Lamentations of a Muslim Wife
Muslim Women Must Change Their Thinking About Polygyny
By Shariffa Carlo
Allah Subhana wa Taala has said, ... Marry of the women that please you; two, three or four, but if you fear you will not be able to deal justly, then only one... (Quraan 4:3). I have looked to this statement many times. Some people point out to me the part that speaks of dealing justly, and they match it with, And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Quraan 4:129).
Here, they say, it is impossible for a person to be fair, therefore it is not allowed to marry more than one. This does not match what is written. The verse says to not desert them. How can this be a command to not marry more than one? Also, I find this theory hard to accept since I know that the Prophet, the Companions, the second generation, the third generation and so forth were all practicers of polygyny. If it were wrong, or even makruh - as some state - then we would not find the majority among our best generations practicing it.
Then, we have others who claim that polygyny is only in cases where war has taken the majority of the men, or in special circumstances - like when the woman cannot bear children or when the woman is sick. However, once again, I do not find this the case when I look to the history of Islam. It was not less practiced by the wise knowledgable ones in Islamic history in times of peace, nor was it ever restricted to certain conditions. Actually, we don't begin to see any problems with polygyny as a practice until the West began to exert influence over the Muslims.
Even as recently as the first World War, we see the bedouin Arabs proud of the fact that they have this practice as a part of their religion. What few problems we have are seen in the apologists who were trying to please the West by softening the image of Islam. These people even apologized for the practice of divorce which Islam allowed for centuries, while Christianity forbid it. Now, I wish I could see the faces of these same apologists if they could see the divorce rate of the West. Would they stop apologizing for it now that the West has not only accepted the practice, but embraced it wholeheartedly?
At any rate, when I look to this verse, I clearly see the if - then statement. As a computer lover, this immediately strikes me. If - then. This is a simple logic problem. Do A. If A is not possible, then do B giving precedence to A and using B as an exception to the rule. Therefore, when we apply it, we see that the man is commanded to marry two or three or four, but IF he cannot be just, then he marries only one. The one, therefore becomes the exception to the rule.
Now, if this is true, then why is it that today, not only is polygyny not the rule, it is the exception, and those who practice it are often criticized? Can it be that we have so many men who consider themselves unjust? I doubt it. I believe it lies in the attitudes of our women, may Allah guide us. We have been brainwashed by the Western ideal of one man-one wife. We need to listen to our scholars; so many of them have warned us to look to ourselves because this issue may be the one which makes us Kafir. May Allah prevent this from happening.
Whenever I discuss this subject with women, the first thing I normally hear, a statement which makes me cringe, is, "But its not fair!"... Allah forgive the one who makes such a statement, for it is an utterance of shirk. For the one who made polygyny not only halal but also recommended was Allah Himself. Therefore, whatever He, in his Great Fairness and Wisdom, has allowed and encouraged is fair by definition. And to say it is unfair is to say that He, Subhana wa Ta'ala, is unfair. May Allah guard our tongues from such blasphemy.
Muslim women have to take their minds out of the gutters of the West, and bring them up to the wisdom and purity of Islam's high ground. Polygyny is not an insult to women; it is a sign of respect. How many women would remain husbandless if it were haram?
Sisters, I beg you. Look to your sisters in the Muslim countries. The number of single women has climbed so high that special laws are being created to try to fix the situation (While I know that many of these laws are misguided and based on fear of cultural intermixing, the fact the problem has reached epidemic proportions is undeniable even to them). In some countries, your sisters are having to resort to such misguided practices as temporary marriage, because polygyny is so looked down upon. May Allah forgive us for making this so.
Even, when a sister does choose to go into polygyny, her fellow sisters look to her as a traitor, and often treat her worse than an adultress. They liken it to stealing someones husband. Many of our sisters are ostracized and even humiliated, or worse cursed for practicing an act that our Loving Lord recommended to us. May Allah guide us. Wallahi, it pains me to see the treatment given to second, third and fourth wives.
Sisters, we are so caught up in this idea that we possess our men, that even the second or third wife feels she has a right to prevent the inclusion of another into the relationship that benefitted her. Where are our minds? Where is our faith in Allahs Wisdom? Where is our submission to the Will of Allah? Where is our love for each other? Where is the wanting for our sisters what we want for ourselves, namely family, love and happiness?
We were not placed on this earth to do anything but worship Allah, and we have to this as He commanded, not as our desires and jealousies guide us. We are allowed to be jealous. Aisha and the other Mothers of the Believers, may Allah have mercy on them, were jealous, but they did not allow their jealousy to destroy their deen, and I challenge anyone to show me an example where one of them, or one of the female companions, or even one of the second or third generation ever condemned a woman for becoming a second, third or fourth wife. It was accepted as a part of the deen. Sure, women tried to keep their husbands from taking the second, third or fourth wife. Sure they were jealous of each other. Sure, they even tried (until the prophet forbid it) to ask for the divorce of the other. But once they knew their limits, they submitted to the Will of Allah.
So why is it so hard for us? Why can we not follow these great examples instead of the examples of the Western woman who has no respect for herself, much less her peers?
Sisters, I am not asking you to go and ask your husbands to take another wife, but I am asking you to accept this as a natural, acceptable, even preferable practice of Islam. If you are stronger in your faith, I see only blessings in asking your husband to help out a sister in need by marrying her. Imagine yourself a single mother, an unmarried woman past her prime, or a widow, alone without support.
Sisters, these are your sisters, and Allah forbid, it could be you one day. Have mercy on these women. And if they marry your husband or your friends husband, do not condemn them, curse them, ostracize them, boycott them or harass them. They have done the best. They have married rather that commit haram. They have followed the command of Allah in marrying. They have completed their religion, and the one who objects to it, even silently in her heart, has to reexamine her faith in Allah. She has to accept this as Allahs religion and as the superior way, because and -- only because -- Allah said that it is so.
May Allah guide us all to accept His decree. May Allah make us all strong in following, practicing and accepting this great deen in its entirety, and may Allah give us the strength faith and support to fight our desires. Ameen.