Polygamy in Islam
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Muhammad and Polygamy
According to traditional sources, Muhammad practiced polygamy. Besides the numerous concubines, he married fifteen women and consummated his marriages with thirteen. According to Tabari he was also accused of being a "womanizer". He was also attributed the sexual prowess of many men:
Reasons for Muhammad's Marriages
Islamic scholarship gives the care of widows and poor woman as a societal reason for polygynous marriages. Yet Many of Muhammad's wives were not poor or widows. In fact, one of his wives (Muhammad's cousin, Zainab bint Jash) was originally the wife of his step-son Zaid bin Haritha. As was the case with Safiyah bint Huyayy, the traditional sources indicate that many of his marriages were the results of Muhammad's desire, not compassion for widows or poor women. This is nowhere more evident than in his numerous divorces, which numbered six in total. For example; he divorced ‘Amrah bint Yazid on their wedding night, due to her suffering from leprosy. He also divorced a women named Ghaziyyah bint Jabir when he realized that she was 'old'. Yet Muhammad refused to allow Ali bin Abu Talib (the husband of his daughter Fatima) to take even a second wife because "what hurts her, hurts me." This seems to indicate that at least for his own daughter he thought that polygyny hurt women, but would not take this fact into account with regard to his own marriages.
Polygamy Permitted in Islam
Regardless of it not being acceptable for the husband of Muhammad's daughter, Islam traditionally allows a man to marry up to four wives at any one time:
Islam also does not traditionally require that the man have the permission of his first wife before marrying a second:
FatwaIslam, Permanent Committee for Research and Verdicts: Fatawa Islamiyah Darussalam Vol: 5 No. 353
Islamic Defense of Polygamy
Muslim scholars often claim that the reason why Allah allowed men to marry four wives is that men are killed in battle, thus resulting in women being in more numbers more than men. They also claim that the practice of polygyny curbs adultery, thus leading to more and happier marriages and fewer divorces. Yet these claims are not supported by the facts:
World Population shows a surplus of men
Here's a breakdown of the world population according to CIA Statistics
- World Population age group 15-64 years: 65.2% (male 2,152,066,888/female 2,100,334,722)
This means there are 51,732,100 extra males in the world at marriageable age. Even the worst war in history did not kill off enough males to make polygamy justified. In WW2, 24 million "military" died, leaving still another 26 million spare men.
- GENERAL POPULATION: women and men casualties: 1,986,370,000 (probably mostly women)
- Military casualties: 24,456,700
Allah creates more males than females
The ratio of births is 105 males to 100 females, so this does not seem to be the case.
Polygamy often leads to divorce
According to Somayya Jabarti of Arab News, Saudi Arabia has the second-highest divorce-rate in the world. Abdullah Al-Fawzan, a professor and sociologist at King Saud University in Riyadh, states that polygamy is responsible for up to 55 percent of divorces. He added that the loss of trust, sincerity, compassion and cooperation were also factors in the failure of marriages. The Maldives, an Islamic country with a 100% Muslim population, also has the highest divorce rate in the world, with 10.97 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants per year.
- Total Population by Gender and Gender ratio, by Country - UN Statistics Division population 2009 (est.)
- Monogamy Reduces Major Social Problems of Polygamist Cultures - University of British Columbia, ScienceDaily, January 24, 2012
- al-Tabari vol.9 p.126-127
- "....Layla’s people said, "’What a bad thing you have done! You are a self-respecting woman, but the Prophet is a womanizer. Seek an annulment from him.’ She went back to the Prophet and asked him to revoke the marriage and he complied with [her request]...." - al Tabari vol.9 p.139
- Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 139; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 187-188.
- Ibn Ishaq, cited in Guillaume, A. (1960). New Light on the Life of Muhammad, p. 55. Manchester: Manchester University Press
- Ibn Hisham note 918 (here he has apparently confused her with Asma bint Al-Numan).
- Bewley/Saad 8:100-101.
- Women in Islam, By Anne Sofie Roald - Page 221 [Quoted: Najla Hamadeh, Page 335-6]
- al-Tabari vol.9 p.139
- Sahih Bukhari 7:62:157
- "An indication of their special relationship is found in the fact that Ali never married another woman as long as Fatima was alive. Sunni sources explain this curiosity in a tradition in which Ali asks for Abu Jahl's daughter in marriage, but the Prophet does not allow him to marry her because it would upset Fatimah." - "The Image of Fatima in Classical Muslim Thought," Denise L. Soufi, PhD dissertation, Princeton, 1997, p. 51-52
- Global Population Statistics - CIA.gov
- WW2 Casualties - Wikipedia.org
- Somayya Jabarti - Alarming Divorce Rate ‘Must Be Addressed Urgently’ - Arab News, October 24, 2003
- The Maldives is the only country after Saudi Arabia that claims to have a 100 percent Muslim population. As per its constitution, only a Muslim can be a citizen of the country. Propagating any faith other than Islam, importing/publicly carrying literature that contradicts Islam or translation into the Dhivehi language of such books and writings, displaying in public any symbols or slogans belonging to any religion other than Islam, or creating interest in such articles are all against the law and are punishable with imprisonment, fines or banishment.
- Highest divorce rate - Guinness World Records, accessed January 5, 2013