Banning Polygamy in Iran Could Encourage Prostitution, Majlis Member Says

By Reza Hamidi

Islamic marital jurisprudence (Sharia law), which allows Muslim men to have up to four wives, helps to avert a social crisis, according to Ali Motahari, a member of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) representing Tehran, Rey, Shemiranat, and Eslamshahr.

Mr. Motahari, who many regard as a conservative intellectual, spoke in an interview with the Tehran-based Asr Iran news website.

“Mortality rates are higher for men than women in most societies because of war, workplace incidents, and illnesses,” Motahari said. “As a result, there are usually more unmarried women than single men. So a ban on polygamy would deprive many eligible single women of their right to get married.”

“Not every man may have more than one wife,” Motahari noted. “There are certain conditions and criteria. Men who have the financial means, physical capability, and emotional and psychological maturity would be eligible to form polygamous families. The Islamic Republic could even play a role in determining whether a man has the right qualifications to be polygamous.”

[aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” credit=”FILE PHOTO: Ali Motahari (R), talks to Iran’s Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi” align=”center” lightbox=”off” captionsrc=”custom” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“Failure to enforce this [Sharia] law would promote prostitution and [moral] corruption, given the current social climate in the country,” Motahari warned. “That does not mean that we should actively promote the idea and urge everyone to do it. It should not become a common occurrence. Only men who meet the criteria can marry multiple women. We would face several social issues if we, indiscriminately, allow every man to be polygamous.”

Asked about the emotional impact of polygamy on a family, Motahari noted: “Undoubtedly, monogamy is better than polygamy. However, this solves a particular social problem. What is the best course of action when there are 3 million more single women than men in a society who want to get married? We cannot deny these women their social and moral rights to form a family. There is no other solution. Also, we cannot expect the government to manage the situation. That is why Islam has made a wise ruling on the issue.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]