Update: New Muslim Chaplain OK’s Child Marriage under Sharia

Update: It has also become known that Musleh Khan, newly appointed as a Muslim police chaplain in Toronto defended child marriage under an Islamic system. CIJ news reports that while commenting on Mohammed’s relationship with his wife Aisha, whom he asserts was nine years old at the time of their marriage, Khan spoke in favor of such a marriage. 

In a lecture given to the Muslim Students Association at the University of Saskatchewan in 2014, Khan praised Mohammed’s relationship with Aisha as that of a model husband, saying, “Aisha, she was young. So she didn’t really understand what marriage, what it took for a woman to be in a marriage. She didn’t really understand the maturity or the responsibility of being in a marriage.

“So why is that important? Because what this should indicate — that one party, so in this case it’s the husband. The husband’s got to be somebody that’s very tolerant , and he’s got to have wisdom. He’s got to have wisdom and how to speak to a person like this. How to build a relationship with an individual like this.”

In a question and answer session in a mosque in Ontario in 2015, Khan responded to a question asking why it was acceptable to marry a nine-year old by saying that different countries set the age of consent differently, and there is no universally accepted age of consent.

“So what is the real age to get married if it’s so different everywhere you go?” he asked rhetorically. “The answer it’s our prophet [Mohammad] peace and blessings be upon [who ruled] at the age of puberty.”

He then went onto say that while child marriage is acceptable under sharia and no one should dispute that, one should not implement it in this generation because times have changed and what is applicable for one time may not be applicable for another.  

“Our culture doesn’t allow or know how to accept that practice today. If you try to implement that practice today you’re going to get into a lot of problems,” he said. “However, your belief … is, if the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, did it, you have to believe that it was permissible. It’s permitted in our sharia, but it has its time and place. That’s what I tell non-Muslims.”

The Toronto police department has appointed a new chaplain to service its Muslim officers. 

As reported by CIJ News, Musleh Khan was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia but raised in Toronto. He obtained a BA in Islamic Law from the Islamic University in Madinah in Saudi Arabia.

The chaplain not only helps Muslim police officers but also serves as a community chaplain. “If they ever are confused about certain behaviors or rhetoric thrown out on behalf of Islam, I’d like for them to have someone authentic, that has studied the religion and can say, ‘Hey, I can explain this to you’,” Khan says.

The police department says Khan’s goal is to provide support and bridge gaps. Yet, there is one gap not being addressed:  the gap between men and women inherent in his teachings – and that of “authentic Islam,” as he claims.

In 2013, Khan taught a webinar titled The Heart of the Home: The Rights and Responsibilities of the Wife.

In the webinar, Khan states the wife should be obedient to her husband at all times (since he is her protector and maintainer and supports the family). She should respect him as the ameer (lord) of the house. Moreover, women should not view this obligation as a chore, but rather as a means of gaining eternal reward. (There is no similar obligation of the husband to obey his wife.)

Also in the seminar (see video below), Khan states that a woman must be careful to ask permission from her husband to leave the house. In addition, she should be available for sexual relations whenever he desires unless she has a valid excuse (illness or fasting). But even so, Khan said,

“Even some scholars went as far as saying that even if it doesn’t feel right, or you’re just not in that emotional relationship you know it’s not the right manner, you’re not feeling that at that particular time, still try to make it happen, still try to force yourself even if you have to do that.

“Why? Because this is crucial and even scientists, even doctors, even psychologists, all of them, have proven that this here, this intimacy with your spouse is a crucial, crucial ingredient for a successful marriage.

That a woman should need permission from her husband to leave the house is demeaning and oppressive, putting women under archaic control of her husband.

That she should force herself to have marital relations when she knows it is not coming from the right place due to problems in the couple’s relationship at the time means a woman can be used like an object. (While Khan may be right that intimacy is a crucial ingredient for a successful marriage, marital relations under these circumstances are the antithesis of any real definition of intimacy).

If the Toronto police department desires to create a position to support its Muslim police officers and be a community chaplain, it should not be hiring and promoting an imam that leaves half of the community in a secondary role and teaches its officers that’s the way it is supposed to be.

 

CIJ news reported that Khan subsequently clarified his comments saying:

Upon deliberating on the definition of ‘obedience’ as being, ‘To yield to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure,’ I agree that the term was inappropriate if used out of context…[words] ‘inappropriate if used out of context,’ 

I realize how someone unfamiliar with this nuance can misunderstand my imprecise translation to mean something different to my intended meaning, and the meaning that I know my audience at the time understood clearly.” According to CBC. Khan explained that the Arabic word often translated as “obedience” in fact denotes loyalty, devotion and love. (said on CBC)

In the Arabic language, the term Ta’a (????) is often, ineffectively translated, as obedience. However, this is not entirely accurate. The Arabic Ta’a portrays a depth of emotion that denotes loyalty, devotion, yielding, sacrifice and love towards the object of one’s affection

I realise how someone unfamiliar with this nuance can misunderstand my imprecise translation to mean something different to my intended meaning, and the meaning that I know my audience at the time understood clearly. My aim was to encourage couples to go out of their way to care and nurture one another.” (Said on CP24)

The video was also taken down from YouTube, however screenshots of slides of Khan’s presentation are available by clicking here.

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org 

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