Do humans have moral obligations? The contradictions of the atheist’s worldview

“Humans are nowhere near as special as we like to think”, writes Melissa Hogenboom on BBC Earth’s “The Big Questions”.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett tells us consciousness is an illusion.

And that’s not the only illusion, apparently. “Free will is an illusion, so what?” scoffs Raj Ragunathan Ph.D.

And why not, after all? Theoretical Physicist, Lawrence Krauss says “I like to say, the universe doesn’t care about our common sense.  We have to force our ideas to conform to the evidence of reality rather than the other way around.  And if reality seems strange, that’s okay.”

In a nutshell, we’re not special, we aren’t really deciding what we want to do, and whatever we do, the universe doesn’t care.

Most living creatures certainly don’t seem to care. So why, as human beings, should WE care?

Consider the following picture:

Tiger trapped

Had the caption shown a man in the clutches of the tiger, and had it read: “This magnificent poacher dies in agony, trapped without hope. A tiger becomes fatter eating body parts”, few would have condemned the tiger. So why do we condemn the poacher – if we aren’t any more special than a tiger and the universe doesn’t care what we do?

Now take a look at this:

Cecil the Lion.JPG

Cecil the Lion 2.JPG

The death of Cecil the Lion caused international outrage and drew widespread condemnation. Had Cecil eaten the hunter alive, not only would the lion not have been criticized, the hunter himself would have been blamed for putting himself in harm’s way.

So, if human beings aren’t as special as many of us think, why do we reserve special treatment for other humans and not for animals?

One more example:

Animals for target practice.JPG

As a cat lover myself, I find this particularly upsetting. But if the universe doesn’t care about our actions, why is using animals for target practice any more reprehensible than what mother cats do themselves: bringing home injured birds and rodents for their kittens to practise their killing skills on?

Why should atheists care about what humans do to these animals? According to their own logic, it shouldn’t matter.

Raj Ragunathan Ph.D. makes a feeble attempt to counter this with “whether or not you act of out of free will in denying yourself the unhealthy-but-tasty cake, you will still have to face the health consequences of eating unhealthy meals. Likewise, whether or not you acted out of free will in committing a crime, you will still have to face the consequences of your misdeeds. So, from a purely consequentialist perspective, it makes sense to sometimes curb your temptations.

But why is making oneself or other people ill, bad? Why is trying to be healthy good?

Likewise, why should punishing a criminal be good, and not doing so, bad?

In a universe where humans have no special moral obligations, if we have to face the consequences, so what? Why should life be any better than death? It shouldn’t matter either way.

Yet, it DOES matter. Whether we are believers or atheists, we prefer life over death, and well-being over suffering. Moreover, there is a universal sense of duty in humans towards other creatures on their planet. Clearly, in our sense of moral responsibility, we are not like animals or plants – and our condemnation of any human behaviour deviating from the norm shows we all know it.

Islam teaches that human beings do indeed have a moral duty towards other creatures, and that because we, unlike animals, have free will, we shall be answerable to God for causing undue suffering to His creatures.

…Eat and drink but exceed not the limits; surely, (God) does not love those who exceed the bounds.” (the Qur’an, 7:32)

The Prophet of Islam cursed those who used animals for target practice, and warned that humans should only kill what they need for food. He said a person who brought water up from a well for a dog dying of thirst had all their sins forgiven. He also said that a person who starved a caged cat to death was bound for hell. He forbade the killing of predators for their skins. He even forbade taking baby birds out of their nest, saying that it would cause distress to their mother. And he cautioned his followers against setting fire to termite mounds.

This teaching is in accordance with human nature, that nature which separates us from all other creatures; the same human nature that compels us to denounce the crimes of the tiger’s poacher, Cecil’s hunter, and those cruel people taking animals to the target range.

 

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Can Any Theory of How Life Began “Disprove God”?

Plankton

Photo credit: Yannemann https://www.flickr.com/photos/yannemann/4924077647  Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

A few days ago, the Independent was ablaze with the following headline:

“New theory could prove how life began and disprove God”

To add to the fireworks, the article went on to say that “a writer on the website of Richard Dawkins’ foundation says that the theory has put God “on the ropes” and has “terrified” Christians…” and that someone on the website wrote that “the theory could make things “a whole lot worse for creationists”.”

It is always amusing to see how, in their desperation to “disprove” God, certain people confuse PROCESS with AGENT. Whatever the process was through which life was created from dead matter and made to evolve, knowing its finer details will not rule out the assertion that the process was guided by a super-intelligent agent, any more than knowing how an apple is digested will rule out the eater. Nor will it explain how the universe, in which the apple exists, appeared in the first place.

This may remind some readers of the joke in which God was approached by a scientist who said, “Listen God, we’ve decided we don’t need you anymore. These days we can clone people, transplant organs and do all sorts of things that used to be considered miraculous.” God replied, “Don’t need me, huh? How about we put your theory to the test. Why don’t we have a competition to see who can make a human being?” The scientist agrees, so God declares they should do it like He did in the good old days. “Fine!” says the scientist as he bends down to scoop up a handful of dirt.“Whoa!” says God, “Not so fast! You get your own dirt.”

The new theory, proposed by a researcher at MIT, is that “when a group of atoms is exposed for a long time to a source of energy, it will restructure itself to dissipate more energy. The emergence of life might not be the luck of atoms arranging themselves in the right way, it says, but an inevitable event if the conditions are correct.” The researcher is reported to have said: “You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant.”

It is quite shameful for a researcher, who one would expect to be a dignified member of the scientific community who is always circumspect when it comes to drawing conclusions and making them public, to talk of atoms “arranging themselves” and the first life forms in the same breath, as if these two things were just a step or two away from each other. The layman will come away with the idea that the first life forms must have been rather basic, primitive things, not much more than rearranged atoms.

More discerning readers will of course know that for cells to function, they require the presence of a whole series of molecular machines to run like clockwork from Day One. Whatever the processes were that led the simple rearrangement of atoms to a fully functional, self-replicating, conscious cell, they were certainly more complex than simply shining light on atoms and ending up with a plant.

The key delusion here is shining a light “for long enough”. In other words, we are being asked to believe that TIME creates life. This is extremely dishonest, when mathematicians have demonstrated time and again that the amount of time available since the universe began is simply not suffient for life to appear by unguided processes. To circumvent this unavoidable mathematical reality, the fantastical idea of a “multiverse” has been conjured up; something which has absolutely no evidence to back it up with, and which only exists on paper because there are scientists who are obsessed with the idea of disproving God by any means instead of humbly following the mathematical and scientific evidence wherever it leads.

For a glimpse into what goes on inside a human cell, watch THIS

And for plant cells, THIS

As for the smug declaration that this new theory will make things “a whole lot worse for creationists”, six-24-hour-day creationists and 6000-year-old earth protagonists are already in a whole heap of scientific trouble, so it is difficult to imagine how this new theory will make things any worse for them. The fact that they ascribe unscientific actions to God in no way changes what really happened. All they do is give an opportunity to the noisier anti-theists to further ridicule the idea of God. In fact, such creationists and anti-theists both have equally ridiculous conceptions of God. And of science. The ones say that plants appeared all of a sudden, the others affirm that if you keep shining light on a clump of atoms, you’ll inevitably get a plant. They truly deserve each other!

The Qur’an, like the Bible, speaks of creation in six days. However, there is a big difference between the two accounts. Unlike the Book of Genesis, which limits each day to 24 hours by specifying that there was an evening and a morning,  the Qur’an leaves the expression as simply “six days”, and explains that in God’s parlance, a “day” means a period of time of any length; some “days” are equal to 1000 years, others to 50000, others still to far longer periods as we will now show.

In one verse, the Qur’an declares:

Allah it is Who created the heavens and the earth, and that which is between them, in six periods; then He settled on the Throne. You have no helper or intercessor beside Him. Will you not then reflect?

In another verse, it proclaims:

Say: “Do you really disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two days? And do you set up equals to Him?’ That is the Lord of the worlds.”

Thus, the creation of the whole universe is said to have occurred in six “days”, of which our planet took two “days” to be created. Or in other words a ratio of 2:6 or 1:3.

When we turn to what science has discovered so far, we find that the approximate age of planet earth is 4.56 billion years and that of the universe is 13.77 billion years. If 13.77 billion years is divided into six periods of equal length, planet earth will take up two of them. Again, a ratio of 1:3.

That an illiterate 6th-Century inhabitant of the Arabian desert could make such a declaration has implications that are for our readers to reflect upon. He said that it was God Who had told him to say this:

“Do you really disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two days? And do you set up equals to Him?’ That is the Lord of the worlds.”

No matter how much knowledge of the creative process can be acquired by Man, it will never explain away the Agent behind it all. Au contraire.

 

Are Islamophobes Right – Does Islam Motivate Muslims to Carry out Acts of Terror?

Today’s world is home to horrific attacks of violence, extremism and terror of all kinds. Many people directly blame religion, in particular Islam, for much of the violence carried out in its name. But as a Muslim, I have something to tell you: There is no link between Islam and terrorism.

Don’t get me wrong – there is obviously a strong link between certain Muslims and terrorism, but Islam is a teaching, and therefore has to be judged on what it actually says. So what does the Holy Qur’an say?

Chapter 2 states that you can never force people in matters of religion. Chapter 5 likens the murder of one innocent life to the murder of the whole of mankind. Chapter 60 tells Muslims that they must live in peace with people of other faiths and backgrounds, in ‘kindness and equity. Chapter 109 says that people are free to follow whatever religious beliefs they want.

These verses, and many more, were carried into action by the Prophet Muhammad of Islam. He lived in peace and harmony with people of many different faiths. He hated fighting, and the early Muslims only ever fought in self-defence. As Historian Reverend De Lacy O’Leary wrote:

“The legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races, is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.” Islam at the Crossroads

Islam is not to blame. A tiny, tiny fraction of the 1.6bn Muslims may well be. But why blame Islam for extremism, when extremism and terrorism exist in every ideology? Do we blame the Gospels for the IRA? Do we blame Buddhism for Buddhist extremists in Burma? Do we blame atheism for organisations like the League of Militant Atheism that murdered religious people in Soviet Russia? And what about eco-terrorism, or terrorism done by extreme right-wing, left-wing, or separatist groups?

The reality is that even in very recent history, a huge part of global terrorism is not motivated by religious ideologies, but by political and social causes. What this tells us is that extremism isn’t the exclusive domain of any ideology – be it religious or secular. There have always been, and perhaps always will be, people who are willing to trample on the rights of others so as to satisfy their own desires. To justify their horrific actions, they have to appeal to the highest authority in their society. In more religious settings, it will be God who is appealed to. In less religious settings, it will be noble ideals like freedom, democracy and justice. But whatever virtuous ideal is used to justify the murder of innocent lives, we can always discern political, financial, racial, or territorial ambitions at their heart.

So don’t fall for it. Religion doesn’t create terrorism. People create terrorism. In fact, the true teachings of religion are the solution, not the problem. If those who murder in the name of religions ever truly studied their own teachings, they would drop their guns. And if those who promote terrorism indirectly through their own injustices cared about the disorder they would create, then the world would be a very a different place indeed.

“Verily Allah requires you to abide by justice, benevolence, and unconditional grace; and He forbids indecency, manifest evil, and transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed.” 16:90

The present article has been reproduced from the End of Atheism website. End of Atheism is a direct response to the New Atheist movement that began with Sam Harris’ book ‘End of Faith.’ You can find more material here:  www.endofatheism.com

AYESHA’S AGE AT THE TIME OF HER MARRIAGE – A RESPONSE TO “INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS”

by Qasim Rashid

Ayesha’s Age: A response to the allegation made by atheists and non-Muslims in general that Ayesha was 6 or 9 when her marriage was consummated with Prophet Muhammad

The vitriolic anti-Islam film, “Innocence of Muslims” caused quite a worldwide uproar. Newsweek seemed to add to that uproar with their “Muslim Rage” edition. Fortunately, it backfired and #MuslimRage became the hottest new trend on Twitter. (Follow me@MuslimIQ) Still, Innocence of Muslims makes numerous vile accusations against Islam and its Noble Prophet (sa). One of these allegations is that the Prophet (sa) married Ayesha (rz) when she was underage. I have taken some time to quickly compile two arguments, one my own and one well-researched by another Muslim.

Together, these arguments demonstrate that the allegations levied against both Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Ayesha (rz) are meritless and based wholly on ignorance. The below evidence shows that far from being 6 or 9, Ayesha was likely 15-16 at the time of her consenting marriage, or as old as 18-20. Some scholars assert that she was actually only 12. Even if Hazrat Ayesha (rz) was only 12 at the time of her marriage and consummation, this should not be a cause for alarm for the clear reasons mentioned below.

The First Set of Arguments

The First Argument

The Catholic Encyclopedia says Mary Mother of Jesus (as) was 11 (and Joseph was 90) upon their marriage. [The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Reference of Work on the Constitution, Doctrine, Dicipline, and History of the Catholic Church, New York Robert Appleton Company, Vol. VIII, Pg. 505]. Yet, we do not hear anti-Islam elements raise objection to this recorded fact of history. If Ayesha (rz), even at age 12, was too young to be married, then certainly Mary Mother of Jesus was too young. Likewise, if Prophet Muhammad (sa) at the age of 53 was too old to marry Ayesha, then Joseph at age 90 was certainly too old. Yet, such objections do not exist, demonstrating the double standard anti-Islam individuals assert against Muslims.

The Second Argument

The law of the Talmud holds that a woman is of marriable age when she is 12 yrs and 6 months old and “Marrying off one’s daughter as soon after she reaches adulthood as possible, even to one’s Slave.” Talmud, Pesachim 113a]. Hasidic Jews still practice this tradition that spans back thousands of years. In fact, the Talmud presents some shocking guidance on marriage, also stating, “A maiden aged three years and a day may be acquired in marriage by coition, and if her deceased husband’s brother cohabits with her, she becomes his.” [Talmud, Sanhedrin 55b].

Again, no objections are known from anti-Islam individuals to this practice, once again demonstrating the double standard. Historically speaking, Jews, Christians, and Muslims each held a social construct that permitted a person to be married at what our society considers young.

But, recognizing that things like life expectancy and social behavior were much different than they are now, two individuals in their pre or early teens marrying was not at all obscure. This is a fact that Jews, Christians, and Muslims each demonstrated. Most importantly, the concept of social construct must be reiterated. It was not just ancient Jews, Christians, and Muslims that recognized earlier teens or younger as acceptable ages for marriage. This is a concept that permeated our Western societies until only very recently, as explained next.

The Third Argument

For centuries in Scotland, the age of consent for girls was 12—and parental consent was unnecessary. [G T Bisset-Smith. 1st edition. Edinburgh: William Green & Sons, (1902)]. Only in 1929 was the age raised to 16 for girls. [Id.] Consider the facts of appropriate ages to marry of American State Laws. In New Hampshire, the legal age for girls is 13 with parental consent. In Massachusetts, the legal age for girls is 12 with parental consent. In Mississippi, there isno age minimum for girls, as long as there is parental consent. In California, there is no age minimum for girls, as long as there is parental consent. And of course, as we know, Ayesha (rz) certainly had parental consent. This information is available at: http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/table_marriage#g

So the reality is that only recently has social construct decided that 18 is the age of maturity among men and women. Nothing says that 18 is the wrong age, or the right age across all times and places. We can only state that it is the correct age for our time and place, because this is the age we have agreed upon as a society. Thus, in our age, marriage below 18 is either forbidden, or requires certain highly controlled conditions to ensure the rights of the persons under 18 are not usurped. But, to make the jump to accuse Prophet Muhammad (sa) of acting inappropriately, simply because our social construct disagrees with a social construct that our American forefathers, ancient Christian and Muslim cultures, and contemporary Hasidic Jewish cultures practice—such a jump is unqualified and meritless.

But so far, we have only demonstrated that if Ayesha (rz) was married when she was as young as 11 or 12, history and our American forefathers demonstrate that such a marriage was not out of the norm. The next section demonstrates that Ayesha (rz) was 15-16 at the time of her marriage to Prophet Muhammad (sa), and possibly as old as 18-20.

The Second Set of Arguments

*Disclaimer – I am not the author of the below scholarship. I am reposting because it is excellently researched, appropriately referenced, and repudiates the baseless allegations that Prophet Muhammad (sa) married Ayesha (rz) when she was underage. Please read each of the arguments as it soundly responds from every angle to the allegations that Ayesha was under age at the time of her marriage.

The First Argument

Though some of these narratives are reported in Bukhari, most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well known as the one being reported, should logically have been reported by more people than just one, two or three.

The Second Argument

It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first seventy one years of his life has narrated the event [from him], even though in Medinah his pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have had shifted after living inMedinah for seventy one years.

Again, the argument that all those who heard this narrative from Hisham ibn `urwah were Iraqis, is a simple statement of fact. This can be checked in the biographical sketches of these narrators in any of the books written on the narrators.

The Third Argument

Tehzeeb al-Tehzeeb, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet  (pbuh) reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah:“narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq.” It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq (Vol. 11, pg. 48 – 51).

The actual statements, their translations and their complete references are given below:

Yaqub ibn Shaibah says: He [i.e. Hisham] is highly reliable, his narratives are acceptable, except what he narrated after shifting to Iraq. (Tehzeeb al-TehzeebIbn Hajar Al-`asqalaaniy, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol. 11, pg. 50)

I have been told that Malik [ibn Anas] objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq. (Tehzi’bu’l-tehzi’bIbn Hajar Al-`asqala’ni, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol. 11, pg. 50)

All the hadith Hisham related regarding the age of Ayesha are from the time he was in Iraq. From a historical and evidentiary perspective, this already puts into severe doubt the veracity of such claims.

The Fourth Argument

Meezaan al-Ai`tidaal, another book on the [life sketches of the] narrators of the traditions of the Prophet  (pbuh) reports that when he was old, Hisham’s memory suffered quite badly (Vol. 4, pg. 301 – 302)

The actual statement, its translation and its complete references is given below:

When he was old, Hisham‘s memory suffered quite badly (Meezaan al-Ai`tidaalAl-Zahabi, Arabic, Al-Maktabah al-Athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol. 4, pg. 301).

So now we have evidence that when Hisham related the traditions related to Ayesha’s age, he did so while his memory suffered severely. Already, no court of law would consider such testimony valid, not even in a civil court where the burden of proof is quite low compared to a criminal court.

The Fifth Argument

According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years beforeHijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitaab al-TafseerAyesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur’an , was revealed, “I was a young girl”. The 54th Surah of the Qur’an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (ra) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn `urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn `urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be more accurate.

The actual statements referred to in the above paragraph, their translations and their complete references are given below:

Ayesha (ra) said: I was a young girl, when verse 46 of Surah Al-Qamar, [the 54th chapter of the Qur’an ], was revealed. (Sahih BukhariKitaab al-Tafseer, Arabic, Bab Qaulihi Bal al-saa`atu Maw`iduhum wa al-sa`atu adhaa wa amarr)

Ayesha was married after Hijrah (migration). Thus, if she could recall that Chapter 54 was revealed, she must have been at least 3-5 years old, plus the 9 years before hijrah, which places her at 12-14 before Hijrah and at least 14-16 before marriage. This makes it impossible that she was 9.

The Sixth Argument

According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) accompanied the Muslims in the battle ofBadr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Ayesha‘s (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhudclearly indicate that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battle fields to help them, not to be a burden on them.

A narrative regarding Ayesha‘s (ra) participation in Badr is given in MuslimKitaab al-jihaad wa al-siyar, Arabic, Bab karahiyah al-isti`anah fi al-ghazwi bikafirAyesha (ra) while narrating the journey to Badr and one of the important events that took place in that journey, says:

When we reached Shajarah.

It is quite obvious from these words that Ayesha (ra) was with the group traveling towardBadr.

A narrative regarding Ayesha‘s (ra) participation in the battle of `uhud is given in Bukhari,Kitaab al-jihaad wa al-siyar, Arabic, Baab Ghazwi al-nisaa wa   qitalihinna ma`a al-rijaal.

Anas reports that On the day of Uhud, people could not stand their ground around the Prophet  (pbuh). [On that day,] I saw Ayesha (ra) and Umm-e-Sulaim (ra), they had pulled their dress up from their feet [to save them from any hindrance in their movement].”

As far as the fact that children below 15 years were sent back and were not allowed to participate in the battle of `uhud, it is narrated in BukhariKitaab al-maghaaziBaab ghazwah al-khandaq wa hiya al-ahzaab, Arabic.

Ibn `umar (ra) states that the Prophet  (pbuh) did not permit me to participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was fourteen years old. But on the day of Khandaq, when I was fifteen years old, the Prophet (pbuh) permitted my participation.”

This battle took place before Ayesha’s marriage to Prophet Muhammad, so now we see that she was at least 15-16 years old.

The Seventh Argument

According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihayahthat Asma (ra) died in 73 hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in 73 hijrah she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. IfAsma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrahAyesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra), if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.

The relevant references required in this argument are provided below:

For the Difference of Ayesha’s (ra) and Asma’s (ra) Age:

According to Abd al-Rahman ibn abi zannaad:

Asma (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha. (Siyar A`la’ma’l-nubala’Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, pg. 289, Arabic, Mu’assasatu’l-risala’h, Beirut, 1992)

According to Ibn Kathir:

She [i.e. Asma] was ten years elder to her sister [i.e. Ayesha]. (Al-Bidaayah wa al-NihaayahIbn Kathir, Vol. 8, pg. 371, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabiyAl-jizah, 1933)

For Asma’s (ra) Age at Her Death in 73 AH

According to Ibn Kathir:

She [i.e. Asma] witnessed the killing of her son during that year [i.e. 73 AH], as we have already mentioned, five days later she herself died, according to other narratives her death was not five but ten or twenty or a few days over twenty or a hundred days later. The most well known narrative is that of hundred days later. At the time of her death, she was 100 years old. (Al-Bidaayah wa al-NihaayahIbn Kathir, Vol. 8, pg. 372, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabiy,Al-jizah, 1933).

According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalaaniy:

She [i.e. Asma (ra)] lived a hundred years and died in 73 or 74 AH.” (Taqreeb al-TehzeebIbn Hajar Al-Asqalaaniy, Pg. 654, Arabic, Bab fi al-nisaa, al-Harf al-alif, Lucknow)

The Eighth Argument

Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr (ra) reports that Abu Bakrhad four children and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah – the pre-Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha (ra) was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less than 14 years in 1 AH – the time she most likely got married.

The original statement in Tabari, its translation and reference follows:

All four of his [i.e. Abu Bakr’s] children were born of his two wives – the names of whom we have already mentioned – during the pre-Islamic period. (Tarikh al-umam wa al-mamloo’kAl-Tabari, Vol. 4, Pg. 50, Arabic, Dar al-fikr, Beirut, 1979)

The Ninth Argument

My ninth argument was:

According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam quite some time before`umar ibn al-Khattab (ra). This shows that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Ayesha‘s (ra) marriage at seven years of age is held to be true, Ayesha (ra) should not have been born during the first year of Islam.

According to Ibn HishamAyesha (ra) was the 20th or the 21st person to enter into the folds of Islam (Al-Sirah al-NabawiyyahIbn Hisham, Vol. 1, Pg. 227 – 234, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithahAl-Riyadh) While `umar ibn al-khattab was preceded by forty individuals (Al-Sirah al-NabawiyyahIbn Hisham, Vol. 1, Pg. 295, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithahAl-Riyadh).

The Tenth Argument

Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr planned on migrating to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mut`am – with whose son Ayesha (ra) was engaged – and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in his house as his son’s wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam, and subsequently his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha (ra) was only seven years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr decided on migrating to Habshah. On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume that Ayesha (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.

Unfortunately, I do not have the primary reference to this argument at the moment. The secondary reference for this argument is: Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka’inatHabib ur Rahman Kandhalwi,Urdu, Pg. 38, Anjuman Uswa e hasanah, Karachi, Pakistan

The Eleventh Argument

According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (ra), whenKhaulah (ra) came to the Prophet  (pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: “You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)”. When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed Ayesha‘s (ra) 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, and obviously a nine year old is not a “lady”.

The complete reference for this reporting of Ahmad ibn Hanbal is: Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol 6, Pg 210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut.

The Twelfth Argument

According to Ibn HajarFatimah (ra), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, was five years older than Ayesha (ra). Fatimah (ra) is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Ayesha (ra) could by no means be less than 14 years old at the time of hijrah, and 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage.

Ibn Hajar‘s original statement, its translation and reference follows:

Fatimah (ra) was born at the time the Kaa`bah was rebuilt, when the Prophet  (pbuh) was 35 years old… she (Fatimah) was five years older that Ayesha (ra). (Al-Isabah fi Tamyeez al-SahaabahIbn Hajar al-Asqalaniy, Vol. 4, Pg. 377, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-Hadithaal-Riyadh, 1978)

These are all the references for the material I provided in my initial response.

Critics cite that Tabari, Abu Dawood, and Bukhari also says Ayesha was 9. Such critics miss the point on Hisham ibn `urwah. They are unaware of the fact that each one these traditions, whether it is from TabariBukhariMuslim or Abu Dawood, is either narrated by Hisham ibn `urwah or is reported to the respective author by or through an Iraqi. Not even a single narrative is free from either of the two problems.

I have quoted Tabari, Bukhari and Muslim to show that even their own information contradicts with the narrative regarding Ayesha‘s (ra) age. Thus, when the narrative of Ayesha‘s (ra) age is not reliable and when there is information in the same books that contradicts the narrative of Ayesha‘s age, I see absolutely no reason to believe that the information on Ayesha‘s (ra) age is accepted (when there are adequate grounds to reject it) and the other (contradictory) information is rejected (when there is no ground to reject it).

Conclusion

Thus, taking all facts into consideration, it is clear that the allegation proposed in Innocence of Muslims is one without merit, one no person of intelligence can accept. Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Ayesha (rz) enjoyed a loving, mutual, consenting, legal, and sincere marriage—one to be emulated by all people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. As a final point, I encourage readers to also check out Myriam Francois-Cerrah‘s excellent piece on Ayesha (rz) published in The Guardian here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/sep/17/muhammad-aisha-truth

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If you are interested in reading more of the work of Qasim Rashid click here

The Review of Religions

DECEMBER 2015 ISSUE http://www.reviewofreligions.org/

Click here for the PDF: http://www.reviewofreligions.org/wp-content/pdf-downloads/RR201512.pdf 

  • The Blame Game: Is Religion Truly the Cause of Disorder in the World Today?
  • Responding to Paris
  • Three Gradations of Doing Good
  • Apartheid of Ahmadis in Pakistan
  • Forgiveness of the Holy Prophet Muhammad
  • Women’s Responsibilities
  • The Economic System of Islam

RoR in Jan 2016