WASHINGTON – Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, the kingdom’s top religious authority in the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam, has ruled it’s acceptable for men to marry girls so young the West would deem it nothing short of pedophilia and rape.
Despite the Saudi justice ministry’s failed efforts to date to set 15 as a minimum age to marry a girl in the kingdom, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz declared there is nothing prohibiting Muslim men from marrying girls even younger.
As Grand Mufti, Abdulaziz is president of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and chairman of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing Fatwas, which means he speaks authoritatively in Islamic teachings.
Grand Mufti Abdulzaiz’s more recent ruling on marrying young girls comes following a similar ruling in 2011 by Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, a prominent cleric and member of the Saudi’s highest religious council, who issued a fatwa, or religious edict, that there is no minimum age to marry girls, “even if they are in the cradle.”
Fawzan’s fatwa came from a similar edict in the Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari li Ibn Battal, which said the ulema, or Islamic scholars, agreed to permit fathers marry off their small daughters.
“The ulema have agreed that it is permissible for fathers to marry off their small daughters, even if they are in the cradle,” the edict declared. “But it is not permissible for their husbands to have sex with them unless they are capable of being placed beneath and bearing the weight of the men. And their capability in this regard varies based on their nature and capacity. Aisha was six when she married the prophet, but he had sex with her when she was nine, that is, when she was deemed capable.”
Fawzan said there is nothing in Islamic, or Shariah law, that sets a minimum age limit on marrying girls, citing Quran 65:4.
“It behooves those who call for setting a minimum age for marriage to fear Allah and not contradict his Shariah, or try to legislate things Allah did not permit,” Fawzan said. “For laws are Allah’s province, and legislation is his exclusive right, to be shared by none other. And among these are the rules governing marriage.”
Scholars say the age of marrying young girls and consummating the “marriage” is based on the example set by Muhammad when he married Aisha when she was no more than seven years of age, consummating the marriage when she was nine.
“The grand point of the Saudi fatwa, however, is not that girls as young as nine can be married, based on Muhammad’s example, but rather that there is no age limit whatsoever,” Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim writes in Middle East Forum. “The only question open to consideration is whether the girl is physically capable of handling her ‘husband.'”
“The lives of countless young girls are devastated because of this teaching,” Ibrahim said.
He cited the case of an 8-year-old girl who died on her “wedding” night when her “husband” raped her. He also referred to a 10-year-old girl who hid from her 80-year-old “husband.”
Grand Mufti Abdulaziz and Fawzan’s fatwas come even as Saudi men have been reportedly purchasing young girls from Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan.
As WND recently reported, rich Saudi Arabian men – some associated with the Saudi royal family – have been purchasing for their sexual pleasure Syrian girls and young women from among the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war conflict to Lebanon and Jordan.
Most of these Saudi men are said to be in their 60s and 70s. When they tire of the girls, they often hand them off to other men.
“They come into Lebanon and Jordan and go to the Syrian refugee camps where the Syrian families there have nothing,” one Lebanese source told WND. “The Saudis then offer $200 for girls aged 9 to 14 years and take them from their families. Because the families are so desperate for money, they give in to the temptation.”
The United States, allied with Saudi Arabia, has been silent on its treatment of young girls..
“Given the influence the United States has over Saudi Arabia, why hasn’t your president confronted the Saudis about this?” one source asked WND. “Sometimes, the girls are returned to their families, but they won’t have a future.”
F. Michael Maloof, senior staff writer for WND/ G2Bulletin, is a former security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He can be contacted at [email protected].