Saturday, September 4, 2010

Polygyny in Islam or Not

Anis Khan gives a religious Muslim and general practical perspective on polygyny.

This post is not prompted by my loneliness, but by a blog post in which a Muslima wrote that polygamy is like cheating; not knowing the difference between cheating and polygamy, one is based on a lie and another on truth. I read many apologetic views of men and intelligent arguments of women, mostly critical of the polygamy. A friend called me some weeks ago and said, “One of my friends wants to marry another woman; does he need permission from his first wife?” I said, “I am not an expert, but his friend doesn’t need permission.”

This is his religious perspective. I believe that legal policy should be that all spouses consent to the marital agreement.

Many non–Muslims believe that Islam propagates polygamy which is not true. No hadith or Quranic verse give preference to polygamy over monogamy because it is a personal matter.

On fairness to a wife…

I read some argument that a man has after all only 100% of time and resources to give to wives, so in either case the wives get less of a husband. But, they don’t think that the wives also have more free time and fewer responsibilities if the husband has more wives. And in some cases, a woman who has less hope for marriage due to old age, handicap, poverty, or any other problem, can marry a husband who will take care of her, how much percentage does she get as compared to what she had before?

He gives practical examples of how polygyny can work:

Let’s imagine that a man has businesses in two cities and he spends his time equally between the two cities. He cannot move his wife and children always because of his business commitments, and the other choice he has is to live alone, which can also be a cause of his taking to unlawful means. Let’s take another example of a husband who has high sex drive and his wife has low (because of psychological, biological, or medical reasons). Human beings vary in their capacity and willingness to eat, work and have sex. If the man can do justice with more than one wife, isn’t it better that he has a respectable marriages. In a normal modern system, he would get frustrated and divorce his wife, to marry another woman, and this will seem alright to all the people who condemn polygamy, not realising that after all the first wife has suffered, and she may suffer again if she remarries for the same reasons. The same way the system of polygamy works for some women as well. I read a report some time back in Arab News that some Saudi women prefer to be co-wives because they have other commitments such as parents, children from first husband, job etc. Thus, they are happy that they have to see their husbands less often. In some societies where there is high ratio of single women, as we see now in US, Saudi Arabia and some other countries, the system might make sense for women who would otherwise be unmarried. Thus, it is not for us to tell whether it is good or bad. But let people use it if they find any good in it.

It is an interesting read and there is much more at he link.
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