muhammad, pp. 77-78; bold and capital emphasis ours)

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