Unable to pay off his debt, a Muslim man is being forced by his culture to give his daughter away to be married to his lender’s 17 year-old son.
The arrangement effectively values her life at $2,500. That is the amount Mr. Mohammad borrowed over the course of a year to pay for hospital treatment for his wife and medical care for some of his nine children — including Janan, 3, who later froze to death in bitter winter weather because the family could not afford enough firewood to stay warm.
“They said, ‘Pay back our money,’ and I didn’t have any money, so I had to give my girl,” Mr. Mohammad said. “I was thankful to them at the time, so it was my decision, but the elders also demanded that I do this.”
The kicker? His daughter is six years old. Don’t worry though, she’ll be seven when the transaction takes place next year.
Aisha was six or seven years old when betrothed to Muhammad. Traditional sources state that she stayed in her parents’ home until the age of nine when the marriage was consummated with Muhammad, then 53, in Medina, with the single exception of al-Tabari, who records that she was ten.
And yes, other Muslim men attempting to live in the image of their prophet have continued the practice.
This is why we can see stories like that of Nujood Ali, an eight year-old forced to marry a man more than three times her age (who, under Sharia law, received compensation from Nujood’s family in the divorce). Her parents said they could not protect her because now she belonged to her husband. Look at me and tell me that they would’ve done this without the influence of Islam.
There are countless other cases I could trot out.
As I said in my talk this weekend: once religion is extinguished from every human mind we will not lose art, or music, or camraderie with other people. Those things belong to humanity – religion took them from us. But we will lose all manner of horrors enacted because religious dogma and ancient, terrible tradition are given authority over compassion.