Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
14 April 2012
It's a bit unsettling that Deoband cares more for Indian customs than for Islamic injunctions. It has reversed an earlier fatwa arguing for polygamy and is now saying that it is better to avoid second/third marriage, despite permission in Sharia, as it is generally not acceptable in Indian custom.
Deoband respecting Indian customs is greatly welcome.
However, Indian custom right now is for having mistresses if you can afford it; some people I know have one in all cities of the country that they visit periodically on business. It is Hindu law that prevents polygamy but it kind of allows women (indirectly) to become mistresses without any rights whatsoever, nor any surname for their kids, if they can afford to have one. Indian custom is more of an argument for allowing Muslim-Personal-Law-like bigamy or polygamy in which the other women too will have some rights.
Polygamy, I believe, is not permitted in Islam in ordinary circumstances. It was allowed, at one time, even under strict or maybe impossible conditions of giving equal treatment to all wives in all respects, only for exigencies like war and dealing with questions of large number of women prisoners and war widows.
But, in my view, with its permission for polygamy, the Anglo-Mohammedan law prevalent in India gives greater protection to wives in the sense that it makes it difficult for Muslim men to flirt with other women beyond a point. If they want to do that they are afraid that other women will then start demanding to get married; their argument being that Muslim Personal Law allows more than one wife. On the other hand a Hindu woman cannot make that demand. If she wants or needs to live with the man for some reason, sometimes even for reasons for love, she has no option but to accept the position of a mistress and many do.
After all, the second or third or fourth woman also should have rights. She too is a woman. And no less of a woman than the first wife who may have got married just under parental pressure from both families in our arranged marriage scenarios.
Forgive me if my view of the issue has got a bit distorted on account of my personal knowledge of some Hindu friends with a number of mistresses all over and my sympathies for these women. I cannot help comparing their situation with those of just one family I knew of where a Muslim gentleman insisted on having four wives at all times, never allowing a vacancy for more than a few months.
If I may repeat, I believe Islam does not allow polygamy as a norm. But it does leave a certain amount of vagueness, a certain room for maneuvere, which would be impossible to capture in a codified law. Laws have to apply to all. Aware of human limitations and compulsions, perhaps Islam feels greater need for eliminating irresponsible, undeclared relationships, detrimental to society at large and even to the health of the people concerned. Perhaps it wants to completely eliminate the evil of prostitution, the most demeaning of all human practices.
But polygamy is clearly not the answer. Even countries which allow polygamy have red light areas. And those which do not have designated red light areas see the practice going underground. Their men travel abroad looking for what has been derisively called halal prostitution.
I am not at all arguing for polygamy, but we have to be aware before taking any position on such sensitive issues that there are several sides to an issue. Human situations have complexities that are not easily resolved.
A new complication has arisen lately. Some Arab women, journalists and academics, are demanding that now women too should be allowed to have more than one spouse. Polyandry was prohibited in Islam, they argue, because in the times of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), it was not possible to determine the father of children in a polyandrous situation. But with DNA tests available now the situation has changed and hence the laws too should change. Laws, they say, cannot be static. They have to be dynamic. Laws should take into account changing human situation.
Thus Laws, no matter how good, cannot take care of every situation. We need human beings who are humane.
Anyway, there is not much point in taking too much notice of Deobandi fatwas. If by Indian custom, they meant Indian law or a general civil society view in India, and they want to respect the same, that is most welcome. But our Mullahs, of any colour really, neither know Islam nor Indian customs nor the implications or complexities of either.
Let us let the Mullahs be and get on with our own affairs. Let us keep trying to refine our laws, seeking direction from divine guidance that has come to us from time to time in different parts of the world; but let us also be aware that as long as humans are simply human, we will never have a perfect law or a perfect society.
Polyandry and polygamy, both are against the spirit of Quran. If you have any one of it then there is gender inequality. If you ask what about Prophet's case, then of course, neither you nor anyone can compete with Prophet SAW. If you ask why some who claims to be Muslims consider polygamy as correct then that is because of the traditional baggage it carries where mPolyandry and polygamy, both are against the spirit of Quran. If you have any one of it then there is gender inequality. If you ask what about Prophet's case, then of course, neither you nor anyone can compete with Prophet SAW. If you ask why some who claims to be Muslims consider polygamy as correct then that is because of the traditional baggage it carries where men practiced polygamy ever since as they have always dominated over women. Just as there are many practices from pre-Muhammad SAW Arabia that exists even today and exist across many societies, polygamy too is one of these. The other is FGM, MGM, and many things, including a liking for having boy baby born in family and you cannot have a law written in Quran to not feel happier for a boy baby born than you do when a girl baby is born. It is prejudice and inequality that many people practice even when Islam is against it.
By sadafen practiced polygamy ever since as they have always dominated over women. Just as there are many practices from pre-Muhammad SAW Arabia that exists even today and exist across many societies, polygamy too is one of these. The other is FGM, MGM, and many things, including a liking for having boy baby born in family and you cannot have a law written in Quran to not feel happier for a boy baby born than you do when a girl baby is born. It is prejudice and inequality that many people practice even when Islam is against it.
Dear Mr. Raihan Nezami Sir, if you understand that I or some of us here supported polyandry then this was that particular flaw in your ability to understand written words that I talked about. With this response it becomes clearer that either you do not really understand written words or you are pretending to have misunderstood. If you are pretending then I have nothing to say, but if you really did not understand what I said or what some of us were saying, then please improve your comprehension ability as you are very much part of our campaign to get rid of those who are bringing bad name to Islam and you need to understand Quran in a much better way than you do now. Because then after you have to communicate things further down the line. You have to understand that the written word of Quran has its limitation; you have to understand the meaning of it. The spirit of Quran, is something that you have to understand through its written words. If there is no mention that polyandry is not to be practiced then that doesn't mean polyandry can be practiced. Quran doesn't need to mention everything, but you have to understand what Quran intended to mean.
We are not asking for a change in Zabar, Zer, Pesh or anything in the Quran. We are asking to change the way some of us understand it. It has to be understood that Quran is there to convey to us something very very important and it can be conveyed only if you are sincere and ready to understand it. Otherwise nobody else on earth can make you understand Quran. Every sentence of the Quran opens up an opportunity to read hundreds of books to understand it. Read as much as you can manage. Read science, read arts, read history, read sociology, read biographies and read auto-biographies, read everything on the earth that you can possibly do and pray to God to make you understand what we are asking you to understand and what Quran is trying to convey.
For the sake of understanding Quran, do a small exercise. Stop the way you think and assume only for a while that you haven’t understood properly. Throw away whatever you have understood so far and start afresh. Assume that you were wrong and others are right and see how others view Quran. For a while you have to trust them that they are not enemies of Islam. There is no other way, but to trust. You can use logic of asking yourself why these people are taking so much interest in making you understand Quran. Assume that they are sincere. Had they been insincere, they could have simply not taken this much interest.
Of course you may feel that these people are trying to confuse you, but then you ask yourself, why would they be interested in confusing you in particular. What will they gain by confusing you? Are you so important that if they are able to confuse you they will gain something substantial? You are just an ordinary individual and just as you can get confused about any other thing, there is a strong chance that you can get confused about Quran as well. Take help of readings as I said, and also take help of these people who want you to understand things with nothing much to gain except that if they are able to convince you, then maybe you too could join them in propagating the ideas that Quran is conveying.
We are not talking here of Cricket matches that are going on, nor we are talking about climatic changes or even the share markets. We are not talking about arranging marriages or jobs. But we are talking about Islam and we are taking out time to talk about it so that people get to hear more of it and then not just more of it but also something that will help them understand things mentioned there in Quran and things which are meant by Quran in suggestive ways as well. Read not just the lines of Quran, but read between the lines as well.
I hope you please understand what I am saying, or in case if you do not understand or if you understand just the opposite of what I have said here, then I request you to understand at least this point that we are not in favour of polyandry. And we are not in favour of polyandry even though we are not substantiating a ban on it by citing any ayah for it. I, for one, am not going to take help of any ayah to prove that Islam is against polyandry. But I am saying so only because the spirit of Islam seems to suggest that there should be no polyandry in Islam.
I wish you understand the spirit of Islam rather than relying on the literal meaning of it because ultimately language has its limitations; that it doesn’t go into anyone’s head until the person concerned understands the language. And the word language is not about Arabic but about what a word or a sentence can mean and in how many ways can it be interpreted but then how it should be interpreted in any given case.
I pray to God that you understand what I said and try to see in sincere way, what I am trying to say and what for? I understand you are a good Muslim and we need you here to communicate things further but before that you have to do some exercises and practices and trust me, you should trust me for a while at least to give a better chance to yourself in understanding Quran, that we all have gone through these stages. I too took pains to read and understand things and get my doubts clarified and I still do and give so much of my time that someone can well ask me why am I wasting so much of my time. But then I know why I am here. I am here to read and interact more and more to understand why Muslims are the way they are and what actually Islam has got to say. And I find that Muslims are not on the path of Islam as they were supposed to be. And the reason is not very complex. It is not about intentions or anything. It is only about lack of reading they do.
They do not read more than Quran and a few basic texts associated with it, without realizing that in fact everything readable under the sun should be read, because such is the expanse of the idea of Islam. One should take out time to not just read but to think and see nature and think more on it and meet people, listen to them, and see them and then again think about their viewpoints, their actions, intents and results. The process of reading and thinking shouldn’t stop. Eating, resting, walking, doing daily chores one can always think. Writings of Muslims, non-Muslims should be read alike and then learnt from, because ultimately it is God who has made everyone of them and has given them their intellect and as we profit from their secular researches, so we can profit from their religious researches.
There have been people before our last Prophet who used to ask God ways to convey to Him their thanks. It indicated that they had realized that God existed. It was their research that made them conclude that God existed even when they did not follow the exact methods of thanking God as our beloved Prophet did as he wasn’t born yet. So, even the religious researches of non-Muslims are of as much value to a Muslim as non-Muslim’s secular researches. In fact for a Muslim everything on the earth happening now or which has happened in past is of significance as nothing happens for no reason and there is a hidden message in every event. And Muslims must not miss upon the opportunity to read these events and understand the message behind. Of course Quran is not going to add on these events. Yet Quran asks to give thoughts on it and it asks to do so as it says to understand it better. In the end I won't say Humey bolney aur samjhney se zyada amal karne ki taufiq ata farma, I would rather say, aye Allah, humey bolney, samjhney aur amal kar sakney ki taufiq ata farma, because bolna zaroori hai samjhaney ke liye aur samjhna zaroori hai bolne, samjhaney aur amal kar sakne ke liye. Regards
Asia Andarbi's comments have a historical background.
Well! In the war between Paraguay and the triple Alliance between 1864 and 1870 Paraguay lost most of its male population.
Ratio of women to men changed to 4 in 1 in the cities and 20 to 1 in remote areas. I read somewhere that the Vatican agreed to change its one man and one woman policy to one man seven wives for the time being. See excerpt from Wikipedia about the demography of Paraguay in 1871: "A 1871 census gave 221,079 inhabitants, of which 106,254 were female, 86,079 were children with no indication of sex or upper age limit and 28,746 were male. These figures, considering the local situation, cannot be more than a very rough estimate; many men and boys fled during the war to the countryside and forests.
As such, accurate casualty numbers may never be determined." A Response to Reber and Kleinpenning" give somewhat more accurate figures. Based on a census that was carried out after the war ended, in the years 1870 and 1871, Dr. Whigham came up with a much lower figure of 150,000–160,000 Paraguayan people left, of which only 28,000 were adult males. This leaves a woman/man ratio of 4 to 1, while in the most devastated areas of the nation the ratio was as high as 20 to 1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraguayan_War
By Mohammad Imran's comment posted by admin
Four wives need of the hour: Women’s group
Published: Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012, 10:30 IST
By Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | Place: Srinagar | Agency: DNA
Rejecting the Deoband fatwa against polygamy, the radical Kashmiri women’s separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Milat (DeM) has gone a step further saying a Muslim man should marry not only two but four wives.
“Islam permits a man to have four wives. There is no compromise on the tenets of Islam. The fatwa issued by Deoband Mufti is against the spirit of Islam. Therefore I will say a man should have four wives at a time,” Aasiya Andrabi, chairperson of DeM told DNA. Clerics at Deoband issued a decree last week maintaining that though Islam permits two wives at a time, Indian traditions do not allow it. “It is hard to provide justice to two wives in the Indian custom,” the fatwa says.
Andrabi noted polygamy is important in Kashmir given the large army of widows and orphans left behind by the people who died in the 21 years of turmoil. “We have 30,000 widows in Kashmir. We have a large army of orphans. If a man keeps more than one wife and marries a widow, it is most desirable and in the spirit of Islam,” she said. The DeM chief said the fatwa is against the holy Quran and Hadees (sayings of Prophet Muhammad). “We reject Deoband cleric’s fatwa. Islam is a complete way of life. What has been said in Quran cannot be changed by anyone come what may,” she said.
Andrabi noted that there are some women in her organisation who are married to men who already have other wives. Andrabi was the face of the 2010 agitation and was arrested under Public Safety Act before her release last year. When militancy erupted in 1989, Andrabi’s DeM was the only women’s separatist group operating in Kashmir. However, given her stance, the DeM was banned by the government. She married a militant commander of Jamait-ul-Mujadeen Mohammad Qasim Faktoo in early nineties. She and her husband were arrested with her new born baby and sent to jail. Her husband is facing a life sentence for allegedly killing a human rights activist in Kashmir.
After her release, Andrabi started the Purdah campaign asking women to wear veil or Abhaya. Such was her impact that at one time black cloth went out of stock due to heavy demand. Her cadres had even sprinkled colour on women who did not observe purdah.
Thanks Mr. Pankaj Verma, that’s a huge, very huge compliment. It is not that I am not a kattar (orthodox) Muslim, but my kattarta is about believing in the Quranic sentence 'to you your way, and to me mine', which many Muslims either do not understand or cannot utilise to get rid of their bias and hatred against non-Muslims. This particular sentence in Quran is with regard to non-Muslims and can quite easily be understood as literary equivalent of 'to live and let live'. Muslims are more in need to understand Quran properly than to preach it or to claim exclusive rights over it. Quran is a book of guidance for mankind.
Quran clearly says this and some fools claiming to be Muslims think they are the only one who are addressed as mankind. Honestly speaking, they are donkeys who understand nothing and interestingly enough, this too is mentioned in Quran. Just cramming Quran doesn't work. Some beliefs are different, that's it, but to build a separate identity and overemphasizing separation of identity is not the purpose of Quran. We are human first and then we are either Hindu or a Muslim. Humanitarianism is the best religion and Islam or Hinduism all have to align themselves with it.
Mr Pankaj: I just gave you a wake-up call and nothing else. I have never said (read all my previous comments) that we should not celebrate one another's festival or share our feelings as Islam's teaching is based on feelings of brotherhood and fraternity. Islam asks us to perform many duties towards other humans, relatives, neighbours, community and nation.
But please don't suggest that we should lose our identity in the vast ocean of Uniform Civil Code. National duties, religious duties and humane duties are different sort of things. They should not be mixed up. That will spoil the basic identity of civilians. The society will lose its vigour and variety and unity in diversity. I think it should be enough to make you realise the basic fault. Lastly, I want to say, “One’s faith is one's own". No one should interfere in it. As far as the matter of neighbourhood is concerned, it is the thing that we can choose for us, so you are free to settle anywhere; all Muslims will welcome you and treat the same way.
By Raihan Nezami