ARGUMENTS POSED IN DEFENSE OF ISLAM:
Polygamy means a system of marriage whereby one person has more than one spouse.
Polygamy can be of two types. One is polygyny where a man marries more than one woman, and the other is polyandry, where a woman marries more than one man. In Islam, limited polygyny (up till four wives) is permitted; whereas polyandry is completely prohibited.
I agree with your definitions.
”Qur’an is the only religion on the face of the earth that allows men having up till four wives, Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
"Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one." Al-Qur’an (4:3)
Before the Qur’an was revealed, there was no upper limit for "polygyny" and many men had many wives, some even hundreds. Islam put an upper limit of four wives. Islam gives a man permission to marry two, three or four women, only on the condition that he deals justly with them.
So, Islam came to control having an infinite number of wives, like it was during the Pre-Islamic era.”
First of all, Islam wasn’t the only religion that laid restriction to the number of women that a man can marry. Here are some verses from the bible talking about monogamy.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (1 Timothy 3:2 ) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (1 Timothy 3:12) If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. (Titus 1:6) "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Ephesians 5 :31) Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (NIV Matt 19.8-9, pp. Mark 10.1-12)
The key thing to note here is that this argument fails if polygamy is acceptable! Jesus' point is that improper divorce does not nullify a marriage, and if the first marriage still stands, then a "second" marriage is adultery--and NOT simply 'polygamy'! This is very clear.
then polygamy wasn’t practiced as widely as claimed.
1. Polygamy was NOT practiced in Greek and Roman societies of the time:
"Even though we may find numerous traces of polygamy and polyandry in the Gk. myths, monogamy predominated in the Gk. world in the historical period. Morality within marriage was strict. The Homeric hero had one wife, who was faithful and inviolable, a good manager of the home and mother. Gk. marriage was monogamous. [NIDNTT:s.v. "Marriage, adultery, bride, bridegroom"]
"Polygamy was not practiced in the Roman world outside Palestine, though illegal bigamy and certainly adultery were. [EBC: in.loc. 1 Tim 3]
2. Polygamy was practiced somewhat in 1st century Palestinian Judaism (by the government/aristocratic leaders):
"In the Second Temple period, Jewish society was, at least theoretically, polygamous, like other oriental societies of the time but in contrast to the neighboring Greek and Roman societies...."[HI:JWGRP:85] "There is evidence of the practice of polygamy in Palestinian Judaism in NT times (cf. J. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period, 1969, 90, 93, 369f.). Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.) had ten wives (Josephus, Ant. 17, 19f.; War 1,562) and a considerable harem (War 1,511). Polygamy and concubinage among the aristocracy is attested by Josephus, Ant. 12, 186ff.; 13, 380; War 1, 97. The continued practice of levirate marriage (Yeb. 15b)...