Western Muslims are typically quite embarrassed by the fact that Muhammad had sex with a nine-year-old girl, and Muslim apologists are doing everything in their power to rewrite history in order to rescue their prophet from criticism. But are they willing to rewrite the Qur’an as well?
According to Surah 2:228, if a Muslim man wants to divorce his wife, he should wait until she has gone through three monthly cycles (i.e. three periods). But the question later arose: What are men who want a divorce supposed to do when their wives, for whatever reason, do not have monthly cycles? The Qur’an answers this question in Surah 65:4, where it gives divorce rules for (1) women who do not have monthly cycles because they are too old, (2) girls who do not have monthly cycles because they are too young, and (3) women and girls who do not have monthly cycles because they are pregnant. The verse declares that, if Muslim men want to divorce girls who haven’t yet reached puberty, they must wait three months (after having sex with them).
Here are some translations of Surah 65:4.
Qur’an 65:4 (Shakir)–And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months, and of those too who have not had their courses; and (as for) the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah He will make easy for him his affair.
Qur’an 65:4 (Arberry)–As for your women who have despaired of further menstruating, if you are in doubt, their period shall be three months; and those who have not menstruated as yet. And those who are with child, their term is when they bring forth their burden. Whoso fears God, God will appoint for him, of His command, easiness.
Qur’an 65:4 (Yusuf Ali)–Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.
Qur’an 65:4 (Hilali-Khan)–And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the ‘Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubts (about their periods), is three months, and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise, except in case of death] . And for those who are pregnant (whether they are divorced or their husbands are dead), their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is until they deliver (their burdens), and whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for him.
Qur’an 65:4 (Sher Ali)–And if you are in doubt as to the prescribed period for such of your women as have despaired of monthly courses, then know that the prescribed period for them is three months, and also for such as do not have their monthly courses yet. And as for those who are with child, their period shall be until they are delivered of their burden. And whoso fears ALLAH, HE will provide facilities for him in his affair.
Qur’an 65:4 (Rodwell)–As to such of your wives as have no hope of the recurrence of their times, if ye have doubts in regard to them, then reckon three months, and let the same be the term of those who have not yet had them. And as to those who are with child, their period shall be until they are delivered of their burden. God will make His command easy to him who feareth Him.
Here are three classic Muslim commentaries on 65:4.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir (on Qur’an 65:4)—Allah the Exalted clarifies the waiting period of the woman in menopause. And that is the one whose menstruation has stopped due to her older age. Her `Iddah is three months instead of the three monthly cycles for those who menstruate, which is based upon the Ayah in (Surat) Al-Baqarah. [see 2:228] The same for the young, who have not reached the years of menstruation. Their `Iddah is three months like those in menopause.
Tafsir al-Jalalayn (on Qur’an 65:4)—And [as for] those of your women who (read allà’ï or allà’i in both instances) no longer expect to menstruate, if you have any doubts, about their waiting period, their prescribed [waiting] period shall be three months, and [also for] those who have not yet menstruated, because of their young age, their period shall [also] be three months.
Tafsir Ibn Abbas (on Qur’an 65:4)—(And for such of your women as despair of menstruation) because of old age, (if ye doubt) about their waiting period, (their period (of waiting) shall be three months) upon which another man asked: “O Messenger of Allah! What about the waiting period of those who do not have menstruation because they are too young?” (along with those who have it not) because of young age, their waiting period is three months.
For Muslims who want to say that this verse could refer to divorcing prepubescent girls whose husbands haven’t had sex with them, the Qur’an refutes this claim. Surah 33:49 says that there is no waiting period if a man has not had sex with his bride.
Qur’an 33:49–O ye who believe! When ye marry believing women, and then divorce them before ye have touched them, no period of ‘Iddat have ye to count in respect of them: so give them a present. And set them free in a handsome manner.
Hence, the Qur’an says that there is no waiting period if a man hasn’t had sex with his bride, and the Qur’an prescribes a waiting period for men who want to divorce their prepubescent child-brides. This presupposes that the men have had sex with them, which means that the Qur’an allows sex with prepubescent girls. This shouldn’t be surprising, since Muhammad himself had sex with a girl who hadn’t reached puberty.