By Asad Mirza
June 10: For the past fortnight, the largest minority in the country has been undermined because of a controversy that is not of a political but religious nature. The incident is linked to controversial remarks made by some ambitious politicians, trying to get noticed by their party leadership for creating an overloaded and divisive atmosphere in the country on religious grounds.
The nasty remarks against the most revered figure in the Islamic community have offended Muslims not only in India but also around the world. The establishment in a hasty response had to heed the international outcry in crisis mode.
Instead of adopting a mature and sensible strategy to manage the crisis and assuage the hurt feelings of the country’s largest minority community, the media and politicians have tried to present these remarks as inconsequential and as a litmus test for supporters. of the minority and have refused to apologize until the courts intervene.
The common malaise of Muslims
Worse still, the controversy has also revealed the inability of ordinary Muslims to explain their history in a logical and contextual way. Everyone from the mainstream Muslim to their religious leaders was silent because they couldn’t counter the controversy contextually. Let’s try to analyze the controversy and what would have been a better strategy to handle the currently unstable situation and the response of the Muslim community.
It all started with derogatory remarks made by two former spokespersons of the ruling party, the BJP, against the Prophet Muhammad, the most revered personality among Muslims, accusing him of having married Hazrat Bibi Aisha (RA), who was only six when he was married and was nine when the marriage was consummated, when the Holy Prophet was in his fifties.
Despite the age difference, as perceived by the mindset of the current generation, it should be mentioned that when the marriage proposal was presented to Hazrat Abu Bakr, by Hazrat Khoula, he pointed out that the marriage of Aisha was already fixed with the son of Muta’im bin Jubair. But when he spoke to Muta’im bin Jubair, Muta’im said that since Abu Bakr had abandoned the religion of his ancestors, he could not marry his son to Aisha. Abu Bakr then accepted the proposal brought by Hazrat Khoula.
Before analyzing the response of the Muslim community and its leaders to these remarks, let us briefly examine the current situation of girls and women in other religions and what is the minimum age prescribed in their scriptures.
Myriam Francois-Cerrah in her article written for The Guardian in 2012 on the matter opines that Western and now even Indian media base their criticism on a saying attributed to Bibi Aisha herself (Sahih Bukhari volume 5, book 58, issue 3894), and the debate over this issue is further complicated by the fact that some Muslims believe this to be a historically accurate account, and indeed it is. But before leveling the charges, we also need to analyze the reasoning or motive behind this action.
She points out that in seventh-century Arabia, adulthood was defined as the onset of puberty. (It’s true, and it was also the case in Europe: five centuries after the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad to Aisha, King John of England, aged 33, married Isabelle of Angoulême, aged 12) . Interestingly, among the many criticisms of the Prophet Muhammad, made at the time by his opponents, none focused on Aisha’s age at marriage, as that was the norm at the time.
At the age of 25, Prophet Muhammad married his first wife Khadija bint Khuwaylid, who was a widow 15 years his senior. This marriage lasted 25 years. He married her to encourage the remarriage of widows and to care for destitute women in the emerging Muslim society, which was not a usual practice at that time.
After Bibi Khadija’s death in 619 CE, he married a total of 12 wives during the last years of his life. All of Prophet Muhammad’s wives were widows except for Aisha.
Italian Orientalist Laura Veccia Vaglieri in her book “An Interpretation of Islam” writes that the Prophet Muhammad was a faithful husband of Bibi Khadija for 25 years and did not marry any other woman except after her death. He was then 50 years old. He then married each of his wives for a social or political purpose; so that he wanted to honor pious women, or wanted the loyalty of certain tribes so that Islam would spread among them. Not all women married by Muhammad were virgins, neither young nor beautiful. So how can anyone claim he was a lustful man?
Views of other religions
Hallett JP in his book “Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society in Rome” (1984), wrote that noble women in Rome or earlier Christianity were known to marry as young as 12 years old.
The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics mentions Manusmriti, in this regard explained by other authorities in (verses 9.88-89), Gautama (18-21): “A girl should be given in marriage before puberty. ” and Vasistha (17.70): “For fear of the onset of menstruation, let the father marry his daughter while she is still running around naked. For if she remains at home after the age of puberty, sin falls upon the dad.”
But that brings us to another question to ponder. This concerns the physical and physiological state of our ancestors. Several scientific reports mention that our ancestors were far superior and stronger in physical health and structure than the current generation of Homo Sapiens, and therefore girls reached puberty much earlier than today. Even recently, some medical reports mentioned that girls currently hit puberty around 13 years old, much earlier than our generation and the previous generation.
This whole episode teaches us to adopt a sincere and respectful attitude towards the different religions of the world in today’s global village, based on tolerance, coexistence and respect for the religion of others, and to avoid allegations not founded. Instead, these two people, while correctly mentioned, made remarks in such derogatory and foul language that Muslims everywhere must feel hurt and demand action against them.
First, these people should not have engaged in such rude behavior and second, the Muslims should have seen through their game that by using derogatory and foul language, these fringe elements were trying to provoke them and reap political benefits by destabilizing them and gaining political mileage. , at their expense. Moreover, these offenders had not anticipated the strong international condemnation.
Moreover, since the day this controversy began, no Muslim leader worth his salt has spoken out frankly or correctly against these disparaging remarks. Even Muslim members of most political parties remained silent, except for two regional political parties and one individual leader. This again teaches us the lesson to be proactive and logically oriented in our response instead of just being emotional.