A discussion of plural marriage in Islam

Regarding your Aug. 10 article "Two homes, two families, two wives": The irresponsible behavior of some Muslim individuals does present polygamy as if a Muslim is at liberty to shift wives as one shifts cars or computers. Islam does not promote polygamy. It is well known that, even among those who forbid it, polygamy is still practiced in a concealed way, causing much material, social, and moral damage to husbands, wives, and children. Polygamy is not an article of faith.

It is more conducive to the happiness of a family that a man be married to one woman. He is also more likely to be able to provide a sound upbringing for his children and more likely to make his wife happy and, as a result of both these factors, he is more likely to be happy himself.

Khalid Malik Coral Springs, Fla.

I have read with interest your recent article, "Two houses, two families, two wives." Being a Muslim-American convert, it is interesting to see how the view of Islam has evolved in American society.While your article did not present a totally negative view of polygyny (the more appropriate term to use in describing plural marriage) it did not provide a totally objective view either.

The Koranic verse that you illustrated, which does form the basic tenet for plural marriage in Islam, was not presented in its totality. The verse begins by speaking about the treatment of orphans. Nor did you bother to present any authentically based commentary from a reputable Muslim scholar.

Your article seems to focus on the attractions of a man toward another woman, and his marriage to her rather than on the potential impact plural marriages would have on maintaining cohesion in a society. Your article didn't mention plural marriages where the additional wife was a widow or divorcee.

My concern here is whether your article was generated to address women's concerns, or to point to some "thing" in Islamic culture that is, or at least should be, considered abominable in Western culture. I would hope the focus would be on the former.

Ibrahim Siddiq Jeddah, Saudia Arabia

When the average American thinks of Islam, a picture sometimes comes to mind of a family consisting of a harem of wives. This is in actuality a very rare situation that mostly occurs in wealthy or royal circles.

In Islam there are limits to polygyny that need to be remembered. First of all, at the time that the limitation to four women was instituted, men were marrying women by the hundreds. Second, there are certain guidelines established for a man wishing to have more than one wife. He needs to treat each with complete equity, both emotionally and materialistically. If he cannot, he should not marry more than one wife. In Islam, if a wife does not want her husband to marry a second wife, she may stipulate so in her marriage contract. If her husband does take on a second wife, she is able to divorce him.

Women in Islam are not to be pitied. They have been given full rights by the religion that they follow; more, in fact, than their Christian or Jewish counterparts. They were given these rights centuries before women in other religions as well. The fact that a man can marry more than one wife in Islam does not necessarily leave him with pleasure minus responsibility. In fact, he's loaded with more responsibility than he can probably handle.

Tabitha Groat Marlette, Mich.

Eating humble pie

Your Aug. 9 parenting column "Humble pie, anyone?" really hit home. I read it during a most trying day and realized it was just what I needed to hear. I guess all our parental ideals are shattered at one time or another. Ideals are for the childless. Mothers and fathers need to be practical!

Lorna Scherff Santa Ana, Calif.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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