Faith practices versus the laws of the land: Polygamy and bigamy in North America

Anyone legally married to one wife and also attempting to have a common-law marriage relationship with another, is committing the crime of polygamy and open to prosecution resulting in imprisonment and fine or both.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Wikipedia / Various

By Staff report | August 28, 2013

There is hardly ever an interfaith event where a question about the practice of polygamy and bigamy in Islam wouldn’t come up during the discussion.

Whether Muslim men in North America can have multiple wives should be analyzed through a two-step filters. The first filter is the Islamic perspective about submitting to and obeying the laws of the land, and second test is to understand the local laws about polygamy and bigamy.

The laws of the land

Q: What is Islam’s view on obedience to the law of the land?

The following excerpts are taken from the answer provided by Islamic FAQ, a Q&A website:

In Islam obedience to the law of the land is a religious duty. The Qur’an commands Muslims to remain faithful to not only Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (saw), but also the authority they live under:
O ye who believe! obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority over you (Ch.4: V.60).”

“Any country or government that guarantees religious freedom to followers of different faiths (not just Islam) must be owed loyalty. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) stressed this point when he said:
‘One who obeys his authority, obeys me. One who disobeys his authority, disobeys me.’ (Muslim)”

The website also quotes the present head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), saying:
‘… It is the responsibility of a true Muslim that he should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject.’ (Baitul Futuh Inauguration Reception, 11 Oct 2003)

Therefore, it is clear that according to Islam Muslims must obey the law of the land as anything to the contrary would mean that they are not obeying their Prophet or their religion.

There are erroneous rumors running among men that multiple wives can be accommodated through some frivolous schemes – by manipulating the legal definition of ‘common-law marriage.’

Well, that is just not true.  Read further


Categories: Americas, Canada, United States

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3 replies

  1. I beg to disagree with the above mentioned article. Things are not just black or white, especially on this topic. – Take the example of Ghana for instance. According to the law polygamy is not legal, but it is widely practiced both by Muslims and Christians. One Christian told me that, yes, I am a Christian, but I am also an African. Therefore I married one wife in the church and two wives in accordance to our African tradition. – In the USA there has not been any jail term given to any one who practices polygamy. The polygamists (Mormons) that are in jail are there for forced or under-age marriages. – Our beloved Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV., Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, approved of my second marriage, although he of course knew of my Swiss nationality. And I did not get into any problems, in fact the Swiss Embassy is treating both my families quite well. Alhamdolillah.

  2. In my country, Kenya, we have 3 kinds of personal laws to address these kinds of things and not provoke animosity.

    One is the law of the land, i.e. civil law.

    Two, is the Islamic law with basically addresses the Muslim citizens of the country where inheritance and marriage laws are concerned ,i.e. personal law.

    The third one is Customary law as practiced among the various tribes in the country.

    And so our problem gets solved re multiple marriages, Alhamdulillah.

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