6/24/2014 1 comments

My View on the "Age" Debate

One thing should be clear beforehand. My intention is not to tread on anybody’s toes or to offend anyone, au contraire my intent is to take part in a healthy and constructive, but critical disputation.

Clarification of some realities
In my humble opinion, some Ahmadi Muslims who have been influenced by a Western type of cultivation tend to assume that the structures and restrictions according to which the West is operating and living are some kind of summit which would make these unsurpassable.

However, what is overlooked is that these rules and regulations which have steeped their perception have at the very most been installed in the last century, so only a small fraction of the total time since the mental evolution of man has found its conclusion in Islam. What that means is that these laws are totally experimental; they have experienced no empirical probation whatsoever.

On the other hand, we have Islam, the laws of Allah, about which Allah says that they are valid timelessly and even the Promised Messiah (as) did not come to improve or alter these laws, but to revert them to their original state.

So, instead of diluting our view of things by newfangled phenomena, we should think back to what Islam and our role models have taught us.

Role Models
Let us see how our role models have conducted themselves in this regard:

First Child
‘A’ishah (ra)
4 Nabawi
10 Nabawi
2 AH

Aged 7
Aged 12

The Promsied Messiah (as)
May 13, 1835


aged 15

aged 17/18
Khalifatu l-Masih II. (ra)
Jan 13, 1889
Oct 2, 1902
Oct 11, 1903

aged 13
aged 14
aged 17
Mirza Bashir Ahmad M.A. (ra)
Apr 20, 1893
Sept 12, 1902
May 10, 1906

aged 9
aged 13

Mirza Sharif Ahmad (ra)
May 24, 1895
Nov 15, 1906
May 9, 1909

aged 11
aged 13

The age gap between the Holy Prophet (saw) and ‘A’ishah (ra) was 44 years and the age gap between the Promised Messiah (as) and Hadrat Amman Jan (ra) was 30 years.

The argument that these people had another spiritual status or were of a different time and age must not be applied, because otherwise all things that these people did become doubtful and could no longer be regarded as being worthy of imitation and people would start cherry-picking things they want and declare them legally permissible resp. impermissible.

Giving an example Khalifatu l-Masih V. (aba) said that there would be absolutely no concern whatsoever, if, the age gap between the girl and the boy would e.g. be 9 years.

Some Statistics
Teen sexuality
According to the "Youth Risk Behavior Survey" a study of Centers for Disease Control, which is an authority subordinate the Ministry of Health of the United States, in year 1995 9% of American teenagers had sexual intercourse before the age of 13. According to a study which was published in the September 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, there are 17% of 12 to 13 year olds, who already had sexual intercourse. That means that nearly one in five people aged 12 years had sexual intercourse. So the need for legally valid sexual intercourse exists.

Age of consent
Now let us look at the age of consent. The age of consent is that age at which a person is legally considered as capable of giving consent regarding sexual acts. Sexual acts with persons who have reached that age of consent are regarded as absolutely legal. The age of consent in Germany is 14. By 1929, the age of consent in Italy was at the age of 12. In Spain the age of consent of 12 was increased to 13 years in 1999. Sir Edward Coke, an eminent English judge and politician in the 17th century England had made it clear that the marriage of girls less than 12 years was normal. In the 1880s, in most states of the USA the age of consent has been 10-12 years.

Teen births
The US Department of Health & Human Services writes that in 2013, there were about 26,6 births for every 1000 adolescent females ages 15-19 and nearly 89 % of these births occurred outside of marriage. In 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 & 1994 the birth rate for 10-14 year old girls was 1,4 births for every 1000.

Islam is a religion the laws and regulations of which are intended by Allah to be for all times and the entire world population. So, Islam has not specified any undue culturally biased constraints. It just has given the universal requirement that the sexual maturity must be achieved. So, according to Islamic jurisprudence the minimum age for a boy or a girl to marry is after reaching sexual maturity. Mental maturity is nugatory, as it is a self-created, impractical and unnatural precondition for marriage.

Adequate financial means are a requirement for marriage. But one must consider this injunction from the Islamic point of view. The Holy Prophet (saw) has taught contentedness. He even once said to a companion who had nothing that if he would give a ring of steel as dowry, he could be married, but this companion did not even have that, so the Holy Prophet (saw) asked him to teach his bride some verses from the Holy Qur’an, which were then considered his dowry. It is on the husband, how he ensures the financing. If the parents take a favourable view of the marriage of their child and want to contribute to the success of the marriage financially, then there is nothing to say against it. And if not, then the Holy Prophet (saw) said to be patient and to fast.

To sum it up, there is no compulsion for anyone to marry at any specific age, but this equally gives no one the right to look with crooked eyes at anyone who is marrying while keeping him or herself within the limits of the above mentioned legal framework.