Why Does Islam Allow a Man to Have More Than One Wife?

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First I would like to question the basic premise of this question  that having only a single wife is OK, What makes you assume that single marriage is the norm? It is well known that polygamous marriages have relatively recently started becoming a taboo in most societies. If you see the past million year history of human civilization then we see that polygamy was never a taboo and most of the past prophets married multiple wives and was a societal norm. So now the question that arises is how did this monogamous marriage became the norm what factors made it the norm? A close examination of history reveals that polygamy was widely practiced as recently as the Industrial Revolution. As the industrial revolution started the managers, business owners and production heads wanted cheap labour and this was only possible by employing women and children as their task force. In the unsophisticated society of that era it was very difficult to marry and also do a Job. Polygamous marriage meant more women getting married over and financially stable and hence lack of "cheap labour" women. The industrial revolution although a boon for the society, ended up encouraging promiscuous lifestyle and illegal relationships. Widowed and older women now would rather prefer to work and stay independent than marry a person leading to a vicious trend of monogamous relationships coupled with hidden promiscuous lifestyle including adultery. Many of the recent reliable surveys also point out that most of the singly married husbands did indulge in adulterous relations. Thus in reality we see that rather than polygamous marriage being a taboo , its highly likely according to the statistics of the western world that a monogamous marriage would have a hidden sore of adulterous relationships which are kept secret and that monogamous trend was encouraged to support the large and evil empire of adultery. This was a very brief historical perspective as to why a monogamous trend prevailed, namely to aid the adulterous life styles of men without taking responsibility of women.

God  says in the Quran that it is Allah who provides the rizq and many other prophetic sayings  do allude that a well populated and pious family bring in many bounties of Allah swt. The Quran likens marriage to the metaphor of a farmer and his field:


2.223. Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers.

Polygamous marriages allow your pious seed to harvests multiple fields, thus even blessing those multiple fields. Following are some advantages which clearly leave no doubt that polygamous society is a great boon for the society:

- Polygamy allows more women even widows and divorcees to have a husband, and not left being single.

- Multiple wives are not mistresses, all the wives have the same rights as the first wife and cannot be abandoned like mistresses.

- If there are 2 or more wives then in the husbands absence, the wives can help each other out with household duties and taking care of children. Morever one wife can babysit another wifes child. Thus you live happily like one very big family.

- In the West today, most married men have extramarital relations with mistresses, girlfriends and prostitutes. A polygamous mindset will evaporate all motivations to pursue these evils. Thus helping the society at large.

- Men is created by nature to be polygamous and to desire multiple mates. There is normally a surplus of women in most human societies as they tend to outlive men due to very well studied reasons. Not pursuing polygamy actually corrupts the society and many women tend to engage in mistress business, prostitution etc. This also effects the rate of marriage which has been steadily declining as each succeeding generation finds the institution of marriage more and more irrelevant.

- Polygamy protects the interests of both women and children in any society. Men prefer to keep polygamy illegal because it absolves them of responsibility. Legalized polygamy would require them to spend on their additional wives and their offspring. Monogamy allows them to enjoy extra-marital affairs without economic consequence.

From the example of our Prophet saw wives, both Aisha ra and Hafsa ra were very good friends, almost like sisters. Hence its essential that we look on the bright side of Polygamy.

Back in those days, when polygamy was a norm unlike in today's post industrial revolution society, it was much easier for women to accept mentally as they grew up in and around that idea. After the death of Khadeeja [ra] Prophet Muhammad [saw] was heartbroken. The sahabi Khawla RA saw signs of deep sorrow in the face of Muhammad [saw] and she consoled him saying; " Messenger of Allah, it seems you have been afflicted by want since the death of Khadeeja." The Prophet [saw] replied; "Yes, she was the mother of the household and the caretaker of the family." Khawla suggested Sawda and Aisha as his wives. Prophet [saw] married Sawda [ra] who had been previously married and was an experienced woman who could take care of the Prophets [saw] family and cater to the household. The wives that later married our Prophet [saw] married into a polygamous marriage. The wives of the prophet were a great source of succor in the glorious mission of the holy prophet [pbuh] each of the wife of the prophet played important roles in the Islamic endaevours.

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