Fatwa No : 88089
Child marriage in Islam
Fatwa Date : Jumaadaa Al-Oula 7, 1425 / 24-6-2004
A scholar in our country said that the child marriage, i.e., marrying a girl before she matures is forbidden in Islam. He says that it was initially allowed and later this provision was abrogated. He cites the following hadith as evidence. "Volume 7, Book 62, and Number 67: Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! How can we know her permission? "He said, "Her silence (indicates her permission)."
He says that Prophet married Aisha (ra) when she was very young before the revelation about the various rules regarding marriage but later the rulings were abrogated. Is the scholar's opinion correct?
May Allah reward you with good?
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
Getting married at an early age is something that is confirmed by the book of Allah, the Sunnah of his Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam), the consensus of the scholars and the actions of the companions, and the Muslims who came after them.
Moreover, the interest of Shariah proves it. So the claim that this was abrogated is not correct. And the Hadith did not include that meaning; it just states that a virgin woman is not to be married until consulted.
The evidence from the Qur'an is:
1. The saying of Allah: "And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the 'Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubts (about their periods), is three months, and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their 'Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise, except in case of death]". (At-Talaq 65:4)
So, Allah set rulings of marriage, divorce and waiting period for the women who have not yet had menses, i.e. the young girls.
The Iddah (waiting period) does not take place except after marriage.
2. Allah also says: "And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four." (An-Nisa 4:3)
Ummul Mu'minin Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said when she was asked about the interpretation of the above verse by her nephew Urwa Ibn Zubair, "O my nephew! This is about the orphan girl who lives with her guardian and shares his property. Her wealth and beauty may tempt him to marry her without giving her an adequate Mahr (bridal-money) which might have been given by another suitor. So, such guardians were forbidden to marry such orphan girls unless they treated them justly and gave them the most suitable Mahr; otherwise they were ordered to marry any other woman."
The saying of Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her,: "(… So, such guardians were forbidden to marry such orphan girls unless they treated them justly …)" is evidence that it is permissible in Islamic Shariah to marry a young girl who is not yet mature, since the person is no longer considered an orphan when he reaches the age of puberty. The orphanage state of being orphan exists only prior to maturity.
3. Allah further says: "They ask your legal instruction concerning the Women. Say: Allah instructs you about them: and about what is recited unto you in the Book, concerning the orphans girls whom yoy give not the portions prescribed, and yet whom you desire to marry." (Al-Nisa: 127)
Ummul muminin Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said: " An Orphan girl used to be under the care of a guardian with whom she shared property. Her guardian, being attracted by her wealth and beauty, would intend to marry her without giving her a just Mahr, i.e. the same Mahr as any other person might give her (in case he married her). So such guardians were forbidden to do that unless they did justice to their female wards and gave them the highest Mahr their peers might get".
The evidence from the Sunnah is: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) established the marriage contract with Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, when she was 6 years old, and he consummated the marriage with her when she was 9 years of age.
It is reported in Sahih AlBukhari and Muslim that Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) established the marriage contract with me when I was 6 years of age and consummated the marriage with me when I was 9 years of age."
Ibn Qudama said in Al-Mughni: "There is no difference as regards a young girl who is still a virgin". Ibn Al-Mundhir said: "The reliable people of knowledge agree unanimously that it is permissible for a father to marry off his young and virgin daughter to an eligible man. It is also permissible for him to marry her off despite her reluctance to be married."
Al Baghawi said, like in Fath Al-Bari,: "There is a consensus of the scholars that it is permissible for the fathers to marry their young daughters even if they are still in the cradle, but it is not permissible for the husbands to consummate the marriage with them, unless they become physically fit for sexual intercourse by mature males."
The actions of companions:
There are many Ahadith which confirm that marriage at an early age was widespread among the companions and no one denied its permissibility. Getting married at an early age was not peculiar to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) as some people think, but it was general for him and for his Ummah.
The following are some of the actions of the Sahaba (companions):
1. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, married his daughter, Um Kulthum to Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, and she mothered a child before the death of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam). Omar got married to her while she was young before reaching the age of puberty.
This is reported by Ibn Saad in 'Al-Tabaqat'.
2. From Urwa Ibn Zubair: that Zubair, may Allah be pleased with him, married his daughter when she was very young. Reported by Saeed Ibn Mansour, in his Sunnah, and Ibn Abi Shaibah, in Al-musannaf, with a Sahih chain of narration.
Al-Shafie said in the book of Al-Um: "Many companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) married their daughters while these were still young."
Delaying the marriage of girls in many Muslim countries is something new and contradictory to what Muslims used to do over many centuries. This is because of westernization and the application of man-made laws. This caused a change in understandings and customs within a considerable number of the population, and it is absolutely not permissible to consider the customs and traditions in a given country as the standard by which people abide, and fail to obey the absolute evidences of Shariah.
In some Muslim countries, the marriage for girls has been delayed by many years beyond the age of puberty. This has indeed led to an increase in the removal of the veil from the face, and increased fornication and adultery, as well as the emergence of deviation in conduct and religion among the youth. They had become morally unstable as they lack affection, chastity, and protection their private parts from illegal sexual relations.
By delaying marriage, there is also a reduction in the number of Muslims in the Ummah, and this is contrary to the order of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam), as he ordered us to have many children so that the Muslim nation will be greater in number than the previous nations.
Allah knows best.