Polygamy : too much “cultural sensitivity” ?

warsiThis is Baroness Warsi, a British Conservative Muslim peer.

She’s opened up a debate about polygamy, saying that “cultural sensitivity” stops politicians dealing with it.

It was the top story on 5 Live this morning, featured on Radio 4’s Today programme  and is already in the top ten most read stories on the BBC site.

“Europe Today” will be looking at the issue later…

polygamyCaroline on the programme wants to know if you think it should be allowed, whether it’s ok for some cultures and not others, and indeed, if you’ve been involved in a polygamous relationship.

90 Responses to “Polygamy : too much “cultural sensitivity” ?”

  1. 1 Nelson
    February 20, 2009 at 12:23

    Why not just get it over with – abolish the courts and enact sharia law, abolish parliament and let the mullahs rule,and return to life as it was in the dark ages.

  2. 2 Suresh in New Jersey
    February 20, 2009 at 12:23

    This is atrocious. Muslims want polgamy in the name of the Koran’s “justice and logical approach”, bu don’t want polyandry. I have always held that primitive religions based on books written centuries ago have no relevance to our times. Modern values such as justice and the equality of the sexes is in direct conflict with such claptrap.

    Britain , France, Netherlands and other European countries are only beginning to see the litany of unreasonable demands from Islam. If they are not firm now, this slippery slope will lead to an Islamic hell like Saudi Arabia.

    Civilized societies need a common civil code. If you commit polygamy as a citizen, you open yourself out to legal prosecution. That’s what we do in India and have been doing for 50 years and we’re doing fine. Excessive “cultural sensitivity” is foolish.

  3. February 20, 2009 at 12:38


    I have just been hearing your report regarding Polygamy in the UK. I lived in the Gulf for 32 yrs, I folllowed all the rules and had a very nice live. Why do these people think lthey can come to the UK and change our rules? I did not try to change things to change my lifestyle in Arabia including Saudi. I repected the religion and laws, had a great job and still have many friends in Arabia.

    I cannot say more!


  4. 4 Grannie
    February 20, 2009 at 12:41

    Polygamy has its roots in the necessity to maintain community stability hundreds of years ago. Pragmatically those necessities no longer exist in modern societies with social safety nets.

    I do not think that polygamy should be legalized in the UK. Cultural sensitivity is a two way street!

  5. February 20, 2009 at 13:09

    Salaam… Two of my classiest and most respectable senior professors at college are actually married to two ladies… I do love and respect both of them so much, despite the fact that both of them have got two wives… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  6. 6 Rashad Abduljawad
    February 20, 2009 at 13:23

    Just like non-Muslims are allow to bring in, trade, and consume alcohol in Muslim countries, regions, and societies; just like Muslims respect other religions and all their contradictions to those of Muslims, in and out side of the Muslim world; equality which the whole world claims to attempt to implement dictates that the whole world owes it to the Muslims to free them to practice their beliefs and values.

    Besides, what happened to freedom of religion? And what is the problem really? Can’t the modern world catch up with the modernity of the Muslims yet? Is it more modern and civilized to be living hypocrisy by choice?! How many married men have extra-marital relationships? How about the rate of divorce in all countries opposition polygamy?

    Concerning the classic question of giving the same right to women, it just does not work. With polygamy, children know their father and mother. With polyandry, children could know who their mother is. But how many fathers will they have? It just does not work.

  7. 7 Caroline from Europe Today
    February 20, 2009 at 13:34

    I’m interested in Rashad’s comment: that polygamy can work for men but not for women. What do other people think? Also, in today’s world, is polygamy the same as extra-marital relationships?

  8. 8 Steve
    February 20, 2009 at 13:47

    I don’t see why the state even recognizes marriage. There should be no acknowledgement of it, and no special benefits. If you want to marry 10 people, more power to you.

  9. 9 Rashad Abduljawad
    February 20, 2009 at 13:48

    Polygamy is Islam is an official relationship between one man and two, three, or four women (limited to 4) where all wives have equal rights and privileges. Polygamy is not extra-marital; in fact a man is not allowed to hide any marital relationship. One main pillar of an Islamic marriage is propagation; a marriage contract in Islam must be announced to all concerned. If this is not done, it is not considered an Islamic marriage at all.

  10. 10 Ogola Benard
    February 20, 2009 at 13:58

    In reality, i have never heard of a polygamous woman. I only hear of women who are unfaithful or cheats. Its the the men who are polygamous. I don’t think any one can convince me that love can be shared half way in a polygamous relationship, say half for Susan and the other half for Mary!

  11. February 20, 2009 at 14:04

    Polygamy is just another aspect of male domination, in which women are used to satisfy man’s ego.

    Even the Muslim Holy Book the Quran warns that it will be difficult for a man married to more than one wife to be fair to them. It says, “And if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with the oppressed women then marry from among them two or three or four, but if you fear you wont be just , then marry only one.”

    In Polygamy, it can be OK for the husband to be in the “possession” of at least two wives. But is it OK for at least two women to be sharing the same man? Some can argue in free societies, people are free to have more than one partner without being subjected to law suit; so why can it be the same for polygamy?

    One of the arguments for polygamy is to save women who can’t get married because they outnumber men.The other is that they can’t support themselves. Marriage is the only means for them to feel safe and respected. These arguments seem obsolete. It is contradictory to the call for equal status between men and women an at the same time it allows men to have more than one wife in the name of preserving traditions which fundamentally can be scrapped and replaced with modern thinking.

  12. 12 Chris
    February 20, 2009 at 14:04

    Rashad Abduljawad: don’t you think that comparing the ‘right’ to marry multiple women to the right to trade in and consume alcohol is absurd and inherently sexist?

    I agree with Suresh, though I’m a little more tolerant with religious belief as long as those people are tolerant of my complete disbelief. What I find abhorrent is the uprising of throwback minorities inall religions with there whole insane ‘culture war’. The only ones who think it’s a war are the feverishly religious, the rest of us are more or less willing to put up with them as long as they return the favor.

    No special rules for certain segments of a society, that is not the way religious freedom works, you are free to pursue your religion. . . within the bounds of the law of the land! Is polygamy such a core belief in Islam that failing to have many wives impairs the practice of your religion? I think not. It is a holdover from the past, many religions/cultures practiced it in the past. In the PAST. I would welcome any, “modernity of the Muslims,” I just have yet to see much sign of it in the segment of Muslim community that would like to see special concession to local laws to around the world to revive this practice that is not even legal in all Muslim countries.

  13. February 20, 2009 at 14:07

    The issue of polygamy is not cultural sensitivity. It is just biasness because no one loves all equally. There must be someone that you will love best among the others. As for the Islam religion, the law permits a man to marry as much wives as he can in as much as he can support and care for all equally. But I observe that it brings about seperation among the children born by the various wives, because every woman will only love her own child(ren) with less care and protection for her mate’s child(ren). This develops jealousy among them as mates and can also be copied by their various children. Every child will love and care for his/her brother/sister from the same mother more than others from different mothers.

    Mohammed Kondawa

    Monrovia Liberia

  14. 14 JP
    February 20, 2009 at 14:09

    I think that as long as polygamy (or polyandry) is a decision that is made between consenting adults, it should be respected as a personal choice. At least “polygamy” means transparent and honest relationships, which is much more dignified that cheating and extra-marital affairs.
    Then, as your program put it this morning, it is about respect to all people affected by these relationships (including kids). Finally, as these relationships are clearly not “politically correct” in the UK, it is about discretion.

  15. 15 Jim
    February 20, 2009 at 14:30

    While I cannot condemn any informed conscious decision by women to enter into this type of relationship, it strikes me as significant that polygamy seems to occur exclusively in the manifestation of multiple wives, and never as multiple husbands. I do not wish to relate this response to any particular religion, and believe that free thinking adults should be able to relate to each other in any way they wish – if there is no physical or emotional harm involved. But the existence of polygamy in some Christian and Muslim communities consistently displays an obvious bias against women, and therefore arouses my suspicion. This is not a moral argument against polygamy as a concept, but certainly is an argument against how polygamy has been selectively utilised to perpetuate sexism.

  16. 16 VictorK
    February 20, 2009 at 14:40

    Western Liberalism at its confused, impotent and appeasing worst.

    Liberals have reached the point where they believe in nothing on principle except ‘tolerance’, which logically means tolerating even polygamy.

    Polygamy in a Muslim country isn’t my concern: that’s a matter for Muslims. Polygamy in the West, though, is wholly unacceptable. It goes against the traditions of our civilisation; it gives the seal of approval to the degradation of women, since no amount of sophistry can avoid the point that a system that permits a man up to 4 wives necessarily deems a woman as being humanly and spiritually inferior to a man (Western feminists have long disgraced themselves with their silence over that great enemy of all women, Islam); re Islam, polygamy is as complete an example as one could encounter of Islam’s incompatibility with the Western way of life, and the impossibility of assimilation between two incompatible and hostile traditions. Freedom of religion is a chimera: there can be no freedom for practices that insult our values, subvert our way of life, degrade and enslave women, and confirm their practitioners as members of a society within but alien to our own society.

  17. 17 AL
    February 20, 2009 at 14:40

    Well said Abdelilah Boukili!!!

  18. 18 Sidd
    February 20, 2009 at 14:42

    With polygamy you can have lots of children (read: workers and / or social security in a primitive world) all at once, but that doesn’t happen in polyandry for obvious reasons. Love, respect do not enter into the equation whatsoever. It’s economics and need I say control.
    Our western society, being mostly Judeo-Christian still, recognizes one man one woman marriages, but it doesn’t make it any less religious or primitive.
    The bottom line is that hurtful or disrespectful religious practices should be outlawed everywhere. Who professes cultural tolerance and sensitivity when it comes to genital mutilation? And what’s the difference?

  19. 19 Steve
    February 20, 2009 at 14:47

    Again, any law against polygamy is based in religion, and has no place in the west. Why is the state even involved with marriage? It’s a religious institution.

  20. 20 Caroline from Europe Today
    February 20, 2009 at 15:09

    Fascinating comments from everyone… Suresh talks about Britain, France, and the Netherlands. Are governments in Europe ready to have a debate on polygamy? Or are they too “culturally sensitive” towards the Muslim community? What should governments do about it?

    Don’t forget, we’ll be discussing polygamy on Europe Today in two hours, on BBC World Service Radio.

  21. 21 Rob (UK)
    February 20, 2009 at 15:12

    Polygamy can be an adaptation to the environment. In cultures where men vary in their ability to provide resources to women, polygyny (multiple wives) is more common. This is because some men will be able to support many wives while others will be able to support none.

    Polyandry (multiple husbands) is less common, but is seen in some cultures, for example some places in Tibet. These are places where the farming land produces poor yields but requires much work: several brothers must work together to support a single wife and one set of offspring.

    The important thing is that this should not be a moral issue. Humans naturally settle into a stable marriage system under different circumstances.

  22. February 20, 2009 at 15:13

    Salaam again… 1stly, let me say that the fuss about any stuff which is related to Islam really amuses me as a proud practicing Muslim… Imagine this with me guys, what if the Holy Quran had demanded Muslims to brush their teeth three times a day (not two or four for e.g.), what would happen then ?! I bet that the civilised world would then produce tooth brushes with a note on each “You can brush your teeth with this product as many times as you want per day, BUT NOT THREE!”… Anyway, it MUST be remembered that the Holy Quran gave Muslim males a “conditioned” permission to have as many as four wives… The Holy Quranic text which gives Muslim males that “conditioned” permisson is this : “If you were afraid not to be fair to orphans then you can marry as many women as you want, two, and three, and four”, and there’s another interesting Holy Quranic text which says : “If you were afraid not to be just then have only one wife”… Unfortunately, most of modern Muslim males are xtremely selective when it comes to Islamic orders, they pick up what’s good for them and drop or ignore what’s harmful or compromising to their own selfish interests and they often mix between Islam and tradition, which is actually a great shame… Polygamy, according to Islam, should apply only in CERTAIN CONDITIONS, please remember that… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  23. 23 VictorK
    February 20, 2009 at 15:17

    @Steve: the state recognises and promotes marriage because the institution is bound up with social reproduction and continuity. A state that recognised and protected polygamous marriage would be better than a decadent state (and society) that had no view at all about marriage. No civilised and healthy society has taken the attitude to marriage that you hold.

    I can’t agree too strongly with Patricia Jarvis’ comments. Any Muslim who feels that he (and it will be a ‘he’) cannot be a devout believer without exercising his right to enjoy and be served by up to 4 women is spoilt for choice when it comes to Muslim countries that will make his wish come true. Why do Muslims demand that their values and beliefs be respected, even in the most trivial things – teddy bears, cartoons – while treating with contempt the core values and beliefs of non-Muslims? Someone should introduce them to the phrase ‘winning hearts and minds’, a thing they’re very much in need of in the West.

  24. 24 VictorK
    February 20, 2009 at 15:30

    @Caroline: why should there be a ‘debate’?

    There’s an established tradition of Western civilisation within which these issues exist. Since the bulk of Westerners do not support or want polygamy (i.e. are loyal to and don’t want to repudiate their civilisation), what exactly is it that is going to be debated? When the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his support for Sharia the nation reacted with fury. Even Muslim spokemen were intimdated by the national response and dropped the issue. Members of the liberal elite may want to debate these matters, but only because they are usually as out of touch with the great mass of ordinary people as it is possible to be.

    Governments needn’t do anything about this except affirm that polygamy is not a part of the Western way of life.

    p.s. – can’t help noticing that the British government wasn’t prepared to debate Geert Wilders, or to let anybody else do so, and the BBC semed to think it best to give his views as little coverage as possible after he defended them superbly well in the one BBC TV interview he was allowed. And Wilders is probably more representative of ordinary Europeans than the liberal elites who silenced him.

  25. February 20, 2009 at 15:37

    There a variety of methods for practicing polygyny can be observed in the animal kingdom. For example, female defense polygyny is seen in marine amphipods, where the male herds the females into a cluster. This allows them to be protected by the male, while the male has continuous access to the females. So far, I see animal done nothing damage to planet Earth but not human, global warming, flooding, hurricane…etc, all that make me feel small as I’m human being.

    Africa hunger ‘could get worse-The number of hungry children in Africa could increase by 3.3 million by 2025 unless politicians change their plans, a new report has warned. When I heard this news, I wonder why always human not wildlife got trouble in short of food?

    A term trigger by Male chauvinism greedy - Polygamy (polygyny).

    from Taiwan, Republic

  26. 26 Jennifer
    February 20, 2009 at 15:38

    In my perception; Polygamy is less harmful than other behavior that is considered acceptable nowdays. There shouldn’t be any difference made between polygamy, homosexuality, marrying your family members, etc. It’s all about the same thing; promiscuity and making a choice to do what you want. It seems much more championed by men which I believe is because they come out on the winning side of it. I don’t think most women would be happy to enter into this type of arrangement; I know I wouldn’t tolerate it! 😀

    As for Islam, isn’t it true that yes, all have to know about a marriage taking place but that doesn’t mean that if a woman objected, her wishes would be respected and the marriage stopped? It would be up to her family and she could agree or be disowned, go to jail, or worse?

  27. February 20, 2009 at 15:50

    Hi Caroline ,
    Concerning you question what should governments should do about polygamy, as you know even some Muslim countries have taken measures against polygamy. Morocco is one of the Muslim countries where polygamy has been drastically restricted.

    Polygamy is just a disguised form of ménage à trois.

    In polygamy, marriage is a constant battle for the husband to satisfy both or all his wives as it is a battle for the wives to individually win the heart of their husband.

    Governments should outlaw polygamy as it infringes the equal rights between men and women. It doesn’t make sense that a man has the right to have more than one wife; and a women has the right just to one husband at the same time. As it is inconceivable for a man to share a wife with another man, so the same should apply for a woman forced to share her husband with another woman or other women.

  28. 28 Alice
    February 20, 2009 at 15:56

    On rereading my post, i see that I failed to complete the definition of adultery, which is ANY sexual relationship outside of marriage, which would also include– in GOD’S eyes–a second or bigamous marriage, as can well be seen by the rest of my earlier comment.

  29. 29 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 20, 2009 at 16:10

    @ Patricia
    You didn’t need to say more: you said it all. That’s EXACTLY the point.

  30. 30 Alice
    February 20, 2009 at 16:10


    If what you say is true about Islam respecting other religions in the Muslim world, why are there NO churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia? Why do Christians and Jews, apostate or not, fear for their lives and property and are treated as dhimmis (don’t say you don’t know about that; it’s in the Qu’ran) , and why are there so many human rights abuses directed toward them? In the past week, I have read about several instances in Pakistan alone of such things,,the details of which i won’t mention here, but if they happened to Muslims in the UK or elsewhere, you would be rioting.

    We would love for you to be Christian, but we will not force it on you. God does not want that you come to Him out of coercion, but out of love for Him. Any attempts at such are not because God commands it, but because people tend to go overboard in their passion.

    And I have read an authorized version of the Qu’ran. I suggest you do the same with the Bible before you throw out Christianity.

  31. 31 Caroline from Europe Today
    February 20, 2009 at 16:14

    Thank you for all your honest comments. We’ll try to read some on air on Europe Today in 45 minutes, on the BBC World Service Radio.

    One last thought from me… Could it be seen as somewhat hypocritical that we ban polygamy in Europe between consenting adults, when having an extra-marital relationship is not illegal?

  32. February 20, 2009 at 16:16

    No Jennifer my darling, I am so sorry to tell you that you’ve got it all wrong… According to Islam, if a man or a woman is being forced to get married to a person he/she doesn’t want to get married to, then the marriage from an Islamic point of view is invalid… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  33. 33 Alice
    February 20, 2009 at 16:23

    I see that A CHRISTIAN viewpoint, backed by the Bible, is offensive to the BBC. So much for free speech!!!

  34. 34 VictorK
    February 20, 2009 at 16:24

    @Lubna: you’re missing the point.

    This isn’t about Westerners intruding into the concerns of Muslims in Muslim lands; its Westerners responding to an issue in the West, in our lands. Just as Muslims should be masters in their own house (beginning with the immediate withdrawal of Western forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and leaving Pakistan to whatever fate Allah has in mind for it), so Westerners have the unqualified right to decide whether they will tolerate polygamy, a practice that is repugnant to our social, moral, religious and legal traditions. Or is it your view that Muslims should have their way in the Muslim world (such as banning the Bible in some Muslim countries, forbidding Christian worship in others, and bullying Christians in all), and that Muslims should have their way in the non-Muslim world too?

    Most Westerners, by the way haven’t any interest in what Muslims get up to in their own countries; just a minority of overly influential liberal imperialists. I dislike them as much as you, if not more.

  35. February 20, 2009 at 16:24

    Re: “Jim” s reply at 14:30

    Very well put.

  36. 36 Mark Sandell
    February 20, 2009 at 16:27

    Alice, a Christian viewpoint is not offensive “to the BBC”, essays are. That’s why your comment wasn’t approved. The rules of the blog apply to everyone, regardless of their faith.

  37. 37 Alice
    February 20, 2009 at 16:32


    My apologies. I guess I felt it was a comment rather then an essay.

    However, nowhere in the Bible is polygamy sanctioned by God or the Jewish or Christian religions, as the speaker on the radio said, even though there are numerous examples of such. What God condones and we do are two different things.

  38. 38 VictorK
    February 20, 2009 at 16:35

    @Jennifer: I think it’s ridiculous to class homosexuality with incest and polygamy.

    Whatever one may think of homosexuality, it doesn’t undermine or corrupt the institution of the family as we understand it in the West. If there are objections to it they are not of the same kind, as I’ve just described, that apply to the other two practices.

    Damn – I think I’ve got the liberal bug.

  39. 39 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 20, 2009 at 16:35

    @Caroline of Europe Today

    The Muslim community is ruffling its feathers over the issue of polygamy, but actually the issue of polygamy not really the issue in question. In country like Britain, that has equal rights for men and women, the question should properly be, What about multiple marriages?

    If men can have multiple spouses, so can women. While it might be the tradition in other lands for men to be permitted to have multiple wives, if that were permitted in equalitarian Britain, women must also have an equal right to multiple spouses.

    The underlying question is a matter of cultural change. There is no tradition whatever in Britain to permit multiple marriages. To allow them would involve a major cultural shift that the majority of Brits would consider unacceptable. The issue of religion should be dropped from this discussion. What is really being discussed is a basic change to British society, imposed upon it by immigrants who refuse to adapt to their host country.

    Donnamarie in Switzerland

  40. 40 Suresh in New Jersey
    February 20, 2009 at 16:44

    Rashad says: “Just like non-Muslims are allowed…in Muslim countries”

    Spurious comparison. The UK, the US, India etc are not religious theocracies. They are secular democracies which have seperated church from state. Islamic countries mix church and state. Hence the comparison is wrong.

    Rashad says: “the whole world owes it to the Muslims to free them to practice their beliefs and values”

    Which other religion’s adherents talk of entitlement like this, I wonder! “Owes you”? Seriously?

    If you come to the UK, live like a Britisher. If you go to France, learn French, the language and the culture and the values and live like that. If you come to India, live like Indians and practice our value system. Nobody owes you anything. If one is so enamoured by Islamic culture, they should go live in Saudi, Pakistan or Afghanistan. Don’t come to other people’s countries and demand that they change.

  41. 41 Mark Sandell
    February 20, 2009 at 16:56

    Not a problem Alice – perhaps we should do more regular reminders for newer contributors. All best.

  42. 42 viola
    February 20, 2009 at 16:58

    Oh,sure, rig it so that wealthy, old men can have as many women as they want, while the young, poor guys get the leavings or nothing.

    Seriously, look at the history of Mormonism in the United States. When it came right down to it, the Mormon church took the only reasonable action and dropped polygamy , recognizing that their members must obey the law of the land or risk the destruction of the church.

    If Europe allows polygamy on grounds of religious freedom, guess which religion will multiply the fastest? And then see how quickly the laws of the land get changed to suit the majority.

  43. 43 viola
    February 20, 2009 at 17:05

    Caroline from Europe Today: Perhaps there is a difference in law between legal and illegal. Marriage is both legal and encouraged whereas adultery is neither.


  44. 44 Maccus Germanis
    February 20, 2009 at 17:12

    I agree with the Baroness Warsi, that a supposed “cultural sensitivity,” has lead to an avoidance of the issue. And as polygamy is currently illegal, that law should be enforced universally. Steve’s argument against any state recognition of marriage, I do agree with, but see it as separate from this equal protection issue. Polygamy, I think evil, but its cultural destruction has more to do with equal protection, of the women invovled, by the expressed opposition to any parallel legal system, such as sharia courts.

  45. 45 Steve
    February 20, 2009 at 17:13

    I heard a good point on Europe Today, you don’t see them trying to make laws banning premarital sex, or extramarital affairs. So long as the people are willingly entering into polygamous marriages, what’s the problem with it? In Britian you have huge rates of STDs, the highest teen pregnancy rates, and you’re going after people who willingly want to be married to multiple people? I don’t see the problem here other than the priorities being completely wrong, unless you are proud of 14 year old girls who are pregnant and have herpes?

  46. 46 Maccus Germanis
    February 20, 2009 at 17:17

    While I would personally allow for voluntary entrance into a polygamous marriage, such volition of muslim women I do suspect, so long as they have not equal protection under common law.

  47. 47 Chris Fynn
    February 20, 2009 at 17:23

    If we are to accept polygamy then polyandry should also be allowed.

  48. February 20, 2009 at 17:24

    It’s Hard Enough Keeping One Wife!
    Think of education for children, think of their upbringing, think of the responsibility of satisfying several households. The mounting cost of living; the rising cost of accomodation and fierce competition in Iran to improve life for the family!
    Again trying to be a father to the children of two women and safeguarding the rights of both households; rivalry between women and hatred among children. The callous behaviour of one man can bring so much unhappiness to so many.
    I know one man who simply doesn’t know how many wives he has, let alone how many children!

  49. 49 Anna
    February 20, 2009 at 17:26

    Polygamy is morally wrong – how can anyone justify injustice that women are forced into since the moment they are born? There are no right or wrong kinds of polygamy – it is awful to look for ways to classify it – the basic concept of polygamy is unethical and should be universally illegal above religious or any other law!

  50. 50 viola
    February 20, 2009 at 17:26

    Caroline: Cultural sensitivity by governments does not require the governments to change the laws of the land.

    If you view countries in the old way; that is, divided into “estates” you can see that religion is one of the estates and government another. There are others, but these are the two that are in conflict.

    In Europe, for centuries, the Church was the supreme power, then the Church lost the battle for supreme power against the State (the government) so that now there is proper separation of State and Church, each having its own sphere of influence.

    Many Islamic societies deny the need or desirability for that separation of State and Religious spheres of influence. It is in no way different from the view of the Catholic Church when it was in full control of Europe. The same reasons exist for that separation now that it is Islam rather than Christianity that is in a power struggle against the States.


  51. 51 Marcus(U.S.A)
    February 20, 2009 at 17:27

    Why can’t men have more than one wife? If there is a responsible man who can take care of more than one woman and additional children than society should applaud this man. Take away the idea of one man having sex with multiple women because I think this is where the arguement is being waged. Let’s for a moment look at the entire world. In this world there are lots of women in Africa,Asia, and South America who must raise children alone. There are lots of women sleeping with married men for the sake of being with a man because women out number men by large margins worldwide. I’ve yet to hear a really good arguement against a man having multiple wives the only arguement I’ve heard is that it diminishes a woman’s self esteem. But doesn’t it dimish a woman’s self esteem when a man is sleeping with another woman without her consent?

  52. 52 TRAORE Seydou
    February 20, 2009 at 17:29

    I am muslim, when I get married I signed with regret for monogamy. In that time some of my friends moque on me why do you have to do that. I always remenber to what my Dad use to say To me being a muslim, polygamie is not really a good thing. I will never never accpet to share my wife with another man, so why do you want your wife to share you with another woman. This is the reason why I don’t want to be polygame.

    TRAORE, Pingtung University_Taiwan

  53. 53 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 20, 2009 at 17:32

    I just heard the spokesperson for the Islamic Society in Denmark speak on Europe Today.

    One of the points he tried to make was that equal rights to multiple marriages of one woman to several men couldn’t work because if a woman had multiple partners, the father’s identity would be in question.

    DNA testing is increasingly reliable, available, and affordable. Would the gentleman in Denmark please try to move up into the 21st Century and leave behind the outdated arguments of the past in the past?

    And might I repeat that this is NOT a religious conflict, it is a cultural one. There is no cultural tradition for multiple marriages in Britain. To try to sneak in a major change in a country’s cultural profile under the guise of religious freedom is reprehensible.

  54. 54 Steve
    February 20, 2009 at 17:33

    Are these marriages worse off, and produce worse off families compared to say inner city US “families” where a woman has 5 different kids from 5 different fathers and has never been married? Who is worse off, and why is one legal and the other not?

  55. 55 tobias weber
    February 20, 2009 at 17:34

    As long as it is ensured, that women can not be exploited and polygamie is not used for the manifestation of male dominance, then I don’t see any real reason for prohibiting it. Quite on the contrary, marriage also includes legal binding rights which a polygamous household, however, without mariage contracts, will not have.
    Gaining mutual respect and rights between man and woman is not an issue of polygamy (or polyandry, as it were).

    (white, male, 27, german)

  56. 56 richard
    February 20, 2009 at 17:34

    polygamy does not belong in the 21st century, it is backwards, revolting and primitive.

    It seams the UK is regressing back to the dark ages.
    Sensitivity is just an escuse to change your culture and laws.
    Wake UP!!!!

    when will your tolerance reach its peak?
    Take back your country and have those that immigrate
    to the UK conform to your culture and laws and not
    the other way around.

  57. 57 viola
    February 20, 2009 at 17:38

    Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury, when he is advocating the acceptance of Sharia Law in Great Britain, is actually advocating the acceptance of religion as the supreme governing power and feels it will give his own church a boost up the ladder of power, since his congregation outnumbers the Moslems in Great Britain. Perhaps he feels he can win against the Moslems. Once the principle is accepted his church would then have legal ground to challenge the State whenever he issues some sort of religious command to his followers that is contrary to the law of the land.

    Sounds kinda paranoid, eh? Or, perhaps, Byzantine?


  58. 58 zainab from Iraq
    February 20, 2009 at 17:44

    salam all,well i’m so surprised by this strange world..polygamy isn’t allowed,yet having many illegal affairs is acceptable..what a world
    anyway,i agree with Lubna &want to add that when the text of polygamy has revealed, the islamic society was in critical problem,cuz of the death of many muslim men,so there were many women &children in need of support& care.thus came the Quranic text (that mentioned in Lubna’s comment) with restricted conditions:i.e. to be fair,to keep the orphans,&properties…etc.
    moreover,i believe this issue can be only solved by the husband&wife,it’s a personal freedom,why the government interfere?
    thank u so much for making me laugh at your example of brushing the teeth,it’s really true.

  59. 59 AL
    February 20, 2009 at 17:45

    Responding to Caroline’s point – in essence extra-marital affairs are ‘illegal’ in Britain in the sense that they can be sited as reason for divorce. Thus the law does take a stand in these matters. Furthermore very few people would seriously argue that an extra – marital affair is a morally good thing to do. Cheating on one’s partner regardless of marital status is surely still considered to be at best ‘unfortunate’ and at worst represensible?

  60. 60 Steve
    February 20, 2009 at 17:48

    I don’t get how polygamy is primitive and backwards, revolting and primitive? It’s somehow worse than an unmarried woman having 5 different kids from 5 different fathers and expecting welfare payments to pay for the children??? Anyone? If anything, Polygamy is a good thing compared to the irresponsibility of what goes on in the west. Or do we just love the high teen pregnancy rates and STD rates? Empowering? Don’t make me gag.

  61. 61 viola
    February 20, 2009 at 17:51

    To the question of multiple legal husbands, it seems clear to me that such an arrangement can never be accepted for the simple reason that men are not viewed as being possessed by women in the way women are viewed as belonging to (owned by) men. The possession of women by men has always been viewed as acceptable. The idea of a woman possessing (owning) a man would get hysterical laughter.

  62. February 20, 2009 at 17:56

    Well, allowing polygamy? Why not? But the problem is that in that case women should also have a right to have more than one husband, because in Europe women and men have equal rights. Allowing only men to have more than one wife violates the policy of equality and opens the “Pandora’s Box” for further changes. What next? Should also ‘honour killings’ be legalized? Or persecution of sexual minorities? The problem of legalizing the polygamy is not only cultural, but most of all legal and ethical problem. As a woman I am not agreed that in future some men will decide for me. I stand for equal rights of men and women.

  63. 63 archibald in oregon
    February 20, 2009 at 17:59

    Hey Jennifer
    “There shouldn’t be any difference made between polygamy, homosexuality, marrying your family members, etc. It’s all about the same thing; promiscuity and making a choice to do what you want. It seems much more championed by men which I believe is because they come out on the winning side of it. I don’t think most women would be happy to enter into this type of arrangement; I know I wouldn’t tolerate it!”

    Lumping homosexuality (same sex relations) and incest (sex with family) into polygamy (marrying multiple wives), is a completely ridiculous, misleading characterization……. like calling poker, a sport. If you have a problem with promiscuity and people making choices to do what they want, perhaps you are more in accord with the strict laws of Islam than you would care to admit. Many women prosper within the polygamist community, because they willingly choose it. Maybe tolerance is exactly what is really at issue here, or lack there of.

  64. 64 Lino - Malta
    February 20, 2009 at 18:00

    I don’t think that polygamy should be introduced in Europe – period, end of discussion. I say this not becuase of some deep religious belief which I do not have, but I do have a firm belief in our European culture and I’m sorry but polygamy is NOT part of our European culture. If you want polygamy you’re on the wrong continent my friend. Go to the Middle East or Africa or maybe in the South American jungle but you are sure in the wrong place if you expect polygamy to be introduced to Europe.

  65. 65 ARShams
    February 20, 2009 at 18:03

    Polygamy in many instances has been found creating more demerits than merits in families and societies, which seems needful to be restricted by the Government, if possible.

  66. February 20, 2009 at 18:14

    TREORE, you are a rock star!

    Angry folks, read his post.

    He is putting his heart his ethics and his faith to the test and chooses love and the magic of mutual respect for his future. It is sincerity like his and not the rules we make that in the end evolve our ethical standards.

  67. 67 Maccus Germanis
    February 20, 2009 at 18:15

    Does anyone here argueing for polygamy actually believe that all muslim women are entering into, or living in, these situations without any coercion? As relates to the situation in Britian, where Arch. Canterbury favors greater implemtation of an already extant parallel legal system, I don’t think it is well known among muslim women that they have another choice. And the chilling effect of supposed “cultural sensitivity” does prevent muslim women from recieving equal protection under common law.

  68. 68 Jennifer
    February 20, 2009 at 18:18

    @ Lubna

    I don’t know about that……It seems to me that alot of shady things are going on behind the scenes that are putting women at a disadvantage!


    Recently, a woman was beheaded in NY by her husband because she wanted a divorce. That doesn’t sound good!


    @ VictorK

    Oh, but it does. At least with polygamy, there are families that can maintain some of the core purposes for even getting married including procreation. All are offensive to me.

  69. 69 Steve
    February 20, 2009 at 18:21

    I can just imagine in the west, 98% of people would laugh in your face if you said you wanted to wait for marriage to have sex, so in all likelihood, at least for males who want to be married first, they will likely die virgins. Fortunately I’m not speaking from experience, but those viewed get laughed at here, you re viewed as a freak being a virgin above the age of 16 here, there are even movies about “The 40 Year Old Virgin”. In some cases, it’s simply involuntary celibacy, for some men, so I would even change my view, that abstinence is more likely for men, because it’s more difficult for a male to get sex.

  70. 70 Steve
    February 20, 2009 at 18:24

    Yikes, wrong topic, sorry BBC, Meant for this to go into the on air one.

  71. 71 Dennis Junior
    February 20, 2009 at 18:33

    I think that Polygamy is too sensitive topic to…also…I have to agreed with Steve’s comments about the ‘State’ Recognition of marriages….

    Re: Mark Sandell,
    I have to agreed with your idea of regular remainders to the audience here on BBC WHYS Blogs about essays….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  72. 72 Jessica in NYC
    February 20, 2009 at 18:42

    It’s not that abstinence is unrealistic, teaching abstinence ONLY is what is unrealistic. That is the power of sex-education, the knowledge to make the choice that is best for the individual.

    I had full sex-education and understanding of my my contraception options and I made an informed CHOICE to abstain in high school, because I did not feel prepared to handle the risk.

  73. 73 Ms_cellaneous
    February 20, 2009 at 19:03

    If polygamy works for men AND women, I guess that must be because the women can have some lesbian frolics while the ‘husband’ watches. I believe polygamy is about ownership and treats women as though they are property.

  74. February 20, 2009 at 20:08

    That is the most bizarre suggestion I have ever heard, libelous and verbally

  75. February 20, 2009 at 20:26

    I don’t see how polygamy could be a problem for anyone
    with a right mind. What do we get for our protection of Freedom of Beleif, Religion, Religious practice?
    How do we best protect our religious practice?

    We need to put our attention on the critical issues of our times. Polygamy is a Red Herring. Whatever our religion, whether we are for or against those who practice it.

    The most critical issue in the current world of religion is
    the issuance of laws much like Hitler’s Nueremberg laws of 1933 against the Ba’hai’s in Iran. Expulsion from
    schools, the arrest of leaders etc . . .

    Google it.

  76. February 20, 2009 at 21:11

    pologamy is not a mattter of discussion by the human beings in this world because it was permitted by ALLAH who is the creator of this world. and if the husband will be just to all his wifes and is capable to provide for them equally so he is elagible for polygamy. besides ALLAH knows what humans dont know because he is the one who created both man and women and knows best what is good for them.

  77. 77 Bert
    February 20, 2009 at 23:50

    Mormons also had polygamy as one of their traditions, but it is not permitted to Mormons who live in the US. Period. We don’t mince words about it. We don’t pretend we must tolerate that particular practice. In the West, there is supposed to be a SEPARATION of church and state. We are not in the middle ages anymore.

    Those who want to practice bizarre religious customs that conflict with our secular laws should move to countries where this is permitted. We are not required to tolerate every custom that is foreign to our own traditions.

    This wouldn’t even have been a topic for dicsussion, were it not for the fact that Islam is involved. Let’s stop thinking we have to pander.

  78. 78 brian
    February 21, 2009 at 00:19

    It’s not only Muslims. Most African societies also practice consensual polygamy and ‘lobola’ (bride price). As an aid worker there I saw it all as part of life’s rich tapestry, but it’s when people witrh several wives and a couple of dozen children arrive here that the problems begin,eg. the practical problem of housing and social security entitlements. There is also the fact that many of the marriages are not ‘civil’ but tribal,(unregistered) with the children belonging to the mother until the brideprice has been paid. The births of many children have also never been registered, as that costs money which poor people can’t afford. It really is a conundrum. What of a political refugee claiming support?
    Once given right of abode how can the entry of wives and children be opposed?
    The last King of Swaziland had 80 wives and 200 concubines! That of course is an extreme, but many men choose to take another wife if they become rich enough, and I met many who did, some having many children with all of them. It is NOT a moral question when consensual, but becomes a practical one when projected outside their own culture. The solutions should therefore be practical rather than morally condemnatory

  79. 79 Ian, Las Vegas (via London)
    February 21, 2009 at 00:58

    I am in 100% support of polygamy. Its just another form of love. I see a lot of negative comments here. People who speak out about polygamy or don’t say things that are supportive should be charged with hate speech. Polygamy is a type of marraige and as such should be taught in school to 5 year olds. They should be taught that a man with many wives has just as valid relationship as a man with one wife there is no difference. There should be laws enacted that these people are not discriminated against in the workplace. There should also be more shows on TV featuring polygamist families and ploygamous pride parades. Does this all sound familiar!? This is what the gay movement encourages. However, the reason why the same privelages wouldn’t be granted to polygamy is because of political correctness. Gays are a “victimized and oppressed group” and so should be celebrated. On the other hand giving those oppressive heterosexual males more opportunity to “enslave women and oppress them”, oh that would never do. Again these issues have nothing to do with tolerance or different views and everything to do with PC. What a sad state of affairs the UK has come to.

  80. 80 Craig - USA
    February 21, 2009 at 05:06

    Polygamy, if it’s available freely to women as well as men, to consensually join in marriage, and have the right to leave the marriage, doesn’t pose any human rights issues… as long as the legal system recognizes the rights of all parties to communally owned property and visitation of children. Sadly no one seems to advocate for women having multiple husbands, or for group marriages involving men and women. My wife has three husbands currently and we are all quite happy with the arrangement and have been for some time now.

    Is it illegal? Yes… and so were interracial marriages for many generations (in the U.S.) — now there is a U.S. president who is the child of an interracial marriage.
    Is it unenthical? How do you define ethical behavior? Since all parties are happy with the arrangement and it has not brought harm to anyone, but tremendous joy and love, I would say it is ethical. Who, precisely is being harmed in open, polygamist marriages, where partners are free to join and leave?
    Is it immoral? Whose religious moral principles are we going to use to judge? Those who believe that the majority of humans will end up in a place of never-ending torture for not following their path? Or the religions who have historically endorsed and supported genocides, wars, slavery and inquisitions?

  81. 81 tanya
    February 21, 2009 at 07:28

    Western society has its own religion and traditions that have been respected for centuries.The Muslim religion mustn’t pry into our lives. If you want to respect it, do it in your country. I thinks Arabs and all the others, want to rule the world and subdue other religions and nations.

  82. 82 Emile Barre
    February 21, 2009 at 12:17

    Any relationship between the sexes has to be voluntary for both. In that crucial sense, culture is not the point.

  83. 83 A.R.Shams
    February 21, 2009 at 16:24

    Polygamy seems create multiples of social problems.

  84. 84 John in Germany
    February 22, 2009 at 10:21

    Cultural sensitivity.

    What does that mean?. When a society is active within its own boundaries there are no problems. When however due to the situation in many lands that the people look for a better life, then that is the cause of most emigration, If they then integrate no problem, but most do not. They want the best of both worlds without even trying to adapt to the hosts way of life, even to the point when they Demand that the host adapts to thier way of thinking. Those that work hard at trying,to integrate are even denounced as traitors to the way of life.

    Nothing wrong with polygamy if practised in the boundaries of countries that have it as part of thier culture, but- not forced upon a host country. It seem to me that Cultural Sensitivity is adaptable for those that want to their way of life,upon thier hosts. A slow but sure way of converting the host, reminds me of the cuckoos egg.

    There are many people that have selected to live in another country, that work hard at integration. Help them with everything you have, you will reap the benefit. Giving in to those that only want thier own way, will bring nothing but problems, and misery.

    John in Germany.

  85. February 22, 2009 at 16:58

    I do not live in the UK and I am not a Moslem, but men generally want sex more often than women, and, if so, it follows that men have a right to polygamy or som other form of extra sex.

    I saw that one woman complained that polygamy treats women as if they are property. That is mindless Feminism. Women often treat men differently according to their wealth, and dream of marrying a millionnaire, so women behave as if they were property, to be bought for the highest price that they can get. it is typical of a Feminist to behave like property, and then to complain of being treated like proerty.

  86. 86 Yasmine/lebanon
    February 23, 2009 at 18:44

    okay, well for me as a muslium, i don’t think it’s right at all. I respect my religon with it’s rules and regulations. But it’s not just in islam any more, you can come to United States and find the same thing. I once read in a newspaper that an american guy who has 4 wives going to 5th and the women said they don’t have any problems with each other, and I kept thinking are they serious? what were they thinking. In the envirnoment that I grew up and lived in(lebanon? polgamy is disapearing, because it’s not practiced anymore.

  87. 87 Benjamin / Singapore
    February 24, 2009 at 01:05

    Societal standards must be set at a benchmark that is rigorous and unwavering, and meant to be applied to the least cooperative, least responsible member of that society. While Lubna has brought up a somewhat more neutral interpretation of the Koran, it seems too idealistic to be applied in today’s society. There would be too many irresponsible folks out there claiming that they are able to love all 4 wives equally, when actually are not able to.

    Given how modern society has developed so rapidly in the past few years in the Western world, I seem to think that should polygamy be allowed a free rein for both females and males, it would ruin the fabric of society. True enough, given the complex nature of human beings, there might be some males and females alike out there who are able to embrace Lubna’s (and many here in this blog as well) idea of polygamy in its purest sense, there are too many out there who would seek to abuse it.

  88. 88 Venessa
    February 24, 2009 at 15:20

    Who cares if people want to marry multiple partners. Why is it people feel the need to be the moral police? Aren’t these people adults? Shouldn’t they be able to make a decision if such a life style choice works for them? In reality it is no one’s business but the individual that chooses to participate in such a relationship.

  89. 89 Marge
    February 25, 2009 at 12:13

    So polygamy means a man can have multiple wives – such as in a harem I suppose. Well for me it would mean I could share the chores such as washing his socks and cooking his meals (an advantage), but could I have multiple husbands? I could have an electrician and someone to do the plumbing for free.

    Seriously, I think it is just a Tax dodge, I believe the polygamist can claim several tax deductions for his several wives. Perhaps the next subject for debate could be “why do Muslims want to live in Christian countries?”.

  90. 90 Meanahi
    February 26, 2009 at 23:37

    Suresh…yeah, india is doing just fine, with one of the highest AIDs rate in world directly from men engaging in fornication and adultery. You have open brothels which they don’t close down, but if a man wants an honest open relationship, you become the moral police. If you punish adultery and fornication, then perhaps a point can be made for punish polygamy. If not, then stop the double standards.

    Meanahi from New York

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