A Look At Women, Polygamy And Islam

It has been misunderstood for years that Islaam does not give equal rights to men and women and that it considers women only as subjects of comfort for males. This opinion has been delivered time and time again by renowned women activists, although their basis of arguments are only alleged facts. Their main argument is against the permission given for polygamy in Islaam.

Islaam’s approach to polygamy is most balanced and rational and is based on the moral, psychological and physiological demands of men and women. It should be remembered that taking more than one wife is only permissible, not ordained and binding by the Qur’aan – as some ‘progressive’ activist would like to believe.

The Qur’anic verse that allows polygamy should be read in the context it was revealed. The verse says, {And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two, three and four, but if you fear that you may not do justice to them, then (marry) only one.} (4: 3).

This verse was revealed after the battle of Uhud. In that battle, many Muslim men died and as such a great social problem for the protection of widows and orphans arose, necessitating institutionalized polygamy for a convenient solution of the problem.

Some of the eminent Western scholars who actually studied Islaam, quite blatantly criticized the Western and other writers for venting their opinion as facts. In her book ‘The Life and Teachings of Muhammed’, Dr. Annie Besant, the renowned English leader of Theosophical Movement, says,

“There is pretended monogamy in the West, but in reality, there is polygamy without responsibility; the mistress is cast off when the man is weary of her … the first lover has no responsibility for her future, and she is a hundred times worst off then the sheltered wife in a polygamous home. When we see thousands of miserable women who crowd the streets of Western towns during the night, we must surely feel that it does not lie in the Western mouth to reproach Islaam for polygamy. It is better for woman, happier for woman, more respectable for woman to live in polygamy, united to one man only, with a legitimate child in her arms and surrounded with respect, than to be seduced and then cast out into the streets perhaps with illegitimate child outside the rule of law, uncared, unsheltered, to become victim to any passer-by, night after night, rendered incapable of motherhood despised by all.”

Annie Besant continues,

“You can find others stating that the religion of Islaam is evil because it sanctions a limited polygamy. But you do not hear the criticism that monogamy, with a blended mass of prostitution was a hypocrisy and more degrading than a limited polygamy…. it must be remembered that the law of Islaam in relation to women was until lately, when parts of it was imitated initiated in England, the most just law, as far as women are concerned, to be found in the world.

Dealing with property, …rights of succession,… cases of divorce, it was far beyond the law of the West, in the respect which was paid to the rights of women. These things are forgotten while people are hypnotized by the words monogamy and polygamy and do not look at what lies behind it in the West – the frightful degradation of women…”

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