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WHO PRACTICES POLYGAMY?


        Polygamy has been practiced by mankind for thousands of years. Many of the ancient Israelites were polygamous, some
having hundreds of wives.  King Solomon (peace be upon him) is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred
concubines.  David (Dawood) had ninety-nine and Jacob (Yacub, peace be upon them both) had four.  Advice given by 
some Jewish wise men state that no man should marry more than four wives.  No early society put any restrictions on the 
number of wives or put any conditions about how they were to be treated.  Jesus was not known to have spoken against 
polygamy.  As recently as the seventeenth century, polygamy was practiced and accepted by the Christian Church.  The 
Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) has allowed and practiced polygamy in the United States.

        Monogamy was introduced into Christianity at the time of Paul when many revisions took place in Christianity.  This was
done in order for the church to conform to the Greco-Roman culture where men were monogamous but owned many slaves 
who were free for them to use: in other words, unrestricted polygamy.

        Early Christians invented ideas that women were "full of sin" and man was better off to "never marry."  Since this would
be the end of mankind these same people compromised and said "marry only one."

        In the American society many times when relations are strained, the husband simply deserts his wife.  The he cohabits
with a prostitute or other immoral woman without marriage. Actually there are three kinds of polygamy practiced in Western
societies:  (1) serial polygamy, that is, marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce, and so on any number of times; (2) a man
married to one woman but having and supporting one or more mistresses; (3) an unmarried man having a number of mistresses.
Islam condones but discourages the first and forbids the other two.

        Wars cause the number of women to greatly exceed the number of men.  In a monogamous society these women, left 
without husbands or support, resort to prostitution, illicit relationships with married men resulting in illegitimate children
with no responsibility on the part of the father, or lonely spinsterhood or widowhood.

        Some Western men take the position that monogamy protects the rights of women.  But are these men really concerned 
about the rights of women?  The society has so many practices which exploit and suppress women, leading to women's 
liberation movements from the suffragettes of the early twentieth century to the feminists of today.

        The truth of the matter is that monogamy protects men, allowing them to "play around" without responsibility.  Easy
birth control and easy legal abortion has opened the door of illicit sex to woman and she has been lured into the so-called
sexual revolution.  But she is still the one who suffers the trauma of abortion and the side effects of the birth control
methods. Taking aside the plagues of venereal disease, herpes and AIDS, the male continues to enjoy himself free of worry.  
Men are the ones protected by monogamy while women continue to be victims of men's desires.  Polygamy is very much 
opposed by the male dominated society because it would force men to face up to
responsibility and fidelity.  It would force them to take responsibility for their polygamous inclinations and would protect and 
provide for women and children. 

        Among all the polygamous societies in history there were none which limited the number of wives.  All of the relationships
were unrestricted.  In Islam, the regulations concerning polygamy limit the number of wives a man can have while making him
responsible for all of the women involved.

       "Marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with 
them, then only one or one that your right hands possess.  That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing 
injustice."  (Qur'an 4:3)

        This verse from the Qur'an allows a man to marry more than one woman but only if he can deal justly with them.  Another
verse says that a person is unable to deal justly between wives, thus giving permission but discouraging.

       "You will never be able to deal justly between wives however much you desire (to do so).  But (if you have more 
than one wife) do not turn altogether away (from one), leaving her in suspense..."  (Qur'an 4:129)

        While the provision for polygamy makes the social system flexible enough to deal with all kinds of conditions, it is not
necessarily recommended or preferred by Islam.  Taking the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is
instructive.  He was married to one woman, Khadijah, for twenty-five years.  It was only after her death when he had
reached the age of fifty that he entered into other marriages to promote friendships, create alliances or to be an example of 
some lesson to the community; also to show the Muslims how to treat their spouses under different conditions of life.

        The Prophet (peace be upon him) was given inspiration from Allah about how to deal with multiple marriages and the
difficulties encountered therein. It is not an easy matter for a man to handle two wives, two families, and two households and
still be just between the two.  No man of reasonable intelligence would enter into this situation without a great deal of thought
and very compelling reasons (other than sexual).

        Some people have said that the first wife must agree to the second marriage.  Others have said that the couple can put it
into the marriage contract that the man will not marry a second wife.  First of all, neither the Qur'an nor Hadith state that the
first wife need be consulted at all concerning a second marriage let alone gain her approval.  Consideration and compassion on 
the part of the man for his first wife should prompt him to discuss the matter with her but he is not required to do so or to gain
her approval.  Secondly, the Qur'an has explicitly given permission for a man to marry "two or three or four."  No one has
the authority to make a contract forbidding something that has been granted by Allah.

        The bottom line in the marriage relationship is good morality and happiness, creating a just and cohesive society
where the needs of men and women are well taken care of.  The present Western society, which permits free sex between
consenting adults, has given rise to an abundance of irresponsible sexual relationships, an abundance of "fatherless"
children, many unmarried teenage mothers; all becoming a burden on the country's welfare system.  In part, such an undesirable
welfare burden has given rise to bloated budget deficits which even an economically powerful country like the United States
cannot accommodate.  Bloated budget deficits have become a political football which is affecting the political system of the
United States.

        In short, we find that artificially created monogamy has become a factor in ruining the family structure, and the social,
economic and political systems of the country. 

        It must be a prophet, and indeed it was Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who directed Muslims to get married 
or observe patience until one gets married.  'Abdullah b. Mas'ud reported Allah's messenger as saying, "Young man, those 
of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from looking at strange women and preserves you from 
immorality; but those who cannot should devote themselves to fasting, for it is a means of suppressing sexual desire.
"  (Bukhari and Muslim) 

        Islam wants people to be married and to develop a good family structure. Also Islam realizes the requirements of the
society and the individual in special circumstances where polygamy can be the solution to problems. Therefore, Islam has
allowed polygamy, limiting the number of wives to four, but does not require or even recommend polygamy.

        In the Muslim societies of our times, polygamy is not frequently practiced despite legal permission in many countries.
It appears that the American male is very polygamous, getting away with not taking responsibility for the families he should be
responsible for.

        (NOTE: In this article polygamy has been used to mean polygyny meaning having two or more wives.  Islam forbids
polyandry meaning having two or more husbands.)

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