A Quranic perspective on Polygamy
Polygamy, or co-marriage to multiple wives, is discussed in the Quran as a response to a specific social situation. In the context of war-torn society in seventh-century Arabia, one which left many women widowed and children orphaned, the discussion of polygamy was revealed as part of a directive to treat female orphans justly. It was not advocated as a carte blanche to all Muslim men to allow them to fulfill their sexual desires, as is commonly misinterpreted.
Polygamy should be viewed as a component of justice in the treatment of widows, but is mainly conditioned upon the need to offer fair care to orphans, according to the literal reading of the verse. It served a functional purpose for that time period, in allowing widows and orphans to be taken care of in a society in which women usually did not have independent means of financial support. But the text is clear that polygamy is only permissible if all wives are treated justly. The Quran then goes on to say that it will never be possible for a husband to treat all of his wives fairly. This effectively limits the possibility of polygamy today. A detailed rendering of the relevant verses in Surah an Nisaa follows.
"And if you have reason to fear that you might not act equitably towards orphans, then marry from among [other] women such as are lawful to you - [even] two, or three, or four: but if you have reason to fear that you might not be able to treat them with equal fairness, then [only] one - or [from among] those whom you rightfully posses. This will make it more likely that you will not deviate from the right course." (Surah an Nisaa - Women, 4:3). The first imperative in this verse is to deal justly with orphans, and is directed towards their male guardians who would be managing their property or wealth on their behalf. Marriage to female orphans is only advocated if and when the guardian fears that he will not be able to carry out his duty honestly. The assumption is that marriage to the orphan will give the husband a greater stake in carrying out his financial responsibility towards her. It does not by any means represent a requirement for all male guardians to marry their female wards. Second, the verse emphasizes justice towards the wife/wives as well. In other words, polygamy is only possible if the husband will be able to treat his wives justly. Otherwise, he is to marry only one wife, or even a female slave. 1 The key theme is to prevent him from doing injustice towards the woman (or women) concerned. 2 "And it will not be within your power to treat your wives with equal fairness, however much you may desire it; and so, do not allow yourselves to incline towards one to the exclusion of the other, leaving her in a state, as it were, of having and not having a husband. But if you put things to rights and are conscious of Him-behold, God is indeed much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace" (Surah an Nisaa- Women, 4:129).
Polygamy is treated variably in the legal codes of different Muslim countries. While Tunisian and Moroccan personal status law prohibit polygamy altogether, 3 Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Malaysia have made polygamy subject to court permission, and only granted when certain conditions are fulfilled. These "include the infertility of the existing wife, attainment of a "lawful benefit", the just character of the husband and his financial ability to maintain a second wife. Some countries have also stipulated the consent of the existing wife to the proposed marriage, which must be given before the court." 4 However, these conditions do not have any express Quranic sanction, and are determined through social custom and practice.
In conclusion, we subscribe to monogamy as the preferred norm for marriages today. Polygamy is not necessary or relevant today for two main reasons. One, the specific historical context that legitimized polygamy does not exist today. Women have more choices allowing them to be financially independent, even in cases where they are widowed or orphaned. The second, and more compelling reason, is the imperative to do justice, which prohibits having multiple wives, since, as human beings, men cannot ever be perfectly fair and just among them.
1. This is specifically relevant to the social structure of Arabian society at the time, since female slaves or concubines were common. It should not be interpreted today as a sanction for slavery.
2. Barlas, pp. 190-191
3. Tunisian Law of 1957 and the Moroccan Law of 1958, respectively.
4. Kamali, Fredoom, Equality and Justice in Islam, p.77.
Excerpted from the book "In Pursuit of Justice".
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Islam permits polygamy on condition that the husband treats the wives in a just manner. However the number of wives should not exceed four. It is sinful and mean to have extra-marital relations. As per the strict code of Islam, on no account should a man stray towards another woman. A man who cannot satisfy his thirst for sex with one wife is allowed to resort to polygamy. Islam completely bans the heinous practice of disowning responsibility after having sexual relation with a woman. Instead, Islam permits, in unavoidable circumstances, a sacred arrangement for keeping wives legitimately, where they are protected and allowed their rights without any partiality. There are contexts where the practice of polygamy becomes more of a social necessary than a personal need, especially when the number of women in a society exceeds that of men. Generally women out number men. During war times the proportion varies further, as men are more likely into account situations like this, when polygamy becomes socially indispensable, and permits it conditionally.
As far fair treatment of wife or wife's, its applies to every one.
The Author tell us the history of polygamy ? as if Quran and Sunnah failed in this regards ?
And to the Editor of Islamicity, can you please shed some light on the authors Islamic academic knowledge if any, and under whom he learn Islam (Meaning of Quran and life of Prophet etc..) as required to write articles this subjects dealing as vast as marriages in Islam, and what school of thought he belong if any. His credentials as you describe has no mention of his source of Islamic knowledge.
Where do you even think it says in this article that the author says polygamy isnt allowed in this day? Please read over the article again. There isnt a single paragraph where the author says polgamy is not allowed. He is only clearing misinpertations..that do not marry more wives for wrong reasons like just to please sexual desires. He is telling us the history on which polgamy had started upon. I wish people would read more clearly. It was a good article. Thank you posting this article on your site.
Please don't let your credibility goes down by allowing this kinds of unprofessional contents on your website.
I do not agree with the author on subscribing to monogamy as the preferred norm for marriages today. The verse in Surah Nisah will be relevant till end of this world as long as the man who wants polygamy fulfills its conditions. Even if today, women have better finanacial status, do not forget their sexual desires. Do not forget too that in almost all countries women are more numerous than men. Moreover, our Prophet (SAW) will compete with the other Prophets (SAW) on the day of judgment with regard to the size of their Ummah. Was'salaamu aleikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuh.
"Yes, I agree having the rights and responsibilities of marriage is better
than just sleeping around with anyone, but that doesn't make polygamy better than a monogomous marriage in which each spouse has the full attention of the other. Wouldn't the Quran advocate the best possible situation for us? "
Brother Quran and Sunnah teach us the best way of living and inturn having a peacefull society, yes every one want to live in the best case secnario, but hey we live in real world, and the reality is we do have instances in which there is always some one is vanuaralbe and someone is strong enough to support them and Islam acutally fill this gap and its mercy of Allah to have regulated this so no one can transgress other by expoliting vanurables. Its just one of those islamic obligations which is balancing out the equation between have and have nots. What is more better than a peacefull society.
Islam not only talk about peace but have practical salutions to bring and protect
peace. Polygamy is one of the practical saliution to some of our problems.
Alhumdulillah, for his special mercy on Muslims.
.., a majority of Muslims (if not currpted by cultural and western influnce) are the best with regards to women, unlike any other religions Muslim are responsible and support more women (mother, siste, wife, Aunts, Daughters) with dignity, honour and respect not just wifes, dont compare with the wide spread expolitaion of women in west with with the action of few bad apples among Muslims.
There is allways someone is venerable in a society and there is always someone who have more
than enough to share, in peace or war, if they both accept each other with in the rules and regulations (as per Islam) its good for the whole society and bring peace. Else the venerable will
suffer. If you appose polygamy you are indirectly supporting evils in the society.
The Author dosent have a simple maturity and rationality let alone knowledge of Islam to write on this subject.
Yes, I agree having the rights and responsibilities of marriage is better than just sleeping around with anyone, but that doesn't make polygamy better than a monogomous marriage in which each spouse has the full attention of the other. Wouldn't the Quran advocate the best possible situation for us?
As far as the "fairness" issue, I think we can learn from the life of Muhammad. First of all, many non-Muslims may not know that he was married at age 25 to Khadija when she was 40. This was a monogomous marriage for around 25 years, until she died, and she was the only wife he had children with. Later, he married several women, mostly older women whom he married largely to cement political ties,not because he was oversexed.
But even he loved one wife more than the others. He TREATED them all equally because of the kind of human being he was, but even his other wives knew he loved Aisha most, evidenced by the fact that they let him spend his last days alone with her.
Just because the authors are saying something different than what we are used to hearing doesn't mean they are wrong.
And even if readers don't agree with the interpretation, they don't need to call the authors un-Islamic or 'apologists' We can disagree without calling into question people's sincerity or faith.
This article is obviously directed towards pleasing a western audience. However we must be reminded that before pleasing anyone we please Allah (SWT). These "scholars" that make the halal haram and vise versa are in a deep predicament; trying to sugar-coat and change the deen to fit someone else's view. The Quran is perpetually relevant, so don't try to use the "it does not apply to us today" astaghfirullah, brother fear Allah. And whatever some "islamic" country does or doesn't do has no right over the Quran and Sunnah, since these counties do not follow shariah.
beginning of the article but beg to differ from your conclusion
that polygamy is not applicable in the context of present
modern world. No wonder what Quran said 14 hundred years
back is still applicable and is the best solution to serious
problem of illegal sex, serious disease like aids and many more
social problems can be solved if we make the best use of it
according to Quranic instruction. The best example is the social
problem in Kosovo, Bosnia, Chechina, Kashmir the recent
burning example is the Iraq war. Every day hundreds of man
dying obviously creating an imbalance in mail female ratio. It is
going to be a problem and is a problem in the Western word too.
Don't you think every women desires to have a decent married
None amoungst us will ever get the ignorant worshipper to stop viewing our sisters as more than a means to reproduce.
Islam is the first religion to specifically address the female and her position within this world ...
Muslims are the worst at threating women as human beings.
May Allah bless you for your opinion however in the world today polgyny is needed more than ever when we look at the condition of the world. First of all it is naturally known that women wiil alwyas outnumber men. The only two countries in the world that this is not the case still practice female infanticide. When I visited one Muslim country I found that many of the women could not get married for many different reasons. This has caused a great social problem leaving many of our sisters without husbands. Polygyny is a solution for nmany of the ills of this time as well as before. As far as being just the messenger of Allah made dua Oh Allah This is my division in regard to what I can control. Then do not take me to task regarding what you control and I d not. So the prophet was talking about his heart and the love for one over the other as it was known that he loved Aisha more than the other wives and this is beyond our control. Equity is in that which is outward as far as maintaining them equally. I really feel that we have become apologetic about this while in the West they have polygyny without responsibility. They have girlfriends and mistresses with no responsibility. Let us not be so aplogetic for what Allah has made a solution for the many women who cant find husbands. This is more for them than the man.
This brother should repent. Also it is unbalanced in reference to how he mentions the law of some countries that prohibit and then regulate co-marriage, but he fails to mention at all those countries that leave the matter to the husband to do justice and the wife and her family's consent to a marriage with an existing co-wife.
Overall while written in good English, this article is unbalanced, self-opiniated, directed towards personal goals, and deviated from the right path.
There are mathematical value too, if men marry 4 and women marry 4, if just one of then carry a deadly virus, the entire communities will carry it. If only 1 man with 4 wife if ant of them is a carrier only 5 are affected!! See the wisdom!!
Polygamy is not just in the case of widows, its a protection for men and women from the eveils and vanurabilities of the society, its not bound to time and place.
Get some knowledge of Islam before writing or if you are a Shia your shariat dosent applies to sunnies.
Polygamy is a mercy of Allah, its a big responsibility on men, and its a protection of women and childerns and the society, its the answer to many problems existing in this
society, no power can find a solution to these problems, its enourmous, only Islam has the salution, which is every person whom Allah provieded more than enough can
take some more responsiblity (as long as he knows the rights of a wife in polygomus marriage) by acting the way as provided in Quran and Sunnah.
The Authors seems living in a cave away from the reality of the world, and he present no evidence.
Brothers, as a Muslim I accept what Allah gives and his messanger gives me, I myself dosent need any evidence from this world to believe in Islam, I believe that polygamy is allowd in Islam and its for all the generations to come and at all times as long as a person fullfill the requirements as mention in Quran in Sunnah he can perform polygamy.
From what I see in this world the need for ploygamy is more pressing need of the hour to save the human race(not just women) from distruction right now than ever.
Just today I was reading how girls are being smuggled from Assam in India for prostitution to other major cities, I am not talking about hundreds, but they are in thousands. This is the goverment figures, why this happening ? this is not just in India, its common in may parts of the world, and even in west, its most common in Europe, women are smuggled from ex soviet republics to work in London and Paris as sex workers on streets, even UN is worried about this problem but no one seems to have a saliution. And most of the time its the financial problem and and some time its local conditions like wars which contribute to this, if there women had a choice to be a second wife and live with dignity they will do it happily. But todays society is run by man made rules, the god given protection of women has been taken away, if this women become wifes who will fullfill the position of mistresses, prostitites, massagers, stippers and what about the huge income, which goes to the pimps to mafia to captalist, who cares if this womens living like dead bodies, who cares if their childerns have no fathers, who cares if they suffer from STD and AIDS, its a big money making machine from the brothels in calcutta to redlight distirct in Amstradam to the mighty prono industry of Hollywood. Its big money and men control this machinery.
Misleading article.....When I read this article I thought i was the
1st and only one who is going to criticise this article but later I
saw all the brothers criticised this misleading article.
This author is atepping his foots in allah's authority and he need
to repent, learn about Islam and polygamy as his mind is really
sick n narrow and trying to please western societies by
undermining the law of allah.
I humbly request islamicity to remove this article as it is
misleading and against Quran and Hadith. By reading this article
people may committ Zina which is fire of hell.
May allah guide this authours.
Allah Knows Best
(i) There is the view of 'A'ishah who says that men tended to marry orphan girls who were under their guardianship out of consideration for either their property, beauty or because they thought they would be able to treat them according to their whims, as they had no one to protect them. After marriage such men sometimes committed excesses against these girls. It is in this context that the Muslims are told that if they fear they will not be able to do justice to the orphan girls, then they should marry other girls whom they like. (This interpretation seems to be supported by verse 127 of this surah.)
(ii) The second view is that of Ibn 'Abbas and his disciple 'Ikrimah who expressed the opinion that in the Jahiliyah period there was no limit on the number of wives a man could take. The result was that a man sometimes married as many as ten women and, when expenses increased because of a large family, he encroached on the rights either of his orphan nephews or other relatives. It was in this context that God fixed the limit of four wives and instructed the Muslims that they may marry up to four wives providing they possessed the capacity to treat them equitably.
(iii) Sa'id b. Jubayr, Qatadah and some other commentators say that while the Arabs of the Jahiliyah period did not approve of subjecting orphans to wrong, they had no concept of justice and equity with regard to women. They married as many women as they wanted and then subjected them to injustice and oppression. It is in this context that people are told that if they fear perpetrating wrongs on orphans they ought to be equally worried about perpetrating them on women. In the first place they should never marry more than four, and of those four, they should marry only as many as they can treat fairly.
I have read this sort of opinion for the first time in my life. It also deviates from the understanding of the salaf(The Sahaba).
What is wrong in marrying more than one wife if you want to protect your chastity? You are marrying them not keeping them as mistresses. Marriage means giving the women certain rights and protection.
I suspect your opinion possibly could open the door of zina when you shut the door of Halal satisfaction. A practicing muslim is more inclined towards marriage than committing zina, and being God fearing, he'll treat them equally.
Look at the women out there, how they have to struggle to earn money to study, to eat, to pay the bills. When they are in desperate situation they are exploited & humiliated by the porn industry and other exploitors.
Nikah apparently is a protection for the women, even if it is a polygamus relationship. Relationship without strings attached is extremely disastrous for women, emotionally, psychologically and health wise.
What if a financially independent woman wants to marry a married muslim, should he divorce the first wife and marry her like the others do here? If the second one agrees to be in the polygamous relationship, would it not be better for all 3 of them?
Justice between wives is required in the areas of financial support and spending time with them. As far as love is concerned Prophet Mohammed SAS loved Aisha RA more than any one else.
We need to have trust in the teaching of our deen. They perfectly fit the needs of the society.
We should not try to twist them just because others don't like it.
I am sorry if I hurt the feelings of the authors.
This article is not the correct interpretation of polygamy mentioned in Quran and Hadith. Beside taking care of widows there many instances where polygamy is neccessary and allowed by ulemas in the light of quran and hadith.
This author by publishing this article is trying to please the western society by showing only one way of polygamy. Please remove this article as it is misleading and is not the correct interpretation of polygamy.
Allah Knows Best.
Love to All