All those times when people of different religious beliefs I interacted with learned that I came from a Muslim family, they tend to ask me one question often out of their curiosity. Can a Muslim marry four wives? Why polygamy is allowed in Islam? I was always glad to explain to them what they think and what they should know. today let me write this explanation down. If you are truly interested to know – read carefully. Let’s find out the answer to the question: Does Islam support polygamy?
One should know that polygamy in Islam is always concerned with the unfortunate, hapless and vulnerable women. As such, polygamy is the only dignified way to give them security, a home, and the love a woman wants.
One should also know that it is not an open license for someone who pursues carnal pleasure as the only goal of life; instead, it is a guidance for the person who chooses to live a life only to please God- by serving humanity by saving those unfortunate, hapless and vulnerable women.
Polygamy existed throughout history and continues to exist in all civilizations in various visible, invisible, and pseudo-marriage forms. But in Islam, taking into consideration of men’s genetics, gave polygamy a sincere humane touch so that it could also be a potential to serve humanity; serve these vulnerable women, the best possible way one could ever imagine. Polygamy was not designed for plesure.
One who debates the legitimacy of polygamy in Islam must know that a man cannot marry any woman he wants; the bride’s consent plays the most essential part for the marriage to go. This is the only commandment of God which a woman could nullify rejecting the polygamous marriage proposals outright.
Moreover, if the girl happens to be rich, beautiful, and belongs to a powerful clan; she puts the conditions of the marriage – dowry etc., not the man. In this case the man doesn’t have much to say. No way such a girl would ever consent to a polygamous marriage, unless she is motivated by something else of her own. It is only the vulnerable, unfortunate women who consent because at that point of life she only thinks of her survival and security, her children’s future. So, in Islam polygamy is always concerned with these unfortunate women of the society – orphan, widow and slave girls, not the highly desirable women because whole society runs after them to marry; they can take care of themselves well. Sadly, the potential grooms rarely look at the hapless women as their potential life-partners. But if you are well educated of what Islam truly is: you will follow rules and you will only consider subsequent marriage when it serves a greater purpose.
It is obvious that if anytime in the future the world turns out to be a ‘kingdom of heaven’- there is no oppression and subjugation, women have the equal right and privilege, polygamy would automatically be eradicated. Until then, polygamy is meant to protect the women from their social insequrities and financial burden and controvertial professions such as prostitution; and many other similar vices. As such, God commands:
“ If you really care about doing justice to the Yatama (orphans, widows, female war captives), then marry from these women whom you like – two, or three or four; but if you fear that you cannot show equality (between them) then (marry) only one or (a slave girl) whom your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that you may not do injustice.” (Al Quran).
A man of values who has truly submitted to God always thinks about God’s favor and pleasing Him through all his acts. So, he would always give preference to marrying these orphan girls; he takes it up as an act of piety. A man devoid of rules and values would take the same commandment as an open license to gratify his carnal desire; serving God is the least thing in his mind. We cannot blame the Islam but the person himself for such intentions and acts.
It is also described by Muslim scholars that: prior subsequent marriage one must obtain consent from the previous wife and that consent is only valid in the case: where the first wife is: incapable of producing a son and or suffering incurable diseases that unable to perform her wifely liabilities such as: household chores, taking care of family or serving the husbands physical and mental needs. ONLY in such case the wife MAY (or may not) consider giving consent to subsequent marriage – to help her husband, for a greater purpose.
I heard of a man, married 17 times, divorced 13 wives; but always maintained four wives at a time. After divorcing older wives he had married new ones, and he wishes to continue with the same practice. While God’s commandment is to minimize the number of vulnerable women in the society, and give them home; this man, instead, created more vulnerable women, semi-orphan children. Sarcastically, he is very much content that his actions are in conformity with God’s commandment- typically a man devoid of true Islamic values, that the type of toughts of a hypocrite minds.
I rather consider all the ‘marriages’ of this man of the story fall under the category of Muta or Misyar; an act of evil: because from the time of his marriages he has the intention of divorcing them all after certain time; all he has in his mind is only lust – no love or respect for these women, while Allah says, “….nor should ye treat them with harshness, ….on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good. (Al Quran)
So to conclude : Subsequent marriage is only conditional option for a God loving man to save a woman in need of love, protection and financial freedom. . It’s a men’s way to save a woman, not just for pleasure or power. and it’s ONLY possible with the consents necessary from all related parties. If you are a true believe of Islam: you’d follow Islamic rules, and you would not dare to misinterpret based on your limited knowledge. Being a Muslim men: you don’t get a free license to marry more than one wife; unless conditions of subsequent marriage are met. Does Islam support polygamy? My answer would be: In a broader perspective: we consider this as a peaceful and rightful coexistence of eligible wives to server humanity and whatever holy purpose it may serve. That’s all for now. if you have questions or clarifications necessary, don’t hesitate to contact me. I will always be around. Cheers!