Egypt top cleric says polygamy is 'injustice' for women

Egypt top cleric says polygamy is 'injustice' for women
The grand imam of Egypt's top al-Azhar Islamic institution slammed polygamy as an "injustice for women and children”.
3 min read
04 March, 2019
Egypt based Al-Azhar is the highest Sunni authority [AFP]
Polygamy can be an "injustice for women and children”, according to the grand imam of Egypt's top al-Azhar Islamic institution.

The practise comes from "a lack of understanding of the Quran”, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Sunni Islam's highest authority said on his weekly television programme and his social media account.

"Those who say that marriage must be polygamous are all wrong," he said, noting that the Quran states that for a Muslim man to have multiple wives, he "must obey conditions of fairness - and if there is not fairness it is forbidden to have multiple wives".

The senior Sheikh also took the opportunity to advocate women’s issues and how they are dealt with, suggesting "women represent half of society. If we don't care for them it's like walking on one foot only”.

Maya Morsi, president of Egypt's National Council for Women praised his comments saying: "The Muslim religion honours women- it brought justice and numerous rights which didn't exist before.”

However, the controversial polygamy remarks triggered a debate online and prompted al-Azhar to clarify the cleric was not actually calling for a ban on the practice, which is legal though increasingly uncommon in many parts of the Muslim world.

In more conservative Muslim nations, however, polygamy is still practiced widely, and clerics sometimes encourage it.

Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Mutlaq in October urged women to avoid “sinning" by going “crazy” when their husbands marry another woman, urging them to pray for the man and his new wife instead.

Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Mutlaq who is an advisor to the kingdom's royal court made his outrageous comment after he was asked what could be done to deal with the “spinsterhood crisis”.

“We always hear about women finding out her husband got married and she goes crazy. She turns psychotic,” he said on state TV.

“This my brothers, is haram (forbidden in Islam)”.

He then gave his male listeners an age old solution for when their wives get upset at the thought of polygamy: “Just divorce her. Men love peace.”

Meanwhile in the UAE, psychologist Zahraa al-Musawi recently developed a programme to help women accept being a second wife, comparing a woman who is angry when a man marries another to a first-born feeling left out when a new sibling is born.

She conducted a study to figure out why women resist their husbands marrying second, third or fourth wives, initially putting it down to jealousy. In the study, she acknowledges that a man marrying another woman would lead to anxiety, depression and anger.

Her study emphasised the analogy of a married woman being like a child; she craves attention from her husband the way a child craves attention from their parents. If a new wife is in the picture, like a child who had a new sibling, she will suffer from withdrawal symptoms, which will leave her depressed, according to al-Musawi's research.

Her solution was to teach women to "accept" the situation, and understand that her husband has every right to marry another woman.

Al-Musawi created a five-stage programme, all of which is supposed to counsel a woman and train her into "loving herself enough to submit to the situation”.

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