Is Misuse of Polygamy the Main Cause for Divorce?

16 August, 2016


Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

In fact, it reveals a great deal of sensitivity and romanticism in your personality. You asked two questions one is about divorce the other is about polygamy.

Your first question in which you complain about the effortlessness of divorce in Islam reminds me of another question that I once received from another questioner, complaining about the difficulty and rather impossibility of divorce in Islam!

This means that both your complaints do not represent the absolute truth but they may be a reflection of certain situations that you both might have witnessed and have given you such impressions. To me, the policy of divorce in Islam is very wise and balanced, it is a midway between the two extremes of forbiddance and effortlessness.

Having a look at those cultures that make divorce impossible, you’ll find a bigger number of marital infidelities, more frequent visitations to psychologists, and more legal manipulations to seek refuge in what is termed “civil marriage” that guarantees easier divorce.

Because you are young and idealistic you may think that the two people united in marriage after being in love will always be so, but reality says that in some cases love disappears and life brings about challenges that are too hard for some marriages to resist.

In this case divorce and the chance to start a new happy life with some one else is a better choice than a miserable marriage, which would definitely lead to infidelity or depression.

This does not mean that Islam – in its quest for people’s happiness – makes divorce an easy option, but it comes as the last alternative after serious attempts for reconciliations.

Please look up the links provided at the bottom of this answer to read previous answers related to divorce, then you will realize that though it is permitted and not impossible for both men and women to obtain it, yet it is not “that easy!”

Concerning your second question about polygamy, I understand that it is difficult for all women, including the Prophet’s wives, to accept this situation.

This is as jealousy is an innate feeling born with every woman. But Islam in its genius balancing between the individual and the collective within the society, sees that there are many problems that appear due to limiting the number of wives absolutely to one.

The first wife may be sterile while the husband wants to have children without divorcing her. Maybe he loves or maybe she doesn’t have anywhere else to go if she is divorced.

Also another reason is that a husband might not be very happy with a wife who does not respect or treat him decently, or denies him his marital rights – this behavior is more frequent than you imagine – while he cannot divorce her because of the children.

In other cases, a husband is physiologically too strong to have one wife… Again in war times, when tens of thousands of men die leaving widows and orphans unattended, there is always a need of polygamy to help those ladies and save the whole society from a state of moral chaos, which would result from all these numbers of single women.

Above all, those ladies have the same right – as you do – to have husbands! Imagine yourself or someone you love in this situation and you will change your idea. It is only because we are not the victims then we don’t have enough sympathy.

Such situations take place in all societies. In societies that do not permit polygamy, the alternative is definitely marital infidelity, relations outside marriage and psychological disturbance.

On the other hand, Islam does not oblige a wife to accept sharing her husband with another woman. In case she cannot, she has the liberty to seek divorce.

In general, I can tell you that both divorce and polygamy are options by which Allah has blessed our nation, in order to facilitate our lives and preserve our values. The misuse of such facilities by a few – and not many – irresponsible and hard hearted people, should not deprive others who may be in need of them and whose lives might be messed up without them.

Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch.