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To Attacks Against Islam
:
Polygamy


 

 

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Page last updated:
06/29/11

 

Bismillaah al Rahmaan Al Raheem

When "attacks" against Islam are examined rationally,
it comes out ON EACH ISSUE
that Islam should be the accusing party indeed,
not the other way around.

"Of all the world's great men, none has been so much maligned* as Muhammad."
W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina,  Oxford University Press, 1956.
* ma-lign: v.t. to speak harmful untruths about... (R. H. Webster's).

Introduction | The Answers (Summary)

 

Please also visit the following sites for more Answers:

Islamic Awareness

 

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False-Prophet? | Atonement | Grammatical-Mistakes | Polygamy | Early Marriage | Inconsistency | Theological-Errors | Woman's-Status | Islam and "Terrorism" | Jesus-&-Muhammad-PBUT

  • Polygamy:
    Opponents of Islam, and those who do not analyze it fairly and deeply, find so many issues of criticism on this subject indeed.

    • The permission of polygamy from the holy Quran:
      First (as requested by one of our visitors) we cite the permission of polygamy from the holy Quran.
      {And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.} (S:4, A:3)

      The condition must be noted: {... and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice, then one (only)...}
      In addition to the following, which according to many is almost a "freeze" on the above permission:
      {Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so).} (S:4, A:129)

      Thus in summary, the holy Quran grants us the permission to marry more than one wife, PROVIDED we can deal equally between them, yet it mentions that we will NOT be able to deal equally no matter how hard we wish to do so. 
      In any society, this "profile" is that of those who are having difficulties observing the law restricting polygamy. Such people will violate this prohibition in practice, whether they are Muslims, Christians, Buddhists or atheists.

      The result to anybody still in control of himself is that polygamy is NOT allowed; but normally, Muslims who are already "out of control" revert to the basic "permission".

      As is the case for all Islamic and other laws, our discussion concerns the great majority of cases and not their exceptions such as Prophets or their Companions: Witnessed to by history as the ultimate examples of self control and self denial. 

    • The criticism and Islam's answer:
      Next is a translation of our answer to an e-mail directed to us, criticizing at length Islam's permission of polygamy.
      Within our answer below, we include in italics quotes from the question. We have edited our original answer to present it in this section.

      The full text of the original criticism follows at the bottom in smaller size print.


      Assalamu alaikum
      In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.
      I praise Allaah for blessing us with the religion of Islam, a clear light despite what accusers may falsify.
      And I send blessings and peace to His Noble Prophet, the beacon of light to all worlds.

      Yes, Islam has an answer.
      It will become clear to you, insha'allaah (God Willing) after contemplating  what follows, rationally, objectively and based on reality, that the storms aimed at Islam normally reach our truthful and innocent emotions in sheep's clothing; for is there any clothing more worthy of this title (sheep's clothing) than the rights of woman, the subject of allowing polygamy for man in Islam, and its deep effect on woman?

      You will also see insha'allaah concerning all attacks aimed at Islam, how it becomes clear after a fair and logical study that Islam is the one with the right to attack, not the other way around.

      What follows includes only a summary of our main ideas. The fair person seeking the truth can ponder about them. Then, after viewing their correctness, he can carry on and "complete the picture" by himself.
      As for the stubborn person whose goal is only to attack Islam despite facts and contrarily to reason and logic, we have no business with him in the first place.

      So we say, and by Allah's help is our success:

      First an important fact must be realized: That all religious and secular laws across history are not based on the premise that man is perfect. In other words, Islam and usually other laws and religious rules, do not base their rules on the fact that man is a perfect creature.
      Only God is Perfect. Man is an imperfect creature, and laws come to specify the limits of his rights and obligations, and to diminish the effect of his mistakes on other members of the society. It must be noted that Islam succeeded in this goal in the rules it provided, whereby we find other legislations have faltered, as you will see in the next paragraph.

      Introduction about Divorce
      In comparison to Christianity for example, Islam relied on the reality that something may occur in marriage, whereby forcing the parties to separate (i.e. rendering it impossible to continue living together). So Islam allows divorce, whereas numerous sects among the Christians prohibit divorce for ever.
      It is obvious how much hardship may exist in such special cases, and that prohibiting divorce is but theoretical and unrealistic. How far is this from the Prophet's saying, peace be upon him:
      <<To Allah, the most disliked among allowable things is divorce. >>
      This deep expression is a general reminder about the extreme "dislike" for divorce in the eyes of God, yet it stays in par with reason by accepting the inescapable: That despite divorce remaining the least liked to Allah among allowable things, yet it may be unavoidable in some cases.
      As a result we find some members of other religions that prohibit divorce reaching impossible situations upon which they resort to "civil divorce". 
      So what good was the prohibition for?
      I say "prohibition" remains only for pride, false pretense, and self righteousness that "this religion is better than the one allowing divorce".
      This is either mistaken, untruthful, or hypocritical.

      Polygamy:
      The case is the same if not far more serious and dangerous concerning polygamy.
      Islam brought forth regulations to benefit society as a whole, admitting the imperfection of the human race, starting from that premise, and attempting to minimize the harms resulting from that imperfection. 
      It did not rush blindly, ignorant about that subject, as happened in several other religions and civil laws, and here is the difference:

      Yes, Christian clergy prohibited polygamy, and Islam allowed it (under strict conditions). 
      Numerous civil laws prohibited polygamy and Islam allowed it.
      Yet we sadly challenge anybody to prove the success of prohibiting polygamy in any society, not only in our age, but throughout history.
      In other words, the prohibition rule exists but its application is totally missing; on the contrary, what is being practiced is the opposite of the spirit of that law, which applies to all classes of society, whereby you even find the president of France speaking casually about his illegitimate daughter, with no law to hold him accountable for his action. So what good is this law for?
      And we find adultery proven against the candidate for Presidency of the United States but the law "prohibiting polygamy" does not prevent his election.
      Furthermore, other known sexual acts are proven against him, yet he resumes his leadership, and the law does not even discuss his marital infidelity.
      And we find the scandals of Prince Charles, husband of the late Princess Diana...
      So where is that law, and what is Islam's crime?

      So if what you mean by "prohibiting polygamy" or "allowing it", only what is written in the texts of the laws, the answer is: Yes, the texts of other laws prohibited polygamy, but does this drive the pain away from the woman who discovers that her husband had a mistress for eight years (as happened to Clinton before his election)?
      Will his wife bring home a copy of the law and hang it on the wall instead of her husband's picture so as to find solace and comfort?
      And what is the crime of that woman whose husband brings home the AIDS virus or other sexual diseases? Shall she bring the text of the law, soak it in water and drink it as medicine?
      And what about the innocent illegitimate children, thrown at the doors of orphanages? Do we read to them the law to comfort them?
      My wife was answering an American lady about the same subject and said: 
      If my husband marries another woman, at least I know who she is, and that he did not leave me for a dancer or a prostitute, and I know where he is in the middle of the night or if an accident happens to me or to his children, and I know he is not carrying viruses, and ... and...
      The American lady answered: You are right.

      In summary, other laws and religions failed to prevent the actual practice of polygamy in spite of their boasting about the text of the law; but because they ignored the reality of mankind, they limited themselves to the prohibition whereby they deeply harmed society, violated the fundamental rights of children (fruits of marital infidelity) who demand their rights as members of the human race: Their rights to life and not to be murdered through abortion, or to live with a father and mother, not in an orphanage. 
      This right upon humanity is far more important than the emotions of any of the parents, of course without denying the importance of woman's feelings, but truth must be said.

      As for Islam, the law of the Lord of Creation, it did not "wind around" but addressed the problem directly and truthfully.
      So why do we just look at the inescapable, that it is impossible to prevent (practical) polygamy?
      Why don't we also look beyond, and what results from that reality? That polygamy cannot be stopped, not because Islam allowed it, but because of the nature of man, for if God so wanted, we would all have been like angels, not committing mistakes nor hurting the feelings of others, and man's nature would have been different; but God All-Eminent did not so want, and He created us imperfect {He who Created death and life to test you who among you has better deeds}

      So since it is not possible to prevent (practical) polygamy, what then are the laws necessary to minimized its harms on society? What did the other laws do about this matter with the likes of Clinton and Charles, and what did they do about the millions of illegitimate children who were deprived of their right to life, or to a father, a mother and a home?

      Several Muslim sisters insisted to add the following to our answer: 
      Outside Islam, the "second" woman is deprived of her rights to be treated as humanly as the wife, while Islam grants the same rights to both.
      We did not notice this issue in our original answer, yet our sisters insisted, demanding the second woman's rights to a home, shelter, family, respect: To be treated with dignity, not just as a temporary sexual object.

      There is no doubt that there are the other considerations that you mentioned in your letter, but you have their answer (in addition to the answers that follow) if you admit that Islam did not impose polygamy but simply acknowledged that it was impossible to prevent, so it limited it and imposed rules about it for the benefit of society, then established a strong fortress by prescribing the most severe penalties on whoever threatens the sacred fabric of the family.
      As for the other laws and religions that prohibited polygamy, they prohibited it while ignoring reality. As a result they neglected the rights of society in addition to their failure in the prohibition itself, so in that matter they restricted themselves to boasting about something that does not exist, about an action they did not perform, then they aggravated the matter by deeply damaging society's structure and human rights.
      {Do not think those who cheer about what they did, and like to be praised about what they did not perform, do not think them safe from pain: they will have grievous pain} (S: 3, A: 188)

      Let it be noted that this failure (to prevent actual polygamy) is severely compounded:
      It is almost impossible to "hide" polygamy in a Muslim society. Rights of inheritance are in action, as well as establishing a dwelling for the additional family. Thus the actual desire to marry an additional wife is met by severe social pressures, starting from man's own children, even his father, mother, and relatives. Only a stubborn and unfair person would deny that.
      As a result, there is an enormous natural pressure against Islam's legalized polygamy. In contrast, adultery is normally committed in secret in non-Islamic societies. Compared to Islam it is encouraged and even rewarded.
      Thus the prohibition of polygamy, in the only way that it is applied (i.e. with no measures to enforce it because it actually can never be enforced) is a compounded failure: Not only has it failed to achieve what it boasts about, it has even encouraged "actual" polygamy by making it so carefree, non-accountable, non-punishable and with no attached responsibilities whatsoever.

      I mention below some of what you wrote, followed by our brief answers, asking Allaah to guide you to ponder objectively about them.

      • ...when Islam allowed polygamy, it blew away all her feelings (i.e. the feelings of a Woman whose husband married another woman)
        It is her husband who blew them away. And shall we forget that another woman had the major role in this injustice against "women's rights", by accepting to be part of a new polygamous marriage? Polygamy wouldn't exist without the second wife's consent. 
        As for Islam, it addressed the feelings of (illegitimate) children who would exist in enormously higher numbers if polygamy was prohibited; non-Islamic societies are witnesses to that.

      • ...so as to satisfy man's objective. I am not talking here about marrying another woman if the wife is sterile or ill; I am talking about cases devoid of any reason but to serve man's pleasure...
        This is answered in the detailed explanations of our introduction, for Islam did not impose polygamy; it started based on the impossibility to prevent it, so it designated rules about it in order to minimize its harm on society as a whole, not only regarding the feelings of one group.
        Thus woman bears hardship in this instance while, for example, man risks even death in the case of military service (jihad), and if you say "his reward is with Allaah" then the same answer would also apply to woman.
        The Prophet PBUH said concerning this: Allah Most-Eminent decreed (sensitive) jealousy upon woman and jihad upon men, so whoever among them (women) is patient out of belief and anticipation (for God's reward), she will have the reward of a martyr. Narrated by Tabarani, citing Ibn Masoud, Good hadeeth according to Suyuti.

      • Woman is extremely jealous (i.e. in a sensitive manner) by nature, and the presence of the husband with another woman causes her immense psychological pains.
        The same applies in societies prohibiting polygamy, for the psychological pains exist, whether due to polygamy among Muslims, or to marital infidelity elsewhere.

      • How many women had their husbands marry another,
        The ratio of adultery in non-Islamic societies is still much higher than polygamy among Muslims:
        It is obvious that one man may commit adultery with a married woman and another and another, which is a fact; whereby in an Islamic society, since the number of men is equal to that of women if not slightly less, therefore making it impossible for polygamy to multiply; it remains relatively rare except in cases of war.

      • and were afflicted with psychological disturbances close to madness... resulting in family destruction...
        My son currently living in the USA informed me that the divorce rate there is 80% (for new marriages) - believe it or not; the main reason for that being marital infidelity, so this would also correspond to destroying 80% of the families.
        Furthermore, as mentioned above, there are enormous social pressures against the act of polygamy itself (starting from man's own children, father, mother, etc.) whereas in non-Islamic societies, adultery is normally committed in secret, with no accountability nor responsibility whatsoever. 

      • I turned away from marriage for fear that my husband may marry another,
        But what about the fear of infidelity in societies that prohibit polygamy, ignoring that such is impossible? Thus man may go loose there like a wanton animal spreading discord (or his "seed") left and right, whereas Islam prescribed the most severe penalties for adultery.
        Which of the two solutions is better for society?

      • And would you imagine, if woman can marry another man, would you be able to bear it then?
        Based on the words of our Prophet PBUH (concerning women's pain in polygamous situation), I believe its impact on me would be the same as death, and its reward the same as martyrdom; I am not shy of the answer. But I draw your attention to the existing reality, whether Islam allows polygamy or non-Islamic laws prohibit it:
        It is absolutely impossible to prevent the practice of polygamy, either in the form of marital infidelity in non-Islamic societies (be it for long or short durations), or in the form of allowing polygamy in Islam.
        But delving further on this issue, woman's marriage to an additional man is usually against her nature, each woman knows that deep in herself. Furthermore it does not benefit society, on the contrary it harms it, for shall we see her running from house to house about the needs of her children dispersed among four houses? It is obvious that man's responsibility is normally to work for the living, while woman's responsibility is the house and raising the children, and what a noble human responsibility indeed this is when compared to man's "materialistic" responsibility: Building children's character based on higher morals and ethics.
        We must add something necessary to complete the picture in case of identical "rights", maybe you will smile a little:
        What would be society's fate if woman had four husbands, each having four wives... each having four husbands... each having four wives. Each wife will have one day with each of her husbands, while each of her husbands will have one day with each of his wives. So the possibility for man to meet his wife accidentally is one day out of sixteen (4x4=16), but they can improve the situation through close cooperation among all concerned parties!!!
        And is this the son of which husband, and if one man dies, shall we go to his four wives to distribute his inheritance among their children, or are they not his children, and if medicine can solve this problem by analyzing the DNA, would everybody be able to afford the expenses, or will this be funded by the government?
        If we let our imagination proceed further we will find numerous other problems; the weirdest coincidence is that moral dissolution - specifically adultery - in many non-Islamic societies has actually caused this specific genetic chaos among families, thereby further weakening the family ties.

      • ... so where is man's role the rest of the days?? is it only pleasure with his other women??
        It cannot be denied that his responsibility has increased by four folds, to toil for four families all day; I mean at work, which is exhausting. 
        As for his wife, her responsibility remained and did not increase during the whole day (except for her responsibility raising the children which has increased due to his partial absence), so why look only at pleasure?
        Furthermore, man's intellect has not produced an alternative to the thoroughly integrated Islamic solution which also specifies man's responsibility in that case.
        A young man spoke to me in the US, joking friendly with me: Is it true that you are allowed to marry four wives?
        I answered: Yes this is true.
        He smiled, showed excitement and looked "sideways" at me with humor.
        I continued, smiling: Yes, I can marry four wives, provided I can shelter each of them, spend on them equally... And I proceeded listing my duties until he succumbed with a smile.

      • Let Islam after that come and say that the goal of marriage is to build a wholesome family...
        And let man-made rules, ignoring actual reality (that it is not possible to prevent practical polygamy), come and prohibit polygamy "legally"; but as a result they will actually increase it, and family ties will be weakened because of the lack of regulations, restrictions and responsibilities (in case of practical polygamy, in the form of marital infidelity) 

      • and I do not see that this harmonizes with marrying more than one woman.
        How can this opinion be executed?
        And did it ever occur throughout history in any society?
        This is more of a "wish" than it is an "opinion": There is a difference between us wanting something and being able to have it.
        There is no doubt that your "wish" is good, but applying this "opinion" has never succeeded in other societies except on paper. What you "want" did not result from it (protecting woman's feelings and other wishes), the opposite happened.
        1- Polygamy is widespread in the form of marital infidelity, which is much higher than the ratio of polygamy among Muslims. In the 70s, marital infidelity in the US (I was a student there) was about 30% among men and 20% among women, it is much higher now. The same applies to Europe.
        Obviously the ratio of polygamy is much lower in Muslim societies because it is impossible to have 30% additional women in a normal society (except in cases of war), in addition to what we mentioned above concerning natural social pressures against actual polygamy in Islam, as opposed to the lack of any regulation, restriction or accountability in non-Islamic societies.
        2- In addition to hurting her feelings by being with another woman (in non-Islamic societies just like in Islamic ones)...
        3- ... the matter is further aggravated by his being with a prostitute or the like. So I plead the question to you: What will be the feelings of a woman like Clinton's wife, when she discovers that her husband had a sexual love affair for eight years with an "artist". 
        How will she accept, in addition to his being with "another woman", the vast difference between the two persons, i.e. between Clinton's wife and that "artist"? How will her self-esteem be? And how will she meet people in society, everybody knowing that her husband prefers an "artist" over her, and had a relationship with her for eight years? Maybe she wishes she never existed.
        4- In addition for example to bringing deadly diseases to her and those in her womb.
        5- In addition to violating the most fundamental rights of children by killing them through abortion or throwing them at the doors of orphanages.
        6- In addition to the widespread weakening of family ties because of the spread of adultery, and how will it not spread if "polygamy" is not allowed?

        Then after that we zeal about doubting the wholesomeness of the Islamic family?

        Obviously, if we were ideal creatures in a hypothetical world, this problem would not have existed (men not wishing to marry more than one wife) as well as all other mankind's problems, by doing what we are commanded and never disobeying God; but God Willed that this is the feature of Angels, not of Humans.
        So we must not be blind to reality, otherwise we will be like the ostrich digging a hole in the sand and putting its head there, believing that the hunter does not see it any more.
        No, we must first recognize reality, then deal with its problems, then study Islam while maintaining that reality in our minds despite its bitterness (the inescapability of polygamy).
        For by God, we are but in an abode of testing. A scholar once said: Do not despair when something you dislike happens because such occurrences happen in order to bring the reality of your personality out into existence. Which means that what we dislike occur to us, then we react, and in the hereafter we will be judged according to that: According to our actions and responses, not based on the fact that we were "nice persons" and "fine folks", and "if" something we disliked happened then "we would have" acted correctly, and "if" we had money "we would have" given it to the poor... and so on.
        No, judgment will be: This is what happened to us, this was our reaction, based on that we will be judged, and our situation evaluated.
        I ask Allaah to open your heart to the truth, to unveil the wisdom of His matters to you, and to Merciful to both you and us,
        Aameen.

        ==================================================
        Following is the original question sent to us (about polygamy), translated from Arabic, without omissions. We added a few clarifications between parentheses
        ==================================================
        We know Sir that Islam honored woman and placed her in a high standing... and ... and urged to treat her well, being a sensitive creature... and as the noble Prophet (Mohammad) said: Deal kindly with the glasses.. (the glass cup being a symbol for woman, for its delicacy and ease of breaking).
        Yet when Islam allowed polygamy, it blew away all her feelings in order to satisfy man's objective. I am not talking here about marrying another woman if the wife is sterile or ill; I am talking about cases devoid of any reason
        but to serve man's pleasure...
        Woman is extremely jealous (i.e. in a sensitive manner) by nature, and the presence of the husband with another woman causes her immense psychological pains. How many women had their husbands marry another, and were afflicted with psychological disturbances close to madness... resulting in family destruction...
        Sir please know that we (i.e. Muslims) cannot object to a matter decreed by Allah (i.e. the fact that polygamy occurs) but it contains great psychological harm to the woman... and Islam totally neglected that aspect of the matter and did not address it ;but even though it imposed the condition of "justice" (dealing equally between wives) yet most (men) are not just, so the matter relieves nothing or woman's psychological damage.

        No woman has the power to bear this matter, no matter how Islamic she may be. And would you imagine, if woman can marry another man, would you be able to bear it then?

        I once read in a newspaper that a woman volunteered her kidney to her husband, but the first thing he did after leaving the hospital was to marry another... which shook me a lot... especially after hearing a man say that what he did was not a sin and that he was allowed to marry another... so is this Islam's view of woman?
        Sir, I do not hide from you... I turned away from marriage for fear that my husband may marry another, for I will not bear the matter whatever happens; and this is widespread in our society... especially that no matter how devoted and sincere the woman may become: this will not prevent her husband from marrying another woman, and he will be not considered guilty in the eyes of anybody... not in Islam nor according to any Muslim... for Islam did not place any exceptions...  all it considered was mans' desire, even if this hurts the woman, and how easy is it for man to say without considering woman's feelings and sincerity "This is my right"...
        So you can feel how cheap she is after all she has done for him... so there is not the least consideration for her feelings...
        And I do not believe it is just for man to enjoy four women, whereby woman's right to her husband diminished to its quarter... for she (then) sees him once every four days then becomes responsible 3 days for her house, becoming mother and father at the same time... so where is man's role the rest of the days?? is it only pleasure with his other women?? Let Islam after that come and say that the goal of marriage is to build a wholesome family... and I do not see that this harmonizes with marrying more than one woman.

        So please enlighten me, May Allaah reward you well..
        ==================================================
        End of Question (answer on top of page)
        ==================================================


     

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