Saturday, 22 March 2014

Polygamy in Christianity and Judaism

Polygamy is not a practice limited to the religion of Islam; rather, it is something well-known in the history of the People of the Book, the Jews and the Christians, as well.  It is only in later times that their religious men frowned upon it or forbade it outright.  However, when we look into the early history of these religions, we will find that it was at least an acceptable practice, if not encouraged.
Polygamy in Judaism
Polygamy existed among the Israelites before the time of Moses, who continued the institution without imposing any limit on the number of marriages which a Hebrew husband might contract. 
Let us look at some of the verses from the Old Testament that allow polygamy:
In Exodus 21:10, a man can marry an infinite amount of women without any limits to how many he can marry.
In 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3, King David had six wives and numerous concubines.
In 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
In 2 Chronicles 11:21, King Solomon's son Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines.
In Deuteronomy 21:15 "If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons...."
The Jewish Encyclopedia states "While there is no evidence of a polyandrous state in primitive Jewish society, polygamy seems to have been a well-established institution, dating from the most ancient times and extending to comparatively modern days "
Another common practice was the taking of concubines. In later times, the Talmud of Jerusalem restricted the number by the ability of the husband to maintain the wives properly. Some rabbis, however, counselled that a man should not take more than four wives.  Polygamy was prohibited in Judaism by the rabbis, not by God.  Rabbi Gershom ben Judah forbade polygamy in the 11th century yet polygamy is still in practice among the 180,000 Bedouin of Israel. It is also frequent among Jews living in Yemen, rabbis permitting Jews to marry up to four wives.  In modern Israel, where a wife cannot bear children or is mentally ill, the rabbis give a husband the right to marry a second woman without divorcing his first wife.
Polygamy in Christianity
History says that Polygamy was practiced among the Christians , it seems that there were some human resolutions that stopped it. In the eighth century Charlemagne, holding power over both church and state, in his own person practiced polygamy. St. Augustine seems to have observed in it no intrinsic immorality or sinfulness, and declared that polygamy was not a crime where it was the legal institution of a country. He wrote in The Good of Marriage (chapter 15, paragraph 17), that polygamy …was lawful among the ancient fathers……..". He declined to judge the patriarchs, but did not deduce from their practice the on going acceptability of polygamy.
During the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther said, “I confess for my part that if a man wishes to marry two or more wives, I cannot forbid him for it does not contradict the Scripture.” African churches have long recognized polygamy. Early in its history, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practiced polygamy in the United States.  Splinter groups left the Church to continue the practice after the Church banned it.  Polygamy among these groups persists today in Utah, neighbouring states, and the spin-off colonies, as well as among isolated individuals with no organized church affiliation.
According to Father Eugene Hillman, ‘Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy.’ 
The Church in Rome banned polygamy in order to conform to Greco-Roman culture that prescribed only one legal wife.
In the Bible , Jesus never rejected the Old Testament but even allegedly said  "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (the Old Testament) or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17-18) .
There were some situations that imply that Jesus implicitly approved of  polygamy    according to Matthew 5:17-18 above, we clearly see that Jesus honoured the  Old Testament, and forces Christians to follow the unmodified laws of it that have not been replaced by newer ones in the New Testament.  The Old Testament as we clearly see above does indeed allow polygamy without a shadow of a doubt. There is not a single verse from the New Testament that prohibits polygamy. Jesus' parable allows polygamy between 1 man (the bridegroom) and 10 virgins (5 became his wives and slept with him)!  19:1-12  Jesus didn't ban polygamy.
No church council in the earliest Christian centuries opposed polygamy. St. Augustine clearl)'[sic] declared that he did not condemn it. Luther tolerated it and approved of the bigamous status of Philip of Hesse. In 1531 the Anabaptists preached polygamy and the Mormons of today believe in it (see Abd al Ati, The Family Structure in Islam, American Trust Publications, 1977, p 114 : Until this very day, the church in some African countries conducts the marriage of men to more than one wife. In Europe, the attempt to legally enforce monogamy and outlaw polygamy took place as late as the late sixth and early seventh centuries.
In Matthew 19:3, Jesus was asked " whether or not it is allowed for a man to divorce his wife.  Jesus immediately referred to the Old Testament for the answer in Matthew 19:4. According to this, man becomes a one flesh with his wife in Matthew 19:5-6, this doesn't mean that the man can't be one flesh with another woman.  He can be one flesh with his first wife, and one flesh with his second wife, and one flesh with his third wife and so on.
Excerpted with alterations from: Is it Islam alone that allows polygamy? By May Saleh and Magdy Abd AL-SHafy. See here for the entire article:
Polygamy is permissible in Islam, it's not compulsory (Sheikh Kamal El Mekki):


Christians having dreams and converting to Islam:

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Anonymous said...

Muslim Responses is a site that is dedicated to refuting the many lies and distortions that have been thrown against the true and noble faith of Islam.

This site seeks to respond to several arguments that have been thrown against the true God Allah, his final prophet Muhammad, and the revelation he was sent with which is the Noble Quran.

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We operate according to 8 principles:
1.Clarifying that Islam is the only religion acceptable to God.
2.Clarifying the principles and teachings of Islam so that others may understand what it is about.
3.Declaring Islam’s innocence from the false allegations made about it.
4.Boosting the morale of Muslims who especially live as a minority in countries where missionaries are active in their evangelism.
5.Supporting the stance of Muslim minorities and help them demand their rights.
6.Helping create mutual understanding and encouraging peaceful co-existence with the disbelievers living next to us and to prevent fitnah.
7.Clarifying the reality and truth of other religions through the lens of Qur’an and Sunnah.
8.Inviting the People of the Book to their true original religion and making apparent the corruption which crypt into their books.

These principles were adapted by Br. Bassam Zawadi from Dr. Sahl bin al-‘Otaibi’s, “al-Ahkaam wal-Dawaabhit al-Muta’aliqa bil-Hiwaar ma’a Ghayr al-Muslimeen – (The Rulings and Criteria Related to Dialogues with Non-Muslims)”.