I live in a country where taking permission for second marriage from first wife is compulsory. Is it obligatory for me to take permission? Before marriage I asked my wife to do another marriage but he refused to marry me, then I made her agree saying that I would not do second marriage. Now after marriage am I still bound for taking permission from her?
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
The topic of polygamy in a western orientated society is usually treated with a great degree of stigma, disdain, and bemusement and is discussed in very hush tones. The mere mention of the word polygamy elicits responses ranging from mockery to awkwardness and contempt. However, in an era full of immorality, corruption, shamelessness, when it is socially acceptable for illicit premarital affairs, extra-marital affairs, fornication, illegitimate impregnation to take place so openly and when gay and lesbian activities and same gender marriages are not only tolerated but are being recognised by law and glorified in the media, then why should the noble teachings of the Quran and Islam not be propounded in an even louder tone?
Definition of polygamy:
The practice of spouses, male or female, having multiple partners is referred to as polygamy. The practice of a male having more than one wife is known as polygyny and the practice of a female having more than one spouse is called polyandry. Hereunder we will use polygamy in the meaning of polygyny.
In this article we will first discuss polygyny and thereafter reproduce and article written by Ml Yusuf bin Yaqub Saheb and Ml Ismail Moosa Saheb regarding polyandry.
The purpose of this article is not to encourage people to practise polygamy, but it is to highlight the beauty of Islam.
Polygamy was regarded as lawful in practically every religion and nation of the world prior to the advent of Islam. The people of Arabia, India, Egypt, Greece, Babylon, Austria etc are among the many nations of the world used to practise polygamy. Modern Europe has tried to illegalise it, but have only ended up in creating vice and evil in the form of prostitution, relationships, affairs, consenting adults, s, partners etc.
It should be remembered that polygamy is not compulsory. It is mubah (permissible) with certain limitations and conditions.
If the wife is chronically ill, or is barren, or for some other reasons it is not desirable for the couple to live as husband and wife. The remedy offered by certain societies is to divorce the wife and remarry. This is unfair. Is it appropriate to turn out a woman in her old or middle age from her home, just because she is ill or she happens to be barren? Islam discourages such cruelty.
The truth of the matter is that any religion or law which aims to establish a system of shame, modesty and chastity cannot overlook polygamy in an effort to eradicate fornication and establish a pure and ideal society. Besides being a preventive measure from adultery, it also remedies the outstanding ratio between male and female. It serves as a means of protecting women from being left without any shoulder to lean onto and reduces the vulnerability of being mistreated and abused.
Polygamy According to Hindu Law
There is a good deal of controversy as to whether polygamy is sanctioned by Hindu Law. Shri Krishna, a deity among Hindus, had hundred of wives. Vedic teachings permit unlimited number of wives, even in tens, thirteen’s and twenty-sevens at one time. According to Manu the Law on the subject is as follows:
- “For the first marriage of twice-born men (wives) of equal caste are recommended, but for those who through desire proceed (to marry again) the following females, (chosen) according to the (direct) order (of the castes) are most approved.” (Here follows the list of women who may be approved of) (Manu, iii 12).
- “It twice-born men wed women of their own and of other (lower castes) the seniority, honour, and habitation of those (wives) must be (settled) according to the order of the castes (Varna).” (Manu, ix 85).
- “If, after one damsel has been shown, another be given to the bridegroom, he may marry the both, for the same price that Manu ordained,” (Manu, viii 204).
- “Among all (twice-born men) the wife of equal caste alone (not a wife of a different caste by any means), shall personally attend her husband and assist him in his daily sacred rites.” (Manu, ix 86).
- “But he who foolishly causes that (duty) to be performed by another while his wife of equal caste is alive, is declared by the ancients (to be) as (despicable) as a Kandala (spring from the) Brahamana caste.” (Manu, ix 87).
The above quotations clearly indicate that Manu sanctioned polygamy, “and it is now quite settled in the Courts of British India that a Hindu is absolutely without restriction as to the number of his wives, anyone may marry again without his wife’s consent, or any justification, except his own wish.” (Mayne, On Hindu Law and Usage, p. 113)
Polygamy: According to Jewish Law
In Exodus (Chapter 21, Verse 10) it is stated:
“If he takes him ‘another wife’, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage shall be not diminish.”
Polygamy: According to Christianity
The Christian writers say that “monogamy (i.e., marrying one wife only) is the divine ideal. The Creator constituted as a between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:18-24 Matt. 19:5; 1 Car. 6:i6) He preserves the number of males practically equal to the number of females.” (The Westminster Dictionary of Bible, 1944 edition)
“And I gave thee (David) thy master’s house, and thy master’s ‘wives’ into thy bosom, and gave thee the House of Israel and of Juda.” (2 Sam. 12:8)
How is it that God Himself gave him his ‘master’s wives’ if His intention was to keep the ‘one man with one woman’ rule? Even in the seventh generation after Adam we find that “Lamech took unto him two wives” (Gen. 4:19); Abraham had three wives; Jacob had 2 wives besides concubines; Moses did not forbid it, instead he brought Laws to regulate it, as has been mentioned in the previous heading.
Christians try to overcome these difficulties implying that the previous prophets had made mistakes in marrying more than one wife. But the insurmountable difficulty faces them in case of Moses. Because Moses had brought a Law from God, and if it was God’s intention to make marriage ‘a between one man and one wife’, why did He give Moses regulations about polygamy? The above-mentioned Dictionary of Bible tries to gloss over this difficulty by saying, “Moses, who was correcting abuses, not suddenly abolishing them, did not forbid polygamy, but discouraged it.”
It is a claim, which cannot be justified, because Moses himself married two wives: one was Zipporah, daughter of Jethro (known in Islamic language as Shuaib), the other was a Cushite woman whom Moses married in the 2nd year of the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness. (Num. 12:1)
There is no mention anywhere in the scriptures or any other writing that Zipporah was not alive at that time.
Thus far we discussed about Moses and the Prophets before him. Now we come to the prophets who came after this ‘supposed discouraging’. We find that polygamy continued to be practiced even after the time of Moses, as by Gideon, Elkanah, Saul, Rehoboam and countless others. For the details, see Judge. 8:30; I Sam. 1:2; II Sam. 12:8; 21:8.
Prophet “David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem.” (11 Sam. 5:13). Prophet Solomon “had seven hundred wives, princess, and three hundred concubines.” (I Kings 11:3)
“And so it was understood by the leaders of Christendom that there is no intrinsic immorality or sinfulness in plurality of wives. One of the greatest fathers of the Christian Church (St. Augustine) has declared that polygamy is not a crime where it is a legal institution of a country, and the German reformers, even as late as the sixteenth century, allowed and declared valid the taking of a second or even a third wife, contemporaneously with the first, in default of issue, or any other cause.” (Ameer Ali, Life and Teachings, p. 220, and also Ameer Ali, Mohammedan Law, Vol. II p. 23)
“When Christianity made its appearance in Rome, history shows that polygamy was recognized and the early Christian Emperors seem to have admitted its validity.” Says Ameer Ali:
The Emperor Valentinian II, by an Edict, allowed all the subjects of the Empire, if they pleased, to marry several wives; nor does it appear from the ecclesiastical history of these times that the Bishops and the heads of the Christian made any objection to this law. Far from it, all the succeeding Emperors practiced polygamy, and the people generally were not remiss in following their example. Even the clergy often had wives. This state of the laws continued until the time of Justinian, who… resulted in their embodiment in the celebrated laws of Justinian. ‘But these laws owed little to Christianity, at least directly.’ The greatest adviser of Justinian was an atheist and a pagan. Even prohibition of polygamy by Justinian failed to check the tendency of the age. (Ameer Ali, Life and Teachings of Mohammad pp. 222-223) “(S.V. Mir Ahmad Ali, foot note 499)
It should be mentioned here that Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian (527-565) was in the 6th century of Christian era; it means that up to 6th century there was no prohibition of polygamy in Christianity, at all.
The following paragraphs from ‘An Apology for Mohammad and Koran’ (by John Davenport) show clearly that the Christian Leaders up to at least 16th century did not frown upon polygamy:
St. Chrysostem, speaking of Abraham and Hagar, says, ‘These things were not then forbidden.’ So St. Augustine observes that ‘there was a blameless custom of one man having many wives, which at that time might be done in a way of duty, which now cannot be done but from licentiousness, because for the sake of multiplying posterity, no law forbade a plurality of wives. (See Grotius, De Jure, vol. i. p. 268 note)
John Milton, who, in his ‘Treatise on Christian Doctrine’, after quoting various passages from the Bible in defence of the practice, says, ‘Moreover, God, in an allegorical fiction (Ezekiel, xxiii) represents Himself as having espoused two wives, Ahelah and Aholiah a mode of speaking which Jehovah would by no means have employed, especially at such length even in a parable, nor, indeed, have taken upon himself such a character at all, if the practice which it implied had been intrinsically dishonourable or shameful.
On what grounds, then, can a practice be considered as so dishonourable or shameful which is prohibited to no one even under the Gospel; for that dispensation annuls none of the merely civil regulations, which existed previously to its introduction….
John Milton has earlier written in the same book (Treatise on Christian Doctrine) as follows:
“In the definition, which I have given (i.e., of marriage) I have not said, in compliance with the common opinion, ‘of one man with one woman’, lest I should by implication charge the holy patriarchs and pillars of our faith, Abraham, and the others who had more than one wife at the same time, with habitual fornication and adultery, lest I should be forced to exclude from the sanctuary of God as spurious the holy offspring which sprang from them, yea, the whole of the sons of Israel, for whom the sanctuary itself was made.
Polygamy: According to Islam
Islam did not introduce polygyny but permitted it remedied the ills and abuses around it. The Hindus, Babylonians, Persians, Athenians, Jews and pre-Islamic Arabs recognized no limit to the number of wives a man could marry. Islam limited and restricted it in number; and hedged it with severe restrictions. Nowhere in the Shariah is polygyny condemned or discouraged but neither is it an essential commandment enjoining men to take multiple wives. Coupled with this permission is the emphatic command of justice and equality, financially and physically (i.e. spending equal amount of time with each spouse), if one intends taking another wife. The attitude of husband towards all his wives must be such as to give no occasion to heartburning, jealousy, dissatisfaction, discontent and frustration to any of them. There should be no cruelty, injustice, bias or partiality on the part of the husband. It is expected and seen that complete peace, harmony and tranquillity prevails in the household where the husband faithfully observes the injunctions of Islam regarding the equal status of all the wives in matters of maintenance, and general treatment. Each wife is entitled to have the opportunity of feeling the security of their man and sharing the bonds of love with him as well as enjoying his companionship.
If the husband cannot exercise this equality he is not allowed to marry more than one. Regarding this restriction of number and equal treatment, the Qur’an ordains:
“Marry such as you please, of other women, by twos, threes and fours; but if you apprehend that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then marry one only.” (Qur’an, 4:3)
However, since love and emotions are beyond ones control, a man will be excused if he loves one spouse more than another. It is most irrational to demand a person to have equal love for two people. A person has friends but he has his “best friend’, a mother with many kids has “the apple of her eye” and the father has his “blue eyed boy”.
Natural Need for Polygyny and its Logic
Any society which tried to ban or deny polygyny resulted in nothing but a host of evils and problems that have sunk their societies to the lowest of the low, in the form of prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, unwanted children, increase in divorce rates etc. etc. Trying to stem the natural has spelt only woe for these societies and those who emulate them.
Is polygamy really against the natural law?
The facts and findings answer this question in negative.
“‘Man’, says G.R. Scott, ‘is essentially polygamous and the development of civilization extends this innate polygamy.’ “(History of prostitution, p. 21; as quoted in ‘Polygamy in Islam’ published by Islami Mission, Lahore and Polygamy? p 17)
Dr. Mercier says: “Woman is by nature monogamist; man has in him the element of polygamist.” (Conduct and its Disorders Biologically Considered, p. 292-3; as quoted in ‘Polygamy In Islam’)
Professor Russel, an American scholar, said in a conference, held at the University of California, convened to discuss the Family Rights:
“Marriage to one wife and being tied down to only one wife for the whole span of life is unnatural and unreasonable.” Then, in the course of a long discussion, he summarized his theory by sayings that “man ought to accept the law of more than one wife as an important factor in the struggle for the survival.” (Ittilaat, Tehran, No. 3104).
It is an undeniable fact that in most human societies, females outnumber males. In the U.S.A there are at least eight million more women than men. In a country like Guinea there are at least 122 females for every 100 males. In Tanzania there are 95.1 males per 100 females. What would such societies do towards such unbalanced ratios?
A survey over six thousand women, ranging in age from 15-59, conducted in the second largest city in Nigeria showed that sixty percent of these women would be pleased if their husbands took another wife. Seventy-six percent of the women in a survey conducted in Kenya, viewed polygamy positively. In a survey taken in rural Kenya, twenty-five out of twenty-seven women considered polygamy to be better than monogamy. (Women in Islam P 40 with reference to Phillip L. Kilbride, Plural Marriage for Our Times)
Some other random examples of the male-female population ratio in some European countries in the early 1900’s:
In France females exceeded men by 423:709, in Sweden women exceeded men by 122:870. In the 1980’s women in Spain outnumbered men by 457,260 while in Australia in the same period there were 644,796 more women than men. In Russia the female population presently outnumbers that of men by ten million; the United Kingdom has four million more women than men; while in Germany women exceed men by five million. In America women outnumber men by 7.8 million. (Polygamy? P 16)
So if these countries boast the “one man one wife” system, the question that begs to be answered is what happens to these millions of unmarried women?
Should they kill the instincts and lead unnatural lives? Should they marry men who are already married or should they allow themselves to become public property or opt for a life of loneliness, insecurity and vulnerability?
What is more dignifying to a woman, an accepted and respected second wife or a virtual prostitute?
Even if we accept, just for the sake of argument, that the Creator creates equal number of males and females (as claimed by Christian scholars), does it prove that there will be no need of polygamy? Well, let us look at this matter in a reasoned way. The girls become capable of re-production, and get the natural sexual feeling earlier than boys. It is because in temperate climate girls are able to conceive at the age of 9 or 10; while in the same climate an average boy becomes able to establish sexual intercourse at the age of about 14 or 15.
Now, suppose a group of people settle together in a place, and suppose that every year 50 boys and 50 girls are born in that community. Also suppose that none of the children die in infancy. In 20 years, there will be 1,000 boys and 1,000 girls.
Out of these 1,000 girls, 550 girls (who were born from the 1st. to the 11th year) will have reached the age of puberty, i.e., will be from 10 to 20 years old.
And out of the 1,000 boys only 300 will reach the age of puberty. These will be the ones born from 1st year to the 6th year, who will be from 15 to 20 years old.
If that community practices monogamy, the 300 boys can marry 300 girls. What will be the fate of the remaining 250 girls? So, the supposed equality in number of boys and girls is wrong not only according to the statistics, but in theory also.
Also, one more fact has to be borne in mind, before claiming this equality of the numbers. All healthy women have to pass through a period, every month, when their condition discourages establishment of sexual intercourse. But the man does not lose his sexual urge at any time. What is the remedy if a man is unable to resist his sexual urge at a time when his wife is having her menstruation?
Either polygamy, which has legal status, or going to the prostitutes, which is forbidden in every religion.
The numerous problems that arise on account of a surplus of single unmarried women can only be addressed if polygyny is actively practiced. Dr. Le Bon, a French scholar, mentions: A return to polygyny, the natural relationship between sexes would remedy evils. e.g. prostitution venereal disease, abortion, misery of illegitimate children, adultery and even jealousy, since the disregarded wife (cheated wife in a monogamous marriage) would find consolation in her cognizance of not being secretly deceived by her husband. (i.e. she would know where he is) (Polygamy? p 17)
Dr. Annie Besant says: “there is pretended monogamy in the west, but there is real polygamy without responsibility. The mistress is cast off when the man is weary of her and she sinks gradually to be the woman of the street; for the first lover has no responsibility for her future; and she is hundred times worse off than a sheltered wife and the mother in the polygamous home. When we see thousands of miserable women, who crowd the streets of western towns during the night, we must surely feel that it does not lie in western mouths to reproach Islam for its polygamy. It is better for a woman, happier for a woman, more respectable for a woman to live in Islamic polygamy united to one man only with the legitimate child in her arms and surrounded with respect, than to be seduced, cast out in streets perhaps with an illegitimate child, outside the pale of law, night after night, rendered incapable of motherhood, despised by all”. (Polygamy? p 18)
Reverend Canon Isaac Taylor, LL.D speaking on “Mohamedanism” at the church congress at Wolverhampton said: “owing to polygamy, Muslim countries are free from professional out-casts, a greater reproach to Christendom than polygamy in Islam. The strictly regulated polygamy of Moslem lands is infinitely less degrading to woman, less injurious to men than the promiscuous polygamy which is the curse of Christian cities, and which is absolutely unknown to Islam”. (Quoted in The Times, London, Saturday, 8th Oct, 1887, Polygamy? p 21)
Advice to Males Intending Polygamy
It should be understood that it is very painful, difficult, and traumatic for women, especially in those societies where polygamy is hardly practiced to accept their husbands taking another wife. The influence of alien culture has so strongly overwhelmed them that there is not only a fear of ruining their marriages but also a chance of them losing their Imam. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that this matter be approached correctly and dealt with caution, care and diplomacy. Before thinking of a second marriage consider the following:
- Consider the responsibility which comes along with a second marriage.
- Reflect whether you are able to fulfil the Shar’i obligations of both wives in a fair and just manner.
- Seek advice from your local Ulama and senior members of his family and community.
- Seek advice from those already in a polygamous marriage.
- Be able to adjust your routine and daily schedule.
- Make all arrangements to ensure all wives receive their rights.
- Possess a strong emotional state of mind to be able to handle the sensitiveness of all his wives.
- Never contemplate polygyny as an experimental exercise.
- Never consider polygyny to spite the first wife.
- Take note that the permission of polygyny should not be abused.
- Take into account the feelings and sentiments of the first wife and endeavour to provide every reassurance, support and comfort to her.
- Be understanding, tolerant, caring and patient towards his first wife who is facing a most tumultuous period in her life that could cause her to have bouts of irrational behaviour from time to time.
- Consider the impact it will have on his immediate family and what measures he has in place to support them through possible turmoil.
These are some points which need to be carefully considered before taking a second wife.
Advice to a Woman who’s Husband Seeks a Second Marriage.
A husband intending a second marriage could be very challenging for a woman. It could have disastrous consequences however, it is left up to an individual what she wants to make out of it. Allah Ta’ala does not burden his slaves with that which they cannot bear. Depending on the way she response to her husband’s intentions of a second marriage so will the outcome be. If she response positively the husbands second marriage could prove to be for fruitful for her too. We all know the busy and hectic lives women lead. From caring for the husbands needs to the kids, doing the household chores and her personal needs. A co-wife could prove to help and assist in her having more time for herself and her kids. Also at times the husband could be very demanding. After a long days work (of a woman) for a woman to still give full attention to a demanding husband could also be very difficult causing much frustration. With a co-wife they could equally share the burden.
Below are few ways in which a woman could respond to her husband’s intentions:
- She becomes very angry, upset and is besides herself with rage, to the point of acting violently against others and herself. She threatens to leave him and abuses the custody of kids. In short she just crates a host of complex problems.
- She is all the above but does not leave him. Instead, she puts up a fierce resistance turning her home and everybody’s lives into a living hell.
- She accepts the situation grudgingly. She may not display her anger but rather gives the impression that all is well. This store anger then drives her to act maliciously by placing various obstacles in the husband’s life.
- She is naturally upset, but takes it positively turning to Allah Ta’ala, asking His assistance. She also encourages her husband and co-operates with her co-wife. Shaytan will most definitely bombard her with evil thoughts and feelings sinking her into depression. However, by being patient and turning to Allah Ta’ala, He will most definitely help her.
A golden rule to remember: The hurt will not leave if she resorts to unreasonable behaviour, but will prolong her anguish if not increase it. To overcome the hurt, she will have to place herself in the ward where this takes place; the ward of the patient.
Below is an article on polyandry jointly prepared by Ml Yusuf bin Yaqub Saheb and Ml Ismail Moosa Saheb:
Polygamous Marriages for women
Before proceeding, it should be noted that it is difficult, rather impossible, to be rational with irrational and unreasonable beings; not to mention being it extremely detrimental to one’s Imān to maintain bonds of friendship with such people. Their obstinacy in rejecting the most rational, cogent and soundest of arguments will lead you to frustration, uncertainty and questioning in your own Imān. If your “friends” are christians or jews, they should already understand the impermissibility, innate contemptibility and irrationality of polyandry. If they are atheists, which can be deduced from statements such as “if it is not the religion that is sexist, it is your Creator who has made it biologically hard for your women to have more husbands,” how could it be expected of them to understand the rationale of the impermissibility of polyandry when they have failed or rather, chosen to fail to recognize the existence of their Creator? If they agree that women have been created and divinely programmed in such a way that inhibits polyandry, it would then be an exercise in futility to question why Allah chose to do so. What right does the feeble creation have to ask the sublime Creator why He created something in a certain way? As Muslims, we submit in totality to the will and order of Allah Ta‘ālā. We do not weigh the commands and dictates of the religion on the scales of our limited and scanty logic. Allah Ta‘ālā is Al-Hakīm (the Most-Wise) and His decrees are filled with wisdom and reason whether people can perceive them or not. We are not bound to understand and comprehend every order and decree of Allah; we are merely bound to submit our will to the will of Allah. Furthermore, it seems as if such people want free reign and an unlimited license to fulfill all their lusts and desires. This can be understood from statements like, “there are many women who have multiple boyfriends, and live happily. It should be the girl’s prerogative whether or not to have multiple husbands, even if it may not necessarily be beneficial for her.” Any rationale or creed that impedes this freedom and liberty is considered oppressive, illogical, sexist and retrogressive. Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Holy Quran,
﴿ أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ ﴾
“Have you not seen that person who has taken his desires as his God?” (25:43)
Such people only follow the dictates of their passions. If their passions and desires decree to have illicit sexual relations with multiple partners in or out of wedlock, they do not hesitate to fulfill it. They submit wholeheartedly to such indulgent desires and then claim that any belief that discourages and prohibits such immorality as being sexist and unequal. Instead of worshipping Allah and fulfilling His commands, they want Allah to fulfill all of their whims and fancies. Regarding such people, Allah Ta’ala states,
﴿ أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا ﴾
Or do you suppose that most of them listen or understand? They are merely like cattle; nay, rather they are even farther astray from the (right) path.” (25:44)
They have been blinded by their lusts and desires. They merely wish to lead an animalistic and bestial existence and do not wish to see the truth or to listen to any form of logic or reason. Allah Ta’ala mentions in another verse,
﴿ وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ ﴾
“The semblance of those who disbelieve is like a person shouting at an animal that hears nothing but a call and cry; they are deaf, dumb and blind,
so they do not understand” (2:171)
Despite the fact that such people will never desire to understand the logic and rationale of the iniquity of polyandry, we will enumerate a few points of consideration by way of example regarding its absurdity:
1. If women were permitted to enter into polyandrous marriages, the lineage of children born from such marriages will be unascertainable. If a woman had four husbands, the child born to this woman could belong to any one of the four husbands. This would have serious psychological implications on the child. Furthermore, such relationships will have serious consequences on the inheritance rights of these children. You should ask the very “friends” who promote polyandry how they would feel if their own mother was involved in such a relationship. How would they feel growing up in an environment where they were not sure who their father was or how they would feel knowing that their mother was a woman passed from man to man in a polyandrous marriage? Such relationship would actually initiate the dissolution of the family unit, which is the basis for any productive and stable society.
2. Logically, there can be only a one-sided polygamous marriage – if both polygamy and polyandry were permitted, it will lead to a degeneration of the institution of marriage. If men were permitted to marry four wives and conversely, women were permitted to marry four husbands, what would be the need for instituting a marriage contract? One man would be married to four wives, each of his four wives would be married to three other husbands, and every one of these three other husbands would be married to three other wives. Would demanding such equality in polygamy be rational and logical? Every wife would also be the next man’s wife and every husband would be the next woman’s husband. The whole system of a family unit would collapse and within a single generation or two, the lineage of every child will be unrecognizable. Brothers will unknowingly marry their sisters, uncles would marry their nieces and aunts their nephews etc. This is the result of instituting “equality” in polygamy.
3. Another flaw in polyandry lays in the fact that the wife will become nothing more than an infant factory, which, not to mention, is contrary to what the proponents of feminist equality and empowerment are lobbying. When the first husband desires a child, all other husbands will have to wait for the wife to conceive, deliver and nurse the child. Immediately thereafter, the second husband will demand his turn to father a child, thus the remainder of the husband’s will continue waiting for the same duration. No sooner than the poor woman’s second pregnancy and nursing terminates that the third husband rushes to father his child and so on and so on. The single wife will be on a figurative merry go round, from husband to husband, bearing children every year. She will have no time to tend to her children and their needs because her other husbands will be calling her to father their children on a repetitive cycle of reproduction. Needless to say, this would be extremely detrimental to the health and sanity of the mother as well as the upbringing of her children. How will the mother be able to fulfill the rights of each husband and his children separately? She will have to wander from house to house to give her motherly attention to one set of children at the neglect and detriment of the others. Otherwise, she will have to house all of the children from the various husbands by her whereby the husbands take turns to visit their children. Does such a system seem reasonable or sustainable? Moreover, how is it expected of the other husbands to restrain their sexual urges for so many years whilst the wife is pregnant with the other husband’s baby? Are we then to permit the wife to be intimate with all the other husbands whilst she is pregnant with one husband’s baby? What type of morality would such iniquity portray in the human race? Moreover, it is obvious that the husband will not be able to endure three years of patience before being intimate with his wife again, thus, he will engage in other promiscuous affairs.
The list of absurdities and irrationalities can go on; thus, for the sake of brevity, we will suffice with the above-mentioned points.
In regards to the claim of inequality between the witnessing of men and women, it is also unsound and contrary to the physical and psychological make-up of the human body. How can it be considered as inequality when the two, men and women, constitute completely dissimilar species and entities? Inequality would only arise if there were a disparity of rights concerning the same species of individuals. For example, if a father favors one son over another, this will be inequality since the sons are of the same genus. On the contrary, if the father favors his own son over his nephew, could this be considered inequality? If any impartial and unbiased medical expert is consulted, he / she will attest to the fact that men and women are different, physically and psychologically. Any neurologist will attest to the fact that the brain of a woman functions differently from that of a man. Consider the following research conducted by the neurobiological researchers of the University of California:
“Larry Cahill, an associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, and Lisa Kilpatrick, a former postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory, have found that the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure found on both sides of the brain, behaves very differently in males and females while the subjects are at rest. In men, the right amygdala is more active and shows more connections with other regions of the brain, even when there is no outside stimulus. Conversely, in women, the left amygdala is more connected with other regions of the brain. In addition, the regions of the brain with which the amygdala communicates while a subject is at rest are different in men and women.”
“The researchers used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans to analyze the brains of 72 healthy, right-handed adults (36 men and 36 women). The subjects were instructed to relax with their eyes closed while being scanned. When the scans were later studied, researchers found that not only was there a difference between the men and women as to which hemisphere’s amygdala was more active, but also that the regions of the brain that the amygdala “talked” with were also quite different. In men, the right-hemisphere amygdala showed more connectivity with brain regions such as the visual cortex and the striatum. In contrast, the left amygdala in women was more connected to regions such as the insular cortex and the hypothalamus.
The finding led to an unexpected discovery: Many brain areas communicating with the amygdala in men are engaged with and responding to the external environment. For example, the visual cortex is responsible for vision, while the striatum coordinates motor actions. Conversely, many regions connected to the left-hemisphere amygdala in women control aspects of the environment within the body. Both the insular cortex and the hypothalamus, for example, receive strong input from the sensors inside the body.”
“… Cahill has led the way in exploring gender-related differences in the brain. In a 2001 study, he showed that the sexes use different sides of their brains to process and store long-term memories. In another study in 2002, he demonstrated how a particular drug, propranolol, can block memory differently in men and women.”
In another neurological article entitled, ‘Men and Women Really Do Think Differently’ Bjorn Carey mentions;
“Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico. Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.”
“In human brains, gray matter represents information processing centers, whereas white matter works to network these processing centers.
The results from this study may help explain why men and women excel at different types of tasks, said co-author and neuropsychologist Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico. For example, men tend to do better with tasks requiring more localized processing, such as mathematics, Jung said, while women are better at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions of the brain, which aids language skills.”
To lend further support on how the disproportion of grey and white matter between men and women affect the disparity and inequality of intrinsic sensory capabilities between men and women, which generally forms the basis of witnessing, the following passage will prove beneficial;
· Grey matter – closely packed neuron cell bodies form the grey matter of the brain. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perceptions, such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions and speech.
· White matter – neuronal tissue containing mainly long, myelinated axons , is known as white matter or the diencephalon. Situated between the brainstem and cerebellum, the white matter consists of structures at the core of the brain such as the thalamus and hypothalamus . The nuclei of the white matter are involved in the relay of sensory information from the rest of the body to the cerebral cortex, as well as in the regulation of autonomic (unconscious) functions such as body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Certain nuclei within the white matter are involved in the expression of emotions, the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, and in the regulation of food and water intake. These nuclei are generally considered part of the limbic system .
As the above articles mention, the regions of the brain involved in sensory perceptions, such as seeing, hearing and memory, is approximately 6.5 times greater in men. Thus, neurobiology in its latest researches conducted by the world’s best researches attest to the fact that men make stronger and more reliable witnesses than women due to their greater sensory perception. This ought to serve as lucid testimony to the authenticity of the message of Islam. Allah Ta’ala had revealed the Holy Quran over 1400 years ago alluding to such neurobiological facts which the scientists are only uncovering today. As Muslims, we might not have known of the facts of this new research, but our faith and conviction in the Holy Quran has driven us to accept the word of Allah as true even before the discoveries of such studies. Therefore, we are not surprised by such research, but it should strengthen our conviction. This research also lends credence to the undeniable fact that women are different from men. Would it be logical to accept two separate beings as being equal when in fact that are completely different from one another? Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher duly mentioned, “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”
In conclusion, it should be noted that being disparate does not necessitate one specie being better than the other. As previously stated, equality only applies to homogenous items of the same species. On the contrary, male chauvinists claim that men are superior and women are inferior. The feminists claim that women are exacts equals of men. In reality, both groups are wrong in their radical views. The correct position is that men and women are completely separate heterogeneous creations of Allah that complement one another in their dissimilarities. This phenomenon is witnessed on a daily basis throughout the creation of Allah Ta’ala for example, the sun and the moon, despite their dissimilarity, work in perfect congruity and . The sun, in its grandeur, has one specific role to play whilst the moon, in its radiance, has a reciprocally different role. It would be absurd and irrational for the moon to cry of inequality and demand to be given the same function and position of the sun. Similarly, it would be illogical for the sun to make a similar demand. When the sun fulfills his function and the moon hers, both entities will beautifully complement one another in a balanced harmony enabling the system of the universe to endure. On the contrary, if one tries to compete for the function of the other, then the systematic celestial organization will lead to perdition.
The same applies in the case of men, women, and all heterogeneous creations for that matter.
And Allah knows best
Ml. Yusuf bin Yaqub and Ml. Ismail Moosa,
Students Darul Iftaa
Ma’ariful Quran Mufti Shafi Saheb رحمه الله تعالى
Polygamy? Mawlana Mohammad Ali bin Mawlana Zubair Ali دامت بركاتهم
Women in Islam Dr Sherif Abdel Azeem
And Allah knows best
Jointly prepared by,
Ml. Ishaq E. Moosa,
Student Darul Iftaa
Ml. Mohammad Ashhad bin Said
Correspondence Iftaa Student, Mauritius
Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah