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Polygamy as interpreted by "Muslim" modernists


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Zeynab
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« on: November 20, 2011, 12:27:53 am »

As I've often observed, Muslim modernists don't seem to be as interested in the precise contents of the Quran as they are in making their views compatible with the modern Western world.  My research of the opinion of some of these people on polygamy made me notice that they refer to polygamy in modern times as something that "demeans" or "debases" women. 

Their common opinion reflects that polygamy was a social culture that arose all of a sudden during the time of the Prophet (S) while the Quran was in the process of being revealed.  Probably because of the wars that were fought, the number of widows and orphans had increased threefold compared to other times.  That made the male population much less than that of women in the Arabian peninsula. But later on, after the introduction of the Zakat tax, widows received welfare allowances and therefore the need for polygamy was no more.  From this argument of theirs (which does not at all conform with the facts laid down in the Quran regarding polygamy and neither does it conform with standard historical data), they presume that in a country that is an economically sound welfare state, polygamy has no excuse. 

Other such modernists have expressed a view that's totally bizarre which seriously makes me think that perhaps they haven't read the Quran at all.  They simply claim that there's no such thing as polygamy in the Quran and that the Quran says that every man must have only one wife. 

Almost all of such comments come from Muslim modernists residing in Western Europe or North America.  The pressures of Western society with its load of stereo types against Islam has apparently shaken up these Muslim modernists to such an extent that their interpretations of the Quran is on the foundation of appeasing the critics, not on the basis of the Quran itself.   

That's the reason why I've always concluded that both Hadithists and modernists have a very similar approach on interpreting the Quran from their two different ideolgoies - with the Hadithists the foundation of Quranic commentary is the Hadith, and with the modernists the foundation of judging Quranic verses is the practices of the modern world.
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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2011, 12:40:35 am »

Polygamy existed since the times of Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon and uptil today.  Where does the Quran say that the basis of having more than one wife is the rise of female population against that of men?  In fact, polygamy as a practice was cut down by Quranic rules, NOT started by it.  Prior to the revelation of the Quran, a man could have any number of wives - 10, 20, 70, 100 or more.  The Quran limited that to 4.   If the sharp rise in female population during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) was the chief cause of allowing polygamy, then why would the Quran bring down the maximum number of wives to 4.  To logically suit the argument upheld by the modernists, the number of wives in a polygamous marriage should have been even more unlimited than ever before. 
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2011, 12:44:22 am »

Exactly.  Very correctly said.  They have overlooked all these points.
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2011, 12:57:51 am »

Let's look at polygamy not simply as a practice involving the existence of co-wives, but from a more objective view point, that is, a man having relations with more than one woman at a time.  Is this not happening in the West?  In the West men are legally allowed to marry one woman at a time, but a married man in the West can have relationships without any binding documents with as many women he desires - sometimes behind his wife's back and sometimes right under her nose - and that's not considered against the law at all.  A wife who might know for certain that her husband is cheating on her by having a relationship with another woman can do nothing legally to punish her husband.  She cannot take him to court nor can she bring any charges of infidelity against him .. unless she manipulates the story and brings false allegations of physical abuse or financial mishandling against her husband.  But if she goes to court and says "my husband is fooling around with another woman and I feel debased, so please punish him" .. that plea will be thrown out of the court.   Thus Pickthall in one of his commentaries mentions "polygamy is of the nature of some men in all countries and of all men in some countries."

I also repeat a portion of Pickthall's commentary involving polygamy that throws plenty of light on this issue very rationally .. it's a portion of the same commentary I already quoted in the post Surah At-Tahrim or Banning. 

"Sanctity has never been identified with celibacy. For Christiandom the strictest religious ideal has been celibacy, monogamy a concession to human nature.  For Muslims, monogamy is the ideal, polygamy the concession to human nature.  Polygamy is of the nature of some men in all countries and of all men in some countries.  Having set a great example of monogamic marriage, the Prophet was to set a great example of polygamic marriage by following which men of that temperament could live righteous lives.  It's important to highlight that with the exception of Aisha, all his other wives were either widows or divorcees who social conditions were difficult in one way or another.  He encountered all the difficulties inherent in the situation, and when he made mistakes the Quran helped him to retrieve them.  Al-Islam did not introduce polygamy.  It restricted an existing institution by limiting the number of a man's legal wives, by giving every woman a legal personality and legal rights which had to be respected, and making every man legally responsible for his conduct towards every woman.  Whether monogamy or polygamy should prevail in a particular country or period is a matter of social or
economic convenience."
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2011, 01:16:56 am »

Let's look at polygamy not simply as a practice involving the existence of co-wives, but from a more objective view point, that is, a man having relations with more than one woman at a time.  Is this not happening in the West?  In the West men are legally allowed to marry one woman at a time, but a married man in the West can have relationships without any binding documents with as many women he desires - sometimes behind his wife's back and sometimes right under her nose - and that's not considered against the law at all.  A wife who might know for certain that her husband is cheating on her by having a relationship with another woman can do nothing legally to punish her husband.  She cannot take him to court nor can she bring any charges of infidelity against him .. unless she manipulates the story and brings false allegations of physical abuse or financial mishandling against her husband.  But if she goes to court and says "my husband is fooling around with another woman and I feel debased, so please punish him" .. that plea will be thrown out of the court.   Thus Pickthall in one of his commentaries mentions "polygamy is of the nature of some men in all countries and of all men in some countries."  

Right on .. absolutely.  Polygamy as an institution of having multiple partners out of wedlock in the case of both men and women, but more so with men, is so darn rampant in the West and conveniently considered the 'advanced modern culture.'  If a spouse cheats on their wife or husband, the one cheated is totally helpless as having multiple partners out of wedlock is not illegal for a married man or married woman.  Yet these same people gossip if a man legally marries 2 or 3 women and seriously loves and provides for them, giving them full financial security legally.  You will commonly read in gossip magazines of Hollywood stars proudly asserting their rezondevous with no less than 15 to 20 women during the last one decade .. living on average of 12 - 15 months with each.  Yet, such degraded debauchery and sexual perversity are so complacently accepted as a matter of fact.   So, who on earth are such folks to point critical fingers at a man if he marries 2 or 3 or at most 4 women legally and permanently?  


"Sanctity has never been identified with celibacy. For Christiandom the strictest religious ideal has been celibacy, monogamy a concession to human nature.  For Muslims, monogamy is the ideal, polygamy the concession to human nature.  Polygamy is of the nature of some men in all countries and of all men in some countries.  Having set a great example of monogamic marriage, the Prophet was to set a great example of polygamic marriage by following which men of that temperament could live righteous lives.  It's important to highlight that with the exception of Aisha, all his other wives were either widows or divorcees who social conditions were difficult in one way or another.  He encountered all the difficulties inherent in the situation, and when he made mistakes the Quran helped him to retrieve them.  Al-Islam did not introduce polygamy.  It restricted an existing institution by limiting the number of a man's legal wives, by giving every woman a legal personality and legal rights which had to be respected, and making every man legally responsible for his conduct towards every woman.  Whether monogamy or polygamy should prevail in a particular country or period is a matter of social or economic convenience."



This is a very realistic piece!
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2011, 04:15:24 am »

Interesting conversation folks!  Smiley

There are 2 more points that are commonly overlooked.

(1)  Modernists take for granted that if the husband decides to take a second wife, the first wife is helpless and has no other choice but to share her husband and play the role of a co-wife.  This might be true of very orthodox and ultra conservative families where women face helplessness in many other aspects as well apart from the issue of polygamy.  The values of such families are farthest from Islam.  But according to the principles of the Quran, the woman has as much right to seek a divorce as the husband.  If a husband desires to take a second wife, he needs to inform / consult the first wife.  Secret relationships by taking women as concubines are not allowed in the Quran, and to turn away from a wife without giving her any reasons, leaving her in the dark is also not permitted in the Quran.  Just as the man has the right to take a second wife, similarly, the first wife has the entitlement to accept or reject his decision.  If she rejects it and the man is still determined to marry the other woman, he will have no other choice but to divorce his first wife followed by the required financial settlements as elucidated in the Quran for divorced women and their children. 

Lol ,, when I refute the modernist version of polygamy, some have asked me their standard question, "if your husband wanted to take a second wife, would you say okay?"   laugh I don't feel trapped by this question.  The answer is simple for me.  I would say "no, I won't accept it."  That doesn't mean there's something wrong with polygamy, rather it means I personally cannot cope with it.  Had it been someone else in my shoes, it's very likely she would say 'yes' for she would be able to cope with it.   Different people think / feel differently about the same issue.   Also, this does not mean that I'm a bad Muslim or she's a good Muslim.  We're both good Muslims. It simply means that both of us are exercising our legal entitlements in our two different ways.

(2)   Secondly, let's take a situation where a woman is madly in love with a married guy and is very willing to marry him and live as his second wife. Such situations are very common.  But the first wife says 'NO.'  Subsequently the husband decides to bow to the wishes of his first wife and says 'goodbye' to the other woman.  Thus, for the first wife it ends "happily ever after" and her 'rights' remain safeguarded.  But what about the second woman?  Isn't she emotionally & socially violated for being dumped?  As a first wife, one might never want to look at it this way.  However, the second woman's sadness happens to be factual as well where her rights were not safeguarded. 

Hence, the Quran has NOT made polygamy compulsory, instead it's only provisional.   And as a woman with my kind of nature, I'm no fan of polygamy either.  Yet the fact of the matter is, while monogamous marriage safeguards the rights of one woman at a time, a polygamous marriage is aimed to do a balancing job between more than one woman at  time .. upto a maximum of four of them.   
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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2011, 04:42:41 am »

Hey girl, you mentioned a couple of excellent points very candidly   Wink   Thumbsup
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« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2011, 10:54:26 am »

Yes ,, very perceptive points sister Rose.  I hope our readers can benefit from this thread.   Thanks sis.
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2013, 08:13:20 am »

 salamem


Educative one , Good to read , agree with u 100%  thats another problem islam is also hijacked by Muslim modernists, such folks don't have brain so no mantel illnesses but habitually they are suffering with disease in their hearts to twisting Quranic context with their own mindset yes it is permissible but not recommended for every man, Polygamy is neither mandatory, nor encouraged  NOT even the right Of every Man but merely permitted yet Quran sharia make it even harder not easier on man to have more than one wife .I don't know why such people are fail to approach some simple Quranic contexts. Quran is the most straightforward book of guidance and because Islam is truly a religion for all times and all places that doesn't need to be modified as some of the other religions do so modernists guys ur effort's are useless  Allah Almighty does not left the issue of polygamy unclears to believers ,how sad some have take the literal  meaning and most of are compeletly zero in their understandings.  Sad
 

@ Now please Help me to understand few more aspects .Sis i have few more questions correct me if  am wrong because it's sounds weird to me rather completely incorrect.,i too had experienced similar mindset , I don't see such restrictions here as it claimed .

Surah An Nisa 4:3-4


And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.


And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth).




Q: what about Some people those argue that this verse Quran 4.3-4 was revealed at the context of orphan’s girls, so it's restricted to  orphans mother's ?  it should not be taken in general situation ?


We were in discussion where the sister was extremely against the polygamy and she were continuously to deny the permissibility of polygamy in Quran ,she was sticked to the point that it is only permissible to the orphan 's mother ?  we were totally unable to understand her logic now please help me . She said ! Polygamy only permitted with orphans mother no other personal reason ?



Q: what No other personal reason ?  and what if a widow does not have children's ? What about divorced women with or without children's ? or any needy over aged, or needy single women ?

Answer from her was " No " further she said ! instead of lust or to justify any excuse it would be preferable to adopt orphans and provide security to their mother / widow's and there are so many widow's with children's give them status.



I mean yeah okay but sorry am disagree  ,thus discussion ended up badly  .My question was unanswered . i felt  serious communication gape with her, @ i am not  polygamy supporter but i want to understand if am wrong. I mean how could we take it as correct interpretation ? 


Q: what about the some situation come in to life man's life when man have right to take a second wife genuinely ? we can't deny and need to use common sense also because in many of such situations polygamy is in practice.



Q: In some cases, polygamy is a practical solution and a better alternative.Like When a man's wife suffers from a chronic disease and fails to respond to her husband's physical needs, Islam offers two alternatives, divorce or polygamy,also if  men doesn't want to divorce first wife for the seek of her welfare then  ? @ NOT EVERY WOMEN but  Many wives would prefer the second alternative, as it saves them the humiliation of being without any means of income, particularly if they have no jobs to support themselves ?




Q:
The same thing applies when it is proven that the wife is sterile and the husband wants to be a father he can divorce his wife or take another wife who can bear him children,it's up to first wife whether she wants divorce or accept it  ..And  some of women's /wives even seek  other women/wives for their husbands. If this is the case, then polygamy in this case would not be a problem, If the man can financially afford it and can provide a good quality life for both of his wives, and most importantly, can provide a good quality of education to his children.then it's fine ?


@The situation mentioned above by sis ruhi it can be considered .


Q:Also welfare allowances, zakat is that all ?,what any needy women needs or deserve ? what about respect,status , emotions , love..  ?

Q: so if we restricted that Quran permits polygamy only for the welfare of orphans, and their mother then what about other situations  and if men did ? then ? would it be considered the disobedience Of Quranic law ? i don't think so ?

Also As compare to Quran teachings and so called modern world ,in western culture usually they don't prefer marriage at first place , second in west if women have such problems they(man) simply kicked her out or divorced the women ? isn't against the dignity of women ? 

 

What I mean to say and asked who knows humans requirements , needs and circumstances better than Allah ? that's why verses does not restricted only to the widow is having children and she can't afford their expenses but Quran permitting polygamy ONLY for any legal requirements with strict restrictions ,on the other hand Quran also clearly Banning ploygamy from the point of view of lust and if any man try to manipulate it he must not forget Allah knows our intentions , the accountability on day of judgment should not be ignored by any men !! . It is clear polygamy only permissible under certain conditions or some other genuine ,solid reason we should keep in mind When Quran permits polygamy, it preserves a woman's dignity and humanity and cares for the social moral NOT for the lust. Quran does not allow marriage of multiple wives for males' sexual privileges and desires But it's awfully sad that now adays it (polygamy) does get abused by sick men's for their own reasons, those reasons are unfortunately far from what the Quran teaches about more wives. In these cases it is not acceptable..



Right OR wrong  ? please guide me i will be very grateful  Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 09:31:14 am »

Walaykum Salam Sister Muslima Smiley

salamem

And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.

And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth).

Q: what about Some people those argue that this verse Quran 4.3-4 was revealed at the context of orphan’s girls, so it's restricted to  orphans mother's ?  it should not be taken in general situation ?

I agree with you 100% sis.   The verse states by the way of orphans but definitely the same standard of ethics applies in all cases.  That's a matter of common sense which many Muslims especially Muslim males don't apply only for the purpose of eluding some of the vital rules and in the process they distort the values of Allah.


We were in discussion where the sister was extremely against the polygamy and she were continuously to deny the permissibility of polygamy in Quran ,she was sticked to the point that it is only permissible to the orphan 's mother ?  we were totally unable to understand her logic now please help me . She said ! Polygamy only permitted with orphans mother no other personal reason ?

No, not just to the mothers of orphans.  It can apply in a number of other situations too .... but it must be genuinely deserving situations.   It is definitely applicable in the cases of single women and divorcees too.  I think that lady is following the interpretation of the Free Minds group or some other such school of thought who claim to be "Quran alone followers" but are actually trying to assimilate Islam with modern Western ideas and are brazenly misinterpreting Quranic Verses.

If a man wants to help a widow (or orphan's mother) by simply giving them some financial assistance as charity or zakat every month, that's fine.  In fact in most cases perhaps this would happen because an average married man neither has the financial means nor the romantic desire to take a second wife in today's world.   But in extraordinary cases he can, and he should have the conscience not to pursue it just for physical lust.

Talking of adopting orphans, I think that lady forgets that the Shariah laws have brought about so many bid'ah that it nowadays allows men to marry their adopted daughters which is clearly forbidden in the Quran.
 


Q: In some cases, polygamy is a practical solution and a better alternative.Like When a man's wife suffers from a chronic disease and fails to respond to her husband's physical needs, Islam offers two alternatives, divorce or polygamy,also if  men doesn't want to divorce first wife for the seek of her welfare then  ? @ NOT EVERY WOMEN but  Many wives would prefer the second alternative, as it saves them the humiliation of being without any means of income, particularly if they have no jobs to support themselves ?

The same thing applies when it is proven that the wife is sterile and the husband wants to be a father he can divorce his wife or take another wife who can bear him children,it's up to first wife whether she wants divorce or accept it  ..And  some of women's /wives even seek  other women/wives for their husbands. If this is the case, then polygamy in this case would not be a problem, If the man can financially afford it and can provide a good quality life for both of his wives, and most importantly, can provide a good quality of education to his children.then it's fine ?

Yes, you're right, some such cases are settled by polygamy with the willing consent of the first wife.  In that case it's okay.  These are simple issues - either the woman decides to divorce him willingly because she has a problem or she allows him to marry someone else.  Also, if the man does not have the means to take a second wife and the first wife is unable to consummate their conjugal relations in a normal way, then divorce might be their only choice.  Again a matter of common sense.  It's a very subjective issue and the decision has to be taken depending upon the situation of every couple.


Q:Also welfare allowances, zakat is that all ?,what any needy women needs or deserve ? what about respect,status , emotions , love..  ?

You're right, in some of those exceptional cases where polygamy can be seen as a solution to the problem, it's supposed to provide security and respect to the woman.  If the man is financially stable and truly decent, it will provide both his wives with respect and social security.  But as we discussed earlier, majority of men do not follow the rules of ethics as carefully as Allah has commanded them to.  That's when problems begin to arise.


Also As compare to Quran teachings and so called modern world ,in western culture usually they don't prefer marriage at first place , second in west if women have such problems they(man) simply kicked her out or divorced the women ? isn't against the dignity of women ?

That's very correct.  In the West there is no choice other than divorce even though I'm sure that if they had two choices - divorce or being a co-wife - there are many women in the West as well who would choose being a co-wife.  After all there are many who are happy despite knowing that their husbands have steady girlfriends or mistresses. 



What I mean to say and asked who knows humans requirements , needs and circumstances better than Allah ? that's why verses does not restricted only to the widow is having children and she can't afford their expenses but Quran permitting polygamy ONLY for any legal requirements with strict restrictions ,on the other hand Quran also clearly Banning ploygamy from the point of view of lust and if any man try to manipulate it he must not forget Allah knows our intentions , the accountability on day of judgment should not be ignored by any men ......

Your view is absolutely right sis.  I really have nothing too new to add.  You have perceived and grasped the matter very accurately and logically.   I hope sooner or later that other lady is able to have a wider sense of assessment and then she might understand.  Most such folks do not try to study matters from a neutral view-point, rather they see it from their own personal standpoint.  That's why they go awry.

Like you, I'm also not an advocate of the institution of polygamy but neither would I want to judge it because every case is different.   And exactly for that reason the Noble Quran has not encouraged polygamy but has only kept it as a provision for exceptional cases .. and there can be several different types of exceptional cases.  It's not possible to make categories of them as so many unexpected things can happen in the lives of different people.

Allah bless.  Thanks again sister Muslima.
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2013, 09:32:16 am »

hmm okay bunch of thanks ,JazakAllah kahir sis Allah bless  Smiley
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Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.9:111

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