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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family Matrimonial Rights

Matrimonial Rights - Justifications of Polygamy

Article Index



In the light of the following justifications, we may refer to the purposes beyond Islam’s allowing polygamy:

First, it happens that a wife may be affected by a physical or mental defect that impedes her from doing her duties, responding to her husband’s desires, or paying attention to the family members. Such crises may create disorder; therefore, it is essenti al to find acceptable and firm solution. This solution must be that:

(a) Either the husband, suffering the deprivation of his marital rights, is neglected without treatment and left slipping in the depths of vice, and the family members, as well, are left for disorder. This is in fact wrongness against the husband and the family members,

(b) Or the husband leaves the diseased wife, by means of divorcement, suffering the agonies of ailment in addition to the bitterness of rejection and loneliness. This is absolutely denied by sound sense, for it contradicts the principles of humanity,(c) Or the husband, after obtaining the diseased wife’s permission, marries another wife who can respond to his desires, reunite the scattered family, and encompass the diseased wife with kindness.

This is in fact the best and most acceptable solution.

Second, in some circumstances, it happens that a wife is incapable of giving birth. Husbands, in such cases, have to choose one of two—either deprive themselves of sons and stand the burning feelings of being heirless. This is however nobility. Or marry another woman capable of giving birth. The second is in fact more logic since it is decided by nature and instincts. Very rare are those who deny this fact.

Third, women, as a rule, are more numerous than men because, practicing dangerous and deadly jobs in factories, mines, and the like, men encounter fatal dangers. Men, naturally, are less immunized and more subjected to the infections of diseases and epid emics than women are. Biologists, referring to this fact, say that women enjoy physical abilities that men lack and nearly all diseases affect men, not women. On this account, there are 7,700,000 widows living, currently, in the U.S.A. The office of Amer ican Census predicts that numbers of this class will raise in the rate of two million per one decade.

Dr. Marion Langer, the sociologist, says that there are two solutions only for covering the reduction in the numbers of men—either polygamy or inventing a method that elongates men’s ages!

War is another reason beyond women’s being more than men in numbers. Wars in fact terminate great numbers of men and cause horrible decrease in their rates in proportion to women. In the First World War, the number of the casualties was 21,000,000. The S econd World War consumed about 50,000,000 men. This huge number of casualties caused a big space in the numbers of men and created an international crisis that needed a decisive treatment.

The Western nations, because they prohibited polygamy, faced this problem with puzzlement; therefore, they had to treat it by means of moral corruption that rumored profanity, prostitution, and bastards as well as moral disorder.

Using such a unique, nonesuch method befitting the nature of humankind and requirements of circumstances, Islam has treated this problem with polygamy through which individuals and societies are saved from many tragedies:

“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. 4:4)

Having allowed polygamy, Islam has not opened its door at random. Protecting women’s rights and dignity, it has specified justice and equality between wives as stipulations for the validity of polygamy. Nevertheless, the stipulation of justice is dedicat ed to the material requisites of life. The other emotional aspects are not controlled by human beings. Hence, man is incapable of achieving fairness among wives in the emotional matters:

“You will never be able to maintain justice among your wives, no matter how hard you try. (4:129)”

Some people may claim that the Western woman does not need marriage since she is able to practice jobs and seek earnings. This claim is untrue. The actuality of the human nature and the inner instincts prove the opposite. Woman’s need for man is not rest ricted in material aspects only. It is in fact an urgent mental need without which woman cannot perfect her entity. The same thing can be said about man.

Fourth, some men are characterized by excessive sexual energy that requires extreme carnal need. This energy can be controlled by polygamy; otherwise, it may find a deviant course. This is the very thing that occurred in the societies that banned polygam y and, in return, were affected by poly-girlfriends or poly-paramours.