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Islam’s Position on Polygamy

Muslims are often accused of being promiscuous because polygyny is legal in Islam.

Islam did not introduce polygamy. Unrestricted polygamy was practiced in most human societies throughout the world in every age. Islam regulated polygamy by limiting the number of wives and establishing responsibility in its practice. Monogamy of the West inherited from Greece and Rome where men were restricted by law to one wife but were free to have as many mistresses among the majority slave population as they wished. In the West today, most married men have extramarital relations with mistresses, girlfriends and prostitutes. Consequently the Western claim to monogamy is false. If a man wishes to have a second wife, whom he takes care of and whose children carry his name and he provides for, he is considered a criminal, bigamist, who may be sentenced to years in jail. However, if he has numerous mistresses and illegitimate children his relation is considered legal. Institutional polygamy prevents the spread of diseases like Herpes and AIDS. Such venereal diseases spread in promiscuous societies where extra-marital affairs abound. Polygamy protects the interests of women and children in society. Men, in Western society make the laws. They prefer to keep polygamy illegal because it absolves them of responsibility. Legalized polygamy would require them to support their additional wives and their offspring. Monogamy allows them to enjoy extra-marital affairs without economic consequence. Only a minority practice polygamy in Muslim society. In spite of polygamy being legal in Muslim countries, only 10-15% of Muslims in these countries practice polygamy. Although the majority of men would like to have more than one wife, they cannot afford the expense of maintaining more than one family. Even those who are financially capable of looking after additional families are often reluctant due to the psychological burdens of handling more than one wife. The family problems and marital disputes are multiplied in plural marriages. Feminists may object to this male right by insisting that women should also be able to practice polygamy. However, a woman marrying four husbands would only increase the problem of surplus women. Furthermore, no child would accept his or her mother identifying the father by the “iny miny miney mo” method. The question which remains is, “If God is good and wishes good for His creatures, why did he legislate something which would be harmful to most women?” Divine legislation looks at the society as a whole seeking to maximize benefit. If a certain legislation benefits the majority of the society and causes some emotional harm to a minority, the general welfare of society is given precedence


When the verse was revealed regarding multiple wives, the companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t run out with the attitude that they were going to get four wives all of a sudden. This was not an order to go out and get four wives It was an order to LIMIT the number of wives. Before this, as even the Bible states, men had hundreds and sometimes thousands of wives. And the limitation was; No more than four. In fact, the Qur’an is the only religious book that tells men to only marry one.
Qur’an 4:3
“.. But if you fear that you will not be just, then marry only one…”


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