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Polygamy


In the MENA region, polygamy is practiced in 19 of 22 countries. Exceptions are Israel, Turkey and Tunisia.
Polygamy is largely linked to Islam, but in African nations like Sudan and Mauritania, local traditions keep polygamy alive.
In the case the 3 exceptions, Turkey has a secular state ideology, as well as a large part of the population not being Muslims. In the case of Israel, they country is founded on Judaism which does not practice polygamy. The case of Tunisia, which is not a secular state and with close to 100% Muslims, therefore is an odd exception in the MENA region.
The former regulation in Druze religion that allowed polygamy is no longer practiced., but this is
Polygamy is linked to the Muslim traditions of every country, a regulation expressedly permitted by Sharia, Muslim law. Practices varies between countries, somewhat for regulations, but more in culture.

In Islam
Male polygamy is accepted in Islam, up to 4 wives. It is expressively permitted in the Koran:

Koran sura 4: Women
3 But if ye fear that ye cannot do justice between orphans, then marry what seems good to you of women, by twos, or threes, or fours; and if ye fear that ye cannot be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands possess. That keeps you nearer to not being partial.
This has survived well into Sharia, Muslim law, in all systems. Many Muslims consider this regulation one that man shall not question, even when they themselves prefer monogamy.

Algeria
Algeria has in recent years imposed regulations that make polygamous marrige difficult to contract. Polygamy is rare in modern Algeria.

Bahrain
Polygamy is far from uncommon in Bahrain.

Egypt
Egypt allows polygamy, but it is rare, and it is debated to outlaw the practice. Still, Egypt became one of the first countries to introduce misyar marriage, a secondary form of marriage that makes it easy for a man to have several wives.

Iran
Shi'i regulations permits a man to marry up to 4 wives, just as the custom is in Sunni Islam. In Iran, the law states that polygamy can only happen with the consent of the first wife. However, it conflicts with cultural preferences, and is little practiced.
Still, in Iran, short-time Mut'a marriage is practiced, which permits a man to have more than his one regular wife at one time, and without seeking his wife's consent.
In 2008 a bill to allow polygamy with first wife consent was tried passed, but met much resistance and was stopped.

Iraq
Polygamy was illegal in Iraq from 1959 until 1963, when it was permitted under certain circumstances. In 1994 restrictions were eased up further, allowing easy regulations for Muslim men to take more than one wife. It is accepted individually, a man has to present his case for a judge to obtain permission. Polygamy is generally accepted in Iraqi cultures.
Strict limitations to polygamy were introduced in Kurdistan in 2008, involving a man to take no more than one extra wife, and only in cases where the first could not have children or suffered from disease.

Jordan
Polygamy is practiced to some extent in Jordan, and mainly in rural areas. Legally there are no restrictions except the injunction that a man must treat all wives equally and provide them with separate dwellings. A man must declare his social status in each marriage contract.

Kuwait
In Kuwait about 10% of marriages are into polygamous relationships. Government bodies encourages polygamy as it is considered the only way for many unmarried women a chance to marry.
Polygamy is mainly practiced among the affluent, it is rare among the poorer in society.

Lebanon
Polygamy is permitted for Muslims in Lebanon, but in national culture it is not a common practice. In the few cases of polygamy, it often happens that an older man takes a young second wife. Three or four wives is almost non-existent.

Libya
Libya allows polygamous marriage if the first wife accepts.

Mauritania
Mauritania has no legal restrictions on polygamy, but a first wife can include in her marriage contract that if her husband marries another woman, her marriage is dissolved. Polygamy is practiced mainly within the non-Moorish populations.

Morocco
Morocco has imposed some restrictions upon polygamous marriage. Culturally it is also little practiced, except among the rich.

Oman
Polygamy is not uncommon in Oman, and the only measure a first wife has to protest against it, is by divorcing when her husband marries a second wife.

Palestine
Palestine has no legal restrictions on polygamy, but a first wife can include in her marriage contract that if her husband marries another woman, her marriage is dissolved.

Qatar
Polygamy is far from uncommon in Qatar, but is increasingly less practiced. Reports suggest that about 10% of men have more than one wife, but that today less than 4% of new marriages are polygamous. Only 0.3% involve 3 or 4 wives.
Qatar law permits a woman to divorce if her husband decides to take another wife.

Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, law makes it easy for a man to marry more than one wife. Such marriages are common in all parts of the country.
Research has shown that polygamy causes increased divorce rates; first wives that do not accept polygamy.

Sudan
In Sudan, polygamy is quite common, and even encouraged by the authorities. It has been practiced not only by Muslims, but also Christians.

Syria
Syria has strict regulations on polygamy. A first wife must accept that her husband takes a second wife, and the man must get a permission from a court before such marriage takes place. Still, polygamy is practiced without regard to the law, often in communities where tradition is strong and knowledge about civil law limited.

United Arab Emirates
In United Arab Emirates polygamy is popular and encouraged by the authorities.

Yemen
Yemen has few restrictions on polygamy. About 7% of Yemeni women are in a polygamous marriage. It is more common in the mountains, and less in the coastal regions and in cities. It is also more common among those with little education.




By Tore Kjeilen