Channel: Jamal Badawi
The name of God the benevolent the Merciful, the creator and the Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant and messenger Muhammad forever I mean, I greet you with usual greeting on the program. It's a greeting that is commonly used by Muslims. So universal greeting used by all the profits from Abraham through to Prophet Muhammad. greetings of peace Assalamu alaikum peace be unto you. I'm your host hombre Rashid. Today we have our 35th program in our series dealing with the social system of Islam. We'll be having our fifth and concluding discussion on the topic of polygamy in Islamic law. I have joining me on the program as usual. Dr. Jamal Badawi of St.
Mary's University brother Jamal Assalamu alaykum Polycom, Sam, I wonder if I could ask you just to quickly highlight the main points that we covered last week in our program on this topic of polygamy in Islamic law. Okay. We continued last time our discussion of some of the individual contingency or emergency situations which may make
polygamy Or more accurately polygyny, a better solution for cases like that, such as Baroness, illness and so on.
We also talked about some of the guarantees and protections provided for women in particular, in the case of polygamy, whether she is a second wife whereby she is not forced into that situation, she has a free choice, or if at first why we indicated the variety of measures, which would protect hires such as asthma or delegated repudiation that is, she could have the right of unilateral divorce of her husband, should he take a second wife, if that's specified in the contract, or she could include strict monogamy as a condition for the continuation of marriage or relationship. Or she could go to the judge if she's hurt, and she feels that her rights and vested interest has been
affected by her husband taking a second way. Or even if the judge doesn't agree, we said Finally, she can even apply the concept of hollow which by she can make some agreement to return some of the payments that her husband made to her and be released from the marriage relationship. And finally, we were dealing with the question of why not polyandry? Why did not allow the having neural aspirants for the same wife. And we discussed that both from the biological, social as well as instinctive and psychological aspect.
Well, now, we've commented thus far on some of the advantages of polygamy. What about the other side of the coin? Are there disadvantages? Yes, for sure. Well, of course, the most obvious disadvantage that perhaps pops into one's mind is the question of jealousy. No matter you know, what kind of woman you're speaking about, or her degree of faith and commitment to God, no woman on the average wishes that any other woman shares, her husband, shares his love, affection or resources. I mean, this is a natural human inclination. There are disadvantages also for men himself. It's quite the job to
to keep two wives, not only from the problem of finances, but also very tough insofar as the Islamic requirement is concerned, that is to keep absolute justice, whatever is humanly possible between more than one wife, which is a very hard job.
But obviously, as a result of this difficulties, particularly the question of jealousy, there would be a constant problem for men also, it's not just like somebody sitting there enjoying having some anyways. There's constant quarters that are likely to arise between the wives if there's more than one
maxing his life very difficult. But even if there is harmony between those wives, they could conspire against him. And other words, they could unite and be harmonious with each other but conspiring against them to get whatever they can or want from him.
This kind of struggle and difficulty could also
be passed on to the children. If the man has children from more than one wife, again, there is difficulty vying for power, vying for the favor of the Father. These are all problems in addition to this, while the spirit of Islamic law, which we described before, shows that polygamy should be used, not abused, it should be only used as a last resort in certain problems. It's not a general rule.
Like any other thing, which is permissible, any other concession, there's always a chance of abuse or misuse of this type of concessions. But the problem in the final analysis really boils down to the comparisons or weighing the harms relative harms and benefits from resorting to this measure whenever the benefits are greater than polygamy might be a more wholesome solution to some of these problems. And I wonder if perhaps I could get you to just elaborate a little bit in a little bit more detail in terms of
weighing the harms versus the benefits and case of polygamy? Yes. Well, you see, in the societies, where polygamy has been totally outlawed, we find that the problems which resulted or which may be connected in some way or the other, to prohibition, of polygamy are relatively greater than any problem which may result from allowing or permitting polygamy.
In extenuating circumstances, as the ones that we discussed in previous programs, we find that the people who are affected by that whether they were men or women,
say is a very difficult and very limited type of choices, if polygamy is not permitted,
they may suffer or may be subject to suffering for the rest of the life, the deprivation of the wombs of marital life, and the satisfaction of the instinctive need in such a moral and wholesome manner. The instinctive need that both men and women have in terms of getting children and having a family
this may lead some women who do not have a chance otherwise to get married,
to look for jobs in order to support themselves, in some cases to support themselves and their children in case they are widowed or divorced women who cannot find a single husband that is husband who would be married to them alone in a monogamous relationship. Now, no matter how much a woman can get from her job, by way of salary or status, it definitely does not compensate for this basic and strong urge, instinct, to
for motherhood, to have children and to to raise a family. But in the meantime, we find also that to close the door for a wholesome and moral solution to solve these problems even through polygamy, if need be, opens the door for more corruption and society, which ultimately leads to the destruction and the disintegration of the family.
Or even more cases of divorce where, you know, sometimes a problem that like we discussed before could be resolved by having a second life if the door is closed for a second, having Second Life in this circumstances. The only other alternative would be to divorce which is again,
another problem you go through the vicious circle again the consequences of divorce insofar as they affect the woman, the man and the children also as victims of that. So when we really look at the problem with an objective I keeping this strong emotions aside for the time being and we try to evaluate the various alternatives or options available, in view of the moral values, at least that prohibits adultery and considers illicit sex relations as something which is condemnable which should not be there.
More than venues which considers
sexual relationship without commitment.
repulsive as the passive if not even more repulsive, as it may sound to people to have a second life is very strange, that some people would consider
illicit sex relations as repulsive, but pure and wholesome marital relationship, even within the context of polygamy as repulsive This is a very strange way of evaluating things.
Now, the question boils down then, to this very simple comparison. Would it be better for a person to have a second wife in case this is a necessary step to solve
certain problem contingency
who is married to him in the
daylight, when the known to be his wife with all the legal protection for herself, and for her children with the full right to inherit her husband, in case of his death, or to have hypocritical monogamy I could call that that is by getting married officially and legally to one wife. But in the meantime, having so many mistresses or other illicit relationship, where there is no protection, there is no more laws are observed. And there is no commitment whatsoever, leaving aside the psychological
ornamentation that the person goes through by feeling that he is committing infidelity towards his wife, that he is hiding certain things that that with that might arise in the mind of the first wife in case the man has other illicit relationship, the big shock for the wife when she discovers that her husband has had a regular relationship with with other women. But even when this case, we should remember what was mentioned in the very early portions of this program, that polygamy as viewed by Islam is not really the general rule, but rather something to deal with exception and problems to provide a solution which is both practical and moral. At the same time, we have seen already some
difficulties, we acknowledged that there are difficulties and drawbacks in polygamy. But the question again, is, which is the least of the two evils of human?
Now? That's right, we've had a very good discussion of what is involved in playing me. I wonder if I could ask you to
explain to what extent polygamy is common in the Muslim world today. Unlike what some people feel that, as indicated earlier, and this programs that some people tend to unfairly and incorrectly associate polygamy with Islam, and we have seen lots of evidence against that. The same thing people also tend to think that in Muslim countries because Islam permits polygamy, that is something that's rampant.
Many times, my non Muslim friends asked me when we talk about the Christian man, how many wives do you have? I said, my goodness, I have only one wife, I have absolutely felt at no time any needs for
considering a different thing, even though Islam permits it. I mean, it's just a kind of stereotype like those false stereotypes and over generalizations. In fact, there have been several studies on that. And various scholars give different figures for that, depending on the country where they made their surveys. But none of them did I see at least in terms of contemporary situation, any figures, which is more than a fraction of 1%.
And even in this case, we find it more common even in certain social medias or circumstances like among peasants, for example, where children are very important parts of the the family economic situation. So, there is no evidence also that there is any increasing or alarming increments in the number of people who are taking more than one way even in Muslim countries where this is permitted. So there is no no major problem. as such. I'm not saying there is no problem at all, that there is no major problem that is really
What is your view of those people who suggest or call for the prohibition or the abolition of polygamy in Muslim countries, there are some even among Muslim scholars and educated people who have taken that position, which quite frankly, I consider to be a very superficial and apologetic type of position. apologetics simply because they are not really acting, they are reacting to all of the unfair accusations made against Islam and Muslims and the stereotypes that are quite common in references about Islam by non Muslims in the West. But one should not react that way at all. In fact, if we look at it objectively, hopefully,
it is not a very useful thing really to prohibit, outright prohibit
polygamy, even in Muslim countries, at least there are three basic reasons for that. One is a basic mythological question. That is to say from a Muslim standpoint, no human authority should supersede divine authority. And if Allah or God capital G did allow or give that concession
For polygamy both to the Old Testament prophets, as we have seen before, and in the case of the Quran, that is in the teaching of Islam, it is permissible, if God has permitted that, definitely for good reason, for some wisdom that he knew that some situations could be solved best through polygamy rather than divorce or, or adultery.
Then who are we as humans, simply responding to attacks or being apologetic? Who are we to put our human wisdom above that of our Creator? So this is one A second reason why this could not be very good solution is that we have indicated before that the present state of polygamy in the Muslim world is so minor that when you talk about the fraction of 1%, you're not really talking about any alarming problem at all, or major danger that
absolute an outright prohibition, and may be helpful.
A third reason why I'd not agree with this kind of claim,
is that it the approach of saying outright, prohibition of polygamy is a negative approach. It simply says don't do this. But it doesn't really succeed to provide alternatives. What are the solutions to the problems that we discussed? For example, over the last one or two problems? How do you deal with practical real life situations like this, which could happen in any place or any society? How do you resolve it? So It simply says, Don't do it simply because people will feel it's repulsive, but it doesn't get any better? A wholesome and practical solution to the problem.
one case that I'm familiar with, at least in one Muslim country, where the legal system was modified to actually outright prohibit polygamy. But this country is ruled by a ruler, who is quite westernized, not very committed, as far as I know, to Islam, and the implementation of the law of Islam. So just, you know, follow whatever comes from the west, whether it's right or wrong, which is not a good and creative approach at all. And that resulted in some funny situations. For example, you go to the judge,
and acknowledge that that second woman you had contact with is your legitimate wife, that you're married to her and that you're responsible for her legally. And if she has any children you're responsible for, for them, then you will be punished legally, and you'll be sent to jail. If you go before the judge and say, no, that second woman is not my wife, she's my mistress. You may go free, which is it from a Muslim standpoint, is sheer hypocrisy. See, I mean, to commit adultery.
Or if you claim that it was only an adulterous or illicit relationship, you go free. But if you claim that I am responsible, it's his commitment. It's the second league and wife, you go to jail. So this is, again, an indication of the superficiality of this kind of,
you know, prohibition. Without giving a better alternative, I don't think there might be a better alternative in cases like this at all. So in other words, the to, to have an outright prohibition create problems rather than really solve problems, particularly arguments. Some might say, Well, okay, perhaps it's not wise to, to outrightly prohibit polygamy, but what about the restrictions of imposition of some restrictions on polygamy in order to minimize some of the problems that are associated with it? How would you respond to like, I've used this, for example? Yes, that's right. Yeah. What do you say the question of trying to limit or stop abuses, is a principle which is not
inconsistent with Islamic law, Islamic law provides actually for that.
But the main question, just like you indicated in the question, should not be buy out outright prohibition by trying to take some other measures. However, if restriction rather than prohibition, is the course of action that may be taken,
it should also be done within the limits of Islamic law. It has been indicated before that there are two major conditions for the use of this concession of polygamy. And one is the ability financial ability to look after more than one wife more than one household in many cases. And secondly, is the observance of justice and equality between the wives if there is more than one and we have indicated again before that these are very difficult conditions, very tough conditions to meet. So if there's any legislation that ascertain and make sure or ensures that these conditions are met, it is not against Islamic
at all. But the main thing that one has to be careful about is that those conditions or restrictions should not be such that they turn out to be this act of prohibition. In other words, you can make so many restrictions to the point that it makes it almost impossible for people to solve their problems if there is a problem like that through polygamy. And as such, you might be pushing them to break the moral laws, or moral code in Islam.
They have been such kind of claims and you go back even to 19th century, as early as in the 19th century and early 20th century, we find that there have been some Muslim jurists even who called on some measures to prevent abuses of polygamy. Among those the famous Judas chef Mohammed Abdullah, who as reported by his students, Mohammed Rashid, Reza, and his eliminar, which is like an interpretation or commentary on the Quran, where he quotes his teacher indicated that Mohammed Abdullah, as a Muslim jurist, felt that at his time, there have been so many abuses of polygamy. And he actually was making some hints without explicitly saying that it is not against Islamic law, that
certain laws or regulations be passed to prevent those abuses.
There have been several attempts after Sheikh Mohammed Abu to make some kind of reform in the law. But unfortunately, some of them amounted really to what might be called a veto right. That is to require an advanced permission from the judge, before the marriage, marriage can be a second marriage could be upheld, legal. But that again, like I say, places too much power in the hands of the judge and matter which is very intimate and very close to the private life of individuals involved. However, a better proposal was made by another great jurist famous when also Sheikh Mohammed Abu Zubaydah, and in his book lectures in marriage, and dissolution of marriage, that's an
Arabic, I just give the translation.
He said that we have to make a distinction between religious condition and legal conditions. There are some religious conditions which are based on the ethical convictions of the individual and his religious religiosity, if you will, not all of these conditions should be turned into a legal condition which requires a certain judge to sign and approve of. And he said that
the question on the sensitivity of marriage itself should not make the permission of a judge as an absolute precondition for the validity of a second marriage. The same idea seems to have been implemented in Syria, for example, in the person a law passed in 1953. In Syria, it said that the judge may refuse to give a permission to the person to have second marriage. But if the person gets married without the approval of the judge, the contract, marital contract is legal, it's acceptable, but the person may be for example, fined for not registering marriage in the proper
way. But it does not say you can never get married because the judge thinks that you, you know, you should not.
So this is some of the these are some of the measures which could be legitimately taken without this suddenly, using the outright prohibition as a solution. These numbered restrictions like that would be within the boundaries of Islamic law.
Well, we've been discussing prohibitions and restrictions and so on in the Muslim context, what about the situation of non Muslim societies? Do you think that new legislation permitting polygamy may be relevant and useful?
I know your even your question might be shocking to some who have been brought up to believe that polygamy is such a terrible thing that it exceeds in its repulsiveness. Any other thing, whether it's adultery or social ills or problems, but if again, we look at it more honestly,
we can say that, yes, it could, it could contribute a great deal in resolving at least some of the problems even in non Muslim or Western societies.
One reason is that the basic human nature, the fundamental human nature, is basically the same regardless of people and their cultures or backgrounds or ancestors, whatever. There are certain basic things which are quite universal among all people. And some of the problems we discussed last time, like the incidence of prolonged diseases of a wife of a youth
Husband, the various problems pertaining to Baroness. And all of these are quite universal, I'm not restricted to one society or the other, they're common.
In addition to that, the again, the fundamental or common social problems pertaining to male female relationship is something which may vary in its form or format, from one society to the other, but not really fundamentally. So whether you're talking about the east, west, or south or north, that doesn't make much difference, really, because these are basic social problems, which arises
inevitably, in any society, and polygamy could be a solution to those problems.
The other thing is that one should keep in mind also that the West, like the east or any other place, is not really a problem free. And if your question really as to whether polygamy could be a solution, or could be of some help, if it's legalized in North America, for example, my answer definitely would be yes. Because if you look at the social malaise of our time, the problems with sexual morality, the problems with disintegration of the family, problems of juvenile delinquency, the problem of divorce ratios, which goes sometimes as much as 40%, much more or many folds, what you may find in societies like Mr. Slight is where polygamy is legalized? Well, if one look at all
of this social malaise, I'm not saying that polygamy alone would solve the problem. They might be so many causes for this, the diseases are different difficulties. But for sure, at least in some of those cases, polygamy if legalized could provide a more wholesome and more practical solution that would avoid breaking up of certain marriages, and again, decrease the extent of
sexual immorality that could be quite transparent when all doors are closed, to illegitimate. Well, I'm sure it may sound surprising to some of the people that are watching the program that indeed, some Western scholars have called for the legalization of polygamy, rather than condemning it, as is commonly done. In the few seconds that we have left on today's program. Could I ask you just to give us maybe an example of, of this view, once they have been so many writers, for example, and is basant says that there's this pretended monogamy and there was but there is real polygamy without responsibility. And she goes on explaining again, that is just the kind of pretense rather than real
monogamy that exists in the West.
For example, Ram Lando says that polygamy must be considered both natural and legitimate. He also indicate that in most cases, I have found that polygamous behavior or polygamous longing went hand in hand with the sensuality of monogamous natures. Another scholar Professor van Ehrenfeld, he says polygamous marriage order has become necessary order
that it will succeed monogamous system he goes even as far as saying that it may succeed, monogamous system because he says it is morally superior. Just to give one more professors have a look at this. It says in no part of the world, is polygamy so prevalent as in Christendom? In no parts of the world? Is it so easy for men to escape the obligation incurred by polygamy? And there are so many others. I'm not giving any exhaustive list. I wish we had more time to go through some of them. But I just like to conclude by saying that this is only a sample of many objectives as Western scholars who thought that perhaps in polygamy, there is a more wholesome and practical solution for many
problems. I'm not quoting this to say that divine commands or divine concessions need any human rationalization or justification. It simply shows that people even aside from their religious convictions can see polygamy a solution, but let's remember what was repeated throughout these sections, this segment of the program, that after all, Islam views polygamy not really as the basic rule or general rule, but as something to meet a contingency situation is very difficult problem that otherwise has no solution in a more wholesome and practical way.
And we want to
invite you back next week for our program and we'll be talking about marital relationships. Thank you for watching.