In the Yoruba land today, many are products of polygamous homes. Six of every ten polygamous marriage are tales of woes, tears, pains, death and sorrow.
If the Iyale is not after the Ìyàwó, it would be the other way around. The mothers turn the children against one another and when the man dies, sharing the property becomes a big problem as it might lead to death.
These horrible tales of polygamy drives a typical Yoruba woman to ask her children not to venture into polygamy. They demonize polygamy and make it a no-go-area. On the other hand, the father joins in the game by telling the male children to beware of polygamy being fed up with his wives.
Religiously, the predominant faith is Islam and Christianity with traditional religion not really taken into cognizance. Today, polygamy is illegalized by the church while Islam legalizes it therefore taking the blame for horrible polygamous marriages.
Only few people know that polygamy is not outlawed by the Bible and that Islam teaches polygyny not polygamy. There is no religion on earth today that says marry one wife except Islam. It is only in Islam that we have a limit to the numbers of wives we can marry; 4.
It is unfortunate when religion is mixed with culture. Before the advent of Islam in Yoruba land, polygamy is a norm with the same horrible tales. The traditional approach to polygamy is prevalent today only that it is done using Islam as a cover with the slogan, “Mẹ ni Ọlọhun wí” (God says many)
Anyone who says this will ignorantly refer to the Qur’an as there is no reference from the traditional sources and to the church, everyone knows it is illegal.
And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].
Polygyny in Islam requires understanding the fundamental basis of Islam which extends to the rights of wives and children as well as duties. Allah commanded Muslims to practise polygyny not every Tom, Dick, and Harry that is quick to embrace the command yet neglect his duties and responsibilities..
Islam cannot and should not be blamed for these tales of horror and woes as regards polygamy. Anyone can lay claim to be a Muslim, Islam can only be responsible for their actions justified by the Qur’an.
The Qur’an does not say kill a fellow wife. Islam knows nothing about first wife, second wife label that only breeds hatred and creates a sense of unnecessary authority. Polygyny in Islam is not “Ile olorogun” (a house of rivalry).
Before you blame Islam for failed polygamous marriages, endeavour to learn from scholars of the religion.
To the Yoruba Muslim parents, obey Allah by not making polygyny forbidden for your children rather educate them on the subject with the Qur’an and Sunnah and that is better for you in the life and the Hereafter if you but KNOW.
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Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman @knowislam.com.ng