Polygamy: Rational or Irrational?
A young American Muslim woman was conflicted by polygamy allowed by her Islamic religion and noted in the Quran. Her commentary is most intriguing as she argues that in today’s world the impact of modernity has dismissed many of the reasons outlined in the Quran that allowed men to have more than one wife. Read it to understand. She took each justification and provided an intellectual response. Goto: (http://muslimmatters.org/2011/07/04/polygamy-rational-or-irrational/) for full commentary.
Early in her discourse she noted the catalyst for her study, ‘I clearly remember the day my husband proposed to me, he informed me that he planned to take another wife later and asked if I would be okay with it. I answered, “How can I stop you from something that is allowed in Islam?’ ”
Quranic Qualifications for Polygamy Debunked
Her commentary (in brief), logic applied, on the Quranic justifications follows:
“War Zone: We are no longer in a time where men die more in war than women…. there is no discrimination among men, women, children, elderly; all in proximity are annihilated.
Periods/Post-Partum Bleeding: Seriously?! …a wife…menstruating, … is (there) nothing else she can do to satisfy her husband temporarily…. What happens if a man gets married to a woman whose cycle coincides with that of his first wife? Or what if the wives give birth to children around the same time?
Men have Stronger Sexual Appetite: ….New statistics demonstrate that men and women are not far apart in their sexual appetite….ovulating women have been found to have increased sexual desire….women in their 30s also experience an increased sex drive. Since this quality can vary from person-to-person, sexual appetite cannot be used to rationalize polygamy either.
One Man for One Woman: I grew up believing there is one man for one woman and vice-versa. Remember, we’re products of our society and culture, and that is not blameworthy. We cannot ostracize “Western” culture for this ideology because it is just as much a product of “Eastern” culture too, if not more. Typically, in Eastern cultures, parents continue to advise their daughters to be patient with their husband and work on the marriage, but as soon as the husband takes another wife, the entire family forces her to return back to her parents’ house and take a stand.
“Shared” Husband: ….Along with society, women have moved from a more group-centered reason of existence to a more individual-centered reason for existence…. most women refuse to share their husbands… the entire society has taken an antagonist view of (polygamy).
“Insufficient” First Wife: In many communities, once a man weds a second wife, society does not loiter in assuming fault in the first wife. Why else would her husband feel the need to find solace in another woman? People talk, families accuse, and consequently, wife number one feels she is insufficient for her husband. Her insecurities rise just as fast as her self-confidence and esteem spiral downward, leaving her feeling like an utter failure.”
Her rational conclusion:
“With all these widespread stereotypes against polygamy and apparent lack of “logical” explanations, how can we expect Muslim women to simply swallow this concept, accept it, and live happily ever after with it?”
When she addressed her concerns with an Islamic scholar he side-stepped her major question and personal concern responding with, “Do you believe Allah is Just?” Is that a double-entendre or what? At least a loaded question. How else could an Islamic woman answer but, “Yes.”
The Islamic Conclusion
So after her review, her Islamic (I consider irrational) conclusion:
“…I have to come to terms with it (polygamy). Because no matter what my objections may be against polygamy, it is permissible in Islam, it was practiced by our beloved Prophet…and was common amongst the respected Companions. Who am I to object to it?”
She does, however, make the following statement, “this matter remains rationally unexplainable.” That may be more a reflection of ‘doubt’ as to Islam, than justification for Polygamy. She is caught in the web of Islam.
What can I say? Is this blind faith or what?
This next statement may summarize the explicit requirement for Muslims to not think, just ‘obey’, “…it only humbles me to accept a far greater truth about Islam – that there are issues within the deen we may not fully comprehend. Disagreement with our logic in matters of deen cannot yield rejection.
Rational v Irrational
In another article on MuslimMatters.org website discussing the rational vs. irrational aspect of Islam this statement was made, “We Muslims think, ponder, reflect, and use our minds to understand the truthfulness of Islam, to find our way to Islam, and to appreciate the guidance of Islam. But once guided to Islam, we surrender and submit to what is revealed.”
So think and consider only Islam, especially if not already a Muslim, but once a Muslim, then it is only that which Allah Revealed (in the Quran) that is to be adhered to, followed, accepted, and not debated. That is my take when questions asked of scholars are responded to with, “Do you believe Allah is Just?” What if I were a Muslim and my answer was “NO!”
Anyway the next several words written by this woman questioning Polygamy were, “Polygamy is allowed unconditionally (so long as the husband treats his wives equally), unbound to time, place or people. To accept this fact is a part of my faith, whether I like it or not. However, Ever Merciful is my Lord Who has comforted the believers by saying:
“…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (Sura 2:216)”
For Me – Not Logical
This is not logical, not for me anyway. It is a wonderful support for a man that wants to have sex with more than one woman. We haven’t even discussed temporary wives or weekend marriages in which many Muslim men engage. This appears to me to be more to the mortal and sinful nature of a man incorporating his desires in his diary, and his hope for what Allah would allow.
The now dedicated Islamic woman’s justification for accepting Polygamy even if it is not rational follows:
“First, …I cannot rationally understand polygamy, but I accept it because I submit to Allah…, and I believe the One Who decreed it is, without a shadow of a doubt, The Most Just and has allowed it in His Perfect Justice. I understand now the wisdom of my teacher questioning my belief in Allah’s Perfect Justice.
Secondly, … polygamy is a trial from Allah, not from the husband…. like any other trial, it is a time to come closer to Allah…, with submission, patience and tawakkul. … time to evaluate oneself and to increase good deeds; … not a time to rebel. More importantly (what seems like a never-ending task,) we must strive to separate the anger we may feel against our husbands and channel it towards accepting Allah’s decree.
Instead of perceiving the situation as “my husband did this to me”, it should be, “it is my Rabb’s Decree and He is testing me”. The real struggle lies in accepting it as a test rather than a “betrayal” by one’s husband. It is indeed an emotional “Jihaad” (exertion) to separate the two. Perhaps this is also the most effective recipe to cope with polygamy.
Thirdly, …there is always khair in Allah’s Decree; although we may fail to see it when we are being tested, the goodness always shines through….We may fail to see it, but it is there….
At one point she mentioned what I have in all likelihood interpreted wrongly and I do not wish to be demeaning on dismissive, but it had to do with the hold on Muslims, she called it a ‘rope’, stating, “That is the primary rope to hang on to – to submit to Allah’s Perfect Justice.” Total submission – no logic to be applied. (See my Blog posting …) She also noted by accepting Polygamy as the law of Islam, accepting it as Allah’s Will, not the husband’s, she can ‘cope’, acquiesce to that which she disagrees, as it is her suffering that can make her better.
A Response From a Previously Muslim Woman
Taking a Comment made addressing the article from a woman who is no longer Muslim – her attitude towards Polygamy presented, and possibly her leaving her Islamic faith was due to accepting the rational and the logical,
“I have seen polygamy destroy many sisters lives. I don’t like how it is being practiced in the west. polygamy gives a man the right to sleep with all the women he wants. He is free to marry non-Muslim and muslim women.He meets a sister and takes her to the masjid and now he can have lawful sex with her. what a load of bs. there is no authority to control these serial polygamist. Nobody cares to stop them and have them really think about what they are doing to their wife and children. He does not need the permission of his wife, and he is free to tell her about the new wifer whenever he feels like it. He is free to produce numerous amounts of children with no care in the world who will take care of them. It’s 100% okay if he’s been married 10 or 15 times.His first wife accepts all the disrespect because her faith tells her to do so.She could ask for a khula, but she may not get it. She basically the slave of her husband Polygamy is a curse to Islam. Why is it a curse? you think reverts have a proper understanding of sexuality in the west. Sex is highly abused, and adding polygamy to the pot makes it boil over. I can’t tell you how muslim women are on welfare and food stamps so their husbands can freeload off of other women. It’s disgusting that women are at the mercy of their husbands whims. Thank GOD I am no longer Muslim.” (posted July 4, 2011)
There was a counter to the above suggesting upon judgment day Allah would not be happy with this apostasy.
I can say that God will allow her entry, his grace prevailing, as He is a loving and rational judge and knows when man’s laws attempt to confuse and turn people away from the truth; which is a loving God would not allow the harm caused, the suffering, from acts not in accord with the proper marriage and purpose of the union of one man and one woman. It can be said there is enough suffering in insuring the union remains until ‘death do us part,’ and the role of each partner is to work towards the happiness of the other, self interests aside. A union (one man, one wife) where the man and woman are dedicated and focused on their relationship with honesty results in happiness, cooperation and an expression of God’s love.
One other response to the article:
“Polygamy is not a trial from ALLAH. It is from the lust of men. You can’t blame GOD, because man has free will, and your husband decided to take a second wife. ALLAH didn’t make him do it. Most polygamist marriages in developed nations do not last. They last in poorer nations because women have little to no social economic power. I was in a polygamist marriage for 3 years, and It was a joke.”
Many comments expressed sincere hope that the women who have been offended by polygamy and left Islam return, but not to a faith that excludes this suffering, but one that continues to accept the practice.
Seriously – Consider Reason
It is my sincere prayer that the eyes, hearts and minds of all women will give serious consideration to the logical facts presented and decide independently the path they choose. May it be Islam and acceptance of the Will of Allah, or God, of the Trinity, whose good news frees all from the suffering of sin, providing His grace, and offering hope for a life eternal for those who fully accept His sacrifice and the gift of intellect and free choice, apostasy aside, that accompanies a heart open and receptive to God.
What is you conclusion?
A. Polygamy Rational, Islam Rational
B. Polygamy Irrational, Islam Rational
C. Polygamy Irrational. Islam Irrational
If you were a Muslim woman, would you stay or leave (if you could?)?
May the Love of God, the Grace of God and the fellowship of God be with you always. Grace and Peace. Salaam.
[Google: understanding-islam-part-6-women-and-islam-2; for more.]