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.”