"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Thursday, August 28, 2008

But it's in the Koran

A racy, historical novel based on the Prophet Muhammad's child bride A'isha was supposed to hit book stores in the U.S....

But in a rare case of self-censorship to preempt possible violent reaction by Muslims, one of the world's largest publishing houses pulled the plug on the book just before its release date.

At issue is Jones' portrayal of the prophet's wife A'isha, whom Muhammad is said to have married when she was 9 years old. In her novel Jones describes the consummation of their marriage when A'isha was 14.
At Fox.

Um, what was the rule with child brides? Was 14 actually the age of consummation?

Uh, not according to this.


Muhammad was 52 and Aisha was 9 when they married and sexually consummated their marriage. Muhammad followed an Arab custom in marrying a child who had her first menstrual cycle. ...Muhammad's action and teachings on marriage established an Islamic precedent: a girl is judged an adult following her first menses, and is eligible for marriage and sexual relations. Thus Muslim men are allowed to marry and have intercourse with young girls who have happened to have an early first menstrual cycle....

Muhammad's first wife - Khadija, died a few years before he fled to Medina. Later, he was encouraged to take another wife. At the age of 49 he was betrothed to Aisha, age six. Aisha was his closest friend's, Abu Bakr's, daughter. At that time, she had already been betrothed to another man but by mutual consent the betrothal was dissolved. Three years later, following her first menstrual cycle, he then formally married and sexually consummated his marriage with her.

What is more critical than Muhammad's single action with Aisha is that he taught that a girl is considered an adult following her first menstrual cycle. He also taught that his followers were to follow his "sunnah" or lifestyle. Thus today, throughout much of the Mideast, girls as young as nine are often married by men old enough to be their grandfather.

So, here we have a book of historical fiction, altered to make a man considered to be a prophet not seem like a pedophile (is 14 the age of consent anywhere, however?), and it's being pulled?

It's all too complicated. Just publish the book -- I wonder how many people would have even heard of it without all the press it's getting. As the article above points out, child marriage is not uncommon in history, and in various cultures, although it is illegal in many countries now.

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