Spain was largely free of the high-profile child sex abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in many European countries and the United States… until now. Even more men of the cloth are found to be involved in sexual child abuse. A Spanish Catholic priest was arrested with 21,000 images of child porn on computersin his church.
To be fair, it should be obvious that hoarding pornography of any sorts, especially children, is against the formal teachings of the Catholic Church. “If the accusation is true, this is something that hurts us deeply, that we sincerely regret and that we reject unreservedly,” the diocese said. Just because some criminals belong to a faith does not mean that faith endorses criminal behavior. Reasonably open-minded people can understand that.
But what if he were Muslim?
Expect no fairness from the anti-Muslim conflict-o-sphere. Child porn is a tenet of Islam, we’d be told. We’d see another repeat of the whole child bride fiasco, echoing again and again the tired “Muhammad is a pedophile” smear.
But was Muhammad’s marriage to the young but post-pubescent Aisha unusual for 7th century Arabia? Nope. As Colin Turner of the University of Durham Middle East Studies department points out:
A marriage between an older man and a young girl was customary among the Bedouins, as it still is in many societies across the world today. It was not unheard of in Muhammad’s time for boys and girls to be promised to each other in marriage almost as soon as they were born, particularly if the union was of direct political significance to the families concerned. However, such marriages were almost certainly not consummated until both parties had entered adulthood, which Arabs in the 7th century tended to reach at an earlier age than Westerners today. It is highly unlikely that Muhammad would not have taken Aisha into his bed until she was at least in her early teens, which was wholly in keeping with the customs of the day, and in context not in the least improper.
[Turner, C. (2006). The messenger. Islam: the basics(pp. 34-35). London: Routledge.]
But wasn’t Muhammad some sexual pervert that couldn’t control his libido? False. As Aisha herself testified:
Narrated Aisha: “The Prophet used to kiss and embrace his wives while he was fasting, and he had more power to control his desires than any of you.”
[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3 Book 31 Number 149]
But wasn’t Muhammad a violent misogynist who beat women and children all day? Wrong again. As Aisha again testifies:
Narrated Aisha: “The Messenger of Allah never struck a servant or a woman.”
[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41 Number 4786]
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، عَلَيْهَا السَّلاَمُ قَالَتْ مَا ضَرَبَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم خَادِمًا وَلاَ امْرَأَةً قَطُّ
Now, do these same anti-Muslim bloggers know (or care) that Christian sources record that Joseph married the Virgin Mary when he was 90 and she was 12? Probably not.
A year after his wife’s death, as the priests announced through Judea that they wished to find in the tribe of Juda a respectable man to espouse Mary, then twelve to fourteen years of age. Joseph, who was at the time ninety years old, went up to Jerusalem among the candidates…
[Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Joseph]
Will these same anti-Muslim keyboard warriors accuse Joseph of being a pedophile and Christianity of being a religion of pedophilia? Not likely. So what is at play here? As George Readings observed, “This attempt to aggressively apply a modern British definition of pedophilia to seventh century Arabia strikes me as a sign of severe anthropological illiteracy…”
Anthropological illiteracy indeed! But who has time for troublesome scientific principles and scholarly analysis if you rely on “closed information systems based on pretend information” and your anti-Muslim canards fit so neatly into your supremacist ideological view of the world?
Note: This article is part of our “What if they were Muslim?” series. In this series, we examine the double standards used by anti-Muslim activists when discussing religious extremism in Islam as compared to other religions. We reject using extremists of any religion to justify prejudice, stereotypes, and hostility towards all members of that religion. Period.