About your ‘early marriage’ article [Archives:2003/668/Letters to the Editor]

September 15 2003

Sr. Zainab
[email protected]

As an American woman who converted to Islam in Yemen (alhamdulillah), I find the article published recently in your newspaper about early marriage to be based on good intentions but have many inaccuracies. I realize in Yemen that many woman do marry at the ages of 12, 13, etc. with examples from my husband’s (who is Yemeni) own family. However the problem is not as much the fact that these woman may have children at a young age as the fact that they do not have access to good, healthy food; and care by a doctor (prenatal care) during their pregnancy (as the author stated). Even here in the US prenatal care during a woman’s pregnancy can make a big difference in outcomes. However if we follow Islam which says that the woman, in general, is in a state of nifas for 40 days and if she exclusively breastfeeds (i.e.: no other solid foods or other liquids) her chance of becoming pregnant before six months is only 2% according to medical studies and the continued breastfeeding also continues to provide protection against pregnancy though at a reduced rate. The problems in Yemen do not stem from over-population (as the West would like to have you believe) or from early marriage.
The problems in Yemen stem from a society that has many people who are ignorant, many people who are addicted to Qat, and corruption at high levels, etc. If the land and water used for irrigating Qat were used for good foods and wisely many problems with people having enough to eat would disappear. I do agree that many of the men do need to be more sensitive to their wife’s needs, but this is less of an issue it seems to me as many men seem to treat their wives well. However, I did not spend a lot of time in the villages so I cannot speak for there, and Allah (swt) knows best. The answer as always is to follow Islam correctly to the best of our ability with the help of Allah (swt).