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Polygamy the Quranic Way

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Posted in http://www.islamonline.net

Title

Polygamy the Quranic Way

 

Date

31/Jul/2008

 

Question

As-Salamu alaykum wa Rahmatu Allah! Regarding four marriages, there’s the verse that allows it. Then another verse advises us to marry one in case we fear that we won’t be able to establish justice. But then there’s another verse about which I am confused which says that we will never be able to establish justice between women and that we should not incline to one of them too much (4:129). Depending on the second verse, doesn’t the third verse prevent more than one marriage? Jazakum Allah Khayran.

 

Topic

Marriage

 

Name of Counselor

Ahmad Sa`d

Answer

Salam, dear questioner.

 

Thanks for the question that reflects your deep research and reflection.

 

Well, in order to understand anything, we are always supposed to look deeply into the context in which it has happened. The same applies to the Quranic verses which, if ever read outside their contexts, will lead to meanings other than what is alluded to in them.

 

Coming to the issue of polygamy, it is well-known that Islam has allowed polygamy to solve certain problems which, if such a solution is not available, will be very rampant in the society.

 

Some of these problems may include fulfilling people’s desire to have children. For instance, if a man is married to a lady and it is later proved that she is infertile and he longs to have children, Islam allows him to take a second wife and still have the first one within the bond of marriage, take care of her and protect her.

 

Some people may say, why is the woman not given the same privilege? The answer is, she is actually given the ability to get married to another person after seeking divorce from her barren husband, who, in case he refuses to give her divorce, can be taken to court and she can obtain a divorce there.

 

As is known, if a woman is barren and her husband intends to take a second wife, the first wife is still entitled to full protection and fair treatment. Her being barren has nothing to do with the way she is treated because this is not something under her control.

 

Many other situations would encourage polygamy as a solution for many life problems and a legal framework for relations between men and women in the society.

 

With this in mind, we can understand that Almighty Allah has permitted man to marry more than one woman in case there is a need for this. Yet, with everything in this word, a full package of desirable and undesirable things come.

 

Of course, some women may like it and others may dislike it and therefore, for those who are unhappy with it, they were given the option of going for divorce.

 

Likewise, some men may just practice it unaware of its conditions. To these, the Quran highlights the fact that it has to be done with full justice.

 

Since human beings are subject to errors and tend to swerve from the balance, the Quran firstly advised a man to stick to one wife as long as there is no need for a second wife, and this is the original rule.

 

Yet, when people are driven by need or necessity to try the other way, I mean  having more than one wife, then new concerns will arise. One main concern is the issue of establishing justice between the wives which had to be addressed by the Quran as well.

 

These two things as you have stated are addressed in the same verse so as to leave no place for external tampering and put the person in light of the matter from the very onset.

 

The full verse reads what means:

 

*{… then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one.}* (An-Nisaa: 4: 3)

 

As clear from the verse, the Quran considers people’s needs sometimes to have more than one wife, yet, considers at the same time each wife’s welfare and right to be dealt with justly.

 

A person may say to himself, ‘well, I will establish full justice between my wives and try to cater for the welfare of both of them to the best of my ability, yet, there is something I cannot control which is love and emotions.’

 

This will put such a person in a bit of embarrassment and dilemma. Since the Quran solves the whole problem along with all its aspects, expected and unexpected scenarios, it has given later on an answer to this query.

 

We read in verse number 129 of the same Surah what gives the meaning of:

 

*{And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.}* (An-Nisaa’ 4:129)

 

The verse does not mean that men who have a need to have a second wife should abstain from doing so or should be discouraged to do so.

 

Rather, it removes the hardship which they may feel when they do justice to the best of their abilities but still find their feelings and their love inclining a bit more towards one of them, something which is totally uncontrollable.

 

As Imam Al-Fakhr Ar-Razi comments on the verse in his well-known work Mafatih Al-Ghayb (The Keys to the Unseen);

 

“The verse means, you will not be able to incline equally or have equal amount of feeling for both of them as this is not under your control and since, it is not under your control, you are not required to do it.

 

This means that you are not forbidden from feeling more inclination towards one over the other as this is something you cannot control, but you are not allowed to show any unequal treatment in actions or words.

 

Al-Shafi (one of the Islamic scholars) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to treat his wives equally and then say: “O Allah, this is what I can control and you know about what I cannot control.” The Quran justifies this further and tells people that failing to provide just treatment in words and deeds and care will leave the woman in suspense, I mean as if she is in an in between state neither fully married nor unmarried.” (www.altafsir.com)

 

Therefore, the verse does not discourage second marriage or prevent it. Rather, it tries to regulate it and remove some kind of hardship which comes with the package to make people feel as naturally human as possible.

 

It gives a message that can be summarized as follows: Do justice between your wives to the best of your abilities, care for them equally. Yet, if love overwhelms you towards one of them and it is out of your hand, do not worry as this is something you cannot control as long as you do treat them equally.

 

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

 

Salam.

 

Useful Links:

 

Polygamy: Norm or Exception?

 

One Eve For Adam, So Why Polygamy?

 

Apostasy, Polygamy, and Adultery

 

Polygamy Between Fairness and Hypocrisy

 

Questioning Polygamy

 

About Divorce and Polygamy

 

Polygamy Between Islam and the West

 

The Messenger of Peace… A Man of Polygamy?!

 

Polygamy and Polyandry


Polygamy in Christianity and Islam

 

 

 

Written by milkyway27

Ogos 1, 2008 at 9:33 am

Most Common Questions asked by Non-Muslims – 2

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POLYANDRY

 

Question:

If a man is allowed to have more than one wife, then why does Islam prohibit a woman from having more than one husband?

Answer:

A lot of people, including some Muslims, question the logic of allowing Muslim men to have more than one spouse while denying the same ‘right’ to women.

Let me first state emphatically, that the foundation of an Islamic society is justice and equity. Allah has created men and women as equal, but with different capabilities and different responsibilities. Men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically. Their roles and responsibilities are different. Men and women are equal in Islam, but not identical.

Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verses 22 to 24 gives the list of women with who you can not marry and it is further mentions in Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verse 24 “Also (prohibited are) women already married”

The following points enumerate the reasons why polyandry is prohibited in Islam:


1.   If a man has more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified. The father as well as the mother can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father. Islam gives tremendous importance to the identification of both parents, mother and father. Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, especially their father undergo severe mental trauma and disturbances. Often they have an unhappy childhood. It is for this reason that the children of prostitutes do not have a healthy childhood. If a child born of such wedlock is admitted in school, and when the mother is asked the name of the father, she would have to give two or more names! I am aware that recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified with the help of genetic testing. Thus this point which was applicable for the past may not be applicable for the present.


2.   Man is more polygamous by nature as compared to a woman.


3.   Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. A woman undergoes several psychological and behavioral changes due to different phases of the menstrual cycle.


4.   A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is not the case in a man having more than one wife, and none of them having extra-marital sex.


The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. There are probably many more reasons why Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has prohibited polyandry.

 

This question and answer is extracted from Most Common Questions asked by Non-Muslims by Dr. Zakir Naik

 

Written by milkyway27

Jun 24, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Most Common Questions asked by Non-Muslims

Komen anda »

POLYGAMY

 

Question:

Why is a man allowed to have more than one wife in Islam? i.e. why is polygamy allowed in Islam?

Answer:

Definition of Polygamy

1.  

Polygamy means a system of marriage whereby one person has more than one spouse. Polygamy can be of two types. One is polygyny where a man marries more than one woman, and the other is polyandry, where a woman marries more than one man. In Islam, limited polygyny is permitted; whereas polyandry is completely prohibited.

 

 


2.  The Qur’an is the only religious scripture in the world that says,”marry only one”.

The Qur’an is the only religious book, on the face of this earth, that contains the phrase ‘marry only one’. There is no other religious book that instructs men to have only one wife. In none of the other religious scriptures, whether it be the Vedas, the Ramayan, the Mahabharat, the Geeta, the Talmud or the Bible does one find a restriction on the number of wives. According to these scriptures one can marry as many as one wishes. It was only later, that the Hindu priests and the Christian Church restricted the number of wives to one.

Many Hindu religious personalities, according to their scriptures, had multiple wives. King Dashrat, the father of Rama, had more than one wife. Krishna had several wives.

In earlier times, Christian men were permitted as many wives as they wished, since the Bible puts no restriction on the number of wives. It was only a few centuries ago that the Church restricted the number of wives to one.

Polygyny is permitted in Judaism. According to Talmudic law, Abraham had three wives, and Solomon had hundreds of wives. The practice of polygyny continued till Rabbi Gershom ben Yehudah (95% C.E to 1030 C.E) issued an edict against it. The Jewish Sephardic communities living in Muslim countries continued the practice till as late as 1950, until an Act of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel extended the ban on marrying more than one wife.


3.  Hindus are more polygynous than Muslims

The report of the ‘Committee of The Status of Woman in Islam’, published in 1975 mentions on page numbers 66 and 67 that the percentage of polygamous marriages between the years 1951 and 1961 was 5.06% among the Hindus and only 4.31% among the Muslims. According to Indian law only Muslim men are permitted to have more than one wife. It is illegal for any non-Muslim in India to have more than one wife. Despite it being illegal, Hindus have more multiple wives as compared to Muslims. Earlier, there was no restriction even on Hindu men with respect to the number of wives allowed. It was only in 1954, when the Hindu Marriage Act was passed that it became illegal for a Hindu to have more than one wife. At present it is the Indian Law that restricts a Hindu man from having more than one wife and not the Hindu scriptures.

Let us now analyse why Islam allows a man to have more than one wife.


4.   Qur’an permits limited polygyny

As I mentioned earlier, Qur’an is the only religious book on the face of the earth that says ‘marry only one’. The context of this phrase is the following verse from Surah Nisa of the Glorious Qur’an:

“Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one.”

                                  [Al-Qur’an 4:3]

Before the Qur’an was revealed, there was no upper limit for polygyny and many men had scores of wives, some even hundreds. Islam put an upper limit of four wives. Islam gives a man permission to marry two, three or four women, only on the condition that he deals justly with them.

In the same chapter i.e. Surah Nisa verse 129 says:

“Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women….”

                                 [Al-Qur’an 4:129]

Therefore polygyny is not a rule but an exception. Many people are under the misconception that it is compulsory for a Muslim man to have more than one wife.

Broadly, Islam has five categories of Do’s and Don’ts:

         i.            Fard i.e. compulsory or obligatory

       ii.            Mustahab’ i.e. recommended or encouraged

      iii.            Mubah’ i.e. permissible or allowed

      iv.            Makruh’ i.e. not recommended or discouraged

        v.            Haraam’ i.e. prohibited or forbidden

Polygyny falls in the middle category of things that are permissible. It cannot be said that a Muslim who has two, three or four wives is a better Muslim as compared to a Muslim who has only one wife.


5.  Average life span of females is more than that of males

By nature males and females are born in approximately the same ratio. A female child has more immunity than a male child. A female child can fight the germs and diseases better than the male child. For this reason, during the pediatric age itself there are more deaths among males as compared to the females.

During wars, there are more men killed as compared to women. More men die due to accidents and diseases than women. The average life span of females is more than that of males, and at any given time one finds more widows in the world than widowers.


6.   India has more male population than female due to female foeticide and infanticide

India is one of the few countries, along with the other neighbouring countries, in which the female population is less than the male population. The reason lies in the high rate of female infanticide in India, and the fact that more than one million female foetuses are aborted every year in this country, after they are identified as females. If this evil practice is stopped, then India too will have more females as compared to males.


7.   World female population is more than male population

In the USA, women outnumber men by 7.8 million. New York alone has one million more females as compared to the number of males, and of the male population of New York one-third are gays i.e sodomites. The U.S.A as a whole has more than twenty-five million gays. This means that these people do not wish to marry women. Great Britain has four million more females as compared to males. Germany has five million more females as compared to males. Russia has nine million more females than males. God alone knows how many million more females there are in the whole world as compared to males.


8.   Restricting each and every man to have only one wife is not practical

Even if every man got married to one woman, there would still be more than thirty million females in U.S.A who would not be able to get husbands (considering that America has twenty five million gays). There would be more than four million females in Great Britain, 5 million females in Germany and nine million females in Russia alone who would not be able to find a husband.

Suppose my sister happens to be one of the unmarried women living in USA, or suppose your sister happens to be one of the unmarried women in USA. The only two options remaining for her are that she either marries a man who already has a wife or becomes public property. There is no other option. All those who are modest will opt for the first.

In Western society, it is common for a man to have mistresses and/or multiple extra-marital affairs, in which case, the woman leads a disgraceful, unprotected life. The same society, however, cannot accept a man having more than one wife, in which women retain their honourable, dignified position in society and lead a protected life.

Thus the only two options before a woman who cannot find a husband is to marry a married man or to become public property. Islam prefers giving women the honourable position by permitting the first option and disallowing the second.

There are several other reasons, why Islam has permitted limited polygyny, but it is mainly to protect the modesty of women.

 

This question and answer is extracted from Most Common Questions asked by Non-Muslims by Dr. Zakir Naik

 

 

Written by milkyway27

Jun 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm

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