I've been reading the online debate between Umar Lee and Ali Eteraz on the topic of polygyny. Umar argues that when the correct conditions are fulfilled polygyny should be a viable option for anyone wanting to enter into such a relationship, whereas Ali, effectively argues that polygyny is an outdated practice and has no place in an ideal society. Those aren't his exact words, but thats basically what he is saying.
I agree more with Umar than Ali, and i wanted to comment on some of the points raised in the debate and in the comments section.
The first thing i want to comment on is Ali's notion that a welfare state would be enough to fulfil the needs of women who are unfortunate enough not to have a husband. I could agree with that if i believed that such women would prefer to stay single and have the state provide a basic standard of living, as opposed the chance to have a husband (albeit shared) and the opportunity to have their own children.
Lets also look at some stats. According to estimated figures from 2005 if each male married one woman in Egypt, there would be 5 million surplus women (about 6% of the Egyptian population); in Pakistan there would be 6 million, and in Indonesia there would be a staggering 33 million women on the road "spinsterhood."
Any solutions for the above problem that do not offer polygyny as an option are doomed to failure, if only from a practical point of view.
The second issue is that people abhor the thought of a man taking a second wife "just to fulfil his desires." I think so what? They don't raise that objection when a man wants to take his first wife. At that time its all "get married brother," and "do it the halal way". So how does it suddenly become an issue when he wants to take a second wife for the same reason?
I don't see myself as particularly pro-polygyny, i'm just like Umar, if polygyny takes your fancy and you can live up to its requirements, then great, say bismillah and go for it. But the anti-polygyny brigade (generally consisting of women - who are hardly going to be unbiased on this topic - and apologists) just annoy me with their bogus arguments.