Polygamy and Islam

In the present book, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan explains that in terms of birth rate, men and women are almost equal in number. But subsequently, for a variety of reasons such as wars, the number of men in society decreases, leaving an excess of women. At such times the choice is not between monogamy and polygamy, but rather, between the lawful polygamy of Islam or the illicit polygamy of non-Islamic people. Such a situation emerged after the Battle of Uhud (3 A.H.) in which 70 Muslims were martyred and their widows and orphans were left without guardianship. At that time the following verse was revealed: ‘If you fear that you cannot deal fairly with orphan girls, you may marry women of your choice, two, three or four; but if you fear that you might not be able to treat them with equal fairness, then only one.’ (The Quran, 4:3) It asked people who could afford it, to take care of the orphans by marrying the widows and keeping their orphaned children under their guardianship. This commandment is only temporary in effect, covering a state of emergency when, due to loss of men in battle, the number of women exceeded the available men.

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