A Saudi woman demands Polyandry

December 27th, 2009 by Shakir Lakhani

Years ago, I read about someone asking Imam Abu Hanifa about why a woman was not allowed to have more than one husband. He asked his daughter (Hanifa) and she is reported to have said, “If she has more than one husband, how can anyone explain whose child it is that she has borne?” So the great Imam (who is followed by most Sunni Muslims) explained that this was the reason why Islam forbade a woman to be married to more than one man. Now a Saudi woman in Egypt has asked why polyandry (the custom of women having more than one husband) should not be allowed, since DNA testing is now easily available to determine parenthood.

Most people may not be aware that polyandry has been practiced in many places throughout history. It is still the custom for a woman to have more than one husband in certain parts of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and even in India. No one knows why the practice originated, although it may have been found necessary in societies where the number of men outnumbered the women. In Pakistan today, for instance, there are 106 men for every 100 women, which means that half a million Pakistani males will never be able to marry (unless they marry men or go to other countries to find marriage partners). In the Middle East (particularly the U.A.E.), the number of men in most countries is much more than the number of women.

What would happen if a mysterious disease struck women only and there would be only one woman for two men? I know that the Abrahamic religions (to which Islam belongs) strictly forbid polyandry. Would the priests, rabbis and mullahs then get together and allow women to have more than one husband?