An Introduction To Polygamy In Islam
Islam is often criticized because of the polygamy that it allows. The culture of the West regards polygamy as something backward, unacceptable in our day. For many Christians, polygamy is a permitted debauchery, for feminists – violation of women’s rights and belittling her dignity. It is important to understand here that for Muslims, moral standards define Divine Revelation, and not Western opinion. Before starting any discussion of polygamy in Islam, several simple facts should be taken into account.
Polygamy did not come with Islam
Polygamy existed before the advent of Islam and was common among all the ancient peoples of the East. Among the Hindus, polygamy has prevailed since early times. For the Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians, the number of wives also did not have a specific restriction. Greece and Rome did not belong to the polygamous society, but cohabitation was the norm for them. In fact, as anthropologist David Murray suggests, polygamy is more common in history than monogamy. Islam, unlike previous cultures, limits the number of wives and imposes certain obligations on the husband.
Polygamy and Prophets
The great Jewish prophets, equally revered by the Jews, Christians and Muslims – Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, Solomon had several wives. As the Bible says:
Abraham had three wives (Genesis 16: 1, 16: 3, 25: 1)
Moses had two wives (Exodus 2:21, 18: 1-6 The Book of Numbers 12: 1)
Jacob had four wives (Genesis 29:23, 28:28, 30: 4, 30: 9)
David had at least 18 wives (“Samuel’s First Book” 18:27, 25: 39-44, “Samuel’s Second Book” 13: 3,3: 4-5, 5: 13, 12: 7-8 , 12:24, 16: 21-23)
Solomon had 700 wives (“The First Book of Kings” 11: 3)
The example of Jesus as a person not related to polygamy is not relevant here, since he did not marry during his earthly ministry.
Marriage in Islam
Marriage is a legitimate activity in Islam, secured by a treaty, and not a sacrament in the Christian sense. Islamic marriage grants certain rights and imposes obligations on both spouses. Children born in marriage have equal rights and inherit from parents in the same way.
Marriage in Islam aims to improve the sexual life of both partners, create a favorable atmosphere for the development and expansion of the family. This is the understanding of marriage in Islam. And if we look at marriage as it is seen in the West, then we will see a completely different picture. Extramarital cohabitation is becoming more common, both among young people and adults who survived the divorce. More and more women of America have illegitimate children, ignoring the traditional order where children are born only after marriage.
Polygamy in the Quran
The Quran – The Holy Book of Muslims is the only script that has established a restriction on polygamy:
“Marry women who like you – one, two, three, four. If you are afraid that you can not take care of them in the same way, then marry one “(Quran 4: 3)
As can be seen from the verse, Islam allows to marry four wives, but no more. When Islam began to spread, those who had more than four wives had to divorce some. Islam allowed polygamy with the condition of equal treatment of wives. A Muslim can not give preference to one of the wives in terms of the content, costs, time and other duties of the spouse. Islam forbids taking another wife if he doubts his ability to be fair between them. Prophet Muhammad has discriminated against wives or their children. Why Do Many Young American Muslims Plan To Leave The US
Marriage and polygamy in Islam are possible only with mutual consent. No one can force a woman to marry a married man. Islam only allows polygamy, but it does not, in any case, induce, and, moreover, does not impose it. In addition, a woman can make the condition of a marriage contract that her future husband will not take a second wife. Another point – women belonging to Islamic culture, most often do not perceive polygamy as a sign of female backwardness. And equating polygamy with degradation, as well as the problem of polygamy as a whole, arises in most cases outside of Islamic society.
Despite the clear permissibility of polygamy, in the Muslim society it is rarely practiced. According to statistics, no more than 2% of Muslims have several wives. Many do not consider themselves capable of holding more than one family. Even wealthy Muslims rarely decide on another marriage because of the psychological difficulties of living with two wives. One thing is certain – the number of polygamous families in Muslim society is much less than the number of extramarital affairs in the West. In other words, contrary to the existing opinion, men in the Muslim world are more monogamous than men of the Western world.