Polygamy

We are not in favour of the practice of polygamy for a number of reasons, not least of which, because it goes against both the letter and ethos of the law in this country.

There are different views amongst Muslim scholars on this subject. No doubt, there is a well-established body of Islamic thought that allows the marriage of a man to up to four women. But close scrutiny of this aspect of Muslim personal law and the teachings of the Qur’an show a very specific and limited context. The Qur’an says: “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one…” (4:3).

According to some Muslim scholars, two important conditions are mentioned here – that the issue is raised in the context of a significant imbalance in population, in the context of warfare, in order to deal with the real situation of looking after orphans and widowed mothers, where a welfare state did not exist and single women were extremely vulnerable. The second condition is one of justice and equity between wives. A third important point is also that in the context of Arab culture at the time, the Qur’an was limiting the number of spouses (as previously men could marry an unlimited number of women), rather than encouraging this sort of marriage. This means that in ordinary situations, especially in a modern setting, the practice of Polygamy is very difficult to defend.

Regardless of the theological and ethical debate, the bottom line is that this is not a positive requirement of Islam, it is an allowance, and thus if the law of this country has prohibited the practice this must be upheld.