This is such a confusing subject for both Muslims and non-Muslims but the Holy Qur'an makes it clear that Polygamy is permitted as an exception, not a rule under exceptional circumstances and the Qur'an declares it is not allowed except for the Prophet (PBUH) as it was for all prophets to ensure their lineage continued.
As we can see below the Qu'an mentions the marriage of up to 4 orphans in the course of justice (in the Qur'an this was written during a time of war when many men were being killed and there were many orphans and widows, this is the context the following verse was revealed under):
If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. - 4:3 (Y. Ali)
As we can also see above teh Qur'an says if one cannot do justice or right by marrying additional women, then only 1 wife is permitted for the sake of justice. It is a very strong statement that while polygamy is permitted in an exceptional circumstance of war and death, in the same ayyat, the Qur'an warns that you should only marry 1 woman and tha tit is "more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice".
But people in some Arab cultures and countries practice polyagmy as a rule
This would be another example of how a whole community is not following the Qur'an and is unfortunately a symptom of something greater. Some Muslims follow what they are told and practice religion based on false traditions which contradict the Qur'an and even marry dozens of women. It should be noted that polygamy is practiced world-wide by people of other faiths around the world, despite no religion or Prophet sanctioning it.
The Qur'an later on abolishes Polygamy
O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful. - 33:50 (Y. Ali)
In my view the above ayyat is an abbrogation of 4:3 and is a signal that during normal times that the believers cannot keep marrying women or practicing polygamy.
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