Polygamy and Its Impact on the Upbringing of Children: A Jordanian Perspective

Article excerpt


In Islam, marriage is defined as a social bond or agreement between two parties; it is not applicable unless both husband and wife approve of it. Consequently, no woman is obligated to get married to a married man or even to a single one, who is not of her choice. Thus, why is polygamy permitted according to the Islamic teachings? The reason is that it is an open alternative for both the husband and the first wife, if the first wife suffers from serious health conditions such as infertility, sexual chaos, severe, or rigorous illness, and perceives in polygamy a healthier way out than divorce. Second, the first wife has the right to divorce her husband if he gets married to another woman, provided that the marriage agreement grants her the right of unilateral divorce (Obaidat, 2001, Alsbaei, 2001, & Momani, 1990).

Marriage type in Jordan is the same as in all Muslim countries, but differs from marriages in the Non-Muslim world. For example, polygamous marriages exist and are socially as well as legally acceptable in addition to monogamous marriages. The purpose of this study is to identify the most important educational reflections and consequences of polygamy on children in particular and society in general, as well as evaluating the community acceptance to it. The second purpose of this study is to examine whether polygamous marital structures are beneficial or harmful to children. To this end, the following primary questions will be addressed: (1) what are the most important educational reflections of polygamy on children in particular and society in general? (2) Are polygamous marital structures beneficial or harmful to children?

According to the religion of Islam, all commands are from Allah Almighty, the Wise, and the Knowledgeable; therefore, one infers that all things which are acceptable and suitable are due to the fact that their benefit to the person and the public overshadows their troubles. When the reasons and results of the permissibility of polygamy are analyzed, it is found that without doubt the verdicts of the religion of Islam are beyond doubt those which outfit all times and places, as their source is the Divine Being (Garni, 1984; Qudah, 1984; Badawi, 1998).

Polygamy is officially and broadly practiced in more than eight hundred societies worldwide. It has been the focus of a substantial augmentation in public, political, and academic awareness throughout the last two decades. A number of research papers came out all through this time, primarily focusing on the influence of polygamy on behavioral, emotional, and educational alteration of children (Elbedour, Onwuegbuzie, Caridine, & Abu-Saad, 2002). Similar to Judaism and Christianity, Islam does not present a clear prevention of the condition or practice of having more than one wife at one time. Contrasting to both Judaism and Christianity, Islam deals with the matter more plainly and offers definite authorized requirements and restraints that quantity to the opposition of such a practice. The reason for not prohibiting polygamy emphatically is possibly is that there are certain circumstances which face individuals and societies in diverse places and at different periods, which construct the limited practice of polygamy a healthier resolution than either separation or the hypocritical pretence of decency (Badawi, 1998; Abdel Azim, 2004).

It is obvious that the association of polygamy with Islam is not unfair or biased but based on serious misunderstanding. Polygamy was practiced, often without limitations, in some cultures (Elbedour, Onwuegbuzie, Caridine, & Abu-Saad, 2002). It was authorized by various religions, and practiced before Islam and for many centuries from then on. It is presently practiced, though secretly by the Mormons, and it is allowed by Christian missionaries in Africa and other areas where polygamy is a social necessity (Obaidat, 2001, Badawi, 1998, Al-Attar, 1977). …