Polygamy in Islam
This article is based on my personal research from different sources, including the Holy Quran, and a research paper by Dr. Zakir Naik.
Modern non-Muslims have always thought of polygamy as a "cruel liberty" given to Muslims by their holy book. I think many people are under an incorrect impression that the Quran allows a man to marry more than one woman, with no stated requirements. It actually imposes certain restrictions and states the requirements which a man should meet to before marrying more than one woman quite clearly.
I would first like to make clear in the mind of readers the definition of word Polygamy, so that we are on the same page. Polygamy means a system of marriage whereby one person has more than one spouse. Polygamy can be of two types. One is Polygyny where a man marries more than one woman, and the other is polyandry, where a woman marries more than one man. In Islam, limited Polygyny is permitted; whereas Polyandry is completely prohibited. Excerpt from Dr. Zakir Naiks research
Moreover, other religions allow Polygyny as well. Hindu religious scriptures tell that many Hindu avatars had several wives, for example, Krishna and King Dashrat had multiple wives. In Judaism it is said Abraham had three wives and Solomon had a hundred wives. Rabbi Gershom ben Yehudah (960 C.E. to 1030 C.E.) was the person who was against Polygyny, and even then Jews continued to marry more than one woman until 1950s when the Act of Chief Rabbinate of Israel was extended to place a ban on marrying more than one wife.
Islam is a religion famous for allowing Polygyny. Some people have gone so far as to identify Polygyny as a specifically Muslim practice. As mentioned above this belief is incorrect. In fact, Polygyny is actually mentioned in the Jewish and Christian portions of the Bible! Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon practiced it, among others. It is specifically legislated in Deuteronomy 21:18-17. Jesus mentions the wedding of a man with ten wives, without any condemnation in the Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13, while Paul places restrictions on Polygyny only for priests and bishops, as indicated in 1 Timothy 3:12.
The famous Christian thinker, Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), commented that Polygyny had recently been banned among Christians because it was not a Roman custom and Christianity was now thought to be the official religion of the Roman Empire. A later Christian thinker and reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546), advocated for Polygyny on the grounds that what was lawful in the Bible should be acceptable to Christians.
A growing number of Christians today are calling for a return to the fundemental religion established by the Bible, which includes Polygyny. Web pages supporting this belief are:
http://truthbearer.org/ http://www.polygamy.net/ http://www.polygamy.com/Practical/From-A-Woman-Place.htm http://www.polygamy.com/Reviews/Polygamy-Reconsidered.htm http://www.polygamy.com/Practical/Ultimate.htm http://www.christianpolygamy.com/
Personally, I am in favor of Christians who are willing to restore their religion to the original form. Buddhism, in this case, is silent and no condemning of Polygyny can be seen. On the contrary, one could also conclude that this silence means no Polygyny should be allowed, but this couldnt be true because history tells us that many Buddhists married more than one woman during some times in history.
From above, it is proven that none of the scriptures restricted Polygyny but in Islam, the Quran is the only book on the face of the earth which recommends marrying only one woman at a time. The only verse in the Quran about quantification of wives is this: 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. [Al-Quran 4:3]. Far too often I have seen this verse quoted by non-Muslim brothers, who quote only the first part of the scripture, and leaving off the piece admonishing those who cannot deal fairly with all his wives to have but one. The Quran, in later verses, clarifies this point as well: Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women.... [Al-Quran 4:129]
I would also like to explain that Islam has five categories of Dos and Donts:
Fard: Compulsory or Obligatory Mustahab: Recommended or Encouraged Mubah: Permissible or Allowed Makruh: Not Recommended or Discouraged Haram: Prohibited or Forbidden
Polygyny falls in the Mubah category, which means that it is not necessary for a man to marry more than one woman, and according to the Quran it is only recommended if you are wealthy enough in terms of money, time, and health so you can deal justly with your wives. Be very clear in your mind that Islam doesnt allow marrying more than four women; thus a man cannot have more than four wives at a time. Practicing Muslim practicing Polygyny isn't considered better than a Muslim who doesnt practice Polygyny.
Because of this stipulation, of just treatment of all wives required by the Quran, it has resulted in fewer Muslim men practicing Polygyny than men of other religions that approve Polygyny. For example, in Pakistan, an Islamic Republic, over 80% of men have only one wife and 60% out of them do not re-marry in case of divorce or death of their spouse.
The above is something which might satisfy people believing in religion, for those who dont, the need of Polygyny can be understood as follows:
In Pakistan the population ratio of men to women is 1:2 (2 women per man).
It is biologically proven that women live longer than men because of a stronger immune system compared to men.
There is a population of women who are widows who do not remarry.
The girlfriend-boyfriend concept is not popular in Asian countries, and if there are any they do not (cannot) not indulge in any sexual activity unless they marry.
Considering our world as a whole, homosexual persons arent going to marry any woman, thus more women remain un-married
It is proven by todays science that every person, male or female, cannot live without having sex. One indulges in this activity at-least once in one's life time.
From the above, we can see that the number of available women per man is increasing daily. Any authentic prediction regarding this can be consulted for verification. Considering unmarried women, not all of a young age, would desire to become nuns or assuming another form of religious service, and we are not necessarily talking of people who follow a particular religion. This leaves them with two options: either becoming a public property by having unlawful relationships with more than one man to fulfill a natural sexual desire or marry a man who is already married. I dont think that later is a bad option, considering the situation. This is because if the man is just with his wives there may be no better protection and peace of mind for women.
Concluding this effort, I would say that all the stipulations allowing Polygyny should be restored for two reasons:
For retaining the originality of the religion, after all every religion is extremely good for its followers, one cannot select to exercise the rulings which one likes and ignore the rest.
What else can be a better solution to the increasing female population?
Thus, I register my positive vote on the mentioned case, thinking religiously, that no one is invested the power to make changes in the religion sent by God, be it Rabbi, Priest, Father, Nun, Mullah, Maulwi, or some mighty King.