Reply: The only religious book that says: "... then marry only once" is the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims. This injunction is not found in the Christian Bible in the Hindu Geeta, or in the Jewish holy book etc. In the Bible there are so many references to various prophets and kings who had numerous wives. Abraham had three wives, while King Solomon had seven hundred wives, etc. In the Hindu literature the various gods have hundreds of wives. Krishna had one thousand women and concubines. Similarly, the Jews used to marry more than once, till as late as the 1950s. None of these faiths regulated the number of wives a man could have at a time. Only Islam limits the wives to four.

The monogamy that the Christians, the Hindus, and Jews practice today, is not from their religion, but from their government. So the issue of monogamy has no religious significance; it is a man-made rule. Monogamy was the result of an act of parliament, not their faith. Example: The Indian Parliament in 1954 passed the Hindu Marriage Act prohibiting the Hindu male from taking up more than one wife. The Jewish Rabbis in the 10th Century AD made monogamy a rule, although it was not enforced till as late as the 1950s. Similarly, the European countries and the American government passed laws to make monogamy the rule in their lands some time ago. Mormons still marry more than once.

In Surah Nissah God allows a Muslim to marry, one, two, three or four women as long as he can do justice between them. If the man can't do justice, the exhortation for him is: "... then marry only once".

Marrying more than once is not compulsory, but only an option to tide over unique circumstances that societies face from time to time. You will find in many societies today that the ratio between females and males is not 50:50. There are more females than males in Europe, USA and elsewhere. On the other hand, in India, because of the rampant female fetus abortions, the number of females is dropping, and a crisis is in the making, as not enough number of females will be available for Hindu men to marry a few years from now.

The option for women in countries with a bigger female ratio than male is to share a husband with another women, to remain single, or to become public property. "Become public property" is a decent phrase I'm using for what it really means. Ask any woman who cannot find an unmarried man to marry, if it is a better choice to share a husband with another woman, to remain single, or to become a mere mistress. As a lawfully wedded wife she will get the same right as the first wife, get legal status for herself and her children, get inheritance rights for herself and her children, and most importantly, get respect and dignity. Becoming a mistress is no choice. In the West becoming a mistress or a girlfriend is no problem, but becoming a second wife is totally unacceptable. The government will come after you, the society will come after you...
By Dr. Zakir Naik