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Should a Christian man, who was a Muslim married to several wives, divorce his wives after he becomes a Christian?
Answers to a Question from Nigeria
How the Koran has Changed God's Old Testament and New Testament Commandments on Monogamy and Polygamy
(by Salam Falaki)


The next two cases will be treated together. These are the cases when a spouse passes away and the widower or the widow remarry a new spouse.

(remarriage of widowers) and
(remarriage of widows)
Torah: Allowed
Gospel: Allowed
Koran: Allowed (women only after a waiting time)

OLD TESTAMENT: The Old Testament nowhere commands or explicitly allows the remarriage of a widow of a widower. However indirectly it seems to have been nothing unusual as can be seen from this commandment regarding priests: "A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he (the priest) shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people." (Leviticus 21:14) This means that contrary to priests, other men in Israel did marry widows. No mention is made of widowers, probably because it was normal for them to remarry after their wife passed away. -- There is a special case, however, which is unusual: levirate marriage, i.e. a widow marries her brother-in-law after her husband passes away without leaving male offspring. (See Deuteronomy 25:5-10 for the details) This is what Ruth made use of, when she married Boaz, an ancestor of King David (See Ruth 3 and 4 for the details). Levirate marriage could imply polygyny (one man being simultaneously married to more than one woman), even though the Old Testament nowhere explicitly indicates this. -- Many times widows had a difficult and precarious life. Therefore they play an important role in the mercy laws of the LORD. Here is one example: "22 'You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 'If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry,' 24 'and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless" (Exodus 22:22-24).

NEW TESTAMENT: The subject of widows plays an important role in the Gospels and the New Testament letters. Widows clearly had the right and sometimes even the duty to remarry after their husbands died. Here are examples: "A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:39). --- "1 Or do you not know, brothers -- for I am speaking to those who know the law -- that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. 3 But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress" (Romans 7:1-3). - "So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander" (1 Timothy 5:14). --- "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). --- "She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day" (1 Timothy 5:5). -- Also here widowers are rarely mentioned in this context, because they are regarded as men, who can remarry after their wife passed away.

KORAN: Also in Islam, widows are allowed to remarry. However they have to spend some time alone before remarrying in order to be sure that they are not pregnant from their deceased husbands: "And those of you who die and leave wives behind them, they (the wives) shall wait (before remarrying) for four months and ten days, then when they have fulfilled their term, there is no sin on you regarding what they (the widows) do to themselves (in remarrying) (as long as this is done) in a just and honorable manner. And Allah is well-instructed in what you do." (Sura 2:234) -- So the Koran here has taken over the New Testament rights of a widow in remarrying, and has added the waiting period for the widows to secure their not being pregnant when remarrying. -- Widowers are not mentioned explicitly in the Koran.

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