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Until the year 2008 C.E. (Common Era, anyone under 18 years old could get married in the state of Arkansas with parental consent. That's right, even babies could get married as long as their parents agreed. The original law was meant to allow pregnant teenagers to get married if their parents approved, but later embarrased law makers made it 17 for boys and 16 for girls.
And that is just the beginning!
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Weird Marriage Laws
Obscure Marriage Laws in Europe & U.S.
Marriage in Olde Europe & early America was only 4 years to 7 years (common was 9 years to 12 years). Keep reading this whole article - then at the end we'll give you the REAL PROOF about Ayesha's age at marriage to prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him: Islam is the truth!
Now read, if you will, important information from historical records and documents about marriages of different ages in Rome, Europe and America over the last 2,000 years.
In this article we discover that even in our ancestors here in America the age of consent was much different than what we have today. -- Read:
AGE OF CONSENT FOR MARRIAGE IN WESTERN HISTORY
For the Last 2,000 years
1 C.E. -- 12 years to 14 years (Augustus Ceasor) Traditionally the age at which individuals could come together in a sexual union was something either for the family to decide or a matter of tribal custom.
Probably in most cases this coincided with the onset of MENARCHE in girls and the appearance of pubic hair in boys, that is, between twelve (12yrs) and fourteen (14yrs), but the boundaries remained fluid.
In Republican Rome, marriage and the age of consent were initially private matters between the families involved. Not until the time of Augustus in the first century C.E. did the state begin to intervene. Marriage then legally became a two-step process, a betrothal which involved an enforceable agreement between the heads of two households, and then marriage itself.
Women who were not yet of age could be betrothed with the consent of their fathers, but the woman herself had to consent to marriage. (Editor: This was still true in the 600's in Arabia; fathers could contract a marriage for their immature daughters of any age - even without their consent. However, when Islam came, girls had to be old enough for marriage [past puberty] and accept the proposal).
400-700 C.E. -- Puberty age! The Roman tradition influenced peoples and cultures with whom it had come in contact. In the Islamic tradition following Muhammad, an offer of marriage by the parents could take place earlier than PUBERTY, but the marriage was not to be consummated until the girl accepted the marriage proposal, had reached the age of menstruation and was old enough to comprehend and understand the concept of marriage and wanted to be married to the one her parents had chosen.
1100-1300 C.E. -- 12 to 14 years- In medieval Europe, Gratian, the influential founder of Canon law in the twelfth century, accepted the traditional age of puberty for marriage (between 12 and 14) but he also said consent was "meaningful" if the children were older than seven. Some authorities said consent could take place even earlier.
Such a marriage would be permanent as long as neither party sought annulment before reaching puberty (12 for girls and 14 for boys) or if they had already consummated the marriage. Even if the husband had technically raped his wife before she reached puberty, the marriage was regarded as consummated. It was this policy which was carried over into English common law, and although consent was necessary, force and influence or persuasion seemed to have been permissible elements. Similarly Gratian's ideas about age became part of European civil law.
1200's C.E. -- When historian Magnus Hirschfeld surveyed the age of consent of some fifty countries (mostly in Europe and the Americas) at the beginning of the twentieth century, the age of consent was twelve (12yrs) in fifteen countries, thirteen (13yrs) in seven, fourteen (14yrs) in five, fifteen (15yrs) in four, and sixteen (16yrs) in five.
In the remaining countries it remained unclear.
1500 C.E. -- The age of consent in both English and continental law seemed to be particularly elastic when property was involved or family alliances were at stake. For example in 1564, a three (3) year old named John was married to a two (2) year old named Jane in the Bishop's Court in Chester, England. Though Shakespeare set his Romeo and Juliet in Verona, the fact that Juliet was thirteen (13) probably reflects the reality in England. Her mother, who was twenty-six (26), calls her almost an old maid. [EDITOR'S NOTE: That means her mother conceived her when she was herself only 12 and was probably married at age 11yrs.]
1500 - 1600's C.E. -- 6 yrs to 7 yrs Or even 2 yrs & 3 yrs. in U.K. The only reliable data on age at marriage in England in the early modern period comes from Inquisitions Post Mortem (after death) which involved only those who died and left property. It appears that the more complete the records, the more likely it is to discover young marriages. Judges honored marriages based on mutual consent at age younger than seven (7), in spite of what Gratian had said, and there are recorded marriages of two (2) and (3) three year olds. The seventeenth-century lawyer Henry Swinburne distinguished between the marriages of those under seven (7) and those between seven (7) years and puberty. He wrote that those under seven (7) who had said their vows had to ratify it afterwards by giving kisses and embraces, by laying together, by exchanging gifts or tokens, or (just) by calling each other husband or wife.
1500's C.E. -- BABIES in Diapers! A contemporary, Philip Stubbes, wrote that in sixteenth-century East Anglia, infants still in swaddling clothes (diapers) were married.
1600's C.E. -- 4 yrs. & 9 yrs. -- The most influential legal text of the seventeenth century in England, that of Sir Edward Coke, made it clear that the marriage of girls under twelve (12) was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband's estate was nine (9 years old) even though her husband be only four (4) years old.
1600 C.E. -- The American colonies followed the English tradition but the law could at best be called a guide. For example in Virginia in 1689, Mary Hathaway was only nine (9 years) when she was married to William Williams. We know of her case only because two years later she sued for divorce, and was released from the covenant she had made because the marriage had not been consummated. Interestingly, historian Holly Brewer, who discovered the case, speculated that if William had raped Mary, she probably would not have been given the divorce.
1700-1800 C.E. -- 14 year old WIDOW? -- Unrecorded are marriages without parental consent and private weddings and the quality of data varies from region to region. For example in the parish of Middlesex County, Virginia, there is a record of fourteen (14) year-old Sarah Halfhide marrying twenty one (21) year-old Richard Perrot. Only in the last sentence of the register does it indicate that she was a widow. Did the compiler read that far?We simply do not know what her age at first marriage was, or even if it had been consummated.
Of the ninety-eight girls on the ten-year register, three probably married at age eight (8 years), one at twelve (12 years), one at thirteen (13 years), and two at fourteen (14 years).
1900-2000 C.E. -- 9 years old -- Historians in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have sometimes been reluctant to accept data regarding young ages of marriage, holding instead that the recorded age was a misreading by a later copier of the records. Natalie Davis, whose book The Return of Martin Guerre became a movie, made her heroine, Bertrande, much older than the nine old girl she was when she married her missing husband.
1800's C.E. -- 13 years old -- In the nineteenth century France issued the Napoleonic Code and many other countries, following France's example, began revising their laws. The Napoleonic Code, however, had not changed the age of consent and remained THIRTEEN (13yrs).
1800's C.E. U.S.A. -- Babies to 10 years? In England and the United States, feminist agitation in the late nineteenth century called attention to the young age (babies to pre-puberty) of consent and called for changes in the law. By the 1920s the age of consent, a state issue in the United States, was raised in every state and ranged from fourteen (14yrs) to eighteen (18yrs), with most states settling on sixteen (16yrs) or eighteen (18yrs).
2000 A.D. -- 14 years to 16 years -- In the last part of the twentieth century the U.S. public once again took note of age of consent issues. Although sometimes it is not possible to identify a single age of consent since the statutory age varies with the age of the defendant and with the particular sexual activity, in the United States as of 2000 the age at which a person may engage in any sexual conduct permitted to adults within a particular state ranges between fourteen (14 years) to eighteen (18 years) [without marriage]. In the vast majority of states the age is either fifteen (15yrs) or sixteen (16yrs).
2000 A.D. to Date -- Under 18 years -- Most states set the minimum age for marriage without parental approval at eighteen (18yrs), and there are elaborate provisions governing which parent must give consent and who qualifies as a custodial parent or guardian when marriage under eighteen (17 & less) takes place.
NOW - TODAY in U.S.A.: -- BEFORE PUBERTY? -- There are still contradictions as to the age of consent for marriage from state to state. Some states allow a minor to marry with parental permission (EVEN) at an age (BEFORE) the minor engaged is old enough for sexual activity. While other states allow a minor to engage in sexual activity years before he or she can get married EVEN without the parents approval.
So, why the arguement over age of consent between scholars? The problem is in the research. It is far more variable than a summary of the law seems to imply. Peter Laslett, for example, used available statistics to argue marriage and child bearing in the late teens was not common in England and marriage at twelve (12yrs) was virtually unknown. (Legal documents, records and sworn testamonies indicate otherwise)
The problem is that his statistics might well be skewed because in England only a small portion of marriages were registered, and even on these registrations it is difficult to tell if they recorded first or second or later marriages.
A second marriage by a man in his late fifties or a woman in her early thirties skews the data. Not all marriage records even bother to record the participants' age.
* (Emphasis added by editor)
Where did we get this? Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society :: A-Ar
Now the proof about 'Age of Consent' in Islam & Ayesha's marriage to the prophet, peace be upon him:
623 C.E. (10 A.H. after hijrah) -- Must be old enough and mature enough for marriage and child bearing. Ages of marriage in Islam can be simply understood to be, the lawful, mutual consent of physically mature adults to engaging in intimate sexual activity with expectation of producing children.
But before we go into the "Age of Consent" for marriage, we would like to mention something about marriage in Islam in general and about the age of Ayesha, wife of prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
First, Islam does not allow marriage to underaged children. (Reference: Quran, chapter 4, verse 2 and verse 19).
Second, Islam does not permit forced marriages for anyone (Reference: Quran, chapter 2, verse 256, & Surah An-Nisaa' chapter 4, verse 19).
Refer to www.Qtafsir.com ibn Kathir tafsir, surah An-Nisaa:
19. O you who believe! Do not inherit women against their will, nor prevent them from marriage in order to get part of (the dowry) what you have given them, unless they commit open Fahishah. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.
20. But if you intend to replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a Qintar, take not the least bit of it back; would you take it wrongfully without a right and (with) a manifest sin.
21. And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant
22. And marry not women whom your fathers married, except what has already passed; indeed it was shameful and Maqtan, and an evil way.
Third, All marriages must be by mutual consent, and must be to adults of opposite sex.
Fourth, Legal marriages must be written contract with witnesses (even back 1,400 years ago)
Fifth, A dowry must be given by men to women and women.
Sixth, Marriage proposals can be offered by parents on behalf of their children, or through second parties selected by individuals, or can be made directly by individuals. But, there is nothing binding without full acceptance of both people.
Additionally, there can be no coercion nor force nor intimidation to obtain compliance in marriage. Women must not be subjected to oppression nor deprived of their wealth in any way.
It is a clear fact, in Islam, men must financially provide for all the needs of the woman and family, while the woman is not obliged to give even one cent for the man or the family.
Muslims and Non-Muslims alike seem very concerned over the age of Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her, when she married the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Some authentic sources put her ages at 9 years old, while others state she was in fact, 16 and had been engaged to be married even before her marriage to Muhammad, peace be upon him.
More important are the number of important facts involved indicating this was in fact, very normal at their time in history both in the Arab culture and European culture as well.
One important fact is, Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her, was offered in marriage to his best friend since childhood, Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, peace be upon him. Emphasis is on the word - "marriage". So this was a legal, binding contractual agreement; one that was considered quite proper and acceptable to the people of this time period. Never was an eyebrow raised or any point discussed on this issued amongst any of the companions or enemies of Islam, for that matter.
Another most convincing fact is, Ayesha had already been engaged prior to her father offering her in marriage to Muhammad, peace be upon him.
The single most important fact of all is what Ayesha herself says about her marriage to the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. She tells us in over 2,200 hadeeth (narrative information) how much she loved him, believed in him, trusted him and followed him throughout her whole life. Ayesha loved Muhammad, peace be upon him, with a love that lived on after he was gone from this earth. She remembered him in her prayers day and night, every single day until her own death.
Her goal, as is the goal of each and every one of us Muslims, was to be with prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in the Next Life, in the highest level of Paradise, near to Almighty God.
More? Check out -> www.IslamsWomen.com
Be ready for more surprises about treatment of Islam's Women!
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Davis, Natalie. 1983. The Return of Martin Guerre. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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Laslett, Peter. 1984. The World We Have Lost: Further Explored. New York: Scribner.
Percy, William A. 1996. Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Posner, Richard A. and Katharine B. Silbaugh. 1996. A Guide to America's Sex Laws. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Post, G.B. 1974. "Another Demographic Use of Inquisitions Post Mortem." Journal of the Society of Archivists 5: 110-114.
Stubbes, Philip. 1965 . Anatomie of Abuses in Ailgna [Anglia]. Vaduz: Kraus Reprint.
Westermarck, Edward. 1922. The History of Human Marriage, 5th edition. 3 vols. New York: Allerton
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