Child Marriage in Islam and Its Consequences

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Early marriage is also known as teen marriage and it is typically defined as the union of two adolescents, joined in marriage from at a young age starting from the age of 14 years old. Until the late 20th century, teen marriage was very common and instrumental in securing a family, continuing a blood lineage and producing offspring for labour. Many factors contribute to teen marriage such as teen pregnancy, religion, security, family and peer pressure, arranged marriage, economic and political reasons, social advancement, and cultural reasons. Studies have shown that teenage married couples are often less advantageous, may come from broken homes, may have little education and work low status jobs in comparison to those that marry after adolescence.

Although a majority of teen marriages suffer from complications and often lead to divorce, some are successful. For example, in India, where teenagers are sometimes forced to marry by arrangement, more than 90% of these marriages will not end in divorce. In the United States, half of teen marriages dissolve within 15 years of the marriage. The rate of teen marriage, however, is decreasing due the many opportunities that are available now that previously were not available before. Presently, teen marriage is not widely accepted in much of the world. Teen marriage is most prevalent in culturally or geographically isolated parts of the world and it is decreasing where education is the focus of the population.

Early Marriage in Islam

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...
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