70 year old arrested after marriage to 13 year old girl in Pakistan

Child-BridesThe news is quite astonishing, a 70 year old chap was married to a 13 year old child and now, quite rightly, faces arrest for doing so. Dawn reports the details …

Tharushah SHO Aijaz Ali said after receiving information about the marriage of an under-age girl, he along with his team raided the place where the wedding ceremony was in progress. He said the 70-year-old groom, Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, his 13-year-old bride, Sonia Shah, the Nikah registrar, Maulvi Miral Shah, the bride’s father, Syed Mehdi Shah, and witnesses Mumtaz Shah and Khuda Bukhsh Shah were arrested.

So why would anybody think this was appropriate, how in fact could the child’s father agree to this? The answer is that in her father’s eyes she was simply property and could be sold for the right price …

Syed Mehdi Shah [The girl’s father] told the media that he had to agree on the marriage against a sum of Rs100,000. He said he needed the money to meet the expenses of the construction of a room in his small house.

In my eyes, he does not deserve the title “father”, anybody who can sell his daughter is not fit to be entitled to hold a claim to that status.

OK, so how do the others watching all this feel about the “marriage”?

Like this  …

Meanwhile, the family members and the guests invited by the elderly groom staged a protest against the police raid and arrests outside the Tharushah police station on Sunday.

They demanded release of all arrested people, claiming that Syed Mohammad Ali Shah was being subjected to torture in custody.

Apparently the idea of a 70 year old guy buying a 13 year old to essentially be his sex slave for life is just fine in their eyes. However, it is not all bad; what is encouraging here is that not everybody went along with it, because the reason for the police raid was down to the fact that somebody tipped them off.

Why is it like this, what motivates such abhorrent behaviour?

A rather embarrassing aspect of Islamic tradition is that Mohammed at the age of 50 married a six year old … yes six.

So is that really true, is it a historical fact?

It was rather a long time ago, so we can never be truly sure, but my thinking is that the available evidence does indeed appear to indicate that it is – I blogged about that evidence here and also reviewed the rebuttals. In summary, many historical sources from different chains of narrators record it as fact, and none say anything else, the rebuttals are simply speculation and do not withstand any criticism.

What happened back in the 7th century is of course not the issue, in a time when slavery was the accepted norm, you will find many other things going on that we would find truly abhorrent. The thinking is that Mohammed’s life is a template, the perfect example, and so if he married a 6 year old, then that makes pedophelia just fine (as long as you get “married”).

In other words, the issue is not, “Is it true?”, but rather, is that rather a lot of people not only believe it to be true, but because it was Mohammed, they consider it to have been in effect been endorsed by a god, and so that makes it just fine.

Do all Muslims think like this?

Gosh no, Islam is like most other belief systems, an expression of a vast diversity of thought, and so there are strands of Islamic though that have managed to successfully work out that this is simply a bad idea.

Perhaps a more familiar example of how this really should play out can by found in Christianity. The bible in the old testament is a story of a god ordering genocide on a (if you will forgive the term) biblical scale, contains specific guidance on how to buy and sell slaves, and also how to beat them (as long as the slave does not die within 2 days of a beating it is apparently OK).  Do modern Christians actually think any of that is a jolly good idea? No, of course not; the prevailing thinking is perhaps that was “then” and this is “now” and Jesus did away with all that (except of course he did not, he actually endorsed it all, but that’s a separate debate). My point is this; beliefs are in fact quite fluid and will adapt and reflect the prevailing culture – bad ideas get ditched and good ideas prevail.

So we are OK then, it is just a tribal thing … right?

Sadly no, the idea is rather pervasive and deeply embedded with mainstream Islamic thinking, so much so that we have as many as 1000 under-age marriages in the UK each year to older men in secret – yes really.

We also have the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) in Pakistan pushing very hard to have a law passed that will legalise the marriage of very young girls to older men.

Say what, they want to legally endorse pedophelia as just fine as long as you get married … seriously?

Yes …

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) concluded its 191th meeting, here Tuesday with the ruling that the laws related to minimum age of marriage were un-Islamic

I am only scratching the surface here, I’ve not even begun to talk about the many other examples of how this rather bad idea manifests itself in our modern world.

“Ah but this is all just Islamophobia”

Nope, this is simply criticism of bad behaviour that is motivated by a bad idea. I’m simply suggesting that it is time for the rejection of the thought that it is just fine for older men to bugger young children – calling it “marriage” does not make it OK.

If you find that such a suggestion conflicts with your current strand of Islamic belief, then perhaps it is time to give some serious thought to ditching it and embracing a better variation, one that is more compassionate, or perhaps even a variation that is purely humanistic and enables you to openly practise tolerance and empathy towards all of humanity.

If you did do that, then you would not be alone. Did you know that as many as 25% in Saudi Arabia do not actually believe this stuff at all and are simply cultural Muslims?


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