My thoughts on polygamy

{ Tuesday, April 5, 2011 }
I know that I'm entering touchy territory here, with this subject. But since I'm a Muslim girl, and follow Islam, I figured that the time had come to form an opinion on this rather difficult matter. 

First, what are the facts? 

  • The Prophet (pbuh) practised polygamy
  • There is a verse in the Quran that goes like this:  "And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice between them, then marry only one or what your right hands possess: this is more proper that you may not deviate from the right course" (4:3)
What is obvious from this verse is that a man should treat his wives equally. So already this verse excludes all the cultural practices of a man in his midlife crisis wanting a new wife who's fresh and young, while totally neglecting his older first wife. This is wrong and not Islamic. Also, I've always wondered why no one pays attention to the first part of the verse:"And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans...". This is clearly the beginning of a conditional sentence, with marrying more than one woman as a result. In the same sura, we find a verse that goes like this: "And they ask thee a decision about women. Say, Allah makes known to you His decision concerning them, and that which is recited to you in the Book concerning orphans of the women to whom you do not give what is appointed for them while you are disinclined to marry them" (4:127)
It seems to me, and may God forgive me if I'm wrong, that you can only marry a orphan girl or a widow as a second, third or fourth wife. In this case, the first part of verse 4:3 would make sense, instead of being muffled away. It seems that the Arabs at that time didn't treat orphans and widows well, and stole their property and what not. So Islam wanted to bring justice to them with giving them a share in inheritance, and encouraging men to marry them so they wouldn't stay behind in poor conditions. 
Also, it is mentioned that the Prophet (pbuh) had certain privileges that did not apply to other men, like marrying more than 4 women. Also, apart from Aisha (may God be pleased with her), he married for the purpose of either ensuring a political alliance or to help out widows. He also stayed faithful to Khadija, his first wife, for as long as she lived. 

As for me personally, I don't think I could share my future husband, whether the other woman is an orphan, widow or something else. It is asked of us Muslim women to be ok with polygamy as a concept. But can I say that I'm ok with it, as long as it doesn't happen to me? I'm ok with it if the first wife is ok with it, but in how many cases does that really happen? How can you be neutral about it, when you love your husband, and don't want to share him? Sometimes I think I'm ok with it as a concept, until I hear or read about yet another man who took a second wife, and to be honest, it makes my blood boil. Marriage should be about peace and harmony, and kindness, and I think that taking a second wife seriously damages the relationship between the man and his first wife. Of course, all cases are different.
As for me, I will put it as a condition in my marriage contract, inshaAllah, that I want a divorce if my husband takes a second wife. I know myself, and I know it would break my heart, and make my life miserable. I think I have the right to live a happy life, and to protect myself against hurt and pain. To those who say that I should passively accept whatever my future husband would plan to do, I say, it's MY life. God will be the one to judge if my actions were right or not. To the women who really are ok with polygamy, respect! You are stronger and braver than me, and may God reward your efforts in this life, ameen!


Marie said...

Though a lot about your post and after discussing with my husband (whose mum has been a second wife due to personal circumstamces) I came to the point that Polygamy would make sense to me in 3 different cases:

- If I am very ill and I know I will die soon.

- If I can't have children and my husband can't live without having any. I'd rather like to see him happy in a dad life than sad all his life.

- If Love is gone after trying everything, as I would never imagine to live away from my children.

Obviously he laugh at this thought, thinking je jas me now and it is what counts.
But I am really serious - If any of these scenarios happen, I will push him to take another wife.

Stay well Safiyah.

Safiyah said...

Hi Marie,

Thanks for your comment :) You're very brave. I don't think I would be able to accept it in any circumstance.
Just a question, if case 1, God forbid, would apply, wouldn't you rather want him to be by your side than knowing that he's having another wife?
Just a thought..I think it would make me feel even worse if that would happen to me. But everyone is different of course.

You stay well too, Marie :)

rose water said...

Dear sister!
A very interesting post!
Polygamy is a hot topic! :) I understand your thoughts on this and will share mine below :)
Only Allah (swt) knows how many men out there, with more wives, treat them according to the Sunnah!! And I do think many men have misunderstood this topic very much. Also the Prophet (saws) first took more wives after the love of his life (Khadija) had passed away! My husband says that for him, a 2nd wife (or more) would first be something he'd take into concideration, if I passed away...
Before I reverted to Islam, I never thought about the fact that my future husband could be wanting to marry a 2nd, 3rd or 4th wife!! Lol. After I reverted it became a possibility in my life, though. I married shortly after my revertion and actually didn't make things clear with my husband about this issue. LOL! We have talked about the issue a lot of times, 'cause I find it interesting to discuss and my husband knows quite a few men, who are married to more than one woman! His sheikh (who is a very wonderful and wise (and wealthy) man indeed - and treats his wives very wonderfully) also has 3 wives and he has told me many stories about those wives and how the 1st wife (at first) disliked the 2nd wife and how she disliked the 3rd wife and how the 3rd wife was all satisfied. Lol (again). I think it is an enormous test from Allah (swt) if he puts a woman in that situation (with a husband marrying another woman)!! At least in our time!
Having had almost four years with this issue on my mind from time to time, I now think I WOULD actually want to try living with it, if my husband chose another wife (or more). I belive what is said in the Quran: Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity (2:286).
I believe that when I face difficulties in my life, Allah (swt) knows that I am strong enough to cope with them (insha'Allah) and I know it would be so difficult for me, to learn to live with a husband who has more wives, apart from me! But if Allah (swt) wills, I will grow from that and get closer to Him through that process.

Those were my thoughts on this :)
Take care, dear sister <3

Safiyah said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, sis :)

Anonymous said...

A thought: widows and orphans are the ones most likely to be preyed on for prostitution, which is harmful to all. one may hate polygamy but are the alternatives better?

Marie said...

I know he would be by my side and maybe he won't think about a second wife even 1 minute. But for the sake of my family I will ask him to look for one. Maybe he will Maybe he won't but I am just thinking what would be the best for him and the children.
Hope you are keeping well. Take care

bosnishmuslima said...

Great blog Safiyah! Of course I had to stop on this topic :)) and I am with you. I know myself very well and would know I am not able to manage it as I am not a team player at all and jealous like hell lol! Though I think circumstances change laws....I think polygamy can be a great solution on some situation.
Somehow when I try to imagine the only I would eventually agree (if I would be dying for someone)would be the second wife :D How selfish lol
But Allahu Alim we never know in which situations we could be so everything could be possible!

Safiyah said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, bosnishmuslima =) I agree, it would be a good solution in some cases, but I can't see it for myself. Is that selfish? I don't know. We have to stay monogamous, why can't our husbands? lol

Stranger said...

Your thoughts echo most women, it isnt something abnormal to not want to share your husband. In fact Im sure that Aisha radiallah uanha would have preferred the Prophet sallahu alayhi wa sallam all to herself as she was known to be very jealous! But sometimes its Allahs Qadr as in my case, and I am having a hard time too, but I love my husband and know he has good intentions and couldnt leave my best friend in the whole world unless I was forced :) May Allah grant us the best always and allow us to accept His Qadr in all circumstance :)

Safiyah said...

You are very brave, Stranger :) Forgive me though, but I do not believe it's the will of God and one just has to accept whatever her husband chooses to do. However, you know your situation best, and I will not judge :) You know best what's in your husband's heart, and if you say his intentions are good, then I believe you :) May God bless you and your family, ameen.

ArabLeila said...

If my husband marries another I will dismember him. And I think the prophet was wrong to marry so many of his women - especially the way he married the wife with your name, Safiyah, and Aysha the child.

Jude said...

Polygamy is so insulting and degrading to women. It's only beneficial to men. if a man wants to help an orphan or a widow there's something called charity. It's less messy and it saves the dignity of women, including his first wife.

And I too think the prophet married too many women. Actually, the story of his marriage to Safiyah was one of the reasons that convinced me to leave Islam.

ArabLeila said...

It is that story of Safiya taken as a slave and forced to marry Mohammed after he killed her family, and the story of his old wife, Sawda bin Zam'a, who felt "old and unwanted" and so gave her days to the younger Aysha so that the prophet would be pleased (as on some accounts it is said he wanted to divorce her, so she did that to remain 'the wife of the prophet', and not a divorcee)that truly broke my heart.

So much for "Marriages from God."

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