How we see polygamy in Islam is holding us back as a community. Muslims will have problems, as long as they view polygamy as an anomaly. They need to see it for what it is. It is a good way of life that Allah allows for us. The same as we view a monogamous marriage as the norm, we should see a polygamous one the same way.
In the first place, there are so many fallacies about the way of life. For instance, when it comes to a man taking on a 2nd, 3rd or 4th wife, some say that he should only marry a certain kind of woman. Specifically, he should marry a divorced or widowed or barren woman or one who is past a certain age as in “old”. Many Muslims have portrayed those women as being the undesirable, not those whom one would marry as a first wife.
The truth is that it is okay for men to marry those women as first wives. We could find the most compelling evidence in looking at the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He married Khadijah, and she was fifteen years older than him. Furthermore, it wasn’t her first marriage. It goes to show that a Muslim man may marry any Muslim woman who is single and marry her in any order.
There are no special guidelines for what order a man should marry a woman in. It’s important to realize that whatever drove the man to marry the first one may drive him to marry the 2nd, 3rd or 4th one, as well. The wife who married first is not superior to the one who married after her; although, the first one may want to believe it. Some may believe it. It doesn’t make it true. Only righteousness makes someone superior to another.
We need to change how we see polygamy in Islam, and stop looking down on women who live it
All too often we hear Muslim women say that one who married in the order of second (“a second wife”) is a “halal whore” or a “mistress” etc. Some say women who married in the order of 3rd or 4th were desperate and had to settle for whatever they could get. Others say a woman who accepts an offer of marriage as the 2nd, 3rd or 4th wife is fat, ugly or old. They say many aweful things about them.
It is a wrong mindset to have, as it hurts the one who thinks it. It hurts her soul. The one who says such a thing knows how it makes the other feel. It’s the reason she says it. She would not want those awful thing said about her. So why say them about someone else?
I am sure that a woman who marries in the order of 2nd, 3rd or 4th wants the same things as the woman who married in the order of first. For instance, she wants an intimated companion, a best friend, a helper and a husband to have a family with. No one should fault her for it. It’s part of our way of life.
In any event, we need to change how we see polygamy in Islam, because it was for yesterday. It is for today, and it will be for tomorrow. In short, it is here to stay.