Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Questions about Gender Roles and Polygamy in Islam

Ibn-Al-Qayyim-Fear-and-Hope

Assalamo Alaikum and Ramzan Mubarak!
I have been a regular visitor of this site for some years now. This site has greatly contributed in my spiritual and religious development, throughout various phases of my life.Having started off as an individual whose religious knowledge was limited and who had question marks in her mind regarding various aspects of Islamic life, I can now happily say that most of those question marks have been removed, except these which I would like to discuss here. I'm seeking logical and authentic explanations for these very commonplace questions that I'm sure everyone has discussed atleast once in their lives.Please, I would like a civilized and knowlegeable discussion, not comments spouting venom and hellfire, because I ask these questions for clarification of my own concepts not because I want to blasphemize or hurt anyone's feelings.

1) I would like to discuss the age old debate of men's superiority over women, in the light of Islam. It says in Surah Nisa :'Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth..' This, for me, indicates that Islam considers men to be a degree superior to women, because they are the breadwinners of the family and because they toil to provide for their families.Well and good..I don't have a problem applying this in my own case..I'm newly married and a housewife for now..when I see my husband coming back at night after a hard day's work, and him giving me money for mine and household expenditures, I truly do appreciate him and consider him a degree superior to me.But, it's hard to deny that in today's world in many, many cases, gender roles have been reversed.From the lady who cooks and cleans at our place and two more houses, who goes home to five children and a husband who sits at home all day and does drugs, to my friend who recently took up the role of breadwinner when her husband lost his job, and many , many couples who share the financial responsibilities of their household..when I see almost half the people I know in such situations, I cannot help but wonder if these women would still be considered a degree lesser than men by Allah.I don't know.It just seems wrong to generalize all women in one category, amidst such scenarios occuring left, right and centre. ( A reminder at this point :no venom and hellfire, please, and no comments asking why I dared to question the word of Allah, and I should just shut up and accept whatever is written in Quran..please, such comments will just put a dead end to any discussion). I would like your views on this.
2) Polygamy..the concept baffles me.I understand that in the Prophet (Peace be upon him)'s time, the social build up was such that women really did require the protection of a man, so polygamy seemed to be a necessity of sorts then. But it seems to me so very cruel , that if a man and a woman arebound in marriage, with a good understanding, and the man having no cause for complaint against the wife, that he should be legally allowed to marry a second, third and fourth time, provided he does justice amongst all his wives and it seems pretty impossible that he would treat all his wives exactly alike.Even the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had favourites, and I recall reading somewhere that he used to pray to Allah to forgive him his excess love for Hazrat Aisha (RA) (I'm sorry if I'm mistaken,I can't give the exact reference here). So how can a lesser man do justice? Does not every good woman deserve exclusive love and care of her husband?I mean..just why?I just want to know
how Islam justifies why a man would NEED to marry again, if his first marriage is going well. In such a case, how would Islam justify the heartbreak of the first wife?

Looking forward to getting my concepts cleared, as this site so often has!

Mystic

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42 Responses »

  1. Sister ,

    I will suggest you to listen to below Videos in your free time by D.Zakir naik .
    Please listen to below Dr. Zakir Naik videos as he explains in simple terms and very clearly and logically .He has some exceptional skills .Please don't miss these videos ..

    Women's Rights in Islam Protected or Subjugated? by Dr Zakir Naik | Part 1
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWG9-LX47xk

    Women's Rights in Islam Protected or Subjugated? by Dr Zakir Naik | Part 2
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn-ydywp8I4

    Women's Rights in Islam Protected or Subjugated? by Dr Zakir Naik | Part 3 | Q & A

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm3QdMVyqi8

    Women's Rights in Islam Protected or Subjugated? by Dr Zakir Naik | Part 4 | Q & A
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMVWzBRADZw

    Why Islam Permits Polygamy? - by Dr.Zakir Naik
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lUQd6DtmE8

    Misconception About Polygamy in Islam ~ Dr Zakir Naik

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMBHEMco5js

    Allah hafiz

  2. I think below answers might help you ..

    12496: A husband has not been fulfilling his responsibility towards his wife for five years
    If the husband does not take the responsiblity of a wife throughout his marraige of 5 years . what is the wife suppose to do in such case, Is she entitled to maintaince, or if she decides to have a seperation what is the procedure for the divorce according to Quran and sunnah?
    Praise be to Allaah.
    Undoubtedly it is the husband’s obligation to spend on his wife and to do his duty towards her and give her all her rights. If he fails her and falls short in his duties towards her, or he causes her harm, then she has the right to demand separation, i.e., divorce. But before that she has to ask him to spend on her and provide her with accommodation, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means” [al-Talaaq 65:6]

    “Let the rich man spend according to his means; and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allaah has given him. Allaah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him”[al-Talaaq 65:7]

    And he has to live with her honourably. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “and live with them honourably”[al-Nisaa’ 4:19]

    If her husband gives her her rights as prescribed in sharee’ah, then it is haraam for her to ask for divorce, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Any woman who asks for divorce when there is no reason, the fragrance of Paradise will be forbidden to her.” But if she is being harmed, and the situation is too much for her to bear, and he is not spending enough on her or he is not giving her her rights, then she has the right to ask for a divorce. She should go to the qaadi and explain the situation to him, and he in turn should ask the husband to give her her rights or to divorce her.

    Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Jibreen.

    http://islamqa.info/en/12496

  3. Assalam alaikum,

    You referred to [4:34]:

    "Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth...."

    When we read this verse, we see that Allah swt has given men a particular role, responsibility, job that he has NOT given to women. That specific role, in my view, is what makes men higher in degree, in terms of their responsibility and role on this earth. However, it does not say that women may not have to take the role of being the breadwinner as life sometimes testifies to--but even when life throws a curve ball at us and women *have* to work and earn, as an expectation, she is not doing her role, but rather, she is doing charity. But a man, when he is the breadwinner, he is doing what has been a divine established responsibility. This is different because, as a man, if he is not fulfilling his divine role as a husband, brother, father, or son, he will have to answer for that, yet women, would not be held accountable in terms of financial responsibility towards their family in the way that a man would be.

    This verse is not saying that all men are somehow superior to all women--but specifically it is referring to the role of men in the lives of their family--and furthermore, to me it is the role that is superior not because men do it and women can as well, but because it is the responsibility of assigned to men for which they specifically will be held accountable.

    Furthermore, Allah swt says in the Quran: [17:55]
    "And your Lord is most knowing of whoever is in the heavens and the earth. And We have made some of the prophets exceed others [in various ways], and to David We gave the book [of Psalms]."

    We see Allah swt using again the word(s) "exceed others.." and it is the same Arabic word used in verse [4:34]. So, even among the Prophets, Allah swt has given them different tasks and different jobs accordingly. Allah swt spoke to Prophet Musa AS directly.

    About Prophet Sulaiman AS: [21:81]
    And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind, blowing forcefully, proceeding by his command toward the land which We had blessed. And We are ever, of all things, Knowing.

    About Prophet Muhammad AS:
    "Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
    I will be the leader of the children of Adam on the Day of Resurrection, and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted."
    Source: Sahih Muslim 2278, Grade: Sahih

    The point being that Allah swt has said about his creations that he has made others exceed over another in various ways--and it doesn't mean that a person would use that negatively. So, any time a man might say "I am superior to women" is rather silly because would we ever expect one Prophet to say to another "I was able to do this and this but you could not"--NO. What work Allah swt has assigned to us has to do with His Divine reasoning, but I don't believe we should get caught up in it. In fact, I think shaitaan wants this to become a point of argument between human males and females because arrogance really started with him and how he could not stand how Allah swt had made Adam AS--so, to me, this verse has to do with assigning divine responsibility, NOT about putting women down. We know there are Hadith that state a man is guaranteed Jannah if he raises a daughter or daughters well, yet the same is not stated for sons. So, if we are going to use this verse to say one gender is above the other, there will be another point to contradict it--so these verses and Hadith in fact tell us that in some ways/responsibilities/roles, one may exceed the other, but in the end, in the eyes of Allah swt, we will judged for our work, not for our genders.

    As for polygamy, it will always be a difficult discussion. At the end of the day there are two types of humans, those who are Allah-fearing and those who are not. Both of them make mistakes, but those who are Allah-fearing, adjust their ways, admit their mistakes and try to rectify problems in their lives. If we speak specifically about men, then men who will want to abuse the rules for polygamy will--and there is nothing that can stop them. But a just man, though he may be human, would still do his best in a polygamous situation or simply avoid it altogether as he realizes his limitations. Some men do not recognize their limitations and believe that they are superior to everything female and that they can do as they please and that Allah has favoured them--nothing can be done about these men--and we find solace in knowing that Allah swt Sees all.

    Personally, I don't think that polygamy is practiced much, but when it is practiced it isn't practiced in the way intended. There are a lot of secret marriages or marriages resulting in an affair outside of a previous marriage that is 'fixed' via polygamy. This is abuse. However, having said that, if a man has a wife, makes another woman pregnant, he has to be accountable to the new child and the other woman--and bigger than that picture is that the faith of that child will be heavily dependent on that father--there is so much accountability here for men. This is completely oversimplified with many assumptions, but I suppose what I am saying is that there are some situations that call for polygamy. Polygamy is something that offers a solution to some complicated situations, but it doesn't mean that men should go out and look for number 2, 3, and 4.

    Also, polygamy wasn't even only practiced in Islam, but other cultures and religions, but it seems that it, along with many other things in our Deen, have somehow been distorted as the knowledge passes down to us. Many of us Muslims do not speak Arabic and do not have the background knowledge of how Islam was practiced back in the day of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. When Islam was practiced openly, especially after Umar bin Khattab came to Islam, women were revered and were no longer considered property. They had rights. But, I know, when I was growing up, a lot of that history was not discussed or discussed in a way to oppress women and much was lost in translation. You know you are missing out on translation when the number of Arabic words does not equal the number of translated words. I truly believe that the Islam that was practiced and how it was intended for practiced has been heavily and negatively influenced by culture--just look at Saudi Arabia--forget about the common women, the daughters of the royalty have it very difficult--look at the Indian Subcontinent--you have people wanting to practice polygamy and dowry (bride's family to grooms) at the same time--now that is ridiculous.

    All I am saying is that to understand polygamy isn't an easy discussion and it isn't simple either--so if a man chooses to practice it, he should understand that if it isn't easy to discuss, it won't be easy to practice either. There are many rules and regulations to it--but sometimes it is needed too--I know of a few widows in Pakistan who were taken as 2nd wives and it worked out for them and I can't deny that it did, but I also know of secret 2nd wives that have been taken and then discarded--again, we feel peace knowing that Allah swt Sees all.

    Inn shaa Allah, I suggest that you and I and all of us, should read more. Remember the first word in the revelation to our Prophet peace be upon him was READ! So, we should read and read and learn more so that we can find peace in our hearts.

    May Allah swt make us all from the successful ones on the Day of Judgement, Ameen.

    If I have made an error, my sincere apologies--nor do I mean to criticize any gender or person--and Allah swt knows best.

  4. Assalamwalekum
    Ill start by saying that i am as confused and curious about the two questions you asked as you are. I am not even close to having any solid knowledge of islam and can not answer ypur questions supporting any valid hadees or Quranic versus. So i am not here to answer but rather have a discussion with you. Sharing my own doubts with you. and i fear this is going to be a long comment.
    I consider myself as some sort of a femenist... not much of a career woman but someone who beleives that women should have the same standing as men but as a muslim where we are taught otherwise i feel at crossroads with my own principals and feel i dont know where to place my beleifs anymore.
    Let me start with your second question. I dont understand this either. When i was a teenager i was very confused by this too... and used to tell my mother that i understand everything islam teaches except four wives and prouncing talaq thrice and ending a marriage for no rhyme or reason. The talaaq misconception has been cleared by this site and i know now what the correct way and that women too have many rights if they are mistreated.
    But four marriages... my mother did try and maje me understand . But she didnt support her answers with any authentic versus either but i think used logic and perhaps her own experiences in life to answer. Other than the historical aspect that at that time women were often left ophaned and widowed which she and me both agreed hardly held valid any longer. (However in retrospect now when i look at it i feel with so many wars and raids on islamic countries it seems they are as many widowed and orphaned women as they were then and perhaps what i beleived to be an 'outdated idea' can still be beneficial today. After all Allah knows the past and the future).
    There was another reason she gave me. She said that men by nature tend to get attracted to other women and Allah recognizes this and therefore to save guard both the man and woman from a haraam relationship He has allowed man to take another wife. That in reality it was a liberating thing for that woman who saves herself from the stigma of a mistress and can enjoy a wifes right... well, this is what she said so many years ago. Do i buy it? Not really. It still leaves so many aspects unanswered.. what about the pain of the first wife and this just legalises an affair! And moreover makes out men to be some animals who always want to be with another woman. Which i know isnt true. Some men are very loyal to one wife. And then i think woman too can get attracted to another man... why isnt she allowed to take another husband. Save herself from a haraam relationship. So i think i am still as unsure about why but i dont feel so restless about it anymore. Allah knows something i just dont. I have left it to that...
    Now your first question.... men have a degree higher position than women. This is something i think i have been able to give myself some logic to. Even though honestly there are times when i get irritated by this aspect too. That is my weakness...
    This is what i think and it is not just about men being providers for us because as important as that is you are right when you say that often the roles are reversed today. I see it as this. Allah created Hazrat Adam and then as a companion to him from Adam himself Maa Hawa (Eve) is created. Perhaps we were created only to be companions to our men and not much really. And i am not saying that means we are to be mistreated and so but perhaps thats the purpuse of our exsistence. our Creator created us like that. He has the right to choose what degree of importance He wants to give us and who he wants to elevate. And being made by Him do we have a choice but to accept it. We have no power over our own existences only He does. Even when the Quran mentions the splendour of heaven women are mentioned as pious and loyal companions.
    Allah forgive me but I have a lame example and nauzubillahi i am not aiming at blasphemy... Say i was to write a book and had two characters and i choose to give character A more position than character B. Am i being unfair to character B. Not really... these are my creations. They have no identity, no existence other than being my characters in a book and they simply have no choice in the matter. This is how i see the diffrence in position of men and women as.
    I know very well that what i am saying is not only lame but is so much easier to accept theoretically than practically. I struggle with my own explanations sometimes so how can i ask anyone else to accept it. But sometimes it just quells my curosity when i am able to explain myself that i am not supposed to understand any of this. Allah created us and only He can decide how he chooses us to be...
    I hope i havnt confused you.
    Aabshaar

    • Jazak Allah Aabshar, for sharing your views and doubts, which very much echo mine in some aspects..I really liked your example of the characters in a book..It may very well be like that. but then I see so many women taking on responsibilities of both the breadwinner and home maker and the thought arises that this specific category of women deserve more than to be considered just companions.However, what you say may very well be true, and I accept that being human, my mind just cannot comprehend a lot of the Divine plan. As Saba said, we need to read up more.

      About polygamy..well as my views perfectly mirror yours, I really don't know what to say.It bothers me that I don't have a satisfactory answer to this.When I asked my mom about a logical explanation for this as a teenager, She admitted to being baffled by it herself, and suggested not to think about it so much.I guess I don't want to give the same answer to my own children, when they grow up insha Allah and question me about things.Again, I'd say that we both need to read up on this, see what different scholars have to say, and pool our knowledge.

      Thank you again, sis!

      • Assalamwalekum
        ☺ we definitely should read up more.
        Forty rules of love? Are you a rumi fan? ☺i havnt read it. I just know okif it.
        Anyway there is this book i have been trying to get my hands on. Its called the muslim marriage fuide by Ruqqaiyya Waris Maqsood which might have some answers.
        I have read another book by her the muslim prayer encyclopedia which was very informative and very well written and as a woman scholar she tends to give a feminine perspective which helps... so i am hoping her other book will help InshaAllah. Intrestingly when ruqaiyya converted to islam she married a pakistani who later married his young cousin in pakistan. After which ruqaiyya divorced him but apparantly she wanted the young wife to get her legal rights in Uk. If thats teue then thats saying a lot about this woman, no? So I am really hoping to read this book.

        • Wa laikum us salaam. Yes I'm a fan of Rumi and of Sufism in general, as far as I have read about them, I like the way they think. Do read 40 rules of love, its a great read.I've been trying to get my hands on the english translation of the Mathnawi, and some books of Sufi scholars, for some time.
          Ruqaiyya Waris Maqsood..sounds interesting!I'l look this book up for sure..I'm always up for exploring Islam by a feminine perspective! Jazak Allah sis , hope we both get the answers we're looking for.

        • Sister Aabshar,

          Below is good video about polygamy

          Misconception About Polygamy in Islam ~ Dr Zakir Naik

  5. Salaam

    I agree, these are interesting questions. These are my thoughts, and I hope I do not offend.

    The quote from An Nisa is a translation. "cMen are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth..'" can just as correctly be translated "'Men are the protectors of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth..'" To protect and guard somebody is not the same thing as to be in charge. There is no way from the Arabic original to tell if "' by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other " means by right of what Allah swt has given men over women - it could just as well mean by right of what Allah swt has given women over men, that is the right to be protected and maintained. So, it could mean "'Men are protectors of women by [right of] what Allah has given one (women) over the other (the right to be protected) and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth..' See?

    And for the degree men have over women is not clearly stated in the original a degree of what. Many have interpreted it as a degree of status or a degree of being the boss over women, but it could simplu be a degree of responsibility as to provide for the family. So it does not mean that men are superior to women or "in charge".

    Some interesting reading here: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_1701_1750/islam_in_relation_to_the_women.htm

    I read somebody here who wrote that men are maintainers of women, but that does not make them superior, for in which company is the maintenence guy in charge of the CEO? =D I thought that was very good and funny.

    As for polygamy I belong to those who believe that polygamy is in the same category as slavery, something that is not haram but something that should be avoided.

    • Jazak Allah Sahaditta, for sharing your views! I very recently read a book, 'The forty rules of love' by Elif Safak, which gave a similar interpretation of this verse of Surah Nisa and since then I have been intrigued by it. I'd like to hear what a scholar says about this interpretation though. It would take a load off my mind, if I could correctly think that the Quran is calling men, women's protectors, instead of saying that men are in charge of them.

      Thanks again for replying and please do share if you get some more info regarding this topic.

    • Sahaddita: As for polygamy I belong to those who believe that polygamy is in the same category as slavery, something that is not haram but something that should be avoided.

      Nature keeps the gender ratio 1:1 by birth. Suppose there are 100 men and 100 women and 25 men marry 4 wives each, 75 men will have no wives and will have to find alternative ways to fulfill sexual desires.

      • If all the 100 women are married, who will the 75 men do haram with, SVS? :p

        • 1)If there is a no usage of anti birth medicines ,abortions(In India highest abortion if it is turned out to be female) the female born ratio will be still higher .As per many medical reports

          2) If you see the death ration among infants , males have highest death ration compare to females .

          The death rates for women are lower than those for men at all ages--even before birth. Although boys start life with some numerical leverage--about 115 males are conceived for every 100 females--their numbers are preferentially whittled down thereafter. Just 104 boys are born for every 100 girls because of the disproportionate rate of spontaneous abortions, stillbirths and miscarriages of male fetuses. More boys than girls die in infancy. And during each subsequent year of life, mortality rates for males exceed those for females, so that by age 25 women are in the majority..

          Comparison of the death rates for men and women in the U.S. at various ages reveals gender differences in mortality patterns. Although death rates are higher for males than females at all ages, the difference between the sexes is more pronounced at certain stages of life. Between 15 and 24 years, for example, the male-to-female mortality ratio peaks because of a sudden surge in male deaths with the onset of puberty.

          https://www.cmu.edu/CSR/case_studies/women_live_longer.html

          • In many countries, mostly poor countries, the opposite is true and more women than men die. In Kuwait there are 1,5 men to every woman, in Qatar there are more than 2 men to every woman. @Logical: For polygamy to be logical men in rich countries should, when they are 25 years old marry two women who are over 70! And women in Qatar should marry at least two men....!

            @SVS With respect, I do not understand why you write this to me. As I said, I do believe polygamy should be viewed just like slavery by believers! That indeed does not believe I propagate it!

            Please, let us focus on reflecting on the questions from the OP.

          • Sahaddita ,

            Kuwait and Qatar are not poor countries .

            If you see the current affairs and wars in most of poor countries and countries like syria,iraq,yemen,sudan etc etc there are more number of men getting killed compare to women .

            Some of men from rich countries may marry women of some developing countries where they are in bigger numbers .Its not mandatory to marry in the same country .

            The one of the reason for this imbalance as per this research report is

            Perhaps the best-known reason relates to the practice of sex-selective abortion, which has been identified in Asia, and in the Caucasus, as well. The ability to determine fetal sex, along with strong son preferences, accounts in large part for the high shares of boys in many countries in these regions. The desire to limit family size, either due to government regulations as in China, or due to global social and economic changes that have reduced the need for large families, seems to further contribute to sex-selective abortion and a dearth of baby girls.

            http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/24/the-odds-that-you-will-give-birth-to-a-boy-or-girl-depend-on-where-in-the-world-you-live/

            Regarding polyandry it is not allowed in Islam even if statistics are opposite .Polygamy will be having a halaal status even if it is not desired or encouraged in Islam ..

            There are many other reasons for polygamy too apart from this ..

          • Logical

            I did not say Kuwait and Qatar are poor countries, you misunderstood when connecting to the prior sentence.

            You were trying, as I understood it, to argue that polygamy is logical since there are more men than women. This is however not true, since there are a total in the world of 1.01 men to every woman. Total, all ages and nations included. So that argument is not valid.

            As to polygamy in Islam being halal, that is a matter of debate. Slavery was halal and sunnah and the Prophet pbuh owned slaves however most muslims today agree that slavery is not acceptable today and the Prophet gave his intentions to us in restricting slavery. Likewise many argue that polygamy was halal and sunnah but it is not acceptable today and the Prophet gave his intentions to us by restricting polygamy. Not all islamic states allow polygamy today, and the move to ban it is strong. It's an interesting question.

          • Logical

            Slavery was not demolished while the Prophet was alive. The Prophet himself owned slaves. But He restricted slavery and set rules, which is exactly what He also did concerning Polygamy.

            These facts can be easily verified.

            I wish the Ummah could become more focused on giving rights to others, rather than only claiming rights for oneself. And Allah knows best.

          • Br. Logical,

            I don't think it is fair, at all, to say that a sister is influenced by feminine groups that behave like coffers. First of all, it would be called a feminist group and calling them kaafirs isn't even a line I want to go down. Every time a Muslim woman voices her opinion, it is often thought she is "influenced" or she is a 'feminist' (I don't know even know what that is since there are like a 100 definitions of a feminist) or something like that. That isn't fair and completely undermines the intellect of any female.

            No one can deny that men who want to practice polygamy see the benefits of having intimacy with more than one woman and may not realize how much more there is to polygamy than this (like giving equal time, money, attention to every wife and child). For women, it makes them feel disposable and rejected and it isn't just "Oh, I don't like polygamy"--it runs much deeper than that and if we ignore that, we are just pretending that a woman's feelings are not real or are not important or it's just an emotional feminist woman.

            Men see the benefits in polygamy and focus on that.

            Women see the cons in polygamy and focus on that.

            Real men and real women in marriage have real talk about polygamy when they are about to practice it and don't pretend that bringing in another wife changes nothing. If it changed nothing, why practice it? Obviously, something changes.

            There was one post where a man told his first wife he was going to marry a 2nd time and he did. HIs first wife continued to do her duties as a wife, but she was quieter and changed and the husband couldn't stand it even though she was fulfilling her Islamic duties per him. If someone decides to practice polygamy and expects that feelings won't be hurt or won't be affected, that is naive.

            Anyways, polygamy isn't about population ratios...but rather understanding that marriage is about caring for one's spouses' needs and understanding one's limitations.

        • Mystic: If all the 100 women are married, who will the 75 men do haram with, SVS? :p

          More men wil start having sex with men. Men get raped in prisons. Men/boys have sex with men/boys in prisons, hostels and other places in cultures where normal sex is prohibited between unmarried couples.There will be tremendous increase in adultry, incest, child abuse.
          I won't be surprised if men will start having sex with animals too. There will be a big demand for prostitutes. Prostitution will become very expensive. Some men may have sex change operations to become women

          • Sahaditha ,

            It is not only based on percentage of genders ..There are various other points which makes polygamy under certain conditions looks sensible .

            Also drop in female ration is due to the illegal pracises of human beings ..Please read research reports as why ratio has declined ..

            But as far as polygamy is concerned there is no doubt or debatable .It is 100% allowed in Islam with the conditions set by Islamic sharia of giving equal justice and all other conditions..

            You just can't try to change some thing in sharia based on your likings . You like or no but it is there and Allowed without any doubts ...

            Slavery was demolished during the life time of prophet(SAS) but polygamy was allowed ...

            I think you are surrounded by some feminine groups which more or less behaves like kaafirs and don't follow islam ..

          • Sisters ,

            If you see the numbers few men practice polygamy because it is not easy to support both or give equal justice to both of them . It is a difficult job for an average man .

            Some bad people might misuse it but misuse is everywhere .Even people can misuse single marriage too .

            Overall , it is not a mandatory or encouraged to have more than one .

            My counter argument to sister was overall this concept can not be declared as illegal or haraam as she was putting it in a similar way about slavery .

            How woman can make sure that her husband doesn't take additional wife is she can make him write in the nikah contract a condition that he won't take a additional wife .If he takes second wife it will be valid ground for her to take divorce ...There are lot of areas women can make sure about her rights but to declare entire concept of polygamy as out dated and calling for abolishing it will be a non islamic movement ..

            I can present many good cases too where polygamy has benefited both women ..

            Islam as it is you need to take .Take or leave it is your call but it can not be changed because you or some other groups didn't like some thing ..

  6. Logical: But as far as polygamy is concerned there is no doubt or debatable .It is 100% allowed in Islam with the conditions set by Islamic sharia of giving equal justice and all other conditions..

    In real life what percentage of polygamous men give equal treatment to their wives. Most men marry a much younger women for 2nd, 3rd, 4th wife for sex only. Many rich arabs go to refugee camps in war torn countries and buy young wives.

  7. Ok, let me ask another question, from the opposite perspective. Could any of you give examples of cases where polygamy is practised, the way it is supposed to be, and has worked out for the benefit of all involved, including the first wife? Population ratios, wars and famine set aside, I'd like to explore how it could be beneficial in today's times, without breaking up a home. The thing is that Islam is a religion based on common sense and logic. I know that Allah, The Beneficient, the Knower must have had some good logic when he allowed polygamy, and for my better understanding of Islam, I'd like to know what it was. I'm not questioning its validity, just want to know why it came into being.

    Also a point came to mind, when I was reading your comments about widows in wars etc..Don't you think in today's educated and professional world, a lesser number of widows would need to depend on a second marriage, in order to provide for themselves and their children?

    I'd also like to explore the reasons why men take it upon themselves to practice polygamy (aside from the obvious, ofcourse). Please, no crude or vulgar comments here. I'd appreciate it if any brother would give his perspective , in a sensible, civilized manner.

    I apologize to the editors for dragging out this discussion, I realize other people have posts to be answered too, but I haven't really found the answers I wanted in prior archives on these topics, and I'm sure a lot of
    young women out there would benefit from this discussion, IF rightly conducted.

    • Assalam alaikum Mystic,

      Sensitive topic for sure...lol...but, you are right, there is always a question in the back of our minds.

      My main problem with polygamy (and not really with polygamy but in how it is handled) is when women do object or simply voice their concern to it, then some brother will say that "oh, the West has influenced you" or something along the lines of that. This is the easiest cop-out because then they don't have to actually DEAL with women or how they feel or validate that their feelings are legitimate--instead, they can just say that the feelings are invalid or not reasonable or from shaitaan--in other words, they can pretend that it doesn't hurt and if it does, it isn't their doing--to me, that is the core of the problem. And, I'm sure there are men out there who could practice polygamy and keep each wife happy, but, I'm also sure that it takes a very very very attentive, caring, loving, sensitive, responsible Allah-fearing man to do that. Frankly, in some ways and for some women it would be better to be married to such a man in a polygamous marriage than to be married to a monogamous man who was insensitive and irresponsible.

      I agree, if Allah swt allowed polygamy, there must have been a very good reason for it, but I'm not convinced that just wanting another wife, or problems in the first (or second or third) marriage really are reasons. In fact, I don't particularly like the logic of problems in the marriage being a reason to pursue polygamy because that means polygamy served the man, but not the wife. And in some cases, we have read where the man took a second wife and the first wife couldn't bear it after trying and then asked for a divorce. In the end, the man gave the divorce to the first wife, and remained monogamously married to the second--and frankly that is rather disturbing because it meant that the husband could actually be married to just one woman, but the first wife paid the price for it.

      The point being, perhaps the 'human' reasons for polygamy may fail, the logic may fail--but we know and trust Allah swt that He allowed it. Was it so to tell women to focus their entire attention on Allah swt and to make his the source of peace in their lives always? Often women become very dependent on men to the point that their definition of being is their husband--does this go beyond what it should, because in the end, we belong to Allah swt?

      As for your examples, here the examples I know of:

      1. My relative's husband passed away and she had no children. She had no one to take care of her. She was not educated. Her husband's brother married her out of mercy--this was when they were both over the age of 50. I do understand this and I have respect for the man marrying his brother's widow because it wasn't just to go out and get another wife, particularly a younger one. Had his brother not passed away, he wouldn't have married her--and I also suspect that had she had children, he also would not have married her.

      2. I know of a family friend who was married in Pakistan ages ago. He moved to Canada and married a caucasian woman. His first wife knew and the second wife knew of each other. The second marriage was back in the day when immigration was easy and it was done to solidify his roots in Canada. He ended up sponsoring his first wife along with his children to Canada. Now, in most cases, the second wife would have been discarded, but she wanted to stay married to him and the first wife seemed alright with it--I don't know why, but I suspect because the second wife was not able to have children and didn't have much of a family. They would all go out together and would be seen together. From what I could gather, they got along. Again, I don't know if he would have married the second wife had it not been for citizenship purposes, but at least he didn't get rid of her and he was honest with both of his wives.

      I know of some other cases, but they were not positive examples. They were more of secret marriages that ended quickly with the second wife. It was disappointing in one particular example because it felt like the man pursued a woman, married her, then after, didn't have the guts to tell his first wife and his family (parents etc), so divorced her over email--and he did not want to pay for her expenses. He said that since she was already living alone, she should just be happy to be getting company and not expecting finances. It was rather sad especially since it was with a very active member of the Muslim Community.

      I know that it has been mentioned that a woman can have it written in her Nikah contract that her husband cannot pursue an additional marriage, but personally speaking, I wouldn't want to do that. If a man wants to marry another woman and the first wife stands in the way, I think she has already lost the 'battle', so to speak, because it is how her husband feels that surpasses what she could prevent. I think if a man intends on marrying more than once, he should simply make it clear before marriage to the first wife so that she can get used to that or make a decision accordingly.

      Also, I think polygamy is a good example for women in that you see many posts on here when women are in love with their husbands who is either misusing/abusing her. Sometimes, we become so in love with our spouse that it either comes close to or surpasses our love for Allah swt--that isn't right--men are humans and no human is perfect. To me, knowing that polygamy exists, it allows me to feel and say, Allah swt, You are above anything and everything and it is You Who I love the most. That makes it easier to endure any and every hardship. This may not be something that a husband would like to hear since he would want to know that his wife isn't just doing her marital duties to please Allah swt, but because he wants to be irresistible to his wife and to be the centre of her universe. So, we should choose the centres of our universe carefully--and choosing Allah swt as that centre makes it easier to forgive the humans in our lives because we know that they will err.

      Kahlil Gibran said it best:

      Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
      Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
      Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
      Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
      Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
      Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

      Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
      For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
      And stand together yet not too near together:
      For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
      And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

      So, we have to choose our battles and decide what we want. A man may be able to marry more than once, but at some point, his wife may choose to do her duties only to please Allah swt as she toils to fight her feelings--and that may be the cost that a husband pays in his choice to practice polygamy. We don't get everything we want in this world. And this world is meant to have much pain associated with it. When I make du'a, I don't always pray for less hardships, I often pray for success in hardships because to me hardships are like exams in University--you simply don't attend University expecting no exams 🙂 .

      Even in the world of love in marriage, there should be space. At some point, we are completely alone and not even a spouse can take away that loneliness and nor should they. That loneliness to me is there for a reason--it is the place where we feel incomplete--and it is that place that only Allah swt's presence fills. It creates that yearning for Him and that desire to meet Him--it is that feeling that says even Jannah is not the purpose, but rather, to meet Allah swt. So, we shouldn't even desire to fill that void with anything because it is there as a reminder of Him--meaning that marriage is not about possessing the soul of the other.

      I hope you understand my drift regarding why polygamy may be allowed, though not promoted, in Allah swt's Divine plan.

      • Sister saba.
        MashAllah such a great reply. I have gathered so much from your comment not only about the post at hand but about marital relations in general...
        All my problems seem trivial...

    • Some interesting news .

      High-flying Muslim career women willing to 'share husbands' because of a lack of suitable men

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2113366/Muslim-women-share-husbands-lack-suitable-men.html

      Older, unmarried female Muslims outnumber their male counterparts for many reasons. Fussiness is not one of them

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/jan/18/british-muslim-women-marriage-struggle

      • I find this absurd. High career women are ready to become second wives because only si that they dont have to take on the dull responsibility of a gusband and a home???? Thats selfish so to say when you want the first wife to do all the work and you get to enjoy the intimacy and legal status of a wife.

    • Assalaamualaikam

      No need to apologise - it's an interesting discussion, and it's staying on-topic (inshaAllah). And discussing things in your post doesn't impact on anyone else's question being published, so don't worry about that. It's an interesting discussion about a complicated issue.

      Midnightmoon
      IslamicAnswers.com editor

  8. I will leave this topic now, but last I would like to point out that An Nisa 4:3 contains a clear prerequisite. It does not say to all men to marry up to four wives. It does not give the option to all men. It contains a condition for polygamy to be allowed (and even then it is restricted) It says: "And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]". When the Holy Quran contains if...then sentences, scholars say that the "if" is a condition for the "then". An example is Tayammum - only if we have no water can we clean with sand, "if...then". A scholar who claimed we can do this even if we have water, or who claimed this means everybody should rub their faces with sand all the time would be criticized. But in surat 4:3 scholars use to make an exception and suddenly say that "if...then" does not mean "if...then". I would say that man can interpret but only Allah swt knows best.

    It also says if you have fear you will not be just, than only one. If the "if...then" is not valid in the first sentence, why is it suddenly deemed valid in the second sentence? When people quote this surat they often leave the first half about orphans out and only quote " then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four". Why is it not that everybody in the same way should leave out about fear, and only quote "then marry only one"? And those here who say that slavery is abolished but polygamy not - what say you about taking to your bed "those your right hand possesses"?

    And what kind of person can say, entering polygamy, "I have no fear of ever being unjust to one of my wives or both". It seems men are very eager to forget that even the fear of not always being able to be unjust makes polygamy haram. Who harbors not a single doubt? Either the perfect man, or the very imperfect man...

    I think that when people start cherry-picking from the Holy Quran only that which suits them, it is not good.

    اتمنى لك يوما طيبا

    • I agree...Jazak Allah.

    • Jazak Allah sis. I was wondering if this condition for polygamy isn't met, as it so often isn't in today's times with men marrying again for all the wrong reasons.. does it make the second marriage wrong or sinful or void?

      • Marriage will be still valid but he will be sinfull for not doing justice among wives ...I think one of wife can use this reason if he is not filling his responsibilities towards wife to get separated ..

  9. Jazak Allah, Saba and Sahaditta. Saba, as always I felt that your reply was an exquisitely articulated form of my own views. Thank you for sharing those examples as well. The only example I can think of a beneficial polygamous relationship, was of this very distant relative of my mothers who was a reputed landowner (zamindar) in rural Sindh, Pakistan. He had four wives whom he had established in four different houses, and had four different households. Recently his wives and my family met at a wedding, and I was amused , yet touched to see the wives sitting together, eating ice cream, and telling my mother, 'We don't know why women make such a fuss about polygamy, we all get along together wonderfully'. I thought to myself then, well as long as they're all happy, who am I to judge? However, all the other cases of polygamy that I have seen havent ended up well.

    It's also interesting to note that the Quran also says in Surah Al Nissa, verse 129 'You cannot deal equitably with all your wives, no matter how much you try.', after telling men in verse 3 to marry only one wife, if they feel they cannot do justice between more. Would it be wrong for me to derive this meaning from the verse, that Allah knows the nature of man, and is thus advocating polygamy's limitations, so that men do not take undue advantage of this practice..

    • Mystic: The only example I can think of a beneficial polygamous relationship, was of this very distant relative of my mothers who was a reputed landowner (zamindar) in rural Sindh, Pakistan. He had four wives whom he had established in four different houses, and had four different households.

      Let me ask you a hypothetical question, If these 4 wives of your distant relative were well educated and had a choice to marry a professional guy (with no other wife) would they still have opted for polygamous marriage

      Polygamous relationships can be good for some women who can't find a single husband.

      • Actually I think one of those wives had a masters degree, don't know about the rest..but good point, well made.

        • I think if some one is in unhappy marriage with a man and another in polygamous marriage where husband can keep them happy then I think second case might be more comfortable for woman ..so overall it depends ...

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