ARABIC: زواج الأطفال بين الفقه والمجتمع
Child marriage in the light of jurisprudence and society
Child marriage was a phenomenon known to the ancient world and Arab Bedouins were no exception to that. The status of women was lowly as there happened frequent wars between different Bedouin tribes and children including young girls of the losing tribes were taken as captives by the victorious ones. So, when Islam came to the Arabian Peninsula, it did not abolish the practice of slavery immediately rather started with imparting rights to women and declaring their duties. This paper mentions the arguments of those who favor the child marriages and highlights the fact that their evidences are primarily derived from those texts which mention the practice of child marriage in the Arab society. Since these texts do not talk about the permissibility of child marriages as the practices become permissible or prohibited when a clear injunction is found in the scripture. The jurists allow the Nikah of girl child but with the condition of puberty at the time of wedding her off. The bride should be mature enough to be in the marital relationship with her husband and capable to have physical relationship after marriage. The maturity of the bride will be assessed from case to case as in the hot areas the girls attain puberty earlier than those in the cold territories. This paper intends to demonstrate that those, who turn to the texts in order to bring far-fetched evidences to prove the admissibility of child marriages, they implicitly portray Islam as a religion against women education and empowerment. It is significant to understand the difference between child marriage and early marriage. Islam does not encourage marriage of infants and underaged girls as it emphasizes mental maturity for such serious deed as marriage. The child marriage deprives women from many of her fundamental rights. Moreover, the performance of duties, enjoined by Sharia after marriage, requires an individual fully developed physically, emotionally and mentally and it’s not possible in case of child marriage. Conclusively, we can say that the appropriate age of marriage is a subjective issue depending on the societal context and personal circumstances of the individual. As the maturity of individual may be assessed from case to case, the decision to hold or delay the marriage may be taken accordingly. Here we would like to refer to the Quranic verse which emphasizes conducting the marriage on the basis of Iman i.e., faith not Islam. Hence it indicates that Quran aims to lay the foundations of a new family on the strong grounds of faith. So, if a person gets married to a woman distant from faith and Islamic practices, will end up living a life engrossed in the worldly affairs, away from divinely inspired patterns of life. A family raised by a Godfearing woman is starkly different from the one raised by a non-religious woman and Islam takes this basic fact into account.