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Polygamy Between Islam and the West

Question and answer details
Tarek
2012/07/11
Hello, My question is in regards to having multiple wives. I've been told several times by non-muslims that this is immoral and unfair to the women. I tried to explain to them that the women are treated equally and that it is a Western perception that this is an immoral act, but they didn't seem to understand. Can you help me to explain myself more eloquently the next time the question arises? Salam.
Taqwa Saifulhaq
Answer
Salam Tarek,

Thank you very much for your important question.


Allah Almighty is the creator of all the human beings. He knows what is good and what is bad for them. He also knows their particular needs. He says what means:

*{Does He not know, Who created? And He is the Knower of the subtleties, the Aware.}* (Al-Mulk 67:14)

Allah Almighty also says what means:

*{And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, 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 or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.}* (An-Nisaa’ 4:3)

It is important to note that polygamy is only allowed and not urged to be done.

When the West talks about polygamy in Islam, they refer to it as something weird and should not be valid in the human's nature. However, polygamy was known from the very first day of existence of mankind on Earth. Neither Jewish nor Christians forbid polygamy. On the contrary, the prophets of the Jews and Christians were known as polygamous. For example, King Sulayman (Solomon) is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Dawud (David) had ninety-nine and Ya`qub (Jacob) had four. Christianity, as well, didn't forbid polygamy at all, as there is no single word banning polygamy in their scripts.


How would polygamy in Islam be unfair to women? Islam, as mentioned above, didn't urge men to become polygamous, it only allowed it for certain purposes. Justice among wives is a clear restricted condition on the Muslim man who wants to marry another wife. That is clearly stated in the verse mentioned above (An-Nisaa’ 4:3). Whereas the West which is arrogantly refusing polygamy has different types of it, some of them are dangerous either psychologically or even physically for the society as a whole.


Types of polygamy known in the West:


Actually there are three kinds of polygamy practiced in Western societies:
  • Serial polygamy, that is, marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce and so on any number of times.
  • A man married to one woman but having and supporting one or more mistresses.
  • An unmarried man having a number of mistresses.

Islam condones but discourages the first and forbids the other two.

Do you really think brother Tarek that polygamy is unjust to women in Islam? Or is it the real inequality to talk about the three previously listed kinds?


In her book
The Life and Teachings of Muhammed, Dr. Annie Besant says:

“There is pretended monogamy in the West, but in reality, there is polygamy without responsibility; the mistress is cast off when the man is weary of her ... the first lover has no responsibility for her future, and she is a hundred times worse off then the sheltered wife in a polygamous home.”


“When we see thousands of miserable women who crowd the streets of Western towns during the night, we must surely feel that it does not lie in the Western mouth to reproach Islam for polygamy. It is better for woman, happier for woman, more respectable for woman to live in polygamy, united to one man, only with a legitimate child in her arms and surrounded with respect, than to be seduced and then cast out into the streets, perhaps with illegitimate child outside the rule of law, uncared, unsheltered, to become victim of any passer-by, night after night, rendered incapable of motherhood, despised by all.”


Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch.


Salam
.

* Some of the above was taken from Women, Polygamy and Islam
.

Useful links:


Polygamy: Not a Sixth Pillar of Islam

Polygamy and Polyandry

About Divorce and Polygamy


Polygamy: Why Is It Permitted in Islam?


Polygamy: Norm or Exception?


Justice among Wives

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