Social System of Islam 32 – Polygamy In Islamic Law 2 Historical Perspectives

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Jamal Badawi

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The name of God the Merciful, the creator and Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant and messenger Muhammad forever me. I bear witness that there isn't any god worthy of worship except the one true God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger and servant of God. It is our fashion I greet you all with a greeting that has been used by all the profits from Abraham through the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all, is the universal greetings of peace. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace beyond to you. Today we have our 32nd program in our series dealing with the social system of Islam. We'll be continuing with our

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discussion of the topic, polygamy in Islamic law. I'm your host, Hummer Rashid. And I have joining me on the program issues Well, Dr. Jamal Better Way of St. Mary's University brother Jamal Assalamu alaikum My name

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isn't sir, fashion. On our program. I wonder if I could ask you just to quickly highlight the main points that we touched on last week in our introductory program dealing with polygamy. Okay. First of all, we started by clarifying the terms and we said that polygamy is a broad term, which includes any form of ruler, marriages, which may include In fact,

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the same wife having more than one husband, which is called polyandry. And we said that this is not what we're dealing with, because Islam does not allowed. But polygamy also could mean polygyny, which means the same woman that sort of the same husband having more than one wife at the same time, and this is the subject that is that we're dealing with. And we said if we use the term polygamy, actually, we mean by that polygyny, not polyandry, because of the implication of the term. And secondly, we tried to indicate that the assumption and the ideal in the structure of a Muslim family in Islamic law is monogamy, not polygamy, or polygyny, that is one husband and one wife. And that's

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it. That's the norm that Islam requires, unlike other common notions. But in the meantime, Islam neither outrightly prohibited polygamy, nor did it require it or encourage it.

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And then we started trying to put the subject in historical perspectives. And we tried to look into ancient civilizations where we concluded that for many authorities, it is obvious that the practice of polygamy more particularly polygyny, was in existence and in virtually all ancient civilizations. We have shown also that in the case of Judaism and Christianity, there is textual evidence and or manifestation and history which showed that polygamy was accepted, we refer to the prophets who had more than one wives, we refer to the

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church councils or rabbinical councils that only prohibited that, in later centuries, several hundreds of years after even the advent of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

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So this were basically the same thing we ended actually indicating that not only was that limited to the 11th century, like the case of Judaism or 17th century as in Christianity, but we refer to some Christian sects like anabaptist, who even encouraged

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the practice of polygamy, and even the Mormons who are even more recent sects who actually approved of polygamy and consider it even a divine institution. Now, in the case of the Mormons, Is that still the case of the Mormons still encourage and support polygamy? Well, I mentioned that last time in a rather quick way, but perhaps some background of that could be useful. The way it developed, in fact, is that in

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in 19, in 1847, when the Mormons started to establish themselves and what they consider to be the promised land, particularly Utah,

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they adopted

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polygamy quite widely. That's during the days of Brigham Young as the major founder.

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But however, in 1894

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At that time was outlawed by federal statute in the United States. And as a result, since the church openly advocated polygamy, their property were confiscated. And I don't know whether this might have been one of the reasons that led the church, the Mormon church to officially at least issue a manifesto, banning plural marriages or any form of polygamy.

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However, we find that the church president Wilford Woodruff later declared a manifesto saying that

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this kind of manifesto has been divinely inspired.

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Of course, the question here is that it was divinely inspired only after the church property were confiscated. So God knows what exactly was the motive for change. However, we find that in periodical called journal, an interesting article by Ben Merson, a first hand report was published in 1967.

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In which the title of the article by the way, it says husbands with more than one wife, that was the issue of June 1967. And he, on the basis of visits and actual interviews with polygamous families in the Utah area where a large number of Mormon live. He says that it is estimated that in Utah alone, over 30,000, middle class Mormon Americans secretly cling to the practice of plural marriages. I record mentioned that he mentioned something in that article that in some schools, the teacher would ask, What's your name? The child, john smith, and what's your name? Gary Smith. And both of them are the same age and the same class you say are your brothers is yes. Well, obviously, of course, they

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brothers from two different ones for the same

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husband. So I think one has to be careful in saying that, first of all, officially, in the 19th century, polygamy was permitted by the Mormon sect. But even after the official declaration, which might have been connected with the confiscation of the church property, still, the practice did not necessarily disappear, and they still exist until

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our days.

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Now, one wonders about the reasons for the practice of polygamy and seemingly in all civilizations and cultures and all religions. Are there certain reasons, which, in your opinion, transcend the questions of culture and religion, which

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sort of

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make the reason for polygamy. You're talking about how a sociologist, for example, aside from religion might explain that, yes, what some sociologists like to refer to, for example, Hamad Abdullah RT, an interesting book called family structure in Islam when he as a sociologist also deal with or summarizes the views of many sociologists, not necessarily Muslims, many sociologists on the subject.

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And he indicate that many sociologists now after researching the issue more carefully, and aside from just emotions have come up to the conclusion that the practice of polygamy is not necessarily something which is irrational, non rational, antisocial or immoral as some people might quickly jump to those conclusions. But rather sociologists feel that it is an issue which is multi dimensional, which involves lots of complex combinations of reasons which might be personal demographic social units.

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Perhaps we can summarize also some of those reasons sociologists give on the personal explanation. They claim that it is quite possible that an individual who is married may be overwhelmingly attracted to another woman other than his wife, for whatever reason, whether for sexual reasons, or whether for aspiration of status,

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because in some cultures, having more than one wife might also be a symbol of wealth and status. It could also be an attraction on the part of the woman that some women in some cultures may prefer to get married, even as a second wife to someone who is so rich and so prominent than getting married to a poor person. I'm not talking now from Islamic perspective, I'm just talking one sociological explanation that some people have considered.

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That's the person explanation there is also a possible demographic explanation. Yes, that is the case where, as it happens, in many places, the sex ratio is low, whereby you don't simply have just one woman available to one man, but you have relatively more females than males.

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In which case, in order for those extra females,

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to have any sense of family life or marriage, it may be virtually impossible if it's just limited to monogamy, strict monogamy one man, one woman. So that could be demographic explanation.

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Some refer to what you might call perhaps a biological explanation. I'm not necessarily saying I fully agree with each of these reasons.

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referring to the fact that the man's sexual nature might make him naturally or competitively more predisposed to polygamy than woman is, consideration of men's or men's aggressive sexual arousal could be a factor, the capacity for physical dominance on the part of the male. All these were given as possible explanations

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for

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polygamy, so that could be a biological explanation.

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Some sociologists suggest what you might call a social explanation. And they point out that in some cultures, polygamy might be one element, or one force in binding families and tribes together. So it's a sort of a pact of inter family or intertribal Alliance.

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Some even may add that this might lighten the household duties or chores on women involved in the same marriage with the same husband.

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While others talk about economic explanation, pointing out to certain poor areas in the world where the infant mortality rate is high, and where the families are poor, and the need for more hands to work for the family is essential, which may lead some men to try to get married to more than one wife in order to make up for, you know, the totality of children and also to provide the human resources for the future.

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For example, just to give you an a reference to that particular explanation, where some cultures seem to have accepted polygamy without much fuss, just as much as monogamy is regarded as the idea for example, in the, in the western communities. In a book by D Campbell,

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entitled in the heart of the Bantu land in Africa, published in London, in 1922. He mentioned also something of this nature, the preference even of women to get married to

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the existence of polygamous marriages, as a social norm, which is accepted another book by edgecore de cry,

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called tsukkomi, law and custom that was published in New York in 1953. Again, particularly page 52, he mentioned something similar to that. So these are some of the reasons that the sociologist have considered, but I think it is quite useful as Abdullah, he concludes on page 110, on the family structure in Islam, that he says that

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one should not forget, however, that this complex host of reasons that we mentioned before personnel, demographic, biological, social, economic, and all that, that these reasons are too complex, in a way, like in a system approach, they interact with each other. So they interact internally. And then the combinations of those reasons also interact with the total social forces, social millio, which includes things like traditions, customs, conception of public morality, law, and all of those forces interact both, like I say, internally and

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externally. So it's not a matter that one can really say,

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any general over generalized statement about polygamy all these forces may contribute to make polygamy competitively more acceptable or less acceptable, depending on the mode of this interactions. Of course, I'd like to turn that into an examination of Islam supposition. With respect to polygamy, it appears from what we've discussed in last week's program, and to this point that

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Islam didn't introduce the practice of polygamy, but simply sanctioned existing polygamy. What the first part of the statement is absolutely acceptable. There's no reservation at all about it. It's correct that Islam neither invented or introduced, polygamy have seen that it existed among many persons, many nations, cultures and religions, including in Judaism and Christianity. So I think this is the

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There's no question in my mind about this.

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The question of Islam, sanctioning existing polygamy is also to be accepted, but with a little bit of precaution that I'd like to add to this. And that is, Islam did not even sanction,

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the practice of polygamy the way it existed before the advent of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Indeed, Islam, as I think I mentioned, but perhaps very passingly, last time, Islam is the only monotheistic face, which restricted the practice of polygamy that was an existence that its admins and regulated it and added the conditions on which might be called even to these stringent conditions.

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Before polygamy might be an acceptable case, in some situations, that it's the legislation by exception really, rather than taking that as a norm that should exist in society.

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But

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to elaborate a little bit on your question or statement, it may be useful also to remember that

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polygamy in Islam is not an obligatory duty. It doesn't say, for example, a Muslim must practice polygamy. Nor is it an article of faith or a principle where you're sinners if you don't yet implemented Not only this,

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polygamy in some also, it's not even a commendable act. That makes you a better believer, like say, for example, if you have one wife, you're okay, if you're have two wives, you're a better believer, if you have three wives, you're a super believer, there is nothing like that. I mean, it's not even a commendable act that in the same way that you say if you pay more charity or better is nothing like that.

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What it is simply is something which is neither outright outrightly prohibited, nor even unqualifiedly permissible. It is conditional permissiveness, if you will are conditionally permissible, if you were to apply this term for it.

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The other thing that may relate to from the purely legal standpoint and Islamic law is that even acts which are permissible or conditional permission, this act in themselves, could also turn out to be detestable or even unlawful or prohibited. In other words, they may be allowed in principle, but under certain conditions, it might be detestable or even outlawed. Totally. An example of this would be the case of committing injustice, which is another principle of Islam. If there's an obvious case of injustice, if the person,

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let's say, takes a second wife, even though it's permissible, under this circumstances, it may be declared as unlawful. For a given case, I'm not saying in general, in some cases, it could be.

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So the essence then is that

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to reiterate, again, because I think this is important that Islam is the only face that really did not ignore the practice of polygamy did not keep silent on it, nor even condone it, or consent to it as it existed, but stepped in to that restricted, limited and provides some kind of regulation for its practice, even though it is not the basic role or not intended to be as the norm for instant family. Well, now, is there an explicit mention of polygamy in the in the Quran, when there's one key verse that appears and operand, which is an obvious

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reference to the permissibility of,

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of polygamy and that appears in chapter four in verse three, when from Allah, Sophia Tama Thank you, whoa, Mata Bella come in. And this is now our, the sense of the transition of meaning, if you fear addressing Muslims, that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, that's significant. Marry women of your choice two, or three or four. But if you feel that you shall not be able to do justly with them, then only one or a captive that your right hand possess, that will be more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice.

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Now, if you look at the the text of this verse, there are a number of observations on it.

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To start with, again, to repeat the verse is not an injunction. It says you should or you must practice polygamy.

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Nor does it say it's a crime or offense to practice. So that's again confirms the principle stated earlier or documented.

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Secondly,

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The permission here seemed to be conditional, because it says that you have to deal justly with them. Because if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly. If you have more than one wife, then you should marry only one.

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Certainly there is an additional restriction he is on the practice of polygamy, unlike what existed before Islam. Before Islam, people had known upper limits even of how many wives the person can take. We have seen, for example, in the Bible, a number of wives going to 700, or 100. In the days of Islam, when Islam came also, among the pre Islamic herbs, people had 10 wives more or less. So another upper restriction here is four, it says two or three or four, it doesn't say two plus three plus four means nine. That's a very mistaken understanding, which is contrary to the etymology of the Arabic language and the the fact that the Prophet did allow people to have four wives, and if

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you have more than four, he asked them to divorce the rest. And the fact that the consensus of Muslim jurists throughout history has been that it's not two plus three plus four, but two, or three or four, I mean, the maximum, absolute upper limit under any circumstances, no matter how low the sex ratio is, or extenuating circumstances may be, it cannot exceed four. So this is another restriction which was explicit in the scriptures.

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In addition to this,

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it is important to notice from the very beginning part of the chapter of the verse four three, that it says that if you are we are afraid that you will not be able to do justly with the orphans,

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which shows that the main philosophy behind permitting, polygamy is not just satisfaction of sexual needs or all that but it is something to prevent injustice being done to women under certain situations or circumstances. And I could, perhaps get you to expand a bit on the context of this

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revenue, the revelation of this particular this particular circumstances surrounding it.

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Well, that's one of these orphans, for example, my wife was mentioned them. Okay, well, the same question actually was directed to the wife of the Prophet peace be upon Prophet Muhammad, Ayesha.

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And as narrated in Abu Dhabi,

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in Bukhari, and Maasai. And that tirmidhi, when she was asked, she said, This verse was revealed with respect to a guardian, who would have under his charge or guardianship, an orphan, one or more orphan girl, for example. And then he gets attracted to her beauty and once, so he wanted to get her married to her, let's say, as a second wife,

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but without necessarily paying her a just marriage gift for dowry, because again, it should be

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fair, also, there's no minimum Max, what should be fair also. So he might be afraid that because he is the Guardian, he may exploit his position by not paying a first marriage gift to her.

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So what that means, then that a person should not get married to those orphans under his guardianship, unless he really is first onto them, and he's able to pay them that you're right rather than exploit his position. But if he is afraid, and he's not really certain that you will be able to be just, especially when Islam makes it a big offense to devour the wealth of orphans or, you know, weaker people in the community. Then diverse simply says that you could marry from other places, if you really have a pressing need to have a second life. And you're afraid of this injustice then you can marry because God has permitted you in case there is a need for that to other

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women, as a machete, one of the measures, interpreters of the Quran in his book, Alka chef.

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He also mentioned that that verse seemed to imply that polygamy is permitted when there is fear of commission of adultery.

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And more specifically says that when people heard verses in the Quran,

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threatening those who devour the wealth, or usurp the right of orphans, some of them were so reserved, that they stopped even getting married to orphans under their guardianship. So what it says here that if you're afraid of doing that, and afraid of committing adultery, if you have no way out in case you have a pressing need for a second life, then the verse speaks in that particular context. But in addition to this, the timing of the revelation, that verse is quite revealing because that verse

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was revealed after the Battle of offered, in which many Muslims were martyred, of course, Muslim men's leaving behind not only young daughters who are in marriageable age, but also widows, some of whom are young widows, who still have a lot, a

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lot more in their lives to fulfill, and as well as smaller children who need help and support. And, of course, the notion of getting married as a second wife, even to some of those unfortunate women, looking after their needs is much more human than simply giving them a handout and say, Alright, you know, here's some food for you. So to provide for their both physical, sexual, even as well as the need for worms and marital life, and the need for the children to have, you know, a father in the household has been quite significant and was practiced, actually by early Muslims to provide this mutual support for orphans and their children. Let's go back to the condition of justice that you

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talked about a moment ago as being

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a condition in poorer marriages. When you say justice, in this context, what is meant? What is meant by Justice is that first of all, before even explaining its meaning, I would like to reiterate again, that it is an absolute condition for the validity of polygamy. In other words, you should not have a second wife according to Islamic law, even if you have good reasons, provided

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or unless justice is being achieved, because the verse was very clear for three that if you feel that you not have justice, or do justly between wives, if you have more than one, then you should marry only one, which is the norm.

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And not only that, the Quran mentioned that but Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as narrated in Abu Dawood tirmidhi, in the salary and even the magic of these are collections of prophetic traditions. He said that whoever had two wives,

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and he was biased or had some more inclination or bias towards one of them, he would come into the Day of Judgment with one of his hats, or one of his sides lowered or, you know, unbalanced a symbol of the lack of justice or balance. So that's a kind of threat not to be biased, and if you fear that bias, then you should marry only one.

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And

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what that really means is the maximum humanly attainable justice, which means that if a person has happened to have had twice, then

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the amount and quality of food provided for both should be the same, the quality and amount of clothing for both should be the same medication, recreation, Equal Housing, you cannot give one palace and other one room both should be entitled to exactly equal housing. But more importantly, even the amount of time that the husband is to spend with each of his wives should be again,

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just an equal

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in terms of mercy, and compassion and good treatment should be required for both of them. However, there is one aspect of justice however, which is not humanly attainable.

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And that is the case where, for example, a person cannot totally control his internal emotions and say, Alright, if you have more than one wife, then you should love both of them, or have the internal emotional feeling exactly the same.

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This is not humanly possible. And of course, God does not ask people to go beyond their human

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capacity. That's why Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him himself, as narrated in Abu Dhabi, that term is in the salary. And if the manager, he said that they Oh god, this is my division, or my justice and what I could control. So don't blame me for what you control, but I don't control him is the very private inner feeling. And finally, the Quran itself even alludes to this and for example, in chapter four and verse 129, it says, while on the spot to and 30 Robaina decide that you will never be able, you will not be able to be really fully just an equitable between your wives, even if you try. So let's say simply don't be so inclined in a biased way, that you leave one wife as if she's

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just suspended, that one should try his best in anything that can be controllable, to be fully, just an equitable and again, only in the cases where there there are extenuating circumstances to justify

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deviating from the norm, which is again, is monogamy in Islam, one wife, one man will leave it at that for today. We want to invite you back next week when we'll continue our discussion of polygamy and Islam and begin with

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a discussion of why Islam

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accepted polygamy. Thank you for watching Assalamu alaikum peace