Doha - Islam allows the man to have two wives at the same time, or three, or four provided that he treats them equally and justly. The arguments for polygamy are many; here are some of them.
LESS DIVORCE In monogamous systems, the husband who falls in love with another woman is forced to divorce his wife or to commit adultery. In Islam, this husband is allowed to marry the woman he loves instead of committing adultery.
HALF A HUSBAND BETTER THAN NONE Polygamy in Islam is not for the sake of the man only. It is in the interest of the woman also, because in polygamy a woman and a man are involved. Polygamy means that the second wife prefers being a second wife to having no husband at all. In polygamy, another woman gets married when she knows that her husband has a first wife. The second wife knows about the first wife and yet she accepts the situation. This proves that polygamy is in the interest of women also.
The WOMAN'S APPROVAL Polygamy in Islam is not a threat to the first wife or the second, because in Islam each wife has the right to have her separate home and no wife has the right to dominate another.
Some wives do actually urge their husbands to marry a second wife when the first wife is chronically sick or sterile. This proves that a woman prefers her husband's marriage to a second wife to causing her husband to divorce her.
Polygamy does not only solve the problems of some men, but also solves the problems of some women. The proof is that in each case of polygamy, a woman chooses to get married to a man who has another wife. This means that polygamy solves the problems of men and women alike.
The HUSBAND'S RESPONSIBILITY Some people, for the sake of arguing only, want to give a similar right to the woman, ie, to permit her to have more than one husband. But this trend goes against the interest of society with its men and women and children. In a polyhusband system, it will be impossible to hold a certain man responsible for a certain child. Besides, the psychological nature of the woman abhors a polyhusband system.
Besides, with many husbands, the women may get venereal diseases and may get a cancer in the womb, whereas man suffers no diseases caused by polygamy. In addition, it is not in the nature of the woman to run after men, whereas it is in the nature of the male to look for one female or more.
ISLAMIC RESTRICTIONS Before Islam, polygamy was the custom of peoples in most parts of the world. Islam came not to allow something unallowed, but came to limit unlimited polygamy. Before Islam, a man could marry as many women as he wanted. Islam came to limit the number to four and to require justice and equality of treatment.
It is true that the ideal situation is a one-husband-one-wife system. But there are cases when polygamy is less harmful to society than leaving millions of women unmarried.
It is a matter of choosing what is less harmful to avoid what is more harmful.
A STERILE WIFE If a woman is sterile and she loves her husband and her husband loves her, but her husband wants a child, what is the solution? In a monogamous system, the only solution is divorce. The husband divorces his wife, whom he loves, and marries another woman while probably keeping an illegal relation with his ex-wife. In a polygamous system, the solution is more merciful: the man can get another wife without divorcing his first wife.
This solution keeps the first wife and the husband together and does not break their hearts through divorce, and at the same time solves the problem of the husband who longs for having a daughter or a son.
A SICK WIFE If a wife suffers a disease that makes her unable to give her husband his sexual right, in a monogamous system the husband either divorces her and throws her to loneliness and slow death or goes to adultery. On the other hand, in a polygamous system, this man can keep his sick wife and continue to be loyal to her and at the same time solves his own problem by marrying a second wife. Which is better for the first sick wife: to be thrown in asylum or to remain a wife? Which is better for the husband and his feelings towards his first wife: to throw the first wife on the street or to continue to be her husband? If the husband and the wife agree that the best solution to their problem is to allow the husband to have another wife, why should law force them to get divorced? CHANGING MIND A man divorced his wife and married another. He got children from both wives. Later, he and the ex-wife discovered that it was better for them and their children to re-marry each other. The present wife had no objection. In this case, polygamy is a social solution to the problem of the ex-wife and her children.
HYPERSEXUALITY Some men have an excessively strong sexual desire. Such a man cannot wait during the menstrual period of his wife. Polygamy solves the problem of such men, but monogamy pushes such men to adultery.
Of course, in Islam, a woman has the right to get divorced if her husband has a sexual defect. Islam is fair to both the man and the woman, because Islam is God's legislation and God does not prefer men to women or women to men.
WIDOWS Some women attack polygamy. But some women benefit from it. A widow or a woman who has had no chance to get married finds in polygamy her dream. Besides, a wife who is sick or sterile finds in polygamy a means to her safety and her continued marriage. Under monogamy, unmarried widows often remain widows and sterile or sick wives are threatened by divorce.
PREVENTING ADULTERY A married man may love an unmarried woman. In polygamy, the solution is to marry this second woman. In monogamy, the solution is to divorce the first wife and marry a new wife or to keep the first wife and go into illegal relations with the new love.
EASY SOLUTION In a monogamous system which does not allow divorce, a husband who has a sick wife or falls in love with another girl, finds himself unable to marry a second wife and unable to divorce his wife. Such a system may push such a husband either to commit adultery, or to murder his wife, or to accuse her falsely of adultery in order to obtain a divorce. In a polygamous system like Islam, this man need not murder his wife, or accuse her falsely, or commit adultery. He simply can marry another wife if he chooses.
A husband may hate his wife for one reason or another. In a polygamous system, he can marry a second wife. This second marriage may improve the first wife's attitude towards her husband or may prove to him that his first wife is much better if compared to the second wife. In a monogamous system, the solution is divorce if it is allowed or a miserable life until death if divorce is not allowed.
A husband finds that his duty is to look after a widowed relative and her children.
But this man is afraid of being falsely accused by people because of his frequent visits to his widowed relative and he is afraid that this widow will be also falsely suspected.
One way to solve this problem is that this man marries this woman.
MORE WOMEN THAN MEN Polygamy does not only solve the problems of individuals, but also solves the problems of the whole community. It is known that women often outnumber men because men are subjected to death more often than women in wars and accidents. Besides, and as statistics show, the average age of men is shorter than that of women. This fact means that in any country the number of women is more than the number of men. Polygamy helps more women to get married, whereas monogamy does nothing to solve the problem of millions of unmarried women.
Thus we can see that polygamy in Islam has its justification and does solve the psychological and social problems of many men and women alike.
(*Taken from his book The Need for Islam)