Islam and Polygamy

In Malaysia, ever since the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 was enforced in 1982, banning polygamy for non-Muslims, polygamy has increasingly come to be associated with Islam. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, certain attempts have been made intending to control the abuse of polygamy among the Muslims. However, these attempts have not been very effective in practice, and it is most unfortunate that any vigorous measures against the abuse of polygamy are often condemned as being "un-Islamic", due to a general mistaken notion that polygamy is a sacred male right guaranteed by Islam.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) wish to point out that Islam neither invented nor encouraged polygamy. Unlimited polygamy was a pre-existing practice prior to the revelations of the Qur'an. The Qur'anic revelations relating to polygamy are clearly restrictive rather than permissive.

Since the nineteenth century, several leading Islamic scholars including Sheikh Muhammad Abduh, the Grand Mufti of Egypt until his death in 1905, have pointed out that polygamy was reluctantly tolerated by Islam due to the pre-existing conditions at the time of revelation.

Similarly, slavery was also reluctantly tolerated by Islam, with the guiding principles towards its eventual abolition by enjoining the kind treatment of slaves as well as making the freeing of slaves a cardinal virtue. The guiding principles in the Qur'an against polygamy can be demonstrated by firstly, limiting the maximum number of wives to four, then by enjoining on the fair and just treatment of multiple wives, and finally by declaring that fair and just treatment is impossible.

An argument that is sometimes put forward in support of polygamy is that it is intended to reduce social ills such as illicit affairs, prostitution and the birth of illegitimate children. However, the legality of polygamy has not actually put an end to these social ills among the Muslim community. In some cases, it might even have contributed to the problem of social ills among young people who have been brought up in unhappy and neglected polygamous households.


Condition: , New
ISBN: 9789839900880
Shipping Weight: 0.1kgs
Publisher: Sisters in Islam
Published: 2002
First Published: 2002

This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 07 May, 2009.

Your IP Address is: