Salaamu alaykum I have heard of many instances from medical professionals of societies, particularly Islamic societies, such as Nigeria, where 12 and 13 year olds are having children and develop serious complications as a result of not being physically ready. This seems to contradict with the general understanding in Islam with marriage at a young age, as well as consummation, such as with Aishah. My issue is really that I cannot reconcile between such teachings and the issue of these medical problems that arise. I begin to think why would Allah allow this and why would the prophet do or allow this if it is so harmful? This begins to cause doubts in me. Please help wa jazaakum Allaah khairan.
All praise be to Allah and may His blessings and peace be on His last messenger, Muhammad,
Regarding the marriage of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) to ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), see Fatwa # 78123.
Getting married young is the prescription of the prophet for some of the toughest challenges that face the youth and have an enormous impact on the well-being of the society; he (blessings and peace be upon him) said:
” يا معشر الشباب، من استطاع منكم الباءة فليتزوج فإنه أغَضُّ للبصر وأحْصَنُ للفرج ومن لم يستطع فعليه بالصوم فإنه له وِجاء ”
“O young people, let those of you who afford marriage get married for it will help them lower their gaze and protect their chastity. And for those who don’t afford it, they may fast for it will curb the sexual desire.” [Agreed upon from Ibn Mas’ood]
However, the definition of early itself varies according to the circumstances. Notice that the hadeeth says, “who afford marriage,” which is to afford it in every regard. In all nations, people got married earlier than they do now. In Europe, during the time of Shakespeare, if a woman was single at 13, she was considered late to marriage, as reflected in his writings. An eighteen year old during the time of the Prophet led armies, was dispatched as an ambassador, and ruled a city of the importance of Maccah; would you trust an eighteen year old to do that nowadays? Having a family is not a small task, and it requires a certain degree of maturity.
As for the medical complications, a woman may have her marriage consummated in Islamic law when she is capable, and that is physically capable. However, the medical complications can be overblown by some for certain purposes. You must understand the following:
- God (exalted is He), not the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) did in fact make women capable of conceiving in their early teens. That is not a matter of legislation; it is a matter of creation. He made them incapable of the same until a certain age and past a certain age, and between those two ends, they can conceive.
- Complications during pregnancy are more common when women reach age 35. Why shouldn’t we be concerned about pregnancy during that age as well? Furthermore, all pregnancies at any age have complications, should we avoid pregnancy for that possibility?
- Finally, prudent thinkers never approach an issue of this complexity by looking at it from one angle. They address all the pertinent factors.
ü You need to study why in the history of all nations women married at an earlier age. What are the social repercussions of delaying marriage?
ü Are there health benefits in early pregnancy that should be considered? Pregnancy, in fact, brings about many welcome hormonal and immunological changes that result in the improvement of multiple modern day diseases and others, such as: psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc. Also, mothers, who breastfeed, have less risk of developing breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. Furthermore, while it was previously said that, because of the loss of calcium, breastfeeding put women at risk of osteoporosis, recent studies indicate the opposite.
ü There are also emotional factors that should not be overlooked.
In summary, early marriage and subsequent childbirth in principle are encouraged, but reason must be employed in the implementation of that principle.
If a matter like this would cause you to have doubts, then you must work on your iman reserve; the higher it is, the more immune to doubts you will be. If it stays low, your faith will be in danger, even if this particular problem is resolved for you; there will be always another one the shaytaan can bring up.
Allah knows best.