Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik
Recently a Muslim woman has done an act of great courage. She filed a petition in the Delhi High Court demanding that it should be made mandatory for any married Muslim man to take the consent of his first wife to wed another woman. Her second demand was that before the second marriage the man must also get a written certificate from a judge that he is capable of nurturing both the wives equally.
On this petition the court directed the Law Ministry and the Minorities Commission to present their views.
To push the point the advocate for this Muslim woman cited a law passed in Pakistan in 1961 which stipulates that to marry another lady the man needs to get consent of his first wife and also the man needs to guarantee equal treatment to both the wives.
In India, the government is dilly dallying on the issue of bringing a Uniform Civil Code.
Not just that, in the matter of women’s freedom India is lagging behind Pakistan.
It seems India remains more Islamic than other Islamic countries.
The basic reason for this is that the tradition of Islam in India has not been properly understood.
The conduct of the Mughal emperors has influenced the Muslims of India more than needed. In fact, in the Quran Sharif, having only one wife is described as the most desirable marriage practice. Four wives were allowed because many men were killed in the battle of Uhud and numbers of women were left vulnerable since their husbands died in the war.
So it was necessary to take care of the war widows and other orphaned women. That is why it is said in chapter 4 and verse 3 of the Quran that you can have up to four wives for the sake of orphan women and children, but you can do this only if you are capable of doing justice to all those who you marry .
These days do the Muslim men marry more than one woman because of the above said reason? Most of these men marry more than one woman to quench their lust and libido.
These polygamous Muslim men are mostly wealthy and powerful. Before the emergence of Prophet Muhammad, in the Arab countries polygamy was common and men were free to have any number of wives.
Due to the aftermath of the war the Prophet was compelled to support polygamy and permit the men to marry up to four ladies. Eminent clerics of Islam also believe having one wife the most ideal practice.
I have lived in dozens of Muslim countries. Apart from a few exceptions, most of my Muslim friends are married to a single wife.
Polygamy is strictly prohibited in many Muslim countries such as Turkey and Tunisia.
In more than a dozen Muslim countries, various types of restrictions have been imposed on having more than one wife. In India, in the name of secularism polygamy is allowed to Muslims.
But is a fact, there is hardly any Muslim who supports polygamy and they are happy with their only wife. It is high time the court legally prohibits this crude practice of polygamy.