By : KH. Husein Muhammad

Female adolescent pregnancy now becomes an important topic of discussions not only in the national context, Indonesia, but also becomes a serious concern of the world. United Nations reported that adolescent pregnancy in developing countries reached 7.3 million each year. Adolescent pregnancy can occur as a result of legal marriage and also due to free sexual intercourse. But the both are happened at the age of adolescent.

The aforesaid UN report makes the world surprised. It was mentioned that most (90 percent) of the pregnant adolescents are in developing countries, and they are married. But so many pregnant girls do not have sufficient information to make that choice. Therefore, the institution devotes its concern for education, health and welfare for female adolescent. They are a powerful force for positive changes in society, and will have an impact for next generations.

Who is Adolescent?

Human life cycles in the social context of Indonesia and may be even in various parts of the world, are divided into six phase categories: infant, toddler, child, adolescent, adult, and the elderly. People may agree that a person that is called as adult, and so-called as child or adolescent, is when they have been good in taking an action, mature in thinking and have a sense of responsibility. So someone, male or female is called as adolescent when he/she has no capacity to take a good action and does not has sense of responsibility yet. But this sentence is not easy to be defined. This limit is the indicators from psychological perspective.  

From the age perspective, it seems that  there have no social  agreement on the such catagories. How old is a person regarded as a child or adolescent? Many people sometimes easily state that they are immature human. Then how old is a person regarded as adult in order that he/she is proper or deserves to marry or to be married or having sexual intercourse? 

The restriction of adulthood is so diverse. It is dealing with the cultural view of society that is always plural, diverse and contextual. In the world Muslim communities, the view on this restriction which is based on numeral counting (age) is also different. This difference is based on the opinions of the Islamic Jurists (ulama fiqh) to whom the societies rely on.

In the study of Islamic law, the Ulama agree to define “adult/mature” as a person who have had menstruation (Haid) for woman and wet dream (ihtilam) for man. They call it as “baligh” or “puberty”. In the books of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), it is also mentioned the word “al-Tamkin“. This word is usually translated as “eligibility to have sexual intercourse”. Yet again we have to debate to formulate this sentence.

The two indicators of maturity in the aforesaid books of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) will be difficult to be the basic formulation of law or legislation. The most appropriate indicator is through age, or number of years. If the age is used as the indicators whether someone is mature or immature (adolescent), then we will also find diverse views of ulama. In my article in the Tafsir rubric of Swara Rahima, several times ago, I have elaborated these diverse views. These diverse views are related to marital problems. Imam al Shafi’i found that the mature age is 15 years old, Abu Hanifah said 17 years old, while Ibn Syubrumah said 18 years old. In the family law in some Islamic countries, the minimum age of marriage is not similar. In the Law of Marriage of Syria, it is stated that “a male or female is required to have good capability, if he/she wants to marry. Then the article 15 states that: “good capability in marriage necessitate rational and baligh”. And the article 16 states: “For male, good capability in marriage is at the age of 18 years old, and for female is at the age of 17 years old”. Meanwhile, the Indonesian martial law, No. 1/1974, article 7 states: “The minimum age limit of marriage is 16 years old for female and 19 years old for male

Except those two countries, the minimum age of marriage is also diverse in some other countries. In Morocco, in Mudawwanah Law 2004, Article 19 determines the same minimum age of marriage for both man and woman that is 18 years old. Marriage under this age is considered as early age marriage, child marriage or adolescent marriage. In Egypt, the minimum age for woman that is allowed to be married is 16 years old, and 18 years old for man, in Bangladesh it is 18 years old for woman and 21 years for man, in Al-Jazair it is 19 years old for man and woman, in Tunisia it is 17 years old for woman and 20 years old for man, while in Iran, it is 13 years old for woman and for man 15 years old. Especially in Iran, 

From the aforesaid different views of some Muslim countries, we see that 15 years old is the minimum age of maturity and thus becomes a minimum age of marriage for women. The Law of marriage No. 1/1974 mentions 16 years. However, recent development shows tendency to choose 18 years old as an adult age limit. It means that marriage under this age is regarded as early age marriage, teenage marriage, child marriage or marriage under proper age. It was also selected and confirmed in Law No 23/2002 on the Child Protection. This trend is based on some aspects, such as; physical ability to work, having good capability in economic affairs, the adequacy from the aspect of thinking (intellectual) and that the important one is the aspect of reproductive health. It means that sexual intercourse, either legally (married) or illegal (before marriage) which is conducted before the age of 18 years old is deemed not guarantee the benefit of the above aspects, especially for women’s reproductive health.


Pregnancy is one of the phases of the sexual life. Reproductive organs function normally. Pregnancy is the result of sexual intercourse. It may be the phase that is really expected and dreamed, but it may not be wished either by women or men, and could be a misfortune of life especially for women. In the Quran, pregnancy is stated as a very severe reproductive process: “wahnan ‘ala wahnin” (multiple weaknesses). 

“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination “. (Q.S. Luqman, [31]: 14).

In another part the Qur’an states;  

“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” (al-Ahqaf, [46]:15).

The Qur’an mentions two crucial words: “Wahnan ‘ala Wahnin” and “Kurhan wa wadha’athu kurha”. These two words show the physical and mental condition of the pregnant woman who are very weak, poor and suffering, regardless of the background or cause of the pregnancy. This condition only experienced by women, and not men. We certainly can imagine how if the pregnant is teenager or child. Her physical, mental and thought bear heavy multiple burden. 

The obstetricians inform us about many risks caused by adolescent pregnancy. Some of them are miscarriage, premature, and difficulty in giving birth and even death. There are many facts about maternal mortality due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. For adolescents who have pregnant outside of marriage, the condition becomes worse. Instead of some risks above, they also experience social stigma. In a culture with patriarchal context culture, the social stigma will be more hurt experienced by women rather than men. Female adolescent who gets pregnant out of marriage, in many facts, is dropped out from school and being alienated socially. They often experience high levels of mind tension (stress and depression), even it may emerge a thought to do a suicide.

How to Anticipate and Figure it out?

Considering how hard will be the implications experienced by pregnant adolescents above, so the most important thing for us is how should we solve it and find a way  to  

prevent the adolescent pregnancy  so it will not happened?

It is a good viewpoint and wise, if we could take a valuable lesson from the cases of adolescent pregnancy as described above, as well as from the other information about it. Various contemporary views advise us not having sexual intercourse before adult or before 18 years old.   

In the context of religion, Islam and other religions, sexual intercourse is only allowed through a legal marriage and recorded in the State documents. And our understanding on the laws of Islamic Jurisprudence indicates that sexual intercourse outside legal marriage causes a risk of severe punishment. And our study on the law of marriage No. 1/1974 embraces its rules, including KHI requires marriage record. Marriage which is not recorded in the state document (KUA) carries consequences that are not profitable, both for the husband and wife, and more over to their children. 

In the context of gender relation, women have equal rights with men, and treated as human beings who have dignity. The honor is given because they are human, regardless of their identity. In this condition, then  everybody must also respect himself. In another word, each person is required to maintain sanctity of his/her body.

For adolescents who have pregnant out of marriage, psychological and rational approaches need to be done. Pregnant adolescents because of sex outside of marriage are not supposed to be stigmatized or judged. They should be given psychological support and do social interaction properly so that adolescents feel reasonably open to a social problems, psychological and health they experienced. Need to remember that she/they are human beings who are experiencing multiple burden. This statement is not about to deny the need of appropriate sanctions or penalties for violating the law. But sanctions or penalties should be done in a healthy condition, i.e. after the birth of her baby. 

In a hadith it was stated: “Idzhabi Hatta tadha’i Hamlaki” (go, until you give birth your baby). Finally, assisting adolescent pregnant mother is highly recommended as a preventive to detect complications that may occur.

Back to the Qur’anic verses above, Allah calls upon those who see pregnant women, especially the children and the husband to give them a serious attention. This is because every person is a child of a woman. This concern is not only limited to the attitude of respecting mothers, but rather on showing compassion and efforts to maintain their health. Technically the concern is related to not giving pregnant women a heavy workload and gives them physical health services.

Message of Islam

Every Muslim is recommended to always pray as following:

“O our Lord, please bless us with all goodness in this world and hereafter and keep us from the fires of hell.” 

This most commonly prayer red by the prophet is often called as “SAPUJAGAT”, complete, and covering all humans needs. “Hasanah” literally means goodness. So the meaning of “fi al Dunya Hasanah” is goodness in the world. In elaboration, some Mufassir (Quran commentators) stated that the goodness in the world is the welfare and happiness which includes three dimensions those are spiritual (mental and spiritual), physical (body) and social. The first welfare include intellectual, moral and mental. The second welfare, such as: the body that is not defective, not wounded, strong and beautiful. While the third goodness or welfare is economic capacity and honor. 

The prominent Mufassir, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi believed that the goodness of the world are: safety life, righteous children and wife, sufficient livelihood and no violence. (Read: Al-Razi, Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, I). The other Mufassir, Ibn Kathir said that the prayer contains all actions that bring goodness and avoid all the badness. Good in the world include: non-diseased body (‘Afiah), spacious home, attractive wife, sufficient livelihood (financial), useful knowledge, good deeds (good action), comfortable vehicles and self-respect are maintained. While good in the Hereafter is happiness and heaven. (See; Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azhim).

The experts of Islamic law agreed that the ultimate goal of any Islamic law is the achievement of a common benefit for human being. Benefit here means creating goodness and welfare, protected from any badness and pain, and can also mean the assurance of human basic rights which include a right for life, intellectual, reproductive, economy, and religion / belief.

Cirebon, 05 Nopember 2013

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