The Meaning of Consummate

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to: navigation, search

This article discusses the meaning of the word consummate as mentioned in sahih hadith.

Introduction[edit]

Some apologists refuse to accept the existence of narrations given by Aisha in which she states that she was married to Prophet Muhammad when she was six years old and that he consummated his marriage with her when she was nine lunar years of age, even though these are recorded in Bukhari's sahih ahadith collection.

These apologists will usually resort to questioning the English translation [1] of Dr. Mushin Khan, without addressing the ahadith in their original Arabic. This article will examine the Arabic language used in the narrations concerning Aisha's marriage to Muhammad, in order to show that Muhammad did in fact have sexual intercourse with Aisha when she was nine years old.

Consummating the Marriage[edit]

Although there are numerous narrations regarding the age of Aisha when she was married, the one that is most often a point of contention is the following:

Narrated 'Aisha :

that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old.

An Ayeshath Radhiyallahu Anha : AnnaNnabiyya Sallallahu Alaihi Vasallama Thazawwajaha vahiya binthu sitha sineen, va udkhilath alaihi vahiya binthu this’in.

In this narration, the word "udkhilath" was translated by Dr. Mushin Khan to mean "consummated his marriage."

Interpretations of "Consummate"[edit]

Some apologists claim that Muhammad "zawaj'ed" Aisha when she was six, and "nikah'ed" her when she was 9 years old. [2] They claim that "zawaj" means "betrothal" and "nikah" means "marriage." After stating this, they claim that Dr. Mushin Khan's translation is "poor" because he has (allegedly) added "consummation of" to the meaning of 'nikah', instead of simply rendering it as "marriage". Thereby, they claim that Dr. Khan has added a sexual connotation to the narration in question which was not intended.

Others accept Dr. Khan's translation, but argue as to the meaning of "consummate" as they too, disagree with the implied sexual connotation. The usual reasoning given for this interpretation of the ahadith in question, is that 'consummation' could be interpreted as 'completion' of the marriage or wedding ceremony - as in completion of a business transaction. However this is not correct, as the word 'dakhala' does not simply mean 'consummate' in English, but it actually translates as the English phrase 'consummate the marriage.'

Essentially what they are doing when they attack the meaning of 'consummate' is that they are addressing the English word but not the Arabic (dakhala). While 'consummate' can sometimes mean 'completion' (as in a business transaction), the Arabic word 'dakhala' carries no such meaning or connotation.

Furthermore, a fluent English speaker will never take 'consummate the marriage' to mean 'complete the marriage' or 'enter the marriage', but will always understand it to mean 'sexual intercourse.' It is the only possible way to understand this euphemism. This is what Muslims fail to understand; ie. the meaning of the verb is dependent on the object in question. As the object in this case is marriage, the verb 'consummate' refers to sexual intercourse. This is because of the historical English (or more correctly Catholic) custom in which a marriage is considered to be consummated once the sexual act has taken place.

It used to be that a marriage could be annulled if the sexual act was not performed; ie. if the marriage was not 'consummated.' This has been the definition for centuries. From ancient times until quite recently, the linen from the wedding bed was displayed to the relatives of the couple after the wedding night in order to prove consummation. A bride was expected to be a virgin, and a blood-stained sheet left no doubt as to both the bride's honor and the finality of the marriage contract (through consummation); and there was now no question as to the legality of the marriage.

Dakhala[edit]

The Arabic text shows that the claims of Muslims as to their interpretation of the words 'zawaj' and 'nikah' are incorrect. Bukhari uses 'zawaj' and 'nikah' interchangeably as synonyms to mean marriage (as does Qur'an 33:37, Qur'an 44:54 and Qur'an 52:20).

Next, according to the narration in question, the relevant word used is not 'nikah', but 'udkhilath'.

The root of the verb "udkhilath" is "dakhala" - which means to "enter". This is the most common Arabic meaning, although there are other definitions - none of which can be used in this case, given the context of this hadith.

Again, seeking to interpret it in a way that they can feel comfortable with, some Muslims will seek to cast doubt onto the correct meaning of "dakhala" ('sexual intercourse' in the given context) by pointing to these other definitions; often presented and claimed to be a 'complete list' of definitions, yet conveniently omitting the sexual definition:

The full definition of دخل (dakhala) :
  • insert, enter, thrust, admit, drive in, let in, show in, make or let enter
  • turmoil, turbulence, topsy-turvy, abnormality, fuddle, tangle, riot, ruction, restiveness, chaos, fuss, disorder, clutter, confusion, commotion, defectiveness, disturbance, tumult, imperfection
  • aberration, imperfection, defect, blemish, abnormality, flaw, fault, vice, shortcoming
  • yield, revenue, proceeds, income, earnings, taking
  • conscience, innermost feelings, inward thoughts, inner self, soul, design
  • doubtfulness, doubt, mistrust, uncertainty, overconcern, peradventure, incertitude, suspicion, extreme solicitude, abnormal anxiety, anxiety
  • tie-in, pertinence, concern, connection, connectedness, contact, conjunction, association, business, yoke, nexus, linkup, liaison, linkage, link, relevance, affair
  • imperfection, vice, flaw, shortcoming, blemish, aberration, defect, fault, abnormality

Dictionary entries on Dakhala[edit]

An English definition for dakhala, which is commonly found on the Internet is as follows:

to enter, to pierce, to penetrate, to consummate the marriage, cohabit, sleep with a woman.
Hans-Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary p273

Some Muslims will attack the Hans-Wehr definition, thinking that each definition is a separate alternative. Unfortunately for them, all the Hans-Wehr definitions are exactly the same.

Just as in the English language, "consummate the marriage" is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

"Cohabit" does not merely mean that you live under the same roof, but that you are actually living together in a sexual relationship.

"Sleeping with a woman" does not merely mean that you share the same bed, but that you are engaging in a sexual relationship.

Applying the meaning of dakhala to the original narration in question, it is clear that the object - "marriage" - is absent in relation to the verb 'dakhala.' The object of this hadith is Aisha herself. This means that Muhammad 'dakhala'ed her - grammatically, he 'udkhilath alaihi'. Therefore it is clear that the meaning is that he "entered" or "had sexual intercourse with" her.

Here are a couple of other translations of the word "dakhala":

- he, or it, entered; or went, came, passed, or got in; to enter, go in, join one’s self in company, visit, intrude, meddle, have intercourse with, go into (one’s wife), intrigue, penetrate, deceit, corrupt. The primary signification is a thing that enters into another thing and is not of it. [3]
He had an unsoundness in his intellect, or in his body, or in his grounds of pretension to respect; his affair, or case, or state, was, or became, intrinsically bad or corrupt or unsound. Income, or revenue, or profit that comes in, or accrues, to a man from his immovable property, such as land and houses and palm trees, and from merchandise. A disease; a fault, defect, or blemish, and particularly in one’s grounds of pretension to respect. Tangled, or luxuriant, or abundant and dense, trees. [4]
The Dictionary of the Holy Quran

It is clear that the only meaning of dakhala applicable to the context of the hadith is 'sexual intercourse.'

Dakhala in the Qur'an[edit]

Here is the complete list of the Qur'anic verses containing the word "dakhala":

In all ayats except Qur'an 16:92 and Qur'an 16:94 (as dakhal means 'deception'), the meaning is "to enter" or to "gain admittance" or "be granted admission" to some location such as a house, gate, fire, paradise, hell, someone's presence etc.

In the Qur'an, dakhala is never used to mean 'participation'; like the English phrases "enter a transaction" or "enter a marriage" or a "completion" of any activity.

Qur'an 4:23[edit]

There is only one instance (and that is twice in Qur'an 4:23 that the verb 'dakhala' is used in relation to marriage or women - and it is clear that the meaning is sexual intercourse. Here is a selection of translations that translate 'dakhaltum' to mean 'sexual intercourse':

Hurrimat AAalaykum ommahatukum wabanatukum waakhawatukum waAAammatukum wakhalatukum wabanatu al-akhi wabanatu al-okhti waommahatukumu allatee ardaAAnakum waakhawatukum mina alrradaAAati waommahatu nisa-ikum waraba-ibukumu allatee fee hujoorikum min nisa-ikumu allatee dakhaltum bihinna fa-in lam takoonoo dakhaltum bihinna fala junaha AAalaykum wahala-ilu abna-ikumu allatheena min aslabikum waan tajmaAAoo bayna al-okhtayni illa ma qad salafa inna Allaha kana ghafooran raheeman

Daryabadi: Forbidden unto you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your father's sisters and your mother's sisters, and your brother's daughters and your sister's daughters. and your foster mothers and your foster sisters, and the mothers of your wives and your step-daughters, that are your wards, born of your wives unto whom ye have gone in, but if ye have not gone in unto them, no sin shall be on you, and the wives of your sons that are from your own loins, and, also that ye should have two sisters together, except that which hath already passed; verily Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.
Qaribullah: Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal aunts and maternal aunts, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your mothers who have given suck to you, your suckling sisters, your wives mothers, and your stepdaughters who are in your care from your wives with whom you have lain, but if you have never lain with them it is no fault in you. (Also forbidden to you) are the wives of your sons who are of your loins, and to take to you two sisters together unless it is a thing of the past. Allah is the Forgiver and the Most Merciful. [5]
Darwish: Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal aunts and maternal aunts, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your mothers who have given suck to you, your suckling sisters, your wives mothers, and your stepdaughters who are in your care from your wives with whom you have lain, but if you have never lain with them it is no fault in you. (Also forbidden to you) are the wives of your sons who are of your loins, and to take to you two sisters together unless it is a thing of the past. Allah is the Forgiver and the Most Merciful. [6]
Sarwar: You are forbidden to marry your mothers, daughters, sisters, paternal aunts, maternal aunts, nieces, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, your mothers-in-law, your step-daughters whom you have brought up and with whose mothers you have had carnal relations. It would not be a sin to marry her if you did not have carnal relations with her mother. You are forbidden to marry the wives of your own sons and to marry two sisters at the same time without any adverse affect to the such relations of the past. God is All-forgiving and All-merciful. [5]
Ahmed Ali: Unlawful are your mothers and daughters and your sisters to you, and the sisters of your fathers and your mothers, and the daughters of your brothers and sisters, and foster mothers, foster sisters, and the mothers of your wives, and the daughters of the wives you have slept with who are under your charge; but in case you have not slept with them there is no offence (if you marry their daughters); and the wives of your own begotten sons; and marrying two sisters is unlawful. What happened in the past (is now past): God is forgiving and kind. [7]
Maududi: Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters and your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters and your sister's daughters, your milk-mothers, your milk-sisters, the mothers of your wives, and the stepdaughters - who are your foster-children, born of your wives with whom you have consummated the marriage; but if you have not consummated the marriage with them, there will be no blame upon you (if you marry their daughters). [8]
Shakir: Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brothers' daughters and sisters' daughters and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster-sisters and mothers of your wives and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in, but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them), and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already passed; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [5]
Hilali/Khan: Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your fathers sisters, your mothers sisters, your brothers daughters, your sisters daughters, your foster mother who gave you suck, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wives mothers, your step daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom you have gone in - but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in them (to marry their daughters), - the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed; verily, Allah is OftForgiving, Most Merciful. [5]

Ibn Kathir: [وَأُمَّهَـتُ نِسَآئِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّـتِى فِى حُجُورِكُمْ مِّن نِّسَآئِكُمُ اللَّـتِى دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُواْ دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ]


(Your wives' mothers, your stepdaughters under your guardianship, born of your wives unto whom you have gone in - but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in unto them,) As for the mother of the wife, she becomes prohibited for marriage for her son-in-law when the marriage is conducted, whether the son-in-law has sexual relations with her daughter or not. As for the wife's daughter, she becomes prohibited for her stepfather when he has sexual relations with her mother, after the marriage contract is ratified. If the man divorces the mother before having sexual relations with her, he is allowed to marry her daughter. [9]

Therefore we see that the eminent scholars of Islam translate the verb 'dakhaltum' (the root word is dakhala) to mean 'sexual intercourse', because the literal meaning is to "enter", "insert into", "penetrate", or "pierce" a woman. It does not mean "enter a marriage" - it means "enter" the woman.

Bana Biha[edit]

To further confound the Muslim apologist, the Bukhari ahadith use another phrase to convey the fact that Muhammad had sexual intercourse with Aisha:

Narrated Hisham's father :

Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old.

An Hisham An Abeehi Qala thuwaffiyath Khadijathu qabla makhrajannabiyyi sallallahu Alaihi Vasallama ilal Madeenathi bi thalatha sineenaa falabitha sanathaini ou qareeban min dhalika va nakaha Ayesha vahiya binthu sithi sineena thumma bana biha vahiya binthu this”I sineen.
Narrated 'Aisha that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have been informed that 'Aisha remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death)." An Ayesha th AnnaNabiyya Sallallahu alaihi vasallama thazawwajaha vahiya binthu Sitha sineena, va bana biha vahiya binthu This”I sineen. Qala Hisham : Va unbiethu Annaha kanath Indahu This”I Sineen.

The Arabic word "bana" means to "build" or "construct." However, if we add "biha" which means 'with her' (biha being a feminine verb in Arabic), then the meaning is entirely different. Literally, "bana biha" means "build with her." This is a phrase that is commonly used to denote intimate sexual relations.

If we say in Arabic: 'Muhammad bana bi Aisha', the meaning is: 'Muhammad had intercourse with Aisha.' This is the only possibly Arabic understanding of the phrase. Therefore, again, it is apparent that Dr. Mushin Khan has used the euphemism "consummated the marriage" to denote the sexual act.

Other Bukhari ahadith that use the phrase "bana biha" to mean sexual intercourse (although not between Muhammad and Aisha) include: Sahih Bukhari 4:53:353 and Sahih Bukhari 7:62:87.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "A prophet amongst the prophets carried out a holy military expedition, so he said to his followers, 'Anyone who has married a woman and wants to consummate the marriage, and has not done so yet, should not accompany me; nor should a man who has built a house but has not completed its roof; nor a man who has sheep or shecamels and is waiting for the birth of their young ones.' So, the prophet carried out the expedition and when he reached that town at the time or nearly at the time of the 'Asr prayer, he said to the sun, 'O sun! You are under Allah's Order and I am under Allah's Order O Allah! Stop it (i.e. the sun) from setting.' It was stopped till Allah made him victorious...
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "A prophet among the prophets went for a military expedition and said to his people: "A man who has married a lady and wants to consummate his marriage with her and he has not done so yet, should not accompany me.' "

Conclusion[edit]

A reading of the relevant Bukhari ahadith make it clear that Muhammad had sexual intercourse with Aisha when she was nine years of age. The terms used are: "udkhilath" and "bana biha", which can only mean "sexual intercourse" in the context of the ahadith.

The confusion from Muslims regarding this comes from their lack of understanding regarding the English phrase "consummation of marriage", their ignorance of Arabic and their unwillingness to admit that their prophet had sexual intercourse with a nine year old child.

Instead of attacking the English phrase "consummation of the marriage", it might better serve Muslim apologists to read the relevant ahadith in the original Arabic.

This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Pedophilia which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also[edit]

References[edit]