Rafed English

Right of Woman in Polygamy

The second point is that the numerical majority of women of marriageable age not only creates a right for them but also an obligation for men and married women.

There is no denying the fact that marriage is one of the most natural and most basic rights of human beings. Everybody, whether man or woman, has the right to lead a family life and have children. This right is similar to that of doing work, having a house, receiving education, utilising the health services and enjoying freedom and security.

It is the duty of the society not to place any obstacles in the way of the enjoyment of this right. On the other hand, it should provide all possible facilities for this purpose.

In our opinion it is a big drawback of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it has not paid any attention to this right. It has recognised the right of liberty and security, the right of approaching competent national tribunals, the right of having a nationality and changing it, the right to marry without any limitation of race or religion, the right to own property, the right to form an assembly, and the right of rest and leisure, but it does not mention the right of leading a legal family life.

For a woman this right is of utmost importance, for she needs a family life more than a man. As we have already said, to a man the material aspect of marriage is more important and to a woman its spiritual and sentimental aspect. If man has no family, he can at least partially fulfil his needs by indulging in free love and debauchery. But to a woman a family has a greater importance. Debauchery cannot even partially fulfil her material and sentimental needs.

To a man the right of having a family means the right to satisfy his lust, the right to have a partner in life and the right to have legal children. But to a woman it also means the right to have a protector and patron and the one from whom she may draw moral support.

After the establishment of the two premises, viz. the number of women eligible for marriage is larger than the number of men and it is a natural human right to have a family life, it is easy to draw the conclusion that if monogamy is regarded as the only legal form of marriage, a large number of women are bound to be deprived of their natural right, and it is only polygamy, which of course with specific conditions, can restore it.

It is the duty of liberal-minded Muslim women that they, in the name of defending the just rights of women at large, in the name of protecting morality and in the name of protecting the human race, call upon the U.N. Commission for Human Rights to recognise officially the Islamic system of plurality of wives as a human right, and thus render a great service to the fair sex and to morality. The fact that a formula has come from the East and the West has to follow it, should not be regarded as a sin.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari

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