بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
It is very depressing when we still see the totally mindless comment coming from non-Muslims, right of the bat, of the type “What about Mohammad, who raped a six year old girl?” In whichever context it comes, it is very lamentable, because the objector has not made any attempt to make a difference between “age of marriage” and “age of moving to live with one’s husband”.
They have also failed to note that early marriage for women has been the norm throughout most of human history, and is in fact still operative in many places of the world. What I suspect is in fact happening is an application of the “unstoppable human advancement” hypothesis, were people move from barbarism towards ever higher civility.
But to me and to Islam in general, such a hypothesis is unfounded, and moreover, it smacks of colonialism in another form. This is definitely the case, since this theory was developed first by the European colonizers, who thought of the people they had conquered as being sub-humans who needed to be brought into humanity by the application of the European ethos. Thus, what the Muslim rejects right away is the hidden supposition that the European/North American ethos is indubitably correct, and that only this paradigm should be used to measure the civility or barbarism of other cultures. This is one reason why it really surprises us when people of a non-Western mindset and with a totally different religion (such as certain Hindus) come forward and make such a statement – even when their own religious leaders were known to marry young girls, in compliance with what is written in their works concerning the actions of their mythological “deities”.
Of course, the Muslims do think that many of the actions committed by people around the world are very wrong and immoral, but this is belief of ours is shown in a systematic manner, and is not simply thrown onto the world without any evidence whatsoever.
If the non-Muslim of any persuasion thinks otherwise, we are ready to present our evidences and discuss the matter from the basis of a reasoned debate. But in that case, the opponent should know that we will not tolerate insults at all, as it is against the very basis of the discussion we are to carry out. Also, by holding out that marrying a minor is undoubtedly an evil act, they have also given away any chance for a discussion on the matter, since we cannot tolerate that the ultimate conclusion be agreed upon before we even discuss the premises and assumptions.