A Defending Crusader…

The best defense is to be good and offensive…or something like that.

Not all Jewels are pretty

Posted by Godefroi on August 13, 2008

I haven’t commented on the controversy over the book “The Jewel of Medina” and it’s being pulled from publication by Random House…at least not here.  I did, however, leave a note at the NPR blog for Talk of the Nation, which had a story on this, er, story (ahem).

I usually like to look back at comments I’ve made and see if there’s been a reply or not.  Much to my suprise, my comment at NPR got a response from Sherry Jones, the author herself.

My comment:

If one notes that ‘Aisha was only NINE YEARS OLD at the time of the marriage consummation (reference Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64 & 65), this dreadful romanticization becomes child pornography.

Decency, rather than fear of reprisal, should have been the basis for killing this book.  [thanks to profitsbeard for pointing this out at DW before I could]

The very next comment is from Ms. Jones

Not all scholars agree on A’isha’s age. Even the hadith and sira disagree. And then there is the very meaning of the word “consummation,” with some arguing that the hadith cited above, attributed to A’isha, meant merely that the marriage contract was completed at that age. Nothing is clear-cut when you’re talking about events that occurred 14 centuries ago. In my book, A’isha is 14 when she and Muhammad become intimate. Contrary to what’s been suggested, I don’t offer details, by the way.

Sent by Sherry Jones


Well, I don’t feel like starting a debate in the NPR thread, but I want to address some of what Ms. Jones said in her reply.

In her first sentence she claims that not all scholars agree on Aisha’s age – this is undoubtedly true.  It is also true that the preponderance of scholars DO agree that Aisha and Muhammad were married when she was 6 years old (sick enough), and that they first had sex when she was 9 years old (that’s the well-established meaning of the word “consummated”, in a marriage context).  Hence the continued existence of marriage of very young girls in predominantly-Islamic countries.  Furthermore, even if all the traditions and sayings aren’t in complete agreement on these details, Sahih Bukhari is considered by orthodox Muslims to be just that – sahih, that is, authentic.

More examples, two from Bukhari and one from Muslim (also “authentic”):

Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88 
Narrated ‘Ursa:
The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with ‘Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).

Sahih Bukhari 5.236.
Narrated Hisham’s father:
Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married ‘Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed [sic] that marriage when she was nine years old.

Sahih Muslim Book 008, Number 3310:
‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.

Continuing, Ms. Jones states that she characterizes Aisha as being 14 years old, presumably post-pubescent.  Rather than spend a lot of my time on this, I’ll refer the reader to Ali Sina’s site, FFI.

Finally, as for not offering details, I can only assume she is being honest.  However, even remotely describing the “pleasure” a 9-year-old (or even 14-year-old) is supposedly experiencing while losing her virginity to someone 4 or 6 times her age is going too far.

The quote I’ve seen is this:

“…the pain of consummation [there’s that somehow-ambiguous word again] soon melted away. Muhammad was so gentle. I hardly felt the scorpion’s sting. To be in his arms, skin to skin, was the bliss I had longed for all my life.”

Yeah, a little girl is going to have “longed for” sex with a man older than her father “all my life”.  A proposition as ridiculous as it is gross.

While I find it quite disturbing that any publishing house, let alone one as big as Random, would let the possibility of offending someone deter the publication of any book, I for one am glad this particular bit of tripe will not be with us any time soon.


3 Responses to “Not all Jewels are pretty”

  1. draabe said

    It’s an interesting story (and I do mean the story; I haven’t read the book). I haven’t searched your entire blog yet but am guessing you know that the book is being released in the U.S. today. I’ve been following the story here.

  2. Godefroi said

    While I’m pleased that the publisher didn’t cave to the pressure (or the fire-bombing), I’m still very disturbed by the content. Glamorizing a sexual “romantic” relationship between a 50-year-old man and girl of 9 – or 14 – is just gross.

    And no, I didn’t realize the book was about to be released in the U.S. Thanks for the update, and the commment.

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