Editor's note: In a comment debate about an article entitled “Confessions of Second Wife” two of Onislam.net’s readers shared their different views about polygamy. A Christian and a Muslim, exchanged diverse opinions through the comment box about this topic from their religious perspectives. The discussion ended up that both of them became more open to each other to share further information and references.
Giving a credit to this respected debate, Onislam.net likes to re-publish part of it in the shape of a conversation to make the platform open for other readers to post their views. The comments are slightly edited to keep its originality.
Resources from Onislam.net:
Believing that dialogue is a vital way to the mutual understanding; we here post this inter-faith debate:
- Emilio: This is so evil, God did not create marriage for this, it is one man and one woman, a covenant. This is the rationalization of sin. If you are in it, you know the jealousy and lack of unity with your husband. I do not support this even if Muhammad did it, I then do not support him.
- Junaid: It is an interesting story. Some may be against such an institution but they are reduced to assertions and unsubstantiated claims about the alleged 'evils' of polygamy. Some claim a jealousy and lack of unity with partners but cite no evidence or studies. People forget that this institution is supported by God not only through His final messenger but also through noble prophets such as Solomon. I hope our friend will be more humble and kind while expressing an opinion rather than ferociously articulate their own thoughts.
- Emilio: From the beginning God says "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."- Gen 2. As well as the very law of God for kings in Deuteronomy 17:17, "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turns not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold."
God’s heart is clear about the beauty of the unity between one man fully giving himself to his wife and her fully to him. Isa speaks a lot on marriage well. Grace and Peace!
Here is a great article. I speak not hatefully to anyone, in fact I'm praying for everyone now, especially myself (Matthew 7:3), but the subject matter is what is offensive, and religion should never guide us to rationalize sin, it proves the religions absent foundations. In love.
- Junaid: Excellent to see a practicing Christian as a guest! However your assertion that this practice is a sin lies on many presuppositions , many of which I cannot readily accept. Firstly the fact that the Bible condemns it, this may then make polygamy a sin in your eyes but not in the eyes of Muslims. Secondly you have claimed that this is not a stable model for marriage the above article is an example of this model is pragmatic. You complain of lack of intimacy and jealousy, but in order for us to believe you we need evidence.
Can you maybe reference any studies showing that polygamy necessitates jealously and enmity between wives? If so I'd love to examine it. Finally this may be a sin in your eyes because of the Bible but this will not convince many people especially Muslims.
We are honored however that you are exploring and asking questions about Islam, since you're a Christian it's likely that you're extremely sincere and kind hearted.
|"I will say that I agree that the orthodox biblical interpretation is against polygamy but there are many Christian groups who support it quoting the Bible and giving strong evidence for their conclusions."- Junaid said.|
- Emilio: Thank you for the reply. I do speak as a Christian in the matter, representing the revealed wisdom of the revelation of the God of all creation. In that prior revelation His revealed stance is clear and is contradicted by the latter Qur’anic text.
On this subject I know it is not the only thing of contradiction from the Qur’an and the Bible. The latter in your eyes is superior to the former, an abrogation. What we see in revelation history is that God never changes His stance on moral issues nor of covenant issues unless He Himself fulfills them fully on our behalf eternally.
Marriage and its boundaries are not one of these. I will say I am not saying polygamist relationships will end in disaster completely; even unbelievers have exciting loving relationships that are healthy.
This reply is on the moral/theological issue which we all must come to the conclusion to that the God of the Bible is against polygamy.
If the desire to follow another voice spurs a devoted adherence and acceptance then we must know in the end it is a choice of the individual to follow their own way, or the way of another.
The Biblical revelation has not been changed, I do say with authority and freedom. So here are your articles you desired but the only article I care to reveal or view is God’s will, which brings man under His love, intimacy, design and into united relationship with Him for forgiveness by Grace and proven loving assurance through the Messiah Isa. Grace and Peace! Here are some links to read:
- Junaid: Emilio, again your understanding of the law of abrogation comes from biblical understanding while mine from Qur’anic. We will have to agree to disagree for the moment; we are discussing exciting issues in an inappropriate format. Please do raise your contentions with the scholars on this website.
I will say that I agree that the orthodox biblical interpretation is against polygamy but there are many Christian groups who support it quoting the Bible and giving strong evidence for their conclusions.
So the idea that polygamy in the bible is unambiguously discouraged isn't quite true. It is not a clear cut issue in Christian theology. Please do ask more questions and refer to the scholars of the website.
We, students, can only direct to our teachers.
Finally I will say that I am overjoyed at your outward adherence to the Prophet Jesus. We also love him very much and on this issue we are united. You can assert that the bible is unchanged and that is your opinion, but if you wish to masquerade it as fact then reasons and arguments must be presented. This cannot be done in the comments section, so please refer to the scholars of this website for more serious discussions.
Furthermore I would request that we end our discussion here and now because we are moving into the exciting topic of theology, this is not the appropriate format to discuss theology. Discuss with the scholars and contact the knowledgeable ones for substantive discussions.
- Emilio: The Bible is the foundation of the Qur’an; it is its theological history. The God of the Qur’an says, "There is none that can alter the words of Allah". How then could it have changed by mere man?
Textual criticism does show it has, archeology does not show it has, nothing does, especially with resources such as the Dead Sea scrolls. I only say that to talk about the subject of polygamy.
First NO Christian sects accept polygamy, only Mormons which is a cult, they are not Christians. So if the view has not changed in all of revealed history, why would God change His moral mind? If there is a different format for this please provide a link or a personal email. God Bless.
|"I will say I am not saying polygamist relationships will end in disaster completely; even unbelievers have exciting loving relationships that are healthy. This reply is on the moral/theological issue which we all must come to the conclusion to that the God of the Bible is against polygamy."- Emilio said.|
- Junaid: Emilio, so nice to hear from you! You strike a profound point in alluding to theological history. I agree the Qur’an came as a completion of the revelations of the past, abrogating some areas and expounding on others.So to extend your point further I would say the Bible isn't the foundation of the Qur’an but is a predecessor of the Qur’an. However even this view is slightly misguided, you see the Qur’an talks about a previous scripture named the Injeel which was given to Jesus, not the four gospels. So popular Muslim thought has been that the Bible we have now is not what Jesus preached although it may contain remnants of God's words.
Regarding to the verse you quoted it is from Surah 6 verse 115. The orthodox exegesis of the verse states that God is speaking about His words in the Qur’an and not in a general sense. So God's words can be interpolated by man except with the Quran which has God's protection.
Secondly you asserted with ardent conviction that there was no evidence which suggested that the biblical text had ever been changed since it was written. Have you studied the works of Bart Ehrman?
Opinions on the authenticity of biblical texts are not as ubiquitous as you stated. There is a robust debate which rages to this day regarding the authenticity of the biblical text. I presume you are textual critic and historian by profession to utter such a conclusive opinion on the issue. Furthermore I must admit my search for Christian stances on polygamy were lazy; a Google search I thought would suffice.
Laughable I know but we're friends and I think you'll forgive me. There were quite a lot of websites I found preaching biblical polygamy; do you know for certain they are all Mormons? But it still doesn't clearly convince Muslims that polygamy is a sin, the Qur’an allows it and it abrogates previous revelations.
Finally Emilio, the way you speak about Islam so confidently and criticize its concepts forces me to assume that you must have studied it in depth. Islam can only truly be known through intensive study under knowledgeable scholars. Might I ask who are your teachers of Islam? How many years have you studied it?
In quick academic institution did you learn Islam - was it a university or an Islamic educational centre? Which areas of Islam do you specialize in - Hadith, Quran etc? Are you a scholar looking to discuss or a layperson asking questions?
I suggest you answer only to the questions in this particular post and end this discussion with me, subsequently you can take your questions to the scholars of this website.
- Emilio: I would love to dialogue with you personally, please have someone from your connections (I prefer you) contact me. Ehrman is an existentialist and if his hands were on the Qur’an he would come to the same conclusions based upon his worldview not his critical study of evidence.
Taking a liberal scholar who works his existentialism into his work and calling it a viable critique is not a source I would ever want to associate myself with. We are after truth, not smoke and mirror truth.
I stand next to the beautiful claim of the reliability of biblical scripture. You have misguided the history of salvation in the Bible, there are no abrogations, only covenants and fulfillments of covenants; God never changes (Malachi 3:6).
I am after truth, not religion, or culture.
|"Friend, your behavior is proof that Christians and Muslims can amicably discuss issues even while disagreeing." Junaid ended his words.|
- Junaid: You must understand that I have a life of study and research. I'm honored that you would want to know me and discuss with me but I'm only here to refer any questioners to the scholars because they are the ones that will give convincing answers. This is why our fascinating discussion cannot continue, by asking questions to this website you gain access to knowledge greater than I and fellow students can presently give you.
I think Bart Ehrman deserves more credit than that, although I may disagree with him in certain aspects, to dismiss him because of his worldview is not proper.
You need to address his arguments one by one and clearly show why they do not stand to legitimate scrutiny.
Regurgitating what Christian critics say about him doesn't evaporate his arguments. Regarding your comment about Ehrman and the Quran, it is an assumption. An assumption that is unfounded in any real evidence so I must ignore it unfortunately.
It is your right to stand behind the reliability of biblical scripture but that is your opinion. I cannot accept this due to lack of evidence and the existence of positive evidence in favor of Islam. I'm glad you are searching for truth; from our discussions I can infer you are sincere.
- Emilio: I have gone through Bart’s process of logic, and his worldview is very important, If I say everything in life is relative, then I have forgone the ability to come to what is true and un-relative. Bart systemically and evidentially has been proven wrong and very much so falsified.
- Junaid: Friend, your behavior is proof that Christians and Muslims can amicably discuss issues even while disagreeing. I hope you find what you're looking for in Islam, because definitely if you look deep enough, it's there. Goodbye Emilio.