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Polygamy is an established age old institution prevailing in human civilization from time immemorial. In China Li-Ka permitted every man to keep up to 130 wives whereas else where Charlemagne had about 400 wives.

The legendary Indian figures having numerous wives and concubines is a very well established fact. However before the advent of the Holy Quran this practice was not only rampant, chaotic, but also without any order or discipline. Men all over the world abused this system to the hilt with little or no respect to the rights of the women they had in their harem.

The Old Testament and the Gospels had nothing in them to put an end or reduce the ills of this oppressive system, till restrictions were imposed for the very first time by the Quran on polygamy in 6th century A.D. Following the suit, by 8th century A.D the church banned polygamy in totality and ordered the Christian men to divorce all their wives save one. Consequently thousand of women were left in the lurch who were ultimately forced to live as prostitutes and destitute.
The stand taken by the Quran on polygamy, is often either misunderstood or misinterpreted by vested interests. Let us now examine what is Islam’s stand vis-à-vis polygamy. The related verse in the Holy Quran goes as follows:

"And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice; two or three or four but if you fear that you shall no be able to deal justly with them then marry only one" (Holy Qur’an 4:3)
  It is very clear from the above narrated verse from the Quran that:  
  • Islam exhorts it’s followers to have only one wife per se; but
  • Under exceptional circumstances such as to tackle problems of orphans, young widows, and divorcees, Islam allows more than one wife, BUT
  • The person taking up more than one wife is obliged to do equitable justice among all his wives,
  • If he fears that he will not be able to do equitable justice among his wives, he is very clearly instructed to take only one wife.
  • At the same time, Islam restricts the total number of wives to a maximum of four only.
What happened to the population of the West, at the end of the World War II, when thousands of dying young army men caused huge male-female imbalance may happen once again. Even today there are certain pockets in the world where the marriageable women outnumber their counterparts. How does any body solve the matrimonial problem of these extra young unmarried women?

Or think about the plight of all those women who after getting married, get terminally ill, paralyzed, bedridden or are infertile. Should they all be divorced and thrown out on the road, so that their husbands can take another wife. Or a more practical approach would be to allow their husbands to take a second wife?
The institute of polygamy is always looked down upon as an injustice to women folks. Is it really so? On the contrary consider the following salient features, which distinctly work in favor of women.
  1. Polygamy gives an opportunity to the woman to choose a life partner who has already proven himself as a good husband, thereby reducing the matrimonial risks.
  2. It extends practical security to a woman against loosing her husband (and everything else with him) to some other better-qualified woman, as it happens in case of monogamy.
  3. It safeguards her husband from possible adultery and it's disastrous ill effects.
  4. It gives a possible way out to a career minded woman to pursue her career by having a female friend & husband to share family responsibilities.
  5. It keeps a check on men from flirting with young girls and not marrying them on the pretext of their existing marriages.
Who would know the need of the creation better than The Creator Himself? We mortal human beings may or may not like certain ideas due to our own prejudices, but in the end one has to accept the fact that the Divine Wisdom is infallible.
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