Chapter 1. Polygamy
And we hurtle headlong into one of my favourite topics in Islam. And wow, does it get the blood boiling. Here, Dr Naik attempts to justify polygyny (a man taking on multiple wives), firstly by pointing out that the Qur'an is the only holy text that encourages men to "marry only one", quoting this verse
"Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one." (Al-Qur'an an 4:3)The clause there is that you should deal justly with all of them, but how many men can say they can? Ah, there's a verse for that as well.
"You are never able to be fair and just as between women..." (Al- Qur'an an 4:129)He goes on to say therefore that polygyny isn't a rule, but an exception. It's permissible in Islam, but not compulsory. But then why is is even mentioned in the first place? Well, Dr Naik says that it isn't PRACTICAL for a man to only have one wife. The ratio of men to women in the world leans too greatly to the women, therefore, there's not enough potential husbands out there for these women. And the alternative for these women, living as unmarried spinsters, isn't even an option for him.
"Suppose my sister happens to be one of the unmarried women living in the USA, or suppose your sister happens to be one of the unmarried women living in the USA. The only two options remaining for her are that she either marries a man who already has a wife or becomes 'public property'. There is no other option. All those who are modest will opt for the first." (Emphasis mine)
"Most women would not like to share their husband with other women. But in Islam when the situation deems it necessary Muslim women endued with faith could bear a small personal loss to prevent a greater loss of letting other Muslim sisters becoming 'public properties'."Public property!? Women are not objects to be shared around the community and yet unless she's married, she's fair game? And I love the cheek of the second paragraph. It's down to the already married woman to show grace and allow her husband to take a second wife so that her 'sister' doesn't end up living the shameful life of being public property. So by not allowing her husband to commit polygamy, it's the wife who's at fault. Nice one. After all, it's the lesser of two evils, isn't it?
Chapter 2. Polyandry
And what of the other side of the coin? Why is polygyny allowed, but not polyandry (woman taking on multiple husbands)? Here's what he says
"Let me first state emphatically, that the foundation of an Islamic society is justice and equality. Allah has created men and women as equal, but with different capabilities and different responsibilities. Men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically. Their roles and responsibilities are different. Men and women are equal in Islam, but not identical."Here we go, straight into the roundabout nature of gender roles. So, what reasons does he give?
1. If a man has more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father.This was his longest reason, going on to say how psychologically damaging it is for a child to not know their parents and that if a woman with more than one husband had to enrol her child into school, she would have to endure the shame of submitting two names for the child. He does admit DNA tests nowadays can remove that confusion, citing "this point was applicable for the past may not be applocable for the present". No shit. Besides, there are plenty of children in the world who don't know their parents. It's not nice, but they don't all instantly become psychologically damaged - it's down to how they are raised with the guardians they do have. Hell, my youngest niece barely knows what her father looks like and she's the brightest, smartest and most well adjusted child I know. And that's because she has a wonderful mother to raise her.
2. Man is more polygamous by nature as compared to a woman.What? Wow, so by nature, a man wants more sex than a woman? That's why he's allowed more than one wife? So, what of the women out there who do have multiple partners? I suppose they're the exception to the rule, or are they 'public property'?
3. Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. A woman undergoes several psychological and behavioural changes due to different phases of the menstural cycle.And he tries delving into science for this one. So, a man is completely capable of sleeping with more women, but a woman can't possibly sleep with more than one man? Because she's biologically incapable to do so? Oh, and lastly...
4. A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is not the case in a man having more than one wife, and none of them having extra-marital sex.I don't know how to break it to you, "Doctor" Naik, but STIs don't work like that. All it takes is for one of either gender to have an infection for all of them to catch it through sex. It doesn't matter if it's one wife between a couple of husbands or one husband between a couple of wives and none of them sleep with someone outside of the marriage.
And just in case those reasons don't leave you scratching your head, this chapter's closing statement is this.
The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. There are probably many more reasons why Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has prohibited polyandry.These reasons all scream extreme bullshit to me. Although he tries to paint polygamy as inherrently good for women, he has done nothing but insult both women AND men in his reasonings. Men are promiscuous, so having multiple partners is a good thing for him. It's like saying men are inherrently violent, so we should allow them to beat the crap out of other people. And women are not honourable unless they marry, even if it mean marrying a man who is already married, or else she becomes 'public property' and lives an unprotected and undignified life. Well, excuse me Dr Naik, but I am my own woman. I am not public property and by implying I am such is incredibly insulting and frankly, false.
There are many problems associated with polygamy, whichever gender follows it. I find it very difficult to understand why someone would attempt to defend it, especially when they argue on behalf of one gender and not the other. It just screams of entitlement and in this case, male supremacy. Which, to be honest, Zakir Naik is a massive fan of.
I'll stop the post here for now. There're more chapters of this booklet which I will tear through in a later blog post, just so I don't overload this one.