Polygamy in Islam- Not a rule but an exception



Why is a woman called a possession? Is this a concubine? Why is polygamy permissible for men in Islam? Isn't Muhammad’s own lifestyle seems to contradict the very teachings Islam claims regarding marriage and women?
Thanks to my colleagues for putting all questions as this make me researching Islam diligently. 
Women are often brought into the picture when discussing Islam because their status—if not studied thoroughly and objectively—is severely misunderstood. Under those inaccurate assumptions, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is often accused of practicing and encouraging unjust treatment of women, while the truth is actually the opposite—as I hope you will see after reading this article.

Let’s take an objective peek into his life, to examine whether or not Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is that repelling womanizer. But first let’s go a little further back in history to look at the domestic lives of other prophets preceding Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and what their Scriptures tell us about their stance towards the polygamy issue:

Other Prophets Practiced Polygamy
The fact that only Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is accused of polygamy is rather surprising since this is a privilege enjoyed by prophets before him. Their wives and concubines came in great numbers, too! The Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an tell of some of them; the rest are not mentioned so we don’t know, but among the ones who were polygamous we can count Prophets Ibrahim (Abraham), Ya`qub (Jacob), Dawud (David), and Sulayman (Solomon). The Scriptures talk of polygamy as a “favor” bestowed upon them from the Lord.
First Kings 11:1-3 indicates that King Solomon had 700 hundred wives and 300 hundred concubines! In sealing treaties in ancient days, it was customary for a lesser king to give his daughter in marriage to the greater king. Every time a new treaty was sealed, Solomon ended up with yet another wife. These wives were considered “tokens of friendship” and “sealed” the relationship between the two kings. (Reasoning from the Scriptures on 1 Kings
Scripture indicates that David also acquired wives and concubines, David’s blessings, including his wives, were given to him as a result of God’s favor (2 Sam. 5:12-13; 12:8; D & C 132:39). Scriptural records say that the Lord did command some of his ancient saints to practice plural marriage.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—among others (D & C 132)—conformed to this ennobling and exalting principle; the whole history of ancient Israel was one in which plurality of wives was a divinely accepted and approved order of matrimony. Those who entered this order at the Lord’s command, and who kept the laws and conditions appertaining to it, have gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. (Mormon Doctrine of Plural Marriage p. 578)
Islam Didn’t Invent Polygamy but Only Regulated It—in Favor of Women!
From the above accounts, we can clearly see that Prophets—including Muhammad—were allowed to be more polygamous than their followers, not just for carnal reasons, but for political and religious reasons pertaining to their call. Consequently, it is groundless to wonder why Muslims can’t marry 12 wives like their prophet, just as it is groundless to wonder why Jews and Christians can’t marry 700 like theirs!
Islam didn’t invent polygamy; Islam only made polygamy more humane, instituting equal rights for all wives. And even so, Muslim women are not forced to accept this and may put a condition against it in their marriage contract. 
The Qur’an Is the Only Holy Book That Actually Says “Marry Only One”
Images of “sheikhs with harems” are not consistent with Islam, as, in fact, the general rule in Islam is monogamy, not polygamy. the Qur’an says what means:
*{Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one.}* (An-Nisaa’ 3:3)
Polygamy in Islam is not recommended; it is only permitted under certain guidelines. Permission to practice polygamy is not associated with mere satisfaction of passion. It is, rather, associated with compassion toward widows and orphans. 
So all those Muslim men who hold this rule as a yardstick to justify their marriage to 4 ladies at the same time for satisfaction of passion are basically defeating the righteous ideology behind it. Don’t practice polygamy as some liberty because this is anti islamic practice pertaining to this very issue.
Before the Qur’an was revealed, there was no upper limit for polygamy, and many men had more than four wives. Islam put an upper limit of four wives, permitting a man to marry more than once, only on the condition that he deal justly with all of them. Yet the same verse points out:
*{Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women}* (Al-Nisaa’ 3:129)
Therefore, polygamy is not a rule but an exception. 
Why Is the Exception of Polygamy Allowed in Islam?
The exception is made for many reasons, but let’s note only one here, 
In Western society, it is common for a man to have mistresses or multiple extra-marital affairs. Women in this case are degraded to mere sex objects with absolutely no rights; they’re usually on the losing end of such liaisons. The same society, however, cannot accept a man having more than one wife so that women can retain their lawful rights and lead an honorable, dignified, and respectable life. 
If every adult American man married only one woman, there would still be more than 25 million women in the United States who would not be able to get husbands.
Thus the only option for a woman who cannot find a husband is either to marry a married man or to become “public property.” Islam gives women the honorable position by permitting the first option and disallowing the second. At least one of the reasons Islam has permitted limited polygamy is to protect the modesty of women!

Islam’s Straightforward Approach in Problem Solving
In Islam, problems are supposed to be faced and solved—not ignored! So, rather than requiring hypocritical compliance, Islam provides legitimate and clean solutions to the problems of individuals and societies.
There is no doubt that the second wife legally married and treated kindly is better off than a mistress without any legal rights.
Through practical example, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as the guide of Muslims has set the applicable rules for this aspect of human relations in order not to leave anything for speculation. 
Regarding Muhammad (PBUH) performing polygammy and reasons behind that please Read Here.
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About Zarmina Siraj Ul Haq

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