Muslim-Atheist Dialogue: Are Childhood Marriages a Universal Evil?


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In my recent video on Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s interview with Jordan Peterson I mentioned an example of something which is actually attributable to Islamic primary sources and which modern Westerners would find reprehensible, namely, child marriage.

What I said there was that Muslims are minimally committed to the following proposition: it is not the case that Shariah compliant child marriages (in an of themselves) are a universal moral evil. Let’s unpack those terms.

Shariah compliant means in line with the laws that Allah has placed for mankind. A child marriage is a marriage contract enacted when a person is still considered a dependent on their parents. By “in an of themselves” I mean that a child marriage in which, for example, a girl is forced against her will to marry someone she does not want to is not an example of a Shariah compliant child marriage in and of itself; rather this is an example of a forced marriage which is forbidden in Islam. We would agree that forced marriages are a universal evil. Likewise, a child marriage in which violence is enacted against the girl is not an example of a child marriage in and of itself. We would agree here that this type of violence is a universal evil and forbidden by the Shariah. A child marriage in which intercourse before the girl is able to bare it without physical harm is also not condoned by the Shariah. The Shariah also places a minimum age of 9 in addition to following all of the above mentioned conditions before intercourse can occur.

Finally, a universal moral evil is something that is objectively evil across all cultures and human beings – past, present, and future – regardless of whether people in those cultures would agree or accept that valuation. An example of this is murder. Murder (killing without just cause) is wrong regardless of when in took place, where it took place, and what culture it takes place. Even if certain cultures would glorify certain practices surrounding murder, for example, as a humiliation of their enemies, we can stand and say that that was wrong.

Is childhood marriage similar to this? In other words, is it the case that despite childhood marriage being found in virtually every single culture on planet earth from time immemorial until around 300-400 years ago in Europe and 100 years ago everywhere else, was evil? This while virtually every single great moral voice of humanity – compassionate teachers, philosophers, social reformers – from Buddha to Aristotle to Jesus to literally anyone to want to name, did not so much as mention it? Doesn’t that strike anyone as odd?

Note here, that as I said in the beginning Muslims are committed to the proposition that Shariah compliant childhood marriages are not a universal moral evil. This is because this practice is clearly condoned in primary Islamic texts across Sunni and Shi’i literature. Islam is a religion of the fitra, and it as the historical record indicates, nothing about this practice contradicts the fitra. Past societies would not even blink an eye, which indicates that our current distaste for this practice is historically contingent on our particular circumstances. Note however, I am not saying Muslims are committed to the following propositions:

  1. Shariah compliant childhood marriages should be practiced today.
  2. Shariah compliant childhood marriages are morally good.

A pious Muslim, keeping in line with religious texts and the principles of jurisprudence can argue from within the tradition that childhood marriages should not be practiced today. Likewise, he can argue that there is no basis for thinking the Shariah praises this kind of marriage. Rather, the Shariah looks at the childhood aspect of the marriage as morally neutral even in cultures where childhood marriages were normal.

Also note that a pious Muslim, keeping in line with religious texts and the principles of jurisprudence could likewise make an argument for 1 or 2. However, it is not something that is binding on other Muslims to believe.

One atheist commenter by the handle “Concerned Parent” tried to offer an argument that child marriages are indeed universal moral evils. The following is a dialogue I had with him. I have edited it slightly for readable and grammar, but you can see the full comment thread here.

The Dialogue

Concerned Parent: Your example about the opposite (i.e. valid attribution to Islam) uses child marriage as an example and “the ability of a girl to bare it” in fiqh.

Thanks for legitimizing/acknowledging that point. I happen to see intercourse with a 9 year old to fall under Universal Morality on the grounds that Intercourse and possible pregnancy/delivery are too dangerous to proceed without “informed consent” and girls of 9 are not capable of giving informed consent on a matter like that. An adult present with a girl of 9 would have a duty of care towards her and a duty to stop on the grounds that she would be at severe risk of serious harm or death.

The Muslim Theist: Imagine making this argument to anyone living 300 years ago, before contraceptives, and before having children was a luxury instead of a necessity. I imagine they would be less than enthused.

Jimmy Jimmy (a third commenter): Imagine being in the 21st century and following what a guy 1400 years ago did. You are basically saying that, if it was ok back then, it’s ok now 😐

The Muslim Theist: That’s not the argument I’m making here. What I’m saying is that just because people find something repulsive or morally wrong in the context of a particular society, it does not mean you can generalize that thing to the whole of humanity, past present and future.

Jimmy Jimmy: I kind of agree. We should view history trough their eyes, not our eyes. However, in Islamic states, governed by Shariah, this type of behaviour is accepted and not punished. And since Muslims believe this law comes from God, well, you have to accept it…If Mohamad did this, then it is ok for Muslims to do this. This is the problem, not what happened in the past

The Muslim Theist: Shariah allows for you to adjust state laws according to circumstance. You can therefore ban the registration of such marriages under state law even in Muslim countries that follow the Shariah. Similar to the banning of slavery. What we are opposed to is claiming that this is some universal moral truth rather than a contingent phenomenon based on the set up of highly technocratic societies.

Concerned Parent: I do not think so. The whole “necessity” argument overlooks that people bred horses, oxen, sheep, goats and were well aware of the dangers of too early pregnancy.

Less then enthused? Invalid or dead young mothers did not contribute much. They were well aware to keep colts and fillies separate for three to four years, even if the onset of puberty was 18 months. It was just too risky to risk pregnancy before the pelvis was fully developed.

How about 150 years ago training for obstetricians/midwives, also before contraceptives.  The family physician and guide to health … Including a treatise on midwifery and the diseases peculiar to women by Hammack, Elijah B Publication date 1869 Topics Medicine, Popular Publisher St. Louis, Southwestern book and publishing co.

“It is worthy of remark that marriage at too early an age is not conducive to health or longevity, but, on the contrary, the mortality among young married persons, I mean of married persons under the age of twenty, particularly women, is very great. I do not think that women ought to marry under twenty-two”

Do not forget that the Long Term Marriage Patterns in the USA (R. Haines 1996) clearly shows that mean age at first marriage for women was in the low twenties from 1730 on.

Demographics in the UK has the famous historian from the Cambridge Group  researching the 1600s

Laslett, Peter The World We Have Lost (1965)  most common marriage age in the records was 22 with an average of 24. “We have examined a thousand licences containing the ages of the applicants, issued by the diocese of Canterbury between 1619 and 1660 to people marrying for the first time. One woman gave her age as 13, four as 15, twelve as 16: all the rest were 17 and over, and 966 of the women got married for the first time after the age of 19, that is nearly 85 per cent. The commonest age of first marriage for women in this sample was 22, and the median age — the age below which as many got married as got married above it – was about 22.75: the average, mean age was about 24. “

 Or this research in rural places:   people married in their mid-twenties.

The above puts it in popular terms.

“The reason for late marriage among labourers and the middle class was simple enough: it took a long time for a couple to acquire enough belongings to set up housekeeping, even in a room of their parents’ home. Young love, however romantic, had to be kept in check if the two lovers were to survive in a world where subsistence earnings would not purchase a roof over their heads and put food on the table. “

People  married late and did not risk their health in underage ,marriages, although the occasional “accident” undoubtedly happened , it was not the norm.

The Muslim Theist: What you mentioned about the marriage is peculiar to England. Virtually everywhere else in the world, including in Europe, the story is much different. Also, while pregnancy before 20 may contain some health complications, I have yet to see the statistical breakdown of how serious the risk is. If you have any research regarding this, I would be grateful. However, I am skeptical that the risk is that serious, as the majority of women prior to modernity would have been giving birth in their teenage years. Furthermore, it would be rather odd for human beings to be the only species in which menstruation and the ability to safely give birth to a child were that out of sync.

You are quite right, however, that ancient peoples were aware that early intercourse could be harmful to women, which is why the condition of being able to bear intercourse was mentioned, as well as a minimum age.

While the argument about the health risks of pregnancy may contain some merit, are you also arguing that intercourse itself is physically harmful? You live in a civilization where millions of girls are losing their virginity at the age of 11 or 12 from illicit middle school relationships. If it were physically harmful, you’d expect to see in the historical records where pubescent intercourse was common, as well is in present day records where it is also common, extensive records about the physical damage caused. Instead what you find are exceptional cases here and there. I therefore find that a very weak argument. At any rate, if either intercourse or pregnancy presented a substantial health risk for a particular girl then Shariah would said to wait until it’s no longer a serious health risk.

Concerned Parent: Research in the USA shows that half of the girls are still virgins by the age of 18. 11 would be very young.. I’d need to see repeatable research before I believe that is “common.”

You are wrong about Europe, particularly Northern Europe.

How the West ‘Invented’ Fertility Restriction

Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2011. Abstract starts.

“Europeans restricted their fertility long before the Demographic Transition. By raising the marriage age of women and ensuring that a substantial proportion remained celibate, the “European Marriage Pattern” (EMP) reduced childbirths by up to one third between the 14th and 18th century.”

There is not that much quantitative research.  China in the 15th century has a table showing Men married on average 25-28 and then has a column showing age-diffrences with their wives were 3-4 years.

Bagnall researched Roman Egypt on the basis of Census records and arrives at the same conclusions as research for Rome did: On average, marriage was in the late teens, early twenties.

1. Science says 25-30 is the age of least risk to mother and child for a first pregnancy.

“With the onset of puberty, the female developmental trajectory diverges substantially from the childhood trajectory, whereas the male trajectory essentially continues its earlier course (Table S2). As a result, the female pelvis attains its obstetrically most favorable morphology around the age of 25–30 y, i.e., at the age of highest fertility”

2. The younger the mother, the greater the risk.

Childbearing in adolescents aged 12–15 years in low resource countries: a neglected issue. New estimates from demographic and household surveys in 42 countries 

“”It is frequently cited that girls who give birth aged 15–19 are more than twice as likely to die as those in their 20s (1, 2). However, this fails to capture the fact that risk increases with decreasing age. ……girls aged 15 or under had an odds ratio for maternal death four times higher than women aged 20–24. “

These research-papers go back only to 12 and show that the risks increase as the girl gets younger. There simply were not enough cases bellow 12, or politically it did not happen. 

3. It is not just mortality, it’s fistulas. Science says it is a problem.

“In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, obstetric fistula is very common, as access to and use of emergency obstetric care is limited …… Several factors have been linked to the high occurrence of obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa, including the preponderance of early marriage and teenage pregnancy, which in turn mean that the girls do not have pelvises which have sufficiently developed to allow reproduction [10]. This is further compounded by the poor nutritional status of most of the girls who live in these highly deprived settings [11,12].”

Aid-workers confirm death and fistulas are the problem:

“The greatest danger, however, is to the pelvic floor. Girls may start ovulating and menstruating as early as age 9, though the average is around 12 to 13. …….. Just because a girl can get pregnant, though, doesn’t mean she can safely deliver a baby. The pelvis does not fully widen until the late teens, meaning that young girls may not be able to push the baby through the birth canal.

The results are horrific, said Wall and Thomas, who have both worked in Africa treating women in the aftermath of such labors. Girls may labor for days; many die. Their babies often don’t survive labor either.

The women and girls who do survive often develop fistulas, which are holes between the vaginal wall and the rectum or bladder. When the baby’s head pushes down and gets stuck, it can cut portions of the mother’s soft tissue between its skull and her pelvic bones. As a result, the tissue dies, and a hole forms. Feces and urine then leak through the hole and out of the vagina. Women with fistulas are often divorced and shunned. And young girls are at higher risk.”

Intercourse itself can certainly be harmful.

2 examples:

1. “The Rape which happens in weddings in Yemen is something else” –

2. Khomeiny impliies girls of 9 can get seriously harmed.

Khomeiny’s  book, which was published originally in Arabic, was called ‘Tahrir al Wasilah’. Translation: Dr. Sayyid Ali Reza Naqavi  Pubished 2001

“Problem # 12. Intercourse with a woman is not allowed unless she attains the age of nine years, regardless whether the marriage is permanent or temporary. There is, however, no objection in other enjoyments like touching lasciviously, hugging and rubbing the thighs, even with a suckling infant. If a person has had intercourse with a girl before she has attained the age of nine years, but it has not resulted in ifda’ he shall not be subjected to any punishment, except that he shall be considered to have committed a sin. If his intercourse has resulted in Ida’. so that the urinal and menstrual or the menstrual and fecal passages have become one she shall be rendered perpetually prohibited to him though, according to the more cautious opinion, it shall be so in the latter case. In any case, according to the stronger opinion, she shall not cease to be his wife. So all the laws relating to her wifehood shall apply to her like mutual inheritance, prohibition on having a fifth wife, and the prohibition for the husband to marry her sister, etc. He shall be bound to maintain her as long as she is alive, even if he divorces her, rather, according to the more cautious opinion, even if she marries another husband after the divorce by the first husband, rather it is not devoid of force, and he shall also be bound to pay the Diyat for Ilda’ to her, and that is equal to the Diyat of a human being. If the wife is a free woman, she shall receive half the Diyat of a man in addition to the dower to which she is entitled by virtue of the contract and consummation of marriage.

If the husband performs intercourse with his wife after she has completed nine years of age, and it results in Ilda’ , she shall neither be rendered unlawful to him, nor shall he be required to pay her Diyat, but, according to the more cautious opinion, he shall be bound to maintain her as long as she is alive, though, according to the stronger opinion, he is not bound to do so.”.

So young girls and girls of 9 and older can get seriously injured through intercourse.

I also noticed: “Furthermore, it would be rather odd for human beings to be the only species in which menstruation and the ability to safely give birth to a child were that out of sync.”

Human females start menstruating somewhere 12-14 on average. Most doctors will say the safest ages are upwards from 21 so 22-25 for first pregnancy. Roughly twice the age at which onset of menstruation happens. And roughly the age at which a girl has reached her full weight.

For animals/mammals it is very comparable:


“Age to Start Breeding

Be careful not to breed your goats at too young of an age. Why? Because a doe’s body isn’t prepared to grow and deliver a kid safely until <criteria> A doe can reach puberty and be ready to conceive in as little as 4 to 12 months of age. That doesn’t mean her body is prepared for the process. “


Be sure the mare is the right age for breeding. The best age to breed a mare for the first time is once she has finished growing herself, at around three to four years of age. It is possible to breed from 18 months, but this places a lot of demands on the body of a mare that is still growing itself. [6]


“Usually it’s best to wait until they are at least 15 months of age before breeding. Even though the early maturing breeds do reach puberty by the time they are around 7 to 9 months of age, it is best to wait until they are around 13 to 15 months of age before you can breed them.[1] This is because it allows them to grow more, increase their pelvic area and gain enough condition that can allow them to sustain themselves throughout gestation. Heifers that are bred too early tend to have too small a pelvic area to calve out…”

Horses start menstruating at about 18 months. Hear this veterinarian’s opinion.

Equestrian Vet answering about when to start breeding. “Definitely not before three.”  On average onset of menstruation in horses is 18 months.  

So Humans are mammals who are safe to breed at roughly twice the age of onset of menstruation. The pelvis is reasonably mature in the late teens, so then the risks start going down. That is why the UN has 18 as the marriage age. Means most girls are 19 at the earliest when they deliver.

The Muslim Theist: “About 6% of those who did not grow up in a two-parent household lost their virginity at age 12 or younger, an age at which legal consent is not possible, while those living in a two-parent household lost their virginity at this age only about 2% of the time. “

If you multiply across the massive population of various Western countries, you’ll get millions of cases.

The paper you cited refutes your point because they show in that paper that the age of marriage rose post Black Death. Meaning, prior to that point Europeans were having children at a younger age. I didn’t read the full study, but the abstract states that they look at data from England, and as I said, England is exceptionally high in its marriage age.

I suggest looking at the Roman and Post classical parts of this, and that doesn’t even cover outside of Europe:

Regarding this study you linked to:

Why did you put a ” …” around an extremely relevant part of the passage? This leads me to believe you are being dishonest, in which case I am not interested in continuing this conversation. Here is what the full passage says:

“In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, obstetric fistula is very common, as access to and use of emergency obstetric care is limited [5]. While it is widely accepted that it is difficult to estimate the incidence and prevalence rates of obstetric fistula in developing countries, it is estimated that more than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa [6–8]. Some studies have suggested incidence rates to be between 1 and 3 per 1000 births in West Africa [8], with higher rates of 5 to 10 cases in 1000 births reported in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa [9]. Several factors have been linked to the high occurrence of obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa, including the preponderance of early marriage and teenage pregnancy, which in turn mean that the girls do not have pelvises which have sufficiently developed to allow reproduction [10]. This is further compounded by the poor nutritional status of most of the girls who live in these highly deprived settings [11,12].

In Burkina Faso, obstetric fistula remains a huge problem [5]. According to the statistical yearbook of the Department of Studies and Planning, the incidence of obstetric fistula in Burkina Faso was estimated at 6/10,000 cases at gynaecological outpatient clinics for the year 2000 [13]. “

“Very common” here = less than 0.5% of women, in areas where the norm is to marry young. Furthermore, it is compounded by a poor nutritional status. They don’t even have proper stats, and they can’t tell what % of this is due to malnutrition. Again, the Shariah would not have a problem banning a particular practice for a particular group of people at a particular time for pragmatic reasons. This is a far cry from the debate at hand which is whether an unspeakable moral evil has been committed here. I think especially in a time period when child birth deaths were even more likely due to hyenic reasons, people would justifiably look at the risks involved here as not that significant. Remember, our argument is not whether such a practice is acceptable in modern technological societies, it’s about a universal moral evil. The numbers just simply don’t add up. Not every risk = a moral evil, otherwise getting into your car would be evil since you risk dying or killing someone accidentally.

As for the examples you gave, the first references the rape of a 14 year old girl. Obvious, violent rape can be harmful, so this is an invalid example. Regarding the fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini, nobody was denying that intercourse can be harmful for a girl that young, which is why the ulema say you must wait until the girl can physically engage in it. In other words, there are 2 requirements: a minimum age, and the physical capability of the girl. If a man fails to maintain either of these conditions so and harms the girl, he is required to pay for her maintenance (i.e. her food, shelter, etc.) for the rest of her life, in addition to possibly paying her a fine for harming her body. I don’t see the point you’re trying to make; I never denied that intercourse for a girl that young can be physically harmful, I denied that it is almost always harmful such that there needs to be a general rule prohibiting it on grounds of physical health.

Please note this paragraph I wrote in my second reply to you “You are quite right, however, that ancient peoples were aware that early intercourse could be harmful to women, which is why the condition of being able to bear intercourse was mentioned, as well as a minimum age.”

Brother, those wikihows are talking about breeding farm animals for ideal characteristics. We’re not talking about how to get the best wool, we’re talking about whether something presents such a life-threatening risk so as to be banned by law.

Instead of looking at 3 or 4 domesticated animals, why don’t we look at the millions of species in the wild from every kind of creature, almost all of which breed near the onset of puberty. What you are claiming is that puberty and the physical capability for having children are over a decade off, a radical claim with no scientific basis in addition to having literally millions of counterexamples. If the risk was as great as you think it was, all of these millions of animals would die out.

A Quick Note

As far as I’m concerned, the debate ended here because in what follows, my interlocuter switched the topic from “is childhood marriage a universal evil” to “should childhood marriage be practiced today.” I never committed to this second proposition for me to have to defend it. I am merely committed to the idea that childhood marriage is not a universal evil, meaning that we living today cannot pass moral judgement on every society in history and say that they were evil dirt-bags for this practice. This is a viewpoint which a secular historian or anthropologist could accept, and in fact I suspect the majority of them would accept what I’m saying methodologically if not ontologically.

My interlocutor from this point forward beings to play games. He starts bringing in the United Nations’ law, which has no relevance to the moral question at hand, nor to past societies in which there was no UN! What follows therefore is for your benefit to see how an arrogant human being acts when their argument has been defeated. They do not say “okay, you’ve made a good point, let me think about this and revisit my views.” Rather, they start to play games in the discussion, change the topic, change the goal posts, accuse you of things you never said, and lie.


Concerned Parent: The general rule would be to follow the UN first and set a marriage age at 18. That is lower then ideal, but these things take time. Even Saudi Arabia has adopted a marriage age of 18. It is a responsible compromise that should be attainable and would save very high numbers of girls a lot of misery. 

It is true that youngsters in the west sometimes experiment with intercourse. Education, Consent laws and parenting skills can limit the problems.  Muslim speaker who looks western has people tell about their sexual activity. Shereen El Feki who started from HIV research. In Muslim countries reporting of experimentations with sex is low, but it does happen.

Speaking if HIV research.

Child marriage raises HIV and STDs.

Causes: frequent unprotected intercourse with much older partners.

Take a country like Iran in 2014 176 marriages under 10 years old.   “The so-called “child spouse” bill, introduced into parliament in 2016, proposed an absolute ban on the marriage of girls under age 13 and an absolute ban for the marriage of boys under 16.

Hassan Nourozi, the spokesperson of the parliament’s legal commission defended the commission’s rejection of the bill.

“In our opinion, there are some problems in the proposed bill because many of the criteria are not acceptable. According to the representatives in the Legal Commission, a 15 year old girl is not considered a child … and is fit to marry,” the cleric said.

Nourozi said that according to the shariah laws, Qom jurisprudence and Iranian and Lebanese experts, a girl goes into puberty at 9 years of age and can be considered as fit to marry………………………According to statistics from official sources, the marriages of at least 37,000 girls between the ages of 10 to 14 were registered in Iran in 2017. This does not include marriages that were not legally registered……………..2014, 40,000 children married including 176 children who were under the age of 10.”  So Iran indeed has a parliamentary committee of clerics that say 9 is the age of maturity. 176 girls under the age of 10 married in 2014 on that basis. “

All indications are that Iran is deteriorating.

There is no risk of dying out of humans through reduced fertility. In fact the global population is growing when it should be level or shrinking.

What I am claiming  is that the age of least risk for first pregnancy  is closer to the mid-20s. and that we should educate parents and children on that.  Girls should know the risks of very early pregnancies..

Humans can control livestock and ourselves.. I do not see much point in  looking at animals when we know that safety is determined by maturity of the pelvis and birth-canal and onset of menstruation is a bad choice.

Don’t forget that the Quran does not mention menstruation as a requirement for intercourse. That is just some rules they made up later. But it is not mentioned in the Quran.

The Islamic site with the highest nummber of views and a Sheikh who has 3.6 Million followers on twitter says the following:

“Islam does not give a specific age for marriage, either for the husband or for the wife. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):”

He specifically uses 65:4 to prove Allah means any age.

So menstruation is just added later by others as a requirement,, but they should have picked pelvic maturity. 

Nowadays we have to endure comments like:

A****  Replied: Marriage age must be at puberty. This is human right given by god.”

S ***** replied:   And when the girl begins her first menstrual cycle, she is no longer a child Allah says she is now a woman.””

The next time anyone claims that intercourse at onset of menstruation is  a good  idea, we should take out our wands, cast an Aisha Spell to send them back to 7th c. Arabia as a 9 year old girl about to be impregnated by her 54 year old husband.

If one promotes the idea, one should appreciate the valuable learning moment of the full experience.

This link shows the effects.

9 year old brides share their experiences

Nujood Ali from Yemen  first her father, then herself.

Nadya from Iraq The nine-year-old child forced into marriage in Iraq

The Muslim Theist: At this point you’ve stopped addressing the points I’ve made and are not even coherent, nor have you advanced any new argument that child marriage is a universal moral evil – past present and future. So, I’ll take that as an admission that you understand you’ve got no grounds for this claim. Good day.

Concerned Parent: The points are:

1. The girls should be old enough to understand informed consent about the risks to them.

2. The risks are known and even the Byzantines and Persians legislated against intercourse with very young girls. They also knew the concept of statutory rape and applied it.

3. The risks should be acknowledged and girls should be educated.

4. Adults present with a minor should have a duty of care towards the minor.

5. The UN’s advice should be followed about Underage marriage being child-abuse., 

6. I have given the statistics which clearly show elevated risks. 18-year-olds should be old enough to decide for themselves.

7. Under 18 year old’s should be protected because they are too young to understand the full consequences of marriage.

8. Age of consent laws: up to countries by themselves. Hard to centrally legalize. 

Promotion of underage marriage is immoral.  You have not given any statistics about the supposed safety.

The Muslim Theist:

1. Parents act in the stead of their children until they are able to act according to informed consent. Disallowing this means that parents wouldn’t be able to parent as they decide virtually everything about a child’s life from the clothes they wear to the school they go to the food they eat. Try telling a goat herder in the 3rd century BC he needs to financially support his daughter until the age of 20, he will laugh in your face. You are completely oblivious to the life circumstances of people living at that time. At any rate, in Islam, if the girl objects the marriage is invalidated.

2. What age did they legislate? Rome legislated 12, India had no limit, not sure about china. In all cases, the limit was extremely low. Besides which, laws weren’t enforced in the majority of the rural and tribal regions in the ancient world. You simply didn’t have the infrastructure.

3. The risks up until this point have not been shown to be substantial.

4. Caring for a minor when you’re a poor goat herder or something IS to marry your daughter to a wealthier man capable of feeding her. Your worldview dictates that prior to less than 100 years ago, the vast majority of the world did not care about their children. Do you realize how absurd that is?

5. This is why I’ve begun to stop taking you seriously. We’re discussing a philosophical issue – is child marriage a universal evil or not – and you bring in the UN? What does the UN have to do with a goat herder a thousand years ago?

6. Yes, the elevated risk = less than 0.5% of women according to the statistics you provided. That’s not substantial enough to warrant a legal ban nor to say something is a universal moral evil.

7&8: Okay, so you’re okay with a girl fornicating at the age of 16, but not getting married. Completely incoherent, and it’s honestly disappointing that someone as intelligent as yourself can’t see how they are simply being influenced by their historically contingent circumstances. Like you can read a text from 200 years ago and deconstruct how the author is influenced by their surroundings and the currents of their time, but you are utterly unable to do so to yourself and your own time. Look from birds-eye view upon yourself from a wider view of history, and situate where you are. You are condemning the vast majority of mankind to be completely immoral using arguments that don’t apply to their life circumstances.

9. I am not promoting child marriages. The burden of proof is not on me here, because I am not claiming that child marriages are good. I am saying it is not a universal moral evil. The burden of proof is on you because you claim that it is. It’s similar to how you folks always argue that the burden of proof is on us to show that God exists, since you are simply denying that the evidence is sufficient to make a claim one way or another. With morality, the default of any action is that it’s morally neutral until shown otherwise.

Concerned Parent:

1. “Parents act in the stead of their children until they are able to act according to informed consent.”  Muslim apologist Farid tweeted and then quickly deleted “How is it child-rape if there is parental consent?”. You lack the insight that even Farid had.

2. You’re arguing “weren’t enforced” about someone you promote as “a perfect example to follow for all time”?  Nuts.

3. Ask a doctor about impregnating a 9-year-old. Maybe tell him you’re considering marrying off your 9-year-old to start a family.

4. My worldview dictates that Muslim apologists create a false narrative that child-marriage was common/frequent, when it was, in fact, rare.  Muslim apologists do this because Muhammed had intercourse with a 9-year-old and promote child-marriage.

5. The UN has all countries as members and the countries therefore have a voice in the decisions of the UN. If the UN describes underage marriage as child-abuse than maybe there is something wrong with promoting marriage under 17.

6. The UN thinks the risks are substantial enough.

7. The topic is child-marriage. i.e., starting families with very young wives.

8. You are promoting child-marriage.

The Muslim Theist: The problem is not with your mind, it’s with your heart. Fear God, and realize that this life was not created without purpose. You will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement to account for the belying of your own intellect and for lying. You recognize that your arguments have failed, but you don’t want to submit to the truth because of the hatred in your heart. Peace brother.

Concerned Parent: I’ll leave the lying to the child-intercourse promoters. Cheers.