Yesterday a judgement was passed by the Gujrat High court. The judgement read by Justice JB Pardiwala mentions “On the basis of modern progressive thinking, India must shun the practice (of polygamy) and establish a uniform civil code”. This judgement looks more of a business case for Uniform Civil Code rather than a genuine concern that should have been raised for this specific case, for which the judgement was passed (at least being depicted in the media such).
Why was polygamy allowed in Islam:
To understand this further we have to take a deep dive and try to understand the provisions that have been given in Islam for polygamy. There is a widespread misconception that Muslim societies (TOI news article heading – Stop MUSLIM polygamy…) are essentially polygamous. However, in the Quran permission to marry more than one wife is given under highly exceptional circumstances and with stringent conditions attached.
Quran mentions about polygamy (polygyny to be more specific) only in a single instance in Surah Al-Nisa Chapter 4 Verse 3 “And if you have reason to fear that you might not act equitably towards orphans, then marry from among (other) women such as are lawful to you — (even) two, or three, or four but if you reason to fear that you might not be able to treat them with equal fairness, then (only) one — or (from among) those whom you rightfully possess. This will make it more likely that you will not deviate from the right course.”
Still this just not justifes the reason this was allowed which is stated clearly in the same Chapter Verse 2 “Render unto the orphans their possessions, and do not substitute bad things (of your own) for the good things (that belong to them), and do not consume their possessions together with your own this, verily, is a great sin.” In English, the word ‘orphan’ refers to a child who has lost both parents. However, in Arabic, it refers to a child who has lost his or her father.
Polygamy, then, is permitted by the Quran — not readily but reluctantly as the last resort — and only in conditions of great social hardship and for humanitarian purposes.
Secondly I would also like to make a point that as per the data on world sex ratio (number of men / 100 women) by United Nations – 2015, 129 countries of the 201 for which data is available, there are less than 100 men available. Now what Justice JB Pardiwala suggests is these women should do if he wants “a heinously patriarchal” hindering Muslim uplift to be banned. Few right wing readers of this article would suggest that such people should move on to sainthood and become like Sadhvi Prachi.
Are you kidding me?
Now when I spoke about this once with a group of my friends the first question that was put forward was Am I a supporter of provisions given in Islam like polygamy and triple Talaq (which we could take up separately). My answer has always been “I am a firm believer in Islam” and my suggestion has always been to “do research completely before making up your mind”. It is important to understand that unlike many believes that Islam was only revealed for the people of Saudi Arab living in 600 AD is absolutely wrong. It is a global religion that was send down upon humans of all nations and of all times. It is our duty to see that all provisions given in Islam are followed in the true spirit and with the stringent conditions attached.
Need of the hour:
Now, here I would like to ask a question that is just progressive thinking enough or our nation has really made progress.
It has indeed!! But still we have not reached to a point wherein interests of orphans (Arabic) are no more in danger. Are Dalit families safe? What is more important implementing uniform civil code and imposing so called progressive rules on all religions and faiths or working on the female feticide because as per the UNICEF India press release it has grown into a business of more than 1000 crore in our country. There have been only two convictions — a fine of 300 rupees ($7) and another fine of 4,000 rupees ($98) — from over 400 cases lodged under the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. Need of the hour is to make changes in Muslim Personal Law allowing it to take actions against the like of the people against whom this individual case was logged and the maulvis who let this happen!!
It is for us to decide what is more important curbing the freedom of religion and expression, trying to take personal / political gain out of such unfortunate incidents or doing something for people which are most vulnerable once such unfortunate incidents happen to them.
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