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Polygamy Ruling Divides India Muslims

OnIslam & Newspapers

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A court ruling that polygamy is only allowed in Islam under certain circumstances is luring mixed reactions from the Muslim community in India
India, Muslims, polygamy, division, Shari`ah

CAIRO – A court ruling that polygamy is not encouraged in the Noble Qur’an, but only allowed under certain circumstances is luring mixed reactions from the Muslim community in India.

“The observations of the session’s judge are correct," social activist Mazhar Hussain told The Times of India on Thursday, January 3.

An Indian judge ruled earlier this week that polygamy is not encouraged in the Noble Qur’an.

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The judge, who gave his verdict in a case in which an imam is accused of marrying a girl to a married man without her consent, said marrying a second wife is allowed in Islam under certain circumstances as the illness of the first wife.

The judge also ruled that polygamy does not fit modern democracies, citing the ban of the practice in Muslim countries as Turkey and Indonesia.

"It is very important to understand this fact. Muslim countries such as Turkey and Indonesia too have recognized this and have placed various conditions for marrying the second time,” said Hussain.

Associate professor Syed Rahid Naseem Nadwi also supported the ruling.

“The primary condition of being just with all wives is very strict,” he said.

“The Qur’an expressly states that the husband should do justice with all of them in each and every respect which is next to impossible.

“If one doesn't think he can do justice, he should have only one wife," said Nadwi, who is also the head of department of Arabic language at English and Foreign Language University.

In Islam, marriage is a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman by virtue of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

Each partner in this sacred relationship must treat the other properly and with respect.

Islam sees polygamy as a realistic answer to some social woes like adulterous affairs and lamentable living conditions of a widow or a divorced woman.

A Muslim man who seeks a second or a third wife should, however, make sure that he would treat them all on an equal footing.

The Noble Qur'an says that though polygamy is lawful it is very hard for a man to guarantee such fairness.


But some Muslim scholars have opposed the court ruling.

“The judge of a secular country should not interpret the Shari`ah,” Maulana Mohammed Naseeruddin said.

“His remark that the consent of the first wife to marry again is required is neither mentioned in the Qur’an nor the hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad).”

He argued that the necessity of the consent of the first wife to marry again could lead to excesses with women.

“Permission for having more than one wife at a time is given but it is not an order," he said.

Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Islamic population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.

In India, divorce and marriage issues are dominated by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the single largest religious body consisting of scholars of different schools of thought.

In May, Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh issued a fatwa stating that marrying more than once made it “hard to provide equal justice to two wives in the Indian custom”.

The fatwa was issued in response to a query by a man who wanted advice on marrying twice.

Related Links:
Polygamy Fatwa Sparks India Debate
India Restricts Triple Divorce, Polygamy
India Divorce Fatwa Stirs Uproar
Unilateral, Triple Talaq Spurs India Debate
India Muslim Women Get Right to Divorce

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