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Polygamy in the West

Polygamy in the West {Khalid Ahmad) Western critics consider polygamy to be an evil and a curse which runs counter to the highest form of civilization. Unfortunately the West has always blamed Islam which they feel is responsible for introducing and promoting this institution. The truth is that polygamy dates back as far as the dawn of human history and has ever remained part and parcel of every society including that found in Western countries. Islam inherited this social problem at a time when it was practised in its worst form. Islam regulated it for the benefit of mankind and society. It should be kept in mind that Islam does not enjoin polygamy but only allows it under certain circumstances and conditions. History bears witness to the fact that the Islamic society founded by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) was initially a monogamous one. However, with the increase in numbers and strength of the Muslim community its enemies made futile attempts to annihilate it by waging war. Many Muslims lost their lives in defence of their faith thereby leaving many widows and orphans with no near relatives to look after them. The Holy Prophet was inspired by God to remedy the situation. He received the following revelation: “And if you fear you will not be just in dealing with the orphans, then marry of other women as may be agreeable to you, two, or three or four; and if you fear you may not be able to do justice then marry only one or what your right hands possess.” (Quran 4:4). This verse was revealed after the battle of Uhud when seventy out of seven hundred Muslims had died in battle leaving behind widows and orphans. According to this verse, the object of allowing polygamous marriages in Islam is primarily to offer Muslims the opportunity to care for the needs of the orphans. Psychologically a man will be more responsible towards orphans when he is allowed to marry the mother of the latter so that by way of affection 48 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS towards her he becomes closely intimated with their problems. Again it was revealed to the Holy Prophet: “And arrange marriage for the widows from among you.” (24:33). In the light of these verses the Quran emphatically states that preference should be given to widows over other categories of women when further marriages arise as their social circumstances are considered to be more serious than others. The Prophet himself set an example worthy of emulation by marrying mostly elderly and aging widows. The Quran, as well as the life of the Holy Prophet, destroy the wrong notion that polygamy serves only for the purpose of satisfying sexual gratification. It is rather a sacrifice which is demanded of the faithful for their moral and spiritual upliftment. There are also other situations to give cause for polygamous marriages such as an ailing wife or her inability to procreate children. It is generally believed that Western society is monogamous. It is true that monogamy has been enforced by an act of Parliament but it needs to be seen to what extent it is being observed. There is, in fact, nothing like the practice of true monogamy in the West when we consider the miserable plight of the numerous mistresses who are deprived of womanhood and respect. One orientalist has stated that irresponsible polygamy is practised in the West which Islam does not permit. A close look at Western society shows that its moral and spiritual condition is comparable to that of Arabian society at the time of the advent of the Holy- Prophet of Islam. In fact this state of moral degeneracy has spread almost tq the four corners of the world. The root cause is the imbalance between the two sexes caused by a depletion of males during the two world wars. This view is supported by statistics published in the Western press. Some persons have expressed their view that polygamy is the only solution for the increaaed problem of prostitution. Dr. Le Bon, a French sexologist, has written: “A return to polygamy, the natural relationship between the sexes, would remedy many evils: prostitution, venereal diseases, abortion, the misery of illegitimate children, the misfortune of millions of unwanted women, resulting from the disproportion between the sexes, adultery and even jealousy.” As a matter of fact the West has nothing to lose by adopting the Islamic concept of limited polygamy as it has already done in the case of divorce. The West has advanced in the direction towards its own emancipation by granting divorce. At the same time it has not fully realised and appreciated the Islamic teachings on divorce which has in a nutshell been beautifully described by the Prophet of Islam: POLYGAMY IN THE WEST 49 “Of all lawful things, the most hateful in the sight of Allah is divorce.” While divorce is allowed it is not encouraged unless circumstances fully warrant it. By discarding old dogmatic beliefs Western minds are, on the basis of rational thinking, moving gradually towards the principles of Islam. All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. Messenger for all Mankind “Say, ‘O mankind! truly I am a Messenger to you all from Allah to Whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth’.” (Quran 7:159). “I am sent for the whole world while previous Prophets were sent only to particular tribes.” (Holy Prophet). The REVIEW of RELIGIONS The Review of Religions is the oldest magazine of its kind published in the English language in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah himself. During more than eighty-one years the message of Islam has been conveyed through this magazine to hundreds of readers and many fortunate persons have recognised the truth of Islam and accepted it through studying it. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutations of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non-muslim scholars. It also presents solutions in the light of Islamicteachings of the problems with which the Islamic world is from time to time confronted. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appreciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its holy Founder. Printed by The Eastern Press Ltd, London and Reading Published by The Review of Religions, The London Mosque, 16 Gressenhail Road, London, SW18SQL