Objection # 7: Polygamy to provide new soldiers for Warfare:
According to Shari’a law, a Muslim man can marry up to four wives, and he can have sex with as many slave girls as he wishes.
Polygyny: The idea that polygamy is practiced to produce more soldiers is absurd, not worthy of comments because it was more of social welfare measure to look after the widows, orphans and to provide respectable household in a society where women outnumber the males. However some general comments are proffered. [Click for Video]
Common Practice in Bible: Polygyny has been practiced since ages. The most glaring and reprehensible error committed by Western writers is to suppose that Islam either adopted or legalized polygene. In none of the other religious scriptures, whether it be the Bible, the Vedas, the Ramayan, the Mahabharat or the Geeta, there is no restriction on the number of wives, a man may possess. According to these scriptures one can marry as many women as one wishes. It was only later, that the Hindu priests and the Christian Church restricted the number of wives to one. The Bible did not condemn polygene. To the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic writings frequently attest to the legality of polygene. King Solomon (peace be upon him) is said to have 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings;11:3) Also, King David (peace be upon him) is said to have had many wives and concubines (2 Samuel;5:13). The Old Testament does have some injunctions on how to distribute the property of a man among his sons from different wives (Deutronomy;22:7). The only restriction on polygyny is a ban on taking a wife’s sister as a rival wife (Leviticus;18:18), though Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him) married two sisters Leah and Rachel. The Talmud advises a maximum of four wives. European Jews continued to practice polygamy until the sixteenth century. Oriental Jews regularly practiced polygamy until they arrived in Israel where it is forbidden under civil law. However, under religious law which overrides civil law in such cases, it is permissible. Father Eugene Hillman in his insightful book, ‘Polygamy reconsidered’ writes, “Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy.” Moreover, Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) has not spoken against polygamy though it was practiced by the Jews of his society. Father Hillman stresses the fact that the Church in Rome banned polygamy in order to conform to the Greco-Roman culture (which prescribed only one legal wife while tolerating concubinage and prostitution). He cited St. Augustine; “Now indeed in our time, and in keeping with Roman custom, it is no longer allowed to take another wife.” African churches and African Christians often remind their European brothers that the Church’s ban on polygyny is a cultural tradition and not an authentic Christian injunction. Bishop and Deacon are asked to have one wife [1 Timothy;3:2,12], indicating widely practiced polygyny.
In Islam Legal Permission and Moral Prohibition: The Qur’an is the only religious book, that contains the phrase ‘marry only one’, (the legal permission) with instructions of ‘justice’, which is difficult, hence a moral prohibition. The permission (not order) granted to Muslim men to marry up to four women is generally misunderstood.
Various scholars have interpreted the Qur’anic verses;4:2-3; 4:129. in different ways, Abdullah Yousaf Ali explains; ‘The conditional clause about orphans need to be noticed, introducing the rules about marriage. The immediate occasion of the promulgation of this verse was after battle of Uhud, when the Muslim community was left with many orphans and widows and some captives of war. Their treatment was to be governed by principles of the greatest humanity and equity. The occasion is past, but the principles remain. Marry the orphans if one are quite sure that in that way the interests of orphans and their property will be protected, with perfect justice. If this is not possible then other arrangements may be made for the orphans.’ The clause of treating wives with ‘equity and justice’ (Qur’an;4:129) puts a ‘moral restriction’ on polygyny. The Sunnah of Prophet and Companions indicate the existence of more than wives, but may be that they could be fair at least in the matters of equitable provisions, however one can not control the heart, which may be more inclined to one wife over the others. By keeping more than one wife, one is putting himself on and additional trial, any slip may result in to divine anger and retribution. Some Muslim countries have banned polygyny basing on the analogy of ‘impossibility of equity and justice beyond human control’. The concept of temporary marriage (Mutt’a) is not permissible among four Sunni schools of jurisprudence.
The Qur’an has “tolerated” or “allowed” polygyny, and no more. There are places and times in which there are compelling reasons for polygyny. In most human societies, females outnumber males. Islam as a universal religion suitable for all places and all times couldn’t ignore these compelling reasons. It has to be added also that polygyny in Islam is a matter of mutual consent. No one can force a woman to marry a married man. The abuse of polygyny and repudiation of wife by the husband, even when her conduct is faultless, has recently led to the enactment of reformed family laws in most Muslim countries. The Qur’an repeatedly emphasizes the kind treatment of women.
Slave Girls: Slavery has been abolished gradually, it was only permissible for the captive in war. Contrary to the popular view and the practice of many Muslims in the past centuries, neither the Qur’an nor the life-example of the Prophet provides any sanction for sexual intercourse without marriage. Explains Muhammad Asad, in ‘The Message of Qur’an’ while explaining verses 4:24,25, 24:32-33. He further writes; some of the most outstanding commentators hold the view that ma malakat aymanukum denotes “women whom you rightfully possess through wedlock”; thus Razi in his commentary on this verse, and Tabari in one of his aternative explanations (going back to ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, and others). Razi, in particular, points out that the reference to “all married women” (al-muhsanat min an-nisa’), coming as it does after the enumeration of prohibited degrees of relationship, is meant to stress the prohibition of sexual relations with any woman other than one’s lawful wife.
“AND [you ought to] marry the single from among youas well as such of your male and female slaves as are fit [for marriage].”[Qur’an;24:32], “And if any of those whom you rightfully possessdesire [to obtain] a deed of freedom, write it out for them if you are aware of any good in them:and give them [their share] of the wealth of God which He has given you. And do not, in order to gain some of the fleeting pleasures of this worldly life, coerce your [slave] maidens into whoredom if they happen to be desirous of marriage; and if anyone should coerce them, then, verily, after they have been compelled [to submit in their helplessness), God will be much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!” [Qur’an;24:33],
The Qur’an especially encourages men to marry widows. This is an important idea to add if you are going to be losing a lot of soldiers in war. You need some way of replenishing your army. Otherwise the idea-collection could die out from a lack of offspring.
There is no verse in Qur’an which talk of marriage with a widow, but three verses [2:234, 240, 33:53] emphasize equitable and kind treatment with a widow. However marrying a widow is not to use her as soldier producing machine but a social welfare measure, which: 1) provide her social security and respectable status in society. 2) Care of her children, family and financial needs. 3) Discourage bad practices like illicit sexual relationship or prostitution. This aspect can not be understood for people living in a society where standards of morality are quite different. The Prophet [pbuh] said, “The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.” [Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith # 7.265]
New Testament has this to say about widows: “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God”[1Corinthians;7:39-40]. “Honor widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety at home, and so repay their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.” [1Timothy;5:3-4]. “But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they will marry;” [1Timothy 5:11].