On Sunday, Saudi Arabian human rights groups issued a statement opposing child marriages as a breach of Rights of the Child Charter and the International Women’s Rights Treaty (both of which Saudi Arabia has signed within the last fifteen years). Last month, an 11-year-old girl was awarded a divorce from a marriage she did not want to a 75-year-old man. Despite both these recent events, Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh has publicly stated his support for child marriages.
Most interesting is Al Sheikh’s statement that, “Our mothers and before them, our grandmothers, married when they were barely 12.” Thus following the mentality of “don’t question tradition” and “if it was good enough for our forefathers (and mothers), it’s good enough for us.”
The Prophet’s marriage to Aisha when she was thought to be 9 years old is usually given as the reason for child marriage permissibility. The Qur’an does not specify a legal age for marriage. It does, however, say that,
“When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah hath revealed:” They say: “Nay! we shall follow the ways of our fathers.” What! even though their fathers Were void of wisdom and guidance?” (Surah 2:170, Yusuf Ali translation).
Maybe somebody should tell Al Shaikh.