|Thorny Issues In Modern Islam|
Three things, at present, are quickly gaining taboo status on Global scale:
Pollution, Smoking, and Pedophilia. Of the three, pedophilia is the most explosive. One single proven charge; and the future of the accused is destroyed forever.
So powerful the taboo of pedophilia has become, that upon observing the Bonobo chimps in action, one can hardly escape labeling these wild animals as wicked!
Now, Islam has the misfortune of having its founder, allegedly, married to a very young girl, called Aisha. This historical event is a gift from heaven to the critics. Check for instance [http://www.libya-watanona.com/adab/hakim/hk31035a.htm]. That is because, in the current social climate, nothing a defender can say to turn the table on them. Even the most passionate defense, necessarily, appears as a sarcastic parody or attacking the case under the guise of defending it. See for example [http://www.libya-watanona.com/adab/sbammar/sa03045a.htm]. The case simply cannot be defended or condoned.
From theological perspective, Lady Aisha (may God bless her soul) was a walking disaster.
In addition to the above problem of pedophilia, her alleged affair with a camel rider was instrumental in institutionalizing the strict segregation of women on religious grounds in Islamic societies to this day. She was also involved in the major schism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims down the centuries. On balance, therefore, one can conclude, on the face of it, that the abused little girl from Mecca got, in the end, even with society.
Is there any way, for modern Moslems, out of this pedophilia predicament?
As mentioned earlier, the strategy of direct defense does not work in this case. It is really futile to try to argue for it. And it does more harm than good. Direct defense also has the un-intended side effect of encouraging child abuse in Moslem societies. The attempt to keep the whole issue under the rug, in the Information Age, does not work either.
Thus, it seems, the best course of action on the part of the Muslim Clergy, is to deny the accuracy of the historical record regarding this case, and to raise Aisha's age at the time of her wedding to some acceptable level.
Such denial is not altogether historically unjustified. Because there is some clear evidence that early Islamic biographers had taken it upon themselves to change every metaphor used by Pagan poets in mocking the Prophet to its extreme opposite. The poets described him metaphorically as having 'paler skin' than average. The biographers changed it to 'rosier skin' than average. The Pagan poets mocked him of having 'smaller hands' than average. The Islamic biographers changed that to 'bigger hands' than average, and so on. This procedure is familiar and frequently used in the process of building new mythologies throughout history.
Accordingly, although no written record exists, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the whole story of the under-age spouse was invented specifically, by biographers, to counter the other charge of affinity for widows and old women.
In any case, a resolution along those lines may not satisfy all the critics. But it will, certainly, help typical believers to avoid the agony of some conflicting values in their belief system.
Ali Bin Typhoon