As a Muslim woman, I have personally observed many polygamous unions in the community in which I was raised, but my aim here is not to deny any shortcomings or promote any benefits of this marital arrangement. What I would like to do is to address the historical context of the permissibility of polygamy in Islam and take a look at how it is practiced in modern day Muslim societies.
Why polygamy is allowed in Islam? 1
I am going to divide this article into two to explain in detail why polygamy is allowed in Islam.
First, let us understand why Islam mandated the permissibility of up to four wives. The Qur’an permitted polygamy as a solution to the pressing social welfare problems during the time of revelation, roughly 1,400 years ago. The reasons behind polygamy had nothing to do with satiating men’s sexual appetites or, curbing their wandering eyes. We first read about polygamy in the Qur’an’s fourth chapter:
Give orphans their property, do not replace their good things with the bad, and do not consume their property with your own. That is a serious crime. If you fear you will not deal justly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if you fear that you cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or the captives that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that you will not do injustice (4:2-3).
Note that polygamy and orphans — which in Arabic refers to fatherless children — are mentioned in the same sentence. We see this unusual pairing because polygamy is allowed in the specific context of caring for orphans. In the early 7th century because Muslims and non-Muslims routinely faced one another on the battlefield, men had high mortality rates and lower life expectancies, leaving many women widows with fatherless children. The time at which these verses were revealed is a clear indication of one of the reasons why polygamy is permissible in Islam.
Restricting extra marital relations
Islam did not introduce polygamy. Unrestricted polygamy was practiced in most human societies throughout the world in every age. After all, a polygamous marriage is certainly preferable to fornication or adultery. And let’s face it, while clichés like “men are prone to cheating” make many women squeamish, the scientific research behind this assertion is quite damning. Nearly twice as many married men as women admitted to having had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, Research has confirmed that at least 92% of men cheat while married and only nine percent of women did.
Islam provides an healthy alternative through polygamy,it also limit the number of wives thus establishing responsibility in its practice.
Plural marriage helps to increase the population of people. Ignore the claims of those who say that increasing population poses a danger to the earth’s resources which are insufficient, for Allah the Most Wise Who has prescribed plural marriage has guaranteed to provide provision for His slaves and has created on earth what is more than sufficient for them. Whatever shortfall exists is due to the injustice of administrations, governments and individuals, and due to bad management.
Look at China, for example, the greatest nation on earth as far as number of inhabitants is concerned, and it is regarded as one of the strongest nations in the world, and other nations would think twice before upsetting China; it is also one of the great industrialized nations. Who would dare think of attacking China. who would dare?
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