Friday 21 May 2010

Nigeria: Islam strongly discourages polygamy

On the trail to Imam-ship
It is a shame that a religious organisation failed to take the opportunity [1] to deal with a situation with objectivity, fairness and a sense of proportion.
Now, I find myself flipping through the pages of their own religious tome and ready to debunk accepted assertions which have been interpreted to suit the whims of men rather than the seeming divine purpose for which the verses were offered as inspiration.
On the matter of the Senator who took for a wife a 13-year old girl, I first argued that despite the moral outrage it garnered there were enough loopholes in the Nigerian constitution, the Marriage Act and the non-adoption of the Child Rights Act to allow for the marriage to be legal and not be subject to the Criminal Code.
A man’s lust over religious law
However, when the Senator decided to hide under the cloak of religion and the protection of Sharia Law, it brought on the fact that Sharia Law or any religious law was incompatible with civil society and took away from the state the ability to think for itself whilst it impacted unduly on the expressed freedom of the people.
In what that Senator said, there was scope for him to be sanctioned by any of the religious authorities of his faith for creating a situation that could bring the religion into disrepute (Something football associations would do without flinching to participants of the game) and for comparing himself to the Prophet Mohammed in trying to justify his now in modern times reprehensible action.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN) Kaduna State chapter has advised the Senator not to honour invitations by the authorities to defend his marriage to a juvenile and put up the defence of a verse in the Qur’an that had me digging for truth.
Not what the Qur’an says
Apparently, as they say, “Islam encourages men to marry women of their choice as mentioned in Qur’an 4 verse 2 without any emphasis on age limit.
Forgive me if I am petulant as to ask if a woman is a direct substitute for female, such that I can call a female baby a woman or a girl a woman – I sure would not call a female of 13 a woman, just as I would not call a male of 13 a man. Generally, that would be a girl or a boy, but we have been asked to stretch the limits of credulity.
The Qur’an 4 verse 2 [2] finds me bereft of the connection between the interpretation and what the verse says.
Here, I have Arabic and 4 different English translations of the verse and all pertain to the care of orphans
وَآتُواْ الْيَتَامَى أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَتَبَدَّلُواْ الْخَبِيثَ بِالطَّيِّبِ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُواْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَى أَمْوَالِكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حُوباً كَبِيراً
Shakir 4:2
And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great crime.

yusufali 4:2
To orphans restore their property (When they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sin.

Pickthal 4:2
Give unto orphans their wealth. Exchange not the good for the bad (in your management thereof) nor absorb their wealth into your own wealth. Lo! that would be a great sin.

Al-Hilali 4:2
And give unto orphans their property and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by adding it) to your substance. Surely, this is a great sin.
But if the learned members of the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN) Kaduna State chapter are now saying by reason of the use of acquisitive words as property and substance a woman is of such material value – that would be unfortunate.
Polygamy is marrying the widowed mothers
The oft touted justification for polygamy comes in the next verse and it bears no similarity to the activities of those with many wives.
Still continuing on the subject of orphans it says [3]
[4:3] If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers - you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.
A detailed commentary on that verse [4] asserts historical sources to say that the Prophet Mohammed only married the aged widows of friends who had many children to help offer a fatherly setting for the upbringing of the children, the other marriages were to establish specific ties or political alliances.
And now, the same verses [5] in Arabic and 4 English translations
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِي الْيَتَامَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاء مَثْنَى وَثُلاَثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ
Shakir 4:3
And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then 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.

yusufali 4:3
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.

Pickthal 4:3
And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.

Al-Hilali 4:3
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 not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.
Still, one wife is best
The greater admonition is to avoid having more than one wife than to revel in polygamous abandon and at least this is for the care of orphans which by inference appears to mean those who have just lost their fathers as opposed to those who have lost all parents.
Marrying more than one wife is a costly venture but the subject of orphans continues on to verse 6 and it is clear that the orphans are children, they are immature, they cannot inherit their substance until a particular age and are definitely not to be taken as wives.
It would appear the juxtaposition of orphans, women and marriage really only pertains to polygamy in the marriage to widowed mothers and nothing else. Even I never expected the Qu’ran to be that prescriptive and then to find that it has been misused to satisfy the proclivities of sexually perverse men – unbelievable.
You can never be a successful polygamist
The whole of Sura (Chapter) 4 Al-Nesaa, appears to deal with the subject of women, orphans, marriage and matters of the family and down at verse 129, it says without equivocation, you can never be a successful polygamist no matter how much you try and it is better you do not create the situation where you fall foul of God’s law. But no, satisfying the lust first before the law has always been the way of man.
وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُواْ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ بَيْنَ النِّسَاء وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ فَلاَ تَمِيلُواْ كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ فَتَذَرُوهَا كَالْمُعَلَّقَةِ وَإِن تُصْلِحُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً
Shakir 4:129
And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

yusufali 4:129
Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self-restraint, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

Pickthal 4:129
Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so). But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense. If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

Al-Hilali 4:129
You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire, so do not incline too much to one of them (by giving her more of your time and provision) so as to leave the other hanging (i.e. neither divorced nor married). And if you do justice, and do all that is right and fear Allâh by keeping away from all that is wrong, then Allâh is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Sadly, it is the men, the leaders and representatives of the religion that are bringing their holy faiths into disrepute by their actions and where they should speak up for the truth they have succumbed to sentiment and deplorable conduct that finds no backing from the holy tomes they take their teaching from.
Surely, for such hypocrisy that can be no better reward than eternal damnation.

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