Following are excerpts from a religious program featuring Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-'Arifi, which aired on Iqra TV on July 5, 2011.
Muhammad Al-'Arifi: "There is no agreed-upon minimum age for the marriage of a boy or a girl. It depends upon their maturity. Let's assume that someone wants to marry your 20-year-old daughter. But your daughter's mentality and capabilities… She wouldn't know how to handle it. You feel that her marriage is bound to fail, because she has no understanding of how she is supposed to behave. You think that this girl is not ready to get married. It would be best to wait two or three years.
"We don't want to marry her off, and then have her husband divorce her after 2-3 weeks, saying: 'What is this?! This girl doesn't know what to do, she has no appreciation of marital life. She knows nothing.' In such a case, it is better to delay marrying her off.
"In the days of Prophet Muhammad and his companions, people would get married at a younger age. For example, how old was 'Aisha when the Prophet Muhammad married her? I will give you a hint."
Member of panel of Saudi youth: "She was seven years old."
Muhammad Al-'Arifi: "And how old was she when he had sex with her?"
Member of panel: "Fourteen."
Muhammad Al-'Arifi: "Fourteen?! No way, she was nine. You are getting married tonight and you still can't count…
"She was nine years old. People might think it is strange that he married such a young girl. But this was the age at which they used to get married. The proof is that when the Prophet told Abu Bakr that he wanted to marry 'Aisha – what did Abu Bakr say? He said: 'You are more than welcome, oh Messenger of Allah, but my daughter is already married.' At seven years old she was already married. […]
"If a girl's physical and mental build allows her to get married, it is okay for her to get married. There is no minimum age for a girl's marriage set by Islam." […]