True religion is the one which is for all land and all the time, which doesn’t change or need changes with time. The true religion should keep in mind the weaknesses and strengths of man and should inculcate the need for the betterment of society as a whole.
IT is the most conspicuous fact about Islam that Islam allows man to keep more than one wife, however, ironically there is no holy Scripture in any world religion which tells the man to marry ONLY ONE, but Islam does. No religion prohibits polygamy, and no religion advocates monogamy except Islam. There lie the beauty and compatibility of Islam.
To understand the Islamic concept of polygamy, we must first take a look at:
The relevance of Polygamy in other scriptures.
This is pure to state that it is not an Islamic idea or an innovation by Prophet Muhammad.
All that Islam has done is to restrict it and make it more civilized and organized.
In his book, History of Civilization (vol.1 p.61), Will Durant says:
The clerics in the Middle Ages thought that polygamy was an innovation of the Prophet of Islam. But that is not the case. As we have seen, it has been practiced in most societies before Islam.
Take an example from the bible: some people accuse prophets and make them look sinful just not to say they had more than one wife. Isn’t that Abraham (peace be upon him) was married to Sarah and from her, he had Isaac and simultaneously he was married to his maid and had from her Ishmael?
“After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.”
2 Samuel 5:13
“He (Solomon) had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines…”
1 Kings 11:3
Both polygamy and polygyny were practiced in ancient times among certain sections of Hindu society. Hinduism during the Vedic period seems to have neither prohibited polygamy nor did it encourage it. Historically, kings occasionally took concubines.
2. The Reason
Let us look at verse in the Holy Quran (4:3)”If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, 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, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.”
This verse, in fact, the only verse permitting polygamy should be taken in its entirety.
Verse 4:3 was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Madina after he migrated from Mecca and established an Islamic state there right after the battle of Uhud. The Muslims not only had lost badly against the Pagans but also suffered a dramatic decrease in the number of Muslim men. This loss had left so many Muslim women, widows, or not being able to get married. This verse permitted the women and children to be in the care of noblemen, not with the idea of exploiting them but to give them the security of a home. This not only prevented the illegal and immoral disintegration of the society but made sure the orphans were looked after.
Chapter 4, again deals with how just one should be when dealing with the orphan’s property and wealth.
In verse 4:129 “Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding and practice self-restraint, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” Here we clearly see that God tells men that they will never be fair to their wives.
Verse 4:3 came to solve social problems. Unfortunately today, some Muslims intensify the social problems in poor Islamic countries by marrying wives and bringing more and more illiterate and poor kids into the society which in the long run will only keep hampering the growth of an educated generation.
Verse 4:3 doesn’t advocate polygamy just for any man or any reason and Verse 4:129 certainly nullifies the excuse God gave to Muslim men to practice polygamy. Therefore, polygamy is permitted, but not required in Islam. It is like an emergency package’ that has to be opened only in the case of a true situation, after all, a Muslim who enters into polygamy should know that he will be accountable for all his actions.
polygamy world mapIt addresses the social problems of prostitution and extramarital affairs common in the West. Instead of cheating – infidelity is one of the top reasons for divorce in the West – Islam allows a man to marry more than one wife, with full recognition of the rights of both of them. The basic principle in Islam is that men are held responsible for their behavior towards women just as women are responsible for their behavior towards men.
There are a lot of other factors that favor polygamy biologically considering that man can be sexually active all his life, unlike women. Hence the process of procreation which is the ultimate definition of living organism can only be fulfilled if polygamy is permissible. However, the intellectual being that man is, procreation is defined as ONE of the requisites of the organism, not the sole aim.
The feminists may object to this male right by insisting that women should also be able to practice polygamy. However, a woman marrying four husbands would only increase the problem of surplus women. Furthermore, no child would accept his or her mother identifying the father by the lottery method.
One can safely say that the number of polygamous marriages in the Muslim world is much less than the number of extramarital affairs in the West. In other words, contrary to the prevalent notions, men in the Muslim world today are more strictly monogamous than men in the Western world.