There are innumerable studies which have revealed that polygamous marriages can result in serious mental health illnesses in women arising from anxiety, stress, jealousy and insecurity.
Mr. Sheerani, who is an MNA from JUI (F),had called for laws on marriage to be repealed which in his views are antithetical to the provisions of Sharia. He propounded, with other things,that Clause (f) of Section 2 of the Muslim Divorce Act 1939 which allows a woman to seek divorce “If he has more than one wife, does not treat her equitably in accordance with the injunctions of the Holy Quran” should be repealed. He urged that a subsequent marriage does not justify to be a ground to file divorce and a woman should be allowed the right to “separation” only and “Sharia allows men to have more than one wife and we demanded the government to amend the relevant laws where a person has to seek prior permission from the existing wife / wives”.
Polygamy is regulated by s6 MFLO, and requires the husband to obtain the written permission of the local government authorities and as per Rule 14 of the MFLO rules; a polygamous marriage must be “just and necessary”.This may be determined on the basis of existing wife’s failure to have children, her insanity, her disability, her inability to have sex, or her refusal to live with her husband following a decree for restitution of conjugal rights against her. Under s. 6(5) of the MFLO, failure to follow required procedure is liable to immediate payment of the entire Maher (deferred or prompt) that is due to the existing wife/wives and imprisonment of up to 1 year and/ or fine. Hence these are the procedural safeguards which exist to prevent abuse of the right to polygamy which is allowed under Islam but not as a norm but instead as an exception. It must be noted that Sharia is dynamic, ever evolving and man-made. There are many countries which have modified Sharia laws to meet demands and needs of the present era and when Quran itself allows Ijma and ijtihaad then how can one just negate any other interpretation other than the literal one of the Holy Quran. Ijtihaad on these issues in accordance with the times, justice and utility of the circumstances is greatly encouraged in our religion. “Will they not then ponder on the Quran?” (Verse 82, Surah an-Nisa).
There are Muslim countries where polygamy is banned, for instance Tunisia, Lebanon, Turkey,Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyz Republic. Then there are countries where it is conditional upon formal permission, failure to follow which is penalized and these include Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Therefore the propositions made by Maulana Sahab seem redundant in the present era, even within the comity of Muslim nations itself. However there seems to be a considerable opposition in outlawing polygamy, but it must be fully regulated to prevent misuse of this provision which is available only byway of an exception.
If we look at the teachings of Islam, Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisa verse: “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans marry women of your choice two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them) then only one or(a captive) that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice. “This verse was revealed at the time of the battle of Uhud, between the end of the third year and the end of the fifth year of the Prophet’s reign (as per Muhammad Marmaduke Picktall’s translation of the Holy Quran). Many were killed which raised the concern for orphans and widows.It must be noted that “justly” does not only relate in terms of monetary aspects and in fact every aspect of marriage. Also the first wife must consider the subsequent marriage of her husband fair. The emphasis is that “only one” “is better that you do not do injustice.”
Similarly if we look at a hadith, there is a case concerning Jamila who, on approaching the Prophet (PBUH) easily obtained the first khula in Islam on basis of her displeasure with her husband’s appearance. If our Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) has granted such wide rights to women even allowing them divorce their spouses on such grounds, it may be worthwhile to say they also have the right for their husband not to marry more than once to preserve the sanctity of marriage.
There are innumerable studies which have revealed that polygamous marriages can result in serious mental health illnesses in women arising from anxiety, stress, jealousy and insecurity. Though it is usually argued that a marriage is always better than having extra marital affairs, but lust alone cannot be accepted as a valid ground for another marriage that too when the rights of the first wife and children are at a stake. Islam puts immense importance on integrity and unity of family life, so it is logically imprudent to accept this line of argument. The judiciary has in many instances played a pivotal role in confining the use of polygamy to the minimal. For instance In the Supreme Court decision of Khurshid Bibi v Mohammad Amen (PLD 1967), the role of khula was expanded on the basis of a man marrying again. In Muhammad Khan v Zarina Begum (P.L.D 1965) , where the wife demanded khula because her husband had married again, the learned judge, M.A Saraf J, said for the court to “expect them to live happily as man and wife is beyond expectation”.
In light of all the references gathered from the Islamic jurisprudence based on Quran and Hadith, the interpretation given by the judges of superior courts, the statements by Maulana Sheerani hold little relevance.There is none denying the fact that khula is a lawful yet undesirable act, but in the circumstances where a woman is being disadvantaged and prejudiced in a marriage then it can be availed as a means of last resort. I would urge Maulana Sahib to play a role in regulating and restricting polygamy instead of further curtailing the rights of an already disadvantaged individual, i.e. the first wife of a polygamous man.
Courtesy: Pakistan Herald