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In the Name of God بسم الله

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If Islam is a religion of justice why does it allow a man to marry upto 4 wives? You might give me all those common reasons which are very popular among scholars. I say that there could be numerous reasons like population of women etc, but the fact remains that it hurts a woman, it degrades her honor that she has to share her husband. In one Hadiths Prophet Muhammad saw prohibited Ali to practice polygamy when Fatima was alive. It shows that he knew it hurts a woman , but still he allowed it, why? We all have heard about numerous reasons why it is allowed but we all know that A woman hates it, it is unbearable for a woman . It shows that Islam degrades the value of a wife (I didn't say women).

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Salam. That hadith you are speaking of is a hadith that is not accepted by us Shia. Prophet Muhammad(p.b.u.h) never prohibited Imam Ali(a.s) from marrying another wife while he was married to Sayyeda Fatima(a.s). Imam Ali(a.s) didn't marry another women during the lifetime of Sayyida Fatima(a.s), but not because he was prohibited from doing so by Prophet Muhammad(p.b.u.h).

As for the practice of polygamy amoung the muslim community, this practice is not required of anyone. So it is up to you whether you want to participate in it.At the same time, like I have said many times previously, don't assume that women who participate in this practice are having their honor and dignity violated. Whether they do or not depends upon their actions and the actions of their husband, i.e. 'how' it is practiced not 'if' it is practiced. There are many women all over the world who are very happy and satisfied with being in a polygamous relationship. That is probably because their husband, despite having multiple wives, treats them with dignity and respect, provides for them and is honest and truthful with them and shows them(all his wives) that he loves them and cares for them. There are men who are capable of this. Also, there are many women who are in monogamous relationship who are miserable, and at least part of that reason is because their husband, despite being married to only one women, doesn't treat them with dignity and respect. Whether a women's honor is degraded or not depends on if she acts honorably and also if she is treated honorably by her husband. Whether he is married to one or more wives has nothing to do with it. 

If a women honestly feels that she cannot tolerate her husband being married to another women while he is married to her, under any circumstances, then she can put a simple line in her marriage contract saying that her husband is not allowed to marry another women while he is married to her. There are some men who won't agree to this, so she is lessening her chances of finding a suitable husband, but if she feels that strongly about this issue then she should do it so she feels comfortable in her situation. But what she shouldn't do is assume and superimpose her experiences onto all women and believe that they think the same as her and/ or they are having their honor violated, or judge them negatively because they choose to participate in a polygamous relationship, because she would actually be violating the honor of these women by making those assumption. 

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1 hour ago, Maryam Mushtaq said:

If Islam is a religion of justice why does it allow a man to marry upto 4 wives? You might give me all those common reasons which are very popular among scholars. I say that there could be numerous reasons like population of women etc, but the fact remains that it hurts a woman, it degrades her honor that she has to share her husband. In one Hadiths Prophet Muhammad saw prohibited Ali to practice polygamy when Fatima was alive. It shows that he knew it hurts a woman , but still he allowed it, why? We all have heard about numerous reasons why it is allowed but we all know that A woman hates it, it is unbearable for a woman . It shows that Islam degrades the value of a wife (I didn't say women).

The answer comes in the quran - "And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]" (4:3).

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1 hour ago, Maryam Mushtaq said:

Thanks for telling me about the verse but I read somewhere that permission of first wife is not compulsory for marrying another woman. What if the first wife doesn't want to share her husband after she is married ?  

like brother abu hadi said, in the marriage contract, you can put a condition that the husband does not marry any additional wives. 

Edited by Follower of Ahlulbayt

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1 hour ago, Maryam Mushtaq said:

Do you mean if the wife did not put a clause in nikah documents and after that her husband marries any other woman and the first wife doesn't like it then first wife can ask for divorce because her husband practiced polygamy ? 

Yes. If his not marrying another women is part of the nikah contract, then if he violates the contract, she can ask for a divorce and she will get it immediately. 

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Contrary to popular opinion, the verse 4:3 is not addressing the issue of polygamy in a general sense, a pre-existing practice, but that of polygamy in a narrowed down context, that of safeguarding the orphans' rights. It is clear from the opening statement, positing the situation of one with orphans under care, fearing for the just management of their rights 4:3"And IF you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry..."

The verse is therefore silent on polygamy in a general sense, neither allowing nor forbidding it, but by only mentionning one case to which it applies, clearly hints to the prefered way to apply the practice, moralizing it, laying down the basis for the intricate perspective that must be considered if a man wishes to marry more than one woman in other circumstances. 

Yateem, (plur. yatama) is derived from Y-T-M meaning alone. It is used for a child who lost one or both parents, or for a widow.

The verse answers the guardian's fear with a solution; marrying up to four women, not any, but specific ones preceded by the definite article. Which women are best suited to share that burden of responsibility? The mother of the orphan first and foremost. By taking them in his household, the husband is bound to provide for them as he would do with a regular wife and children, as well as giving them increased advantages (possible inheritence in case the adoptive father dies and leaves a will, in addition to what must be given to the orphan even if there is no will 4:8, and the mother could also use her dower for the orphan's wellbeing) and even fill the emotional gap of a child with no father. Marrying these widows, or taking another woman or maiden (whose job included raising the chidlren of a household) in case the orphan's mother is dead with the purpose of caring for one's orphan, solves the conditional clause of fear not to "act equitably towards orphans". The difficult responsibility of sustaining the orphan physically and emotionnaly, protecting his/her rights, wealth and property is this way shared by both parents.

Another thing to keep in mind while trying to understand the verse, simply is the context. 4:3 is speaking of orphans in general, not gender specific, and is a continuation of 4:2"And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great crime". Therefore the next verse must be at least talking about the same orphans, whom one fears not to act fairly towards and the solution to that problem is given in the same verse "marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four". The whole passage until v6 is speaking of orphaned children and how the trustee is to manage their lives and property the best possible way. Should these instructions not be enough to satisfy a believer's fear of not being fair towards orphans under his care, then as proposed in 4:3 one may marry women who would share the burden of responsibility, these women being first and foremost the widowed mothers of these orphans.

In the verse 4:3, orphans is in the plural, that is because a Muslim guardian could take multiple orphans under his care, especially during times of war as in the context of revelation, or any other situation where the number of men is largely reduced. The Quran has stated that the limitation of this permission is left to a maximum of four women because "this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course". A person may come under the impression that he can marry however many of these women he wants, in order to take care of orphans, but the Quran states that the very purpose of the injunction can be compromised the more woman that are married. Quantity isnt always the best, and people need to take into account their own abilities when trying to help other people. Another important statement in the verse, in connection to determining the number of wives, is the phrase "Ma Taba Lakum". TABA is related to goodness, rather than liking. So the guardian's decision cannot be dictated by mere desire/liking, but for what brings more goodness to the person and what brings more goodness is what brings the person closer to God, in this case, reinforcing the idea that the wife must be most suited in securing the orphan's rights, and this primarily means the orphan's mother. Because of these very reasons, that they were marriages with a moral reason, more so compatibility or personal liking, it often led to situations where the husband would leave this new wife in a state as if she wasnt necessarily wanted.

The Quran warns the man not to do this a little later on in 4:127, to take into account giving her rights as a married woman, as it has already been clarified prior in the sura concerning all married women, not forgeting the directives on equity towards the orphans of those very women, with a stronger emphasis upon the orphans in order to stress the sensitivity of the issue "And they ask you a decision about women. Say: Allah makes known to you His decision concerning them AND that which is recited to you in the Book concerning yatama annisa'/the orphans of "the women whom you do not give what is appointed for them while you desire to marry them", and concerning the weak among children, and that you should deal towards orphans with equity; and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it". It isnt because he has done her a favor by improving her socio-economical situation, that the guardian is to forgo the marital rights of the orphans' mother. It is a marriage contract like with any other woman and her subsequent treatment must be just and fair like with a regular wife. And if the situation results in injustice to another party, than it should not be resorted to "but if you fear that you will not do justice between them, then marry only one or what your right hands possess; this is closer that you be just".

One might ask, why would it be allowed to marry more than one with the condition to deal equitably with all wives when the Quran itself states in 4:129 that such condition cannot be fulfilled even if one sincerely tries?

The fact is the two verses together 4:3,129 are addressing that conditional clause of equity towards wives from two perspectives to create mutual understanding from all parties involved:

- the perspective of the women, by saying in 4:3 that they have the right to equitable treatement and the man must be aware of that right regardless of his will to care for the orphans
- the perspective of the man, by saying in 4:129 that he will not be able to be perfectly just with all wives no matter how hard he sincerely tries, and the women should be aware of the husband's sincere will to be just between them even though he fails to do so, and keep in mind that the true objective of such unions is caring for the orphans. Allah is this way absolving the husband's shortcomings who is sincerely trying to be just with his wives for the sake of orphans and at the same time creating an understanding from the part of the wives, again for the sake of orphans. However, although the verse absolves the husband from unintentional shortcomings and the wives implicitly asked to be understanding, the husband is explicitly warned not to intentionaly negate a wife's most obvious rights and injure her morally for the sake of another "but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense". This shows that the conditional clause of equity between wives in 4:3 covers the obvious and basic rights, not the shortcomings of a man sincerely trying to make a complex union work for the sake of orphans.

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