the P word (polygamy)

>> Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bismillah Ar Rahamn Ar-Rahmin,
Please help me...

The other day when all my friends gathered in my room, they were talking about polygamy. And I don't know why the whole time i'm thinking about it and I'm scard of getting married

Allah is The Most Wise, and He knows the wisdom behind everything that happens. I'm trying to gain knowledge regarding this issue by watching lecture and through reading. I understand its objectives and the advantages. But why I felt compel towards this?

Miss Pinky

wa'alykum as salam wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo,
Dearest Miss Pinky,

awww, sis, a lot of girls are SCARED of polygamy, so I'm glad you brought this topic up. I love how you acknowledge that Allah is the Most Wise :) I like how you've been reading about it and understand its objectives and whatnot. 

So what can I add to what you've probably already read? 

Well, the reason why most sisters are scared of polygamy is because they have seen really bad examples. They've seen it practiced incorrectly (whether in real life or in horrible soap operas/ etc.). The reality is that Islamically it is permissible for men to have more than one wife, provided that they follow  very stringent rules. A man has to be fair with all of his wives. He must provide for them equally just as he must spend equal time with his wives. He should provide separate accommodation for them, as well, if they do not want to live with each other.  The Quran clearly states this. Furthermore, there is a hadith in which the Prophet says that whoever does not treat his wives fairly will be severely severely punished.

The reality is that in pre-Islamic Arabia (and in many other ancient cultures), men would take as many wives as they wanted. There was no limit and no rules. Islam came and changed that- it limited the number of women that can be married and it said that they have to be treated fairly.

 "Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one." [Al-Qur’an 4:3]

And here's the thing. Most people when they think of polygamy they look at it from the perspective of the man or the first wife. They think that the minute a Muslim man gets bored from his wife, he just goes and finds himself another. But polygamy is not just about an individual…it actually plays a social role- it encourages men to marry widows and divorcees to provide emotional and financial support. At the same time, it prevents spinsterhood in societies where women outnumber men.

In fact, Islam tells us that near the end of time, there will come a time when there will be 50 women for every man. When this point of time comes, Islam is not going to have to change its laws and re-think its position on marriage- because God is the One who made the rules and already had knowledge of what was going to happen, the institution of marriage is not going to have to be changed.

This brings us to another point- just 2 or 3 centuries ago, certain non-Muslims used to criticize the fact Islam allows divorce. They maintained that divorce was wrong and ugly. Today, however, almost everyone recognizes that when a couple cannot stand being together and have no love, respect, and mercy for one another and that when every attempt at reconciliation is futile, divorce can be a peaceful solution. Most people today do not criticize Islam anymore about divorce. Similarly, when the time comes and there 50 women for every man, it is doubtful Islam will be criticized for allowing polygamy.

You might be thinking but right now that’s not the case. And my answer for you is that, most Muslim marriages today are monogamous. Remember, polygamy is allowed- that doesn’t mean that everyone practices it. It’s a choice. 

Let’s also consider the “non-Islamic” alternatives to polygamy: like having a mistress. Legally, a mistress doesn’t have any rights such as the right to inherit. And if she bore any children, they would not necessarily be given their rights either. (It’s not uncommon to hear stories of adults finding out they have other siblings years later after discovering their father had an affair) But besides rights, it’s a very hidden relationship that involves a lot of deceit and lying. Can you imagine how many times the husband has to tell his wife he has to work late when in reality he wants to go be with his mistress? Then, there are the medical issues- who’s to say how many mistresses a man might have in his life? Sexual diseases have a higher chance when more partners are involved and don’t know about one another. In Islam, there is a limit that cannot be transgressed.

You might be thinking but “I never said that I support the idea of a mistress." I understand. I'm just giving you a little more background to the idea. As we said, earlier, polygamy is a choice. 

And so, here's the thing. If you worry now about your future husband marrying over you, you're really stressing yourself out for no reason. You haven't met your husband,yet,  sweetie. When the time comes, all you'll have to do is discuss the matter with him....ask him if he is intending to engage in polygamy or not.  Be honest and frank with him; have a long talk where you let him discuss his thoughts and intentions. Explain that it worries you and that you're not sure how you'll handle that if he wants to do that. 

I also want to remind you what we said in an earlier post about fear. We said fear paralyzes us. "What if" is basically Pandora's box. We won't know what will happen until we're actually at that moment.....since we cannot control the future, why let the fear of the future control us? Really, fear keeps us trapped. But if we just say Bismillah, rely on Allah, take a deep breath, make dua, we'll find Allah by our side, and we'll find that hypothetical situations aren't really that scary. For every chance that something will happen, there's a chance it  won't.  And maybe that it won't be as we think it would be. And  a zillion other 'what if's'...:)

I want you to also read sister Megan Wyatt's excellent advice-- What You Fear, You Create.

And as Megan Wyatt said, build up your imaan. Focus on your spirituality. Read more Qur'an. Develop a greater relationship with Allah and you will find peace, inshaAllah.

I hope other sisters can also share their advice/ any great articles/ links, inshaAllah.

10 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Anonymous,  March 31, 2011 at 6:45 AM  

I am also writing a sequel of polygyny LOL
I love your insights, Little Auntie.


Little Auntie March 31, 2011 at 7:47 AM  

aww, thanks, Ria, but that was mostly answered by Miss Aunty (which is my twin).

Looking forward to reading your sequel, inshaAllah.

Safiyah March 31, 2011 at 1:21 PM  

Assalaamu aleykum,

nice article, mashaAllah :)

I have one question though. Why you don't mention that you can also put it as a condition in your marriage contract, that you want the right to divorce when your husband takes a second wife?



Little Auntie March 31, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

Well, sister Safiyah, there is a difference of a opinion on that issue; whether a woman has the right to stipulate something against what Allah has ordained. But yeah, some scholars say it's okay :)

Halima April 2, 2011 at 3:19 PM  

Asalaamu aleikum-

Yes, polygamy is an undeniable part of Islam- but it is permissible only with some stipulations, and NOT obligatory. I don't need to practice polygamy to be a muslim, and there is no sin in not accepting it for yourself. It's a bit like niqab wearing in this respect. I really object, though, when muslimas are made to feel that if they don't want to be in a polygamous marriage that they are denying their religion or somehow sinning. I, for example, while accepting that it is part of Islam and ok for some people, it's not for me. And Allah knows best.

Sam,  August 13, 2011 at 2:34 PM  

Assalamoalaikom all :) Thanks for this post, it is really good :) I thought that I learned the man can only take another wife if his first wife permits it? Is this true? I just want to make sure- b/c to me that throws any question of injustice and inequality out of the window

Rooshna Memon,  September 21, 2011 at 11:46 PM  

Assalam alaicum. I love reading ur blogs and feel ur advices are a huge help to each and everyone of us. i too have a question to ask but am unable to find the way to do so. can i reach u thru this 'post a comment' field? pls help. jazak Allah

Little Auntie September 22, 2011 at 10:37 AM  

Wa'alykum as salam,
Rooshna, usually we have a "Contact Page" up. However, we have removed the Contact page because we are very much behind questions- we still have questions from July. So I'm going to have to ask you to wait a bit, please :)

Jazakillah for understanding :)

Anonymous,  December 15, 2011 at 1:24 AM  

just wanted to say that a wife can stipulate in the marriage contract that her husbnad cann't take a 2nd wife i have read that on

Mrs.Karar March 18, 2014 at 4:44 AM  

i am muslimah n i accept islamic laws with my whole heart n life. about polygamy,as a muslimah we must accept it as we accept the others. for me it's more about like or dont like. no woman LIKE her husband to marry other girl(s), but do we have right to ban polygami? ofcourse NO.
am also a wife,my husband is arab - canadian n am half chinese - indonesian. different culture n background but islam gather us to be one.
this topic(polygami) was my discussion with him in our first day.
i told him in the name of Allah, i dont like polygami, dont like it doesnt mean i hate it n refuse it. it's man's right to marry more than one wife n woman's obligation to be patience for that. still, i dont like it no matter what u wanna say. n IF later u marry a second wife, i have no choice but be patient n do it for the sake of Allah , for His face. if u ask why i dont ask for divorce the question is simply i dont want to be a person who cant smell the scent of jannah because i ask for divorce with that reason, n i wish to enter jannah for the door for as sabirin.

i dont mean anything just to tell u that polygami is not that bad,it becomes bad when someone makes it bad.
may Allah guide us n keep us istiqama in this right path

lil auntie can u please send me contact number or email for that chinese sister from canada?
jazakillah khairan

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Asalamu aialkum!
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