Feb 1, 2017
Islam allows the marriage of a male to
multiple wives providing the number does not exceed four at one time. Muslims
are often accused of being promiscuous because polygamy is legal in Islam. But
there are stringent conditions for considering such a lifestyle. Limited
polygyny is a provision approved by Islam for exceptional circumstances only.
Having said that, polygamy is not exclusive to Islam.
It existed long before Islam came onto the
scene of world events. The Bible says that Lamech, the grandson of Adam, “took
unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other
Zillah.” Many holy prophets in the Bible had many wives at the same time.
Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) (peace be upon him) had Sarah and Hajar. He was
first blessed with a son through Hajar whom he named Ishmail (peace be upon
him), and then he was blessed with another son through Sarah whom he named
Isaac (peace be upon him).
The Bible also brings up Jacob (Yakub)
(peace be upon him); he had four wives. David, known in Arabic as Prophet
Dawood (peace be upon him) had at least eight wives whose names are known. The
Second Book of Samuel (in the Bible) talks about “the wives” of Dawood (pbuh)
in Hebron and also in Jerusalem.
For a Muslim considering taking on a second
wife, the Holy Qur’an is very specific on the conditions to be met. He must be
able to provide and maintain the second family, and also deal with both wives
and their offspring on the basis of justice and fairness – equal time, equal
expenses and equality in everything. Such is the requirement that only a rare
number of exceptional individuals can fulfil that quality of justice and
In Chapter 4 (Surah An-Nisaa), verse 3,
after allowing Muslim men to marry two, three or four wives, the Holy Qur’an
emphatically states: “but if you fear that you will not do justice (between
them), then (marry) only one.” Understanding the stringent conditions, in the
same it says: “And you do not have the ability to do justice between the wives,
even though you may wish (to do so)…” (Surah An-Nisaa, 4:129)
Having said that, it is generally
understood that the Islamic way for families to move forward is in a monogamous
relationship with certain exceptions. And that is the way the world’s Muslims approach
the sanctity of marriage.
However, some have taken advantage of the
polygamous allowance and ignored the conditions for such a union altogether.
These predators, for lack of better word, seek to satisfy their lust by taking
on multiple wives, some for a short time before divorcing them and starting the
cycle again with a fresh batch of unsuspecting or unwilling women.
A case was brought to my attention of an
octogenarian Saudi whose marriage count totaled 31 women. This man married and
tormented his Indian wife 50 years his junior. As has been the unfortunate
trend, such males descend on poverty stricken areas in Asian countries and
through shady middlemen arrange a quick marriage union primarily to satisfy
their lust. The girl’s family is given a small sum that may appear to be a
fortune and their daughter is then victim to the insatiable appetites of these
Once the man tires off the girl, he
disappears from the scene leaving the girl and her family in disarray. No
responsibility and no honour exist in such unions and the validity of their
brief marriage remains suspicious.
The Indian Deccan Chronicle reported that
Shabana Sultan from Hyderabad, India was in her teens when she was married off
to a man in his seventies. “Initially, Sultana was reluctant to marry a man as
old as Al Abdullah but her sister promised that she would be able to live a
rich life and that, after his death, ‘all his property will be hers.’”
In March 1996, Al Abdullah married her
without providing any official documents sanctioning the marriage from Saudi
authorities. Staying with her for 20 days, he then flew back to the Kingdom. Ms
Sultana was left behind with her parents. He visited her in Hyderabad thrice
and she gave birth to two daughters Zahoora Ali, Urooj Ali, and a son, Al
Sugaihi Abdul Rehman.
Al Abdullah then called her and told her to
get the children’s passports and visas done from the Saudi consulate in Mumbai.
Along with her children, she landed in Riyadh in May 2015. They were all then
taken and confined to a small room. There were times when there was neither
food nor water in the room.
“He would come to me once in three days,
lock my children in another room and have intercourse with me and leave. If I
refused he would assault me and abuse me. I pleaded with him to leave me, but
he was adamant,” Sultana said. She would later find out that she was his 31st
When she fell seriously ill a year ago, she
was forced to return to India along with two of her children. Her 90-year-old
husband did not allow one of her daughters to return with her. Today she begs
and pleads with the authorities to let her be united with her daughter.
A heartbreaking story indeed, but one that
occurs much too often.
Manipulating the actual text of Islamic
law, these lecherous men prey on the poor and the unwilling without fulfilling
any of the conditions for a multiple marriage. And their victims are often left
broken and destitute.