Shariah (Islamic Law) >> Polygamy and Islam

Islam is a practical religion. It can answer all human problems. Islam allows restricted polygamy - marriage to more than one woman maximum of four. The normal Muslim practice is monogamy- one man married to one wife; polygamy is the exception.

the Qur'an has imposed strict conditions for marrying several wives. "And if you fear that you will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the woman who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if you fear that you cannot be fair to so many, then one only or(the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that you will not do injustice. This verse says that in order to marry more than one woman, a man must be able to be fair and just to each of them. If he is not able to be so, he should marry only one wife.

- Anther verse of the Qur'an says, "You will not be able to deal fairly between your wives, however much you wish. Yet do not turn completely aside (from one) so that you leave another in suspense, if you maintain proper conduct and do your duty, Allah is ever forgiving and Merciful. This further emphasizes fair treatment. But, in special circumstances Islam allows polygamy. These situations are :

1. When a wife is barren and cannot bear children but the husband wants children. It is better to have a second wife than to divorce the barren one. However, a barren wife has the option to seek separation from her husband if she wishes, on the grounds of the second marriage of her husband if she wishes, on though grounds of the second marriage of her husband.

2. If the first wife is chronically ill and she is unable to carry out her marital and household duties, the husband may marry another women and so help restore family stability. 3. Polygamy may be the solution to the problems of a society which has more women than men. This happens especially after war. The verse in the Qur'an allowing more than one wife was revealed. The proportion of women to men increased considerably in the countries which took part in the first and second World Wars. A solution to such a situation is marriage to more than one woman by those men who are able to and can be fair to each wife. This is better than leaving a large number of unmarried women.

Islam strictly forbids any sexual relationships outside marriage. There is no such thing as a mistress in Islamic society. Islam has given dignity to women by marriage and has protected them from the exploitation of greedy and selfish men. Having more than one wife is better and more dignified than having a number of mistresses. Islam holds you responsible for your actions. You cannot just enjoy women and yet have no responsibilities of fatherhood. This is inhuman and unjust. There can be no one-parent family or illegitimate child in an Islam society. It is only possible in a cultural climate of irresponsible permissiveness. A woman who is going to be a second wife can refuse to marry the man on the grounds that he already has a wife. But if a woman happily consents to her husband marrying again and the second wife agrees, why should anyone else object to it?

The overwhelming majority of Muslims are monogamous-they have only one wife. The fact that a few Muslims have more than one wife has become a matter for propaganda against Islam and such propaganda can give a misleading impression of the Islamic way of life. This is especially so when it is non-practicing Muslims who are highlighted on the issue of being married to more than one wife.

As opposed to polygamy, the case of polyandry (a women having more than one husband) may be raised. The case of polyandry is impractical and it creates problems rather than solves them. How paternities by will decided? How would inheritance be decided? Such questions have no answer in polyandry.
Furthermore, it is possible for a man to live with more than one wife and have children from all of them, but for a woman to please more than one husband seems almost impossible. A women can bear children from only one husband at a time.
Polyandry is forbidden in Islam.
Islam is a practical way of life. It has responded to reality and necessity. it has also put a check on human tendencies and ensured balance. The system is full of wisdom and is perfectly scientific, completely logical.
Allah , the All-knowing, has prescribed what is best for us. We should not be apologetic in our approach. Islam provides the best answer to all problems. We cannot blame Islam if we do not know it or fail to understand it. We need to look at Islam as a whole, not only at a part of it. This is because Islam views life as a whole and does not divide it
All areas of life are inter-related; the status of women, marriage and family life are only single aspects of the whole Islamic system.


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Editor: user2
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Category: Shariah (Islamic Law)
Title: Polygamy and Islam
Author: article_author1
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