LONDON - SingleMuslim.com, an online interactive community of more than 500,000 members seeking potential marriage partners, recently polled its members to find out what they think about polygamy.
The results revealed Tuesday show that 26.2 per cent of people who completed the survey believe that polygamy is legal with Islam and that all Muslims have the right to practise polygamy if they choose to (73 per cent of respondents to this question were male, with just 27 per cent of female respondents selecting this view).
In contrast, 32.7 per cent of respondents agreed that the Qur'an allows polygamy, but only in exceptional circumstances (58 per cent of respondents to this question were female, 42 per cent male).
A third of all respondents (33.8 per cent) said that they personally don't think they would choose to practise polygamy (male: 38 per cent, female: 62 per cent).
SingleMuslim.com Director, Adeem Younis said: "We chose to run this survey in light of recent media stories referencing polygamy, marriage and Islamic law, both here in the UK and internationally.
"The survey results suggest that there are varying views within the Muslim community as to the extent to which polygamy is permissible. I'm not an Islamic scholar, but when I read the Qur'an, I interpret that polygamy is permissible only in exceptional circumstances. The poll results show that the majority of Muslims share my view.
"Yet the survey does highlight a perception that many Muslims interpret the Qur'an to mean that a man may take several wives, without exception."
Polygamy is discussed in two sections of the Qur'an (Sura Al-Nesaa' 4:3 and 4:127). The passages explain how polygamy may be allowed to protect widows and orphaned children.
The Qur'an permits polygamy on condition that the husband treats all his wives with equal respect, emotionally as well as financially. However, the Qur'an later describes the impossibility of treating several wives equally. Therefore monogamy is the norm for most Muslims.
Adeem Younis said: "The common interpretation according to Islamic law is that a man may marry several wives, but must treat them equally in terms of financial and material support. However, the Qur'an is clear that polygamy is only acceptable under exceptional circumstances."
Even though the Qur'an recognises polygamy, under certain conditions, Muslims living in a non-Muslim country must balance their obedience to Islamic law with complying with the laws of the country. Consequently, Muslims living in the United Kingdom are subject to British law, which forbids the practising of polygamy.
Adeem Younis said: "SingleMuslim.com is a Muslim-run business based in the UK, and is therefore subject to British law. As such, we can not endorse or promote polygamy through the website.
"Having said that, we would be happy for the government to have a look at Muslim marriage issues within the UK, with a view to bringing everything, for example marriage ceremonies and divorce practices, in line with current British standards."