Questions about the Baha'i stance on polygamy?

Jan 2011
113
Detroit, MI USA
I am a baha'i that likes to search for truth and understanding so I was searching around and found some quotes on polygamy:

“Know thou that polygamy is not permitted under the law of God, for contentment with one wife hath been clearly stipulated. Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions. However, observance of justice and equity towards two wives is utterly impossible. The fact that bigamy has been made dependent upon an impossible condition is clear proof of its absolute prohibition. Therefore it is not permissible for a man to have more than one wife.”

“You asked about polygamy. According to the text of the Divine Book having two wives is lawful and legal and was never prohibited, rather it is legitimate and allowed. Do not be unhappy, but take justice into consideration so that you may be as just as possible. What has been uttered is that since justice is very difficult [to achieve], therefore peace is in having one wife. But in your case, of course you should not be unhappy.”

“Concerning bigamy, this has been promulgated, and no one must abrogate it. ‘Abdu’l-Baha has not abrogated this law. These are false accusations and lies (spread by) the friends. What I have said is that He has made bigamy bound on a precondition. As long as someone does not attain certitude regarding the capability to practice justice and his heart is not at rest that he can practice justice, he should not be intent upon a second marriage. But if he should be sure and attain certitude that he would practice justice on all levels (and conditions), then a second marriage is lawful. Just as has been the case in the Holy Land: the Baha’i friends wished to marry a second wife, accepting this precondition, and this servant [Abdu’l-Baha] never abstained (from giving permission), but insisted that justice should be considered, and justice actually means here self-restraint; but they said, that they will practice justice and wished to marry a second wife. Such false accusations [charges that Abdu’l-Baha prohibited bigamy] are the slanderous whisperings of those who wish to spread doubts and to what degree they already succeed in making matters ambiguous! (Our) purpose was to state that bigamy without justice is not lawful and that justice is very difficult (to achieve).”

I understand the first quote is from the kitáb-i-aqdas but what is the origin of all three quotes?
 
Aug 2010
726
New Zealand mainly
None of these is from the Aqdas: the Aqdas (by Baha'u'llah) says on this subject :

God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware
that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two.
Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from
among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall
live in tranquillity. And he who would take into his
service a maid may do so with propriety.
(Baha'u'llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 41)
Your quotes are all from Abdu'l-Baha, from written texts (not from reports of talks).

To understand what's going on in these texts, we have to turn to the Bayan – the Aqdas simply endorses a law whose details and justification is given by the Bab.

In the Persian Bayan, wahid 8 section 15, the Bab says (my translation from the French):

“If a man or woman proves incapable of having a child, it is legitimate for the spouse who is not infertile (whichever it may be) to marry again after having obtained the permission of the other party, but not without her permission [the French has ‘her’ here, but the Persian pronoun u applies to men or women] and the purpose is that a child be born of this spouse, male or female. … In this world, the most exalted of the fruits that God has given humanity, after Faith in Himself, the Letters of Unity and in what has been revealed in the Bayan, is to gather the fruits of his (bodily) existence so after his death, the man leaves a fruit which will mention him with praise. This (having children) has been ordained in the Bayan, in the most proper and most precise way. (What has been ordained) on this point, is that if any incapacity (to produce) is found in one of the two spouses, the other spouse should marry in another ceremony with the permission of his spouse, so that a fruit of his existence may be manifest …”
So, in the event of infertility, the couple has permission to take a second husband or wife for the purpose of conceiving a child. This exception in itself implies that the general rule is monogamy. The exception proves the rule. This explains why Shoghi Effendi can say that the Kitab-e Aqdas “prescribes monogamy” (God Passes By, p. 214): he does not say that Abdu’l-Baha changed the law, but rather that the text itself prescribed monogamy — which it does, by implication, by endorsing a law which allows for a second wife or husband only under special circumstances (and also by then adding that it is better to be content with one (wife or husband)).

Hence Abdu'l-Baha can write:

“You asked about polygamy. According to the text (nass) of the Divine Book, having two wives is lawful and legal (ja’iz). This was never (abadan) prohibited, but it is legitimate and allowed (halal wa mubah). You should therefore not be unhappy, but take justice into your consideration so that you may be as just as possible. What has been said was that since justice is very difficult, therefore tranquility is in one wife. But in your case, you should not be unhappy.” [‘Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Amr wa Khalq 4: 174]

“Concerning bigamy, this has been promulgated, and no one must abrogate it (mansusast nasikhi nadarad). ‘Abdu’l Baha has not abrogated this law. These are false accusations and lies (spread by) the friends. What I have said is that He [God?] has made bigamy bound on a precondition. As long as someone does not attain certitude regarding the capability to practice justice and his heart is not at rest that he can practice justice, he should not be intent upon a second marriage. But if he should be sure and attain certitude that he would practice justice on all levels (and conditions) (dar jami’ i maratib), then a second marriage is lawful. Just as has been the case in the Holy Land : the Baha’i friends wished to marry a second wife, accepting this precondition, and this servant (i.e., ‘Abdu’l Baha) never abstained (from giving permission), but insisted that justice should be considered, and justice actually means here self restraint (daraji i imtina’); but they said, that they will practice justice and wished to marry a second wife. Such false accusations (concerning ‘Abdu’l Baha’s prohibition of bigamy) are the slanderous whisperings (zamzamih) of those who wish to spread doubts (in people’s hearts) and to what degree they already succeed in making matters ambiguous! (Our) purpose was to state that bigamy without justice is not lawful and that justice is very difficult (to achieve).” [Amr wa Khalq 4: 174f]

So the exception (for infertile couples) still stands: it could be adapted to deal with more modern phenomena such as artificial insemination etc.
 
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Sep 2010
4,603
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
None of these is from the Aqdas: the Aqdas (by Baha'u'llah) says on this subject :



Your quotes are all from Abdu'l-Baha, from written texts (not from reports of talks).

To understand what's going on in these texts, we have to turn to the Bayan – the Aqdas simply endorses a law whose details and justification is given by the Bab.

In the Persian Bayan, wahid 8 section 15, the Bab says (my translation from the French):



So, in the event of infertility, the couple has permission to take a second husband or wife for the purpose of conceiving a child. This exception in itself implies that the general rule is monogamy. The exception proves the rule. This explains why Shoghi Effendi can say that the Kitab-e Aqdas “prescribes monogamy” (God Passes By, p. 214): he does not say that Abdu’l-Baha changed the law, but rather that the text itself prescribed monogamy — which it does, by implication, by endorsing a law which allows for a second wife or husband only under special circumstances (and also by then adding that it is better to be content with one (wife or husband)).

Hence Abdu'l-Baha can write:

“You asked about polygamy. According to the text (nass) of the Divine Book, having two wives is lawful and legal (ja’iz). This was never (abadan) prohibited, but it is legitimate and allowed (halal wa mubah). You should therefore not be unhappy, but take justice into your consideration so that you may be as just as possible. What has been said was that since justice is very difficult, therefore tranquility is in one wife. But in your case, you should not be unhappy.” [‘Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Amr wa Khalq 4: 174]

“Concerning bigamy, this has been promulgated, and no one must abrogate it (mansusast nasikhi nadarad). ‘Abdu’l Baha has not abrogated this law. These are false accusations and lies (spread by) the friends. What I have said is that He [God?] has made bigamy bound on a precondition. As long as someone does not attain certitude regarding the capability to practice justice and his heart is not at rest that he can practice justice, he should not be intent upon a second marriage. But if he should be sure and attain certitude that he would practice justice on all levels (and conditions) (dar jami’ i maratib), then a second marriage is lawful. Just as has been the case in the Holy Land : the Baha’i friends wished to marry a second wife, accepting this precondition, and this servant (i.e., ‘Abdu’l Baha) never abstained (from giving permission), but insisted that justice should be considered, and justice actually means here self restraint (daraji i imtina’); but they said, that they will practice justice and wished to marry a second wife. Such false accusations (concerning ‘Abdu’l Baha’s prohibition of bigamy) are the slanderous whisperings (zamzamih) of those who wish to spread doubts (in people’s hearts) and to what degree they already succeed in making matters ambiguous! (Our) purpose was to state that bigamy without justice is not lawful and that justice is very difficult (to achieve).” [Amr wa Khalq 4: 174f]

So the exception (for infertile couples) still stands: it could be adapted to deal with more modern phenomena such as artificial insemination etc.
Thank you Sen.

I had not see that passage from the Bayan.

Regards Tony
 
Jan 2011
113
Detroit, MI USA
None of these is from the Aqdas: the Aqdas (by Baha'u'llah) says on this subject :



Your quotes are all from Abdu'l-Baha, from written texts (not from reports of talks).

To understand what's going on in these texts, we have to turn to the Bayan – the Aqdas simply endorses a law whose details and justification is given by the Bab.

In the Persian Bayan, wahid 8 section 15, the Bab says (my translation from the French):



So, in the event of infertility, the couple has permission to take a second husband or wife for the purpose of conceiving a child. This exception in itself implies that the general rule is monogamy. The exception proves the rule. This explains why Shoghi Effendi can say that the Kitab-e Aqdas “prescribes monogamy” (God Passes By, p. 214): he does not say that Abdu’l-Baha changed the law, but rather that the text itself prescribed monogamy — which it does, by implication, by endorsing a law which allows for a second wife or husband only under special circumstances (and also by then adding that it is better to be content with one (wife or husband)).

Hence Abdu'l-Baha can write:

“You asked about polygamy. According to the text (nass) of the Divine Book, having two wives is lawful and legal (ja’iz). This was never (abadan) prohibited, but it is legitimate and allowed (halal wa mubah). You should therefore not be unhappy, but take justice into your consideration so that you may be as just as possible. What has been said was that since justice is very difficult, therefore tranquility is in one wife. But in your case, you should not be unhappy.” [‘Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Amr wa Khalq 4: 174]

“Concerning bigamy, this has been promulgated, and no one must abrogate it (mansusast nasikhi nadarad). ‘Abdu’l Baha has not abrogated this law. These are false accusations and lies (spread by) the friends. What I have said is that He [God?] has made bigamy bound on a precondition. As long as someone does not attain certitude regarding the capability to practice justice and his heart is not at rest that he can practice justice, he should not be intent upon a second marriage. But if he should be sure and attain certitude that he would practice justice on all levels (and conditions) (dar jami’ i maratib), then a second marriage is lawful. Just as has been the case in the Holy Land : the Baha’i friends wished to marry a second wife, accepting this precondition, and this servant (i.e., ‘Abdu’l Baha) never abstained (from giving permission), but insisted that justice should be considered, and justice actually means here self restraint (daraji i imtina’); but they said, that they will practice justice and wished to marry a second wife. Such false accusations (concerning ‘Abdu’l Baha’s prohibition of bigamy) are the slanderous whisperings (zamzamih) of those who wish to spread doubts (in people’s hearts) and to what degree they already succeed in making matters ambiguous! (Our) purpose was to state that bigamy without justice is not lawful and that justice is very difficult (to achieve).” [Amr wa Khalq 4: 174f]

So the exception (for infertile couples) still stands: it could be adapted to deal with more modern phenomena such as artificial insemination etc.
I understand what you're saying, but the thing is the kitáb-i-aqdas doesn't says go back to the bayan. If a person don't know any better they wouldn't go back to the bayan.

On the explanation that the second spouse is for people that's infertile, that's interesting but it's still polygamy, you're still having sex with a second spouse. For the people that don't have a second spouse that can be frustrating especially to a man.

They say that men is more visual which may be true that's why I've come to believe that women have been created to be the most beautiful creature on earth which complements a man's visual.

That's why I said at the end of the day it's still polygamy and that could be frustrating for other people.
 
Jun 2014
1,100
Wisconsin
I understand what you're saying, but the thing is the kitáb-i-aqdas doesn't says go back to the bayan. If a person don't know any better they wouldn't go back to the bayan.
A great example, perhaps, of why we need an official translation of the Bayan!!

With the context of the Bayan (thanks Sen!!), and re-reading the text of the Aqdas, it seems like the Aqdas is pointing back to the Bayanic Law.

"God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two."

The language here "Beware that ye take not ..." makes it seem to me as if this is more of a reminder of an already existing law.

"Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity. And he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety. Such is the ordinance which, in truth and justice, hath been recorded by the Pen of Revelation.

And here we have a statement that monogamy is preferable, which would reinforce what the Bayan has to say on the matter...

Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves."

And this third point makes mention that the purpose of marriage is, in part at least, for reproduction. Which would explain furthermore why the Bab made an exception to the rule there.

On the explanation that the second spouse is for people that's infertile, that's interesting but it's still polygamy,
It is indeed still polygamy, but that doesn't mean that the Faith doesn't still proscribe monogamy.

After all, I think all would agree that the Faith proscribes fasting. However, the texts also list several cases in which someone is exempt from the proscribed fasting. So we have monogamy, and then certain individuals whom are exempt from monogamy.

you're still having sex with a second spouse. For the people that don't have a second spouse that can be frustrating especially to a man.

They say that men is more visual which may be true that's why I've come to believe that women have been created to be the most beautiful creature on earth which complements a man's visual.

That's why I said at the end of the day it's still polygamy and that could be frustrating for other people.
I'm not sure why it would be frustrating... I'd much prefer one partner to two.

Monogamy is clearly a better form to have a relationship in, as many observations and studies extensively posted on this forum by ReturnOfZeal can attest.

The bigamy exception, I'd say, is making the best of a bad situation, allowing the family to still have and raise children even if it must forgo the advantages of a monogamous union.

Just like if a person is sick and cannot fast, they have an alternate prayer to recite. They still don't get the benefits of fasting, since for them it is not medically safe to do so, but the Law there makes the best of a not-ideal situation.
 
Jan 2011
113
Detroit, MI USA
It is indeed still polygamy, but that doesn't mean that the Faith doesn't still proscribe monogamy.

After all, I think all would agree that the Faith proscribes fasting. However, the texts also list several cases in which someone is exempt from the proscribed fasting. So we have monogamy, and then certain individuals whom are exempt from monogamy.

As far as I knew any polygamy is forbidden in the faith. I didn't know monogamy was just proscribe by the faith. So can we still have polygamy in the case of infertility in this day.


I'm not sure why it would be frustrating... I'd much prefer one partner to two.

Monogamy is clearly a better form to have a relationship in, as many observations and studies extensively posted on this forum by ReturnOfZeal can attest.

The bigamy exception, I'd say, is making the best of a bad situation, allowing the family to still have and raise children even if it must forgo the advantages of a monogamous union.

Just like if a person is sick and cannot fast, they have an alternate prayer to recite. They still don't get the benefits of fasting, since for them it is not medically safe to do so, but the Law there makes the best of a not-ideal situation.[/QUOTE]

That is all your personal opinion. This is not about being sick, this is about when people having one spouse while other people have two spouses. Like I said it can be frustrating for people that don't have two spouses especially to a man because of the beauty of the woman.
 
Jan 2011
113
Detroit, MI USA
A great example, perhaps, of why we need an official translation of the Bayan!!

With the context of the Bayan (thanks Sen!!), and re-reading the text of the Aqdas, it seems like the Aqdas is pointing back to the Bayanic Law.

"God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two."

The language here "Beware that ye take not ..." makes it seem to me as if this is more of a reminder of an already existing law.

"Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity. And he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety. Such is the ordinance which, in truth and justice, hath been recorded by the Pen of Revelation.

And here we have a statement that monogamy is preferable, which would reinforce what the Bayan has to say on the matter...

Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves."

And this third point makes mention that the purpose of marriage is, in part at least, for reproduction. Which would explain furthermore why the Bab made an exception to the rule there.



It is indeed still polygamy, but that doesn't mean that the Faith doesn't still proscribe monogamy.

After all, I think all would agree that the Faith proscribes fasting. However, the texts also list several cases in which someone is exempt from the proscribed fasting. So we have monogamy, and then certain individuals whom are exempt from monogamy.



I'm not sure why it would be frustrating... I'd much prefer one partner to two.

Monogamy is clearly a better form to have a relationship in, as many observations and studies extensively posted on this forum by ReturnOfZeal can attest.

The bigamy exception, I'd say, is making the best of a bad situation, allowing the family to still have and raise children even if it must forgo the advantages of a monogamous union.

Just like if a person is sick and cannot fast, they have an alternate prayer to recite. They still don't get the benefits of fasting, since for them it is not medically safe to do so, but the Law there makes the best of a not-ideal situation.
As far as I knew any polygamy is forbidden in the faith. I didn't know monogamy was just proscribe by the faith. So can we still have polygamy in the case of infertility in this day

That is all your personal opinion. This is not about being sick, this is about when people having one spouse while other people have two spouses. Like I said it can be frustrating for people that don't have two spouses especially to a man because of the beauty of the woman.
 
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Jun 2014
1,100
Wisconsin
That is all your personal opinion. This is not about being sick, this is about when people having one spouse while other people have two spouses. Like I said it can be frustrating for people that don't have two spouses especially to a man because of the beauty of the woman.
Well that's your personal opinion, isn't it?? :p

If I for one found myself needing an extra spouse, I would envy the people in monogamous relationships, which certainly are more easy to navigate without wondering and worrying constantly if you're living up to the Justice requirement and treating both spouses in a fair and equal manner, and trying to ensure that jealousy does not develop within the relation. ;)

It'd be much easier, I'd say, to have one spouse you can fully love and enjoy without worrying about potentially neglecting another.

especially to a man because of the beauty of the woman.
I absolutely disagree here with your mischaracterization of my gender!! The idea that "men always want sex" is one of the most destructive and disgusting myths of this current era. Thinking like that is what keeps several countries from legally recognizing male rape victims.

No, I do not want lots of sex with lots of partners.

No, I do not want more than one partner.

And no, I don't even need a law, secular or religious, to inform my opinion on the matter.
 
Mar 2013
522
_
Polygamy honestly sounds like one of the biggest headaches three or more people could give themselves.
 
Jan 2011
113
Detroit, MI USA
Well that's your personal opinion, isn't it?? :p

If I for one found myself needing an extra spouse, I would envy the people in monogamous relationships, which certainly are more easy to navigate without wondering and worrying constantly if you're living up to the Justice requirement and treating both spouses in a fair and equal manner, and trying to ensure that jealousy does not develop within the relation. ;)

It'd be much easier, I'd say, to have one spouse you can fully love and enjoy without worrying about potentially neglecting another.



I absolutely disagree here with your mischaracterization of my gender!! The idea that "men always want sex" is one of the most destructive and disgusting myths of this current era. Thinking like that is what keeps several countries from legally recognizing male rape victims.

No, I do not want lots of sex with lots of partners.

No, I do not want more than one partner.

And no, I don't even need a law, secular or religious, to inform my opinion on the matter.
The thing I was saying is that it would seem unfair if some people have two spouses while others have one spouse.

I'm not mischaracterizing anything and I didn't say that men always want sex.
I was just saying if you think about it
women are the most beautiful creature on earth. Let me ask you something, why do women try to beautify their bodies, why do women wear less clothing/show more skin, why is the woman created in a way that her body is displayed for the man

These are the questions that I've ask to come to the conclusion that women are more physically beautiful.
 
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