Can’t Muslim Polygynists Read?

Satan come to claim the polygamist

Satan come to claim the polygamist

When muslims claim polygyny is allowed they quote An Nisa:

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, or that which your right hands possess.

Some islamic extremists even use this quote to claim that polygyny is the recommendation, the default situation, since two is the first number mentioned and many claim that the quran must be read literally.

This is where I ask myself: Can’t muslims in favour of polygyny read?

I find book after book, website after website, where muslims accept that allah has permitted polygyny. Muslim women are fighting their hatred of polygyny, trying to find comfort in the fact that maybe natural dislike for something isn’t a sin if you can just accept at the same time that this something that you dislike is permissible, allah has allowed it. Like polygyny.

Thing is, he hasn’t. If you believe the quran is a text to be obeyed, then you must read the whole text. It says:

To orphans restore their property (when they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sin.

If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, 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, or that which your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

So the permission to marry more than one wife is only given to people who are responsible for the welfare of orphans, and are having acute and real fears that they won’t be able to deal justly with the orphans in their care. This is clearly stated in the quran. If you are a man and you are not the sole warden of orphans, you are not permitted polygyny in this verse (nor anywhere else in the quran). If you are the sole caretaker of orphans you are still not permitted to become polygynous, unless you are suffering from acute and very real and well founded fear that you might be abusing the rights of the orphans in your care. Then, and only then, does this verse give you permission to marry more than one wife. And if this be the case, you can still only marry plural wives if you harbour no fear whatsoever that you might some time, any time during the rest of your life, deal unjustly with any of your wives. If you have any such fear, you can only marry one.

So, all you muslim men out there who claim that you have a right to marry up to four wives. Can you read?

Are you all sole wardens of orphans? (Not a single orphan mind you, it says orphans – plural) And do you have well founded fears that you won’t be able to keep from abusing them? And are you completely without fear that you might ever, in any way, be unjust towards a wife if you were to marry more than one??

Because if you are a muslim and you claim that men have a right to marry four wives without being the wardens of orphans and without having a well founded fear of abusing these orphans in their care, then you obviously can’t read. Or you’re a misogynist hypocrite.

Or both.

20 thoughts on “Can’t Muslim Polygynists Read?

  1. You are right! I never thought of it before even if I have read the text many times. This is not about marrying many it is about caring for orphans! And the permission is clearly only to make sure orphans are not abused. But why do people lie about this? Why do we allow men to interpret this when everything else is always literal but here they take permission that is not for them. Now I am very angry! Nobody should say polygyny is permissable when it is not!!!!!!! Why arent people talking about this??????????

  2. Why do islamic forums never tell that polygyny is only allowed if you are having orphans in your care? Why do they say polygyny is halal in islam when it is only for men who are caring for orphans? Why does islam lie to give rights to men? Islamic websites never say about this they say men are allowed four wifes! They say we must not hate polygyny for polygyny is allowed. I have thought this before. Very grate thanks Fiona. Why does it take this to tell the truth while islamqa, islamicnet, islamanswers only tell lies?

  3. The scholars are agreed that the permission is for all men who can always try to be just to more than one wife. One can not always be just, but one must always be try. Allah never asks more then we can do. Nobody can be just always, but we can try. And it is good to be just to orphans but scholars agree we can read the text as a more broad permission for all just men they can marry plural wives. This is what it means even if orphans are mentioned.

  4. You are so right Benazir – islamic web sites are full of lies! They claim islam allows all men polygyny if they believe they can be fair, which is obviously not true if you read what the quran says! It’s clear from An Nisa that only men in charge of orphans are allowed to marry plural wives! I found this statement on an islamic website and it is so typical of these misogynist interpretations and lies (a woman is asking about how to deal with becoming a second wife): “you will have to explain the values of Islam that support the practice of polygamy. It would probably also help to explain to them, in a practical way, how you plan to live this life so they can be assured you are going to be treated just as well as you would if you were marrying an unmarried man.” This advisor (on islamicanswers) is first telling a lie “islam supports the practice of polygyny” As you can see – the quran does NOT. Islamist and misogynist extremists however do, but that is another matter!!! The second lie of course is saying that a woman living islamic polygyny is going to be treated as well as a woman who marries an unmarried man. This is a blatant and amoral lie. No second wife will ever have a husband who is always there to help her when she needs help. No second wife will have a husband who can hold her every night when she is afraid or alone or sad. No second wife will ever have a husband who can do his share of taking care of sick children, or other chores. No second wife will ever have a husband who says “I love you more than anything else in the world” or “I would do anything for you”. No second wife will ever have a man who focuses on her needs, her happiness and her seen. She will always only have half or less. So this “advisor” is telling a horrible, disgusting lie. This is typical of the bullying, amoral and misogynist islamic web sites. They have no shame!!

  5. The scholars who say such things, and it’s not ALL scholars, by the way, are full of shit, as is anyone who listens to them.

  6. @norfolkfiona, wat you said is totally true. Me as the second wive never feel that my husband is always there for me. I always feel that I get half even less. I have to understand his first wive’s feelings. I feel like giving up this marriage. Things do not seem right 😦

  7. Dear Andrea, you don’t have to consider her feelings. She’s your husband’s responsibility, not yours. He must be a complete husband to you, if not you have a right to leave him.

  8. Fiona, there are so few comments on such an important post. I am going to comment and make it more popular πŸ™‚
    All muslim brothers and sisters who follow Quran, please let us know why it is so difficult understand that polygamy is only allowed under the conditions mentioned above.

  9. EXACTLY. By the way, I keep hearing that “Allah” gave man(and presumably women) the Qur’an and made Islam easy and the Qur’an easy to understand and remember. If that’s the case what’s the need for all these so-called “Scholars” many of whom don’t agree on the most basic ayats? What’s the point and purpose of Hadiths if the Qur’an is so complete, especially when many Hadiths are in direct conflict with the Qur’an?

    Easy? I don’t think so. I’m not a Muslim and maybe that’s why it confounds me, but I am a very well-read person and have no difficulty understanding what I read. And what I read is exactly as what Fiona is stating and it’s MEN and so-called scholars who are taking Surah An Nisa and running amok with it, giving an almost unrecognizable interpretation to what is stated clearly

    I don’t believe in God/Allah/Hashem/Jesus/Flying Spaghetti Monster anyway but just from a purely intellectual reading, I don’t think this Ayat is that difficult to understand, and again, Fiona is dead-on correct. She’s also correct in that “your right hand possess” ought to have a broad meaning along with the whole thing about orphans and plural wives. It’s logical.

  10. hakim do you believe, in normal circumstances men are allowed to take plural wives? if yes then it will be for our prurient interests and not for helping or sheltering orphans. in that case wives should have equal right to go for another husband?

    though i am a muslim but your way of thinking justifies Steven Weinburg (Nobel Laureate, Physics) saying, and let me quote him here.

    “Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.
    But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

  11. Glad to see you back Saad Bro. Kudos to your thinking and level of maturity. You will make a great husband to someone. I wish that someone be a most good hearted and beautiful person inside and outside.

  12. I believe having a faithful and open heart increases the chances of meeting somebody similar. Respect breeds respect. πŸ™‚

  13. thank you Laila..
    fiona i had two questions to ask and i hope i don’t sound ludicrous.

    1.i have read you some where saying you are pro polygamy (both for men and women). Do you think it is a healthy and normal relationship (if you are in favor of it)? apparently there are more cons than pros.

    2. why should people even marry if they are to add other people in their relationship for a change or satisfaction? i mean what’s the point of marrying when we can have normal relationships and after we are done with each other we can easily move on rather than marrying and indulging into polygamy and dealing with jealousy etc.
    you are from Britain and relationships without marriage is not considered taboo there (as it is considered in conservative society of Pakistan) so why you people even marry.?

  14. Good questions Saad, of course I don’t mind. I believe in equality and human rights. I believe polygamy in certain cases can be a possibility to keep a family together. However, I can only condone polygamy if it is absolutely gender equal. Any person opting for polygamy should be forced to open the same possibility for the spouse/spouses. I still believe monogamy to be by far the best option. But sometimes life isn’t as simple… I still believe marriage is necessary. Relationships and families need stability. Why marriage? We owe it to our children.

  15. I know this is a very old post, but I wanted to clarify that taking care of orphans is not a requirement to enter into of polygamy.

    I will first give the quranic verses in question;

    4:2 Shakir
    And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great crime.

    4:3 Shakir
    And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.

    4:4 Shakir
    And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.

    It was customary in the pre-islamic society to adopt children and take them for their own, giving them their name, as adoption is understood and practiced today.
    Muhammed himself, pre islam, adopted Zaid and called him his son, giving him the name Zaid bin Muhammed.

    The Prophet (PBUH) told him what he had told Haarithah. Zaid replied, “I will not choose anyone but you, for you are a father and an uncle to me.” The Prophet’s eyes were full of thankful and compassionate tears. He held Zaid’s hand and walked to the Ka’bah, where the Quraish were holding a meeting, and cried out, “I bear witness that Zaid is my son, and in case I die first, he will inherit from me, and in case he dies first, I will inherit from him.”

    I have previously written about Muhammeds wives. His marriage to Zainab Bint Jahsh, will shed light on how the adoption of children was abolished in islam.

    Syed Kamran Mirza has written a very good article about the mess around this abolishment, and why it came about;

    Muhammed wanted to marry Zainab, but to marry your sons divorced wife was prohibited, so to solve how to get her into his bed, he abolished adoption, by “divine decree.”

    After this was said and done, fostering a child was the legal way to take care of orphaned children.

    The reference in the ayat about the orphans deals with men who intended to marry their female charges.
    After the abolishment, a female foster-child would become a non-mahram to the man of the house. When she reached puberty and thus marriageable age, she can not be in front of her foster-“father”/man without covering and may not alone with him, as she is a woman he can marry.
    Intermingling in islam is as we know prohibited.
    When she reached this age and it became prohibited to live with him he had two choices, to marry her to another, relinquishing her wealth with her, or he could marry her under the conditions that he had to buy her (giving her mahr of his own property).

    Tafsir is a needed way to understand the jumble that is the quran. The tafsir I will use to clarify the meaing of the verses is that of Ibn Kathir.

    I am sorry to say, there is no misinterpretation or selective reading of the ayats by men. It is just complicated.

  16. Hi Alexandra, and thank you for a very interesting story. I have read these theories before, many times, but not from those sources. Thank you for the links you provided.

    There are different ways of interpreting the quran. Some (most of them so called moderats or liberals) favour a contextual reading, which is what youΒ΄re providing here. From a contextual reading we can interpret the quran to mean almost anything, we just relate verses or words to a context of our choice (I’m sorry if I’m using generalizations here, but I’m in a bit of a hurry) and interpret the text to our liking.

    The other kind of interpretation is the literal one. Making the claim that the quran means exactly what it says. To understand the quran then we would need to apply argumentative logics. This is the method mostly used by conservative muslims. And if this is the method used the verse means exactly what it says – nothing more nothing less. And what it says is: “And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and do not devourtheir property (as an addition) to your own property; this issurely a great crime.” (From this the truth a priori must be that in order for the verse to apply to a man he must be in a position to devour the property of orphans – hence their guardian) “And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards the orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice(between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hand possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.”As you can se there is an explicit conditional here: IF you can not act equitably towards the orphans, THEN marry…”. Quite simple, and not complicated at all.
    Historical contextualization is what complicates matters, since history is always a narrative, and today more often than not a postmodernist narrative at that. πŸ™‚ But since the quran is supposed to contain literal truths we need not worry about that. We can just read what it says.

    This is why it is even more interesting why men who normally only adhere to literal interpretations of the quran, suddenly choose to adopt a contextual stance on this one issue.

    I made the alteration you asked for in your second message. I would like to say though that you needn’t write “If you publish this…” Of course I’ll publish. I publish everything that is posted here that isn’t illegal or simply too hateful to be made public. πŸ™‚

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