International Blasphemy Rights Day: Aisha Was a Teenage Dirtbag

Mallory Ortberg at The Toast has a whole series about the dirtbags (especially the teenage ones) of history, fiction, and mythology: Zeus, Teddy Roosevelt, Lord Alfred Douglas (as in Oscar Wilde’s Bosie), Anne of Green Gables, John Milton, and Hamlet, to name a few.

I humbly posit that Aisha, a woman mostly known as Muhammad’s child bride, had something of the teenage dirtbag to her.

This isn’t to say that she was a bad person. Far from it. This is more to say that she had quite a spark to her.

The following modern translations — or paraphrases, if you will — of things that Aisha has said are not as liberal with their source materials as you might image.

She Knows Just How Special She Is

Aisha: Muhammad saw me in a dream, you know. God told him to marry me in his special dream that was all about me. Would you doubt the word of one of the Mothers of the Believers? If you were really a believer, you’ll respect your mother. Paradise is at my feet.

She Gets What She Wants

Aisha: I’m gonna play horses with my friends. I’m inviting them over.
Muhammad: Sure, go ahead.
Aisha: But someone said that Allah doesn’t allow dolls, so they’ll freak out when they see you watching them play with dolls. It’s embarassing.
Muhammad: Oh, no, no, it’s fine for you. It doesn’t count. Not for you.
Aisha: See, I told them it was fine. What a bunch of babies.

She Calls Out the Prophet Himself

Muhammad: I was going to keep on keeping on, but I have to do what Allah says.
Aisha: And what Allah says to do is what you want to do, but not what I want you to do.
Muhammad: …
Aisha: And it’s Allah that’s saying this. Also that ladies are all bitches.
Muhammad: …
Aisha: Thought so.

Now, let me grant that it is entirely possible that elements of the stories told about her, or even everything about her, are fabrications. I’m going to run with Islamic canon. Sunni canon, to be exact.

Why not that of the Shia? They aren’t exactly fans of Aisha. It goes all the way back to Muhammad’s cousin, Ali, who was probably a bit of a dirtbag himself.

Muhammad: So what should I do about this Aisha business?
Ali: Well, can I be honest?
Muhammad: You’re my cousin. I trusted you with my favorite daughter.
Ali: Well, you know what they say. There are many pebbles on the beach. Or fish in the sea.
Ali: You could start again with someone else. Easy.


International Blasphemy Rights Day: Aisha Was a Teenage Dirtbag

6 thoughts on “International Blasphemy Rights Day: Aisha Was a Teenage Dirtbag

  1. Ed

    Interesting. I’m currently reading a book of assorted Hadiths and was pleasantly surprised at how often Aisha is presented positively or as an authoritative source. I was drawn to what was revealed of her personality as well in such accounts. She knew how to stick up for herself!

    Also, Muhammad was surprisingly nice at times. Once some guy actually stood up and took a piss in the mosque (!) and the crowd attacked him. But Muhammad said that because the man was a desert tribesmen, he simply didn’t know how to behave in buildings. I think I would have been mad at him anyway. 🙂

    I have also been meaning to ask you if you’ve ever come into contact with “Quranist” Muslims who reject the authority of the Hadiths, though they might use them for historical and reference purposes? They tend to be fairly liberal-minded and see the Qur’an as a spiritual guide and the only scripture but at the same time interpret it in an historical context in which the principles of the Qur’an remain the same, but could be acted out differently depending on local setting.

    They blame everything bad in Islam on the Hadiths and laws stemming from them and question the historical authenticity of most. It’s not a sect, but just a set of opinions held by various individuals who apparently have loose associations online or maybe through publications. Only a handfull of mosques tolerate it (mostly in the West).

    It interests me because if it ever became widespread, it would weaken customs like opposition to music and art, support of the death penalty for religious offences, separating men and women, veils and head coverings for women, excessive mandatory prayer and other things most of them see as later additions.

    1. 1.1

      I actually have dealt with “Quranist” (that is such a good word for them) Muslims before. There was a group of them that shared a space with Jews and Christians in my area. We scoffed at them, but these days, I wish they were still around. I’d be curious to check them out.

  2. Ed

    Yea, it seems to attract intelligent people who want an Islam without excessive regulations and hostility to outsiders. A good example is throwing out the whole halal system in favor of only prohibiting pork and meat known to have been sacrificed to pagan gods.

    Their understanding that books based on allegedly old verbal traditions have little in common with the original material is very advanced. Generations old hearsay has virtually no epistemological standing.

    My main criticism (assuming hypothetically that I was open to theism at all) is that the Quran itself must be read very selectively to be seen as a benevolent book, even granting that it lacks the added cruelty of later Muslim works.

    It’s a beautiful book in many ways, but hard to find even a page that goes by without the narrative voice (supposedly God) taking on an angry, threatening tone. Of course, the same goes for the other Abrahamic scriptures.

  3. 3

    Actually, the quotes attributed to Aisha seem to be retconning of a rape victim by her rapist.

    “Sure, she was only 9 when we consummated our marriage. But she was chosen by Allah! She knew she was special! She consented because Allah told her of how incredibly special she is! See, I have her written testimony right here! Of course she cannot read or write, silly, she’s a little girl. That’s why her testimony is in my handwriting.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *