1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Why is a man allowed to have more than one wife in Islam?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Zhakir, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. Zhakir

    Zhakir Peace&Tolerance

    Messages:
    801

    Definition of Polygamy
    1. 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?


    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 (95% 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.
    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:
    1. ‘Fard’ i.e. compulsory or obligatory
    2. ‘Mustahab’ i.e. recommended or encouraged
    3. ‘Mubah’ i.e. permissible or allowed
    4. ‘Makruh’ i.e. not recommended or discouraged
    5. ‘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.

    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.

    Only few countries have
    more male population than female and that' 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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    __________
    * Please understand,I'm not aiming to harm anyone's feelings.No more than a clearification to those who held these misconception.I apologize if anyone is hurt.And I hope anyone here will realize the true message of this religion.
     
  2. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    15,067
    Religion:
    Bhagavad Gita - SD
    Hi, I know that this is addressed to Muslims but I want to clear something up since you mentioned Vedic scriptures.
    Our Hindu scriptures do not actually preach polygamy. The stories show men having more than one wife, but that was cultural, not religious. In fact God, in any manifestation in the eternal spiritual realm, has one wife/companion. In fact God is the union of the male and female counterparts. One man and one woman make a whole. Krishna has Radha, Shiva had Parvati, etc. There is never more than one woman.
     
  3. S-word

    S-word New Member

    Messages:
    2,763
    any man who would want two wives is a mystery, but to want three wives he would have to be a bigamist----ery still.
    ______________________________________________
    Gidday: Australian for hello.
     
    Beaudreaux likes this.
  4. Caladan

    Caladan Agnostic Pantheist Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    14,986

    Interesting intro, and despite this intro, it is in Muslim nations that men are allowed to have more than one wife.
     
  5. islam means peace

    islam means peace Member

    Messages:
    224
    I want to ask a question from western people , thier culture allowed them having relationship with even 10 of girls without marrigae , without marriage means no respect in society, no rights, no body no who was the father of children if somebody has illegal relationship with women , thats all are OK for you

    but marring more than a women is strange for you ? why ? that give women equal right , respect in society, love .

    How strange your views are.
     
  6. A-ManESL

    A-ManESL Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,015
    My view on polygamy:

    In India a Muslim is permitted to have upto four wives. This is seen by many as a law oppressive to women and contrary to the spirit of the egalitarianism. The letter of the Quran seems to accept polygamy and this is taken as evidence for permissibility of the same. The true position of the Quran about polygamy has been entirely overlooked in this regard.

    Firstly Quranic injunctions have to be seen in the context of the time they were revealed in. To mindlesssly apply them in today's society would be incorrect. In 7th century Arabia, when the Quran was revealed, warfare was seen as a part and parcel of life. It had a necessary after effect of leaving many widows with children with no means of sustenance. Specially after the battle of Uhud, when the Muslims had suffered a terrible defeat with the death of nearly one tenth of the population (and an even greater percentage of men) there was a dire need of looking after the orphan girls and widows. In that context, the Quran stated in 4:3
    (This is the only verse, where polygamy is explicitly discussed.)
    So the Quran permitted men to take upto 4 wives in the existing situation (in fact before this verse there was no limit on the number of wives a man could take), while stressing upon the fair dealing that each wife was supposed to get. That all wives should be treated fairly and equally was important aspect of this permission. In fact, Hazrat Ali was denied permission to take another wife by the Prophet on the basis that he “shall not be able to deal justly” with two women. (Sharia Law And Society—Tradition And Change in South Asia, by Alamgir Muhammad Serajuddin. Oxford University Press: 2001, p.160.)
    Moreover, in the seventh year of the Hijra, long after the Battle of Uhud had passed and thus the ratio of men to women in Muslim society stabilized, Verse 52 of Sura 33 of the Quran was revealed. The verse stated:
    After the revelation of the verse above, even the Prophet refrained from marrying again. The Quran's intention was to outlaw polygamy gradually.

    Another argument, preverted in nature, is that polygamy is allowed in Islam because it satisfies man's lustful nature. This is clearly contrary to all injunctions in the Quran stressing upon not trying to satisfying your baser desires and living life solely for the sake of God. Moreover other verses of the Quran stress upon concepts hardly suitable for polygamy. The verse 33:35 make women and men in all respects, the verse 2:228 also establishes equality between men and women.

    So it is clear that Quranic injunctions merely tolerated polygamy as a necessary part and parcel of the society. It made no effort to promote it and indeed when no longer really necessary, frowned upon it. Clearly, in today's society when a woman can earn for herself it would be wrong to blindly apply the Quran to conclude the permissibility of polygamy. A similar case can be made about slavery. The Quran tolerated slavery and never outrightly abolished it, since it was the norm in the 7th century society. It did stress upon treating slaves with due kindness and justice. Coupled with the egalitarian spirit of the Quran, this has led all Muslim countries to ban slavery in all forms. Polygamy is still legal in India, however, mainly due to the backward male chauvinistic mentality existing in the minds of many orthodox scholars. The only Muslim country to have outlawed polygamy today on Islamic grounds, based on the spirit of the Quran, is Tunisia. Turkey too has outlawed polygamy but on secular grounds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2009
    Madhuri and Perfect Circle like this.
  7. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    15,067
    Religion:
    Bhagavad Gita - SD
    That is actually a very good point.
    It doesn't make either situation right though.
     
  8. Caladan

    Caladan Agnostic Pantheist Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    14,986
    Really? who are all those lucky guys?
    I've never been in more than one relationship at a time, let alone "10" :rolleyes:
    Do you claim that marrying more than one woman is in fact respectful for the women involved?
    at least in 'relationship with 10 different girls' no one is bound with institutionalizing their relationship, if a guy is cheating on his gf with "10 girls", his girl will probably give him the boot. where is in Muslim polygamy, many of the women can wake up one day to find out the husband has decided to get another wife for himself.
     
  9. Zhakir

    Zhakir Peace&Tolerance

    Messages:
    801
    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.
    This explains whyHindus 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.
     
  10. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    15,067
    Religion:
    Bhagavad Gita - SD
    Yes, but it is not the religion or scripture that preach to have multiple partners. In the stories the personalities have multiple wived (and in at least one case, multiple husbands) because that was the culture. I'll assume that if it were culturally normal in every society, men would definitely be out taking many wives no matter what their scriptures say. That's the only point I wanted to make. It isn't Hinduism that allowed for polygami, it already existed. It is and was the Indian -culture-.
     
  11. Caladan

    Caladan Agnostic Pantheist Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    14,986
    What are our tools to separate religion from culture? religion is born out of culture.

    further more, I think the point is that in India polygamy is only legal for Muslims.
    So fictional figures in Hindu scriptures had more than one mate, may be very fascinating, but its irrelevant to reality- and that is that Hindus do not marry more than one wife.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  12. Zhakir

    Zhakir Peace&Tolerance

    Messages:
    801
    Words that you say,but with no grounds to stand upon.I have showed that the limited polygyny permitted in Islam is mainly to protect the modesty of women,nothing you provid supports the claim you made.I would suggest that you give your reply to what i said and not repeating the claims which i posted this thread to disprove.
    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. 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.
    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.

    Just by saying "....Christianity forbids it!" you prove nothing.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,People like you and me did, not Christianity.
    A lot of people, including some Muslims, question the logic of allowing Muslim men to have more than one spouse while denying the same ‘right’ to women.
    Let me first state emphatically, that the foundation of an Islamic society is justice and equity. Allah has created men and women as equal, but with different capabilities and different responsibilities. Men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically. Their roles and responsibilities are different. Men and women are equal in Islam, but not identical.
    Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verses 22 to 24 gives the list of women with who you can not marry and it is further mentions in Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verse 24 "Also (prohibited are) women already married"
    The following points enumerate the reasons why polyandry is prohibited in Islam:


    1. If a man has more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified. The father as well as the mother can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father. Islam gives tremendous importance to the identification of both parents, mother and father. Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, especially their father undergo severe mental trauma and disturbances. Often they have an unhappy childhood. It is for this reason that the children of prostitutes do not have a healthy childhood. If a child born of such wedlock is admitted in school, and when the mother is asked the name of the father, she would have to give two or more names! I am aware that recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified with the help of genetic testing. Thus this point which was applicable for the past may not be applicable for the present.

    2. Man is more polygamous by nature as compared to a woman.

    3. Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. A woman undergoes several psychological and behavioral changes due to different phases of the menstrual cycle.

    4.It is the world female population which is more than male population not the vice versa. So as restricting each and every man to have only one wife is not practical, polyandry is doubled impractical and causes doubled problems

    5. A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is not the case in a man having more than one wife, and none of them having extra-marital sex.

    The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. There are probably many more reasons why Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has prohibited polyandry.
     
  13. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    15,067
    Religion:
    Bhagavad Gita - SD
    Well, some of them do...illegally.
     
  14. Zhakir

    Zhakir Peace&Tolerance

    Messages:
    801
    The point is that the Hindu scriptures don't prohibit Polygamy, therefore it's surely allowed in Hinduism, Many Hindu religious personalities, according to their scriptures, had multiple wives. Again this confirms that it is allowed in hinduism.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,Including the Vedas,does one find restriction on the number of wives,so according to these scriptures one can marry as many as one wishes. Again this why the Hindus are more polygynous than Muslims

    Now if you please I like to see your reply to the main point,if you disagree with the permitted limited polygyny in Islam.
    Points named:
    World female population is more than male population
    Restricting each and every man to have only one wife is not practical
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  15. Caladan

    Caladan Agnostic Pantheist Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    14,986
    What is 'some'?
    polygamy is illegal for Hindus in India. which brings me to the same point, I'm not interested in fictional characters of theology and scriptures who may reflect a society centuries ago, or even thousands of years ago, nor am I interested in special status minority groups. I'm interested in the phenomena itself.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  16. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    15,067
    Religion:
    Bhagavad Gita - SD
    The phenomenon of polygamy? I don't really see it as that surprising or strange- it's just men taking advantage of their sex-crazed desires. In fact i find it more strange that more societies are not participating in polygamy. I mean, most men would be very happy with numerous wives. They wouldn't have to cheat as much. Or maybe they would still. I don't know. At least this way they can pretend it is moral.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  17. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    15,067
    Religion:
    Bhagavad Gita - SD
    Just because a scripture doesn't say 'don't do this' doesn't mean that it allows something.

    And actually in Indian society it was the Brahmins who only had one wife as they were the religious cast. It was the warrior cast that ate meat, went to war, had numerous wives and behaved irreligiously. The Brahmins were focussed on God and spirituality and did not participate in polygamy as it was seen as indulging in lust, which is negative to spiritual advancement.
     
  18. Caladan

    Caladan Agnostic Pantheist Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    14,986
    I'm pretty sure most men would not be very happy with numerous wives. maintaining one marriage demands hard enough work.
     
  19. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    15,067
    Religion:
    Bhagavad Gita - SD
    Do you mean financially? They seem to manage. If you mean maintaining a harmonous relationship then it doesn't really matter. You might notice that in these societies/situations women are entirely subservient to men. It's a man's dream.
     
  20. Caladan

    Caladan Agnostic Pantheist Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    14,986
    Well you did say you are surprised why other societies don't practice polygamy as most men would be happy with numerous wives.
    I can only think of the caricature it provokes in my mind's eye.
     
Verification:
Draft saved Draft deleted