Polygyny in Islam: a call for retrospection
Source of Publication
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
This article revisits the issue of polygyny in Islam and the conditions men must meet before considered acceptable. Justified by the third verse of Sūrat al-Nisāʾ, participating in up to four contemporaneous marriages was traditionally allowed for any man with two conditions: physically capable of doing so, and that he treats his wives justly. This study suggests that there is a third condition: the presence of a strong legal reason for entering an additional marriage. Moreover, this article determined that the polygyny was allowed to treat a societal ill ‘the injustice towards the orphans’, thus the context must be applicable in any similar cases. The Qurʾān strongly warns against harming orphans in any way. Therefore, men of that time found themselves trapped between two prohibitions: not fulfiling the rights of the orphans- to avoid the consequences of injustice even by mistake-, and falling into temptation due to their unused assets or their beauty -if the orphan was woman-. The verse of polygamy, therefore, provided the solution: allowing men to marry from women orphans, if this legal reason (fear of mistreating orphans) is in place.
Informa UK Limited
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Baker, Man, "Polygyny in Islam: a call for retrospection" (2021). All Works. 4479.
Indexed in Scopus