Is Polygamy Cheating?

Bismillah:In the Name of Allah.swt

” Umar Al-Khatāb (ra) wrote to Abū Mūsa Al-̔Asharī (ra), “Returning to the truth is better than stubbornness on falsehood.”

Is polygamy cheating??

My Atheist/Agnostic/’Muslim Atheist’ readers,  without contemplating ,in an extreme rush and happiness on their faces, would immediately answer the question before us, affirmatively .But did they even think about the question seriously before they answered? Did they call into question those assumptions which were at work in answering this question? , NO, I would argue.

Let’s spice up the situation, let’s assume that atheism is true i.e. there IS NO God, we are just an accidental by-product of  blind evolutionary process ,which doesn’t aim at truth value rather aims at survival value, and which is responsible for our moral beliefs[a].Thus there is No ultimate accountability, no ultimate purpose, No after life. Let’s approach the question “is polygamy cheating [1]?” from a very Secular point of view i.e. without reference to some transcendent anchor point i.e. God.

I am Abdullah, suppose, I am married to wife W1, but after 2 years I decide to take 2nd wife ,say would –be –wife “WW2”. Is that cheating ?,suppose I am arguing with an arguer ,say” AA”, who “believes” that this is cheating.

AA: Yes this is cheating.

Abdullah: Your answer has many background assumptions for e.g. You are assuming that I ought NOT to take a 2nd wife if I am already married and that’s why you are begging the question. Why am I supposed to follow your assumption? I don’t have this assumption in my worldview. And I am a person who has free will, I can very well take another wife. And did you think from WW2’s perspective?? She may be saying ”Oh thanks God finally I have found my prince charming ”From hers perspective those who impose their own moral assumptions on others  i.e. one ought not to do polygamy “  are tyrants, immoral and unjust people. Now ,I ask, who is right? Those who say argue from w1’s perspective [2]  or those who argue from WW2’s perspective?. Who is gonna decide?

AA: Well you married W1 first therefore she has more right on you.

Abdullah: What?? Where did you get it from? Again another assumption i.e.   W1 has  more right on you thus you ought not to marry WW2 ” who says so?  Who’s gonna decide whether my W1 has more right on me or not? You??  Am i your slave[3]?? I don’t see any reason for this assumption, so due to your assumption again you are begging the question . Moreover the WW2 can argue that my WILL of taking 2nd wife or involving in polygamous relationship ,shows that I ‘preferred’ 2nd wife over the first or I willed to marry her so, from W2’s perspective ,she has more right over me .Again who is gonna decide who Is right?

AA: Polygamy is cheating cause you don’t ask for W1’s permission.

Abdullah: Huh!!  Another moral assumption i.e doing something without asking for permission is WONG, WHO says so? You??? If you think its wrong, okay , don’t do it, I’ll do it. Dont you think you are imposing on me your own moral rules?. How about thinking from WW2’s perspective? She’ll argue that making it necessary that a husband should seek permission from   W1 before involving into polygamous relationship, is simply limiting husband’s  liberty .Furthermore she’ll argue that this ruling will have an impact on her own happiness .Then, once again , I’ll ask who’ll decide who is right?

AA: If you involve in polygamous relationship W1 will get hurt.

Abdullah: Another elementary moral assumption, why think hurting someone is wrong? I may get pleasure by hurting someone, why are you ignoring the pleasure that I get in hurting someone and focusing on hurt?? What if hurting someone is in my self-interest ? After all its just survival of the fittest.So if hurt some and get fit then why shouldn’t I consider my-own well-being? And  often it is said that one should impose one’s own moral rules on others. So aren’t you imposing on me your own moral rule on others by saying that no one has the right to hurt others?. So there is NO reason to suppose that hurting someone is wrong .Moreover W1 will ONLY  get hurt if she has assumed that a man ought not to involve in polygamous relationship, but if she simply remove this redundant and self-centered assumption then she’ll not get hurt. Furthermore WW2 will argue that if W1 gets hurt then, at the same time, she will get happy plus Abdullah is also happy in taking her as 2nd wife. So whose feeling should we prefer?

AA:ummm ,hmmm, polygamy is injustice as per Humanism or Humanity.

Abdullah: What??? This is a hilarious objection leme laugh for a while :))))))))))))))))))). Ahem Ahem let’s start; ‘TO HELL WITH YOUR HUMANISM OR HUMANITY’ .  Why are you imposing YOUR version of Humanism on me??. arent you going against your own moral rule that one ought not to impose one’s own moral rules on others? Am i a salve of humanists? If you are, don’t do polygamy. Furthermore, WW2’s version of humanism simply incorporates polygamy and why think hers version is wrong and W1’s or your version is right?

AA:Hang one, hang on if I  follow your way of reasoning then not only polygamy isn’t cheating but also raping ,mass murder and all atrocities would be justified.

Abdullah: Hayy man I LOVE you, you are so intelligent ,that’s what I wanted to show that on our worldview, namely atheism, right and wrong are subjective i.e some actions might be right for you not for others , from this follows that if we don’t wanna rape, mass murder etc  then okay,  but those who wanna do they have their desires , So who is gonna decide who’s is right?

AA: But living with such a horrible worldview is impossible!!! What should we do?

Abdullah: Meri jaan on our view their no solution to this conundrum.

AA: Cant science help us?

Abdullah:This is simply impossible cause science is AMORAL, how can you show in a test tube that raping ,mass murder etc are wrong?, listen to what  Peter Atkins , a British chemist and former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford , says

“science can shed light on life-and -death questions.It shows us that there can be no moral distinction between an administered poison and one that  the body itself has slowly generated”[b]

Notice he is saying that there is no moral distinction b/w poising someone and that person dying natural death.WOW if i were he and my wife believed ,what Atkins said, then i’ll start eating food in restaurants  🙂


Conclusion: In above dialogue I was trying to defend a proposition of a famous atheist philosopher of the 19th century ,namely Nietzsche and he was of the view “Morality “has truth only if God is the truth —it stands or falls with faith in God” (Nietzsche 1968, p. 70).I have clearly demonstrated that in the absence of a transcendent anchor point i.e God, morality is just a personal preference , so the best that can be said is that mass murderers have their desires and the rest of us have ours. We don’t like their desires and they don’t like ours. So as it turns out the majority prevents them from acting on their desires through law and institutions and will satisfy their desire to punish them if they violate the desires of the majority. All that can be said here is that “might makes right” and the desires of the stronger side wins, but what if the Nazis had won?. So when I see atheists attacking religion, I simply laugh on their childish activity cause they say we cannot see God therefore God doesn’t exist and when they attack religion and make moral judgments they take  the existence of some ELEMENTARY MORAL VALUES(EMV) i.e justice is good, unnecessary hurting is wrong etc ON FAITH!!!. Well why take them on faith when we have no empirical evidence for their existence? If the atheists have to take EMV on faith then why not move a step further and take God’s existence on faith?. Even if they take the existence of these EMV on faith it wouldn’t solve the problem cause you need a morally perfect authority to impose those values and if a person doesn’t obey the rules then that morally perfect being can held the perpetrator accountable. On atheism there is no morally perfect authority to impose moral obligation and that’s the reason Richard Taylor, an eminent ethicist, correctly concludes “Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.”[4]

leme address some common contentions

1:“you are saying that atheists are simply immoral people”

 No, I never said that  rather I am saying that on their view morality is subjective and there is no objective authority to decide what is morality thus they cannot condemn atrocities. Atheists can be moral people, due to subjective morality raping maybe wrong for you but not for the rapist.Furthermore, on their view there is NO reason to be moral esp when being moral goes against one’s self-interest”.

2:“well there are many religions and every religion has its own moral rules, whose morality is right ? whose morality is from God?.”

Well the purpose of this note was NOT to argue in favor of any religion[5] rather I just wanted to make a couple of points.When atheists attack religious morality ,their discourse is meaningless as per Richard Taylor and thus they have no right to attack religion unless they address the following two points

I:How ,given an evolutionary account of our moral beliefs,on atheism, objective moral values and duties can exist?

II: What is the ontological foundation for these moral values and duties ,if they exist on atheism? .

if an atheist attacks religions’  morality without addressing above points ,he is simply being disingenuous and inconsistent with his worldview and thus his critique is to be rejected.

Now just because different religions have different morality[there are umpteen common points as well] therefore all religion are wrong?

If people disagree on something , it doesn’t mean truth doesnt exist. People may disagree due some implicit assumptions or their vested interest, so let the arguments decide not the quantity of difference of opinion about the truth. Suppose you want to go to America and you have to travel by plane, now suppose there are 7 airlines and every airline claims to be the best, would you say that “Oh every airline is claiming to be the best it follows all are lying and no one is the best and let’s not go to America”….. Oh Man this sort of reasoning is SUPER fallacious.

3: Now if a person has seen the truth that the  moral discourse is simply meaningless without reference to some transcendent anchor point i.e God and he feels the standard of goodness that exists, he agrees that we are moral beings and there are some moral laws and  if there are some moral laws there has to a moral law giver . Now at this point  to ground his morality ,he’ll ask questions like is religion possible? Is there any true religion?. So when he analyzes any religion’s veracity he has to let his own moral standard,which in reality not his own rather a combination of society’s and his own feelings, go and then think of religion from a logical point of view. Cause Due to the complexity of life and incomprehensible ways in which the events are related with each other it’s really beyond our comprehension to be able to see all moral implications of an event and come up with a solid moral judgment cause we are beings who are not only limited in intellect but also in space and time.We look events from a very limited frame of reference .Leme give an example suppose  you find a  paper and on that paper it’s written “ there are two persons P1 and P2 ,P1 is given 8 Kg to lift and P2 is given 16 Kg to lift “ now suppose I ask you to pass a moral judgment on the aforementioned issue, what would your answer be? A sheer superficial person , say “A”,would say “Ah! See P1 is given 8 Kg and P2 is Given 16 kg …P2 is given more than P1 to lift and both P1 and P2 are human beings and thus this is simply INJUSTICE” .But suppose I give you some background info that P1 is just 12 years old and P2 is 24 years old and both P1 and P2 are normal Human beings. Now don’t you think that “A”’s moral judgment is wrong? don’t you? .Let me make situation more interesting , suppose you are in a position that you’ll never be able to know that background info which I just told you, so will you appeal to your ignorance[6] by saying ”that I am not able to know the background info therefore sheer injustice is done with P2” would you conclude that?. I hope NO. So moral judgments are contingent on background info .Now suppose you have Good reason to believe that God exists and You have Good reasons to believe that a religion , say “U”, is true and as per “Ü” God has many attributes  like the supreme Good,The Just ,the wise etc and suppose God asks P1 to lift 8Kg and P2 to 16Kg and No background info is given so wouldn’t you conclude that if the God asked P1 to lift 8Kg and P2 to 16Kg ,and He is by nature Good and thus the greatest Good,he is The Just and The Wise then surely this commandment is based on justice even if I am not able to see the wisdom and justice cause rationality breeds rationality .If this commandment comes from God then this has to be rational and just .So with this background info you’ll conclude that the command was perfectly based on justice. And that’s why I ask people who wanna analyze the veracity of any religion, they should let go their own moral standards and look a the religion from logical[7] point of view.So the argument goes like this

1:If God exists and U is the true religion, then any commandment that emanates from U’s religious text must be rational,even if we are unable to see rationality behind it.

2:God exists and U is the true religion.

3:U says do X.


Therefore it’s rational to do X .

If you assume that (2) is true or you have Good reasons to believe (2), the conclusion follows. Notice i tried to summarize above para into an argument.Here i am not arguing for any religion.I am just saying that when you analyze veracity of any religion then dont do that by assuming  moral standards cause we are limited beings and thus we are unable comprehend the complexity of life and thus may commit errors in making moral judgments due to our limitation or lack of background knowledge.

[a] If evolutionary account of human morality is true, then our moral beliefs are simply the result of biological and social evolution. So suppose evolution evolved a human like creatures on a distant planet. And as per their moral beliefs raping is morally good etc. suppose they happened to visit earth and they find our women and say “Ah! Women start raping”. Now I’ll ask considering the fact that our and aliens’ morality is the result of biological and social evolution ,who’ll decide whose morality is right? I leave it on my atheist brothers and sisters to decide.

[1]Does cheating really exist on atheism?  Not to mention the worst problems and questions which atheists have to address before they move to make moral judgments like “does evil exist, If God doesn’t exist?  What is evil? , The answer would be “when things are NOT what they ought to be “ but it means “when thing are ,what they out to be “ is Good and thus right. But how do we know that “things aren’t the way what they ought to be ?” it means there exists, a standard of goodness to which we all look up to, but how can Goodness exists without God? Keep pondering…..

[2] Even this is an assumption, that 1st wife will always be unhappy from her husband if he takes 2nd wife, what if the 2nd wife LIKES and agrees that her husband can involve in polygamous relationship? Then should we say polygamy is not cheating? .Thus the assumption that first wife will also be unhappy is NOT necessarily true.

[3] This point calls into question, provided that one pays heed, another moral assumption of Humanism i.e. everyone is born free. I’d argue, if atheism is true, this assumption is wrong, cause if I and my wife brought a child into this world then WE are the masters and the child is a slave. Had we not decided to bring this child, he wouldn’t have come into this world. So this justifies slavery in the absence of God 😉

[4] Richard Taylor. Ethics, Faith, and Reason. p. 83–84.

[5] If am not arguing for any specific religion NOW, it doesn’t mean I cannot argue for that specific religion 😉 .

[6] This a logical fallacy appeal to ignorance i.e just because wisdom cannot be seen or known therefore a particular commandment is false or unjust or there is no is wisdom behind it.

[7] We really have to define what do we mean by logical point of view before we start analyzing the veracity of any religion. Many a times our logical standard is simply faulty and based on some assumptions which preclude a person from seeing the truth and thus the person ends up with wrong conclusion.

[b]  Peter Atkins “Will science ever fail?” New scientist 135 (August 8 1992) P. 34,even Dawkins agrees that science cant answer moral question 🙂 .

*Written by Peace Mission

Leave a Reply