Why Can’t a Woman Take Many Husbands at the Same Time ?
I have read alot about the reasons for polygamy. Perhaps more than the fact that a male is allowed four wives what is harder to accept is that the reverse is not allowed.
I have read many explanations on this. The reason quoted everywhere for the fact that men are allowed four wives and not vice versa is the important problem of lineage that would arise as a consequence. Since most Islamic laws are applicable by lineage including inheritance, permissibility of marriage etc I would accept this argument in its weight. This is in line with one of your answers on the website about polygamy.
My question is that today we have DNA Testing which allows us to find out the father of the baby both during pregnany or after child-birth. This method is relatively cheap and will only get cheaper with time. This would solve any lineage issues that may have been a problem in earlier times. Doesn’t this mean that in modern times the rule can be extended to apply to females as well? If not, what is the reasoning and what about the failure of the argument presented for decades as a reason to proivde a fair outlook to females about polygamy.
I would appreciate your response to this matter.
There are two aspects of understanding the expectations of Islamic Shari’ah: What exactly is the relevant injunction and why was it given? Although in both cases we will use our understanding, in the first case we will apply ourselves to find out sincerely what the text is desiring from us, in the second one, if the text doesn’t clarify itself, we will assume on our own what the rationale behind the commandment could be.
The clear possibility of men marrying more than one wife is mentioned in verse 4:3 and a clear negation of a similar option available to women is mentioned in verses 4:23-24.
When it comes to answering the question as to why was a distinction mentioned in the divine law, I concede that, in the absence of a clear mention in the Quranic text, we humans can offer unconvincing answers. Your concern is quite valid about the fact that the reason couldn’t have been the difficulty in identifying the father, given that it is now possible for us to ascertain who the father of a child is.
An alternative reason could be the fact that it is the mother that makes a home. She is the central figure and the rationale of a home around whom the entire family converges for getting the feeling of belonging. A father plays only a secondary role in this respect. She cannot divide her home into two or more. It will be as if we are asking her to divide her existence into many parts.
You are not expected to accept the latter explanation either. However, the Quranic verdict that a man can take more than one wife while a woman cannot take more than one husband at the same time is explicit.