CAIRO - An Indian court has ruled that polygamy is not encouraged by the Noble Qur'an, but only allowed under certain circumstances, saying the practice does not fit modern democracies, The Indian Express reported Tuesday, January 1.
The Holy Qur'an permits a Muslim man to marry more than one woman at a time (up to a maximum of four), but does not encourage such behavior, Judge Kamini Lau said.
The ruling came in response to a case in which an imam is accused of marrying a girl to a married man without her consent.
Maulvi Mustafa Raja is accused of forcing a girl to tie the knot with a married man without her consent and in the absence of her parents.
Police said the consent of the man's first wife, from whom he has got three children, was not taken at the time of his second marriage.
The court dismissed the claim that polygamy is encouraged in Islam, saying the practice is only allowed under certain circumstances as the illness of the wife.
I may observe that even in countries governed by Shari`ah Law, the second marriage is permitted under special circumstances such as an illness of the first wife or her inability to bear children, the judge said.
In these cases, with the first wife's consent, a man may marry again and this is referred to as polygamy, a subset of polygamous marriages.
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 court argued that polygamy does not fit modern democracies.
In the secular states of the Muslim world such as Turkey and Tunisia, polygamy is illegal in any form, the judge said.
Even in the nations where it is permitted, polygamy is only practiced by a small minority.
Before a man can take an additional wife, he is required to obtain the consent of his existing wife or wives, he said.
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.
In May, Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh issued a fatwa 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.
The judge stressed that polygamy is allowed in Islam as part of social duty and charitable motives or when it seeks to prevent destitution.
Keeping in view the conduct of Maulvi Raja and the seriousness of the offence involved, I find no ground to grant any indulgence to the accused, the judge ruled.The application for grant of anticipatory bail is hereby dismissed.