I'd like to talk with you about polygamy. This point caught my attention. Some say that since polygamy is permitted by the Qur'an, it must be accepted.

God created human beings as noble. We always seek the good and beautiful, but may not always find them. Sometimes when we seek our rights, we encounter what is false. While seeking the truth, we can acquire vain and ugly things. In my opinion, seeking and falling into error while seeking are a part of the road to knowledge and truth. This shouldn't be seen as strange. Maybe stagnation, insensitivity, and not searching and investigating should be viewed as something strange. The dangerous thing is stagnation and insensitivity that kills the development of people's talents.

Over time, we have strayed from certain values. Today we're seeking the truth. While doing this, unfortunately, sides are taken and camps appear. If only this weren't the case. If only "we and they" weren't said. If only there wasn't the view that we are always right and they are always wrong. If only we could close the fragmentation of our society's structure inside of us, without leaving any trace.

Everyone has a destination of his or her own to go to and views everything from the perspective of his or her destination. This causes fragmentation, especially in a society that has not evolved intellectually. First of all, we should learn to respect others' views and how to live together in peace.

There's division because the basis of common morality and thought is not fully understood, or because these are different for everyone. We've not fully comprehended how we can live together despite having different viewpoints on certain subjects. Everyone looks at the issue from one perspective according to his or her own truths. The other side looks with its own truths. Without doubt there are points of truth on both sides. During a certain period, in order to defend themselves, some insistently emphasized marriage with four women.

I'd like to talk about the spirit of the issue. First of all, there's no record in the Qur'an or the hadith that it's sunna to marry more than one woman by means of a religious ceremony. In the Sura of Women, permission to marry more than one woman under special circumstances is mentioned only as a license or a special permission. However, marrying just one woman is encouraged to the degree of being mandatory. Thus, no one can consider marrying four women a matter of fulfilling a sunna; they can't claim to have fulfilled any religious law by doing so.

Another side of the issue is this: There is license as well as resolution in religion. Resolution is choosing the difficult side of a matter. Although no one can force you to do it, for example, someone might get up at night and, because of enthusiasm and a heartfelt desire to bow before God, observe a long prayer vigil. This might be done to receive the blessings God will give at that moment. But someone else might choose a small act of worship or one kalima-i tawhid (pronouncing God's unity).

The essence of the matter is this: Be others' advocate and your own prosecutor. We must interrogate ourselves. Thus, acting with resolution means self-questioning, doing the difficult part of a job, choosing the hard way, or being a candidate for the difficult.

License means that God allows something easy, for the sake of expansion and comfort. There are Qur'anic verses and hadiths on this subject. In Sufism, acting with resolution is essential for those who choose the spiritual life. In religion, those who deem polygamy lawful see it as a license. There can be times when it is necessary, such as during war when many women may be left in a vulnerable position. In order to close roads leading to sin, they must be able to obtain lawful pleasures in a lawful way. Also, widows in need must be considered. Religion doesn't just address this century; it addresses all centuries. Every century takes from religion what suits it and what is necessary. A person determined to draw closer to God and be a good Muslim prefers resolution to license.

Sharani, a famous Sufi, said: "Dervishes should act with resolution." On the one hand, people must try Sufism and reason, and, on the other hand, must ask if something is really necessary and if there are conditions for using the license. They must study their choice sincerely and see if it meets with God's approval. Without doing all of these, they will use the full license and show this as a measure for Islam and Muslimness. This is no more than dressing their own faults and human weakness in a religious robe. July 20-29, 1997

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