NEW DELHI - A new controversy is heating in India over a fatwa by the country's most influential Muslim religious seminary against polygamy, a practice allowed in Islam, Bikya Masr website reported on Monday, May 7.
Islam is a complete way of life and anything in it can neither be expunged nor subjected to any change. This is why it makes Islam different from other worldly religions, Asiya Andrabi, the leader of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Nation) Islamic group, said.
Such type of fatwas will open the gate for change and abrogation in Islam.
Andrabi stressed that Islamic Shari`ah cannot be subjected to any kind of national interest or legislation.
Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh issued a fatwa earlier this month stating that marrying more than once made it hard to provide equal justice to two wives in the Indian custom.
The fatwa was issued in response to a query by a man who wanted advice on marrying twice.
Although Islam permits two wives at the same time, Indian traditions do not allow it, the seminary said, adding that while Islam allowed second marriage, the practice itself was not encouraged.
Serving as a leading institution of Islamic learning in India for over 150 years, the Deoband seminary also has a global presence from which thousands of Sunni Islamic scholars are graduated.
In Islam, marriage is a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman by virtue of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Each partner in this sacred relationship must treat the other properly and with respect.
Islam sees polygamy as a realistic answer to some social woes like adulterous affairs and lamentable living conditions of a widow or a divorced woman.
A Muslim man who seeks a second or a third wife should, however, make sure that he would treat them all on an equal footing.
The Noble Qur'an says that though polygamy is lawful it is very hard for a man to guarantee such fairness.
The fatwa, however, won support from the Islamic Council of India as landmark.
There are a lot of myths about Muslims and polygamy that need to be clarified. First, it is not binding on Muslims to marry more than once, ICI secretary Naeem Ur Rahman Siddiqui said.
Second, the idea of permitting second, third or fourth marriages has certain conditions that need to be fulfilled. Islam prohibits extra-marital relations and views marriage as a social contract.
But Andrabi disagreed, saying that the practice of four wives per man was in fact the need of the hour.
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, she told the media in India.
Therefore I will say a man should have four wives at a time.
Andrabi believes that polygamy was the only solution to the disputed state of Kashmir, where a large number of widows need support from Muslim men.
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.
Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Islamic population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
In India, divorce and marriage issues are dominated by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the single largest religious body consisting of scholars of different schools of thought.
The AIMPLB was formed in 1973 to protect and apply Muslim Personal Law in marriage, divorce, succession and inheritance.In 2005, Shiites and women seceded to form their own separate Boards, the All India Shiite Personal Law Board & the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board.