It's an injustice to NOT marry girls aged 10, says Saudi clerics

By Daily Mail Reporter/Mail Online

Here’s that Aiisha thing again…

Ten-year-old girls are ready for marriage, according to Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric. 

* Sure. Because  Islamic tradition says that Muhammad married Aisha when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine, and when the Saudi Grand Mufti now tells us that 10 is cool, then who could argue with that? Because the prophet did it, uswa hasana, al insan al kamil, (“excellent example” of conduct (Qur’an 33:21) it is the best example to follow, for all mankind, for all time…

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom’s grand mufti, prays during the funeral of the Saudi woman and her daughter last February

Ten-year-old girls are ready for marriage, according to Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric. 

Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh, the country’s grand mufti, told Al Hayat newspaper that those saying ten or 12-year-old girls are too young to marry are being ‘unfair’ to them.

Al Sheikh’s comments come at a time when Saudi human rights groups have been pushing the government to put an end to marriages involving the very young and to define a minimum age for marriage. 

In the past few months, Saudi newspapers have highlighted several cases in which young girls were married off to much older men or very young boys.

Related: Saudi “marriage officiant”: Muhammad married Aisha when she was six and had sex with her when she was nine


Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom’s grand mufti, prays during the funeral of the Saudi woman and her daughter last February

Though the mufti’s pronouncements are respected and provide guidance, the government is not legally bound by them.

On Sunday, the government-run Human Rights Commission condemned marriages of minor girls, saying such marriages are an ‘inhumane violation’ and rob children of their rights.

The commission’s statement followed a ruling by a court in Oneiza in central Saudi Arabia last month that dismissed a divorce petition by the mother of an eight-year-old girl whose father married her off to a man in his 50s.

Newspaper reports said the court argued that the mother did not have the right to file such a case on behalf of her daughter and said that the petition should be filed by the girl when she reaches puberty.

Responding to a question about parents who force their underage daughters to marry, the mufti said: ‘We hear a lot about the marriage of underage girls in the media, and we should know that Islamic law has not brought injustice to women.’

The mufti said a good upbringing will make a girl capable of carrying out her duties as a wife and that those who say women should not marry before the age of 25 are following a ‘bad path’.

‘Our mothers and before them, our grandmothers, married when they were barely 12,’ said Al Sheikh, according to the Al-Hayat newpaper.

There are no statistics to show how many marriages involving children are performed in Saudi Arabia every year.

It is also not clear whether these unions are on the rise or whether people are hearing about them more now because of the prevalence of media outlets and easy access to the Internet.

Activists say the girls are given away in return for hefty dowries or as a result of long-standing custom in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships.

Portuguese Church: ‘Think twice about marrying Muslims’

Meanwhile the head of the Catholic Church in Portugal is advising Portuguese women to think twice before marrying a Muslim.

Cardinal Jose Policarpo says Christians should learn more about Islam and respect Muslims.

But he says marrying a Muslim man can bring ‘a whole lot of trouble’ because Christian women become subject to Muslim conventions.

Policarpo insists the Portuguese church has warm relations with the country’s Muslim population of around 100,000.

Policarpo’s comments were made at a public debate late Tuesday and were broadcast by local media Wednesday.

There is no recent history of animosity between Christians and Muslims in Portugal, where 85 percent of people say they are Catholic.

Saudi judge upholds 47-year-old man’s marriage to 8-year-old

To do otherwise would be to cast aspersions on Muhammad’s example — a “beautiful pattern of conduct,” per Qur’an 33:21 — in marrying Aisha when she was six and consummating the marriage when she was nine. Meanwhile, the girl can petition the court for a divorce… when she reaches puberty!

An update on this story. “Saudi judge upholds man’s marriage to 8-year-old,” by Mohammed Jamjoon for CNN, April 12: via JW

(CNN) — A Saudi mother is expected to appeal a judge’s ruling after he once again refused to let her 8-year-old daughter divorce a 47-year-old man, a relative said.

Sheikh Habib Al-Habib made the ruling Saturday in the Saudi city of Onaiza. Late last year, he rejected a petition to annul the marriage.

The case, which has drawn criticism from local and international rights groups, came to light in December when Al-Habib declined to annul the marriage on a legal technicality. His dismissal of the mother’s petition sparked outrage and made headlines around the world.

The judge said the mother, who is separated from the girl’s father, was not the legal guardian and therefore could not represent her daughter, the mother’s lawyer, Abdullah al-Jutaili, said at the time.

The girl’s husband pledged not to consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty, according to al-Jutaili, who added that the girl’s father arranged the marriage to settle his debts with the man, who is considered “a close friend.”

In March, an appeals court in the Saudi capital of Riyadh declined to certify the original ruling, in essence rejecting al-Habib’s verdict, and sent the case back to al-Habib for reconsideration.

Under the Saudi legal process, the appeals court ruling meant that the marriage was still in effect, but that a challenge to the marriage was still ongoing.

The relative, who said the girl’s mother will continue to pursue a divorce, told CNN the judge “stuck by his earlier verdict and insisted that the girl could petition the court for a divorce once she reached puberty.”

The appeals court in Riyadh will take up the case again and a hearing is scheduled for next month, according to the relative.

Child marriages have made news in Saudi Arabia in the past year.

In a statement issued shortly after the original verdict, the Society of Defending Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia said the judge’s decision went against children’s “basic rights.”

Marrying children makes them “lose their sense of security and safety,” the group said. “Also, it destroys their feeling of being loved and nurtured. It causes them a lifetime of psychological problems and severe depression.”

But Muhammad did it, and therein lies the obstacle to reform.

Zuhair al-Harithi, a spokesman for the Saudi Human Rights Commission, a government-run group, told CNN that his organization was fighting child marriages.

“Child marriages violate international agreements that have been signed by Saudi Arabia and should not be allowed,” al-Harithi said.

Child marriage is not unusual, said Christoph Wilcke, a Saudi Arabian researcher for the international group Human Rights Watch, after the initial verdict.

There’s no mention from CNN of why child marriage is so persistent.

“We’ve been hearing about these types of cases once every four or five months because the Saudi public is now able to express this kind of anger, especially so when girls are traded off to older men,” Wilcke told CNN.

* Really, really wishing Aisha weren’t nine