Indian Supreme Court: Polygamy Not Integral Part of Islam

, Feb 10, 2015, for Times of India

Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

NEW DELHI: Although their personal law permits men to have four wives, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a Muslim’s fundamental right to profess Islam did not include practicing polygamy.

“What was protected under Article 25 (right to practice and propagate any religion) was the religious faith and not a practice which may run counter to public order, health or morality. Polygamy was not integral part of religion and monogamy was a reform within the power of the State under Article 25,” said a bench of Justices T S Thakur and A K Goel.

The bench said that polygamy was not integral to religion and the practice of polygamy did not acquire sanction of religion simply because it was permitted.

It upheld the UP government’s decision to sack one of its employees on the ground of misconduct for opting for a second marriage during existence of the first marriage without its prior permission.

Referring to its earlier verdict, the bench said that Article 25 protects religious faith, not a practice. It noted that the court had upheld the views of the Bombay, Gujarat and Allahabad high courts in this regard.

The bench upheld conduct rules framed by UP Government Servant Conduct Rules, saying that it did not violate Article 25 of the Constitution.

In this case Khursheed Ahmad Khan, employed as irrigation supervisor, had married Anjum Begum during existence of first marriage with Sabina Begum. Sister of his first wife had filed a complaint before National Human Rights Commission which ordered a police probe in the case.

The police submitted its report before the commission saying that Khan had married a second time during the existence of the first marriage. On this basis, the state government had initiated proceedings and later removed him from service for failure to take prior permission for second marriage as was required under rule 29 of the conduct rules.

Khan had then approached the Allahabad high court and challenged his removal from service. The HC had dismissed his plea.

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20 replies

  1. Have you seen the conditions for having four wives? Have you read up on anything? The Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) was brought to this Earth as an example to the rest of us on how to live our lives. There were four distinct examples of women in the women he married in his lifetime. He did not marry them because of lust or whatever you’re insinuating. He treated every woman in his life with complete respect and kindness.

    Polygamy is the best solution to end prostitution and teenage pregnancies and abortions. Every male must be allowed to have at least four wives to eradicate immoral behaviour in the society. A former Dutch MP has admitted that recognizing polygamy in law is the next logical step after redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Speaking to the French online magazine, Yagg, Boris Dietrich said there was now a movement in the Netherlands to introduce multi-partner marriages. The Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, has expressed fears that politicians would redefine marriage to include “multiple partners” after same-sex ‘marriages’ were introduced in the state in 2011.The youth wing of the Finnish Green Party also proposed the legalisation of polygamy in the country in July 2011, whilst the Toronto District School Board in Canada came under fire after releasing a poster in schools promoting polygamous marriages
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislam

  2. For vegetarians even one woman is enough. Hinduism has practiced polygamy Krishna had two wives even in Sikhism polygamy was allowed. we should compare it with Hindus various religious teachings on man woman relationships.

  3. This opens up wider controversies. The Indian Supreme has overstepped it’s legal boundaries and mischaracterized the provision of 4 wives Islam as a matter of mere practice. As a matter it is directly a matter of integral part of thefaith. All injunctions of Allah are an integral part of the faith
    N

  4. “Polygamy is the best solution to end prostitution and teenage pregnancies and abortions. Every male must be allowed to have at least four wives to eradicate immoral behaviour in the society.”

    That’s got to be one of the most ridiculous and funny things I’ve read on here! (And there’s been quite a lot to choose from!)

  5. I agree with AL. Complete ludicrous arguments in favor of polygamous marriages. Be warned, if the West ever allows polygamous marriages then it will treat male and females the same. So, if men are allowed more than one legal partner so will women be allowed more than one legal partner.

  6. @ AL
    “Polygamy is the best solution to end prostitution and teenage pregnancies and abortions. Every male must be allowed to have at least four wives to eradicate immoral behaviour in the society.”

    That’s got to be one of the most ridiculous and funny things I’ve read on here!

    I do not totally disagree with you, but do you have some Statistics of the Ratio of men to that of women, of course every man’s circumstances do not permit him to have even more than one wife, but what is the solution of numerous girls who couldn’t find their mate and became too old, looking and looking towards their dreams. Do you got any solution for them, while many of the Prophet in the world have been practicing polygamy.
    The father of all Prophet Abraheem has at least three wives, Jaqoob has at least two wives, Krishna has two wives king David and Soloman has countless wives so whats wrong with polygamy.
    It is funny, but not as funny you think it, to be.
    Zarif Ahmad

  7. Polygamy marriage has nothing to do with the performance of the job, so the Court should not intervene with the personal matters of an individual if has two wives under the Right of personal Law. Dismissing him from job enhanced for him difficulties not for him only but also for his two wives as well.
    Sooner or later the Nations of the world must have to come towards the beautiful teaching of Islam including Polygamy marriages. It seems call of the time.
    Zarif Ahmad

  8. What happened in the past that is in the past.
    What profet Mohammad did or what Lord Krishna did or what happened in Sikh religion which give us a direction towards polygamy that was in the past.
    That was a time when most women were uneducated and they lacked the capability of having a job or to be independent.
    BUT BUT todays scenario is completely different their is right to Education,their is right to have jobs and to be independent.
    And sex ratio stats tells us in India muslim male v/s female is 1000:922. So it doesn’t look like female need male partners,on the contrary male need female in India.
    So change the rules for men and give women the right to have multiple husbands at a time.
    As someone above told that polygamy helped in reducing prostitutions which is consider to be a sin,then what about robbery,smugling,pickpocket and all this type of stuffs that men do,this are also sins and done by men wo need money support or some shoulder to look after them.
    Giving permission to women to have multiple husbands will surely help in reducing the problem for the men in need.
    In short stop living in the past and give women all the rights that Indian Constitution is offering.

  9. Permission for polygamy in Islam was always meant as an exception rather than as a rule. (Where would we get all the ladies from?). As an exception it is still valid. Whether ladies are educated or not, there are some who would prefer to be a second (or third) wife, rather than being lonely. And, yes, all other arguments for polygamy are still valid, as human nature did not change all that much, even with modern technology.

  10. The Judgement of a Court is according to law and agreement as sign by the employee.

    So he has to ground of misconduct for opting for a second marriage during existence of the first marriage without its prior permission.

    According to constitution
    ead more:
    Article 25 in The Constitution Of India 1949
    25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
    (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion
    (2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law
    (a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
    (b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus Explanation I The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion Explanation II In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly

    And according to UP Govt. Service to sacking employee from there job.

    The Rules, Regulations, Instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its
    employees for discharging its functions

    12. Marital Status –
    A male candidate who has more than one wife living or a female candidate who has married a man already having a wife shall not
    be eligible for appointment to the Service.
    Provided that the Chairman may, if satisfied that there are special grounds for doing so, exempt any person from the operation of
    the provisions of this regulation.

    • Mohammed Ajruddin: I would consider these rules as being a human right’s violation. Actually the Indonesian Government has similar rules for Government employees. The rules however are largely ignored.

  11. Good debate here.
    Quick points:
    1- How will the courts decision improve the situation of first or second wife?
    2- Will a permission from first wife, make it religious or more valid?
    3- If you allow a man to have several women in relationship but no two under his Nikkah or responsible relationship, how just is that with him or with women?
    4- If a man have multiple children from relationships but no responsibility then you and me will pay for their social services benefits – how fair is that?
    5- Why court to decide if its integral part of Islam or not? In fact All injunctions of all religions are little or more conditional. May be just Proclaiming Shahadah and Offering prayers are two most important parts (and even these two do not apply to insane or babies). Other parts like Fasting, Zakat, Hajj etc all conditional but still they are part of the faith. So when needed its part of Islam – less or more, now or later, one likes it or not. Its one of the injunctions of Quran. And one the main peace of Sunnah of The Holly Prophet, Muhammad (SAW) and this Sunnah is one the most objected Practice of Islam. SO at least a Muslim should not shy away with it.

  12. @Zarif
    “…but do you have some Statistics of the Ratio of men to that of women, of course every man’s circumstances do not permit him to have even more than one wife, but what is the solution of numerous girls who couldn’t find their mate and became too old, looking and looking towards their dreams.”

    That’s a pretty misogynistic comment. Believe it or not, many women these days have little interest in becoming someone’s wife. And then there’s lesbians, who, if they do wish to marry, have no interest in marrying men.

    And yes I do have some statistics. Take the UK for example. Women outnumber men slightly, but that’s because women outlive men. So there are more women in their 80s and 90s in the UK than men, but in the younger age ranges (the ages when people tend to pair off and perhaps have kids), men actually outnumber women. So these “numerous girls who couldn’t find their mate” don’t actually exist, unless you’re referring to elderly women in their 80s and 90s?

    And take it from me, it’s no woman’s dream to be some middle aged mans second, third or fourth wife.

  13. Did those justices of the Indian Supreme Court read the quran where it is permitted for a man to have four wives and those their right hands possess? Muhammad was given special dispensation to exceed that number of wives but with no limit on the number possessed by his right hand.
    Maybe the Indian SC justices feel that since the quran approves four wives having that many does not amount to polygamy. That will then give a new meaning to the word which, unfortunately, is not Indian by origin which would have made it subject to unilateral interpretation.
    The meaning still remains, having more than one wife.

  14. —–Conitinued
    6) If a Muslim falls under the modernity and start doubting this Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), how can he respond to others objection on him or Islam?
    7) Most if not all men in the West, have relationship with more one woman, still they object on Islam, which actually restricts men to look for different women every day. Isn’t it a just a hypocrisy?
    8) It also helps women to get honored status while being wives, legally and religiously rather than any status less than that. I believe if they are given choice to be wife or a friend, most if not all will go for the status of being wife, which ensures proper social and religious rights and also spiritual satisfaction.

  15. “7) Most if not all men in the West, have relationship with more one woman, still they object on Islam, which actually restricts men to look for different women every day. Isn’t it a just a hypocrisy?”

    Wow, speak for yourself! Talk about stereotyping! And you could apply the same “logic” to some women, in which case, I assume you’d be in favour of women having more than one husband? If not, as you said yourself, isn’t it just hypocrisy?

  16. Dear Al,
    I am glad you did not say that my statement is wrong. YOu look like defending men in the west who make relationships with more than one woman. Anyways you are not clear here. please clarify what exactly your point is?
    Are you saying that its ok to have more (irresponsible) relationships and even children, at the same time – by men or by women? But its not ok to have more than one responsible relationships?
    And is it ok if you pay for social assistance for kids of some other irresponsible guys who run away from the relationship after some time?
    (Now – Having more husbands by one woman is a different subject and can be discussed separately – right here we shud first focus on the subject matter).

  17. Zarif Ahmad mentioned that polygamy has nothing to do with job performance. In this connection it reminds me. I was Chief of Mission for the International Organization for Migration, Iraq (about 300 staff members in multiple locations). I was then asked if I could in addition look after the IOM office in Jordan (about 200 staff). I did not say like this, but I thought: “What do you think, if I can manage two wives I can definitely manage two offices as well”. And I did. – In other words: polygamy helps in job performance!

  18. @Nadi

    My point was perfectly clear, but I’ll be happy to spell it out for you (again).

    1. Your comment about “most” western men was stereotyping and xenophobic.

    2. Your comment about “most” western men was incorrect. Please provide a source and statistics.

    3. “Are you saying that its ok to have more (irresponsible) relationships and even children, at the same time – by men or by women? But its not ok to have more than one responsible relationships?”
    – No, I’m not saying that, and how you could possibly have got that from my comment is a mystery. With respect, logic doesn’t appear to be your strong point.

    4. “And is it ok if you pay for social assistance for kids of some other irresponsible guys who run away from the relationship after some time?”
    – No, I’m not saying that. Again, how you took that from my above point is utterly baffling. It’s irrelevant to the subject. I suggest you look up ‘straw man’, as that’s what you’re trying to do with my comment.

    You seem to think their are two possible options – man has multiple wives (and maybe children) in what, according to you, is a “responsible” relationship, OR, man has multiple girlfriends (and maybe children) in what, according to you, is an “irresponsible” relationship.

    It’s not either/or. How about this – a third option – that you haven’t appeared to consider. Man treats woman with respect, and has one girlfriend or one wife at a time? How about that, instead of this sexist, patriarchal, misogynistic nonsense you’re peddling?

    5. “(Now – Having more husbands by one woman is a different subject and can be discussed separately – right here we shud first focus on the subject matter).”
    – No it’s not – you’re just calling it a “different subject” so you don’t have to discuss it because your position is illogical and sexist. It’s more relevant than the nonsense you wrote above about “most western men” and paying for “social assistance”.

    I hope that’s clarified my point for you.

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