Advantages and disadvantages of polygamy
Exploring the reasons behind polygamy and how it affords marital protection to some women
Here is a scenario: a forty year old male is married to a lovely girl in her late thirties who has tried forever to fall pregnant. She has had all kind of fertility treatment and nothing has worked. She has a best friend, also in her thirties, who is also a friend to the husband; all three are good friends. The wife asks her best friend to become the husband’s wife as she cannot conceive and desperately wants a baby. If the wife is prepared to share her husband and the husband agrees, and the country you are living in allows it, is it wrong to take a second wife? Women feel unfulfilled if they cannot bear children. They want the experience of motherhood. On the other hand, women are also selfish and do not want to share a man. Selfish may sound like a harsh word when you consider the parties are legally married, but the numbers are climbing and according to statistics there are more women than men. If a couple is prepared to bring a third person into the marriage and everything is by consent, is it wrong, uncivilized, illegal, or is it a situation only the parties involved can decide? Let’s use the above situation as an example.
• According to the Holy Book of the Muslims, if the parties mentioned above are all in agreement and all parties are satisfied and the man accepts the children of the women he has married as his own, it is allowed. Remember, however, that God does not recommend it. God says man cannot be fair and so it is better for him to have only one partner, but if circumstances permit, as in the case above, it is allowed. The advantage here is that the woman now has a husband, shelter, protection, and love for her children who would otherwise have been destitute. She is now also protected by the sanctity of marriage.
• People change their mind or they have problems between them and the first wife decides that she can no longer be in an arrangement where there is another mother for the child, and becomes jealous and wants to take the child with her even though she is not the biological mother. If she is a generous first wife, it can work. If she is not, it will be unfair to the child or children who will be split up with parents who are fighting over them. Having said this, however, it is all up to the parties involved and only they can decide what is good and right for them. Women don’t easily give up their children; it will be a feud to the end.
Polygamy can only work if the parties take their vows seriously and the husband is fair – hence the advice from God to not take more than one wife if you cannot be fair to both of them. It is common knowledge that many prophets had many wives and that during the Battle of Uhud a lot of men were killed in the battle and the women were left unprotected. The Holy Prophet Muhamad got the instruction from God to tell his followers that a man who could give a woman shelter and have her kids protected, would be allowed to marry more than one woman – and only up to four. Hopefully this dispels the notion that Muslims can just marry out of hand. They can marry another woman, yes, but with the following in mind – that while it is allowed it is not recommended.