Polygyny: A Blessing in Disguise
By Meriem Ezzaoui
Redefining the halal and haram is an illness that is spreading rampantly through our ummah. Many Muslims have chosen to define what is permissible and what is prohibited in order to suit their personal needs. These 'modern' definitions are against the commands of Allah(subhanahu wa ta'ala) and the Prophet's(peace be upon him) sunnah and hadith. To prohibit the halal and permit the haram is a grave sin.
We are not allowed to prohibit that which Allah (swt) decreed as His favor upon us. It has been forbidden many times within the Qur'an. Allah (swt) says "And do not say, concerning the falsehood which your tongues utter, "This is halal and that is haram," in order to fabricate a lie against Allah; assuredly those who fabricate a lie against Allah will not prosper" (16:116) Why then do we women tend to practice this act of disbelief?
Many of you will ask yourselves when have you done this. One word will explain, polygyny. This simple harmless word is the root to our sin. Hearing or reading this word can cause our bodies to react physically. The face cringes, the stomach turns and shivers run throughout our body. Unlike most words this word assumes the role of an enemy. A dark enemy that threatens to take away a valuable possession, our husbands. We must remind ourselves that our husbands are not our possession but a gift from Allah . How can we 'own' another person when we do not even 'own' ourselves? Part of our inner jihad is to reeducate our thoughts on male-female relations. Our minds have been clouded by the Western institution of marriage which forbids polygyny.
The marriage structure and marital relations of the West influence many Muslims around the world. We have come to accept the idea of one man one women despite the evidence that these relations often fail quickly and easily and bring more harm to society than good. So why are we so eager to accept a Western practice that clearly does not work the majority of the time? Are we, as an ummah, afraid to be different? Are we trying to blend in with the kufr when we should be setting the example? The Prophet (pbuh), as narrated by Abu Hurayrah, said, " Islam initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange, so good tiding to the strangers". Allah (swt) says: "O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the women of the believers to draw upon them their over-garments. That is more appropriate so that they may be recognized and not molested." (33:59). Allah (swt) has not commanded us to hide because we are different from the kufr and the People of the Book. Quite the contrary, we are told to be proud of our differences. We must call to mind frequently that these differences are in fact blessings given to us from Al- Wahhaab. The acceptance of polygyny will strengthen our ummah. Jealousy will subside, extra-martial affairs will decrease, single, widowed, divorced sisters and orphans will have protectors and maintainers.
Although, most of us do not declare out loud "Polygyny is haram" the actions and opinions of many support this statement. When our sisters demand that the marriage contract include an 'escape clause' in case of a second wife they are essentially stating that polygyny is haram. The same can be said of women who make it impossible , through personal and financial demands, for a husband to marry another (a right Allah gave all men). Yes, these sisters are not prohibiting polygyny for all, just for their husbands. Instead of helping a sister in need perhaps they are pushing her to sin.
The Sunnah of our Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) allow both polygynous and monogamous marriages. Uthman and Omar were also married to more than one women. Is not the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) the model of the perfect Muslim? Were not Uthman and Omar part of the holiest generations of Muslims? Yet, many try to prove that polygyny is not recommended. A monogamous society is idealistic but not realistic. Human society is not designed for one woman-one man due to death, divorce and believing women outnumbering believing men . Monogamy is more harmful than beneficial to the Muslim ummah. It lacks stability and leads to chaos. This statement is supported by the condition of monogamous societies which suffer from high divorce rates, extra-marital affairs, teen pregnancy and single mothers.
Sisters, let us return to the Sunnah and the example set by the Sahabah. These men and women should always remain our role models. Let us try to refrain from condemning their actions as we do when we criticize polygyny. Let us assist our sisters who need a home, love and support. Instead of badmouthing the second wife we should thank Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) for His Compassion. Imagine if your husband were to die what would be your fate? You may have a family to support you but what if that was not the case? No place to shelter your babies and no food to feed them, would you oppose polygyny then? What if you were single with little hope of marriage except to a married brother, would you refuse or accept and complete half your faith?
We should want for others what we want and have for ourselves. The ummah will remain weak until we look out for our sisters. By accepting polygyny we create a stable ummah without excessive backbiting and gossip. We help Muslimahs find love, friendship and maintainers. We enable sisters to have a family or care for the one they already have. Instead of working to provide food and clothing she can teach her children Islam. She can study Islam herself and perform dawa. Instead of criticizing and complaining about polygyny praise Allah (swt) for this wonderous blessing.