Back to Index

ISLAM and polygamy

I posted the message from John Muhammad about the status of women is Islamic society not because I accepted his argument but rather to initiate an investigation into the subject. The responses have not been favorable. One says: "And is this exemplary behavior why Muslims can divorce their wives by simply saying three times "I divorce you" and she is allegedly out the door, often without anything and with her children forcibly left behind?" Rob Gaudet goes into more detail:

"This commentator claims that polygamy in Islam began with the Crusades because the Muslim men were killed so the survivors had to take on more women. I suppose that since the West Europeans lost many of their own men in the Crusades (indeed, they were the losers in the end) then there should have been a flowering of polygamy in western Europe. That doesn't seem to have happened. One of the problems with Mr. Muhammad's (and I wonder how critical a man can be about Islam when he shares the name of the founder) argument is that there appear to be equal numbers of men and women today,but polygamy still occurs. The most serious deficiency, however, is that polygamy actually started with Muhammed himself nearly 50 years before the crusades. So Mr. Muhammad's thesis that Muslim polygamy began with the Crusades can't hold much water. To the contrary, it is frivolous arguments such as his which discredit Islam with inconsistencies and hypocrisies. It would be much better to take a frank and candid approach and call a spade a spade. Polygamy exists in the Old Testament so there is some ground for understanding why it was practiced by the early Mormons. We don't have to make up demographic reasons to explain something that is written into theology. To do so would seem disingenuous, as Mr. Muhammad appears with his new theory that Muslim polygamy began with the Crusades".

Rob broadens his argument: "I don't think the long-term will be won unless there is a change in theology throughout the Muslim world. We should start subsidizing liberal schools of Muslim theology to counteract the fundamentalism that currently reigns. A liberal interpretation, e.g., would argue that "jihad" which means "struggle" refers only to the internal struggle within oneself. That's what I learned in college. I doubt many Muslims get that lesson from their imams in the Arab world".

RH: I think Rob's teacher was trying to be politically correct and to avoid any criticism of Islam. The subject has been much discussed recently. It means the duty of every Muslim to spread his religion Here is the definition given by the Oxford English Dictionary: A religious war of Muslims against unbelievers in Islam, inculcated as a duty by the Koran and traditions. 1869 M. Wilks' Sk. S. India (ed. 2) II. xlviii. 381 The projects of Jehadholy war. 1875 KAYE Sepoy War III. iv. 167 To collect money and preach the Moslem Jehad. 1880 GEN. ROBERTS in Daily News 14 Feb. 2/4 The Mollahs have been preaching a jehad or religious war. b. transf. A war or crusade for or against some doctrine, opinion, or principle; war to the death.

Ronald Hilton - 3/31/03