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Author Topic: Polygany Anyone?  (Read 16785 times)
Abdullah (*
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« on: Aug 23, 2010 07:06 PM »


As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.                                                                 My wife and I were discussing polygany just to discuss it. (No plans or anything lol.) We talked about the positives and negatives and I noticed, as a general rule, women flat out don't like it, or even agree with it. I understand why it's such a sensitive subject and why women generally don't agree with polygany but men seem to be silent. How do you brothers feel?
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skhansj
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 25, 2010 11:55 AM »

w'salaam wb dear Brother Abdullah,

This is such a coincidence. I debated this point with a friend recently, and as with most of our debates, we dug up evidence. I'll share them with you, and you can come to your own conclusions. We decided that although it is allowed, this is not always a wise decision (though is some cases it may be).


If anyone is married I would like to caution that this is a sensitive topic, and not one to joke around about. Everytime you bring it up in jest, the husband will very seriously hurt their wife's feelings, and it could badly impact the relationship, trust and love between the two of them.


Points supporting Polygyny:

1. The Islamic rulings are pretty clear on it. It is allowed, and you don't need the permission of the first wife (as some people believe). It is clearly allowed in the Quraan (.. marry two, three or four) ...

with those who cannot do justice being advised to only marry one

'... if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one or one that your right hands posses .. ' (taken from http://www.unh.edu/msa/iiie13.htm).

So, having said that, I don't think that it is permissible for anyone to deny the 'halalness' of polygyny. This is an especially hard test for the sisters who would understandably react negatively to the thought of having to share their husband.

2. Men are also naturally polygamous (as they do not have to bear children), while women are satisfied with a single husband. Thus the permissibility for polygyny and also the reason for the prohibition of polygamous scenarios where a woman would theoretically have multiple husbands (which is not allowed). Most men, except those who are the most shy of controversy, or the wisest (who know when to keep quite) would have no problem with polygyny.

3. The only real condition is the requirement to spend equal resources (time, money etc) on both wives, and to ensure that the wives have separate residences. As an aside, this is one of the conclusion of the video documentary 'No more Waiting' (at the end of this post) which shows the experience of a lady from the Mormon church who was part of polygamous marriages. It's amazing that Islam already has these requirements 'build-into' the polygynous marriage contract.


4. There are special circumstances where it is actually a good arrangement. In particular, if the marriage becomes strained due to the lack of ability (or unwillingness) of the wife to bear children, unhappiness with intimate relationships or medical reasons (i.e. really long periods or sexual discomfort).

The non-Muslim solution would be for (a) the husband to silently suffer (b) divorce the wife to look for another one (c) do a Tiger Woods and have an affair. At extremes, you have the King Henry the Eight's history of chopping the head of his current wife so that he could get married again (as divorce was not allowed to him as an option under the Catholic church of those days). In these circumstances, it is easy to make the argument for polygyny as the alternatives are not very appealing (especially for the first wife).

Why it may not always be a good idea

1. If it conflicts with the law of the land.

Many Western countries have laws prohibiting bigamy (registration of more than one marriage), but do not stop people from having multiple partners (without registered marriages). Thus, you had the very interesting case in France recently http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63P24W20100426 where an individual accused of polygamy essentially claimed that the women he was in a relationship with were mistresses under the law of the land (and he probably had contracted a nikah with them, which has a very simple set of requirements; two witnesses, eligibility and in some cases, the permission of the wali). Germany allows polygyny if it contracted in a Foreign land, while France ignored it (until recently).. there are apparently 20,000 polygynous marriages in France alone today.. truly the land of love... non mon ami?

Canada is going through the process of clarifying it right now (through the Bountiful, BC case), as freedom of religion is a charter right (which trumps all other laws). It is apparently legal in the province of Saskatchewan. I do not know the rules about the US although I suspect a "don't ask, don't tell policy exists". Being Muslim in the US does imply more scrutiny nowadays, so it is probably quite a risky move to make there nowadays.

Again, I am not a lawyer, and am simply stating what little I know, and what I found. These are complex scenarios, and you do not want to end up in jail, so don't take my advice as legally sound.

2. In polygynous marriages, the children do not get the same attention and care from the father, and the stress that the mother goes through will impact her relationship with her children as well. And, yes gentlemen, she WILL be unhappy; this is surely one of the toughest tests that any women could be put through, and I really feel empathy for anyone whose husband takes this step. While the husband probably is simply following his instincts and trying to do what is halal (as opposed to having an affair), the woman will read this as rejection and ask herself 'what have I done wrong?'.

3. Generally speaking, in most scenarios where the husband takes another wife, the first marriage is seriously stressed. It can cause the first marriage to fall apart. Gentlemen, please consider if this is a risk you are willing to take.

The women's reaction to this is largely based on cultural backgrounds. My grandfather had several wifes, and many of my aunts are second wifes. They all seemed happy, so I am quite comfortable with the idea of polygyny as a workable institution. However, things will probably change in my generation, as I look and out of the 37 or so first cousins I have, only five of us are married.

In countries like Egypt, I have heard that many women who are focused on their career are quite happy with the though of being a second wife, as it enhances their status (as they are now married, and don't have the deal with the fitnah around being single) and have companionship. Apparently this is something normal for most middle-eastern countries (again speaking from second-hand knowledge, I haven't lived in the middle-east since I was three years old!).

In North American, with the strong Judeo-Christian cultural heritage, any women brought up here would strongly recoil against the thought of polygyny (yes, even if she is an amazing muslimah otherwise), and it could severely test their faith as it is not allowed to accept part of what is in Islam and reject part of it.

It's amazing but the first Ayat of Surah Tahrim, which describes one of the most testing periods in the marital life of the Rasool'Allah specifically addresses this issue !

'1. O Prophet! Why do you ban (for yourself) that which Allah has made lawful to you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'

The story behind it is very enlightening
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Ibn Kathir wrote in his biography of Muhammad that Muhammad's wife Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya was given a skin filled with honey, which she shared with her husband. He stayed overlong with Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya; at least in the opinion of Aisha and her co-wife Hafsa bint Umar. Aisha and Hafsa conspired. Each of them was to tell Muhammad that the honey had given him bad breath. When he heard this from two wives, he believed that it was true and swore that he would eat no more of the honey. Soon afterwards, he reported that he had received a revelation, in which he was told that he could eat anything permitted by God. In the following verses, Muhammad's wives are rebuked for their unruliness: "your hearts are inclined (to oppose him)".

Word spread in the small Muslim community that Muhammad's wives were tyrannizing him, speaking sharply to him and conspiring against him. Umar, Hafsa's father, scolded his daughter and also spoke to Muhammad of the matter. Muhammad, saddened and upset, separated from his wives for a month. By the end of this time, his wives were humbled and harmony was restored.


4. The financial burden can be absolutely crushing. There is a reason why it is so rare to come across polygynous marriages. Only the really rich can afford multiple residences, or the really poor can get away with extending the little they have over multiple households. Your typical dude who struggles with the expenses associated with modern life (housing, car, kid's education, retirement., etc) cannot really afford multiple households. Perhaps it is easier in non-Western context where everything is not dollar-denominated, and there are stronger family support networks.

There you have it. Lots of facts, all nicely collected together, with a very unsatisfactory "it depends" resolution. It will take a wiser man than me to give anyone advise about this.

Hey, if anyone has any clarifications they want to add, or any errors in what I said that they want to point out, please do so. This is still an open debate :-)

'No more Waiting'



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Fozia
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 25, 2010 02:16 PM »

salam


Henry VIII only beheaded two wives, both for adultery... He divorced two, one died in child bed and the last survived him.

That's all I have to contribute.


As you were.


wassalaam
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 25, 2010 03:31 PM »

Lol

Thank you for the history lesson Sr. Fozia. You're right about Henry the 8th's 6 wives. I tend to write from memory, which can be faulty at times.

His second wife was unfairly beheaded for "adultery, incest, and high treason".. not all of them as I alluded below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wives_of_Henry_VIII

Quote
As you were.


Thank you, Lt Commander Fozia, Sir! [We need a snappy salute icon!]  Wink
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Fozia
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 25, 2010 04:10 PM »

salam


 Grin Sorry I just couldnt resist, its about the only thing I remember from my history lessons, and sometimes I feel Henry is wrongly villified for being a wife murdering lechorous creep, altho to be fair he was a wife murdering lechorous creep, just not on the scale everyone makes him out to be.

I can actually name all his wives too...in choronological order!!!!

Now ask me something useful and I wont have a clue.

I am a mine of uttely useless information.



Wassalaam
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Abdullah (*
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 25, 2010 06:57 PM »

That was a lot of information and very good points. My wife and I came to the same conclusions. I think polygany could help a strained relationship in the sense that it, because there is a new woman in the picture, the two will spend less time together, which may be needed to iron out other issues. But I suppose that's only if one is convincing enough to show his current wife it could be a good thing.
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skhansj
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 26, 2010 04:29 AM »

Salaam Alaykum Abdullah,
These are simply my opinions about a matter which I am examining 'academically'... and you are dealing with a sample space of one, which is neither scientific nor robust. Please do not take them as encouragement in one direction or another.

Making a decision to take up this option, even simply discussing it, can put a lot of strain on your marriage.

I like to make a distinction between what is allowed and what is the wisest course to follow given a set of circumstances. As someone who is married, you would know intimately that any marriage that is based on an assertion of rights is going to be an unpleasant one. The goal should be to support each other to be better people and to make life more pleasant for the spouses, kids, relatives and the community. Otherwise the whole relationship degenerates into something that only lawyers would enjoy.

Try and see how you can give, and serve your wife, and it's amazing what sort of feedback you get. As an engineer, I've finally figured out women. They are amplifiers. You give them something good, and they give you something even better. Give them a bit of DNA, and they'll give you a big, bouncing baby. Give them a tough time, and well... you asked for it!

If you have the right relationship, a pious believing woman can make this life into something like a paradise for you. However, all the cultures that I am from have a variants of stories where polygamy causes the women to fall into deep depression, rampant jealousy between the spouses make every action, saying or 'symbol' a source for conflict, and life becomes a terrible misery to be suffered (for all three parties). Is the risk of this happening really worth it, especially as you are already lucky enough to be blessed with a companion who loves you?

Caveat Emptor bro.

If your goal is to reduce strain in the marriage, get busy with things that are positive. Every opportunity you have, examine your motives and see if you are doing things for Allah or for your nafs... and I can guarantee (with money back if it fails) that if you are nice to your wife, and treat her with respect and consideration, and be patient with the stuff she says (yes, women get aggressive and emotional too... too much... but hey.. don't take it the way you would if a guy said it; remember, you're the ameer, you the one who is supposed to be forgiving and kind) you would love the changes in the marriage.

May Almighty Allah give you the best of His peace, and give you both the clarity of purpose in this life, so that you are together in the Garden in the next life (Amen).


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skhansj
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 26, 2010 04:34 AM »

w'salaam Sr.Fozia,
You had me laughing like anything there. " ... mine of utterly useless information... " . That is a classic self-depreciating quote. Classic understated British humour. I always appreciate it when I come across it.

What would possess you to memorize the names of all his wives in chronological order? I fear to meet your history teacher, she must have been quite an intimidating personality!

- skhansj
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Fozia
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 26, 2010 01:45 PM »

salam


Unfortunately it's true. For example, I can also quote about twelve digits of pi, thankfully I've forgotten any more.


Bizarrely I learned the Queens names in a French lesson one day...when we got a bit side tracked, Madame was lovely and I still remember those names.

In history we learnt that Henry had six wives, and they were;
Divorced
Beheaded
Died

Divorced
Beheaded
Survived


Back to the main post (many apologies for running off on a tangent). Once a few years ago, during a discussion with an imam, ex was going on about his rights over me (I wasn't saying much). When ex stopped for breath, the Imam very mildly said, it would perhaps be better if people concentrated more on fulfilling the rights and obligations they have to others instead of demanding their rights, it limits transgessions, and once everyone is doing this your own rights are automatically fulfilled. Besides, you will not be questioned about whether she fulfilled her rights to you...(the point was lost on ex).


I wonder if any man considering polygyny ever considered the dangers of both his wives getting on really well??? If I ever ended up there (have no intention of doing so), I'd make it my business to be very good friends with a sister wife. It's far easier to get ones way when one has an ally........
Take a look here;
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23910981/



Wasalaam
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 26, 2010 05:00 PM »

I am diverting from the topic to express my adoration for sr. fozia. I simple admire the clarity of her thoughts and expression. I wish I could have a clutter free mind and such a clear and expressive style to convey my self.

I have often needlessly bothered myself with the imagined scenerio of being a co-wife to my hubbies second wife  Sad.
Even though my husband claims he has no such intentions I fight with him out of my own insecurity Angry Angry. The very thought of another woman in hubbies life sends pangs of jelousy through me. But sr. fozia's has a cool idea. I will also make it my business to be friends with her. the scenerio is more imaginable now bebzi
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skhansj
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 26, 2010 05:10 PM »

Quote
... during a discussion with an imam, ex was going on about his rights over me (I wasn't saying much). When ex stopped for breath, the Imam very mildly said, it would perhaps be better if people concentrated more on fulfilling the rights and obligations they have to others instead of demanding their rights, it limits transgessions, and once everyone is doing this your own rights are automatically fulfilled. Besides, you will not be questioned about whether she fulfilled her rights to you...(the point was lost on ex).


Your Imam was a wise person. May he increase in knowledge and the rare gift of hikmat (wisdom).

Quote
I wonder if any man considering polygyny ever considered the dangers of both his wives getting on really well


If they get on real well, that shouldn't be a problem should it? If there is harmony and happiness between the wives and the husband is equitable and can keep them both comfortable, that actually overcomes the biggest hurdles to this institution, which is (1) the lack of acceptance from the first wife (and the jealousy and depression which can be terrible) and (2) unequal treatment of the wives by the husband.

There could be all sort of good things that come from this arrangement (i.e. help when one is sick, when someone needs a bit of a hand with the kids, housework, bigger family etc). Indeed in some cultures (like Ghana for example), it is a very accepted part of society (29% of all marriages are polygynous).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/5188680.stm

However, any mathematician will tell you that adding more variables to the equation just cause more unpredictability. You have three (or more) people in the equation now, with their hopes, dreams, neuroses and hang-ups.

If all of them are saintly people who do things for the sake of Allah and have as their first instinct the service of family, friends and humanity, I have no doubt that their quality of life would be very much enhanced by this arrangement.

However, most of us are not so saintly and wise. There probably also is an element of fate/destiny/qismat to this whole thing as well. Allahu Alim.

As with any decision in life, you weigh the risk and the potential outcomes, and decide if it makes sense. There are lots of other areas where someone can pour their energy that are also rewarding. Things like enhancing their knowledge, strengthening local institutions, maintaining relations with relatives, mentoring/counseling others, etc.

It all depends on personal circumstances, which is why I will completely refrain from saying whether this is a good option or not for a particular individual, and am limiting myself to stating the facts and some outcomes that they may or may not lead to.

It should not be rushed into as there already exists an already marriage which is a very important factor. If the first marriage is already strained, these extra variables will more likely destroy it. Then, the right place to pour the energy into is efforts to strengthen the first marriage. In this case quality trumps quantity... however if the quality of the relationships are already stellar, and the circumstances are such that this makes sense (husband can be equitable + afford it, first wife is happy and not insecure/jealous, and there is a sister interested who would otherwise be left without a husband), Islam permit is, and I would go so far as to say that it may be a good idea.
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Abdullah (*
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 26, 2010 05:40 PM »

There's a LOT of wisdom here and it's very much appreciated. Not to change the tone of the discussion, but do you feel that love plays a bigger part in monogamy than polygany? It seems to me that a happy and prosperous polyganous marriage would seem much more business like. Of course, I congratulate anyone that's happy in that position, but I think that with monogamy, it's a lot more intimate and personal, and it seems the love would flourish more.
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 26, 2010 05:48 PM »

salaam

interestingo, you are a wise dude skhansj!
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skhansj
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 26, 2010 06:23 PM »

Abdullah,
Love is a gift from Allah that he gives to whom he wills. No one can define it, as its appearance counters the clinical aseptic frameworks of scientific behaviour analysis.

It is like mercy; on the surface it does not make sense. Why would you forgive someone who does not deserve it, or give of yourself to someone when you could make yourself happier instead?

However, this world, and all our lives would be so much poorer without the mercy that we show to others and they show to us.


One of Almighty Allah's name is Al-Wahhab, which loosely translates to 'The Bestower'. The way Almighty Allah gives is different from the way we give. You and I give in order to get something in return, even if we do not realize it. Even when you give in charity fee-sabeelillah, you hope that Almighty Allah will relieve you of your sins and enter you into His Gardens, and make you among the companions of those whom He is pleased with and who are pleased with Him.

When Almighty Allah gives, He is far removed being of those who gives expecting something in return.


Thus the kindling of love in the heart is a gift (from the Almighty), and you can have love for your spouse (or spouses in the context of this discussion), for your kids and for your brothers and sisters for the sake of Allah. However, this love is also a trust, and the true pleasure of it is derived in the giving and not the taking. The true leader of a community is the one who serves the community, and the example of our Prophet (SAW) was that of someone who honored, helped and uplifted his wives. For example, he was not above doing the housework. How many of us have cooked a meal for our wife when she is tired, and taken the time to listen carefully when she is complaining about the kid's behaviors and the blocked bathroom sink.

Being the Ameer of the house, does not automatically make your wives into slaves. They are (she is a) free people (person) who have chosen to be part of your mini-community, and you can only retain your place as leader if you are worthy of it, and you retain their (her) respect and adoration as their (or her) man.

The are many monogamous relationships where the husband is on the road traveling or working at a far off location where the marriage does very well. It does become harder to sustain the flames of love if the absence is for long periods of time.

However, I fail to see why love must not form an important (and very central) part of the polygamous arrangement?
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 26, 2010 06:28 PM »

w'salaam Sister blackrose,

Quote
interestingo, you are a wise dude skhansj!

Lol... counting on my wisdom is dangerous.

I am the professional who avoid all the small errors in anticipation of the big blunder.

I will make a thousand boats for you that will last a lifetime and when you really need a seafaring craft that has to be counted on, I will gift you with the Titanic.

Caveat emptor!

I rely for important decisions on the counsel of those wiser than me, as I am painfully aware of the sheer magnitude of my shortcomings.
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 26, 2010 07:55 PM »

i just get around my head -- if a guess is fond of his wife, why would he marry another woman? 

women of course universally oppose polygamy -- because it means the guy doesn't like her.

the prophet was married for 25 years to the love of his life.  he had a zillion chances to marry extra wives, yet he didn't. 

it was only when he became a statesmen, and widowed, that he married not once, but often.  virtually all of these marriages solidified ties among disparate newly muslim or allied groups. 

and that is the real sunnah of the prophet....marry only once...unless you suddenly become "THE CHOSEN ONE" in which case marry often to make everybody your friend and ally.

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Fozia
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 26, 2010 08:36 PM »

salam

Along the same vein as Br Lucid, I actually wonder at men who take additional wives in face of staunch opposition from their existing wives.

I've seen and heard of sisters so utterly devastated by their hubands actions and it often makes me wonder. Why would anyone cause so much hurt to someone who loves them. Personally, I try and avoid hurting people I don't particularly like, I could not imagine dancing on the heart of someone who loved me so very deeply.....

On the other hand I have a very flippant heart, ex used to always 'discuss' taking additional wives, I once in all seriousness pointed out a house nearby and said, 'I think that house is excatly like this one, you could buy that with her....and be nice to her'.....

Actually I am deeply humbled by Br skhansj's posts, they're very thought provoking....didn't know brothers could be so deep about this particular issue. Subhanallah.

Again my posts tend to only be half serious. But do take a look at the link I posted up on my previous post!



Wassalaam
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 26, 2010 11:24 PM »

Very interesting read. Love Fozia. Good insights guys.

However for me, it is certian death... for her.. him or both. There would be no friendship and surely I would end up in hellfire. I would beg my husband for a divorce. Knowing he is sexually intimate with another, I would not allow him to touch me in that way ever again. I don't think I could even kiss him knowing he was kissing her the day before. He would change in my eyes.  For my own peace and soul divorce would be the best option if he wanted another, just let me go freely.

For those who it works for. GOD BLESS THEM.. No way do I have it in me to accept this. I know it is allowed. I just can't. My hubby has stated he does not want another woman, one keeps him busy enough...lol He also states that if I was with another man it would drive him CRAZY, so why would he do the same thing to me. Having a husband with more than one wife was one of my biggest fears with Islam and marriage.

Still, interesting points.
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 28, 2010 09:28 AM »

as salaamu alaykum,

I don't have any issue or problem with polygamy as an institution if it is correctly practiced.  I actually saw first hand in Syria, with the thousands of Iraqi war refugees coming in, and many of the newly widowed and single mothers turning to prostitution, the definite NEED for polygamy as a social construct that will help take care of certain people in society.

My issues with polygamy in the West are the following:

1. Wack practitioners: Many people who do engage in polygamy are improperly suited for it, financially speaking as well as in terms of maturity.  Someone very perceptively said that at times it is a way for men to transfer their pre-existing "player status" (from before they were Muslim or started becoming religious) into religious terms, but with the same underlying immaturity in how they deal with women.  Also many are not equipped financially to handle two or more wives - how many well settled doctors or engineers do you see with multiple wives?  Normally speaking one household is expensive enough to maintain, what about two or three?   

This is a total generalization, and I know there are exceptions to the rule, but this a definite trend that I see.  I can see how one could argue that if it becomes a practice that is more widely accepted in the community, more people will engage it it who will do it properly.  However at the present time, if I know of a sister who's been made an offer of marriage from a man who wants her to be a second wife, I would caution her to be extremely careful, because of the experiences I've seen.

2. No legal recourse: In the U.S. (correct me if I'm wrong) it is not legal to have more than one wife, and therefore she will have none of the rights that a wife has in this country from a legal perspective.  Some may be ok with that but I don't feel comfortable encouraging sisters into that type of vulnerable situation, and it is for this same reason that I think every married couple should get a marriage license with the state.  Sh. Bin Bayyah, hafidhahullah, in his CD set "Sacred Law in Secular Lands" also mentions this as a concern and as a means of encouraging Muslim couples to get their marriage license.

Of course every situation and person is different, and if a sister feels like she has met someone who has the maturity and material ability to support a second wife, and doesn't mind foregoing her legal status as a wife, or feels that the positives of the situation outweigh the negative, etc I am not one to protest against it.  I am just mentioning some general issues and explaining why I would have some definite hesitation before encouraging a sister in the U.S. in the direction of polygamy. 

Also - since this is a somewhat anonymous forum and I feel comfortable sharing some personal thoughts with you all, in the hopes of gaining insight and constructive criticism, I will tell you that when a shaykh in the U.S., a prominent teacher or speaker who frequents conferences etc, takes on a second wife, especially in a way that greatly grieves the first, I really feel troubled in my heart about that and have a hard time looking at him in the same way.  There are a few reasons for this: one, how is it that someone who is encouraging people to ihsaan and war' is willing to hurt someone so close to them, who has sacrificed so much (as most if not all shaykhs' wives do) for personal benefit/pleasure?  It just doesn't sit well with me. I think in the eyes of people, this person has taken on such a high status and is someone many people emulate and copy, whether consciously or unconsciously, and his doing so sets a precedent in our community which I think is not good.  also isn't it frankly speaking illegal? shouldn't our shuyukh, especially those who talk about respecting the laws of the land etc, be honoring that in their own personal dealings and relationships? 

What are your thoughts on this?

Allahu a'lam,
salaam,
7
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lucid
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 28, 2010 03:33 PM »

in islam folks are s'posed to be selfless, generous.

guys who marry extra wives are extremely selfish,

except in the rare cases when this act is actually selfless, as in the case seven mentioned.

for me the litmus test is: if you are getting married again, it ain't right unless its a totally selfless action.  if its not selfless -- you're most likely a DB just like every other perv walking down the street with one woman on arm, and another woman on the other arm.

allah knows best

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skhansj
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« Reply #20 on: Aug 28, 2010 06:12 PM »

Salaam Alaykum friends,

Sister Se7en, your analysis is very accurate.
(a) in some circumstances polygamy makes sense as a social institution. You gave the example of wartime; however there probably are many other circumstances as well.
(b) it is the people that will make it work out or not. People are messy, unpredictable and absolutely wonderful constructs. All good is from Allah, and all evil is from us. Islam is perfect, us Muslim are a 'best-effort' work-in-progress (at best). We have flaws, fears and an ego. In spite of that, by the sheer mercy of our Creator, we all manage to do ok.
(c) the Judeo-Christian values prevalent in the West not only discourage polygamy (and actually assigns it to practices of the 'Others' ala Orientalism), but the social mores are reflected in the laws which on paper tend to criminalize it and can potentially punish instances of it. Generally, this also puts the second wife in a very vulnerable position without tax/welfare/medical_insurance/inheritance benefits. I am sure that with the appropriate contracts, most of these can be taken care of (i.e. property ownership, inheritance, trust funds etc). However, this is not a 'natural' institution in the West, and is seen as something 'foreign' to it. I am sure when shariah is broadly implemented in the West, things will change (but I am not holding my breath).

Sister Christine, there is nothing blameworthy in your attitude. You accept polygamy as an institution (and thus do not deny a part of Islam) but have decided that it is not for you, and would be well within your rights to ask for a divorce if that scenario arose, especially as you realize that it would take you in the wrong direction. The true worth of our actions all depends on our intentions, and we do that which will insha'Allah bring us closer to our creator.
 
Sister Fozia, I  agree with you (and with the point made by Sister se7en, and alluded to by Br. Lucid) that many first wives are hurt deeply by their husbands taking a second wife. In many cases, the husband probably did not handle it gracefully or may have had selfish intentions. However, there are probably as many cases where the first wife saw the second as a rival more than a sister in Islam.

In short, my conclusion to this whole debate is that although allowed by Islam, it is a very difficult thing to pull off in the West. There are people who could do it, could afford it financially/emotionally/physically and who could thrive in these circumstances, but it is a rare and dangerous path to follow in the West, mainly because of frictions due to cultural constructs, legal hurdles and social stigma.

Now, having said that, it is also very difficult to do other things as well, like set up Islamic institutions, create and build a successful startup, or to become an Olympic athlete; so it really depends on whether someone wants to take the risk when it makes sense for them. All three of the life-choices I have enumerated above are very risky and quite consuming of energy.

It would appear that this scenario (if it ever arose for an individual) would be a perfect candidate for the istikhara prayer, and lots of mashwara (counsel/advice). However, I wonder at the fate of someone who is given all the information we have collected so far in this thread (when they consulted with the wise), and whose istikhara is an unambiguous 'go for it, you will be blessed in both marriages' who still holds back because they are concerned about the fallout on their first wife, or are swayed by the social mores. That is an interesting scenario to contemplate, and may be a situation in which the Shaikhs alluded to by Sister Se7en found themselves in; except that they decided to follow the path opened to them by the istikhara prayer.

It reminds me of the story of Ibrahim (AS) and when he was ordered to sacrifice his son Ismail. This is not a test that most of us would want to be put into, and the fulfillment of which requires actions which definitely flies against the social mores of any culture.

I suppose the right quote to end this post would be a warning given by perhaps the most famous Christian mystic, St. Francis of Asissi who said "Be careful what you pray for, as you will be given it".


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shereen
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« Reply #21 on: Sep 01, 2010 09:03 PM »

Just saw a video on You Tube by an Islamic Scholar in USA or UK - May be Ahmed Deedat(?) not sure-
He stated something that I never before pondered about:
"Of all the religious scriptures it is only..ONLY.. Al Qur'an that mentions... MARRY ONE... if cannot be equitable amongst the wives.. which is very hard and only a very kind, compassionate, rich and spiritual man can do it..for example like prophet Muhammad... many men cannot even come close to it.. thus the most probable choice is ONE WIFE.. any other reasons will be abuse of women.

What are the reasons for marrying four wives?
The above question is same as "What are the reasons for worshipping Allah SWT".. do not be afraid to ask... It is for the never ending sustenance and love we get from Allah SWT.. and His Mercy...

If the first wife does not like the second wife of this pious, good and kind man (rich too).. then she is making a mistake... and I am a woman who says so... however, we are still to see such a man except the Sahabas and Prophet himself...Insha Allah...
When a not pious, hypocritic 'Muslim' takes another young woman for her beauty or money..then the first wife has an options to divorce...after all under Islam she gets to keep all her personal earnings..so it is advised to work hard and save for rainy days.. may be start a business or be a professional...etc... "Don't worry make money"..
Wassalaam.
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seekingtawbah
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« Reply #22 on: Sep 16, 2010 04:32 AM »

Polygamy is sunnah, the sisters May hate this and that is justified, because they want there husbands all to themselves. However there is a huge difference as to why the sahabah married 4 wives and muslim men marry 4 today. Muslim men marry 4 wives today becauseone just isnt enough. but the sahabah radhialahu anhu married 4 for the sake of Allah. because there is a rule in Islam that everyone deserves to be taken care of. You would not find any women without a husband during the time of the sahaba. however we have millions of single sisters today. thats why the sahaba married 4, because to them no person should be left out of the community and acts of ibada, regardless if there ugly, old disabled, and so on, these women were married because the only thing that mattered to them was Allah. Just like there sshoudl be no homeless people in islam because the state is suppose to provide for everyone. Also one of the signs of the day of judgement, is women will outnumber men 50 to 1, so if polygamy is not practiced then how many single women will there be, and in the islamic community, we take care of our women and no one deserves to be alone. Thats the reason why polgamy in islam is good, But todays brothers only do it for satistfying there own desries. there is also some brothers who have 3 wives and those wives still live with there parents, becauase men have forgotten you must treat them equally.
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Christine_1208
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« Reply #23 on: Sep 17, 2010 04:52 PM »

I agree, then men of today are different. Times have changed. Most women don't need to be taken care of. We have our own jobs and money, our own cars and houses. Family and friends. In that ratio of 50 to 1. I can guarantee that some of those women do not want to be married and some don't want to have children. Times are different.

If the brothers are so worried about "taking care" of the muslimahs for the sake of Allah, then I would suggest they only marry "women of the book" as a last resort. People no longer marry for the same reasons. In my masjid my husband has brothers looking for sisters, I have sisters looking for brothers. When we introduce them to each other, there is always some reason. Too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too bald, has a beard, has no beard, covers does not cover. So many things.

I am grateful everyday for the husband Allah has given me. He is very kind and caring, takes care of me and the kids. Spends time with my non-muslim family and has changed their veiws in Islam. He has made me closer to Allah. Helping me with Qu'ran and prayer. Cooking and cleaning to help lessen my burden. I see he is a great man. Even if he had a million dollars and could afford to take care of another. Knowing he is a good muslim man, I still could not do it. This is me. I have personally gone through an affair before, I will never allow myself to feel that degraded again. It took something I put as "very sacred" (love making) and turned it into something with no meaning in it. Knowing I saved myself for marriage, because that act is sacred to me and this man did that, it cut deep like a knife. I started to think, why did I wait obviously it's not as special as I thought. For me, it played a nasty head game. I never was so depressed in my life and suicide was a thought that lingered in my mind. So as you can see, I will not put myself in that situation again. An affair and another wife are the same thing to me. Except with the wife you know what they are doing. Sometimes not knowing is better I suppose.

I am fully aware polygamy is sunnah. In certian situations I see it's benefit. But I also see the emotional damage it can cause to the women. I guess it depends on her views on specific topics, and if it will do her more good than harm. For some of us it would be the opposite. I think it is important to discuss this issue with a prospective spouse before marriage in depth. As long as the two have an agreement and an understanding that benefits both, may Allah bless them and guide them.

Allahu Alam
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UmmWafi
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« Reply #24 on: Sep 19, 2010 06:45 PM »

Assalamu'alaikum wr wb

My 2 cents worth ( give and take inflation rate). When I was pursuing my MA in an international school, I grew close to a brother from Uganda. Subhanallah, he was such a wise and calm person. We became close and shared a lot on our countries, experiences, families etc. He informed me that his hometown was devastated by the Aids epidemic. Women are widowed and children orphaned, on a daily basis. He said that one of his married friend wanted to help and started giving help to a neighbour who lost her husband through Aids. Soon rumours started and people started giving him the "dirty look". After all, he was a healthy man and she, a widow thus available. My friend wondered if that guy would have been better off married to his neighbour to avoid fitnah.

His statement made me pause and reconsider some of my views, assumptions and prejudices. Coming from Singapore, polygamy is a definite no-no for me. I cant absolutely think of any good reason for a man to have more than 1 wives. Suddenly, I realised that for some people, these things are not just part of a scenario planning exercise at work but a reality. One they have to live with.

Still, aside from the special circumstances mentioned above, I wondered about the "legitimacy" of the reasons some men gave for taking on more than 1 wives. I have heard brothers saying that the reason they take on more wives is because of the growing number of single sisters out there. Well, newsflash for these brothers. Recent reports from WHO mentioned about greying populations everywhere and most elderlies live alone. So, if you want to do "your bit" for Islam, lock the chastity belt and start adopting an elderly folk today ! Ohhh not to mention the millions of children orphaned from all kinds of calamities. Adopt them too ! Feed them and school them and make them a contributing Muslim of the future Smiley

Some brothers claim that the reason they marry again is because their wives are no longer satisfactory and appealing. The wives are not able to satisfy their needs. Well whaddyaknow. The same wife who cooks, cleans, raises your child, puts up with you and your friends "usrah" and "muzakkarah" sessions is NOT allowed to feel tired, especially if said husband hardly lifts a finger to help her. No wonder she is too bone tired at night to put on the Victoria Secrets and entertain you with a pole dance revue !

And the reasons go on...I am not saying that no marriage suffers a legitimate crisis or problems but think of it this way. You work as an engineer. You earn good pay and are able to pay the mortgage and car loans. One day you face some problems at work. What do you do ?

A) Try and find ways to solve the problem and keep the good job you have
B) Start grouching about the job and take on extra jobs to see if the initial problems will go away

If your answer is B then tomorrow, please ask HR to sign you up for problem solving courses  Grin

Islam is shumul. If we want to really understand polygamy, read not just the ayah that mentions about marrying more than one. Read also the ayahs before and after that and then see the whole picture. Also reading Asbabul Nuzul helps, Inshallah. Most men see the ayah as allowing or encouraging but how many see it as advising or warning ?

The laws are perfect, the execution flawed. Take something as specific as zakah. With all the % given, the calculations put forth, the roles and responsibilities of 'amils etc, there are people who abstain from giving zakah even if it is wajib on them and so forth. A law on marriage and marital rights will definitely suffer flawed executions. And Allah SWT Knows Best.

Wassalam
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