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The Mis-Use Of Polygamy & The Abuse Of Women

Monday, April 23, 2007Brother Mustafaa

Many people when they hear of Muslims, or the religion of Islam automatically think of this religion as a faith that sponsors abuse of women through polygamist relationships. In addition, many Muslim men have not helped in creating this false perception “That Islam is an abusive religion against women.” Since I have become a Muslim many people have come to me, jokingly, asking: “When am I going to get 15 wives?"

Many Muslim men, particularly in the East, have taken to entering into multiple marriages as though this is something mandated as a rule in the religion of Islam. As I read my Holy Qur’an, I have as of yet to find justification for this act. The injunction to have multiple wives is mentioned in The Holy Qur’an only once. And in this instance it is mentioned in a context that doesn’t give any man the liberty to just take wives for the sake of it

The injunction for polygamy is mentioned in Sura(chapter) 4 of The Holy Qur’an called Al-Nisa(The Woman), verses 1-3. This chapter of the Holy Qur’an opens with a command from ALLAH to keep your duties him and to each other(Husband and wife):

“O people, keep your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind), and spread from these two many men and women. And keep your duty to Allah, by whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship. Surely Allah is ever a Watcher over you.” (Holy Qur’an 4:1)

The Qur’an when it was revealed over 1400 years ago to the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him) it stressed the oneness of God in response to the polytheist beliefs popular in Arabia. The Holy Qur’an also came as a remedy to standing social ills. The abuse of women is common among the monotheistic faiths traditions we uphold. ALLAH(God) doesn’t promote these ideas, but some men have used the word of God to fit their own perverted desires.

 It may be hard to believe, by looking at the Muslim world today, but The Qur’an and Muhammad’s teachings was a liberating force to women at that stage of history. Women were allowed to own property, vote, considered equal with man, work and allowed the right of divorce. These may be common practices today, however they were revolutionary in a society(and even Europe) which looked down on women.

The married state of one man/one wife is the prescribed setting for family as taught by The Holy Qur’an. The Qur’an says to marry one “is more proper that you may not do injustice.” The question may be asked how did a religion which liberated women and teaches men to marry one wife become synonymous with polygamy in the minds of most? The Qur’an is a solution to situations both normal and ab-normal.

The Battle of Uhud and Polygamy

The Holy Qur’an, as a religious text, wasn’t revealed at once but rather revealed over a 23 year period. During this 23 year period many circumstances came up which ALLAH would reveal a new chapter or verse to address each situation. This compilation has come down to us as the present Qur’an.

History teaches us that once the Muslims left their homeland they had to participate in three major battles Badr-Uhud-Ahzab. These wars stand as triumphs of the smaller party(Muslims) over numerically and militarily stronger opponents.

During the battle of Uhud, in the 3rd year of Hijra, many Muslims died due to an Ambush attack by the Quarish. The odds were 700 Muslims vs. an army of 3000 strong. History teaches us during this war many Muslim women became widows. In response to this tragedy, ALLAH revealed a Quranic verse (Sura 4:3) allowing the Muslim men to take up and maintain more than one wife. Before we go any further let us review this Quranic verse:

“And if you fear that you cannot do justice to orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you will not do justice, then (marry) only one or that which your right hands possess. This is more proper that you may not do injustice.” (Sura 4:3)

From reading the above verse, it becomes clear, in response to a situation, ALLAH allowed a limited polygamy while at the same time reminding us “One” wife is better.

We must be aware of the social condition of Arabia in the 7th century. During this period a women couldn’t just go get a job or some social welfare. There were few options for the maintenance of women in this society. It was either either marriage or prostitution. So ALLAH made an exception to his normal law to prevent fornication, adultery or prostitution, and allowed men who were spiritually, economically and mentally capable to marry more than one wife to secure maintenance of the female.

Even if you marry more than one wife, according to the Qur’an, you must do justice by them all. What does justice mean in this context? It simply means what you do for one wife must be done for the others. If you buy one a house, car, jewelry or other item you must do the same for all otherwise you are being unjust. If we view this in modern day society, with the high cost of living, we begin to see how un-practtical polygamy can be to a man. It is certainly not just for sex.

It is the mis-use of the institution of polygamy by some, not all, Muslim men that has led to the abuse of women in the world and the disdain that is heaped upon the religion of Islam by our enemies.

And if some want to condemn the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, for resorting to polygamy we only have to look to the Bible and religious history in general to discover that many Prophets of God entered this practice for God’s own wise purposes.

Polygamy Today?

Now that we have reviewed the historical incidents of the practice of polygamy and the moral-spiritual reasons why this practice was allowed, we now come to the 21st century and the modern day practice of polygamy. The picture of a “Muslim man” with his harem or multiple wives is a common image in the mind of many non-Muslims. Some even promote the idea that ALLAH will allow Muslim men to have “70 virgins” in paradise if slain in battle. I know many may say these are the words of Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him). However, I would like to point out the Prophet said: “After my death many false reports(hadiths) will be attributed to me, but you can judge the truthfulness of the reports by the Qur’an.”

I say that to say that somewhere along the line we have misinterpreted our holy book and words of our Prophet for the benefit of our personal pleasures. The heaven described by The Holy Qur’an is not some great sexual orgy of Muslim men chasing virgins. We must understand by them[women] being described as virgins in heaven only means they are pure women and untouched by filth, but it has nothing to do with sex.


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  1. beautiful Bro. Mustafaa

  2. Anonymous4:08 AM

    “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]

    You are obviously not reading your Quran like you say you are because it is there in plain sight. The Quran permits limited polygamy. NOI Muslims don't make salat or read Quran that's why y'all are always off base, but now that y'all pare Scientologist's, you no longer have to lie and say you are Muslim.

    1. you obviously didn't read what I said, because I acknowledged the Qur'an permits limited polygamy. Thx for commenting though.


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