Polygamy for Muslims, in practice and in law, differs greatly throughout the Islamic world, where polygynous marriages constitute 41–53% of all marriages. In some Muslim countries, polygamy is relatively common, while in others, it is rare or non-existent. Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia and Turkey, for example, are predominantly Muslim countries that have not adopted Islamic law for marital regulations, where polygamy is not legal.
The verse most commonly referred to with the topic of polygamy is Verse 3 of Surah 4 (An-Nisa [Women]). A translation by Yusuf Ali is shown below :
If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. -?Qur'an, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), Ayah 3
("One that your right hands possess" means a slave.) At first glance, this can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on one’s agenda. However, it is important to understand the verse in context of both the Qur'an as well as the historical context when it was revealed. These Verses were revealed after the Battle of Uhud, in which many Muslim men were killed, leaving widows and orphans. Thus, many argue that these Verses have been revealed “because of God’s concern for the welfare of women and orphans who were left without husbands and fathers who died fighting for the Prophet and for Islam. It is a verse about compassion towards women and their children; it is not about men or their sexuality.”
In the Hadith collection compiled by al-Bukhari, the historical context of Verse 4:3 is further explained when ‘Ursa narrates :
that he asked 'Aisha about the Statement of Allah: 'If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (the captives) that your right hands possess. That will be nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.' (4.3) 'Aisha said, "O my nephew! (This Verse has been revealed in connection with) an orphan girl under the guardianship of her guardian who is attracted by her wealth and beauty and intends to marry her with a Mahr less than what other women of her standard deserve. So they (such guardians) have been forbidden to marry them unless they do justice to them and give them their full Mahr, and they are ordered to marry other women instead of them." -?Collected by Muhammad al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari
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