There is a misconception in our society that some Islamic laws have degraded the status of women which includes an unequal share in the inheritance, her position in testimony, the supremacy of man and much more. Under those inaccurate assumptions, people even accused our last Prophet (PBUH) of practicing and encouraging unjust treatment with women. The ruling of polygyny or polygamy is on the top of the list.
What is Polygamy?
It is a practice of marrying more than one spouses. If a man marries more than one woman, according to the sociologists, it is termed as polygamy.
Polygyny in Islam
It has been observed that Islam didn’t invent polygyny; the existence of this practice is years ago. Hazrat Ibrahim had two wives, Hazrat Yaqub had four wives, Hazrat Dawood had more than twenty wives. But yes, the credit goes to Islam for modification and reformation the system of polygyny according to the time. After allowing the Muslim men to marry two, three or four wives, Holy Quran immediately says:
“But if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one…” (Surah Nisaa, Verse 3).
But Why Did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Allow Men To Marry More Than Four Women?
Some western writers accused Islam by saying that the last prophet of Muslims, Holy Prophet (PBUH) was a womanizer. He was a man of lust that’s why he had nine wives. Instead of saying “Yahoodi Wajib ul Qatal Hain”, let’s ponder upon the facts and find the reason for his nine marriages.
1. He Provided Protection To Widows So That Others May Follow
At the age of 25, he married Bibi Khadija who was older than him and according to some sources, she was a widow. Holy Prophet (PBUH) remains married to her until she passed away in Makkah. When he migrated to Medina after two years, Holy Prophet (PBUH) then married to another widow woman, Bibi Sawda’h Binte Zama’h whose husband died in Abyssinia and her father and brother threatened her to death.
Holy Prophet (PBUH) than married to Bibi Zainab Binte Khuzayma and Bibi Umme Salma, both were widows. His marriage with these two ladies helped Prophet (PBUH) to forge important links with his opponents.
(Seerat un Nabi By Sulaiman Nadvi, Page 135)
2. To Strengthen The Ties With Different Tribes
After the battle of Banu Mustaliq in 5th Hijri, Muslims took two hundred families of a tribe in slavery. Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked to release Bibi Juwarriyah who was the daughter of the chief of the tribe and a widow, Holy Prophet (PBUH) then married her and Muslims released the families too which automatically impressed the people of Banu Mustaliq and all of the two hundred families accepted Islam.
(Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Hadith 76)
3. To Forge Friendly Relations
Holy Prophet (PBUH) married to Bibi Aisha Binte Abi Bakr, Bibi Hafsa Binte Abi Khattab, Bibi Umme Habiba Binte Abi Sufyan, Bibi Safiyyah Binte Huaiy Ibn Akhtab, Bibi Maimoona Binte Al-Harith to establish friendly relations with his companions and those who desired to be a part of his family.
(Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Hadith 23)
4. To Break The Taboos
Bibi Zainab Binte Jahash was the cousin of Holy Prophet (PBUH) who was married to Zaid binte Harith, an Arab slave who was freed by Prophet (PBUH) and then adopted him as a son. But soon, their marriage turned sour and Zaid divorced him. According to Arab traditions, an adopted son was considered as the real son and so his wife. To break this taboo, Holy Prophet married with Bibi Zainab.
(Surah Ahzab, verse 37)
We hope that this detail discussion would help you to understand the actual reason and mission of our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH) behind the practice of polygyny.