One of the most infamous claims made by anti-Islamists online is short, simple and snappy: ‘[Muslims’] prophet was a paedophile!’. It is all too easy to shout down an opponent with a crass remark like this one. Similarly, those who are crass and aggressive leave themselves open to equally condescending and passive-aggressive responses, as is evident in almost any Internet forum. So, as someone growing more and more sceptical of Islam with every day spent studying it, I decided to investigate: was Prophet Mohammed really a paedophile?
We will speak of Mohammed’s favourite wife (Ibid, no. 2581), to whom he was married for nine years: Aisha. In a dream, the prophet saw a girl’s image on a piece of silk. A disembodied voice told him: ‘This is your wife.’. As the face was revealed, Mohammed saw that it was Aisha, a 6-year-old girl, daughter of one of his fathers-in-law, Abu Bakr. But, as he saw this as a sign from Allah, he accepted that he had to marry the girl (Sahih-Al-Bukhari, no. 3895 and no. 5078). On proposing the marriage to the girl’s father, Mohammed was met with some concern, as one would expect. But Mohammed assured his father-in-law:
“You are my brother in Allah’s religion and His book, but [Aisha] is lawful for me to marry.”
Aisha was quite unaware of this, seemingly, as we gather from her own account about when she found out of her marriage to Mohammed. She was playing with her peers – other little girls – outside, when her mother, Umm Ruman, approached her, took her by the hand, and preparations for her wedding were made. She was taken into Mohammed’s household, where, at age 9, she would consummate the marriage with him (Sahih Al-Bukhari, nos. 5133 and 5134; Ibid, no. 3896; Ibid, no. 5158; Ibid, no. 3894; Sahih Muslim, no. 3310).
The moral abhorrence of this aside, there is something important to note: Mohammed is unlikely to have had a fetish for children. This is evident in the fact that he only had one child as a wife. Had he so desired, he could have had more young concubines and wives, but Allah never gave him any further revelations about taking a child bride, so it seems. The sickening relationship with a little girl – an ordinary little girl who still had the childlike wonder to play with dolls, whilst married to and having sex with Mohammed (Ibid no. 6130; Ibid no. 3311) – is something one cannot gloss over if trying to defend the prophet as a morally perfect man. But we simply do not have proof that he was a sexual predator.
All of the Abrahamic faiths are rife with acts we consider disgusting to varying degrees, and there are some – such as the casual sexual abuse of Aisha, the 6-year-old bride of Mohammed – that are indefensibly horrible, and harmful to the victims. It does not matter that this was acceptable at the time. It does matter that some Muslims misguidedly defend Mohammed as a moral idol, and it does matter that we do not judge millions purely on the word of their holy book, but rather, what they choose to do with its content.