PUBERTY. Arabic bulugh بلغ
Bulughiyat بلغهةThe puberty of a boy is established as soon as the usual signs of manhood are known to exist; but if none of these signs exist, his puberty is not clearly established until he have completed his eighteenth year. The puberty of a girl is established in the same way; but if the usual signs of womanhood are known not to exist, her puberty is not established until her seventeenth year has been completed. This is according to the teaching of the Imam Abu Hanifah. But his two disciples maintain that upon either a boy or girl completing the fifteenth year, they are to be declared adult. The Imam ash-Shafi’i concurs in this opinion, and it is said there is also a report of Abu Hanifah to the same effect. The earliest period of puberty with respect to boy is twelve years, and with respect to girl nine years.
When a boy or girl approaches the age puberty and they declare themselves adult, their declaration must be credited and they then become subject to all the laws affecting adults, and must observe all the ordinances the Muslim faith. (Hidayah, Hamilton’s Translation, vol. iii. p. 488; Jamiu ‘r-Rumuz, Durru ‘l-Mukhtar.) Syed Ameer Ali says:-
The validity of marriages contracted for minors by any guardian other than the father or the grandfather, is not established until ratified by the parties on arriving at puberty. Such ratification in the case of males must be express, and in the case of females may be either express or implied. On arriving at puberty, both the parties have the right of either ratifyzng the contract entered into during their minority or of cancelling it. According to the Sunnis, in order to effect a dissolution of the matrimonial tie, in exercise of the right of option reserved to the parties, it is necessary that there should be a decree of the judge; and until such decree is made, the marriage remains intact. If before, a decree has been obtained one of the parties should die, the survivor would be entitled to inherit from the deceased.
“The Shiahs differ materially from the Sunnis on this. They hold that a marriage contracted on behalf of minors by any unauthorised person (fazuli), i.e. any person other than a father or a grandfather, remains in absolute suspension on abeyance until as assented to by the parties on arriving at puberty; that, in fact, no legal effect arises from it until such ratification, and if in the interval previous to ratification, one of the parties should die, the contract would fall to the ground and there would be no right of inheritance in the survivor” (Personal Law of the Mahommedans, p. 269.)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam