Thursday, April 21, 2016
MONOGAMY OR POLYGAMY
In terms of the birth rate, men and women are almost equal in number. But subsequently, for a variety of reasons, the number of men in society decrease, leaving an excess of women. Now the question arises as to what should be the solution to this problem. In view of the inevitability of this imbalance, how is a healthy relationship between the sexes to be established? The choice for us, therefore, is not between monogamy and polygamy, but rather, between lawful polygamy of Islam or the illicit polygamy of non-Islamic peoples.
Records show that male and female births are almost equal in number. But a study of mortality shows that the rate is higher for men than for women. This disparity is in evidence from early childhood to extreme old age. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: “In general, the risk of death at any given age is less for female than for males.”
The proportionately higher numbers of women in society can be traced to a variety of causes. For instance, when war breaks out, the majority of the casualties are men. In the First World War (1914 – 1918) about 8 million soldiers were killed. Most of the civilians killed were also men. In the Second World War (1939 – 1945) about 60 million people were either killed or maimed for life, most of them men. In the Iraq – Iran war alone (1979 – 1988), 82,000 Iranian women and about 100,000 Iraqi women were widowed. All in the space of ten years.
Another drain on the availability of men in society is imprisonment. In the U.S., the most civilized society modern times, no less than 1,300,00 people are convicted daily for one crime or another. A number of them – 97% of whom are men – are obliged to serve lengthy prison sentences.
There is no country in which accidents do not take place every day on the streets, in the factories and wherever sophisticated, heavy machinery is handled by human beings. In this modern industrial age, such accidents are so much on the increase that a whole new discipline has come into being – safety engineering. According to data collected in 1967, in that year a total of 175,00 people died as a result of accidents in fifty different countries. Most of these were men.
One point greatly in need of clarification is the fact that in the matter of marrying more than one woman, the initiative does not lie solely with any individual man. There is always the condition – an inescapable one – that whatever the society, the women should outnumber the men. Suppose the earth were inhabited by one billion people out of which 500 million were women. It would not then be possible in such a situation for a man to have more than one wife. A second, third or fourth wife would be obtained only by force. But in Islam, a forced marriage is not considered lawful. According to the shari’ah the willingness of the bride-to-be is a compulsory condition.
By following the principle of monogamy, hundreds of thousands of women fail to find husbands for themselves and are thus denied an honorable place in society. Monogamy as an absolute principle may seem pleasing to some, but events show that this is not fully practicable in the world of today. The choice for us, therefore, is not between monogamy and polygamy, but rather between the lawful polygamy of Islam and the illicit polygamy of non-Islamic peoples. The latter system leaves “surplus” women to lead lives of sexual anarchy and social destruction. The former, on the other hand, permit them to opt on their own free will for marriage with anyone can give fair treatment to more than one wife.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1984) aptly concludes that one reason for adopting polygamy is surplus of women. Among most peoples who permit or prefer it, the large majority of men live in a state of monogamy because of limited number of women.
To have more than one wife is not an ideal in Islam. It is, in essence, a practical solution to a social problem.