Page 125 - Islam In Focus

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Qur’ an itself. To facilitate the references, a table showing the relevant chapters and
verses in the Qur’ an is here presented
2 87,136,253
3 42-59,84
4 156-159, 171-172
5 17,46,72,75,78,110-118
6 85
9 30-31
19 1-40
23 50
33 7
42 13
43 57-65
57 27
61 6,14
Polygamy (Plurality of Wives)
Strictly speaking, polygamy means the plurality of mates. More specifically, if a man
has more than one wife at the same time, this is called polygyny. But since the
average common reader makes no distinction between the two terms, they will be
used here interchangeably. When we say polygamy in this context, it actually means
polygyny in the proper sense of the term. On the other hand, if a woman has more
than one mate, it is called polyandry. If it is a mixture of men and women, it is a
group or communal marriage.
These three basics types of plural marriage have been more or less practiced by
different societies in different ages under different circumstances. The most common
pattern is polygyny; yet it is still necessarily limited to a very small minority of any
given population for various reasons. This is the only pattern permitted by Islam. The
other two, plurality of husbands (polyandry) and group marriages are absolutely
forbidden in Islam
However, it is not correct that Judaism and Christianity have always been
monogamous or categorically opposed to polygyny, not even today. We are informed
by some prominent Jewish scholars, e.g. Goitein (pp. 184-185), that polygynous
Jewish immigrants cause the Israeli housing authorities a great deal of both difficulty
and embarrassment. The position of the Christian Mormons is well known. So is the
view of Afro-Asian bishops who prefer polygyny to infidelity, fornication, and mate
swapping. In the United States alone, mate swappers are estimated to number
hundreds of thousands
It will be revealing to examine the high correlation between strict formal monogamy
and the frequency of prostitution, homosexuality, illegitimacy, infidelity, and general
sexual laxity. The historical record of the Greek-Roman and the Jewish-Christian
civilizations is even more revealing in this respect as any standard sociological history
of the family will show. (S.D Goitein, Jews and Arabs: Their Contracts Through the
Ages. New York: Schoken Books, 1964; L.T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution: a study