This excerpt from Dr Jonathan Brown is insightful and important for many on the internet as there are misconceptions and Islamophobic allegations swirling around the internet.
Some of the take home points:
Muslim scholars historically have forbade sex with girls who are not of physical capability to undergo it on the basis that sex could be physically harmful. Thus really, if we transfer this historical scholarship and thought, then stories of young girls dying or being harmed through sex because they weren’t physically ready for it would be in contradiction with Muslim scholarly views.
If somebody did have sex with a girl who was pre-pubescent, the Shariah courts considered it despicable and censured it. It was socially condemned too thus showing that Muslim communities considered this act to be despicable.
The legacy of Prophet Muhammad’s (p) marriage to Aisha (ra) is the Muslim teaching that sexual relations cannot be had with anybody not physically mature enough.
Islam, contrary to what some Islamophobic bigots may say, does not allow sex if it is physically harmful for the girl. And of course, that is an outright opposition to paedophilia (sex with prepubescent girls).
…the medieval ulama considered the point at which a girl was fit for intercourse to be too varied to be firmly legislated for. It was most appropriate for the bride, groom and the bride’s guardian to determine the appropriate age for intercourse.
The norm that the ulama did come to consensus on was only a general guideline: they prohibited sexual intercourse for girls ‘not able to undergo it,’ on the basis that otherwise sex could be physically harmful. If the groom and his wife or her guardian disagreed about her capacity for sex, a Shariah court judge would decide, perhaps after a female expert witness examined her. This was also based on the Prophet’s marriage to Aisha. The couple had concluded the marriage contract when Aisha was only six but waited to consummate the marriage until she reached physical maturity. In the case of the Hanbali tradition followed by the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, sex was allowed when the bride was ‘at the age which others like her have intercourse,’ specifying nine as the norm for suitability on the basis of Aisha’s Hadith. A Scottish physician resident in Aleppo in the mid 1700s noted how families endeavoured to marry their children off (i.e. complete the marriage contract) at a young age but that they would not consummate the marriage until the girl ‘had come of age”. Historical evidence from nineteenth-century Ottoman Palestine suggests that the husbands having sexual intercourse with wives before they reached puberty did sometimes occur. But it was rare, condemned socially and censured by Shariah court judges. Shariah courts in French Algeria in the 1850s considered it equally despicable.
‘Misquoting Muhammad’, Jonathan A.C Brown, Kindle p143
Here’s an important video featuring Shaikh Muhammad Salah, Dr Jonathan Brown, Hamza Yusuf, Dr Bilal Philips, Shaikh Imran Hossein and Dr Yasir Qadhi which all go towards destroying the Islamophobic claim against the idea of Aisha having reached puberty.