Source: Twitter

Pictures of a 16-year-old Saudi father with his first newborn baby have been circulating on social media, stirring debate on child marriage. 

Ali Al-Kaissi, who resides in the city of Tabuk, told local media his 15-year-old wife gave birth to their first son at the Military Hospital last Friday. 

"Thank God for everything. Our happiness is indescribable," he told Alweeam newspaper. 

According to Saudi daily Okaz, Al-Kaissi is considered the "youngest groom in Tabuk." He tied the knot with his cousin almost a year and a half ago.

When his wife went into labor, the hospital first refused to operate on her in the absence of her father, as she is under 18 years of age. 

Speaking to Alweeam, Al-Kaissi explained that the hospital was insisting that her father sign a document allowing doctors to perform a Caesarean delivery if necessary. 

"I met the head of the hospital and he was very responsive. He [then] allowed me to sign the document," he said, adding that his wife made it out safely and did not need a C-section.

The couple named the newborn Mohammad, after Al-Kaissi's father.

According to Al-Kaissi, his wife's mother is currently taking care of her and helping her adjust to motherhood.

The news was met with mixed reactions on social media. Here is a round-up of the responses: 

Some were congratulating and defending the underage couple

"Say mashallah."

"We can't judge whether or not he's competent for marriage based on his age. Some people were raised to be responsible from a young age. Marriage after discernment is permissible." 

But not everyone is celebrating ...

"When will this ignorance end? This is a crime against childhood. These samples [of people] should go extinct."

"A child producing another child"

"Sorry but I don't approve of this. A child producing another child is one of the seven wonders."

Parenthood is serious business, why take it lightly?

"Times are changing and so are mentalities. Kids at that age are incompetent for marriage because it is not just about procreation. There's a great deal of responsibility that comes with marriage, it is not child's play."

It's unfair to everyone involved

"Poor kid, he did not live his own childhood like other kids. It's too early for him and his wife to become responsible. I swear to God this is unfair."

Backward thinking at its finest

"A child is a guardian over another child? And over another [female] child (the wife)? What logic and religion accept this backward thinking?" 

"Even the baby is shocked to see his own father!"

Where are their parents?

"The true tragedy is that his father allowed him [to get married]. If every time a child asks to get married his father accepts, all children would have been married by now." 

Saudi Shura Council wants to ban child marriage for those under the age of 15

Child marriage is still commonplace in the Arab world, with 1 in 7 girls marrying before the age of 18. 

In July, several Shura Council members sent a letter to the Saudi Justice Ministry, demanding that marriage for girls under 15 years of age be banned.

The 150-member advisory body also emphasized the need for more regulated matrimonial laws for girls between 15 and 18 years of age. 

The suggested conditions that would be required for marriage among that age group include the approval of both the bride-to-be and her mother, a medical report confirming that the girl is fit for marriage, and the approval of a specialized judge.