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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

 

 

 

Author: milkyway27

Aku adalah seorang insan yang hanya mengharapkan keredhaan Allah di dalam mengharungi kehidupan dunia yang sementara ini. Namun aku menyedari bahawa untuk mendapat kasih dan rahmah Allah itu memerlukan pengorbanan yang tinggi yang datang dari hati nurani yang ikhlas yang beribadat semata-mata kerana Allah, Rabbul 'Alamin.

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