Is this what Islamic polygamy is all about?

Can a poor Muslim man practice polyamy? Well, that isn’t a million dollar question. But looking around, I see that it is mainly poor people (especially from third world countries) who are into these types of relationships. I don’t mind how people choose to live, because it is their business, and not mine, as to dictate how they should live. But I hate it when they take the name of religion to justify what they do. Many Muslims shout at the top of their voice,” It’s my right to marry 4 wives”. Is that how Islam talks about polygamy? Marry 4 women, and move around producing tons of kids…Hell NO, This is not the essence of polygamy in Islam. [Having said this doesn’t imply that rich people can practice polygamy as they like.


Polygamy has been thought of a way of undermining woman’s emotions and identity, and it is ranked among the discrimination of human rights under Gender discrimination by most women organizations. But, polygamy surprisingly is practice by educated people, even high ranking officials in some of these third world countries. So uprooting such a cultural moral issue will take time, and more civil human rights bills to be passed internationally. Women have fallen victim of the man’s demands and have given in to the practice, fearing divorce, which is considered a weakness if a woman leaves the marriage on her own.


One would have expected that polygamous men should be financially stable and be able to cater for the needs of his wives and children but this notion has since changed as there are several reasons being attributed to polygamy. A local and typical African man may be polygamous so as to acquire more wealth through the use of his numerous wives and kids on his farms hence the more proceeds from the farm produce sold the more the man acquire wealth. Further researches conducted into why men of third world countries marry more than 1 wife is to boost their ego. In a typical local and traditional African setting for instance, more respect is given to men who have many wives and many children, they are respected for being very agile and virile and such men are considered as stronger than those who have just 1 wife.


When asked about stance on polygamy, amazingly, many Muslims (men and women too!) claim that “men have extra desires which a single woman alone can’t satisfy”. Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn’t find any biologically and scientifically evidence for this argument.Secondly, they argue that if the woman is ill or barren, it is better to take another wife, than committing forcination…Sadly, I have seen that for some people (both men and women) marriage is more of physical attahment than the emotional attachment it ought to be…I see marriage as a life long institution where man and woman share love,compassion,trust and many more virtues.Agreed that the urge for love making is natural.But we aren’t animals with no self-control.If a muslims justify taking more and more wives ‘for fear of committing forcination’ I must sadly say that you should not have issues with non-muslims who don’t have the RIGHT for polygamy,moving around and do all rapes and harassments,simply becasue they(men) can’t get satisfied by one wife. Where are we going?


A widely popular argument in favor of polygamy is that ‘there are more women than men”(Dr Zakir Naik is the main propagator of this argument) from my research, I find that in most societies (as of 2007), men are in excess.See link. Another argument for polygamy is that rather than let women lead sinful life it is better that one takes them as co-wives. It is not correct to say that prostitution is because of more women in society than men. Prostitution happens because of several other reasons like uneven distribution of wealth, migration of men to other countries or to urban areas in search of livelihood and extreme poverty in women’s families, loose morals and many more. By practicing poygamy, I don’t think we can eradicate, because it is a problem of different dimension.


 The Qur’an And Polygamy


Islam has emphasized that one can take a co-wife only if he satisfies the material and moral requirements. Preservation of cordiality, stability, and purity in the family life can be seen clearly in the Quranic doctrines as well as in the tradition of the prophet (pbuh).


Allah Almighty states in the Qur’an what means,


  • 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] (An-Nisaa’ 4:3)



The most common interpretation of this Qur’anic verse is that despite the clear indication that a man has the right to marry up to four wives; equity is a condition that has to be established. However, since equity is a condition that is almost impossible to achieve, the supposed polygamous right is obsolete. Indeed, polygamy is very restricted in the Quran, and it is the abuse of this supposed right by many men in different societies that gave it its bad reputation.



I am not discussing the verses as there are many online resources available in that regard. The main conditions related are 


  • First wife should not have an objection. One can’t ring the door bell and tell his wife”Hai honey, here is my new honey”
  •  Equal treatment for all wives. It is implied that he provided houses of equal status, and provide all material and moral needs.
  •  Finally, one should not take more than 4 wives. (This is most understood when read under the context of history or social conditions prevailing during the time when Quran was revealed)


I never think that Allah went wrong by allowing polygamy. Again in war times, when tens of thousands of men die leaving widows and orphans unattended, there is always a need of polygamy to help those ladies and save the whole society from a state of moral chaos, which would result from all these numbers of single women. But social and economical conditions vary from what it was then what it is now. Women should be given education and thus choice to live the way they wish to. It is not that men have RIGHT for polygamy. At the end of the day, no one can claim to own absolute truth or wisdom, and Allah Almighty will judge each human being (with mercy of course) based on their intentions and actions.



·        Polygamy is practiced in many societies and not among Muslims alone as it is usually perceived.

·       Polygamy in itself is not bad, but its abuse is worse. 



Read more

 Wife must first agree to polygamy, Indonesia court.








    • Sac
    • August 16th, 2008

    Polygamy is plain unfair, simply because its one way. also allow rich women to marry 4 men.

    • Arjun
    • August 18th, 2008

    Hi Nimmy,

    I think here you got your preferences wrong….

    Polygamy was allowed in all religions as there were so many deaths(men soldiers) in ancient times during war….
    Unfortunately in Islam(in some places), this practice is still continued..

    Even though you included this issue in your blog I think You failed in prioritising it….

    No hard feelings please


    • Nimmy
    • August 18th, 2008

    Hi Arjun,only good friends point out faults:) Actually i feel good that you bothered to read all my rant;)

    Hmm,maybe i lost focus.But I was telling in the last para ,”Again in war times, when tens of thousands of men die leaving widows and orphans unattended, there is always a need of polygamy to help those ladies and save the whole society from a state of moral chaos, which would result from all these numbers of single women.””Polygamy is practised in many societies and not among muslims alone as it is usually perceived.”

    ..and also,polygamy is widely (still now) practised in many societies.Refer wikipedia.

    My main intention was not to prove that polygamy is wrong,but that there isn’t a need for polygamy as of today,since we (women) have a choice when compared to olden days when she was totally dependent on male counterpart.Atleast,we can go out and find a job and bring up kids,thus choosing not to be a co-wife

    • Nimmy
    • August 18th, 2008

    Please read my posts and make honest opinions and criticisms,so that I can improve..

    • Nimmy
    • August 18th, 2008

    To add “Polygamy is conditional in the Quran. Muslim women should also be made aware of their rights and taught the importance of a well- planned and well-written marriage contract. They have the right to include in their marriage contract that their husbands would not remarry; if they did, the wives have the right to ask for divorce. They also have the right to stipulate that in case of divorce, the husband would support the wife and his children who would remain with the mother”

    • Vineeth
    • August 22nd, 2008

    Another important thing I think people in these modern times should do, is rather than focusing and using in their lives, all ideas and principles in the religion in which they are born, they should try to inculcate only the good ideas and principles, but not only from their religion of birth rather from all religions.

    The question then is how to differentiate the “good ideas” from all the ideas, that i feel people should refer to their hearts.


    • Nimmy
    • August 23rd, 2008

    @Vineeth,you are very right!..

    From what I understand,all religoins basically preaches goodness..But we humans have altered over years to suit our egos and now all religions are equally messed up.God is the same in all religions,except that our paths are different.There is no point in yelling whether “My God or your God is superior”..

    But about the next point you are talking about,well,”good” and “bad” is subjective.For a thief,it is ‘good’ to steal from a rich man and for another guy it may be “bad” to speak good about his parents..So it may sound better if we have unified rules…

    • Milind Kher
    • August 25th, 2008

    Polygamy was sanctioned by Allah essentially after many women were widowed and the sex ratio was affected adversely. Clearly, the Quranic teachings indicate that it is very difficult to do justice to all wives in polygamy.

    It holds monogamy as an ideal, and polygamy only as an exceptional recourse. This is the light in which the whole thing needs to be viewed.

    • Nimmy
    • August 25th, 2008

    @Milind..The true purpose of polygamy have been shadowed or rather erased by many people who abuse the law concerned.I don’t think today’s polygamy included nay of such virtues as ‘ supporting widows,orphans’..Its we muslims ourselves ,along with media hype that made Islam’s name synonyms with polygamy and terrorism..

    • Another Kafir
    • September 10th, 2008

    Why is a timeless law outdated as soon as the war is over and men are not dying in large numbers? Can this be the word of God? If the law was right for that time, then Islam is irrelevant now, it should be abandoned.
    About your ps, polygamy is practiced many places, true, but it is unlawful for all societies except muslim and muslim people. If you agree that polygamy is not consistent with times then why not get rid of it, or you are scared to blaspheme the Lords word.
    If it was only subject to a lot of men dying at that time, why did not God make a provision for women to have more wives in the situation like today when there are more men. Why is everything subject to the morality and times of 7th century, isn’t God time less, don’t we have god in the rest of Asia?

    • Robert
    • June 4th, 2009

    @ Another kafir. There are still worldwide much more women than men. If all men married 1 woman, what would the remaining women have to do? Islam puts great importance on marriage and children knowing and being raised by both parents. Monogamy would just lead to adultery and bastards

      • Nimmy
      • June 5th, 2009

      🙂 Welcome and thanks for your comment…I don’t stand for polygamy..But fatherless childs aren’t fine either…

  1. March 21st, 2009

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