June 17, 2024

Understanding polygamy from an Islamic perspective

By Lateef Abdulsalam

The recent advocacy on monogamy enforcement is an attempt to condemn some cultural and religious injunctions and an attempt to deviate from nature.

Anthropologists, and biogists have argued extensively on whether human beings are polygamous or monogamous in nature without a finalized judgement.

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However, polygamy has been in existence ever since the generation of Adam and past prophets, prominent men marry more than one wives.

The grandsons of Adam, Lamech (Noah’s father, peace be upon him), Ibrahim (Abraham), Ya’qub (Jacob), Ishaq (Isaac), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Sulaiman (Solomon) — all practiced plural marriage.

In the western world, it is being referred to as a practice that endangers women and therefore termed “inegalitarian.” They bring arguments that it often results in dispute in homes and has negative effects on children as they are not properly cared for.

Firstly, as it is evident above, the Shari’ah of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, came to regulate the then present practice, not to introduce something new. And the ultimate goal of it is to draw public good and remove harm.

During the pre-Islamic era, women are regarded worthless in the society. She is weak and cannot be taken to war, the trend of the society. No portion of inheritance is given to her. Therefore, whenever a man is informed of the glad tiding of having a female child, his face turns black, filled with furiosity. Such family nurtures the girl to reach certain age and buried her alive. Then, Islam came to put end to this unfair treatment of women — gave her the right to livelihood, inheritance, education, among others.

Secondly, Islam has never made marriage up to four wives a general rule, it is recommended and a lot of restrictions are there. Allah, the exalted, says, “…But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.” Q4 v 3

If a man doesn’t have the manpower and financial capability to maintain the family, he is obliged to have only one wife. Scholars of Islam have discussed on a lengthy note that a man must be able to establish justice in terms of provision, clothing, night sharing among wives before considering restricted polygyny as an option.

As regards the issue of dispute in homes, it is a common happening even in monogamous relationship, it is the individual family approach and understanding that matters. Moreover, Islam does not impose cohabitation in polygyny. If separation appears to be the best option then it should be sought after.

The wests out of their injustice banned polygamy and endorsed extra-marital affairs. A man is restricted to have only one legal wife, but allowed to have mistresses, concubines, side chicks — whom are often given attention than the so called official wife. What an injustice!

They thought that the best way to control the ever increasing human population is to introduce monogamy as more heads warrant more mouth feeding. Forgetting that when there is more heads, there will be more people to think and produce. According to Julian Simon of the University of Maryland, “although population growth means there will be more mouths to feed, there will be more hands to work and more brains to think.”

China, the Number one most populous country in the world, remains to be at the forefront of technology and industrialization despite being populated. The same thing applies to India — the second most populous country in the contemporary world. So, what is now the point?

Does Allah, the creator of the whole universe, not well acquainted with the affairs of His creations before making some things permissible for them and prohibited others? Allah says in Surah al-Mulk, verse 14: “Does He not know, Who created? And He is the Knower of the subtleties, the Aware.”

Thirdly, Islam introduces restricted polygyny to favour women. Dangerous professions of men such as military, mining, driving/piloting, agriculture, etc. coupled with the high mortality rate of boys at infancy compared to girls can be said to have been contributed to women population over men despite the global slight increase in men population over women.

If man is only left to marry only one woman, a number of women will be unmarried without legitimate sexual partners. This will not only open door for promiscuity but also remove their chastity.

Also, it has been statistically proven that women have longer life span than that of men resulting in increased number of widows. If we continue to enforce one to one marriage, who will then cater for the needs of these helpless widows and their children?

I pray Allah to strength us to see truth as truth and be able to follow it.

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