Women’s Rights in Islam : Who is Benefiting from Monogamy?

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In polygyny, as presented by the Islamic family system, it is the husband who bears the full financial and other social responsibilities towards his wife or wives. Therefore, strict monogamy as practiced in western societies is in the interest of men. Jones and Phillips (1985) indicated that “some males self-righteously assert that monogamy is maintained to protect the rights of women. But, since when has the western male been concerned about women’s rights? Western society is riddled through and through with socio-economic practices, which oppressed women and led to the upsurge of women’s liberation movements in recent years, from suffragettes of the early nineteen hundreds to the ERAs of today. The reality is that monogamy protects the males’ right to play around without any responsibility, since the incidence of infidelity among them is usually much higher than among females.” [J.Jones and B. Philips, 1985]

Although many western women were caught up in the so-called sexual revolution, they are the ones who suffer the most from the side effects of contraceptives, the trauma of abortion and the shame of childbirth out of wedlock. In The United States alone, in every one thousand births fortyfive were born to unmarried women between the ages of 15-44, in 1991 alone. This costs taxpayers more than $ 25 billion dollars in welfare payments. [National Center for Health Statistics]

Mrs. Jones and Mr. Phillips (1985) talked about other logical reasons for the need of an institutionalized Polygyny. They mentioned that the preponderance of females in the world is an established fact. Infant mortality rate is much higher among boys. Women on the whole tend to live longer than men; not to mention the large number of young men who die daily in the various wars around the world. “However, the ratio varies from one country to another, women still outnumber men. Hence, there are more females competing for a diminishing number of males. Consequently, there will always remain a large segment of women unable to fulfill their sexual and psychological needs through legitimate means in monogamous societies. Their presence in an increasingly permissive society also contributes to the break down of western family structure.” [J. Jones and B. Philips, 1985] From the brief discussion we had about the issue of polygyny, women seem to have a vested interest in legally institutionalized and recognized polygyny as acknowledged by Islam because of the obvious socio-economic protection it provides, as well as, the real life problems it deals with to satisfy both sexes.

Author : Abdallah H. Al-Kahtany

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