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Polygyny

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Polygyny

    Practice according to which one man may have several wives simultaneously; a controversial issue in modern Islamic societies. Polygyny is a pre-Islamic practice from Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean that continued in Islam. However, the Quran limited the number of wives a man may marry simultaneously to four. Shiis debate whether the limitation applies only to permanent marriages or mutah (temporary marriages) as well. Many modern Islamic nations have either outlawed or regulated polygyny (Egypt, 1920 ; Sudan, 1929 ; India, 1939 ; Jordan, 1951 ; Syria, 1953 ; Tunisia, 1956 ; Morocco, 1958 ; Iraq, 1959 ; Pakistan, 1961 ; Turkey, 1971 ; and South Yemen, 1974 ), although many traditionalists consider a man's right to four wives essential to the Islamic concept of marriage.

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