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A Review over Polygamy by Sayyed Mojtaba Lari

This issue of multi marriage not only can reduce men’s variety desire but also could help society to transfer into a more purified life style.

The lack of a comprehensive look at a Quranic command, selecting a verse  and noting one aspect of it or interpret it as one whishes, is similar to read a text from  its half , neglecting preceding or following lines. This kind of gesture could engage some for a while or supply Islam’s enemies with a advertizing supplement but it never could lead to realizing truth or reveling any fact. Referring to the Nisa sura, verse three which is about remarriage was always a disputable subject. In the present articles some hidden aspects of this verse has been dealt with.

Unfortunately the verse of Quran regarding multi marriage was among these kinds of judgment. The interesting point is this even the ones who rely on this verse as a clear document of women’s oppression in Islam even do not spend time to understand this verse truly let alone regarding its different aspects based on last and today’s reality of each community.

This verse even hinder any abuse in its very literal meaning, expressing itself clearly, “if you fear that you cannot act justly towards the orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you; two, three, four of them. But if you fear that you cannot do justice, then one only, or, those you possess. It is likelier then that you will not be partial.”(the holy Quran, 4:3).

A Historic Reality not a Fabricated Command

Before going over this verse and answering the severe attacks of Islam’s foes to it specially from those jurists who with claim to be supporters of women’s rights, and prior to defending the reason-based nature of God’s commands first we would like to answer this question: is this issue ( polygamy) is a historic reality or not? If its roots can be traces back into history so when, where, and how did it changed into a social norm?

The truth is that this issue has been existed among all tribes, nations and communities and religions. Though, as an unwritten rule. It suffices only to refer to the history of western culture and the life styles of kings and elites of them. It should be reminded to those claimers that at the present time in west the polygamy in a new form have exceeded even the boundary of more than ten wives. To be legal to have sex with any one whom you desire out of any rules or regulation is a proof on this claim.

This issue of polygamy is not something which has been established by Islam or fabricated by Islam and against a lot of people’s imagination, it can be traced back into pre Islamic era when in Arab community it was a common trend with no limitation. In such a way that women could have been regarded as goods or possessions of men. In their life even sometimes among gamblers, woman could be a thing to be won or lost.

With the advent of Islam this view point ended, Islam brought real freedom for women and blamed that inhuman tradition. It defined a limitation on the number of women a man can married, determines some rights for women in marriage.

The interpreting traditions regarding Nisa sura verse 3 also declared the pl cause of its revelation which illuminates the difference between before and after its revelation. Some people used to marry 4, 5,6 or even 10 women; or they may say what is wrong if I marry one who marries orphaned and then seize their possessions? But this verse forbids them of doing so.”

“if you fear that you cannot act justly towards the orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you; two, three, four of them. But if you fear that you cannot do justice, then one only, or, those you possess. It is likelier then that you will not be partial.”(the holy Quran, 4:3)

God appointed Muhammad but people were still stuck to their ignorance, they needed to be prevented. People asked about their orphans’ rights, but they never asked about women’s rights or the number of women they can marry, till God sent down this verse, before that each man could marry any number of women he would like. The holy prophet said, if you are worried you could not be just to orphan ones do scare of be unjust among women (so the number of wives reduced to four by this instruction.)

This verse is a clear example of reducing the number of wives by prophet and a good answer to the false idea of this law being established by Islam.

In addition, it shows the great difference between the overcoming atmosphere before and after Islam. Considering women and orphans as bait before Islam and then a change into regarding them as a precious creature that deserves attention and love of men after Islam is not comparable.

A Suggestion or a Must?

It should be noticed that the tone of this verse is not an obligatory one but a pure suggestion. As a fact from Quran’s point of view this instruction in the above-mentioned verse “then marry” is not understood to be obligatory there but it is nearly a suggestive permission. These types of rules are available in different parts of Quran which will be clarified by different reasons which are available for that.

The more important point of this instruction which is not obligatory discovers the wisdom behind this law and draws our attention to this question in reality how many men are interested in getting remarried? We could see though we have a lot of rich men who can afford two or more wives but they prefer to live their life with one.  It declares that even men naturally are prepared to marry one and for them dividing love and emotions between two seems a hard task.

The opposite is also true, women are less likely to marry a man who has a wife already. It can be deduced that remarriage is against their nature, men or women.

Control Over Excessive Desires

Against our innate which leads us to God, our nature in any aspect like power, wealth, and desires encourages us to increase then with no limitation whatever of wealth, power.

Islam is the religion of moderation. And we see the way which Islam controls and limits the sexual desires and introduces a limit and an end for the people in this regard. And in this way it puts an end to any outnumbering desires by setting some rules and regulations for that.

A Command Outspeed Time

The opponents of this verse and the critics if take a deeper look at the society of that day which could overcome some of its problems trough this and if they take a look at our modern life problems, not only they could find this command a healing one but through this they could lead society to a balanced and secured one.

The lack of spirituality, and light-heading in behavior and ethics, causes a thousand of married women to suffer from lack of care and love of their husbands, fed up with their life, neither the man is comfortable nor is the women at peace. Men and women in these families are in great suffer and a torture.

How could critics of Islam answer these issues which are not a few while they are attacking directly the rules of Islam?

Which theory or plan could be introduced to solve it? And change this hell into a heaven?

The way-out

Obviously three possible ways can be suggested to solve this problem:

  1. Tolerating this incompatibility, getting along any way till the death of them (husband and wife) which no sound mind would agree on it.
  2. Declaring divorce and toppling a unity: in some societies though divorce will deshelter the wife after divorce, leaving her alone among difficulties depressed and deafeted. In one aspect it can release women from a poisoned atmosphere of living beside one whom you don’t want and from another side, the suffer of being alone, down and defeated.
  3. The remarriage of men while taking care of the first wife who cannot accept the aftermath of divorce: for the women who would like to stay in marital life and are afraid of marriage this way is the best.

If women insist on not remarrying of men the only possible remaining ways would be the first and the second. Which in these two solutions there would be no opportunity for women to live a peaceful life and in fact is a kind of oppression to women. The first and second way though in Islam and in west also have been accepted. If they would like to suffer and tolerate but continue their life or if they deem to get divorced both are possible in Islam. But a third way exist which can solve some problems.

If it has been allowed to men to remarry this can encourage women to reattempt to save her life, absorb her husband to himself. In the opposite a women whose rights have been neglected could sue him.

To this end we can see in traditional communities which enjoys more unity and connection among its members jealousy or sensitivity between first and second wife is less than the other communities. I wonder in modern societies where elites regard freedom in any aspect of life a right for human being hoe omit this third way from women’s choice who prefer to keep their family and kids in this way?

Justice, the Prerequisite in Polygamy

The critics of the polygamy issue neglect the necessity of justice of men as a prerequisite of remarriage. They intentionally neglect this part or interpret it according to their previous knowledge comprised of humanism or liberalism.

In the mentioned verse this element of justice has been emphasized, though it is not about feeling which is out of one’s control. But it is about financial issues. The interesting point in this verse is that it has been said, “but if you fear that you cannot do justice,”! And it means the fear of injustice is in it. The word justice in this verse though has a broader meaning than usual  justice we have in law.

According to this verse a man who decided to remarry should calculate his ability first, to be able to prepare a suitable life for both wives.

Preparing a suitable life situation for the second wife shoes the importance of the second wife though she would be a divorcee which emphasis on the greatness of humanity regardless of her gender.

Unfortunately the critics of this verse close their eyes on the conditions and prerequisites and its benefits in society and call this verse as something against women’s rights. Even if we regard human being’s free will as the most important criterion of freedom again we should say we should respect women who prefer this third way over the first and second ways.

According to this verse a man who could not see himself possible in being justice between or among his wives is not allowed to marry several women at once.

One side of the critics position refers back to the position they regard for the second wife as they see her a person deprives of any right comparing to the first one.

In Brief

The truth is not practicing the rules which are based on fitrah and logic will create a situation in which no one can promote. Looking at women as a means and not a human being is one of the examples of not respecting greatness of human soul. As a result of this negligence family life and then society would undergo problems and challenges.  Depriving millions of men and women from their natural and inborn rights is in fact oppression.

This issue of multi marriage not only can reduce men’s variety desire but also could help society to transfer into a more purified life style.

Islam introduces family as an only way of answering human being’s needs and polygamy as a solution in some cases which should be observed by all its conditions and prerequisite.


About Ali Teymoori

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  1. Why aren’t there any pictures of Black Muslims on this website. The first Man Adam was Black and was also a muslim.

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