Thursday, October 19, 2006

Islam - Polygamy, Why?

Non-Muslims seem to have common questions about islam. Today, I'll talk about Polygamy.
As a muslim, i already know the answer to that... but i was thinking what's the best way to try and explain that to non-Muslims. While checking different answers i got this article from the "ISLAMIC RESEARCH FOUNDATION" (Website: ). Check it out and see what you think...

Why is a man allowed to have more than one wife in Islam? i.e. why is polygamy allowed in Islam?


1. Definition of Polygamy:
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.
Now coming to the original question, why is a man allowed to have more than one wife?

2. The Qur’an is the only religious scripture in the world that says, “marry only one”.
The Qur’an is the only religious book, on the face of this earth, that contains the phrase ‘marry only one’. There is no other religious book that instructs men to have only one wife. In none of the other religious scriptures, whether it be the Vedas, the Ramayan, the Mahabharat, the Geeta, the Talmud or the Bible does one find a restriction on the number of wives. According to these scriptures one can marry as many as one wishes. It was only later, that the Hindu priests and the Christian Church restricted the number of wives to one.
Many Hindu religious personalities, according to their scriptures, had multiple wives. King Dashrat, the father of Rama, had more than one wife. Krishna had several wives.
In earlier times, Christian men were permitted as many wives as they wished, since the Bible puts no restriction on the number of wives. It was only a few centuries ago that the Church restricted the number of wives to one.

Polygyny is permitted in Judaism. According to Talmudic law, Abraham had three wives, and Solomon had hundreds of wives. The practice of polygyny continued till Rabbi Gershom ben Yehudah (960 C.E to 1030 C.E) issued an edict against it. The Jewish Sephardic communities living in Muslim countries continued the practice till as late as 1950, until an Act of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel extended the ban on marrying more than one wife.

(*Interesting Note:- As per the 1975 census of India Hindus are more polygynous than muslims. The report of the ‘Committee of The Status of Woman in Islam’, published in 1975 mentions on page numbers 66 and 67 that the percentage of polygamous marriages between the years 1951 and 1961 was 5.06% among the Hindus and only 4.31% among the Muslims. According to Indian law only Muslim men are permitted to have more than one wife. It is illegal for any non-Muslim in India to have more than one wife. Despite it being illegal, Hindus have more multiple wives as compared to Muslims. Earlier, there was no restriction even on Hindu men with respect to the number of wives allowed. It was only in 1954, when the Hindu Marriage Act was passed that it became illegal for a Hindu to have more than one wife. At present it is the Indian Law that restricts a Hindu man from having more than one wife and not the Hindu scriptures.)

Let us now analyse why Islam allows a man to have more than one wife.

3. Qur’an permits limited polygyny:
As I mentioned earlier, Qur’an is the only religious book on the face of the earth that says ‘marry only one’. The context of this phrase is the following verse from Surah Nisa of the Glorious Qur’an: “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-Qur’an 4:3] Before the Qur’an was revealed, there was no upper limit for polygyny and many men had scores of wives, some even hundreds. Islam put an upper limit of four wives. Islam gives a man permission to marry two, three or four women, only on the condition that he deals justly with them.
In the same chapter i.e. Surah Nisa verse 129 says: “Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women....” [Al-Qur’an 4:129]
Therefore polygyny is not a rule but an exception. Many people are under the misconception that it is compulsory for a Muslim man to have more than one wife.

Broadly, Islam has five categories of Do’s and Don’ts:
(i) ‘Fard’ i.e. compulsory or obligatory
(ii) ‘Mustahab’ i.e. recommended or encouraged
(iii) ‘Mubah’ i.e. permissible or allowed
(iv) ‘Makruh’ i.e. not recommended or discouraged
(v) ‘Haraam’ i.e. prohibited or forbidden
Polygyny falls in the middle category of things that are permissible. It cannot be said that a Muslim who has two, three or four wives is a better Muslim as compared to a Muslim who has only one wife.

4. Average life span of females is more than that of males
By nature males and females are born in approximately the same ratio. A female child has more immunity than a male child. A female child can fight the germs and diseases better than the male child. For this reason, during the pediatric age itself there are more deaths among males as compared to the females.
During wars, there are more men killed as compared to women. More men die due to accidents and diseases than women. The average life span of females is more than that of males, and at any given time one finds more widows in the world than widowers.

5. India has more male population than female due to female foeticide and infanticide India is one of the few countries, along with the other neighbouring countries, in which the female population is less than the male population. The reason lies in the high rate of female infanticide in India, and the fact that more than one million female foetuses are aborted every year in this country, after they are identified as females. If this evil practice is stopped, then India too will have more females as compared to males.

6. World female population is more than male population

In the USA, women outnumber men by 7.8 million. New York alone has one million more females as compared to the number of males, and of the male population of New York one-third are gays i.e sodomites. The U.S.A as a whole has more than twenty-five million gays. This means that these people do not wish to marry women. Great Britain has four million more females as compared to males. Germany has five million more females as compared to males. Russia has nine million more females than males. God alone knows how many million more females there are in the whole world as compared to males.

7. Restricting each and every man to have only one wife is not practical
Even if every man got married to one woman, there would still be more than thirty million females in U.S.A who would not be able to get husbands (considering that America has twenty five million gays). There would be more than four million females in Great Britain, 5 million females in Germany and nine million females in Russia alone who would not be able to find a husband.
Suppose my sister happens to be one of the unmarried women living in USA, or suppose your sister happens to be one of the unmarried women in USA. The only two options remaining for her are that she either marries a man who already has a wife or becomes 'public property'. There is no other option. All those who are modest will opt for the first.

Most women would not like to share their husband with other women. But in Islam when the situation deems it really neccessary Muslim women in due faith could bear a small personal loss to prevent a greater loss of letting other Muslim sisters becoming 'public properties'.

8. Marring a married man preferable to becoming 'public property' In Western society, it is common for a man to have mistresses and/or multiple extra-marital affairs, in which case, the woman leads a disgraceful, unprotected life. The same society, however, cannot accept a man having more than one wife, in which women retain their honourable, dignified position in society and lead a protected life.
Thus the only two options before a woman who cannot find a husband is to marry a married man or to become 'public property'. Islam prefers giving women the honourable position by permitting the first option and disallowing the second.
There are several other reasons, why Islam has permitted limited polygyny, but it is mainly to protect the modesty of women.

That mainly covers the parts i wanted to explain. Just a last thing... one might ask:"Why did God decide that muslims can have up to 4 wives? why 4?

The logical answer is that if God said 3 not 4, someone else would ask:"why did God decide that muslims have 3?". And if God choose that we have 5 not 4, someon else would ask "why did God decide that muslims have 3?"...and so on.

We as muslims beleive and follow God's orders. God said 4, then so be it.

Note: Just so that people don't missundertand me, I am not stating that it is the way to go. Actually, it is hard to keep up with more than one marriage (God even said so in Quran). But, there are cases in life where such an arrangement is vital. My main concern was to TRY and explain for non-muslims why polygamy is acceptable in Islam.

Hope this clears things a bit, for some at least.

Special thanks to my wife for helping me out :)

Mood: ;)


شهرزاد Shahrazad said...

I completely disagree with every single "reason" actually.

But the funniest thing is this whole "public property" concept.
You make it sound as if men who marry more than one woman are really only providing a public service!

Fadfadation said...

Then, Shahrazad i am to understand that you prefer being someone's object for use and desposal?!

I don't think you'd want that. No sound person would want that.

And note that polygamy is not a must. There are special cases for it. Actually the percentage of muslims who do that are extremely low.

Fadfadation said...

Oh and by the way, it is not men who do public service...Islam does that.

After all Islam’s concern is always what is good for family and society.

شهرزاد Shahrazad said...

Hang on,
Just because i don't agree with the points you've put across for having 4 wives doesn't in any way mean that i would rather be "someone's object" as you put it!!!
It's pathetic that you see those who disagree with you as disagreeing with islam as opposed to just your interpretation of it.
Let's agree to disagree.

Fadfadation said...


Please note that i said "I don't think you'd want that".

If you i was not clear enough than i'm sorry.
I did not mean that you prefer to be an object. It was a sort of challenging question (hence the question mark), which i followed with "I don't think you'd want that". So no harm meant.

And yes, i do agree that we both have the right to our points of view.

As for the the part you mentioned about my interpretation of Islam... well, polygamy is in our Sharee'a. Tell me what's your perspective then...

شهرزاد Shahrazad said...

"The only two options remaining for her are that she either marries a man who already has a wife or becomes 'public property'. There is no other option."

Personally, i would never see marrying a married man as an "option" let alone the only option!

"All those who are modest will opt for the first."
So those who disagree with your argument are not modest! That's a tad judgemental maybe.

Another generalization i disagree with is this whole oh in the west they have mistresses....
If anyone in the west had a mistress and his wife found out he's dead! Also it's not common to have a mistress in the west in the sense that it's not accepted. It's probably more common in the middle east to have mistresses even if you have multiple wives. So it's quite common to see saudis with 4 wives and maybe 2 mistresses and it is accepted in the sense that the wives know and accept the mistresses. Then again maybe i'm being judgemental too...

As for the sharia, there are many things in the sharia that are now no longer practiced because they are no longer relevant or were more relevant at the time. It is of course up to you how you interpret the sharia and what you choose to practice today, but you can't just say that your interpretation is the only option and anyone seeing it differently is not modest or sound.
No harm done and i'm not at all offended

Fadfadation said...

Seems we'll need another blog for this discussion alone :)

The guy who wrote the article has put the assumption that if all men marry one woman, then the 2 left options for non-married women would be ...marry a married man or have an affair.
You personally don't see marrying a married man an option, that's up to you. But what else would you do if all of them are married? this of course is just an assumption.

Me saying (actually, the article which i am referring to in the post said) that modest women would choose to marry a married man over being objects in a love affair, that is another assumption built on the argument that you have the two mentioned options as a woman who wants to make a family or even have a partner. So, think of it, marrying a married man? or doing 7aram?

As for the article (again which i am using) generalizing, well of course not only the west has that. Remember in the article I said I am trying to explain to non-muslims (mainly that would be the west).
There are bad examples all over the world. Even between us as muslims, a lot of us are terrible representations of Islam...lelAsaf.
But, it seems you fell in the same mistake you are against, you generalized about Saudis (you even said you noticed it, that’s a plus on your side).

As for the sahriaa part, neither you nor i are knowledgeable enough in Islamic sahree'a to say what you suggested:" no longer relevant or were more relevant at the time.".
I think only people from Al Azhar or similar institutes who have in-depth knowledge about Islamic Sharee'a can tell us the details behind each Islamic law and what is applicable when and where.

For me and you to just say...let's take this out of Islam as a ruling or say that this is not good any more is not right.
After all, you need experts in the field not beginners like us. wala eh ra2yek?

Because if it was up to normal people like us, everyone of us would say a FATWA that suites him, and Islam as a religion will be as we Egyptians say:"yeb2a bazrameet".
To sum up… Quran and Suna are what decide for us what is right on what is wrong. For things that are hazy for us, then come in the interpretations of EXPERTS. These interpretations are as we call igtehaadaat (might be wrong and might be right).

Of course again, some people already do that (yefto 3ala mazaghom) and say Liquor is not Haram or praying is not necessary…etc but that does not mean they are right. Does it?

You, I, or anyone else (muslim) as persons can do what we want. We can drink, do adultery, or anything else (for the sake of argument). But, we shouldn’t say about something in Islam that this is not applicable just because we don’t want it, like it, or think it does not apply on us. For you and I, polygamy is something we might feel it’s not applicable for us or do not see a reasoning for it to still stnad. But, it is applicable for certain situations for other people. So lets not (as you say) generalize and say Polygamy should be out of Islamic law.
Maybe that’s not what you mean, but that’s what I’m getting from your postings. I might be wrong of course.

Oh and by the way, you got judgmental again at the said:" but you can't just say that your interpretation is the only option and anyone seeing it differently is not modest or sound." Tisk tisk  just kidding.
I explained why the “only option” was used article I was referring to (check above).

Anyway, kol sana wenty tayeba

Anonymous said...

Actually, i agree with Fadfadation and the article gernerally speaking.

I am not sure how you disagree with every single reason. Especially that some of the points are facts, nothing to disagree with.

Anyway, nice argument :)

Alaa said...

eh I never understand why people think polygamy is evil and should not be allowed by law.

I can see why an individual refuses polygammy. but can't see why they'll want to enforce it on others by law, if most of us refuse polygammy then it won't happen you don't need no laws for it.

can't see why this polygammy is considered a backward thing about Islam, I can see someone arguing for equality to allow women to marry more than one person but why fight.

as for the pathetic excuse about there being more women than men comeone this is obviously stupid.

you say in the US there are 7million more women than men, we're talking a difference of 7 out of 300. I'm sure there is a much higher percentage of men and women who never get married anyways.

besides it's a misleading statistics, you have to check their age distribution, maybe this is just a reflection of men dying earlier, I mean if there are 5million more women over 60 than men over 60 then this hardly affects marriage.

the whole freaking thing about inventing weird excuses to appologize for polygammy in islam is stupid, if you want to defend it it's quite easy.

there is no inherit problem with polygammy.

Islam is very concerned with heritage and blood lines in order to organize property among other things, without extensive DNA testing you can't be sure of whose child a polygamous pregnant woman is bearing but a polygamous man poses no such probelm (that is assuming everyone is being faithful).

then argue that Islam porhibits forcing women to get married, so if SHE CHOOSES TO ACCEPT A POLYGAMOUS RELATIONSHIP WHAT'S THE PROBLEM. a freaking consenting adult made a decision that affects her.

finally the whole argument about being fair to all the women and all their children.

bas quite simple really. that will probably not convince anyone who just thinks polygammy is evil, anyone who insists that their value system must apply to everyone else but then nothing will convince them anyways so it's better to just be honest and straightforward.

now with DNA I don't see any problem in women becoming polygamous but that's for women to fight for if they want.

Anonymous said...

oh and just to show that the whole there are more women argument is total BS check the statistics @

according to the 2000 census in the US males outnumber females in all age groups between 0-49 (which includes anyone getting married or about to get married or got married soon)

the age group 50-54 they're equal.

starting from 55 women outnumber men, and the older they get the higher the difference.

so according to your theory polygammy is allowed in Islam in order to protect 70+ women from being public property (yeah right).

for Egypt the number of males is higher for ages between 0-34 (marrying age for women in Egypt hardly ever exceeds that).

starting from 35 it changes but since we already have a few more men if we get into the habit of accepting men marrying older women there is no actual need for polygammy (that is assuming everyone has to live most of their lives married).

Fadfadation said...


I'd like to thank you for two things (one for them without you meaning to)...

First, you have a point (so does my wife, who pointed the same thing out for me) about the statistics. I’m talking about the use of old census statistics part.

In my defense, i mentioned the article as it was. The article used census back to the late 1970s and early 1980s if i understand right.
So, next time i'll either tail the article with updated statistics and argue from there, or i will speak in general without specifics.
But lets remember that the guy who wrote the article used the numbers that he had at that point of time and he used them to try and make a point (agree or not).

As for the part you said: "the 2000 census in the US males outnumber females in all age groups between 0-49", i am sure that the guy who wrote the article or anyone (including me) that wants to argue can easily get the number of gays from the updated census you are refering to or any other source for the same year(maybe even include lesbians), subtract them from the ratios and see if the statistics still show men more than women... but, that’s another effort to do later maybe.
As for Egypt numbers, do you know that Egypt has a few Million non-married women above the age of 33? I read that once in Al Ahram newspaper if I remember right. And that is the official number…you know what I mean tab3an.
Of course the reason for the high number of non-married women is known. Poverty, and families asking too much from men wanting to marry…etc.
But, if you think of it Polygamy in such cases might be an answer to that ( a partial one at least)…sa7 wala eh?

The second thing i want to thank you about, is you giving me a very good point (without meaning to) to start in my future "Understanding Islam" discussions. The point is that we as muslims do not need to apologize for anything in our religion. It is what it is, and i for one am proud of it (not saying that you or Sharazad are not tab3an).

The part you said "the whole freaking thing about inventing weird excuses to appologize for polygammy in islam is stupid" is totally out of context.
Because as i said in the post "As a muslim, i already know the answer to that... but i was thinking what's the best way to try and explain that to non-Muslims", so there is no freaking out or apologizing on my side. I was TRYing to EXPLAIN for non-muslims why such a system exsists no.
I might have got a few valid points from the article, and i might have not on another (the old statistics part) but as i said above thanks to you... "The point is that we as Muslims do not need to apologize for anything in our religion".

As for the last par t you said: "now with DNA I don't see any problem in women becoming polygamous but that's for women to fight for if they want"... la2a hena ba2a i7na da7'alna fyyy seka tanya 7'ales!
You are entitled to say or think what you want. Even women who want the right of being polygamous have that right.
But both of you can do that in the name of any other ideology other than Islam (or any other Religion-adyan samaweya as far as I know).

Thanks for the discussion.

1:04 PM

Fadfadation said...

Polygamy is not obligatory, it is optional which is a plus for Islam (it gives you options). It can be used if people (both man and woman) agree to it.

Just like when Sayedna "Ali" wanted to get married to Bent Abu Sofyan. The prophet told him that he has the right to do that, but if he does it, he will haev to divorce the prophet's daughter setena "Fatma".
It us up to people to take it or leave it per their preference. But, for people to say: "no! take it out of Islam"(some people actually say that).... la2 wes3et shwayeteen minhom dy!

So, to sum up it is just an option. Take it or leave it, it is up to you :)

Alaa said...

first the numbers about unmarried women in Egypt that where published where highly exagerated and did not reveal how many where previously married.

also the number of unmarried men is similar.

finally changing stupid social norms that make it difficult for people to get married and considering a woman of 33 unmariable is at least as easy as making polygammy widely acceptable so you can't claim that polygammy is the only solution.

same applies for poverty, if the number of men wanting to get married is almost the same as the number of women but due to poverty it can't happen yet there is a substantial percentage of men who can afford to marry multiple time then I'd ague that it's much more beneficial for society if we tax these rich men and use the money to help the unmarried ones get married yaaaaay.

actually that would be a great policy, put high taarifs on 2nd marriage, obscenly high tarrifs on the 3rd and make the 4th something only millionaires can do and put the money in a trust fund that finances poverty striken youth trying to start their lives.

so does the quran actually say a woman is only allowed to marry one guy or does it leave it as an implicit rule

Fadfadation said...


As i mentioned before, i got to the conclusion not to use numbers or statistics in future arguments about polygamy because they are very argumentative. As you said, it would be easier to talk about it from another perspective.

As for the part you said about:" so you can't claim that polygamy is the only solution.”, i didn't say that ya rayes...i said in my previous comment: "But, if you think of it Polygamy in such cases might be an answer to that ( a partial one at least)…sa7 wala eh?".
So, obviously i didn't say "ONLY". Be fair ya 3am Alaa , balash zolm :)

Actually, i hope the day would come where el 7ezb el menayel NDP and it's gov. would do good and make poverty much less (i doubt…lol).
I also hope we'll see families not asking too much from men trying to get married.
Daa if you think of it, the prophet used to encourage people to make marriage easy and inexpensive.
I am sure that both of us share the same point of view…

Like when he (the prophet) said to women (the meaning of): “ The ones of you whom their Nafaka (mahr, …etc.) is inexpensive, will have a lot of blessing”.
He even once married a couple with a verse of Quran the man knew by heart (since the man had literally nothing) and other incidents.

As for women not marrying more than one man, I really hope you want the proof because you don’t know it, and you’re not mocking what our religion’s Sharee3a says.
I don’t know you, but as a muslim I’ll except that you’re really asking for proof because you want to know ( I don’t like doubting people).

Tab3an, lets agree as Muslims that Quran is God’s rightful divine word to us and that Suna (the Ahadeeth Saheha especially) explain and give details in everything mentioned in Quran and elaborates on it.

The proof that women can not marry more than one man is in Quran and Suna together.


How did we know that we are to marry women? God mentioned to us in Quran that He created man and woman. He also told us they are to get married as man and woman (Zojayn).
In Al Roum Sora (verse 20):

}وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ {

Here God told us that He created from us Azwaaj. These azwaj are for us to live with (marry).

As you now, a zooj in Arabic means couple or two or a second. So, my Zooja means my second.

Then came this Ayya in Sorrat Al Nesaa’a (verse 3):

}فَانْكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَى وَثُلاثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً {

Here God gave us (muslims) the "Option" and permission to marry more than one and up to 4.

This option might not work for some or they might not want to do it, that’s fine. Let them not do it. It is up to them.
Other people will need this option and will agree to it…shoft 3azamet dena? :)

The prophet as you know was sent to us to reveal God’s religion (words…etc.) and to guide us.
In the Hojat Al Wadaa3 (called Wadaa’a because he passed away after it and it was his last and only Hajj), the prophet said (meaning of):
” Today I completed for you your religion (the revelation, rules and way of life), and I finished my blessing (the prophet was a blessing to mankind sent by God), and I inform you that Islam is the religion for you to take”.
As mentioned in Sorat Al Maaeda (verse 3):

}الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلامَ دِينًا {

At this point the line was drawn and the revelation was complete and the guide for us in this life (Islam as a Shareea) was completed. Note, completed as in there is nothing missing!

The Sharee’a has all the rulings of things in life.
In our case here, Marriage and it’s boundaries.

So, the Quran told us (muslim men) that we are to marry women (Zoja), and it told us that we CAN marry more than one (up to four).
And the prophet told us that he gave us the complete guide in our life which is Islam.

Did the prophet wives ever marry more than one at the same time? Did the prophet’s followers wives’ ever take more than one husband at the same time? Did anyone from all the muslim A’ema or Mufteyeen over 1500 years ever allow this?

The answer is NO!! of course not! Why?
Because it is clear what God has told us to do (marry a woman) and what the additional OPTION is (men to marry up to 4).
If God wanted women to marry more than one man, He could have said it in Quran or in Suna through the prophet. God was not to miss out something like that (7asha LelAh)!

Hence, it is a done for deal that the OPTION is only for MEN to marry more than one woman.

Humans might wonder why God told us to do something in a certain way.
We can try and search for answers (as I tried to do in this post). We might get a point or two why God put it that way. But, for sure our puny minds will never know all the wisdom and reasoning behind everything God told us to do.

For things we can not understand or we are not convinced with as muslim individuals, we just believe in it.

Another way to say it...
We as muslims (believers), we believe anything God tells us to do. Even if we find it difficult to understand, we still believe in it….
That my friend is called Imaan :)

Nag said...

check this out

more or less what you say but i thought the site itself was interesting

Fadfadation said...

By the way, even the western world has different views about this.

There even was an episode on the series “Boston Legal” about it and that it does work for some families (non-muslims this time). The point was why not leave polygamy for people to decide whether to use it or not.

They said that everything started by a man and a woman and their children. The law in the US on polygamy was to protect that family as it is.

So, how come nowadays it is ok (in the US…etc.) to have a family of 2 fathers (gays) or 2 women (lesbians)? although this it is not the usual "one man and one woman" scenario?
Is that fair??!

And how come nowadays it is ok (in the US…etc.) to have a family of 2 fathers (gays) or 2 women (lesbians) while we still stop a family having a father who marries more than one, especially when it is working for the whole family (the father and the 2 women and their children).

By separating the family (polygamy ones), we (US law) are in some cases forcing a split of something that is working fine for those people.

That was a point of view of an American by the way…