Is it not perversion for Hz. Umar to enter the nuptial chamber with a girl who had not reached the age of puberty?

The Details of the Question

- There is a narration about Umm Kulthum, Ali’s daughter who had not reached the age of puberty, and Hz. Umar. Hz. Umar asked Umm Kulthum’s father, Hz. Ali, for his daughter’s hand. Hz. Ali said, “I keep my daughters for Ja’far’s children.” Hz. Umar said: “Marry her off to me. I swear by Allah that there is no one on earth who will appreciate Umm Kulthum as much as I do.” Thereupon, Hz. Ali said, “Then, I will marry her off to you.” Thus, Hz. Umar went to Muhajirs and said to them, “Take me to the nuptial chamber.” Muhajirs asked, “Who did you marry?” He said: “I married Ali’s daughter, Umm Kulthum.”
- Is it not perversion for Hz. Umar to enter the nuptial chamber with a girl who had not reached the age of puberty?
- The girl was neither mentally nor physically developed. How could Umar, who knew it, enter the nuptial chamber with her? Nuptial chamber is not mentioned in other versions of the narration.
- My second question is about the girl’s mahr. It is stated in a narration reported by Ata al-Khorasani that Hz. Umar gave forty thousand dirhams to Umm Kulthum as mahr. Is that narration true? Is it a sound narration?
- How can forty thousand dirhams be given to a girl who had not reached the age of puberty as mahr? Is that narration not fabricated?
- Using that narration as evidence, atheists say it is permissible in the religion of Islam to have sexual intercourse with little girls by giving mahr to them. However, as far as I know, mahr is not given to a girl who has not reached the age of puberty? How is it possible to marry her? Can you explain it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- They married girls when they reached puberty. It is contrary to the methodology of the science of history to judge relative quantities by viewing them from the twenty-first century.

After this brief information, let us go into detail:

- Hz. Umar married Hz. Ali’s daughter with his permission. He entered the nuptial chamber only after walima, which has an important place in Islam, that is, after having a kind of wedding and giving a feast; they were declared as husband and wife, and entered the nuptial chamber after that.

Accordingly, it is not possible for Hz. Umar to marry Umm Kulthum and enter the nuptial chamber with her without Hz. Ali’s knowledge.

In that case, the same ruthless criticism made about Hz. Umar should be made for Hz. Ali too because if it is a crime, they are partners - God forbid - of the same crime.

- The age of marriage is not based on a definite age in Islam. However, the issue of puberty differs according to body structures and geographies.

We should state at this point that it is certain that the age of fifteen is not biologically obligatory for girls to get married. The fact that hundreds of thousands of marriages take place under that age is clear proof of it.

It means there is no harm in terms of biological structure of a girl in marrying at the age of twelve or thirteen.

Doubtlessly, it should not be overlooked that not only age but also maturity is essential. However, being sane and cognizant can vary from girl to girl, from person to person. We think Umm Kulthum was one of those exceptional girls.

- On the other hand, there are different narrations about that marriage. According to Dhahabi, Hz. Umar married Umm Kulthum in the 17th year of the Migration (For more information, see Tarikhul-Khamis, II, 284; Dhakhairul-Uqba, pp. 148-170; al-Khulafaur-Rashidin, p. 68)

- We can state the following based on the information in historical sources:

Umm Kulthum was born at the beginning of the 6th year of the Migration. Since the marriage took place with Hz. Umar in the month of Dhul-Qadah in the 17th year of the Migration, Umm Kulthum was about twelve or thirteen years old then. We can understand from many marriages made at that time that this age might be a normal marriage age in hot climates such as the region of Hejaz.

- In fact, the reason why Hz. Umar wanted to marry Umm Kulthum was not sex but spirituality. As a matter of fact, he explains that spiritual/immaterial reason as follows:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say: ‘All causes/ties, ancestry (lineages) and kinships end except for my cause, my lineage, and my kinship.’”

In another narration, the following addition exists: “I also wanted a kinship between me and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to occur through a cause and marriage.” (Dhakhairul-Uqba, pp. 168-169)

- As for the issue of mahr:

We could not find any information related to the soundness of that narration.

In Islam, mahr is given based on marriage, not age.

An unmentioned mahr at the time of marriage is determined based on the mahr of the girl’s close relatives.

Thus, mahr occurs based on marriage, not on age. Mahr occurring through a legitimate marriage contract and the ‘fee’ paid for unlawful marriages made on the basis of temporary desires such as ‘muta marriage’ are very different from each other.

If we make a simile, mahr is like grapes. The fees for a muta marriage or other illegitimate relationship are like wine made from grapes; the former is halal and the latter is haram.

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