Marriage of a one year old

By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

Following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu'bi, a Saudi marriage officiant, which aired on LBC TV on June 19, 2008. The transcript is below in part.

Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu'bi: Marriage is actually two things: First we are talking about the marriage contract itself. This is one thing, while consummating the marriage – having sex with the wife for the first time – is another thing. There is no minimal age for entering marriage. You can have a marriage contract even with a one-year-old girl, not to mention a girl of nine, seven, or eight. This is merely a contract [indicating] consent. The guardian in such a case must be the father, because the father's opinion is obligatory. Thus, the girl becomes a wife... But is the girl ready for sex or not? What is the appropriate age for having sex for the first time? This varies according to environment and traditions. In Yemen, girls are married off at nine, ten, eleven, eight, or thirteen, while in other countries, they are married off at 16. Some countries have legislated laws forbidding having sex before the girl is eighteen.".....

The Prophet Muhammad is the model we follow. He took 'Aisha to be his wife when she was six, but he had sex with her only when she was nine.

Interviewer: When she was six...

Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu'bi: He married her at the age of six, and he consummated the marriage, by having sex with her for the first time, when she was nine. We consider the Prophet Muhammad to be our model. ... (Source: MEMRI)

Cultural traditions are often wrong and evil in many cases. The culture of the Aztecs approved of human sacrifice. It is estimated that 20,000 people were sacrificed each year. Their hearts were torn out and the bodies thrown down the pyramid. The bodies were cannibalized by the people. By cultural standards this was accepted as good. By rational standards this is a horrible evil.

In the ancient times of the Old Testament there were people who offered new born children to the god, Moloch. The priest beat the drums to drown out the cries of the child and the child was burned to death as a sacrifice to the god. Culturally accepted, but a horrible evil.

What kind of rationalization must go on in the minds of people to justify these evil actions.

What kind of rationalization did Mohammed have for such an act of marrying a 6 year old girl, then delaying sex until she was nine years old? In the Muslim culture Mohammed is regarded as the model man. In non-Muslim culture he is often regarded as a pedophile. If we are to appeal to reason we must accept the judgment of rational culture that this is wrong. One may respond in intimidation, insult, or threats, but there is little to respond with in the way of reason for sex with a 9 year old or younger.

For an in-depth article on the issue click here.

Regardless of what Mohammed thought was right, it is medically wrong for a 9 year old girl to have sex and the possibility of pregnancy existing. Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu’bi’s advice is bad for young girls. I asked a doctor of obstetrics-gynecology about the problems of teen age sex and younger girls. Here is his comment.

"Concerning early teen pregnancies (<15yrs) (fifteen years or younger) I will divide the problems up into categories and list the areas of increased risk, at all times being mindful that these are ADDED risks, over and above the USUAL risks that apply to all pregnancies. ALL risks are increased save for the risk of Down's syndrome (and related genetic disorders).


1. Psychological Risks...Children having children is something long eschewed in medicine. That situation is harmful to the mother because it deprives her of her childhood. Before she can learn about life and learn to appropriately react to life... i.e., to mature psychologically...she is prematurely placed in a very adult situation. Lifelong anger and resentment are very common, by my experience, and what acceptance that occurs here could best be described, not as acceptance, but rather by being beaten down and overwhelmed by these circumstances...not accepting but rather being forced to bear (no pun intended!). Parenting skills are much less nurturing and more unloving and uncaring, leaving the child's child's own emotional development in jeopardy.

2. Sexual Risks for children...menarche now occurs approximately at age 12. The physiological ability to become pregnant does not exist prior to this. The risks of sexual contact in prepubescence, say age 9 thru 11, occur as a result of low levels of estrogen. Normal as that is, vaginal trauma, such as tearing of tissue, would be common until the vulvar and vaginal areas had been forcefully dilated. Even so, infections would be very common because of the inherent weakness of this estrogen deprived tissue. Cervical cancer is much more widespread and all the more so the younger the child.

3. Pregnancy Risks...children are, by their very definition, not mature physically. Presumably because of this, and regardless of good pre-natal care...and even worse without it...there is a risk of prematurity and/or low birth weight. This can be disastrous to the newborn, placing it at much higher risk of brain damage and mental retardation. Low birth weight babies are TWENTY times more likely to die the first year of life than normal newborns.. Because bone growth is not yet complete, the risk of cephalopelvic disproportion (too big a baby to get through mother's pelvic bones) is higher, leading to prolonged labors and subsequent infant damage and wastage. Presumably because of poor nutrition, teen mothers are more likely to abort, more likely to develop preelampsia and more likely to have serious accidents.

Preeclampsia and its ultimate form, eclampsia, is a disease peculiar to pregnancy. Preeclampsia is notable by increased blood pressure and loss of protein in urine (proteinuria)...if preclampsia worsens, as it usually does, it may develop into eclampsia, which adds seizures to the symptom complex. I have seen patients die from eclampsia. The only known treatment for the disease is delivery. Untreated, there is a high risk of fetal intrauterine death. The cause of the disease is still largely unknown.

The list of problems to children by the offence of premature sex and pregnancy is longer than I have presented, but this is probably enough for now."

Conclusion: even though the culture approved it, it was certainly exploitative of the young girl as well as other girls in whatever culture you are trying to seek justification.

Now, Aisha never became pregnant and may have been spared much of the above, but the problem is that Muhammad set an example and because of him many Muslims are marrying girls at an age that is too young and many girls are suffering because they have sex and become pregnant too early.

This is only one more example of the way women can be exploited regardless of their age in Islamic culture, or in any other culture. The imam should be ashamed of himself.

Articles by Dallas M. Roark
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