Monday, 20 June 2011

polygamy in islam

Most Common Questions asked by Non-Muslims



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


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.

Now coming to the original question, why is a man allowed to have
more than one wife?

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

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:

‘Fard’ i.e. compulsory or obligatory

‘Mustahab’ i.e. recommended or encouraged

‘Mubah’ i.e. permissible or allowed

‘Makruh’ i.e. not recommended or discouraged

‘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

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.





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


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

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.


No comments:

Post a Comment