||Polygamy And Islam|
||Maulana Wahiduddin Khan|
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Polygamy and Islam
POLYGAMY AND ISLAM
- Polygamy and Islam 5
- The Inequality in Numbers 8
- The Willingness of Women 11
- The Solution to a Problem rather than a
- Commandment 13
- Unlawful Polygamy 15
- The Islamic Way 16
- Conclusion 18
People who would outlaw polygamy have to pay the price. That is, they are forced to tolerate men and women having illicit relations, which is surely a much more unsavory state of affairs.
Failure to control a natural process whereby the male population dwindles, leaving “surplus” women, coupled with the outlawing of polygamy, has given rise to the evil of the “mistress” (defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a woman who has sexual intercourse with and, often, is supported by a man for a more or less extended period of time without being married to him; paramour”).
This, in effect, sets up a system of illegal polygamy.
The system of keeping a mistress is prevalent in all those countries, including India, where there are legal constraints on polygamy or where polygamy is looked down upon socially.
In such a situation, the real problem is not whether or not to adopt polygamy. The real problem is whether or not to legalize its adoption.
The problem of surplus women in society can be solved only by polygamy, whether we choose to consider it legal or not.
The Islamic Way
The solution to this problem in the Islamic shari‘ah is the giving of permission to men, under special conditions, to marry more than one woman. This principle of polygamy, as enshrined in the Islamic shari‘ah is designed, in actual fact, to save women from the ignoble consequences mentioned above. This commandment, although apparently general in application, was given only as a solution to a specific social problem.
It provides an arrangement whereby surplus women may save themselves from sexual anarchy and have a proper stable family life.
That is to say, it is not a question of adopting polygamy rather than monogamy. The choice is between polygamy and sexual anarchy.
If the commandment to practice polygamy is seen in the abstract, it would appear to be biased in favor of men.
But when placed in the context of social organization, it is actually in favor of women. Polygamy is both a proper and a natural solution to women’s problems.
The permission to practice polygamy in Islam was not given in order to enable men to satisfy their sexual urges. It was designed as a practical strategy to solve a particular problem.
Marrying more than one woman is possible only when there are more women than men. Failing this, it is out of the question. Is it conceivable that Islam, just to satisfy man’s desires, would give us a commandment that is neither possible nor practical?
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1984) aptly concludes that one reason for adopting polygamy is the surplus of women.
Among most peoples who permit or prefer it, the large majority of men live in a state of monogamy because of the limited number of women.160
To have more than one wife is not an ideal in Islam. It is, in ssence, a practical solution to a social problem.
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