Malegaon: Though they are allowed to marry more than one wife - two, three or four, as per the Islamic Shariah and also the Indian constitution which gives them right to practice their religion freely, just 151 men in Malegaon - a city of more than 05 lakh Muslims, have two wives, a latest survey showed.
The quick survey conducted by ummid.com amidst the ongoing debate on the subject following pleas in the Supreme Court by the Modi government and some women activists seeking a ban on polygamy also showed that there are just 02 men in this hugely Muslim populated city who have three wives.
According to 2011 Census report, population of Malegaon is 471,312. The government however extended the city limit later on by inducting six villages, taking the population of Malegaon to about 07 lakh people. The Census 2011 report also says that Malegaon is a Muslim majority city in India with approximately 78.95% of city population following Islam as their religion.
Islamic Shariah rules allow Muslims to marry two, three or a maximum of four wives. "And if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with orphan-girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice", Quran says in Surah An-Nisa Ayath: 03.
Team ummid.com went to each and every Muhallah and ward of Malegaon, and spoke to men and women residing in the area about the men living there with two, three or four wives to check the claim that the practice is widespread among Muslims and due to which rights of women and gender equality are at risk.
"After speaking to as an average 5-7 people in each ward (there are a total of 40 wards in the city), we could count as many as 151 men who are living with two wives", Shahid Faizee and Muqtadir Faizee, who led the survey, said.
"About men living with three wives, we found just 02 and none with four wives", they added.
"It was also found that there are areas in Malegaon where not a single man could be traced with two wives. In some areas one, two or three men could be found who have more than one wife", they said.
The quick survey conducted by team ummid.com is random and just an indicator, and does not give a final figure. But, the results are enough to expose the claim that polygamy, which becomes necessary in certain situation and hence permission in Islam is a blessing, is widespread among Muslims.
Interestingly, the survey also showed that among those who are living with two wives are two former MLAs, few ex-corporators, a rich businessman who has recently been awarded for record Income Tax return, two hoteliers and some teachers.
"One out of the two men we found living with 03 wives is also a famous hotelier", they said.
"More interestingly, most of the couples and their children are living in total peace and there is no dispute reported among them, except minor issues which are there in every family", the survey showed.
The survey also showed that there are a good number of men in the city who have lost their wives five and ten years ago. Yet they chose to remain unmarried and refuse to marry a second wife.
As against above survey, there are data available to show that across India Hindus outnumber Muslims when it comes to marrying more than one woman. This despite the fact that neither the Hindu Marriage Act nor the Hindu religion allows a Hindu to marry other woman if his wife is alive. It is hence the second wife of a Hindu man is neither recognized by society nor given the legal status of 'wife'.
The ummid.com quick survey was conducted following a number of petitions filed in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on polygamy. The matter took a political turn after the Modi government filed an affidavit on October 07 supporting the ban on polygamy along with nikah-e-halala and concurrent talaq.
"Polygamy, and triple talaq and nikah-e-halala have different references and rules in the Islamic Shariah. While no one consider nikah-e-halala as permissible and halal, there are conflicting views on triple talaq. But, polygamy is the subject on which there is no difference among Muslims", Abdur Rahman Madani, a scholar, said.
"The Quran and Shriah rules are very clear on polygamy. The permisison is given because marrying more than two women sometimes becomes necessary. By giving such a permission, Islam also encourages marrying widows and oppressed", he added.
"It should also be kept in mind that this is not a free license to Muslim men to have four wives. The permission comes with strict guidelines. The Quran says if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with them then don't marry more than one woman", he said.