Charlie Hebdo: A Muslim’s Perspective

Before I delve into this article on the Charlie Hebdo shooting, I would first like to make certain that, although this article is titled “A Muslim’s Perspective,” the opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by all 1.7 billion Muslims of the world, or the roughly 6 million Muslims in America, or even the handful of Muslims at Swarthmore. However, I would not be surprised if other Muslims held views similar to mine. Additionally, I’d like to note out that whenever I mention the name of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), the “pbuh” means “peace be upon him.”

There are two issues that I would like to address in this article: first, whether the killings at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris are justified by Islam, and second, whether the publications of Charlie Hebdo can be justified by freedom of speech.

On the first point: the killings that occurred in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices are NOT JUSTIFIED whatsoever. There’s a reason why so many Islamic religious leaders spoke out against the killings. Islam does not support any type of law-breaking, let alone storming into offices and killing people. From an Islamic perspective, if you choose to live in a certain country, then you must abide by its laws. If you are not satisfied with those laws, then activism and other peaceful methods are encouraged. Let’s look at an example. In fact, let us take an example from the life of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). I am not an authoritative Islamic scholar or jurist, but I will do my best from what I know and have read.

The Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He began preaching Islam at the age of 40, and for 12 years he resided in Mecca. His preachings were met with fierce opposition. The Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) and his followers were harassed, insulted, and physically harmed while in Mecca. It was common for Meccan non-Muslims to throw stones at Muslims while they were praying or in public. It was persecution at its worst. Many followers of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) were killed for their beliefs, and there were many death threats and assassination attempts against the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh).

What was Prophet Muhammad’s(pbuh) response? The Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) did not retaliate. He sought peaceful ways to end the hostilities. There are endless stories of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) and his followers being peaceful towards hateful people. During the course of his lifetime, he signed many peace-keeping treaties to ensure good relations between his followers and those of other faiths. For example, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah guaranteed ten years of total peace between the Muslims of Medina and the Quraish tribe (governors of Mecca), which had originally persecuted Meccan Muslims and had caused them to move to Medina for safety in the first place.  Ultimately, my point is that Islam in no way, shape, or form endorses or allows the Charlie Hebdo killings. A religion does not automatically endorse or allow whatever is done in its name.

On the second point: Can the Charlie Hebdo publications be justified by norms of free speech? The right to freedom of speech enshrined in many legal systems is not absolute, just like many other freedoms we have. Libel, slander, and hate speech are just a few of the many cases where freedom of speech is regulated. Within Western secular law, the basic premise is that we ensure the most freedom we can for the individual without infringing on the rights of any other individual. The question is, where do we draw the line?

In my experience, the most popular argument I encounter when it comes to free speech and religion is that religion is an ideology and people should be allowed to criticize any ideology without restrictions. To this I say: criticize the ideology of Islam all you want. There are dozens upon dozens of thoroughly researched writings that criticize Islam as an ideology; there have been for many, many years. To this, I, as well as probably any other sensible Muslim with a decent understanding of Islam, do not object. Criticize the ideology of Islam all you want. If you want to write a whole book on why the prohibition of alcohol in Islam does not make sense, do so. There will be virtually no objection to anyone who does their research and proposes a well-grounded criticism of the ideology of Islam.

However, there is a line between criticism of ideology and mockery of individuals. As Mehdi Hassan, the political director for the Huffington Post UK, so brilliantly points out: “Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammeled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn. Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the Twin Towers? I didn’t think so (and I am glad it hasn’t)… I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.” He also mentions a  “thought experiment” proposed by Oxford philosopher Brian Klug, one that is definitely worth reading, but will not be elaborated on for the sake of conciseness.

To get to the point: absolutely groundless mockery of anyone is unacceptable. That is actually the definition of defamation— which is legally punishable in many, if not most countries (of course, I do realize that defamation laws apply to living persons). Absolutely groundless mockery of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), a man that 1.7 billion Muslims love and admire so much, is especially unacceptable. I can assure you that those who work in the Charlie Hebdo offices most likely never read a biography of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), because if they did, they would realize that the character of the man they were trying to mock, could not justifiably be mocked in any way. When the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), who wanted to kill him for his ideologies, could not find any flaw with his personal character, how could people who barely know him or his life story mock him? By mocking the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), there is no constructive criticism being made of the ideology of Islam. Instead, there is only the creation of distasteful and hateful material that causes more harm than good. The root of such actions simply boils down to bigotry and hatred, and I won’t even elaborate on the fact that in the country of publication, France, Muslims are essentially treated like second-class citizens.

Again, I’d like to reiterate the fact that publications that form well-grounded, well-researched, and thoughtfully written criticisms of religion are fine. In fact, they are good. They create a dialogue among those of different faiths and help us understand more about the faiths and beliefs in question. If someone were to write a thorough criticism about Islamic ideology and publish thousands of copies of it, I would be one of the first ones to read it. I may not agree with what that publication would have to say, but I would respect the fact that the author took out the time to thoroughly research the Islamic ideology and form a well-grounded opinion on it. However, the unjustifiable, bigoted mockery of an individual that is so loved by 1.7 billion people is unacceptable. There is a clear distinction between the questioning and criticism of an ideology and the baseless derision of an individual, let alone the Prophet(pbuh) of almost 25% of the world’s population.

So please, form as many well-grounded criticisms of the ideology of Islam as possible. All that I, and 1.7 billion other Muslims, humbly request is that the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), whom we love and admire so much, whom I love and admire more than my own parents and more than my own self, not be groundlessly mocked.


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15 comments

  1. 0
    alum says:

    The biggest problem with religion that I have is hatred. Hatred for yourself, hatred for others, hatred for difference. Is all this hate really worth it? Ask yourself this question, again and again, is all this hate really worth it? For a figure in history? For a book?

    If you get anything from a Swarthmore education, it is that you will graduate with the ability to THINK FOR YOURSELF. Think for yourself, and thus, fight for yourself, your identity, and who you are. Love yourself and love others.

  2. 0
    Arsh says:

    REAL AGE OF H. Aisha ra Marriage
    Real Age of Hazrat Ayesha (r.a) during marriage with Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W) Mathematical Proof: According to Abda-Rahman ibn Abi Zanna: Asma was 10 years older than Ayesha (Siyar A’lama-nubala, Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, pg 289, Arabic, Muassasatu-risalah, 1992). According to Ibn Kathir: She [Asma] was elder to her sister [Ayesha] by 10 years (Al-Bidayah wa-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, pg 371, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933). According to Ibn Kathir: She [Asma] saw the killing of her son during that year [73 A.H, Islamic calendar], as I have already mentioned, and five days later she herself died. According to other narratives, she died not after five days but 10 or 20, or a few days over 20, or 100 days later. The most well known narrative is that of 100 days later. At the time of her death, she(Asma) was 100 years old. (Al-Bidayah wa-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, p. 372, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933); Ibne Asakir vol 69 Page 18; Alsunnan Alkubra Albehaqi Vol.6 Page 204). According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani: She [Asma] lived a hundred years and died in 73 A.H. (Taqribu-tehzib, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, p. 654, Arabic, Bab fi-nisa, al-harfu-alif). According to almost all the historians; Asma, the elder sister of Ayesha, was 10 years older than Ayesha. Calculation and analysis: Asma was 10 years older than Ayesha (r.a) Asma died in 73 A.H at age 100 years. 73*355 (Islamic calendar) = 25915 days. 25915/365 = 71 years (conversion to Gregorian calendar). Death of Asma: 71 years after migration (Hijrat) to Madina at age 100, Migration to Madina in 622 C.E. Therefore, 622+71= 693 C.E Birth of Asma: 693 -100= 593 C.E Birth of Ayesha (r.a), who is 10 years younger than Asma, 593+10= 603 C.E The marriage occurred after the Battle of Badr in Shawal 2nd A.H (hijri) (A’ini, vol. 8, pg. 96) 622+2= 624 C.E 624-603= 21 YEARS A fully grown woman not 6 or 9 year old girl. (6 or 9 is just a myth). PROOF #2: Ayesha was young girl during revealation of AL-Qamar in 614: But according to another narrative in Bukhari, Ayesha is reported to have said: “I was a young girl (jariyah in Arabic)”when Surah Al-Qamar was revealed. (Sahih Bukhari, kitabu’l-tafsir, Bab QaulihiBal al- sa`atu Maw`iduhum wa’l-sa`atu adha’ wa amarr). Chapter 54 of the Quran was revealed eight years before hijrah (The Bounteous Koran, M.M. Khatib, 1985), indicating that it was revealed in 614 C.E. If Ayesha started living with the Prophet at the age of nine in 623 CE or 624 CE, she was a newborn infant (sibyah in Arabic) at the time that Surah Al-Qamar (The Moon) was revealed. According to the above tradition, Ayesha was actually a young girl, not an infant in the year of revelation of Al-Qamar (614 C.E.). Jariyah means young playful girl (Lane’sArabic English Lexicon). So, Ayesha, being a jariyah(young girl) not a sibyah (infant), must be somewhere between 9-13 years old at the time of revelation of Al-Qamar in 614 C.E, and therefore must have been 18-21 years at the time she married the Prophet. CONCLUSION: This tradition also contradicts the marriage of Ayesha at the age of nine. When she was a young girl in 614 C.E, surely can’t be 9 or 6 or 4 year old girl in 624 C.E. PROOF # 3: Reliability of Sources who narrated 6 or 9 years age: Most of the narratives printed in the books of hadith are reported only by Hisham ibn `Urwah son of Zubair, and Urwah’s mother was Aisha (r.a) sister Asma, who was reporting on the authority of his father. But Born in the year 61 A.H. (Hijri) and died in the year 146 A.H. First of all, more people than just one, two or three should logically have reported. It is strange that no one from Medina, where Hisham ibn `Urwah lived the first 71 years of his life narrated the event, despite the fact that his Medinan pupils included the well-respected Malik ibn Anas. The origins of the report of the narratives of this event are people from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have shifted after living in Medina for most of his life. Tehzibu-Tehzib, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet, reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah: He [Hisham] is highly reliable; his narratives are acceptable, except what he narrated after moving over to Iraq. (Tehzi, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqalani, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, 15th century. Vol 11, p.50). It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people in Iraq: have been told that Malik objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq (Tehzi-tehzib, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqalani, Dar Ihya al- turath al-Islami, Vol.11, p. 50). Mizan-ai`tidal, another book on the life sketches of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet reports: When he was old, Hisham memory suffered quite badly (Mizan-ai`tidal, Al-Zahbi, Al- Maktabatu-athriyyah, Vol. 4, p. 301). CONCLUSION: Based on these references, Hisham memory was failing and his narratives while in Iraq were unreliable. So, his narrative of Ayesha marriage and age are unreliable. He was born in 61 A.H and moved to Iraq in 131 A.H. Means he was quite old at that time and many crypto-jews (converted to Islam or Christianity but secretly serve Judaism) were also sent out of Makka and Medina who were harming Islam in one way or another, settled in Iraq. PROOF #4 unmarried lady in Arabic: According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of the Prophet’s first wife Khadijah, when Khaulah came to the Prophet advising him to marry again, the Prophet asked her regarding the choices she had in mind. Khaulah said: “You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)”. When the Prophet asked the identity of the bikr (virgin), Khaulah mentioned Ayesha’s name. All those who know the Arabic language are aware that the word bikr in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine-year-old girl. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier,is jariyah. Bikr on the other hand is used for an unmarried lady without conjugal experience prior to marriage, as we understand the word “virgin” in English. Therefore, obviously a nine- year-old girl is not a “lady” (bikr). (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 6, pg 210, Arabic Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi). CONCLUSION: The literal meaning of the word, bikr (virgin), in the above hadith is “adult woman with no sexual experience prior to marriage.” Therefore, Ayesha was an adult woman at the time of her marriage. The narrative of the marriage of nine-year-old Ayesha by Hisham ibn `Urwah cannot be held true when it is contradicted by many other reported narratives. Moreover, there is absolutely no reason to accept the narrative of Hisham ibn `Urwah as true when other scholars, including Malik ibn Anas (his student), view his narrative while in Iraq through them as unreliable (and the presence of crpto-jews in Iraq). Thus, the narrative of Ayesha’s age at the time of the marriage is not reliable due to the clear contradictions seen in the works of classical scholars of Islam. The above proves 100% that Ayesha (r.a) was not 6 or 9 or 4 when she got married it is a myth. She was at least 19-21; Moreover, the Quran rejects the marriage of immature girls and boys as well as entrusting them with responsibilities. Sources: 1. (Sahih Bukhari, kitabu’l-tafsir, Bab QaulihiBal al-sa`atu Maw`iduhum wa’l-sa`atu adha’ wa amarr). 2. (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 6, pg 210, Arabic Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi). 3. (Siyar A’lama-nubala, Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, p. 289, Arabic, Muassasatu-risalah, 1992). 4. (Al-Bidayah wa-nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 8, p. 371, Dar al-fikr al-`arabi, Al-jizah, 1933). 5. Taqribu-tehzib, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, p. 654, Arabic, Bab fi-nisa, al-harfu-alif). 6. (Tehzi, Ibn Hajar Al-`asqalani, Dar Ihya al- turath al-Islami, 15th century. Vol 11, p.50). 7. (Mizan-ai`tidal, Al-Zahbi, Al- Maktabatu- athriyyah, Vol. 4, p. 301). Additional information 570 Birth of Holy Prophet Mohammed Sallallaho Alaihe wa’sallam 610 First revelation 622 Hijrat These are accepted figures from mainstream scholars. Additional information (IRF) According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). If Asma was 100 years old in 73 A.H, she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijra { Asma’s age MINUS 73 hijrah EQUALS the age of Asma at the time of Hijrah ( 100– 73 or 74 = 27 or 28 A.H)}. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of Hijrah, Ayesha (ra), being younger by 10 years, should have been 17 or 18 years old {Asma’s age at the time of Hijarah MINUS the age difference between Asma and Ayesha EQUALS the age of Ayesha at the time of Hijarh (27 or 28 –10 = 17 or 18 yrs)}. Thus, Ayesha (ra), being 17 or 18 years of at the time of Hijra, she started to cohabit with Prophet between 19 to 20 years old (The Age of Ayesha at the time of Hijra + the year of Ayesha cohabiting with Prophet (19-20 + 1-2 Hijra) = The Age of Ayesha when she cohabit with Prophet (19 or 20 years). Even the staunchest of hate mongers and Islamophobics won’t be able to refute these analysis and Proofs.

  3. 0
    PG says:

    Not saying I agree with what this article is saying about free speech, but most commenters are missing the point that Razvi is right – Muhammad himself had little to do with the modern killings and other injustices for which Hebdo cartoonists satirized him. Why wasn’t caricature made of those who executed the injustices? It seems to me that, because Muhammad is the physical embodiment of Islamic ideology, Hebdo decided to use him. But since these killings are, as Razvi pointed out, not in line with what Muhammad practiced or preached, it seems unreasonable to satirize him, as opposed to the perpetrators. If I die, and people begin to do terrible things in my name, saying I advocated killing everyone who owned a snuggie why would I be satirized, instead of them (which could be loosely construed, perhaps, if the way things are construed about Muhammad is how it works [I have vocally advocated for the end of consumerism, of which the snuggie is a great example, so people could interpret my meaning to be that I advocate for murdering those who are consumerist, which is simply not true])? Just because people use you as justification to do their wrong does not mean that you are the one doing the wrong. By satirizing Muhammad, Hebdo satirized all of Islam, which seems like a religion with a lot of failings, as have many religions (i.e. the Catholic Church of which I am a member), but they should have been satirizing the atrocities.

    Let’s not forget that on the same day as the Hebdo attacks, members of Boko Haram (‘Western Education is sinful’) brutally murdered 1000s in Northeast Nigeria. Shall we blame their attack on Muhammad? Shall we blame it on the ‘West’ that seems to have engendered their hatred, as it has so many West African Islamic states before them [who reacted to Western slavery that exploited the entirety of that area (surely Western slave-era historical figured could be caricatured in this instance)]? If so, we should caricature either of those idealogical figureheads. However, maybe we should blame Boko Haram. It seems like they cite two motivational ideologies, yet their actions speak volumes about their group. All of us may feel murderous at times, and justify our feelings by invoking a belief. But if we choose to act upon our feelings, who is to blame – the figurehead of the ideology we invoke, or ourselves? Think about it.

  4. 0
    conclusion says:

    No one/group/organization/people is entitled to “special treatment”. Razvi’s demands that Islam not be mocked or criticized is naive and unrealistic. We live in an imperfect world that likes to criticize.

  5. 0
    anon says:

    Razvi, visit /r/exmuslim. It will be enlightening.

    Religion stifles the intellect–an offense that Islam acutely and dangerously perpetuates.

    If you are not able to freely think and freely express ideas, however disagreeable they may be, a free and just society cannot survive.

    Freedom, civil liberties, and justice should be our highest ideals as a society–not cowering in fear to the tyranny of a minority.

    1. 0
      Maurice Eldridge says:

      Anon, given your passionate defense of free speech and thought why do you write anonymously rather than own your speech with your name? Maurice

      1. 0
        William Fedullo '16 says:

        There are any number of reasons that a person might choose to post anonymously on issues of faith and its loss; I know several people of various religious backgrounds that no longer believe in the religion of their parents, but must keep that fact at least somewhat hidden from them because of fear of social/financial/emotional consequences.

        Owning one’s speech is a nice thing to aspire to, but not everyone faces the same impediments to doing so. Believing in free speech and religious freedom as a normative ideal doesn’t at all imply that that ideal govern’s one life practically.

        That said, atheism related subreddits (r/exmuslim is a section on the website reddit.com) tend to be terrible places to find reasonable arguments about faith; r/atheism is particular lapses into the same dogmatism that it accuses religion of embodying.

      2. 0
        anon says:

        First of, there are at least two different “Anons” running around here.

        What exactly does free speech have to do with anonymity? Why do you have to “own” your speech in order to make it viable? I feel like that’s a pretty arbitrary line to draw. Regardless of whether or not you know my name, my arguments stand. Shrug.

      3. 0
        different anon says:

        I don’t see how writing something anonymously and free speech are incompatible. There are a number of valid reasons for not wanting a potentially contentious idea to be associated with your real identity. After all, look at how using real names worked out for Charlie Hebdo…

  6. 0
    Anon says:

    If it’s acceptable for political satirists to draw pictures of Barack Obama with enlarged ears I don’t see why it should be unacceptable to do similar mockeries of the living. I agree it’s in poor taste but I can’t see a basis for protecting the dead more than the living.

    1. 0
      anon says:

      Exactly, Mohammad, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, they’re all f***ing dead. Why do we let the dead people dictate and brainwash our societies, our values, our free thinking?

      There is no idea or opinion that is above judgement. That’s what democracy is all about.

  7. 0
    asdf says:

    You write:

    “I can assure you that those who work in the Charlie Hebdo offices most likely never read a biography of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), because if they did, they would realize that the character of the man they were trying to mock, could not justifiably be mocked in any way”

    I have a number of issues with your article, but I’ll just focus on this one. I’m not sure if you yourself have ever read a biography of Mumammad. If you have, and if it wasn’t written by an Islamic apologist applying some pretty serious mental gymnastics, then you would realize that your beloved prophet Muhammad married a 6 year old girl and had sex with her when she was 9. (This is a fact agreed upon by most preeminent Muslim scholars, I’m not just some wacko trying to slander Muhammad). A lot of people point to the fact that Muhammad and Aisha went on to have a happy marriage, as though this somehow changes the fact that Muhammad VIOLATED THE CONSENT OF A 9 YEAR OLD GIRL, who in all likelihood was prepubescent to boot. I’m not sure what they called this back then, but nowadays we call this RAPE and it is NEVER okay.

    So for you to say that certain people are above ridicule, including a child rapist of all people, is frankly absurd. No man should be above ridicule, I don’t care how many people hold him near and dear. Okay, maybe you don’t believe that Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old (you would be wrong, but let’s give you the benefit of the doubt). Do you see why it’s still important to be able to criticize? Because Muhammad was human, and humans (even the best ones) often do some awful things. The concept of blasphemy has the effect of making it impossible to call out the shitty things people do. In the offchance that Muhammad did do something awful (a fact claimed by me and supported by an enormous amount of research), it’s important to able to call into question what he did, be it through satire or other means.

    What you’ve done is created an image of a man that is perfect in every way, and you will do all that is possible to defend his honor. In fact right now you’re probably coming up with an excuse about how times were different then (as though it was ever acceptable to rape a 9 year old), or doing everything in your power to find research that supports the opposite conclusion. And honestly I wouldn’t blame you; when someone you know and love is called into question for being a rapist, you definitely don’t want that to be the case. But think about this for a second. There are quite a number of rapists in the world. Many of them have brothers or sisters who love them, or friends who trust them completely. But that doesn’t change the fact that such people exist. Part of being a “decent human being” is realizing that even people you know and hold dear might have done some fucked up shit. I’m not saying you should go around suspecting all your friends of being rapists, but when someone tells you that your friend violated their consent, you probably shouldn’t automatically dismiss that person’s opinion just because you like your friend. Or, alternatively, when a 9 year old girl comes up to you and says “Muhammad had sex with me when I was 9,” you maybe shouldn’t do everything in your power to call her a liar.

    This is ultimately the problem I have with your article. By appealing to the idea that blasphemy is unacceptable, you make it possible for certain individuals to be above criticism. This, however, is a problem when said individuals have done awful things. Look, even if you’re 99.99% sure that your best friend would never do something like that, if evidence comes to light that they have, you have to at least allow the possibility. Because otherwise it’s impossible for victims to speak out against people held dear or in power. And the ability to speak out against people who have wronged you is VITAL.

    1. 0
      Asma Noray says:

      Dear asdf,

      Actually, scholars who have dedicated their entire lives to the study of Islamic history and jurisprudence from major schools of thought would agree that your entire premise is factually incorrect. And no, they are not just “Islamic apologists.” Do you honestly think that there would be 1.7 billion followers of a religion whose most respected individual that was appointed by God to carry forth his last message would be a rapist? Does it make sense that the individual who gave rights to the women of Arabia after centuries of them being treated as nothing more than property would then turn around and marry a child without her consent? When the life and character of the Prophet is considered to be the embodiment of the Qur’an for people to emulate, would it make sense for this Prophet to violate the Qur’an’s command that a woman MUST have reached puberty and give her explicit consent before a marriage?

      Now that we’ve covered common sense, let’s move on to the facts:

      1. Yes, in Bukhari, there is a hadith where Aisha is reported to have said that she was married at the age of 6 and that her marriage was consummated at the age of 9. However, hadiths are to be evaluated on their validity based on whether or not they are in accordance with what the Qur’an (God’s infallible words) has explained. If there is anything in a hadith that is contradicted by the Qur’an, it is immediately deemed unreliable. The idea that the Prophet supposedly married Aisha before puberty and without her consent is contradictory to God’s words, so it is a hadith that has been fabricated or altered over the centuries.

      2. There is also a hadith in Bukhari that says that Aisha was a young girl at the time when Surah al-Qamar was revealed, and remembered the event of this revelation. Historically, Surah al-Qamar was revealed about 9 years before Aisha’s marriage. Obviously only one of these hadiths can be true.

      3. Aisha’s marriage occurred around 620-622. Islam was revealed in 610, and it is recorded that Aisha accepted the faith of her own accord shortly after it was revealed. This means that she would had to have been more than 10 years old at the time of her marriage (probably 14 or 15+ in order to have remembered converting, which was the average age for marriage for a woman at the time,) and then waited 3-5 years before the consummation of her marriage. This is recorded in Sirat Rasul Allah, the earliest surviving biography of the Prophet.

      4. It is also recorded that Aisha married the Prophet in the “tenth year of the Call in the month of Shawwal,” which would further confirm that she was AT LEAST ten years old at the time of her marriage, and AT LEAST 12-15 when her marriage was consummated. This would still be repulsive in our society, but women and men were considered to be mature at this age during the Prophet’s time, and usually got married in their early teen years.

      5. When the message of Islam was revealed, most of the people around the Prophet felt threatened and his tribe was tortured and exiled. The leaders in Mecca opposing his message looked for every reason to criticise his character and try to diminish his authority. Yet, they NEVER used his marriages against him, showing that they were common place at the time. In fact, people that hated his message even testified to his excellent morals, kind personality, and humane treatment of those around him.

      I’m sure that someone more learned in Islamic history would be able to go on and on about this topic even further.

      Lastly, you mentioned that regardless of what Muslims believe, “it’s important to able to call into question what he [The Prophet] did, be it through satire or other means.” I would just like to say that satire to the extent of the editors at Charlie Hebdo is not simply calling Islam and the Prophet into question. It is spreading hatred and factually INCORRECT ideas.

  8. 0
    Eduard Saakashvili ( User Karma: 70 ) says:

    I agree with you on a lot of things. For instance, that free speech is, to different extents, regulated in most of the world. Your example of 9/11 cartoons is spot on, but I’m not sure what you’re using it to support: If somebody ran those cartoons in the United States, for instance, they would be condemned, but I’m pretty sure there would be no grounds for legal action against them unless the cartoons defamed specific individuals who died. Everybody would agree it was in poor taste, but it would probably go unregulated, at least in the United States.
    You also grant that slander and defamation apply to living persons only, but then go on to apply it to a person who is, at this point, as much an element of ideology as a historical figure. I feel like you don’t sufficiently explain why we should make an exception and see it as defamation anyway.
    The strangest part of your argument, however, I found to be this:
    “To this I say: criticize the ideology of Islam all you want. There are dozens upon dozens of thoroughly researched writings that criticize Islam as an ideology; there have been for many, many years. […] There will be virtually no objection to anyone who does their research and proposes a well-grounded criticism of the ideology of Islam.”
    I think the concept of free speech expressed here is something that many readers would also find discomfort with. Rather than drawing the line saying that ideology can be criticized but people cannot (a more reasonable proposition), you claim that only ideology can be criticized, and it can only be criticized in a CERTAIN WAY. This is a classic example of what many call tone policing: it’s basically regulating not so much the idea behind speech, but its tone, form, and layout. Imagine if the same criterion were applied to all ideologies: political satire would have to come with footnotes, and lighthearted, undercooked criticism would become unacceptable. Criticism of any sort would become the purview of well-trained academics and nobody else.
    Maybe you’re saying that this extra research requirement only applies to criticism of some ideologies, like Islam, but your article at least does not explain why that should be.

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