Muslim Child Brides in America?
In recent days, some Republican members of Congress have expressed concerns that the Biden administration allowed Afghans with criminal records or ties to terror groups to be evacuated while thousands of others who assisted US-led NATO forces during the 20-year war against the Taliban were left to fend for themselves in hostile territory. What they apparently did not know was the child brides brought into the American home front.
The Associated Press reported on Friday that U.S. officials are looking into reports that in the frantic evacuation of desperate Afghans from Kabul, older men were admitted together with young girls they claimed as “wives” — with some of the purported child brides brought to an Army base in Wisconsin.
An internal State Department document dated August 27 said that staff overseeing the admission of refugees at Fort McCoy — about 100 miles northwest of Madison, Wis. — had “reported multiple cases of minor females who presented as ‘married’ to adult Afghan men, as well as polygamous families.”
“Department of State has requested urgent guidance,” added the document, seen by the AP and sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates as well as military command centers in Florida. While it is not clear exactly how many of the incidents of child sexual abuse have been reported, the U.S. government should not at all be shocked that the taking of child brides by older men — classified in the West as pedophilia — is embedded into the Afghan-Islamic culture, or better yet, legitimately sanctioned by the Islamic texts.
U.S. officials in the United Arab Emirates have expressed similar concerns, sending a diplomatic cable to Washington warning that some young Afghan girls had been forced into marriages in order to escape Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.
Justification for Child Marriages
The justification for adult men to marry female children is based on the hadiths — the sayings and acts of the Prophet Muhammad — that condones this sexual depravity.
Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, was six years old when, he as a man in his fifties, wedded her and consummated the marriage when she was nine:
- “The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).” —Sahih al-Bukhari Book 7: 62, 88
- The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. —Sahih al-Bukhari Book 7: 62, 88
Sharia law — an amorphous body of legal rulings, judgments and opinions, assembled from the Quran and the hadiths over the course of many centuries after Muhammad’s death — asserts that such conduct is not child abuse but a young girl’s capacity to live out her dignity as a woman. Despite many Islamic states prohibiting such matrimonial contracts, sharia courts have the power to override state laws.
While many young Afghan girls fear that they will be forced into marriages with adult men because to the Taliban, this sexual torture predated the jihadist takeover. Such was the case of Somaya who was thirteen years old and completing seventh grade when, as she says, “I lost my childhood.” Her father, Aminallah, accepted a $3,300 payment in exchange for marrying her off to a relative’s son.
Click below to hear Somaya’s personal account
In Pakistan, for example, as of 2019, there have been an estimated 1,909,000 children that were married off by their parents. According to UNICEF, Pakistan has the sixth-highest rate of child marriage in the world.
Yemen has no legal minimum marriage age; two-thirds of marriages involve underage brides, including 44 percent under 15.
Child marriage is an important issue for Muslims in the modern period, as social customs have drastically changed over the last few hundred years. Yet this practice has also been prevalent, though to a lesser, in Western countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany where the growing Muslim population has been resorting to sharia law as a means of self-preservation.
We must also keep in mind that child marriages, also exist in non-Islamic countries. As per a United Nations report, India has the second highest number of child marriages. For a nation which is touted to be the next emerging superpower nation, it is a disturbing reality that evils like child marriages still persist — they have existed from the times of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate (1206–1290) when the monarchy system was prevalent.
Muslims are quick to point out immorality in Western society, since it is in contradiction to the perfect and unalterable law of Allah. Whenever the moral character of the Prophet is scrutinized, especially with respect to his marriage with Aisha, Islamic scholars argue that marriage to prepubescent girls was common in biblical times. While this may be true, it has nothing to do with God endorsing the practice, and it is time that the to self-proclaimed leaders of democracy crack down on this!
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is also author of Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.