If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial. (Qur’an 4:3)
This verse is the basis for Islamic polygamy, allowing a man to take as many as four wives, as long as he believes he is able to “deal justly” with all of them. But justice in these circumstances is in the eye of the beholder. Ibn Kathir says this the requirement to deal justly with one”s wives is no big deal, since treating them justly isn’t the same as treating them equally: “it is not obligatory to treat them equally, rather it is recommended. So if one does so, that is good, and if not, there is no harm on him.”
In Kigali last week, thousands of mourners trekked through a thick predawn fog to converge on Amahoro Stadium. By midmorning, in hot, raking sunshine, they filled the stands.
The Army band, with sousaphones flashing, marched to the center of the field, arrayed itself there on a round stage, and began softly playing solemn hymns. President Paul Kagame arrived, along with a dozen other sitting and former heads of state from Africa and Europe. The sky clouded over. The air smelled like rain.
A tall man in a brown suit appeared on the stage. He said that he was Fidel, a genocide survivor, and he started to tell how he was supposed to have been killed. Then the screaming began. The first voice was like a gull’s, a series of wild, high keening cries; the next was lower and slower, strangled with ache, but growing steadily louder in a drawn-out crescendo; after that came a frantic, full-throated babbling—a cascade of terrible, terrified pleading wails.