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Translating-Jihad’s Completely Fraudulent Translations

By: Dawood (guest contributor) and Danios

The smoking gun against Al-Mutarjim, creator of the Translating-Jihad blog

We recently published an article criticizing the anti-Islam website known as Translating-Jihad.  The owner of this website, Al-Mutarjim (the blogger formerly known as Al-Mutarajjam), parades around as a qualified and reliable Arabic translator.  Our article questioned his Arabic language skills, and we showed that he can’t even translate the word “translator”–which he kept as his user name for months on end.  For an entire year, he was calling himself The Translated (Al-Mutarajjam) instead of The Translator (Al-Mutarjim)…he only changed it after we pointed out the error (and then he scrambled to cover up his mistake).

Al-Mutarjim issued a rebuttal.  The gist of his response is that he made a mistake (“so what?”) but that doesn’t change the fact that his translations are accurate.  He argued that we are focusing on this “minor mistake” because we can’t deal with the substance of his translations.  Al-Mutarjim challenged us (emphasis added):

Translating Jihad

I started this blog in winter 2010 to expose the violent, intolerant, and totalitarian doctrines of Islam. It is common to hear these doctrines expressed candidly by Muslims when they are speaking to other Muslims in Arabic, but it is not so common to hear them expressed freely by Muslims speaking to Western audiences.

A perfect example of this comes in a fatwa posted on the Arabic-language section of Islamonline.net, which was founded by Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, regarding the Prophet Muhammad having intercourse with his prepubescent wife ‘Aisha. An excerpt of my translation follows:

…it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl. The Qur’an is not like the books of jurisprudence which mention what the implications of things are, even if they are prohibited. It is true that the prophet (PBUH) entered into a marriage contract with A’isha when she was six years old, however he did not have sex with her until she was nine years old.

A fatwa on the same topic on the English side of the site smooths over this uncomfortable bit of Islamic history:

As for the Prophet’s condition before this marriage, it clearly explained what we’ve said that it was a purely sublime aim and purpose that motivated him to marry `Aisha. That’s why the marriage was not consummated until sometime after the emigration to Madinah, when she had reached maturity.

The author of the [LoonWatch] article which calls me a fraud was unable to refute this translation, or any of my other translations. He spent hours on my site over several days, scrutinizing every piece of it. If he could have refuted any of them, he would have. I take pride in my work, which is to produce accurate translations exposing the violent and intolerant doctrines of Islam to the English-speaking audience. I invite all to come and scrutinize my work.

We are delighted to accept Al-Mutarjim’s challenge.  The only reason that [Dawood] did not criticize this translation before was that Al-Mutarjim had disabled comments after [Dawood] refuted him.  Al-Mutarjim says that [Dawood] “was unable to refute this translation, or any of my other translations…”  Well yes, since Al-Mutarjim disabled commenting, it was not possible to post rebuttals! [Danios], on the other hand, has been M.I.A. from the LoonWatch site for several months and just returned.

But now that Al-Mutarjim has challenged us, we are but compelled to expose him.  Al-Mutarjim, remember how you said in your response that you never received any formal schooling to learn Arabic?  Well, sit back and relax, because you are about to get some schooling today.

In his response to us, Al-Mutarjim has claimed that the Arabic version of IslamOnline.net permits sexual intercourse with prepubescent girls, whereas the English version misleadingly avoids mentioning this.  As proof, Al-Mutarjim claims that the Arabic fatwa on IslamOnline says “it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl.” This line is critical to Al-Mutarjim’s claim, so surely he translated it correctly, right?

In fact, Al-Mutarjim’s translation is completely fraudulent.  The proper translation of this line is actually as follows: “and from this verse we take the permissibility of betrothal/marriage (nikah) with prepubescent girls.”  The word nikah here does not mean “sexual intercourse” at all.   In fact, the mufti issuing the fatwa says the exact opposite: namely that although a girl may be betrothed when she is prepubescent, no sexual intercourse ought to occur until (1) at least after she passes puberty and (2) she can physically bear it without any harm to her.

To understand the duplicity of Al-Mutarjim’s claims, let’s review: Al-Mutarjim claims that the fatwa says that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with prepubescent girls, but in reality the fatwa actually says that sexual intercourse may occur only after puberty and once the female can bear it without any harm to her.  Quite simply, the fatwa says the exact opposite of what Al-Mutarjim claims!

Here is the original Arabic:

فيؤخذ من الآية جواز نكاح البنت قبل البلوغ”

which Al-Mutarjim translated as:

we can take from this verse that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl.

When it actually translates as:

and from this verse we take the permissibility of betrothal/marriage (nikah) with pre-pubescent girls.

Al-Mutarjim’s dishonest translation becomes even more apparent when we look at the rest of the fatwa.  But first, let’s look at the way his blog, Translating-Jihad, translated the fatwa:  Fatwa: “It is Permissible to Have Sexual Intercourse with a Prepubescent Girl”.  (This is the original blog post that Al-Mutarjim was referring to in his response to us–the one we supposedly couldn’t refute.)

Notice how he uses ellipses (…) everywhere.  As with other authors in the anti-Islam blogosphere, the use of ellipsis is of strategic importance, purposefully placed to mislead the reader and to superimpose false meanings onto the text.  Al-Mutarjim’s translation is under 400 words long, whereas the actual fatwa on IslamOnline [when translated in full] is just under 2,000 words.  In other words, his “translation” is less than 1/5th the actual length of the fatwa.  The other 4/5ths of the fatwa is tactfully hidden within the ellipses.  Most troubling is the fact that Al-Mutarjim hid the mufti’s final verdict regarding the issue, which directly contradicts Al-Mutarjim’s claims.

So what exactly did Al-Mutarjim hide inside those ever so helpful ellipses?

The following key part was mysteriously not translated by Al-Mutarjim:

. ومن المهم كذلك أن نعرف أن الفقهاء وإن أجازوا تزويج الصغيرة فإنهم منعوا زوجها أن يطأها حتى تطيق الوطء ، وهذا يختلف باختلاف الأزمنة والأمكنة والبيئات.

And it is important for us to know that even though the jurists approved betrothing a child [before puberty], they prevented her husband from having sexual intercourse with her until she could bear it, which differs according to the time, place, and environment.

Al-Mutarjim’s deceit becomes quite clear from this!  The fatwa states that sexual intercourse before puberty would not be proper as it would bring great harm to the female.  It says (editor’s note: we’ve broken down the English text into two paragraphs just for ease in reading, though in Arabic it appears as one paragraph):

ولا يخفى بأن زواج الصغار لا يخلو من محاذير صحية ، لأن أجهزتهم التناسلية لا تكون مهيأة للجماع بعد ، كما أن الصغار لا يكونون مهيئين نفسياً لممارسة الجنس ، وبخاصة البنت الصغيرة التي يغلب أن تتضرر جسدياً ولاسيما إذا كان زوجها رجلاً كبيراً ! فقد يسبب جماعها مضاعفات نفسية وجسدية سيئة ترافقها طوال حياتها وتؤثر في مستقبلها الجنسي ! ولهذا ذهب الفقهاء إلى أن الزوجة الصغيرة التي لا تحتمل الوطء لا تُسلَّم إلى زوجها حتى تكبر وتصبح في سـن تتحمل فيه الوطء ، حتى وإن كان الزوج عاقلاً أميناً وتعهد ألا يقربها ، لأن هيجان الشهوة فيه قد يحمله على وطئها فيؤذيها

It is clear that the marriage of children has health concerns, because their reproductive organs are not ready for sexual intercourse yet, nor are they emotionally prepared for sexual intercourse, especially the female child who will most likely be physically damaged. This is especially if her husband is an old man! Sexual intercourse might cause negative physical and emotional ramifications that would stay with her for the rest of her life and affect her sexual future!

And that is why the majority of jurists say that the child wife who cannot bear sexual intercourse must not be given to her husband, until she is grown and is of age in which she could bear sexual intercourse, even if the husband was intelligent and trustworthy and promised not to touch her, since the force of the sexual need in him might compel him to have intercourse with her and harm her.

Oh, how convenient that all of this was removed from the Translating-Jihad translation!  And yet Al-Mutarjim has the gall to say to us:

The author of the [LoonWatch] article which calls me a fraud was unable to refute this translation, or any of my other translations. He spent hours on my site over several days, scrutinizing every piece of it. If he could have refuted any of them, he would have. I take pride in my work, which is to produce accurate translations…

The mufti asks:

إذا كان من يريدون ذلك يبحثون حقا عن المصلحة العامة فلماذا لم يكتفوا بسن البلوغ؟ وهل يقول الأطباء : إن وطء البالغة مضر بها؟

If they really were looking for public interest, then why not suffice with the age of puberty [as the minimum age for sexual intercourse in marriage]? And do doctors say that intercourse with a girl that had reached puberty brings harm to her?

This is a rhetorical question he is asking, and he means to say that sex after puberty is not harmful.  (This is where the mufti is sadly mistaken, but the point is that the fatwa does not at all permit sexual intercourse with prepubescent girls, as Al-Mutarjim claims.)  The IslamOnline mufti argues that puberty ought to be the absolute minimum age for sexual intercourse.  In his concluding paragraph, the mufti issues his final verdict:

ونحن بدورنا ننصح من الوجهة الطبية بعدم الزواج قبل البلوغ على أقل تقدير؛ لأن البلوغ مؤشر فطري يدل على أن الجسم أصبح مهيأً للمعاشرة الزوجية ، كما أن الإنسان بالبلوغ يصل إلى درجة مقبولة من الوعي الاجتماعي الذي يساعده على تكوين الأسرة .. علماً بأن معظم القوانين المعمول بها في البلدان الإسلامية وغير الإسلامية تمنع الزواجَ قبل سِنِّ الرُّشْدِ ، أو سنِّ ثماني عشرة سنة .

In view of medical grounds, we admonish against marriage before puberty at the very least, because puberty is an intuitive sign which indicates that the body is ready for marital intercourse, and because humans at puberty reach an acceptable degree of social awareness that would help them in forming a family unit, especially since most applied laws in Islamic countries and non-Islamic countries prohibit marriage before the age of puberty or before the age of eighteen.

Amazing how the mufti’s conclusion did not appear anywhere in Al-Mutarjim’s translation!  All of this hidden in those magical ellipses.  As we stated before, Al-Mutarjim deceitfully translated the fatwa as follows:

we can take from this verse that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl.

which should read:

and from this verse we take the permissibility of betrothal/marriage (nikah) with prepubescent girls.

Not only does the mufti forbid sexual intercourse before puberty, he also speaks against marriage before puberty (even if the married couple abstain from intercourse).  The IslamOnline mufti explains that the permissibility to betroth prepubescent girls is a thing of the past, due to the societal needs of a time gone by.  The mufti argues that hundreds of years ago, the vast majority of people were illiterate.  Without schooling in the way, it was the norm for early marriage to occur.  But today, most people are educated for several years, and early marriage would interrupt this.  Therefore, it is not proper to betroth/marry off a child.  Says the mufti (again, not translated by our dishonest Translating-Jihad translator):

ولا ننسى كذلك أن الثقافة وقتها كانت محدودة، فقد كان بمقدورها أن تحيط بها في سن صغيرة، ولم يكن الحال كما هو عليه الآن من أن الولد ذكرا، أو أنثى يظل يتعثر في القراءة والكتابة حتى يجاوز العاشرة.

And we should not forget also that the culture at the time was quite limited, and so she could easily be familiar with it [i.e. get to know everything she would need to know for adult life] at a young age, and things were not the way they are now, in which the child, male or female, remains stumbling through schooling [lit. reading and writing] beyond the age of ten.

In another IslamOnline fatwa–also in Arabic–it says:

ومعنى هذا … أن زواج الصغار جائز من حيث الأصل، ولكن قد يمنع من باب المصلحة ، والسياسة الشرعية.

The meaning of this [is that] the marriage [note: betrothal, not sexual intercourse] of youngsters is permissible in terms of theoretical principle; however, it may be better to prevent it so as to guarantee the well-being of the community and [conformity with] Islamic societal policies

He argues that although there is a theoretical permissibility, in actuality it would be harmful in today’s day and age.  Therefore, it would go against the maslaha (public welfare), and the ruler is permitted in Islam to ban it and ought to do so.

And the fatwa concludes:

We admonish against marriage before puberty at the very least.

The original fatwa, mistranslated by Al-Mutarjim, concludes that betrothal/marriage and sexual intercourse ought not to be initiated until at least after puberty.  Yet, if one were to read Al-Mutarjim’s translation of the fatwa, one would get a completely different understanding of the text.  Al-Mutarjim is wholly unreliable, completely dishonest, and indubitably fraudulent.

This topic–minimum age of marriage in Islam–is a hefty one and one which [Danios] will write on in the future.  Unfortunately, many misconceptions circulate the internet regarding this issue.  For example, it is commonly assumed that traditional Sharia dictates that the consummation of marriage may take place at puberty, and that the onset of puberty is considered to be menarche (the start of a female’s menstrual cycles).  This is not true.  Traditional Sharia did not dictate a specific age of the consummation of marriage and only dictated that a “woman may be able to bear it (i.e. sexual intercourse)” without any harm coming to her from it.  Prof. Suad Joseph of U.C. Davis writes on p.57 of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures:

From cases that were brought to court we learn that muftis and qadis would ensure that the minor girl was able to “endure” intercourse (tutiq al-wat’).  This explains why there was no need to mention to mention a “minimum age” [of consummation of marriage]: It was the girl’s physical appearance (“plump and boxom”) that signaled whether the marriage could be consummated without undue harm [to the female].

In other words, consummation of marriage was to be permitted only if the female’s body had developed, undergoing pubertal changes such as the development of breasts and other womanly features.  The very dictum regarding a minimum age of marriage is exactly opposite of what is commonly assumed about Islam: it requires the female to have the body of a woman, not a child.  Islamic jurists abstained from specifying a specific age, as they reasoned that different girls matured at different ages.  Instead, they argued that each case should be judged individually on a case by case basis.  Furthermore, clerics point out that the average age of puberty can vary from one generation to another and from one location to another.

It should of course be noted that we here at LoonWatch don’t agree with the mufti’s fatwa and find many things objectionable in it. However, what Al-Mutarjim and the other Islamophobes do is pretend that the IslamOnline mufti’s opinion is the only one in the Islamic world.  In fact, many Islamic clerics have argued that the age of marriage ought to be eighteen, regardless of any other factors.  Even in the ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, there are clerics like the prominent Mohsen al-Obaikan and the Justice Minister Mohammed al-Eissa (both links are from none other than IslamOnline) who are pushing to ban marriage below the age of eighteen.

These clerics argue that Islam does not specify a specific age for marriage, but rather leaves it up to each society and generation to adjust it according to the needs of the time.  More specifically, a female may not be married (and certainly may not engage in sexual intercourse) “until she could bear it, which differs according to time, place, and environment”.  These quoted words appear in the same IslamOnline fatwa that Al-Mutarjim translated (if we can call it a translation), except that these other clerics would argue that a girl who is post-pubertal but still young would not be able to “bear it (i.e. sexual intercourse)”.  Indeed, the medical evidence is overwhelming that such marriages are harmful to girls.  Since the only requirement under Islamic law for ascertaining a minimum age of marriage is that no harm come to the female, the conclusion then is that marriage ought to be prohibited before eighteen years of age.  Furthermore, they argue that instead of issuing such rulings on a case by case basis (which has a large potential for abuse by forceful men), the government should pass a general law, since generally it is harmful for a female to marry before the age of eighteen.

Their opponents–both Islamic and anti-Islamic–would argue that it would not be permitted in Islam to place an arbitrary age of marriage like this, since the Islamic scriptural sources do not seem to mandate it.  How can Muslims prohibit what God didn’t?  However, the more reform-minded Islamic clerics argue that a temporal ban is permitted in Islam.  They argue that Islam leaves the question wide open so that each generation and society can adjust the minimum age of marriage to their needs.  Therefore, it might make sense to ban marriage under the age of eighteen in the modern day United States, but it may not have been appropriate for a pre-industrial society on the remote outskirts of Africa one hundred years ago.  If times change again, then the age can be adjusted as well, either up or down.

In essence then, the fact that Islam does not specify a specific age for marriage is a blessing and part of the leeway given to the people by the Merciful God.  The permission to marry before the age of eighteen is not a requirement (i.e. a female is not obligated or commanded to get married at this time; it is not sinful for her to postpone marriage until she is older); therefore, it would not be forbidden to issue a temporal ban on it, in order to fulfill one of the higher ethical objectives of Islamic law, i.e. the right of a female to obtain happiness, the removal of harm, etc.  Indeed, not placing such a restriction–in an attempt to maintain rigid fidelity to the letter of the law–would end up destroying the spirit of the law.  By prohibiting marriage before the age of eighteen, the ruler is upholding the higher objective of the Sharia in an ever changing time.  Such a restriction would only be prohibited if the ruler were to argue that this is a divine and immutable law, instead of a temporal and adjustable one.

Mohammad Hashim Kamali writes on p.227 of Shari’ah Law: An Introduction:

Government decisions are not always based on legal text [scriptural texts and fatawa] and principle. Legal text as well as political and economic considerations, custom and even exceptional conditions all play a role and constitute the premises of decision-making. Siyasah shar‘iyyah aims at securing benefit for the people and efficient management of their affairs, even if the measures so taken are not stipulated in the [religious] text…It also enables the state to change the operative rules, law and policy as the conditions of the society may demand.

He concludes on p.229:

Essential harmony with the spirit of the Shari‘ah may at times even justify a certain departure from its letter.

Heavy stuff, right?  Not for wikipedia-educated “experts on Islam”, no doubt.

The fact is that amongst the religious establishment in Islam, there is a lively debate about what the minimum age of marriage should be. The IslamOnline website itself gives two differing opinions on the issue.  A questioner asks the site:

Recently, we have heard about some Muslim countries issuing laws stating a minimum age for marriage.  Is there a minimum age for marriage in Islam?  Is enacting such laws permitted?

The fatwa site responds:

As far as the issue of enacting laws specifying the minimum age of marriage , this issue is subject to debate among Muslim scholars. Some of them say that the ruler cannot enact such a law, while others say the ruler is entitled to issue such laws as long as the public interest of the society is maintained.

They give both opinions by two separate clerics; the second opinion, by the former Head of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, rules:

I think that enacting some laws to specify the age of marriage as done by some governments, is a good step. However, these governments should take into consideration all the circumstances relating to the subject and specific to the society. Obeying the ruler in following such laws is surely an obligation so long as they bring about benefit to the whole society.

The fatwa concludes:

Based on the above fatwas, it can be said that the issue of enacting laws specifying the age of marriage is governed by the public interest of the Muslim society taking into consideration the Shari`ah-based objectives in this regard.

In other words, it is permitted to enact laws specifying the minimum age of marriage as eighteen.

One might be bothered by the fact that there exists no shortage of clerics who think it’s OK for really young girls to get married, and that’s a legitimate gripe that we share.  But it would be dishonest to say that no other views exist in the Muslim world.  Many Islamic clerics think otherwise, and most Muslims in general would never marry their daughters off at a young age.  The last point is the most relevant, since–contrary to what Islamophobes and conservative Muslims believe–Islam is not limited to its religious establishment, which–like other religions–is generally far more conservative than the lay follower.

Had Al-Mutarjim limited his website to the criticism of fundamentalist, extremist, and/or ultraconservative Islam, we’d have no problem with his site.  But to place all of Islam–and all Muslims–into one box, is just not right.  It’s just not honest.  Not only are there other views about this topic in the Islamic world, there are other views on the topic even on the IslamOnline website itself!  If the website itself is not a monolith, then why would one think that the entire Muslim world is?

Jewish and Christian Views

In his response to us, Al-Mutarjim reveals himself to be a religious wing nut:

…This country and its constitution were founded by the hand of God, and that it was His destiny for His children that we should be free to worship Him according to the dictates of our consciences…

Being familiar with the teachings of Christ and the influence of His Holy Spirit, I was able to discern between the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the darkness of these sacred texts of Islam. With this knowledge, I resolved to work to expose this darkness, in order to defend this country and its inhabitants, and also to open the eyes of those already enslaved by Islam…

I know that the Lord has given me a gift to be able to learn Arabic. I do not understand all the purposes of the Lord, but I do believe that He has a purpose for me in this work. So I will press on, and continue to work tirelessly to help the non-Arabic-speaking audience understand what Islam really teaches.

Surprise, surprise–another leading Islam-basher just happens to be either a hawkish Zionist Jew or a fervent Christian proselytizer!  But of course Robert Spencer will reassure us that his being Catholic has absolutely nothing to do with his criticisms of Islam.  This, even though Spencer has penned the proselytizing book entitled Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.  That Spencer and Al-Mutarjim are Christian proselytizers is ignored in an attempt to portray them as neutral “analysts” and “terrorism experts”.

It is a bit troubling that Al-Mutarjim thinks the Holy Spirit divinely inspired him to become a bigot.  But, since he invoked the Judeo-Christian tradition, and because in his response he specifically compared the “light” of Christianity to the “darkness” of Islam (“I was able to discern between the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the darkness of these sacred texts of Islam”)–it seems completely fair and fitting to apply the same standards he uses against Islam to the Judeo-Christian tradition he exalts.  As I stated in my previous article, Islam is hardly the only religion that has “uncomfortable” traditional opinions.

Both the Torah and Talmud permit child marriage of girls, which includes sexual intercourse.  If Al-Mutarjim will cite the IslamOnline fatwa site, let us cite a Jewish “fatwa” site.  Rabbi Naftali Silberberg of AskMoses.com (which boasts that it is the “world’s most popular Jewish website”) issued the following religious verdict:

What is the minimum age of marriage according to Jewish law?

…Technically speaking, a girl may be betrothed the moment she is born, and married at the age of three.  A boy may betroth and marry at the age of thirteen.

Following the example of Al-Mutarjim, we could leave it at that, using our ellipses as strategic weapons of misinformation.  However, unlike Al-Mutarjim and Translating-Jihad, we’re honest–so we’ll fill in what the website is actually saying:

There is the technical rule, and then there is the proper, practical, and wise thing to do. The Talmud, too, agrees that technically according to Torah law a girl can be married at a very young age, but the rabbis imposed a prohibition on such an unwise practice.

And here’s what we hid in the ellipses:

Our Sages state that it is forbidden for one to marry off his daughter until she is an adult and says ‘this is the one I want to marry.’

Under Jewish law (Halacha), a female becomes an “adult” at puberty, estimated to be twelve years of age: the same website, AskMoses, says: “a girl is considered to reach adulthood at 12.”  When we consider that IslamOnline says that Islamic law requires the consent of the female for marriage, we find that the traditional (and now orthodox) views in Judaism and Islam are virtually identical–both websites (AskMoses and IslamOnline) say that technically marriage before puberty is permitted (keep in mind that unlike Al-Mutarjim’s claim, IslamOnline still forbids sexual intercourse), but practically it (marriage) must be done after puberty. JewFaq.com says: “The minimum age of marriage under Jewish law is 13 for boys, 12 for girls; however, the kiddushin can take place before that, and often did in medieval times.”  The kiddushin is the equivalent of the nikah; according to the same website, it means that the “woman is legally the wife of the man.”

Al-Mutarjim’s own religion, Christianity, is hardly any better.  The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The marriageable age is fourteen full years in males and twelve full years in females, under penalty of nullity (unless natural puberty supplies the want of years).

Although we do not claim to be experts of Christianity, the words in parenthesis seem to mean that a girl can be married off before the age of twelve if she goes through puberty before that (“natural puberty supplies the want of years”).  Prof. Cathy Yandell confirms this, saying on p.37 of Carpe Corpus that although twelve years old was the general rule, “if one is capable of carnal cohabitation before this age, marriage is permitted.” A Christian man who married underage girls avoided punishment if he already had sexual relations with her, this fact proving that her body was in fact mature enough for marriage.

Child Marriage: A Muslim-Only Problem?

Our opponents will quickly switch their argument to “well, nowadays Jews and Christians no longer engage in child marriage, whereas Muslims still do.”  Then, they’ll reproduce a few stories of child marriage in the Islamic world.  Yes, it is true that child marriage is a major problem in many parts of the Muslim-majority world.  Yet, it is hardly a Muslim-only problem. According to UNICEF, forty percent of the world’s child marriages occur in Hindu-majority India.  Traditional Hindu texts permit marriage of girls at the age of seven or eight.  Should we now demonize Hinduism?  But you will find that the anti-Islam bashers will single out Islam and Muslims alone, which is what prompted our series entitled “What if they were Muslims?”

Meanwhile, only 5% of child marriages take place in the Middle East and North Africa combined.  On the other hand, double this number (10%) of child marriages take place in Latin America and the Caribbean (where the majority of inhabitants are Christian, not Muslim). Over 91% of child marriages take place in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, East Asia, and the Pacific.  Even if we account for the fact that there are some Muslim majority regions in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, it would hardly be the case that child marriage would be a Muslim-only problem.  It is a global problem, and tied to poverty and lack of education.  Religion is a lesser factor.

As always, our anti-Islam opponents wish to compare Europe, the U.S, Canada, and Israel–all part of the “First World”–with the impoverished “Third World” Muslim countries in South Asia and Africa.  Yet, it would be far more reasonable to compare Christian parts of Africa with the Muslim majority world (or alternatively to compare the Christian-majority parts of Africa with the Muslim-majority parts of Africa).  Once we do this, it seems that the matter has less to do with religion and more to do with socio-economic factors.  But the truth is that the Islam-bashers who speak about Islam and child marriage have absolutely no interest in actually saving girls from child marriage; rather, they just want to exploit the suffering of these girls to further their hateful agendas and use it to score proselytizing  points, giving Team Jesus one more point against Team Muhammad.

Conclusion

Al-Mutarjim’s translations are dishonest, deceitful, and fraudulent.  We’ve shown that he completely manipulated the fatwa on IslamOnline, purposefully misleading his audience to further his pro-Christian anti-Islam agenda.  He entitled the fatwa as “It is Permissible to Have Sexual Intercourse with a Prepubescent Girl”, even though the fatwa says the exact opposite. Al-Mutarjim’s translation could not possibly have been more dishonest and misleading.

What makes this truly remarkable is the fact that he chose to use this particular translation of his in his response to us, taunting us by saying we are “unable to refute this translation” and challenging us by “invit[ing] all to come and scrutinize my work.”  This religious wing nut was dense enough to give us an absolute freebie by posting such a dishonest translation when he challenged us. We didn’t even need to search.  For this, we should thank him.

Certainly, it is a horribly fraudulent translation, and had Al-Mutarjim actually been in academia, our critique of his “translation” would have ended his career.  He would rightfully be condemned to the academic waste bin along with plagiarists, cheats, and frauds.  But even in the internet world–which unfortunately sets a very low bar for “expert”–we think Al-Mutarjim is done for.  No amount of damage control can repair his reputation after this article is published.  His translation is just too dishonest, misleading, and fraudulent.

Or would Al-Mutarjim have us believe that his fraudulent translation of the IslamOnline fatwa is simply a case of a fatha instead of a kasra?

(Read an addendum to this article here.)

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  • Marcelo

    Being a new convert I almost got victimized by these swindlers. I used logic and not just my faith. Islam is in my heart and in my BRAIN and I pray I die a Muslim. I thank those people who worked diligently to expose these scammers. Alhamdulillah.

  • I am surprised that no one has discussed this yet, but the bogus translation notwithstanding, it seems that Islamophobes such as translating-jihad/al-mutarjim and SATV are using their bogus tafsir of verse 4 of Surah at-Talaq, the verse the mufti alludes to, in order to buttress their claim that “Islam allows sex with pre-pubescent girls”.

    Maybe Danios or another Loonwatch writer has a future article that will discuss this(Danios did write their that an article on child marriage was forthcoming), but I would like to say this:

    Michael Elwood has talked about the Qur’an being a sort of ink blot test, where what people see in it reflects that person’s preconceptions that they bring to the text, many times more than reflecting what is actually in the text. Islamophobes seem to see “Muhammad is a pedophile, warlord, sex-maniac, false prophet”, no matter what verse you show them. With that in mind what does Quran 65:4 actually say?:

    1. Muhammad Asad

    (Quran 65:4)”Now as for such of your women as are beyond, the age of monthly courses, as well as for such as do not have any courses, their waiting-period – if you have any doubt [about it] – shall be three [calendar] months; and as for those who are with child, the end of their waiting-term shall come when they deliver their burden. And for everyone who is conscious of God, He makes it easy to obey His commandment”

    2. Yusuf Ali

    (Quran 65:4)”Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.”

    3. Maulana Muhammad Ali

    (Quran 65:4)”And those of your women who despair of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time is three months, and of those, too, who have not had their courses. And the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden. And whoever keeps his duty to Allah, He makes his affair easy for him.”

    4. Sahih International

    (Quran 65:4)”And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women – if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him of his matter ease.”

    5. Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali
    Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan

    (Quran 65:4)”And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the ‘Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubts (about their periods), is three months, and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise, except in case of death]. And for those who are pregnant (whether they are divorced or their husbands are dead), their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is until they deliver (their burdens), and whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for him.”

    6. Dr. Ghali

    (Quran 65:4)”And as for those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, in case you have any suspicion, then their (fixed) spell shall be three months, (along) with those who have not menstruated (as yet). And (as for) those with burden, (i.e., those who are pregnant) their term is when they bring forth their burden; and whoever is pious to Allah, He will make for him, of His Command, easiness.

    7.Abdel Haleem

    (Quran 65:4)”If you are in doubt, the period of waiting will be three months for those women who have ceased menstruating and for those who have not [yet] menstruated; the waiting period of those who are pregnant will be until they deliver their burden: God makes things easy for those who are mindful of Him.”

    Non-Muslim and/or Orientalist Translation

    1. Arthur John Arberry

    (Quran 65:4)”As for your women who have despaired of further menstruating, if you are in doubt, their period shall be three months; and those who have not menstruated as yet. And those who are with child, their term is when they bring forth their burden. Whoso fears God, God will appoint for him, of His command, easiness.”

    In the Abdul Haleem, Dr. Ghali and A.J. Arberry translations it could possibly be construed that the verse includes “pre-pubescent girls” in the discussion, with the words “and those who have not menstruated as yet”, “and for those who have not[yet] menstruated”, and “(along) with those who have not menstruated (as yet)”.

    In the Hilali/Khan translation we see where the Islamophobe gets his accusations: “and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature)” However, not only should the Arabic text disabuse them of that interpretation, but the parentheses should alert readers that these are the translators interpretations/interpolations and not words to be found in the text:

    Transliteration:

    Waalla-ee ya-isna mina almaheedi min nisa-ikum ini irtabtum faAAiddatuhunna thalathatu ashhurin waalla-ee lam yahidna waolatu al-ahmali ajaluhunna an yadaAAna hamlahunna waman yattaqi Allaha yajAAal lahu min amrihi yusran

    Here we have 4 out of 8 translations that could be (mis)construed to mean that the verse also talks about “sex with pre pubescent girls”. But the verse is obviously about *women* and not girls, as the word “nisa” shows. A range of translators say so, although i have not listed every single translator of the Qur’an, Muslim or non-Muslim, in my post. Most translations, though, show that the verse is about women, regardless of the few that interpolate “immature girls” into the meaning of the text.

    Here is an Islamophobic “exposition” and “tafsir” of the verse, that I think represents the majority opinion of the Islamophobes on the issue:

    http://islamreview.blogspot.com/2006/01/aisha-ayesha-child-wife-of-muhammad.html

    Allahu A’lam!

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  • Jack

    Dawood. That’s pretty thorough. It also refutes their claim that you guys didn’t back up your claims about the meaning of النكاح using sources. So I think your last response merits an article on it’s own, comparing it to the claims made by ‘Quotable quotes’.

    I did النكاح through Google translate, which renders it as “marriage”, and through severalonline dictionaries which rendered all sorts of verbs describing intercourse. It makes one seriously doubt online translations, especially if النكاح is not a verb.

  • Dawood

    Jack: Their not allowing my comments on their site severely limits any response to their inane assertions. The irony being that ‘Quotable Quotes’ proclaimed that he did not delete/edit any comments, yet the one clearly posted under my own name and linking Loonwatch did not get through the filter (I have a screen grab).

    “Nikah” means sexual intercourse only if using Google translate as your Arabic “source”… which again shows their standard of Arabic ability. No reliable authority (emphasis on reliable) in the language connects “nikah” to sexual intercourse. I have consulted Lane’s Arabic Lexicon (the de-facto standard in Classical Arabic, pub. circa 1865-95 in 8 volumes), Hava’s Arabic-English Dictionary (pub. circa 1899), Hans Wehr (de-facto standard for Modern Standard Arabic, Al-Mu’jam al-Wasit (a well-respected Arabic-Arabic dictionary) and other resources, and all connect anything from the trilateral root n k h to marriage only. Lane is especially clear on the fact that it doesn’t refer to sexual intercourse – even in the pre-Islamic period. There is absolutely no mention of sexual intercourse whatsoever in any of them. I will post screen-shots if required, and if I can figure out how to attach them to comments.

    The only recourse they may have is that the verb “nakaha” (نكح) (not “nikah” (نكاح) – for those who don’t speak Arabic, please look – there is another letter added which entirely shifts the meaning; it is no longer a verb) might be used colloquially in some dialects to mean sex with one’s spouse. Although personally, I have never heard it once.

    Regardless of this, Al-Mutarajjam was translating a fatwa. A fatwa is an Islamic legal opinion, and fatwas are always written in formal (in this case Islamic) ‘legalese’, as most legal pronouncements are in all languages. This being the case, Islamic ‘legalese’ uses “nikah” to refer only to the marriage/marriage contract. The Mufti himself uses at least 2 terms in his fatwa to denote sexual intercourse, and neither of these are connected in any way to the root n k h. One is “yadkhul ‘alayha” (يدخل عليها lit. he enters into her), and the other is the term “wata'” (وطئ) (which literally means to mount).

    There “rebuttal” by an anonymous commenter on SATV also has a number of other problems, which I will address if I have time. But once again, they are attempting to shift the discussion from the original topic – which was Al-Mutarajjam’s lack of Arabic ability and duplicity in cutting the fatwa for his own purposes – to the content of the fatwa itself which is an entirely different issue altogether (and not something I would imagine any Loonwatch readers would agree with anyway).

  • Jack

    Dawood; your comments didn’t get through the censorship filter. However, what did get through the filter was the comment that النكاح (nikah) can denote both a marriage contract and intercourse in Arabic.

  • Dawood

    And he made yet another mistake in his “response” to the LW article here, which I noted in a comment on the SATV blog (If it gets through the filter once again, of course). I’m sure everyone will be able to spot it.

  • Danios

    Jack:

    For instance, Saudi-Arabia and several other countries in the Arabic Peninsula aren’t taken into account. And by taking North-Africa and the Middle-East as representative of Islam, you’re leaving out countries like Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Somehow they don’t count as ‘Islamic’? …Plus, you’re leaving out all sorts of sub-Saharan countries with large Muslim populations and coincidentally also a high rate of child marriages: Mauretania, Guinea, Sierra-Leone, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia, none of which count as ‘Northern African’ in the UNICEF statistic you base that 5% on.

    I already accounted for this fact in my original article. As I said there, even when we factor in all of these countries it would be nowhere near a Muslim-only problem.

  • DisillusionedCitizen

    Of course, Mosizzle, there are those scholars (not an insignificant number) that don’t believe the Prophet married Aisha when she was a child. I believe AJ mentioned that earlier. Nobody really took that up.

    Other important factors to consider: some scholars argue that the Prophet of Islam, while marrying these women after Khadija, never actually became “close” with them. They argue that while the Prophet had children with Khadija, and that while his other wives had children not borne through him, after Khadija’s death, none of his wives ever bore him children. I can’t specify which scholars believe this, but I’m sure a cursory search will bring that to light.

    All of this isn’t to say that what is being discussed here is moot. History, especially of the time during the Prophet’s life, is a little shaky on the details and this should be considered when muftis begin legitimizing these sorts of things.

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  • Mosizzle

    “Now I’m not saying that it is of because of Islam, that child marriage occurs in these countries, but surely Islam doesn’t help when illiterate people will just point to the example of the prophet Muhammad and claim that God has divinely sanctioned such pratices, and they are being backed by fundamentalist”

    Islam can help in this situation, if people were to understand what it really says and not what some random Mufti thinks. A lot of people point out that because the Prophet Muhammad is a perfect example for Muslims, and he married a woman of a young age, then Muslims must follow him and get a younger bride. This is actually incorrect and is a classic example of when people misinterpret verses of the Quran. The Prophet rode a camel, does that mean we should all ride camels and stop driving cars? No.

    Not every single thing the Prophet did becomes Sunnah. For it to be Sunnah, the Prophet must have done it and the Sahabah must have followed it. Then we know it was an action for us to follow and not something specific to the Prophet.

    You’re right we can’t blame Islam but what can we do if some Muslim insists on interpreting Islam in such a way to justify his crime except tell him about what Islam really teaches? And of course we could increase the age of consent and jail those who disobey.

    In order to change the minds of as many extremist minded Muslims as possible, we have to work with Islam and not against it. So that means refraining from attacking Islam but instead using Islam to demonstrate how their actions are wrong in the light of the Quran. This approach is without a doubt far more effective.

  • Jack in all honesty I think that people just do it, same as some people will be criminals and others will blow themselves up. I have rarely seen anyone justify their child marriage with Islam or any other faith to be honest.

    Reading the rest, well I did pass comment saying that even if we do take these nations into account, there is still a huge slew of non-Muslim places doing it. Again, that’s not the point but still.

  • Jack

    Danios; okay, thanks.

    But right of the bat, one has to note that the figure you present seems rather skewed to me.

    For instance, Saudi-Arabia and several other countries in the Arabic Peninsula aren’t taken into account. And by taking North-Africa and the Middle-East as representative of Islam, you’re leaving out countries like Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Somehow they don’t count as ‘Islamic’?

    Plus, you’re leaving out all sorts of sub-Saharan countries with large Muslim populations and coincidentally also a high rate of child marriages: Mauretania, Guinea, Sierra-Leone, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia, none of which count as ‘Northern African’ in the UNICEF statistic you base that 5% on.

    Now I’m not saying that it is of because of Islam, that child marriage occurs in these countries, but surely Islam doesn’t help when illiterate people will just point to the example of the prophet Muhammad and claim that God has divinely sanctioned such pratices, and they are being backed by fundamentalist sjeichs.

  • Interesting stats there Danios, I notice that Saudi and a few other suspects aren’t included but it still remains that, even if we say Saudi has a red marker on the map (60% of women aged 20-24 married before 18) then there are still plenty of non-Muslim nations that have the issue (know many Muslims in Brazil and Mexico? Me neither…). By the looks of it, most of the stuff is happening in India, even though it is 40-61%, the country is so vast that it is going to have a big number of child marriages, nearly half are said to be in South Asia and India by far constitutes most of the population there. It also shows what we knew all along, the vast vast vast majority are from poor backgrounds. And just to quote:

    “Child marriage is becoming less common overall, but the pace of change is slow. In 34 of the 55 countries with comparable data from two recent surveys, there has been no significant change in the percentage of women aged 20–24 married by 18 – and only 5 countries experienced a decrease of more than 10 per cent.”

    In other words, as the world get’s richer, people start doing it less.

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