Prophet Muhammad married and consummated the marriage with a physically, socially and psychologically mature lady; the definition of ‘mature’ being one that was followed in most of the world for at-least up-to the 18th century. If this statement is incorrect, then Prophet Muhammad’s marriage would be wrong according to Islamic laws themselves, before any other laws.
First, consider a scenario in which some decades from now, 25 years becomes the age of majority (i.e. the age of psychological maturity), which in fact corresponds to an actual biological threshold unlike the 18 years concept. A couple of centuries from now, people will probably be debating that a 26 years old (or older) male, marrying an 18 year old female in today’s time constituted an example of paedophilia.
If they do, then we know it would be fallacious to do so, because to the best of our knowledge, and taking under consideration legal and maybe some other requirements, 18-year-olds are generally sincerely considered as adult individuals in today’s times. Therefore, it is much more accurate to use the physical and psychosocial maturities as the requirements for an acceptable marriage rather than the chronological age of the individuals.
The following points illustrate that individuals who had passed through puberty were sincerely considered as physically and psychosocially mature people in earlier times. Furthermore, there are reasons that show this concept of theirs wasn’t incorrect.
Physical maturity is generally taken when a person passes puberty. There is enough evidence that even at age 9 a woman can pass puberty; along-with enough evidence from Islamic sources that Aisha (RA) was physically mature i.e. had passed puberty.
Independent of Chronological Age
“Maturity in psychology has little to do with age, but with the ability to react, cope and reason in an appropriate way for the situation. Maturity is learned through experiences (…) Guidance in coping with emotional situations is what is needed to grow in maturity. The way a person deals with a crisis or makes decisions are good clues about their level of maturity.”
Source: American Psychological Association (APA):
Maturity. (n.d.). In Alleydog.com’s online glossary. Retrieved from: http://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition-cit.php?term=Maturity
Archived Backup Link
“While older persons are generally perceived as more mature and to possess greater credibility, psychological maturity is not determined by one’s age.”
Original Source: Sheldon, K. M.; T. Kasser (2001). “Getting Older, Getting Better? Personal Strivings and Psychological Maturity Across the Life Span”. Developmental Psychology 37 (4): 491–501.
Psychological Maturity in History
1. Adolescence, a Modern Idea
Adolescence (time period between puberty and adulthood) is a new concept that didn’t exist before, at-least not in the sense used nowadays. Even until the 18th century, reaching puberty meant becoming an “adult”, in terms of maturity, behaviour and responsibility, as stated in the Journal of Social History, Online Etymology Dictionary, Journal of Marriage and the Family.
Adolescence, as we know it, was barely recognized before the end of the last century. An examination of various written materials from the period 1800-1875 uncovers (1) almost no usage of the word and (2) only a limited degree of concern with the stage (and its characteristic behaviors). About 1900, however, G. Stanley Hall and his students made adolescence the focus of a new current of psychological study. Their work evoked a broad popular response, though in subsequent years it was discredited in academic circles. The “discovery” of adolescence can be related to certain broad changes in American life—above all, to changes in the structure of the family as part of the new urban and industrial order.”
“The idea of adolescence is today one of our most widely held and deeply imbedded assumptions about the process of human development. Indeed must of us treat it not as an idea but as a fact…
Yet all of this has a relatively short history. The concept of adolescence, as generally understood and applied, did not exist before the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Once could almost call it an invention of that period…
We shall limit our attention to developments in the United States, since adolescence was on the whole an American discovery.
We shall begin with a sketch of some common ideas about childhood and “youth” during the period 1800-1875, as revealed in two kinds of sources: (1) a rapidly developing literature of child-rearing advice, and (2) a large body of books and pamphlets directed to the young people of the country and bearing especially on their “moral problems.” …
And finally we shall propose a hypothesis for drawing together these various types of material and above all for explaining the relationship between the idea of adolescence and the social phenomena to which it was a response. It is here that questions of family life will come most fully into view, since adolescence was, we believe, profoundly related to certain fundamental changes affecting the internal structure of many American homes.”
Source: Adolescence in Historical Perspective
John Demos and Virginia Demos
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 31, No. 4 (Nov., 1969) , pp. 632-638
Published by: National Council on Family Relations
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/349302
2. Difficult Living Conditions in Older Times, Speeded Psychological Maturity
Children faced the daily struggle for physical and economic survival, and while this type of “environmental stress” actually can cause puberty at a younger age, it is proven to have also speeded psychological maturity. This maturity helped in coping with the responsibilities of early marriage and childbearing.
“… But recently the psychosocial expectations on adolescents in western societies have changed and social maturity now significantly follows menarche.”
“The age of menarche has fallen as child health has improved…In the past few decades, as puberty has advanced, biological maturation has come to precede psychosocial maturation significantly for the first time in our evolutionary history. Although this developmental mismatch has considerable societal implications…”
“However, today there is a mismatch between sexual maturity and psychosocial maturity, with sexual maturity occurring much earlier. This mismatch is a result of society becoming vastly more complex, with psychosocial maturity therefore taking longer to reach … ‘All our social systems work on the presumption that the two types of maturity coincide. But this is no longer the case and never will be again because we cannot change biological reality. We have to work out a new set of structures – schooling, for example – to deal with this reality.’”
3. Delay of Psychosocial/Emotional Maturity in Modern Times
In the time period around the industrial mid-18th century psychological maturity started to delay, due to increasing comforts of life, diminished parental guidance, and that “children remained children longer to complete their education”.
“The conclusion is that psychological neoteny is indeed increasing, and mainly as a consequence of the increasing percentage of school leavers going into higher education.”
Source: Psychological neoteny and higher education: Associations with delayed parenthood
Charlton, Bruce G.
Medical Hypotheses , Volume 69 , Issue 2 , 237 – 240