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Monogamy Versus Polygamy Issue Coursework

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2022

The debate on monogamy and polygamy issue has been there for a time and these two are usually a point of reference for all that argue on both sides. The following two quotes have often drawn fierce debate on monogamy and polygamy:

And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice between them, then marry only one or what your right hands possess: this is more proper that you may not deviate from the right course. (Muhammad 4:3)

And they ask thee a decision about women. Say, Allah, makes known to you His decision concerning them, and that which is recited to you in the Book concerning orphans of the women to whom you do not give what is appointed for them while you are disinclined to marry them. (Muhammad 4:127)

Different Ulama have often taken both sides and in particular, Muhammad Abduh who supported the idea that monogamy was the true intent of the holy Quran. According to a report by Kamis, Muhammud Abduh’s argument was based on the following ideas. Verse 4:3 recommends that you only practice polygamy when you can do justice to the women but he felt that this kind of justice was very hard to practice. The verses support the polygamy idea mainly due to the issue of widows and orphaned children and by this fact he may not have seen the need for polygamy if there were no widows and orphans. A report by Kamis was quoted claiming that “polygamy is a deviation from normal marital relations and justified only in emergencies star’s social, such as war, provided no damage and tyranny” (Kamis 1). By looking at the effects of the social reality of polygamy in the community, Abduh must have interpreted the verses such that social values were protected. Probably he must have seen that polygamy was not necessary under normal circumstances. It may also be suggested that since Muhammud Abduh was an Islamic modernist he may have campaigned for a modern interpretation of the verses such that they made sense in modern times which favor monogamy more than polygamy.

Other Ulama advocates for polygamy based on interpretation of the same verses. They may be supporting the idea that polygamy would be a good chance to help the widows and the orphans in society. These cases could arise due to social factors such as war which often leaves the ratio between men and women unequal. The verses support polygamy to allow the men who have the capacity to take care of the orphans without being unfair to the widows. The verses allowed marriage to up to four wives. Others may have interpreted the verse as an advantage to protect the Islam community in terms of numbers and they may have seen political influences supporting the ban of polygamy as a threat to their population hence they felt the need to retain polygamy as indicated in the verses.

Muhammud Iqbal as a Leading Modernist

Muhammud Iqbal was one of the leading Islamic modernists. He advocated for a modern interpretation of Islam and Islamic law. He advocated for a balance between modern and traditional Islam and discouraged extremism. He was quoted suggesting that “Islam is a religion of moderation and the middle path as the best option It opted for the moderate approach instead of the extremist tendencies of the old period” (Amir 22). Iqbal’s thought was that Islamic religion should change with the change in time as the whole society was changing for example in medicine, science and all other aspects of society. He called for the interpretation of the Islamic law in a way that allowed embraced the changes in society with time so as to make sure that Islam religion remained relevant and practical in all aspects.

Reconstruction of Religious Thought

The book is actually a collection of Muhammud Iqbal’s teachings about Islam. The book expresses his thought of what he believed to be the modernization of Islam. He advocates for a modernized interpretation of Islamic law. The book also touches on religious knowledge, humanity and its interpretation, Islamic culture, understanding of prayer and the philosophy of revelation of religion. The book also looks at the basic principles of Islamic culture and framework and ends with an outlook on the reality of religion. Throughout the book, Muhammud Iqbal advocates for the reconstruction of religious thought as the title suggest in that due to the changes in society a better interpretation of the Islamic law in all aspects of life such as Islamic culture, philosophy understanding of religion and all other aspects was necessary so as to ensure that Islamic religion was able to handle the challenges of the society that came with changes due to modernization.

Iqbal believes in an extension of the right of interpretation beyond Ulama

Muhammud Iqbal was an Islamic modernist. One of his thoughts was the right of interpretation of Islamic law to be extended to other parties besides the Islam council Ulama. His idea was that there was the need to train and educate people whose role was to interpret the Islamic laws according to the changing times at the same time preserving the basic principles of Islam. Such people were not only to be deployed in courts and parliaments and lawyers but in all sectors of society such as banking. The Ulama was to have an advisory role over these interpreters in case they had problems with the interpretation and in this way, he thought that Islam would be incorporated into all sectors of the society as compared to the centralized interpretation of Ulama and Islam would never be overtaken with time (Iqbal 1; Amir 1). He thought that the challenges that came with global modernization could only be handled if the traditional settings such as the council of elders having the role of interpretation could be replaced with extended systems which would ensure Islamic culture was represented in all aspects of modern life.

Family law and Modernism

The Islamic family law is one of the basic fundamentals of Islam. The law holds dear to the Islam community and as such many kinds of forces that seem to threaten or influence the law are always faced with criticism and resistance. Islamic modernism calls for continual change in the interpretation of Islamic law to ensure Islam stays at par with the changing world and at the same time maintains the fundamental Islamic principles. The changing world usually presents new challenges to the family setting thus demanding new ways to overcome such challenges. A family setting may change from the tradition where women were usually housewives to a modern setting where they take roles such as supporting the family due to current challenges. How Islam addresses these new challenges in the family settings due to modernization may be taken as a reflection of the success or failure of Islamic modernism. A report by SIS claims that: “Our laws must, therefore, address the complexities and realities of modern life while accounting for the universal and eternal principles of justice and equality in Islam” (Sisters in Islam 1). This gives an example of how family law and modernism are intertwined such that the success of one automatically means the success of the other one (Javid 1).

Difference between Abduh and Rida in regards to their thought

Muhammud Abduh was a modernist who believed that Islam needed to integrate with the ever-changing global community. He discouraged the traditional extremists but rather advocated for knowledgeable Islamic leadership citing that God created man and gave him the gift of knowledge and education. He believed that Islam as a religion was to protect mankind from all forms of discrimination and empower him with human rights. He however advocated for the protection of the basic fundamental Islamic laws.

On the other hand Muhammud Rida though initially a modernist later became a conservatist. Rida’s thought was that Islamic religion and politics be integrated together and he advocated for unity among the Muslim community. This may have led to his being a conservatist since his thought may not have integrated well with the changing world at the time. Politics and religion could not have been merged and the idea of unity may not have worked well since different people had different thoughts and ideas and their interpretation of Islamic law could have differed.

Works Cited

Amir, Munir. Muhammad Iqbal’s Concept of Islam. Kyoto Bulletin of Islamic Area Studies, 2009. Web.

Iqbal, Javed. Iqbal’s Concept of Ijtihad. Qlcian, 2009. Web.

Javid, Iqbal. Modern Indian Muslims and Iqbal, n.d. Web.

Kamis, Suna. PAmanah Sejahtera, 2010. Web.

Muhammad Speaks. Teachings of the Holy Qur’an on Polygamy. Muhammad Speaks, n.d. Web.

Sisters in Islam. Modern Islamic Family law. Sisters in Islam, 2009. Web.

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