Life and Times Blog

Polygamy #2

Now, about this bias, here are the personal reasons I think it’s unfair to coerce a women into doing it:
Marriage today (I guess for most of time) is not just a circumstantial arrangement; it is an emotional bond, based on trust and joint goals, lifestyles, extended family bonds etc. Joint and mutual sacrifice for joint and mutual goals.

Beginning a relationship on these grounds, and then altering the nature of that understanding at a later point, seems to be quite shattering. Physical infidelity hurts a lot, part of it I would guess would be the lie or the deception involved, but I think a bigger part is the intrusion on what was thought to be an exclusive bond. Emotional bond. Lifestyle bond. With a man shared between more than one household, there are intrusions on many more levels. Those joint bonds are damaged. There is overlap of goals and compromises.

Of course those bonds can theoretically still be maintained, but someone who is that close to your life, sharing those same bonds with a different person, with their goals, with their trust, must have some sort of impact on the strength of your trust with them?

And your kids, knowing that their needs are shared with those of a different set of kids by their father?
Sure, even within one family there is challenge to maintain justice among kids and towards a wife, and not a slight challenge either. But with having multiple families in a unit, those same challenges would be a lot more aggravated for the same reasons they are challenging in a single relationship.

A single marriage looks tough, tough enough. Some of the difficulties may be solved with multiple partners, if the man is needier in certain areas, but I would guess that the additional challenges it would bring would be more severe than the solutions it provides, in these times. But in individual situations that can of course be the complete opposite.

And the Quran is emphatic on the point of justice, with polygamy and within its broad ethos. So a man may have many reasons for it, but if the women he lives with will experience adverse consequences, then it is unjust.

Again though, if she DOES consent, and HE does consent, there should be no derisiveness, people are built differently. Allowance is there for both options,

And yes, I’m layering this with assumption. But I don’t believe these are unreasonable assumptions. I’m no huge feminist, but I think it’s wrong to use the Islamic card for this, if its based on self-serving needs. If the dude’s marrying an old widow , or an orphan, or doing dawah, that’s virtue. But will he honestly be just to an old widow, or any of the others?

Trust is important, and I think it is lost in these situation, with the expectations and model of family units we are presented with. If your father came home, and announced that he was starting another family, what would your reaction be? And your mothers? And her father’s reaction?
What would your feelings be?

A friend recently mentioned she knew of step-sibling who met each other for the first time at campus. Another friend stayed with family friends that involved a marriage f two wives, he says the house was a battle ground, not physically, but said there were no emotional bonds. Each woman was always expending her energy in psychological and emotional competition with the other. And neither had trust in their husband, and this impacted on the kids too, with no nurturing environment.

In-law relationships are strained, mostly, as a rule of life. Especially the mother-in-law daughter-in-law relationship. I guess the possible reason behind it is possibly the split obligations of the man in the middle. A man is obligated to care for his original family, brothers, sisters, parents, and his wife and kids, and this is no easy feat. There are plenty of examples of these conflicts.

Even time divisions, between work, personal leisure, family attention, is a scarce commodity.
I do however have a friend, who’s mum was the second wife of a man, and both families got along beautifully. And are better for it.

2 sides to this coin, choose either, but allow the freedom for both.

Most men reserve the right, but don’t really ever expect to want to exercise it.
I hope the guys who are serious about it carefully consider the duty of justice, in terms of God-fearing, and of the incredible amount of hassle , in terms of self-preservation. Rather fast more frequently fellows. It just seems like a heck of trouble to me.

Ladies, don’t be hesitant to be firm on this, it’s allowed, don’t automatically assume its a religious duty. Refuse if you want to. Rather upfront than down the line, where it will be a lot harder. But as I say, I know no men who are REALLY sincere about it.

And a common line used is that they will be God-fearing in managing it. Again, irreversible bravery. Real consequence.

Don’t be too alarmed, as I say most men maintain the right as a luxury to be exercised in case of mitigating circumstances, or just to test the ladies willingness to submit. But do check how seriously he intends to do it. And his reasons.

It only becomes noble if the man claims to do it for purposes outside himself, so for eg, caring for a war widow, or for dawah etc. Even on those purposes, he has to be certain of his ability to be just, not just his ability from himself, justice involves 2 parties; the woman must feel justice too.
Even on the widow front, with an equal population in a normal society, there would be the same number of widowers.

For both men and women considering an arrangement, bravery is always admirable, but consider how reversible it is, and the magnitude of the consequence. And question the real motive, only in justifiable situations, or simply as a right to be exercised regardless?

I have heard some terrible reasons for it, the one being that: We could have someone take care of the house, whilst we worked, and went out… (And when you come home? And will you be just? Or is she just a maid?)

You can’t find everything you want in one woman. (of course not, life’s not perfect, whats a heaven for? And this is totally self serving, choosing a partner would be so easy if we could just add others to make up for deficiencies, or if we could just divorce and remarry others, rather be more realistic and careful in choosing a spouse)

Am I arguing against an Islamically sanctioned right?
I am not, I am saying its allowed, and should not be frowned on. My bias against it may seem like its a criticism against it, and until I had read what various folks had said about it, I would not have ventured this forth: To accuse women of refusing a man’s “ Islamically sanctioned right” is equally unfair and against HER Islamically sanctioned right.

I never gave it too much thought when I was younger, but now, knowing more about emotional consequences of life, having observed more of people around me, my view has changed.
Also, a few years into a marriage, it is a lot harder , emotionally and circumstantially for a woman to walk out of a marriage.

Where there is compromise and growth and sacrifice between two, that needs to be negotiated, how does a third factor in. Who get the priority? Even if there is that priority, between husband, kids, family, personal goals, this additional layer is added in?

And of course the emotional difficulty of knowing that there is someone else, physically, psychologically, circumstantially, that you are automatically compared to, prioritised next to, balanced against.
But perhaps I have it completely wrong, please share your views.

And for the fellow’s, if you find a classy dame, Finding one is hard enough. Sure, it’s easier to decide on one if you’re just planning to supplement her with others, but a bird in the hand…

For things outside intimacy, you can find satisfaction outside the marriage, better if you find it inside, more comfortable and fulfilling and liberating, but rather work on that single relationship.

http://www.zawaj.com/articles/lamentations.html
http://www.zawaj.com/siddiqua/5-1-2001.html
http://muslimahmediawatch.org/2009/12/husbands-and-wife-nadine-al-bedair-writes-about-polgamys-double-standard/
http://nisaa.ca/featurearticles/comments/a_true_story_about_polygamy/

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March 10, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

4 Comments »

  1. I think there’s a natural tendency in today’s age for people to fight for our “poor, defenceless and self-sacrificing” women. I find this can sometimes be over-compensating, patronising and even fatal for all involved.

    For instance take your advice “Refuse if you want to. Rather upfront than down the line, where it will be a lot harder.”

    The option to refuse down the line can be considered illegal since an already married woman cannot revoke the God-given right of her husband, just like he can’t stop her from fasting or praying. Of course, she has other options like leaving etc, or even stipulate this as an additional condition of the nikkah/mahr before they had married in the first place.

    In reality I’m assuming a girl will know her potential man well enough to know that he would never think of marrying again. But if in doubt she can only stipulate it beforehand since any change in the agreed position after the nikkah will be technically too late and seen as deceptive. Ultimately then, this actually becomes the prenuptial argument the west has been having for decades.

    Finally, a personal qualification if I may: I’m firmly in the one-woman-for-life-camp; I’m someone who hasn’t had and still wouldn’t have a girlfriend because I’d consider it cheating on a future wife. But romantic ideals aside I am still a Muslim and will never let my personal preferences influence or dictate the rights of others.

    Comment by Shak | March 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. I think the main issue today is that too much is expected of a monogamous relationship and in that way a polygamous one could perhaps fill all those gaps and needs for love, desire, friendship, partnership etc, that are expected to all match in a monogamous relationship. And today, being an unmarried woman might not always be worse then sharing a husband with 5 women if the patriarchal system would be slightly shaken. .

    Comment by Anon | March 11, 2010 | Reply

  3. p.s I was a married woman, albeit for a very short while. Before i married, i grilled my husband about this subject. I was adamant about my refusal to ever be part of such an arrangement and he laughed and said- dont be mad. i would never do something like that.
    And because an ‘islamic courtship’ is one where lots of interaction is forbidden, I made do with his answers and took them for face value.
    Well, forward to two months after marriage when were talking about the sadness of an infertile couple. i ask idly, -would you ever get a second wife if i couldnt have a child?
    and my husband, unaware of the deep crack he was about to tear into… nodded and said- yeah, maybe. but don’t worry about it now.
    (hmm. NOW????)

    right. that was an extremely difficult learning curve. but it DID teach me a lot about trust.
    dont count on it. a good lawyer and a prenup and your own bank account works better.

    p.p.s amazingly enough, you might be on to something with your maid theory. when i asked my husband what he liked about me and would miss about me-
    you cook well. you always clean the house. you wash and iron my clothes. you make sure the bathroom is always sparkling. (????)

    GAH.

    this might be what some wives do 99% of the time. but its that 1% of our actual personalities- the bits you cant see in ahouse but you know the abscence of- that you appreciate and love us for…that CAUSES us to do that 99% with a smile on our faces.

    *sorry*
    this is what happens when its late at night and im ruminating over the ruins of my marriage. delete after reading!

    Comment by pserean | March 12, 2010 | Reply

  4. Muta solves this problem….

    Comment by Anonymous | March 17, 2010 | Reply


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