Ask A Muslim: Marriage in Islam

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By Maimoona Harrington

Can you talk about marriage in Islam? How can one man be married to four women?

Marriage in Islam is a legal contract performed by an Imam (clergy) with consent of both bride and groom.

Marriage is also considered a religious duty and safeguard to modesty. Islam does not permit polygamy as a right. Polygamy is allowed, but with limitations and restrictions. It has conditions attached to it. One has to be fair and just to all his wives. It’s a great responsibility. Quran, Islam’s holy book, have the following verses on the matter of polygamy in its fourth chapter called, “An-Nisa – The Women.”

And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.

(Quran: Chapter: 4 Verse: 3)

Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so). But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense. If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

(Quran: Chapter: 4 Verse: 129)

This leads to explain, polygamy is permitted within the context of war and when there are widows and orphans needing security and shelter. These verses were revealed after the battle of Uhud when many Muslims were killed.

Thus Islam advocates monogamy unless one can meet the limitations and conditions or the needs of the time.

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