There is nothing wrong with any subject being debatable, unless, of course, the unending debates are merely based on prejudices rather than humane considerations.
And, when she turned 19, and before she could even dream of her own marriage, her father remarried.
She was the jolliest young girl that was; the apple of her parents’ eyes, their only child, the focus of all their hopes and dreams – or so it seemed; until the day her father remarried, of course. Two days back, her friends were envious of her, for she seemed to have just everything this world has to offer; and within a few hours, she has actually endured a blow that most of her friends can hardly even comprehend; because, hopefully, most of them will never find themselves in her shoes.
Polygamy has been, and might always remain, a very debatable subject. There is nothing wrong with any subject being debatable, unless, of course, the unending debates are merely based on prejudices rather than humane considerations. Polygamy, for one, seems to be a subject highly dependent upon lots of factors which, as it seems to me, turn out to be mean most of the time. Men will usually be pro-polygamy because, well, they are men, and it seems to go for them to be pro; and they will be ever ready to stand by any and every man that is made a party in such a debate because, again, they might find themselves in that particular man’s shoes some fine day. Inversely, women will usually be anti-polygamy because, most importantly, they are women; and they will usually stand by any woman who is mad at her husband for remarrying, because none of them would want to be in her shoes someday.
I am not a man so I could be pro-polygamy by birth, neither a married woman to be unconditionally anti-polygamy. Being an unmarried woman, I wonder at the lack of consideration that I fancy I see on the surface of all such debates. I am by no means against polygamy – how could I be, when the person I love the most had many wives! But then, again, to add to my wonder, I am being told that this is the stance of every unmarried woman – one that changes the instant the woman marries!
Are we, as humans, really so mean and selfish? This debate might not even be an issue for an unmarried woman, but every now and then, I see firsthand how strongly people around me feel about it. The second marriage can be found at the top of many a man’s wishlist; and it is looked at as the deadliest blow to her married life by many a woman. Can such an issue still be a non-issue? Of course not, and that is why, my most beloved and the kindest of all humans that were ever alive, the Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him and his family and all that love him – came with a final solution to this millennium-long debate. And if the world still continues to argue and quarrel over it, it has most probably not made an effort to understand and implement what he gave it.
I, a woman myself, am not at all ashamed – nay, I am proud to own the fact – that Muhammad, peace be upon him, has allowed the men to have up to four wives at a time – a fact mostly celebrated by men and avoided by women, especially in the subcontinent, but really all over the Muslim world. Every law has its sub-clauses, and this is what most of us usually miss out on; and this is what causes most of the endless debates and renders many Muslims unable to answer those that mock at them for this.
This allowance was given, not in a monogamous society, but an unlimitedly polygamous one – where men married women upon women, and no rule or law could govern the number of their wives or their treatment of any of them, neither collectively nor individually. Of course there were men who highly respected their wives, but it was more of an individual preference than a norm. In such an age of darkness, Islam limited the number of wives to four, with not only a special emphasis upon the observance of complete justice among them, but also the cancellation of the allowance for those that fail to observe justice. Islam clearly defined the rights of the wife, be she a single one or one among many, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, urged his companions to observe goodwill and noble conduct with their women in his last public sermon, and even in his last illness. He declared that the best among all men are those that are best to their women. We often tend to miss out on two words here: a) ‘their’ – implying that their own relatives are the most deserving of their kindness, even before the endeavour to form novel relations, and b) ‘women’ – inclusive of all the female relatives in their own respective relations. This clearly implies that although the second (and the third and the fourth as well) marriage is very much lawful, the first wife deserves the best companionship from her husband, being his current relative in contrast to the awaited second one (or the third or the fourth one thereof).
I realise that Muslim women sometimes tend to forget the wisdom behind these laws and, more often than not, deal with this subject unreasonably. And yet, I believe that a big part of the responsibility lies upon the men, who also deal with the subject unreasonably, taking it out of its context and forgetting the conditional ending – to be content with one wife if the man cannot be just, which makes justice the most important ingredient of any polygamous relation; the ingredient which, unfortunately, is the most overlooked one by many.
I am very much for polygamy; but I am very much against injustice – be it with polygamy or without. I am very much against masking one’s own personal desires with the name of the Prophet’s Sunnah, while also assuming that his only Sunnah is to marry multiple women, and while ignoring that he was the most just of men and never wronged a single one of his wives. I am against the terming of polygamy as his only Sunnah, because monogamy was as much his Sunnah as polygamy – he remained monogamous for many more years than he was polygamous. I am against the pretension of self-righteousness (as if this remains the only rewardable deed) while marrying the second or third or fourth time, while also wronging the first wife and her children in the process. I am against obsessing over one’s own second or third or fourth marriage all the time, while overlooking the marriage one’s own marriageable children. And I am very much against the assumption that the second marriage would give one children or sons or wealth – every person gets what he is meant to get; and if the wife is childless or poor, guess what, it is as much the fate of her husband as it is hers!
I am not aware of any special reward given to those men that remarry at all costs, even if it requires telling lies or cheating or being unjust; but I know that the Prophet, peace be upon him, always stressed on justice and goodwill between husband and wife, that he declared those good to their wives as the best ones, that he stressed on good parenting and taking care of the wife and children’s social, emotional as well as physical needs and health. And I am sure that those who ignore all of his teachings and commit many of the things that he forbade, for the sake of another marriage, are on any one’s path but his.