Channel: Jamal Badawi
The name of God the benevolent the merciful. I greet you with the universal greetings of peace. This agreement has been used by all the prophets from Abraham through to Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon the mall. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace beyond you. I'm your host, Tama Rashid. Today we have our 33rd program in our series dealing with the social system of Islam. We'll be continuing our discussion of polygamy and Islam. And I have joining me on the program as usual. Dr. Jamal betta. We have St. Mary's University, Jamal assalamu aleikum wa Alaykum cinema. This is our third program and our discussion of polygamy in Islam. I wonder if I could ask you perhaps just
to quickly highlight the main points we touched on in our second programming topic. In button the last program, we started off by getting some of the anthropological and social or sociological explanation of the existence of polygamy in a variety of cultures in different points of history. And we discussed the various reasons such as personal reasons demographic, social, biological, economic, and so on. But to conclude it also that all of those explanations in themselves are each of these explanation by itself does not provide a satisfactory explanation or understanding of the whole picture of such a complex institution like polygamy.
And that all of those reasons interact with each other, and they interact, interact with the outside total social forces, legal,
culture, traditional, all of these things which may shape the attitude towards polygamy being acceptable or not acceptable. This is a complex interaction process. But the bulk of the program addresses itself to the nature of polygamy in Islamic law. And we started off by referring to the mention of polygamy in the Quran.
And we indicated that there are two verses in the Quran that basically deal with this one is a chapter four, verse three, and the other one in the same chapter in verse 129. And we try to analyze the circumstances for the revelation of these verses, which might shed some light about the spirit behind that. And we have seen that this verses were connected with the question of guardianship over orphans, and the fear of doing injustice to them.
We have seen that being connected according to the explanation of a machete, that this is related to the fear of adultery, that if one fears adultery, it's better actually to have a second wife rather than have elicits a relationship. And we have seen also that the verses were revealed after the Battle of a third where many Muslims died, leaving behind their widows and the children in need for some care more than simply a handout to them need also of a family or a home atmosphere, to look after their needs. And we concluded basically, that if you really look carefully at the verses revealed in the Quran,
that's chapter four, verses three and 129. You're bound to conclude that it shows that monogamy that's one husband, one wife is the norm that the Quran encourages, but in the meantime, it allows polygamy not as a requirement not as a commendable act, but as a conditional permission, which seemed to be in you know, designed to deal with certain situations and accentuating problems. And even then there is the requirement of ability to look after more than one wife financially, and the requirement also of doing justice between them.
there are people who suggest that the Quran itself prohibits polygamy. Could you explain perhaps your view of the basis for that comment? And what would your response be to people who would hold that particular view? Okay, the basis that some people make this argument and I'm aware of this kind of
interpretation, that they say that in verse three in chapter four in the Quran, it says that you may marry that's more than one wife and it requires just
And it says, If you fear that you will not do justice between your wives, if you have more than one, then marry only one.
And then they say that in verse 129, which comes later in the same chapter, it says, You will never be just an equitable between women that's between wives, even if you try to and the show, right? It says justice is a requirement. On the other hand, it says you will never be able to be just an equitable if you have more than one wife to say, all right, the implication that it is prohibited.
But this is not really a very well found it kind of interpretation, because the very same verse that they refer to it says you could marry more than one wife. So it would not make sense, for example, to tell you all right, you can have two options, monogamy or polygamy, if need be, but it is forbidden to have polygamy. Why say you have two choices to start with? See the points is just like saying, you can take this or that, but you cannot really take this. So what kind of option do you have? On the other hand, it has been also shown authentically, that from the life time of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him relating to himself and many of his companions had practice polygamy,
they had more than one wife, how could they deliberately violate the teaching of the Quran, and the Prophet would not object to that. So it shows that the permission was there, and there is no absolute prohibition. I think, Brother Mohammed, the confusion about this whole issue as to whether the Quran really prohibits polygamy or not arise, because of the meaning of the term, Adam,
that justice is used in both verses, chapter four, verse three and 129. But it is used in different contexts, different meanings. In the first verse, that's verse three, it talks about humanly possible justice.
Say, that is anything that is detectable behavior, like it's explained last time, Justice by having equal amount of support clothing, food, housing, time to be spent with both wives, let's say if you have to.
And this is think that this is the thing that is absolutely required, that if you feel that you want to be just, you should not marry more than one way. But the term itself, which sometimes translated justice, balance, that is mentioned later on in the chapter, that's one verse 129.
deals with the justice in a sense of having equal feelings. And if you might recall from the previous session, we discussed also this question of feelings, that feeling is something that you do not control. And the Prophet himself have indicated that that you cannot divide in anything that you cannot control, which is the feelings itself inclination. And that's why the very same verse says, you will not be just an equitable between women, even if you try to, and then it says fella, Tommy, local Alma, so don't you be overly inclined, so as to leave one wife, like in suspense, leaving her feeling cursed and better, which means that you try your best in terms of feeling. But if you can't
have equal feeling that something beyond that is beyond your control. So one would have to put it honestly, really, that there is no evidence really solid evidence from the Quran that it is forbidden. But there is no evidence that it is required or encouraged either.
Now, many people raised questions about the
maximum number of wives that are permitted to for Is there any significance to this number, as opposed to say, six or one, the same thing? Suppose the verse said five times the Wi Fi, if it said three, so they say why three, however, some people try to explain some of the possibilities for that particular number.
Some, for example, argued that it would be really too much for a wife to be away from her husband or not to have her husband, you know, spend the day or night with her for more than three days. So it's a right if the person is married to for at least her shares, will come once every three days, which they think or judge as, you know, maximum time.
Some said that if you marry more than four, even in the most accentuating circumstances, it becomes very difficult to be just an equitable, that it is very rare for a person to have enough voice to be able to support for wise, while this might be only partial explanations, and I don't think that this reasons by themselves gives a satisfactory answer, at least in my mind. But I think the point here that is forgotten that this number is not an arbitrary number that
Human being placed. It is it comes in the Quran itself, which for the Muslim is the word of God, and God's wisdom
definitely exceeds ours. And we may not be able to fully to comprehend particularly the choice of any specific number on a specific maximum for that. So this is one thing. But on the other hand, we are not prohibited from trying to contemplate or try to find a possible explanation to understand it better.
But, it may be kept in mind, however, that
the number four stands somewhere in between extreme restriction like saying what I know more than one wife just monogamy strict monogamy, and between going into such a large number of wives which might look really like just a centrist type of relationship, and that perhaps for as a maximum would cover a variety of extenuating circumstances war, very low sex ratio, but it is very unlikely that the need would arise where you need too many people ready to get married to more than four wives whether because of personal reasons or social type of disasters or problems. But the other thing to remember also is that the number four is mentioned in the verse as a maximum, absolute maximum,
which means that if the problem cannot be solved in one particular setting, exception of case, except by having four fine, if the problem can be resolved, by having three wives, that's even better, to better monogamy, which is the norm. According to Islam, that's even much better. So just establish some kind of cutting line to stop the unrestricted practice of polygamy that existed before Islam, as we indicated in the previous program in different cultures, and even under different religions even. So this is the kind of thing is just an absolute maximum really, rather than
something that should be regarded as the average are known. Well, many people suggest what if the norm is to have only one life? Why then did Islam allow for polygamy in the first instance? What are the reasons? Yes, okay. Well, not writers, when this question is discussed, they immediately move into listing possible reasons or possible circumstances which may make of polygamy, a better and more moral solution, offsets and problems, and that's fine. And in fact, this is something we should also address.
my approach to this is that before even getting into any of those reasons, especially in a topic like this, which evokes very severe action, and very strong, emotional kind of
feelings, that at least for the Muslim, it should be remembered that the permission or this conditional permission of polygamy is not something or a law that has been put or set by a human being, even the Prophet himself, it is direct revelation. If that law was made by men, you would say they are biased because they are males. If the law was made by women, you'd say they're biased because they are females, God is neither male or female. And when he established this rules, or allow certain things, he definitely must have good reason behind it. And no intention whatsoever of being unjust stuff, the last two males or females, that's impossible to adjust to believe in God and
believe that he is unjust. This is just out of question altogether. So it must be reason. And as indicated earlier, it doesn't mean that of course, we have no right to try to explore those reasons. But a believer would not say that if I don't get those reasons, I won't believe in what God is saying, I see I believe in God, but I try my best to understand some of those. This is a basic, fundamental, methodological question.
But the point here is that the nature of Islam itself, as the seal of revelation of all the prophets, that there is no prophet after Prophet Muhammad peace be upon there is no holy book to be revealed after him, according to Islam believe that Islam, as the Quran indicated, is the combination of all the messages and mission of all God's prophets throughout history.
And if Islam is then is intended not as a religion for the Arabs, or Middle Eastern or Western or whatever it's intended for the whole world as a universal faith, then by definition, it would not really be eligible to be described as universal unless it has enough flexibility and its laws, so as to be able to solve problems in depth
times, different places, and different circumstances. And different times, because Islam as the last revelation would not be universal would not be truly universal. If it only addresses the problems faced by people in the time of the Prophet, our time in between or in the future, it's must must meet the needs of these different times it has to be time it has not to be or it should not be time bound. Secondly, it cannot be a universal face when it is tailor made for the conditions of the Arabs or Americans or Canadians or whatnot,
it must be must have the flexibility to deal with the situation in different cultures in different settings. So, it has to be a face, which is not pleasant.
it cannot be circumstances bound it you can't it could not really have a universal faith that solves problems under certain circumstances under certain cultural practices or norms, but fails or keep silent. On other practical problem says under different kinds of circumstances, again, to be universal, it must be assessed, which is not circumstances bound.
For this reasons, altogether,
we realize that there may be circumstances on the individual level or collective level, which may make it very difficult to find a solution a frank, honest, daylite type of solution without having this conditional permission for pulling. So there must be reasons behind that. But I think the methodology first, and the nature of universality of Islam has to be put as the major consideration.
Well, maybe we should turn our attention now to some of the reasons,
beginning perhaps with the social reasons. So could you give us some examples of the social reasons which might, okay, there are several that could possibly be related to this. First of all, in some places, and at certain times, there is a constant complaint of a lower sex ratio. That is when you have a larger number of females, and less number of males to get married to.
And this might include people who are girls in marriageable age, it may include widows may include divorcees.
Now, if in such kind of setting, there is insistence that anything other than monogamy is wrong and illegal and all that, what would happen for the needs of those
girls or women who want to get married, but are not able to because of this shortage of, of means, of course, in the context of Islam, their basic needs could not be satisfied in any illicit or immoral way. So what's, what are the practical solution? Of course, if they don't want to get married, that's their option. But if they do, why should the law make it very restrictive? That's one thing. A second thing, which is quite normal in human history. We all hate wars. nobody really wants war. That's the basic human instinct to look for peace. But on the other hand, it is unfortunate that so long as there is good and evil in this world, so long as there is human
capricious claims, arrogance of power, and all that, worse, has been a fact of life in the past, at present, and will probably continue until the day of judgment. In most cases, if not almost universally,
the casualties of this wars, even though it may include women and children, is very heavily on the shoulder of men. Men are men who are normally killed in this wars. And of course, if you look at the for example, the First and Second World Wars, they talk about any
very large number of of men killed, causing a sort of imbalance, like were described before the question of lower sex ratio. What to do in situations like this. And this, in fact, relate to certain surprises, surprising information for many audience or viewers who might,
for the first time hear this, that after the Second World War, they have been demands in Europe itself, for some form of similar form, I should say, of polygamy that's permitted in Islam. To give you an example, in in Munich in 1948, after the war, there was an international use
Gathering, and a discussion went on about how to solve the problem of shortage of men after the
And many suggestions were offered, none of which really seemed to have been very practicable and useful. So some of the attendees who were Muslims proposed this notion of allowing polygamy under this extenuating circumstances. Of course, at the beginning, like any Western reaction, it was looked at with disgust. And, you know, surprise that How could that be. But after things were discussed, not on an emotional level, on an objective, reasonable and rational basis, you'd be surprised that the people who were attending, representing variety of cultures and religions, they agreed to make to adopt polygamy as a recommendation that would solve this problem.
In 1949, the residents of the city of Bonn in Germany, they actually made a request to the government that the constitution should
have provision permitting polygamy when the need arises. And other social, again, circumstances that might fall within this range, which is very similar to the question of wars, is the fact that in human history, even at prison, despite the fact that women has also been involved in lots of work, and jobs, that has been traditionally men's jobs, but still, you find that the job that involves a great deal of dangers of killing, you know, that's like mining, construction, truck driving, and so on, that you find that by and large, it's mostly men's type of job. And the the deaths out of this dangerous jobs, of course, might be relatively higher in the case of men than women. And again, that
would result in lower sex ratio. And, again, the presence of widows and other people who probably might prefer to have a family type of living.
Another on the other hand, there is another question that perhaps can fit either under social or individually can relate it to both, that maybe there might be some individuals with a sort of overwhelming, strong sexual drive. And it may be in some cases, again, that if you insist
on it strict monogamy, you're really leaving them no alternative, but to go from the backdoor, and commit adultery and involve themselves in illicit sex relations, which are regarded, of course in Islam as a major sin, an offense not only against God or against themselves, it's against society also, because we have number of people or women who are being exploited, you have illegitimate children as a result of this illicit relationship. And may add one more point which you might we might have alluded to that in an earlier program. That's in some cultures, the polygamy seems to have been part of the social structure, some of the African countries, for example, that we
discussed last time, and we refer to some of the anthropological studies on this people. And in fact, even among non Muslim
societies, someone must have sizes in Africa, it was reported several times, that the even missionaries and the official position of some churches did permit people to convert to Christianity, to keep their wives because some of them were polygamous when they were pagans. So all of these things shows that there are circumstances on the social level, which make polygamy a much more viable and more, let's say, wholesome approach than going from the backdoor and solve the social problems. Well, how about the make mention of there being individual circumstances which can possibly justify polygamy? Could you elaborate a bit on that? Okay, let me give you an example.
Which approximates reality that I have heard ovens, similar cases. I mean, it's just like, compiling this together in a very simple example.
Suppose you have a young man in his 20s he got married
to, you know, a girl about the same age.
Family Life has been very good relationship is good. They love each other. Fine.
They got two babies, one is three years old. One is one years old, one year old.
And then all of a sudden, the wife contracted a very serious disease, which would affect her availability to him for husband wife, type of relationship. It could be all kinds of things. Some people might be just in the process of slow that's like cancer, leukemia.
Yeah, it could be a southern mental disease, it could be a possible coma. And we have heard about people who can stay in coma for literally years.
Now, the question here is this, what kind of alternatives are open before that happened?
One, you could tell right, he can control his instinctive needs. And if this things happen to continue for five years, 10 years forever, until he dies, that's fine, you should sacrifice and not satisfy his instinctive needs. What is not does not object to that if he wants to, if a person is able to control this basic sex drive for that many years,
or forever, until he dies, while there is nothing explicitly that says you cannot do that, if he can do that, fine. But the question here, how many people what percentage of young people in their 20s are able to take that road.
So that's not a good solution for all. Secondly,
he can keep his wife because he believes that monogamy is the only mode of marriage and go from the back door, because he cannot resist his needs, and have mistresses. Again, from an Islamic perspective, that's not permissible because that's I don't think it's even more of an offense, the third, divorce his wife and get married to another one, to satisfy his needs, and just to get rid of all that sounds like dumping your beloved person at the time of need. That is crucial, isn't it? Okay, what other alternatives besides these three, that might be better than any of them more practical, more wholesome, to get married to another one, satisfy his needs, maybe that second wife
would be instrumental in looking after his young kids, looking after his home, maybe even if she's noble enough, might even be helping to serve. The first sick wife, a practical solution might sound surprising because we are raised, many of the viewers are raised in a Western,
you know, atmosphere where it is inconceivable to think of a person being married to twice but practically speaking, when you look at a situation like that, what meets those criteria of morality, practicality and kindness. It might not necessarily be the best solution, but the best solution that perhaps you could think of in a situation like that, or else the question is posed to any viewer, what would be a better way?
practical, better way and morally, meeting all these criteria, where
I've getting the signal that we've exhausted her time for today, we'll continue this discussion next week. We want to invite you back. We want to thank you for watching our program. Assalamu alaikum, peace be unto you