I have a question about polygamy.
When I read on how to have a good family in Islam, it is said that women have to be presentable and adorn themselves all the time, take effort and time to beautify themselves, to always meeting their husband’s needs. If not, their husbands will shift their attention to other more attractive women out there.
While men, it is in their nature to always notice beautiful women so it is not them to be blamed. Plus, they have this right of polygamy, and often cases that I heard, they get married when they’re bored with their first wives. What is this? Why do men think of women as just one option, with back up options in mind. They can find another women and get married again whenever they like.
Why are only women who need to struggle more to make marriage work?
I feel even more disgusted when I witness this from some male public figures. Thus I’ve been thinking of this for a long period of time already, and most of my girlfriends are the same. In this modern world, we feel oppressed, not physically but rather mentally and emotionally. Yes we are.
Thank you so much for listening. I’m looking forward to your response.
Thank you for emailing me and for your willingness to share with me something deeply personal to you. I appreciate it very much.
About your question of polygamy, I am going to answer from one man’s perspective. So, I hope you can keep in mind that my answer is not necessarily applicable in the general sense. But I have a feeling that you would like to hear it from a man, so that is probably why you emailed me.
I would like to note that I won’t touch upon the Islamic legalities (fiqh) side of polygamy because it is not my area of expertise. Here, I would only touch upon the human psychology behind it. Polygamy can’t be discussed without taking into account the human psychology that underlies it.
Polygamy is a complicated topic that, unfortunately, has been simplified by male public figures and it has coloured the perception of the masses regarding it. But, having said that, I have to point out that not all men hold the same opinion about polygamy. Not all men will simply look to find another wife when they have problems with their first wife.
Marriage is not a one-sided relationship. The husband and the wife must work together to make marriage work. It is the responsibility of both to make marriage work. For example, just as the wife is asked to adorn herself for the husband, the husband should take care of himself for the wife as well. He shouldn’t think that the wife has no desire to see him well groomed. Just as he has that desire, the wife has it too.
Difficulties are the nature of marriage; no marriage is easy peasy. Marriage will not be successful automatically. It takes patience, perseverance, understanding, and a lot of listening to create a functional and a happy marriage. Shame on the man who leaves his wife to do all the work. It is not enough for a man to simply provide for his family physically i.e. food, shelter, clothing. The man has to also provide for his family emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
That is only for one family. Imagine if he has four.
It is true that men love women. I don’t think that is a mystery anymore. But I don’t think that should be used as an excuse to do polygamy. Polygamy in the Quran isn’t mentioned in terms of fulfilling the man’s sexual desires. Polygamy in the Quran is mentioned in terms of fulfilling the woman’s rights. The Quran ordered the men to be just in treating all of his wives, and if they can’t be just then they should just marry one woman (refer to Surah an-Nisa, verse 3).
Thinking of it this way, the way that the Quran portrays polygamy to be, men should be more afraid than excited. It is such a huge responsibility to practice polygamy. That’s probably why you don’t see polygamy being practiced that widely, because not all men are well equipped to carry the extra responsibility.
Many men joke about polygamy, but most of them are just making jokes. They don’t have the guts to follow through. Speaking of men making jokes about polygamy, we can react to it in at least two ways: 1) They are just making jokes so we shouldn’t take them seriously, or 2) They shouldn’t make jokes about it, because women have feelings. However you choose to react is your choice, but I prefer option no. 2
Think about it. Hypothetically speaking, how would the husband feel if his wife makes jokes about marrying another man?
Men shouldn’t make light of this issue just because it is allowed for them to marry more than one woman. Just because it is allowed, doesn’t mean that it is compulsory. It doesn’t make it their right that must be fulfilled. Like I said before, men should be more afraid than excited when it comes to polygamy because of the magnitude of responsibility that will land on their frail shoulders if they decided to go for it.
Men should always consider the emotional state of a woman when talking about polygamy because it is an emotional issue for most women. If a man is incapable of listening to the emotions of a woman, then he has no business talking about or even thinking about polygamy.
This is just the tip of the ice berg. More discussions need to be done and the discussions have to be more holistic than simply “polygamy is for men to fulfil their sexual desires”. No. That is a shallow and an unjust representation of what polygamy is in Islam.
To have a more holistic discussion, both men and women have to come forth to present their views and to listen to each other. This issue can’t be dealt with by simply quoting scriptures. Islam is not for robots, it is for humans. So human psychology and scriptural context have to be considered.
But to specifically address your concern, if there is a man who leaves a woman feeling like how you are feeling, then the man has done something wrong. He has done something wrong by all women and by Islam, because he has taint the good name of polygamy in Islam.
For a man like that, if he can’t make one woman happy, then how is it possible for him to make two, three, or four women happy? He should just focus on one and make that marriage work, because frankly speaking, he is not man enough to take care of more than one woman.