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Offline Reader Questions

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As salamo Alaikum brother Joseph

In response to the article 'is polygyny a religious sanction?' You mentioned the following:

Indeed the verse you mention (4:3) is dealing with orphans but there is nothing explicit in the verse which suggests that polygyny is only for orphan related matters.

However i think it can be argued that the intentions of marrying (more than one wife) should be orphan related,  as the following is translated in Sahih International (4:3):

'And if you fear you will not deal justly with the orphans, then marry those that please you of (other) women...'

The permissibility of marrying (more than one wife) is given to those who QUALIFY the first part of the sentence which mentions ' and IF you fear you will not deal justly with the orphans' It then continues with 'THEN marry those that please you...' The words 'if' and 'then' are crucial as they give away the requirements of being given the right of marrying more than one wife.

Assume an individual says 'if you pay £10,000, then the business is yours.' The 'then' only applies if the individual fulfills the requirement of agreeing to pay £10,000. Thus, the offer is CONDITIONAL based on whether the buyer agrees to pay £10,000. Similarly, it can therefore be concluded that the right of marrying more than one wife is CONDITIONAL, directed to those who's intention suits this particular category (orphan related matters).

However, because my argument is based on a translation of this verse and not the actual Arabic version, the crucial words 'if' and 'then' may not even be a part of the verse.

I would very much appreciate your response brother Joseph.

Thank you,

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Are Multiple Marriages for Men Permissible Only in a Specific Context?
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2014, 07:14:43 PM »
Wa alaikum assalam

You kindly share:

"The permissibility of marrying (more than one wife) is given to those who QUALIFY the first part of the sentence which mentions ' and IF you fear you will not deal justly with the orphans' It then continues with 'THEN marry those that please you...' The words 'if' and 'then' are crucial as they give away the requirements of being given the right of marrying more than one wife."

If your assertion for the requirement of qualification is submitted, then respectfully, it must also be hence admitted, that the prophet also married more than wife (which is even attested by the Quran, 33:29, 33:32, 66:1) because he too could not deal justly with the orphans or at least feared this.

This would be a very remarkable submission, as it would infer the prophet to be an arguably weak example if he could not do justice himself when it came to earthly desires such as dealing with the orphans. As you will appreciate, this would be an unacceptable submission on many theological grounds.

Furthermore, the question would arise as to why God curtailed the right of the prophet's marriage with the intimation that some of his marriages were based on aspects of beauty that moved him, rather than orphan justice.

033:052
"It is not lawful to you (O Muhammad) (to marry) women after this, nor that you should change them for other wives, even if their beauty is pleasing to you, except what your right hand possesses and God is Watchful over all things."

If the only reason for multiple marriages was to avoid injustices to orphans (even by the prophet), then one would arguably expect a similar sentiment as follows to govern the prohibition "It is not lawful to you (O Muhammad) (to marry) women after this, nor that you should change them for other wives, even if you fear injustice to the orphans, except what your right hand possesses and God is Watchful over all things."?

As you know, this is not the case.

Lastly with respect, your suggestion finds contention with the notion that the default position before the prophetic ministry was that multiple marriages did ensue in the communities of monotheistic worshippers without restraint. Even noble patriarchs such as prophets Abraham and Solomon were known to have multiple wives. The Quran did not explicitly curtail this understanding of the practices of yore. It only provided an elucidation in the context of a particular predicament pertaining to orphans to underscore the importance of dealing justly with them.

In general, I would always kindly suggest with matters such as these, that whilst dealing with ancient literature (whether as believers or academics), one must be inclined to interpret narratives in the context it was revealed, as opposed to possibly attempting to align its understanding somewhat with acceptable modern day perspectives.

I hope this clarifies, God willing

Your brother in faith,
Joseph  :)
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell