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Question of the Week: Love, Twice 22 June 2008

Posted by SA'ILA in Culture, Relationships, SA'ILA.
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In Islam, polygamy is effectively allowed. Can a man be in love with two women at the same time—and should it acceptable that he may be?

Further, can a woman be in love with two men at the same time?

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1. Khalid - 23 June 2008

Of course it is possible to love more than one person; siblings, aunts, uncles… we love them all. In supposedly ‘monogamous’ societies, there are always men with more than one woman; the question is, do we recognize the additional women as mistresses, or as spouses?

And it’s not about just being ‘in love’. It’s also about paternal certainty and love of children. The more certain a man is that he is the actual father of the children, the more likely he is to have an emotional bond and take care of them. Why waste their efforts supporting someone else’s genetic success? Women don’t have to worry about ‘maternal certainty’. (This is why in societies where women have multiple partners simultaneously, fathers often don’t play any role in the support and upbringing of the kids.) Polygyny also strengthens the father-family relationship because it allows the maintaining of relationships where serial monogamy cannot.

2. non-Muslim Wandering Past - 23 June 2008

What you’re asking about is polyamory, not polygamy (loving more than one as opposed to being married to more than one) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory )?

Anyone can be in love with any number of people, I think. Whether or not they can all live together, have a full and complete emotional relationship or not, is down to the individuals and the dynamics involved.

Which isn’t to make a judgment on a *moral* level – if you assume a relationship outside of marriage (monogamous or plural) is by default immoral, then polyamory is going to fall under that.

But from an emotional level, love itself isn’t exclusive, in either direction, I’d say.

3. ilyas - 24 June 2008

Can a man be in love with two women at the same time?

Yes.

Should it acceptable that he may be?

If God accepts and even provides a way for that love to be fully expressed…. Then yes, absolutely it must be.

Can a woman be in love with two men at the same time?

I would expect so, though not being a woman, I can’t affirm as unequivocally as I could on the first question.

And Allah knows best.

4. Affected - 24 June 2008

A man may love them both, but its difficult to know if he can love them equally or in the same way at the same time. Being ‘in love’ is a type of love that hovers between a man and a woman, sometimes abiding and then going strong once again. Thats what makes good marriages, falling in love again and again – a husband and wife may still love each other, consistently, but falling in love over and over again happens throughout marriage.

We have to remember that even the Prophet, peace upon him, is said to favor one wife over the other at different times. For example, Ayesha (ra) is said to have been his favorite and one of the older wives even rightfully gave up her time with him, so he could spend it with her.

It may be possible to love different women at the same time but it is not possible to be in love with more than person at at time.
Polygamy was allowed in Islam (and actually reduced to only 4, rather than unlimited as was acceptable in pre-islamic society) only as a safeguard for divorced, widowed, elderly women and single mothers,
in a time and place when it was dangerous and difficult for women to be alone or make a living.

Polygamy today, is no longer about the women, its about the man going through a mid-life crisis or bored with his marriage and finding this solution instead of giving the marriage the due respect and diligence it needs.

5. Anita Wagner - 25 June 2008

Affected said: “It may be possible to love different women at the same time but it is not possible to be in love with more than person at at time.”

This is certainly the conventional thinking, but it just isn’t true. Polyamorists not only reject that notion, but every day they are proving it to be false. The polyamory community includes countless examples of people being in love with more than one at the same time. In fact, that’s largely the point of conducting open and honest romantic relationship with more than one at a time with the full knowledge and consent of all involved.

Instead pf believing that love is scarce, we believe that love is available in abundance if we will just look outside the dominant cultural beliefs on the subject.

6. Baraka - 26 June 2008

Salaams,

It is possible in both genders, but it isn’t always right or necessary to act upon those emotions. When it does occur, it demands a huge amount of responsibility, maturity, and honesty on all sides.

Anita nailed it with this: “…conducting open and honest romantic relationship[s] with more than one at a time with the full knowledge and consent of all involved.”

Relationships of any sort require honesty as their foundation. Unfortunately, too few of them, poly- or otherwise, have the maturity to follow through and someone often ends up getting hurt.


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