Building consensus within America's body politic and national security establishment for a new way forward with Muslims worldwide is a formidable challenge. Many Americans still don't appreciate the complex nuances of Muslim society and remain stubbornly Islamophobic almost seven and half years after 9/11. Equally formidable is earning the goodwill of Muslims worldwide following the Iraq War as well as American atrocities perpetrated upon Islamic detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Hopefully, President Obama's historic election has finally opened a path for constructive conversation about how America can most effectively engage the Muslim world.
The CIA's former point man on Islam, Emile Nakahleh, has vigorously entered this conversation with his new book, A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America's Relations With the Muslim World (Princeton University Press). From 1991 to 2006, Nakahleh served as the director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the Directorate of Intelligence at the CIA. He holds a PhD in international relations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
I recently was contacted by someone that asked me to check out Whitehouse2.com. I was thoroughly impressed with the site because of the simplicity of the premise that it incorporated in its design. It was a simple, straightforward way to make your priorities known to the incoming administration. The beauty of the concept was that if you had a concern that was not listed, it is possible to add it to the list of hundreds of actions the Obama Administration could take to make sure it is following the wishes of the people. Of course, it is very doubtful that the administration will follow the intentions and precepts of the website, but if enough people were to participate in this unique way to further the concept of direct democracy. This is something that is within our reach with the advent of instant communication along with broad access to almost everyone, courtesy of the internet which has become a virtual necessity in this new century.
While the National Initiative 4 Democracy is my desired outcome in the quest for a direct democracy that operates on laws proposed and enacted by the people, and for the people, as our forefathers intended, the Whitehouse2.com is a good step forward. I discovered that there was a particular issue that was not included in the hundreds of other goals that people had submitted. I was going to write an article on the subject anyway, but on the site, I found a perfect opportunity to make my opinion known.
I want to preface this with the fact that I am not a religious man, I subscribe to no particular view in regard as to whether or not there is a God, and if there is indeed a power responsible for everything, which most major religions profess to believe. I reject all of the precepts of most of them except maybe the Buddhist philosophy which is actually more of a self awareness than a religion in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In my view, I compare the belief in Moses, Abraham, Jesus and Mohammad to be no more or less credible than the ancient beliefs in Ra, Zeus, Jupiter and Odin among many other supreme beings. I believe that there is no human on Earth that can state with certainty who or what God is, or what God wishes. I realize that any belief in a God or a religion is in my opinion usually predicated on what society someone is born into. Unless one is a convert later in life, faith in any particular philosophy is usually a product of nurture, not nature. A belief system in some kind of supernatural being is the result of indoctrination based on blind faith rather than logic.
Aisha narrated that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years.
From the girl's own account and the reports of a number of Muslim commentators, it can be inferred that:
1. Child-marriage is lawful in Islam and the necessary contract can be drawn up between the guardian and the would-be husband even when the girl is no more than five or six years old. In this sense marriage is nothing but the sale of a minor girl. 2. The consent of the girl is not a prerequisite for the marriage of a female child to a grown man over fifty. 3. Sexual intercourse of a fifty-year-old man with a mere girl is not something to be ashamed of. On the contrary, the act of Muhammad in taking a child as his wife set a precedent, which then became a tradition (sunna) in the Muslim lawbooks and jurisprudence. 4. Despite the fact that the girl was frightened when Muhammad approached her sexually, the Prophet went on to consummate the marriage regardless of the consequences. Whereas sexual intercourse with a girl in her childhood is a punishable offense in most countries of the world today, this deplorable custom still goes on in some Muslim nations. The girl was so small that according to the reliable Islamic biographers, she took along her toys and playthings to the Prophet's bedchamber. "The little girl was allowed to keep her toys and her dolls and sometimes the Prophet would play games with her."
The age difference between Muhammad and Aisha was so great that the girl's father was younger than the bridegroom. In fact, Muhammad was old enough to be her grandfather. Apparently he was so taken with his new young wife that he bestowed a special nickname on her father, Abu Bakr, which means "the father of the virgin" or "the father of the camel's foal." (Muhammad's adversaries mockingly twisted the surname to Abu Fasil, i.e., "father of the weaned young of a camel.") The result of Muhammad's lasting affection for the girl was that her father became the heir apparent to Muhammad's legacy.He succeeded his son-in-law after the latter's death as the first caliph of Islam.The word caliph, khalifa in Arabic, means substitute or successor.