Child Marriage in the Qur'an

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The subject of child marriage per se never arises in the Qur'an. Yet the Qur'an deals indirectly with the topic. The subject of the 'Iddah or "(waiting) period" of a woman is dealt with frequently in the Qu'ran. Summarized briefly, the Qur'an lays down strict rules (based largely on the women's menstruation cycles or lack thereof) for how long a woman must wait in between the end of one marriage and the beginning of another, and the purpose in the pre-modern, patriarchal societies in which the Shariah was codified was to ensure that a woman would not marry a new man while pregnant from her last husband and impute fathership of her baby to the wrong husband. Pursuant to these rules the Qur'an in verse 33:49 states that no 'Iddah is prescribed for a woman who has not had intimate contact with her husband, but goes on to stipulate an 'Iddah for pre-pubescent girls in verse 65:4, implying that pre-pubescent girls can be divorced, with the implication that it is possible to marry them. This has been interpreted in the orthodox Sunni Muslim tradition to mean that the Qur'an supports marrying and having sex with prepubescent girls. Despite the discomfort that this causes for modern readers, the conclusion (which is drawn explicitly in Ṣahīh Ḥadīth and Tafsir traditions around this and related Qur'anic verse) seems to be that the Qur'an endorses sexual intercourse (as a part of Islamic marriage) with pre-pubescent girls.

March 23, 2010: Women protesters hold up copies of the Qur'an outside parliament in Sanaa while stating that a proposed law banning marriages under the age of 17 in Yemen is un-Islamic[1]

Introduction

The Qur'an has stipulated a waiting period which women must observe before they can remarry. This waiting period must be observed after they are divorced, or if their husbands have died. In the Qur'an, this is called 'Iddah عدة. However, there is one exception to this requirement in Qur'an 33:49:

ياايها الذين امنوا اذا نكحتم المؤمنات ثم طلقتموهن من قبل ان تمسوهن فمالكم عليهن من عدة تعتدونها فمتعوهن وسرحوهن سراحا جميلا

Transliteration: Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo itha nakahtumu almuminati thumma tallaqtumoohunna min qabli an tamassoohunna fama lakum AAalayhinna min AAiddatin taAAtaddoonaha famattiAAoohunna wasarrihoohunna sarahan jameelan

Sahih International: O You who have believed, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, then there is not for you any waiting period to count concerning them. So provide for them and give them a gracious release.

From the verse above it is understood that 'Iddah (stipulated waiting period) is required if sexual contact has occurred within the marriage. If a woman is not touched by her husband, she should not have to observe any waiting period at all.

After the mention of women who have not had their marriage consummated, the Qur'an goes further - discussing the women who need to observe the ʿIddah, and the span of time required. We see in Qur'an 65.4:

واللائي يئسن من المحيض من نسائكم ان ارتبتم فعدتهن ثلاثة اشهر واللائي لم يحضن واولات الاحمال اجلهن ان يضعن حملهن ومن يتق الله يجعل له من امره يسرا

Transliteration: Waalla-ee ya-isna mina almaheedi min nisa-ikum ini irtabtum faAAiddatuhunna thalathatu ashhurin waalla-ee lam yahidna waolatu al-ahmali ajaluhunna an yadaAAna hamlahunna waman yattaqi Allaha yajAAal lahu min amrihi yusran

Sahih International: And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women - if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him of his matter ease.

Here the 'Iddah is prescribed to three categories of women:

  1. First the phrase: “Yaisna min al-maheedhi” يئسن من المحيض which means “those women who are desperate of menses” is an indication to women who reached the stage of menstruation but do not menstruate and of those who reached menopause. Desperate of menses underlines that it concerns women who though reached the age, fail to menstruate too. Their 'Iddah period is three months.
  2. Next comes, “Wallaee Lam yahidhna” واللائي لم يحضن which means “those who have not menstruated yet” This group of females are pre-pubescent girls who have not yet menstruated. Here the 'Iddah prescribed for them is equal to the previous group of women (ie. three months).
  3. Lastly, the women who are pregnant - their prescribed ʿIddah is until they have given birth.

Linguistic Analysis of Verse in Arabic

The Qur'an says in Arabic:

واللائي لم يحضن فعدتهن ثلاثة أشهر

"and those who never had menses" (because they are underage)
Quran 65:4
Tafsir from al-Islam.com

The transliteration of the verse and the meaning of each portion of the verse is given below:

واللائي لم يحضن" فعدتهن ثلاثة أشهر

Wa L-Lāʾī Lam Yaḥiḍna

Wa ( وَ ) = and

Al-Lāʾī ( وَاللَّائِي ) = for those who

Lam ( لَمْ ) = did not (negation in past tense) [2]

Yaḥiḍna ( يَحِضْنَ ) = menstruate.

Yaḥiḍna comes from the verbal root H-Y-D ( حيض ) which means "to menstruate".

The addition of prefix "Ya" and suffix "na" to the root "HYD" shows that the word is used in third person, feminine gender, plural, imperfective aspect, jussive mood.[3]

The imperfective aspect, according to traditional understanding of classical Arabic grammar, by itself lacks any tense feature (as is true of other classical Semetic languages such as Hebrew). [2] The tensed negatives like lam ( لَمْ ) (negation in past tense), lan ( لن ) (negation in future tense), ( لا) (negation in present tense) combined with imperfective (in different moods) decide the tense in the case of a negative sentence.

Thus lam Yadrus لم يدرس = He did not study. The verb is in the imperfect tense, but the particle lam لم conveys a meaning of a simple, negated past.

In the verse 65:4, Lam Yaḥiḍna لم يحضن= 'those who did not menstruate'. The meaning here is that the females being referred to have not, yet, menstruated, ie they are pre-pubescent.

The imperfective verb in the with the negation particle lam ( لَمْ ) (indicating a past-tense meaning) is in the Jussive mood(يعني المضارع المجزوم). [2]

The mood is similar to the cohortative mood, in that it expresses plea, insistence, imploring, self-encouragement, wish, desire, intent, command, purpose or consequence. In some languages, the two are distinguished in that cohortative occurs in the first person and the jussive in the second or third. It is found in Arabic, where it is called the مجزوم, majzum. The rules governing the jussive in Arabic are somewhat complex. [4]

Supporting these meanings, from Lane's lexicon, Lam (لم ) means 'not':

Lam = ل
lam = Negative particle giving to the present the sense of the perfect; not.[5]
Lane's Lexicon for Lam

From the Lexicon, Arabic word for Menstruate is 'Haid' (حيض):

Ha-Ya-Dad (Ha-Alif-Dad) = To have her courses, menstruate; Her blood flowed from her womb, to attain the age of menstruation, to make a thing flow.

hada vb. (1) impf. act. 65:4

mahid n.m. 2:222

Lane's Lexicon, Volume 2, page: 322, 323[6]
Lane's Lexicon for Haa

It thus follows that 65:4 is describing the state of women have not yet menstruated, which would logically include children or girls before puberty or attainment of menarche (first period). This implication, as seen below, was also drawn by the majors Tafsirs.

The exact translation of this portion of Quran 65:4 is thus "Not menstruated yet" ( لَمْ يَحِضْنَ ). In Arabic, the menstruation process is called HaiD( حيض ), and the verb for "to menstruate" is yaHiD( يَحِض ), with the noun likely being derivative of the verb (as with most but not all derivations in Arabic). The LAM ( لَمْ )clearly shows that the verb refers to women who menstruated, and the na ( نَ ) at the end of the verb drives home the point that this verb speaks of women. “Not menstruated yet” or some similar translation is the only acceptable English translation.

This verse 65:4 is read by the tafsirs as a continuation of Qur'an 33:49. A question that naturally arises from these verses, and which was more or less answered by the mufassiruun, is 'if a woman who has not had sex should not have to observe any Iddah at all, as mentioned in 33:49, what is the reason for the prescribed 'Iddah for those women who have not yet menstruated?' The seems to be that marrying pre-pubescent girls and having sex with them is sanctioned by the Qur'an.

The phrase found in Qur'an 65:4 as "wallaee lam yaHiDhna" واللائي لم يحضن is sometimes mistranslated by apologists by apologists to mask the fact that pre-pubescent girls are normally understood as the intended meaning here; the exact meaning of the phrase is clearly understood this way in the Tafsirs.

Tafsirs of the Verse

The classical tafsirs are unanimous that this verse prescribes the 'iddah for a pre-pubscent woman. Although not spelled out explicitly in the verse itself, this meaning is clearly the one that was taken away by the orthodox Sunni muslim exegetical tradition.

Modern Tafsirs

The following commentaries show that the tradition of interpreting this verse as referring to the divorce (and thus marriage) of pre-pubescent girls comes well into the modern period.


The largest Quran publisher in the world, King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran, which is located in Saudi Arabia, published a Quran edition called “The easy interpretation” where every Quran page includes explanatory notes. This edition is authored by an elect of scholars. Here’s what this edition says about verse 65:4:

والنساء المطلقات اللاتي انقطع عنهنَّ دم الحيض؛ لكبر سنهنَّ، إن شككتم فلم تدروا ما الحكم فيهنَّ؟ فعدَّتهنَّ ثلاثة أشهر، والصغيرات اللاتي ‌لم ‌يحضن، فعدتهن ثلاثة أشهر كذلك

As for divorced women who no longer menstruate due to old age, if you didn’t know what the ruling on them is, their ʿIddah is three months. As for the young ones who haven’t menstruated yet, their ʿIddah is three months too.
Al-Tafsīr Al-Muyassar, King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran, second edition, p.558
التفسير الميسر، مجمع الملك فهد لطباعة المصحف، تأليف نخبة من العلماء، الطبعة الثانية


Abu Bakr Al-Jaza'iri (1921-2018)

واللائي ‌لم ‌يحضن أي لصغرهن كذلك، عدتهن ثلاثة أشهر.

The ʿiddah for those who haven’t menstruated, meaning for being young, is also three months.
أيسر التفاسير لأبي بكر الجزائري ج5 ص377
Aysar Al-Tafāsīr by Abū Bakr Al-Jazāʾirī, Maktabat Al-ʿUlūm Wal Ḥikam, vol.5 p.377


Ibn 'Ashur (1879-1973)

عَطْفٌ عَلَى قَوْلِهِ: فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ [الطَّلَاق: 1] فَإِنَّ الْعِدَّةَ هُنَالِكَ أُرِيدَ بِهَا الْأَقْرَاءُ فَأَشْعَرَ ذَلِكَ أَنَّ تِلْكَ الْمُعْتَدَّةَ مِمَّنْ لَهَا أَقْرَاءٌ، فَبَقِيَ بَيَانُ اعْتِدَادِ الْمَرْأَةِ الَّتِي تَجَاوَزَتْ سِنَّ الْمَحِيضِ أَوِ الَّتِي لَمْ تَبْلُغْ سِنَّ مَنْ تَحِيضُ وَهِيَ الصَّغِيرَةُ.

After verse no.1 explained the ʿiddah for women who menstruate, another thing remains to be explained which is the ʿiddah for women who have passed the menstruation age or the ones who haven’t reached the menstruation age who are the young.
التحرير والتنوير لابن عاشور، الدار التونسية للنشر
Al-Taḥrīr Wal-Tanwīr by Ibn ʿĀshūr, Al-Dār Al-Tūnisiyyah Lil-Nashr, Vol.28 p.315

Abul A'la Al-Maududi (1903-1979)

Here, one should bear in mind the fact that according to the explanations given in the Quran the question of the waiting period arises in respect of the women with whom marriage may have been consummated, for there is no waiting-period in case divorce is pronounced before the consummation of marriage. (Al-Ahzab: 49). Therefore, making mention of the waiting-period for the girls who have not yet menstruated, clearly proves that it is not only permissible to give away the girl in marriage at this age but it is also permissible for the husband to consummate marriage with her. Now, obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Quran has held as permissible.
Commentary on Qur'an Chapter 65:4
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Tafhim al-Qur'an

Note here what Al-Maududi mentions on giving pre-pubescent girls in marriage and consummating the marriage with them. The interpreter affirms it is permitted by the Qur'an and no Muslims can question or forbid it.


Al-Sa'di (d.1956)

وَاللائِي ‌لَمْ ‌يَحِضْنَ، أي: الصغار، اللائي لم يأتهن الحيض بعد

Those who haven’t menstruated, meaning: The young who haven’t menstruated yet.
تفسير السعدي، ص807، مؤسسة الرسالة
Taysīr Al-Karīm Al-Mannān by Al-Saʿdī, Muʾassasat Al-Risālah, p.807


Classical Tafsirs

The traditional understanding of this verse reaches far back into Islamic history. Almost all of the classical commentators have dealt with this verse, and they are near-unanimous in declaring that it refers to the divorce, and therefore the marriage, of pre-pubescent girls.

Ibn Kathir (d.1373 AD), whose interpretation of the Quran is the most popular in the Muslim world, says:

يَقُولُ تَعَالَى مُبَيِّنًا لِعِدَّةِ الْآيِسَةِ -وَهِيَ الَّتِي قَدِ انْقَطَعَ عَنْهَا الْحَيْضُ لِكِبَرِهَا-: أَنَّهَا ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ، عِوَضًا عَنِ الثَّلَاثَةِ قُرُوءٍ فِي حَقِّ مَنْ تَحِيضُ، كَمَا دَلَّتْ عَلَى ذَلِكَ آيَةُ "الْبَقَرَةِ" وَكَذَا الصِّغَارُ اللَّائِي لَمْ يَبْلُغْنَ سِنَّ الْحَيْضِ أَنَّ عِدَّتَهُنَّ كَعِدَّةِ الْآيِسَةِ ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ؛ وَلِهَذَا قَالَ: {وَاللائِي ‌لَمْ ‌يَحِضْنَ}


The `Iddah of Those in Menopause and Those Who do not have Menses Allah the Exalted clarifies the waiting period of the woman in menopause. And that is the one whose menstruation has stopped due to her older age. Her `Iddah is three months instead of the three monthly cycles for those who menstruate, which is based upon the Ayah in (Surat) Al-Baqarah. [see 2:228] The same for the young, who have not reached the years of menstruation. Their `Iddah is three months like those in menopause. This is the meaning of His saying.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Dar Taybah, vol.8 p.149


Al-Tabari (d.923 AD), whose interpretation is the earliest comprehensive interpretation of the Quran, says:

(وَاللائِي ‌لَمْ ‌يَحِضْنَ) يقول: وكذلك عدد اللائي ‌لم ‌يحضن من الجواري لصغر إذا طلقهنّ أزواجهنّ بعد الدخول
"And for those who haven't menstruated" means: The same applies to the Iddah for girls who do not menstruate because they are too young, if their husbands divorce them after consummating the marriage with them.


Tafsir Ibn Abbas. Which is a collection of the Quranic interpretation reports coming from Ibn Abbas, Muhammad's cousin.

(And for such of your women as despair of menstruation) because of old age, (if ye doubt) about their waiting period, (their period (of waiting) shall be three months) upon which another man asked: “O Messenger of Allah! "What about the waiting period of those who do not have menstruation because they are too young?” (along with those who have it not) because of young age, their waiting period is three months." Another man asked: “what is the waiting period for those women who are pregnant?” (And for those with child) i.e. those who are pregnant, (their period) their waiting period (shall be till they bring forth their burden) their child. (And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah) and whoever fears Allah regarding what he commands him, (He maketh his course easy for him) He makes his matter easy; and it is also said this means: He will help him to worship Him well.
[1]
Tafsir Ibn Abbas


Al-Jalalayn by Al-Mahalli (d.1459 AD) & Al-Suyuti (d.1505 AD)

And [as for] those of your women who (read allā'ī or allā'i in both instances) no longer expect to menstruate, if you have any doubts, about their waiting period, their prescribed [waiting] period shall be three months, and [also for] those who have not yet menstruated, because of their young age, their period shall [also] be three months - both cases apply to other than those whose spouses have died; for these [latter] their period is prescribed in the verse: they shall wait by themselves for four months and ten [days] [Q. 2:234]. And those who are pregnant, their term, the conclusion of their prescribed [waiting] period if divorced or if their spouses be dead, shall be when they deliver. And whoever fears God, He will make matters ease for him, in this world and in the Hereafter.
Qur'an 65:4
Tafsir al-Jalalayn

Al-Wahidi (d.1076 ِAD)

(And for such of your women as despair of menstruation…) [65:4]. Said Muqatil: “When the verse (Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart…), Kallad ibn al-Nu‘man ibn Qays al-Ansari said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is the waiting period of the woman who does not menstruate and the woman who has not menstruated yet? And what is the waiting period of the pregnant woman?’ And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Abu Ishaq al-Muqri’ informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hamdun> Makki ibn ‘Abdan> Abu’l-Azhar> Asbat ibn Muhammad> Mutarrif> Abu ‘Uthman ‘Amr ibn Salim who said: “When the waiting period for divorced and widowed women was mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah, Ubayy ibn Ka‘b said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, some women of Medina are saying: there are other women who have not been mentioned!’ He asked him: ‘And who are they?’ He said: Those who are too young [such that they have not started menstruating yet], those who are too old [whose menstruation has stopped] and those who are pregnant’. And so this verse (And for such of your women as despair of menstruation…) was revealed”.
Qur'an 65:4
Al-Wahidi, Asbab al-nuzul

Al-Zamakhshari (d.1143 ِAD)

روي أن ناساً قالوا: قد عرفنا عدة ذوات الأقراء، فما عدة اللائي لا يحضن؛ فنزلت: فمعنى إِنِ ٱرْتَبْتُمْ }: إن أشكل عليكم حكمهن وجهلتم كيف يعتددن فهذا حكمهنّ، وقيل: إن ارتبتم في ذم البالغات مبلغ اليأس وقد قدروه بستين سنة وبخمس وخمسين، أهو دم حيض أو استحاضة؟ { فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَـٰثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ } وإذا كانت هذه عدة المرتاب بها، فغير المرتاب بها أولى بذلك { وَٱلَّٰۤئى لَمْ يَحِضْنَ } هن الصغائر
It is said that people said: we have known the waiting period of the literate people, what is the waiting period of those who do not menstruate; it was revealed its meaning that (quoting the Qur'an) "if you doubted", ie if the correct judgement is not clear and you do not know how to reckon their 'iddah this is to be the correct judgement. And it is said: if you doubted regarding the women who have despaired of further menstruation (and they estimate this to be 60 or 55 years of age) and they see more blood, is it menstruation or spotting? (Quoting the Qur'an) "Their waiting period is 3 months." And if this is the waiting period for those regarding whom there is doubt, then for those regarding whom there is no doubt, (quoting the Qur'an) "and for those how have not menstruated yet", these are the small female children.
Qur'an 65:4
Al-Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaaf


Tabrasi (d.1153 ِِِAD), a Shia scholar.

{واللآئي لم يحضن} تقديره واللآئي لم يحضن إن ارتبتم فعدتهن أيضاً ثلاثة أشهر وحذف دلالة الكلام الأول عليه وهن اللواتي لم يبلغن المحيض ومثلهن تحيض على ما مرَّ بيانه.
"And those who have not yet menstruated" ie for those who have not yet menstruated, if you doubted, their waiting period is three months, negating the reference to the previous verse, these are those women who have not yet reached the age of menstruation and those like them whose menstruation escapes observation.


Al-Shawkani (d.1839 AD)

{ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَـٰثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَٱللاَّئِى لَمْ يَحِضْنَ } لصغرهن، وعدم بلوغهن سن المحيض، أي: فعدتهن ثلاثة أشهر
Due to their youth, and their lack of reaching the age of menstruation (i.e. puberty), i.e. their waiting period is 3 months, (quoting the Qur'an) "their waiting period is 3 months and [the same is the case for] those who have not menstruated yet").
Qur'an 65:4
Al-Shoukani, Fath al-Qadir


Abu Hayyan (d.1344 AD)

{واللائي لم يحضن }
،فالعدة هذه، فتلخص في قوله: { إن ارتبتم } قولان: أحدهما، أنه على ظاهر مفهوم اللغة فيه، وهو حصول الشك؛ والآخر، أن معناه التيقن للإياس؛ والقول الأول معناه: إن ارتبتم في دمها، أهو دم حيض أو دم علة؟ أو إن ارتبتم في علوق بحمل أم لا؛ أو إن ارتبتم: أي جهلتم عدتهن، أقوال. والظاهر أن قوله: واللائي { لم يحضن } يشمل من لم يحض لصغر،
"And those who have not yet menstruated" As for the waiting period, it is summed up in its saying (quoting the Qur'an) "if you doubted" there are two sayings: one of them, which appears exceedingly understandable, 'this is in the case of doubt'; and the other, whose meaning is 'those who have certainly reached to the point of despair [menopause].' The meaning of the first: if you doubted her blood, is it menstrual blood or caused by an illness or health irregularity? Or perhaps if you suspect a calamity (miscarriage) has happened or not? Or if you doubted: i.e. if you don't know of their waiting period. And this much is clear: Those "who have not yet menstruated" includes those who have not menstruated due to their young age.
Qur'an 65:4
Abu-Hayyan


Evidence from the Hadith

This interpretation is widespread amongst the mufassirun for good reason. All of the most authoritative collections of Sunni hadith all support this interpretation.

From Imam Bukhari in his book of Tafsir and hadith collections:

The Tafsir of Surat Al-Talaq

Mujahid said that "if you have any doubt" (65:4) means if you do not know whether she menstruates or not. Those who do not longer menstruate and those who have not yet menstruated, their 'iddah is three months.
(39) CHAPTER. Giving one's young children in marriage (is permissible).

By virtue of the Statement of Allah : "...and for those who have no (monthly) courses (i.e. they are still immature).. (V.65:4) And the 'Idda for the girl before puberty is three months (in the above Verse).

5133. Narrated 'Aishah; that the Prophet wrote the marriage contract with her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).
"The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari" (archived)
Al-Bukhari (au.), Muhammad M. Khan (tr.), Dar-us-Salam Publications, vol. 7, book 67, ch. 39, p. 57, ISBN 9960-717-38-0, June 1, 1997, http://archive.org/download/SahihAl-bukhari9Vol.Set/SahihAl-bukhariVol.7-Ahadith5063-5969.pdf.
 

From Sahih Muslim:

Chapter 10: It is permissible for the father to give the hand of his daughter in marriage even when she is not fully grown up.


Muṣannaf of Abdul Razzaq (126-211 AH), one of earliest collections of Hadith, mentions a report where companions of Muhammad reference verse 65:4 while answering a legal question about a divorced woman. They said:

فَذَكَرَ شَأْنَ امْرَأَتِهِ وَعِنْدَهُ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ، وَزَيْدُ بْنُ ثَابِتٍ، فَقَالَ لَهُمَا عُثْمَانُ: مَا تَرَيَانِ؟ قَالَا: «نَرَى أَنَّهَا تَرِثُهُ إِنْ مَاتْ، وَأَنَّهُ يَرِثُهَا إِنْ مَاتَتْ، فَإِنَّهَا لَيْسَتْ مِنَ الْقَوَاعِدِ اللَّاتِي يَئِسْنَ مِنَ الْمَحِيضِ، وَلَيْسَتْ مِنَ الْأَبْكَارِ اللَّائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ

He mentioned the case of his wife while Ali ibn Abi Talib and Zayid bin Thabit were present, so 'Uthman said to the two of them: "What do you think?" The two of them said "We consider she will inherit from him if he dies, and he will inherit from her if she dies, for she’s not among the elderly women who no longer expect menstruation, and she’s not among the virgins who haven’t menstruated.
Muṣannaf of Abdul Razzāq Al-Ṣanʿānī, Al-Maktab Al-Islāmī, Hadith no.11100, vol.6 p. 340


The following Muwatta hadith shows it's permissible to marry girls who have not reached puberty:

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, visited Umm Salama while she was in mourning for Abu Salama and she had put aloes on her eyes. He said, "What is this, Umm Salama?" She said, "It is only aloes, Messenger of Allah." He said, "Put it on at night and wipe it off in the daytime."

Malik said, "The mourning of a young girl who has not yet had a menstrual period takes the same form as the mourning of one who has had a period. She avoids what a mature woman avoids if her husband dies."

Malik said, "A slave-girl mourns her husband when he dies for two months and five nights like her idda.

Malik said, "An umm walad does not have to mourn when her master dies, and a slave-girl does not have to mourn when her master dies. Mourning is for those with husbands."

The following is from Fath al-Bari, one of the most authoritative commentaries on Sahih Al-Bukhari:

(واللائي لم يحضن , فجعل عدتها ثلاثة أشهر قبل البلوغ )

‏ ‏أي فدل على أن نكاحها قبل البلوغ جائز

"and those who never had menses, their prescribed period is three months before puberty, which indicates that giving her into marriage before puberty is permissible."[7][8]

Recent Fatwas

IslamOnline.net is one of the most popular Islamic fatwa sites on the internet. The following excerpt is taken from a December 2010 fatwa.

The Noble Qur'an has also mentioned the waiting period [i.e. for a divorced wife to remarry] for the wife who has not yet menstruated, saying: "And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women - if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated" [Qur'an 65:4]. Since this is not negated later, we can take from this verse that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl. The Qur'an is not like the books of jurisprudence which mention what the implications of things are, even if they are prohibited. It is true that the prophet (PBUH) entered into a marriage contract with A'isha when she was six years old, however he did not have sex with her until she was nine years old, according to al-Bukhari.
Is it permissible to restrict the age at which girls can marry?
Submitted by Ahmad, IslamOnline, December 24, 2010
Getting married at an early age is something that is confirmed by the book of Allah, the Sunnah of his Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam), the consensus of the scholars and the actions of the companions, and the Muslims who came after them.

Moreover, the interest of Shariah proves it. So the claim that this was abrogated is not correct. And the Hadith did not include that meaning; it just states that a virgin woman is not to be married until consulted.

The evidence from the Qur'an is:

1. The saying of Allah: "And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the 'Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubts (about their periods), is three months, and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their 'Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise, except in case of death]". (At-Talaq 65:4)

So, Allah set rulings of marriage, divorce and waiting period for the women who have not yet had menses, i.e. the young girls.

The Iddah (waiting period) does not take place except after marriage.
Child marriage in Islam
Islamweb, Fatwa No. 88089, June 24, 2004


Shaykh Muhammad Bin ʿUthaymīn (d.2001)

Surah al-Talaaq 65:4: If a woman does not menstruate, either because she is very young or old and past menopause, then her ‘iddah is three months, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the ‘Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubt (about their periods), is three months; and for those who have no courses (i.e. they are still immature) their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise.[9]
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen, Majmoo’at As’ilah tahumm al-Usrah al-Muslimah, p. 61-63

Modern Views and Perspectives on the Meaning of Qur'an 65:4

The Qur'an prohibits marriage to pre-pubescent females

Some Modern du'aah who decry the traditional sources as endorsing pedophilia often take issue with the interpretation of the wording of Qur'an 65:4 in these source. They see the verse as limited to women of current-day adulthood and not pre-pubescent women (again taking as a starting point modern modes of understanding "adulthood" for women.[10]. Qur'an 4:6 is often leveraged as part of this argument:

وابتلوا اليتامى حتى اذا بلغوا النكاح فان انستم منهم رشدا فادفعوا اليهم اموالهم ولاتاكلوها اسرافا وبدارا ان يكبروا ومن كان غنيا فليستعفف ومن كان فقيرا فلياكل بالمعروف فاذا دفعتم اليهم اموالهم فاشهدوا عليهم وكفى بالله حسيبا

Transliteration: Waibtaloo alyatama hatta itha balaghoo alnnikaha fa-in anastum minhum rushdan faidfaAAoo ilayhim amwalahum wala ta/kulooha israfan wabidaran an yakbaroo waman kana ghaniyyan falyastaAAfif waman kana faqeeran falya/kul bialmaAAroofi fa-itha dafaAAtum ilayhim amwalahum faashhidoo AAalayhim wakafa biAllahi haseeban

Yusuf Ali: Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgment in them, release their property to them; but consume it not wastefully, nor in haste against their growing up. If the guardian is well-off, Let him claim no remuneration, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable. When ye release their property to them, take witnesses in their presence: But all-sufficient is Allah in taking account.

Pickthal: Prove orphans till they reach the marriageable age; then, if ye find them of sound judgment, deliver over unto them their fortune; and devour it not by squandering and in haste lest they should grow up Whoso (of the guardians) is rich, let him abstain generously (from taking of the property of orphans); and whoso is poor let him take thereof in reason (for his guardianship). And when ye deliver up their fortune unto orphans, have (the transaction) witnessed in their presence. Allah sufficeth as a Reckoner.

Shakir: And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property, and do not consume it extravagantly and hastily, lest they attain to full age; and whoever is rich, let him abstain altogether, and whoever is poor, let him eat reasonably; then when you make over to them their property, call witnesses in their presence; and Allah is enough as a Reckoner.

The word Nikah can have multiple understandings:

  1. According to the Islamic Shar'iah, "Nikah" is a technical term, whose Shar'i (Islamic legal) meaning is "the consumation of a marriage through vaginal intercourse" and in many Islamic languages and cultures, such as Urdu speaking Muslims in South Asia, this by extension merely means "(Islamic) marriage." In Arabic, though , Zuwaaj زواج[11] is the specific word for just "marriage" (although the contract of marriage which both parties sign is called "'aqd an-nikaah" عقد النكاح), but the Qur'an uses both words in reference to marrying women; Nikaah for human females and Zuwaaj for the Houris.
  2. The underlying, literal meaning of "Nikaah" in Arabic language is vaginal, "Sexual Intercourse"

Few Modern du'aah use this word "Nikaah" in this verse to mean "marriage" (i.e. till they (the orphans) reach the age of marriage). Their argument is that this verse links the age of "Nikaah" with "becoming sound in Judgement to take care of the property", and thus a child's Nikaah is impossible while a child does not have the sound judgement to take care of his/her property.

But contrary to these modern Islamic advocates, the traditional view of Muslim 'ulamaa' of the last 1400 years was that word "Nikaah" had been used in it's literal meaning here (i.e. reaching the age where they are able to do the sexual intercourse). Islamqa.com, one of the largest Fatwa sites on the internet, refutes apologists’ claims on the verse:

This verse explains that an orphan’s money is given to him/her after they reach puberty and attain sound judgement. What’s meant by sound judgment is sound management of money. This can only happen after puberty.

“Reaching Nikah” mentioned in the verse means reaching puberty which can be known through sings such as menstruation for females and the growth of pubic hair. The verse used the expression “reaching Nikah” to actually mean “reaching puberty” because in most cases, it’s adults who perform Nikah. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not possible for non-adults to perform Nikah, which is permissible as proven by the Quran, Sunnah and the consensus of scholars. Plus, the same Surah and the same context of verses proves it (the permissibility of child marriage). (The verse that speaks about giving an orphan his money when he/she reaches Nikah is verse no.6) Verse no.3 says: “And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphangirls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. ”.

This verse proves it’s allowed to marry an orphan. And an orphan cannot be an adult. It’s reported in Sahih Bukhari Hadith no. 2494: “Narrated Urwah that he asked `Aisha regarding the Verse: 'If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, marry (other) women of your choice.' (4.3) `Aisha said, "It is about an orphan girl under the custody of her guardian who being attracted by her wealth and beauty wants to marry her with Mahr less than other women of her status. So such guardians were forbidden to marry them unless they treat them justly by giving them their full Mahr. Then the people sought the verdict of Allah's Apostle for such cases, whereupon Allah revealed: 'They ask your instruction concerning women..' (4.127) “

https://sunnah.com/bukhari:6965

Ibn Hajar (d.1449 AD) commented on this Hadith saying: “This shows it’s allowed to marry orphans who haven’t reached puberty. Because after puberty they can’t be called orphans.”



Hadiths also refute the claim that the age of marriage is linked to reaching sound judgment. At the age of 9, when 'Aisha finally came to the house of Muhammad for the consummation of marriage, still she was not mentally sound enough to look after any property or business. It is evident from the following hadith:

Narrated `Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me.

According to Islamic Sharia:

  • When a girl reaches puberty, then she herself gets the right to give her consent for the marriage, or to deny the marriage.
  • But if she is a minor or prepubescent girl, then her father/guardian could wed her to anyone even without her consent[12].
  • And if she is a prepubescent and also an orphan, then her guardian has the right to wed her with himself (even without her consent), in order to get her property and the wealth.

It is evident from the following hadith:

Narrated 'Urwa: that he asked `Aisha about the Statement of Allah: 'If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (the captives) that your right hands possess. That will be nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.' (4.3) `Aisha said, "O my nephew! (This Verse has been revealed in connection with) an orphan girl under the guardianship of her guardian who is attracted by her wealth and beauty and intends to marry her with a Mahr less than what other women of her standard deserve. So they (such guardians) have been forbidden to marry them unless they do justice to them and give them their full Mahr, and they are ordered to marry other women instead of them."

And it is also evident from the following Quranic Verse:

You also read them (the guardians) in the Book concerning orphaned women (in your charge) to whom you deny their ordained rights and yet wish to take them in marriage, as well as in respect of helpless children, that you should be just in the matter of orphans." The good you do is known to God.

Thus a prepubescent girl is practically at the mercy of her guardian, and he could marry her to himself, even without her consent, and even for very little Mahr price.

The Tafsir's agree with this understanding of 4:6:

Giving Back the Property of the Orphans When They Reach Adulthood

Allah said,

[وَابْتَلُواْ الْيَتَـمَى]

(And test orphans) meaning, test their intelligence, as Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan stated.

[حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغُواْ النِّكَاحَ]

(until they reach the age of marriage), the age of puberty, according to Mujahid. The age of puberty according to the majority of scholars comes when the child has a wet dream. In his Sunan, Abu Dawud recorded that `Ali said, "I memorized these words from the Messenger of Allah ,

«لَا يُتْمَ بَعْدَ احْتِلَامٍ، وَلَا صُمَاتَ يَوْمٍ إِلَى اللَّيْل»

(There is no orphan after the age of puberty nor vowing to be silent throughout the day to the night.) In another Hadith, `A'ishah and other Companions said that the Prophet said,

«رُفِعَ الْقَلَمُ عَنْ ثَلَاثَةٍ، عَنِ الصَّبِيِّ حَتَّى يَحْتَلِمَ، وَعَنِ النَّائِمِ حَتَّى يَسْتَيْقِظَ، وَعَنِ الْمَجْنُونِ حَتَّى يُفِيق»

s(The pen does not record the deeds of three persons: the child until the age of puberty, the sleeping person until waking up, and the senile until sane.) Or, the age of fifteen is considered the age of adolescence. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn `Umar said, "I was presented in front of the Prophet on the eve of the battle of Uhud, while I was fourteen years of age, and he did not allow me to take part in that battle. But I was presented in front of him on the eve of the battle of Al-Khandaq (The Trench) when I was fifteen years old, and he allowed me (to join that battle). `Umar bin `Abdul-`Aziz commented when this Hadith reached him, "This is the difference between a child and an adult. There is a difference of opinion over whether pubic hair is considered a sign of adulthood, and the correct opinion is that it is. The Sunnah supports this view, according to a Hadith collected by Imam Ahmad from `Atiyah Al-Qurazi who said, We were presented to the Prophet on the day of Qurizah, whoever had pubic hair was killed, whoever did not was left free to go, I was one of those who did not, so I was left free. The Four Sunan compilers also recorded similar to it. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih. Allah's statement,

[فَإِنْ ءَانَسْتُمْ مِّنْهُمْ رُشْداً فَادْفَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَلَهُمْ]

(if then you find sound judgment in them, release their property to them,) Sa`id bin Jubayr said that this portion of the Ayah means, when you find them to be good in the religion and wise with their money. Similar was reported from Ibn `Abbas, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and others among the Imams. The scholars of Fiqh stated that when the child becomes good in the religion and wise concerning with money, then the money that his caretaker was keeping for him should be surrendered to him.

{ وَٱبْتَلُواْ ٱلْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُواْ النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُمْ مِّنْهُمْ رُشْداً فَٱدْفَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُوهَآ إِسْرَافاً وَبِدَاراً أَن يَكْبَرُواْ وَمَن كَانَ غَنِيّاً فَلْيَسْتَعْفِفْ وَمَن كَانَ فَقِيراً فَلْيَأْكُلْ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِذَا دَفَعْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فَأَشْهِدُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ حَسِيباً }

Try, test, well the orphans, before reaching maturity with regard [the duties of] religion and [before] they can [legally] manage their own affairs, until they reach the age of marrying, that is, until they have become eligible for it through puberty or [legal] age, which, according to al-Shāfi‘ī, is the completion of fifteen years; then, if you perceive in them maturity, that is, right [judgement] in matters of religion and their property, deliver their property to them; consume it not, O guardians, wastefully, without due merit, and in haste, that is, hastening to expend it, fearing, lest they should grow up, and become mature, at which time you will be obliged to hand it over to them. If any man, who is a guardian, is rich, let him be abstinent, that is, let him abstain from the orphan’s property and refrain from consuming it; if he is poor, let him consume, of it, honourably, that is, in line with the wage for his work. And when you deliver to them, the orphans, their property, take witnesses over them, that they have received it and that you are absolved [of the obligation], so that if any dispute occurs, you are able to refer to a clear proof: this is a command [intended] for guidance. God suffices as a reckoner, as a guardian of His creatures’ deeds and as a reckoner of these [deeds] (the bā’ [in bi’Llāhi] is extra).
Qur'an 4:6
Tafsir al-Jalalayn

{ وَٱبْتَلُواْ ٱلْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُواْ النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُمْ مِّنْهُمْ رُشْداً فَٱدْفَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُوهَآ إِسْرَافاً وَبِدَاراً أَن يَكْبَرُواْ وَمَن كَانَ غَنِيّاً فَلْيَسْتَعْفِفْ وَمَن كَانَ فَقِيراً فَلْيَأْكُلْ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِذَا دَفَعْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فَأَشْهِدُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ حَسِيباً }

(Prove orphans) test the intelligence of orphans (till they reach the marriageable age) the age of puberty; (then, if ye find them of) if you see that they possess (sound judgement) righteousness in Religion and a tendency to protect their wealth, (deliver over unto them their fortune) then give their wealth which is with you; (and devour it not squandering) it in transgression and unlawfully (and in haste) in haste lest the orphan grows older and consumes it little by little (lest they should grow up) for fear that they grow older and stop you from devouring their wealth. (Whoso (of the guardians) is rich) and needs not the orphan's wealth, (let him abstain generously) because of his richness from taking of the property of orphans, nor should he diminish anything from their wealth; (and whoso is poor) and needy (let him take thereof in reason (for his guardianship)) in measure, such that he is not in need for the wealth of orphans; it is also said that this means: he should take from the wealth of orphans in proportion with the measure of his work regarding this wealth; and it is also said that this means: he can take from the wealth of orphans as a loan to be paid back. (And when ye deliver up their fortune unto orphans) when they reach the legal age, (have (the transaction) witnessed in their presence) when you deliver it to them. (Allah sufficeth as a Reckoner) Allah suffices as a witness. This verse was revealed about Thabit Ibn Rifa'ah al-Ansari.
Qur'an 4:6
Tafsîr Ibn Abbas

{ وَٱبْتَلُواْ ٱلْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُواْ النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُمْ مِّنْهُمْ رُشْداً فَٱدْفَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُوهَآ إِسْرَافاً وَبِدَاراً أَن يَكْبَرُواْ وَمَن كَانَ غَنِيّاً فَلْيَسْتَعْفِفْ وَمَن كَانَ فَقِيراً فَلْيَأْكُلْ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِذَا دَفَعْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فَأَشْهِدُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ حَسِيباً }

(Prove orphans…) [4:6]. This was revealed about Thabit ibn Rifa‘ah and his uncle. Rifa‘ah died when his son Thabit was very young. The uncle of Thabit went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: “The son of my brother is an orphan under my care, what is lawful for me from his wealth? And when should I give him back his wealth?” And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse.
Qur'an 4:6
Al-Wahidi, Asbab Al-Nuzul

The Arabic word “Nisaa'” does not refer to young females

Some defenders of the Qur'an, speaking in English, claim that the Qur'an only uses the word Nisaa' to refer to mature, adult women, therefore 65:4 cannot be talking about pre-pubescent females.[13] This linguistic argument does not hold water, even just on the basis of the Qur'an itself as a text. The word merely means "women/females" and can refer to mixed groups of women of various ages, as the English "female" or "women." Here are some verses that use the word "nisaa'":

وَإِذْ نَجَّيْنَٰكُم مِّنْ ءَالِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوٓءَ ٱلْعَذَابِ يُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَآءَكُمْ ۚ وَفِى ذَٰلِكُم بَلَآءٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ

Transliteration: Waith najjaynakum min ali firawna yasoomoonakum sooa alAAathabi yuthabbihoona abnaakum wayastahyoona Nisaa'akum wafee thalikum balaon min rabbikum AAatheemun

Yusuf Ali: And remember, We delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: They set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons and let your women-folk live; therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord.
وَقَالَ ٱلْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ أَتَذَرُ مُوسَىٰ وَقَوْمَهُۥ لِيُفْسِدُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَيَذَرَكَ وَءَالِهَتَكَ ۚ قَالَ سَنُقَتِّلُ أَبْنَآءَهُمْ وَنَسْتَحْىِۦ نِسَآءَهُمْ وَإِنَّا فَوْقَهُمْ قَٰهِرُونَ

Transliteration: Waqala almalao min qawmi firawna atatharu moosa waqawmahu liyufsidoo fee alardi wayatharaka waalihataka qala sanuqattilu abnaahum wanastahyee Nisaa'ahum wainna fawqahum qahiroona

Yusuf Ali: Said the chiefs of Pharaoh’s people: “Wilt thou leave Moses and his people, to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon thee and thy gods?” He said: “Their male children will we slay; (only) their females will we save alive; and we have over them (power) irresistible."
وَإِذْ أَنجَيْنَٰكُم مِّنْ ءَالِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوٓءَ ٱلْعَذَابِ ۖ يُقَتِّلُونَ أَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَآءَكُمْ ۚ وَفِى ذَٰلِكُم بَلَآءٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ

Transliteration: Waith anjaynakum min ali firawna yasoomoonakum sooa alAAathabi yuqattiloona abnaakum wayastahyoona Nisaa'akum wafee thalikum balaon min rabbikum AAatheemun

Yusuf Ali: And remember we rescued you from Pharaoh’s people, who afflicted you with the worst of penalties, who slew your male children and saved alive your females: in that was a momentous trial from your Lord.
وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ ٱذْكُرُوا۟ نِعْمَةَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ أَنجَىٰكُم مِّنْ ءَالِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوٓءَ ٱلْعَذَابِ وَيُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَآءَكُمْ ۚ وَفِى ذَٰلِكُم بَلَآءٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ

Transliteration: Waith qala moosa liqawmihi othkuroo niAAmata Allahi AAalaykum ith anjakum min ali firawna yasoomoonakum sooa alAAathabi wayuthabbihoona abnaakum wayastahyoona Nisaa'akum wafee thalikum balaon min rabbikum AAatheemun

Yusuf Ali: Remember! Moses said to his people: “Call to mind the favour of Allah to you when He delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: they set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons, and let your females live: therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord.
فَلَمَّا جَآءَهُم بِٱلْحَقِّ مِنْ عِندِنَا قَالُوا۟ ٱقْتُلُوٓا۟ أَبْنَآءَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ وَٱسْتَحْيُوا۟ نِسَآءَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا كَيْدُ ٱلْكَٰفِرِينَ إِلَّا فِى ضَلَٰلٍ

Transliteration: Falamma jaahum bialhaqqi min AAindina qaloo oqtuloo abnaa allatheena amanoo maAAahu waistahyoo Nisaa'ahum wama kaydu alkafireena illa fee dalalin

Yusuf Ali: Now, when he came to them in Truth, from Us, they said, "Slay the sons of those who believe with him, and keep alive their females," but the plots of Unbelievers (end) in nothing but errors (and delusions)!...

In the above verses, the word "Nisaa'" is referring to female infants. The biblical original of this story, which the Qur'an relies upon and which commentary on the Qur'an confirms in this case,

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם לַֽמְיַלְּדֹ֖ת הָֽעִבְרִיֹּ֑ת אֲשֶׁ֨ר שֵׁ֤ם הָֽאַחַת֙ שִׁפְרָ֔ה וְשֵׁ֥ם הַשֵּׁנִ֖ית פּוּעָֽה:וַיֹּ֗אמֶר בְּיַלֶּדְכֶן֙ אֶת־הָ֣עִבְרִיּ֔וֹת וּרְאִיתֶ֖ן עַל־הָֽאָבְנָ֑יִם אִם־בֵּ֥ן הוּא֙ וַֽהֲמִתֶּ֣ן אֹת֔וֹ וְאִם־בַּ֥ת הִ֖וא וָחָֽיָה:


"And the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah; and he said: ‘When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, ye shall look upon the birthstool: if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.’
כבוַיְצַ֣ו פַּרְעֹ֔ה לְכָל־עַמּ֖וֹ לֵאמֹ֑ר כָּל־הַבֵּ֣ן הַיִּלּ֗וֹד הַיְאֹ֨רָה֙ תַּשְׁלִיכֻ֔הוּ וְכָל־הַבַּ֖ת תְּחַיּֽוּן:


And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying: ‘Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

The word used for daughter in Hebrew here is "bat" בַּ֥ת which is cognate with the Arabic bint/ibnah بنت/إبتة also meaning "daughter" in that language.

Moreover, the Quran used the expression “Nisaa’ orphans” to mean “female orphans”. Orphans cannot be adults which means non-adults can be included in the word Nisaa’.

‏ويستفتونك في النساء قل الله يفتيكم فيهن ومايتلى عليكم في الكتاب في يتامى النساء اللاتي لاتؤتونهن ماكتب لهن وترغبون ان تنكحوهن والمستضعفين من الولدان وان تقوموا لليتامى بالقسط وماتفعلوا من خير فان الله كان به عليما

Pickthaal: They consult thee concerning women. Say: Allah giveth you decree concerning them, and the Scripture which hath been recited unto you (giveth decree), concerning female orphans and those unto whom ye give not that which is ordained for them though ye desire to marry them, and (concerning) the weak among children, and that ye should deal justly with orphans. Whatever good ye do, lo! Allah is ever Aware of it.



65.4 talks only of the 'Iddah and not of sexual activity

One point of focus for modern commentators, seeking to defend the Qur'an from the charge of endorsing pedophilia, is that 65:4 does not explicitly discuss consummation or other sexual activity in regards to any of the females discussed in the verse; it merely sets the prescribed 'Iddah required for each.[14]The 'iddah (prescribed waiting period) for females is required after a divorce or widowing, so that a child's father can be correctly identified. In addition to multiple tafsir and hadith traditions on 65:4, this is also established in Qur'an 33:49:


يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَٰتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا ۖ فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحًا جَمِيلًا

O You who have believed, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, then there is not for you any waiting period to count concerning them. So provide for them and give them a gracious release.

The tafsirs further expound on the meaning of the 'iddah according to this verse:

(يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحاً جَمِيلاً)

49. O you who believe! When you marry believing women, and then divorce them before you have sexual intercourse with them, no `Iddah have you to count in respect of them. So, give them a present, and set them free in a handsome manner.)

This Ayah contains many rulings, including the use of the word Nikah for the marriage contract alone. There is no other Ayah in the Qur'an that is clearer than this on this point. It also indicates that it is permissible to divorce a woman before consummating the marriage with her.

(الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ)

(believing women) This refers to what is usually the case, although there is no difference between a believing (Muslim) woman and a woman of the People of the Book in this regard, according to scholarly consensus. Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, `Ali bin Al-Husayn Zayn-ul-`Abidin and a group of the Salaf took this Ayah as evidence that divorce cannot occur unless it has been preceded by marriage, because Allah says,

(إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ)

(When you marry believing women, and then divorce them)

The marriage contract here is followed by divorce, which indicates that the divorce cannot be valid if it comes first. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "If someone were to say, `every woman I marry will ipso facto be divorced,' this does not mean anything, because Allah says:

(يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ)

(O you who believe! When you marry believing women, and then divorce them....). It was also reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "Allah said,

(إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ)

(When you marry believing women, and then divorce them.) Do you not see that divorce comes after marriage A Hadith to the same effect was recorded from `Amr bin Shu`ayb from his father from his grandfather, who said: "The Messenger of Allah said:

«لَا طَلَاقَ لِابْنِ آدَمَ فِيمَا لَا يَمْلِك»

(There is no divorce for the son of Adam with regard to that which he does not possess.) This was recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. At-Tirmidhi said, "This is a Hasan Hadith, and it is the best thing that has been narrated on this matter. It was also recorded by Ibn Majah from `Ali and Al-Miswar bin Makhramah, may Allah be pleased with them, that the Messenger of Allah said:

«لَا طَلَاقَ قَبْلَ نِكَاح»

(There is no divorce before marriage.)

(فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا)

(no `Iddah have you to count in respect of them.) This is a command on which the scholars are agreed, that if a woman is divorced before the marriage is consummated, she does not have to observe the `Iddah (prescribed period for divorce) and she may go and get married immediately to whomever she wishes. The only exception in this regard is a woman whose husband died, in which case she has to observe an `Iddah of four months and ten days even if the marriage was not consummated. This is also according to the consensus of the scholars.

(فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحاً جَمِيلاً)

(So, give them a present, and set them free in a handsome manner.) The present here refers to something more general than half of the named dowery or a special gift that has not been named. Allah says:

(وَإِن طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ وَقَدْ فَرَضْتُمْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً فَنِصْفُ مَا فَرَضْتُمْ)

(And if you divorce them before you have touched (had a sexual relation with) them, and you have fixed unto them their due (dowery) then pay half of that) (2:237). And Allah says:

(لاَّ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِن طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَآءَ مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُواْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدْرُهُ مَتَـعاً بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ)

(There is no sin on you, if you divorce women while yet you have not touched them, nor fixed unto them their due (dowery). But bestow on them gift, the rich according to his means, and the poor according to his means, a gift of reasonable amount is a duty on the doers of good.) (2:236) pIn Sahih Al-Bukhari, it was recorded that Sahl bin Sa`d and Abu Usayd, may Allah be pleased with them both, said, "The Messenger of Allah married Umaymah bint Sharahil, and when she entered upon him he reached out his hand towards her, and it was as if she did not like that, so he told Abu Usayd to give her two garments. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said "If the dowery had been named, she would not be entitled to more than half, but if the dowery is not been named, he should give her a gift according to his means, and this is the "handsome manner.

(يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوۤاْ إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحاً جَمِيلاً)

O you who believe if you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them (read tamassūhunna or tumāsūhunna) that is, before you have copulated with them, there shall be no [waiting] period for you to reckon against them, [no] waiting period [needed to preclude pregnancy] or otherwise. But provide for them, give them what they can use for [securing] comforts, in cases where no dowry has been fixed for them; otherwise theirs is to retain half of what was fixed, but no more — this is what Ibn ‘Abbās said and it is [the opinion] followed by al-Shāfi‘ī’; and release them in a gracious manner, leave them be without [the intention to cause them any] harm.
(Qur'an 33:49)
Tafsir al-Jalalayn

(يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوۤاْ إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحاً جَمِيلاً)

(O ye who believe! If ye wed believing women) without naming the amount of their dowry (and divorce them before ye have touched them) before you had sexual intercourse with them, (then there is no period that ye should reckon) by counting the months or the periods of menstruation. (But content them) as is due by divorce by giving them at least a scarf or shawl (and release them handsomely) divorce them without any harm done to them.
Qur'an 33:49
Tafsir 'Ibn Abbas

This verse effectively removes the apologist's objection to Qur'an 65.4 as we see clearly that if a man has not consummated his marriage with his wife then she does not need to observe an 'iddah. If Qur'an 65.4 specifies that pre-pubescent females must observe a 3 month 'iddah then clearly sexual intercourse is halal to Allah.

This verse is only talking about adult women who don't know if they are pregnant

The very reason 65:4 was revealed in the first place, was as a clarification to an existing revelation by Allah. Allah had already revealed that women must wait 3 menstrual periods before they can end the 'iddat and be free to marry again. This is in Qur'an 2:228:

And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses; and it is not lawful for them that they should conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the last day; and their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation; and they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

However, after this, Muslim men went to Muhammad to ask about those who did not presently have their menses - how do they measure the 'iddat in those cases? It is in this circumstance that Allah sent down the clarification (65:4) for the three groups of women that did not have menstruation, therefore they could not wait the '3 menstrual cycles' as mandated by Qur'an 2:228.

Those Muslims who make this claim are ignoring what all of their own scholars have said about 65:4; that it is referring to the peri-menopausal and post menopausal women, the pre-pubescent girls and the pregnant women. The women who are currently menstruating are told in Qur'an 2:228 that they must wait 3 menstrual cycles, therefore this apologetic is also debunked.

This verse is applied to unconsummated widows

Another claim is that Qur'an 65:4 doesn't necessarily mean that Muslim men can have sex with pre-pubescent females because there may be cases where a man has married a pre-pubescent female, but while waiting for her to attain menstruation before consummating the marriage, he died. The 'iddah could be referring to a situation such as this. This claim is invalid because the Qur'an specifies the 'iddah for all widows to be 4 months and 10 days; in Qur'an 2:234:

And (as for) those of you who die and leave wives behind, they should keep themselves in waiting for four months and ten days; then when they have fully attained their term, there is no blame on you for what they do for themselves in a lawful manner; and Allah is aware of what you do.

Snce the 'Iddah specified in Qur'an 65.4 is for a different amount of time, this situation would not seem to be the subject of 65:4.


See Also

Translations

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External Links

References

  1. YEMEN: Deep divisions over child brides - IRIN, March 28, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Elabbas Benmamoun, Arabic morphology: The central role of the imperfective, Lingua 108 (1999) 175-201
  3. Arabic grammar - Wikipedia
  4. Jussive - Wikipedia
  5. Lam = ل - StudyQuran
  6. ح = Ha - StudyQuran
  7. Al-Islam (Arabic text)
  8. IslamWeb (Arabic text)
  9. The ‘iddah of a woman divorced by talaaq - Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 12667
  10. Abu Amina Elias AKA Justin Parrott, "Does verse 65:4 encourage child marriage?", Faith in Allah الإيمان بالله "Any practice that causes harm to children is unlawful in Islam.", https://www.abuaminaelias.com/verse-65-4-child-marriage/. 
  11. Lane's Lexicon - Zay-Waw-Jiim
  12. The scholars are unanimously agreed that a father may marry off his young daughter without consulting her. Fatwa Website Islam Q&A.
  13. "that the Arabic word ‘Nisa’ could also refer to ‘female children’. Let us take a look in Arabic-English dictionaries. The Arabic word ‘Nisa’ has been used 59 times in the Quran. Not once has the word ‘Nisa’ been used for a ‘child(ren)’, it has always referred to mature adult women. Dr. Rohi Baalbaki, says in Al-Mawrid: A modern Arabic-English Dictionary:", Kaleef K. Karim, "Quran 65:4 – The Child Marriage Claim", Discover The Truth, https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/03/12/quran-654-the-child-marriage-claim/ 
  14. "Quran 65:4 – The Child Marriage Claim", Discover The Truth, https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/03/12/quran-654-the-child-marriage-claim/.