Some Weird Logic in the Polygamy Debate


Aparthib Zaman

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Mr. Ullah and Uddin's hermeneutics of the Qur'anic Ayah on marrying 4-wives (April 25) led Mr. Ullah to the "freedom of choice" defense of it. Let us scrutinize this and some other remarks made by him and Mr. Uddin that are so typical of apologetics. For this discussion I will assume the absolute tenets of apologetics that (1) GOD is PERFECT and (2) GOD's book (Qur'an) is also PERFECT.

Now first take the "freedom of choice" clause. Mr. Ullah said(quote): "Qur'an is not forcing the believer to marry four wives".

Now can Mr. Ullah cite anyone in 1400 years of Islam's history who ever alleged that Qur'an FORCES the believer to marry four wives?

It is easy to refute an allegation if the allegation is a made up one!. This is a case of RED HERRING fallacy of logic. Now come to the "PERFECT" clause. If GOD is perfect then why not grant that freedom of choice to women as well?. Can PERFECT GOD be sexist?

OH, yes, the paternal issue. How can a man know which one is is child, right? But Couldn't a PERFECT GOD anticipate DNA testing merely 1400 years ago, a blip in the history of the earth? Or couldn't the ALL-KNOWING God proclaim that women can also have the same freedom as men only AFTER 1986 when DNA testing will be available, until then only men will have this freedom.

Besides, the most important point is, even without DNA test, if polyandry is left as a choice, then let the men decide if it is worthwhile for them to marry the same wife if they cannot identify his child. Let the buyers beware!

The freedom of choice factor alone can settle that issue. Those men who care for parentage issue will not exercize their freedom of choice, those who don't will. As simple as that.

Mr. Ullah claimed: "Qur'an embody universal message across all time and age."

Well, if the fact of war in the 7-8th century Arabia etc reducing the number of men to defend this choice for men only, then the question is, If Qur'an embodies universal message across all time and age, then why use this 7th century Arabia scenario as

the basis of this supposedly timeless/ageless Ayah? It obviously doesn't apply today as then, and never did for other societies before or after 7 the century.

Also if "all time and age" is to be consistently maintained then God should also have made make provision for any future possibility of reduction of women's population (Who can say that there may not be an epidemic affecting women only, or that female infanticide may not become rampant again, like in China?) and proclaimed the same choice for women as well.

Now lets examine Mr. Ullah's remark: "It is a provision given so that under unforeseen circumstances this allowance could be practiced to preserve humanity."

Also Mr.. Uddin cited devastating diseases reducing "male/female gender ratio" to defend this choice for men.

Well it seems that Mr. Ullah, a mortal seems to have more sense than PERFECT GOD. How could a PERFECT GOD, in his PERFECT book, leave out this important conditional clause of "unforeseen circumstance" for polygamy? Why did he leave it up to a mortal to interpret and read his mind? After all, a perfect book, should be self-contained and self-explanatory, not requiring mortals to put their convenient interpretation on it. GOD should have definitely included that clause himself if he meant it. Hmm, points to ponder.

As for Mr. Ullahs' remark: "Even under present social condition if a Man and four women consented to build family having mutual respect and understanding, I don't think anybody should have any problem with that". Well, Mr. Ullah, like you I also don't see anything wrong with me or anyone else if 4-wives consent to build a family with one husband, if it is looked at as individual rights and freedom issue, its only that fairness and reason demands that we shouldn't then have any problem with 4-husbands (polyandry) consenting to building a family with one wife either. (Don't forget the DNA clause if parentage issue arises, or conveniently forget the freedom of choice issue that you so forcefully used in polygamy).

But their is another side to it. Despite the individual rights and freedom defense, there is a contrary side to it. When male/female balance exists then polygamy may be unfair to many males who may find it harder to find wives as one man will have hogged 4-wives

for himself. This same problem applies to polyandry as well. So one should not overlook this aspect of the problem. So if by the logic that when men population is reduced polygamy is recommended, then by the same logic in balanced gender ratio, polygamy/polyandry should be discouraged as well.

Mr. Uddin cited the "Equal treatment/love to all 4-wives clause". On one hand this clause is used to "justify" polygamy, and on the other hand its supposed "impossibility to fulfill " clause is cited to prove that polygamy is ruled out indirectly. This is a strange

logic. On one hand the Ayah is defended in favour of polygamy, by citing gender ratio etc, on the other hand the ayah is used to argued against polygamy by arguing that it rules polygamy by the very stringent condition that it pre requires. Weird logic indeed. Then who is to judge such subjective criterion as "love equally, treat equally"? If it is left to the judgment of the husband of course it will be easy to fulfill!.

Finally, lets look at Mr. Ullah's remark: "Look at the Muslim world and count how many men are practicing polygamy."

Here Mr. Ullah is revealing his subliminal embarrassment of the practice of polygamy by his defensive plea "Look its only a SMALL number that are practicing it". Well, Mr. Ullah, what's wrong if LARGE NUMBER were practicing it? You said there was nothing wrong a moment ago, didn't you? So why bring this "count how many men are practicing polygamy" clause in your defense. If polygamy has so much beneficial

effect (preserving humanity etc) why not "THE MORE THE BETTER"?. You cannot have it both ways Mr. Ullah :)






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