Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Polygyny, not Polygamy...

I watched the show Big Love on HBO this weekend, it was pretty good. It is about a family with three wives, and several kids. The women each have their own house and the husband stays one night with each in little three day cycles. I was thinking they might not really be living in the Islamic type of polygyny... But for the most part they are. With the separate houses and dividing the money, also the time... The husband even tries to deal fairly with regards to the three when one asks him in private if he misses her the most. He simply says, "Officially, I miss you all the same."

So, I have asked myself the question would I about polygyny soooo many times. Actually I annoy my husband talking about it because he feels I would hate it (he once tricked me into thinking he was marrying again and I cried) but I am working through the idea in my mind...

Seriously, I could imagine that if circumstances allowed (like he was healthy and secure in his job) I would be telling DH to look for a second wife. Why??? Hmmmm, that is a harder question to answer. It has something to do with challenging myself to put my money where my mouth is (I do believe polygyny can be a good thing, and do believe it is a man's right). Also, I guess I see it as jihad, a way to put my trust in Allah's law, and I see it as a way to show I really do love my sisters in Islam... Or maybe I'm just plain crazy!lol

I guess I see where sharing would be hard, impossible. But I think of men who have time and money and how they always seem to have mistresses or if they are brothers secret second wives... And I would rather have it out there in the open. I don't want my DH committing haram, and I certainly wouldn't want him to go behind my back to marry again. I would hope he could face me with it and we could exist as a family. And you never know, because we all know the hadith right? The one about maybe you dislike something that has great good in it? Something to think about:)


la-la po said...

al salam alaikum-

LOL...actually I think about this frequently too. I'm a closet co-wife wannabe. But I want dh to be the one to make the decision, I don't want to push. Several years ago, I definitely felt differently.
I think the separate houses thing is a VERY good idea.

UmmLayla said...

I think how you feel about it depends on where you are at in your life for sure... And how you view it. I would feel much differently if my DH came to me and said he was looking for a good Muslim sister as a second wife than if he came to me wanting to marry someone he had been "dating" at work or school... Because I would hope that the Muslim woman would be looking at it the same way I do, and I would never be sure if the non-Muslim woman was just waiting to try to break up the marriage and get rid of me or something!LOL But, when I got married I made a strong commitment to keep an open mind about the concept... I never had the promise that DH will not marry again, because we looked at the possibility of our circumstances changing. So I am trying to do just that!

Baraka said...

Salaam 'alaykum,

Masha-Allah, you're both more open-minded about it than I am. I am very possessive & can't imagine sharing my hubby with anyone.

That said, I also see the difference you mentioned, Umm Layla, between legitimizing an affair and providing shelter to an unmarried, widowed, or divorced Muslim sister.

I still think I'd find it unacceptable though.


NurElsa said...

salam,my best friend just broke the news last sunday that she is seriously considering a marriage proposal from a married man... this confession has created such drama in our friends circle throughout the week.

i am practical, and worry over little things. but this man has 4 kids, 1 arriving soon. and the current wife is a housewife. i just cant believe that he would be able to provide financial stability which will lead to all kinds of problems...

my heart says, this is halal Elsa.. This is sunnah. my mind is worrying on every single details... i guess i have to put much faith in Allah

cncz said...

i am not a co-wife wanna be per se, but there is one thing a co-wife friend of mine said once: when her husband drives her crazy, he can just go to the other one's house.

Then it reminds me of what a redneck friend of mine used to have as a mantra: no matter how hot/rich/funny/smart/charming a man is, there is some other girl out there tired of putting up with his crap.

I say, why not on multiple wives. If I can't have kids, I would rather be a co-wife than Nice Husband leave me for someone who can procreate. People bug out when they realize that. I agree with you though that there is a difference between "dating" and marrying another sister (and don't get me started on the men and dawah thing). If Nice Husband wanted a second wife, I wouldn't want her to be a convert like me tho.

UmmLayla said...

"when her husband drives her crazy, he can just go to the other one's house"

Awwww yeah! Now that is a fringe benefit if I ever heard one!!!LOL

Baji said...

Salaam. I have visited a couple of times, but this is my first comment. I absolutely shudder at the idea of sharing my husband with anyone. Especially if he were to have kids with another woman. Mash'Allah, our kids will be a unique product of our love. I would not allow more kids to be brought in under my roof. I think it would be awful experience for the kids to endure while living here in the States. My vote is NO WAY!

Anonymous said...

This idea goes right to the heart of the sunnah doesn't it? I, too, have often thought about the pros and cons. What about a friendship that goes deeper than a typical superficial one? Sharing family responsibilities certainly would foster something like that... and what about watching each other's kids too? that sounds like a great benefit. I'm still on the fence about it but it does bear more thinking about it. Jasak allah khayrun for writing about this subject.

SUHAA said...

i love ISLAM and i love everything it stands for..even if not everything i can really understand. alhamdulilah i finally understand the idea of polygany..

ok, so last night after isha i brought it up to my husband, alhamdulilah he has has much knowledge and a way of explaining things to me which i can grasp on too (when it comes to religion anyway!)

i asked him: if a man has a good pious wife, children..and everything really..then why would he go looking to marry someone else who was not a widow, elder , or someone to take care of, or even to support her religion(lets say a new muslimah..who is in a society where there are minimal if any muslim men)..why would he marry someone else if those conditions didnt exist..why would something like that be halal and permissible??? I wasnt arguing, I really wanted to get the to bottom of it..

He told me that Allah set the condition of being fair, and that Allah said it was better to have 1. Which I already knew, but then he explained how if a man had everything with wife #1, and married another just for the sake of having another "Love and more play" then this is extravagant and Allah does not favor those who are extravagant..

totally made sense to me and clicked!

so then i told him well what about the so called reason of men who have a luring eye..and marry another woman for the sake of their desires.. he said, if they had everything and went oout to marry another then Allah would surely judge him. Hubby explained that in Islam excess is not something we should strive for in anything.
Ofcourse he reminded me of the strict laws of Islam when it comes to polygany..

I am currently trying to find a good article on the internet to link it to my site on it, but i havent been too crazy about what i;ve read..most often include something along the lines of instead of having a mistress in seclusion its better to have a 2nd wife..UMMMM>...i dont buy that at all..and because Islam is a fair system..i cant except that to be fair..
Allah knows best..
may Allah forgive me if ive said anything in error!!
btw: my husband is also egyptian, im american egyptian..

ummrayhan said...

As-Salam Alekum. I came accross you website and read some posts, but I felt compelled to answer this one. Please!!!!!!!!!think about this one, and then think again. Sharing your husband with a second wife is much harder than you can imagine. I have friends who are first and second wives and their lives are very unhappy (I know some who have been married for 20+ years). It is impossible for the husband to be 100% fair with both wives, and the one who suffers the most is usually the oldest one with more children (namely, the first wife). Also, once he gets a second wife, you're stuck. There's no way he'll want to stay with one wife, hey variety is the spice of life, right? Meanwhile, you're stuck with a husband who still doesn't help, but you have to act adoring and loving, look beautiful, have a spotless house and perfect kids when he comes to see you. It would be extremely hard......The thought makes me shudder. I don't tell my husband that I wouldn't allow a second wife, I pretend that I don't care, but he knows very well that if he did that, our marriage is over. There is no way.....yuck! Anyway, we don't have a signed contract, but we spoke about the subject before marriage and right after; he said he would never have two wives (no one in his family does, either). But sharing a husband, specially if you care for him, is very, very hard. Also, there is no shortage of men out there, Al-hamdu lillah. There's plenty of men for women. Good luck.

Safa said...

I'm the first wife in the marriage....married for 15 years. I can't stand my situation. My hubby didn't even tell me that he had wife # 2. He's been married about 5 months now......there are so many details and emotions involved in have no way of knowing what it is until you are actually dealing with it.......jihad for sure.....

SUHAA said...

asalaam alaikum warahmat Allah sister, it was this post that enouraged me to really challenge myself to write one on this marriage buisness..
please refer to my article called "Times 4" at my site if interested.

may Allah reward u.

Little Writer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Little Writer said...

Assalaam alekum,

I read your blog which compelled me to write something on polygyny that I had been postponing for months ( I will write more on this, InshAllah, especially on the relationship between polygyny and conversion to Islam. However, please think again before you commit yourself to polygyny. You shouldn’t even put such ideas in your husband’s head;-)


Anonymous said...

Asalam alykum,

Note to those people who keep saying polygamy is a Sunnah (and perhaps in some way implying it is superior to monogamy, ...astaghfirAllah). People forget the Prophet (pbuh) was married to Khadijah for 25years in a monogamous marriage! He never required anyone to marry more than one - rather restricted it and forbade Ali from marrying again while married to his daughter. Monogamy is as much 'a Sunnah'. So don't feel you have to prove anything or have a 'jihad' by asking for polygamy! Life has enough ups and downs for us to get through.

As there are plenty of unmarried muslim men looking for wives it is not necessary in this day particularly not to 'save the woman' particularly if she is young (there are more women than men only in the older age groups -ie past childbearing age!!!).

Just my thought - If the man is looking to marry again simply to satisfy his 'carnal desires' (where does it say this is a valid reason in the Quran or Sunnah anyway?!). Maybe he shoudl think again and try a 'jihad' of self control....

Luna said...

I hope you do not mind my 2 cents. I love the show, "Big Love", but I almost missed out on it because I was taught that it was wrong. I am a American Christian. Not only are there laws against polygyny, but most Christian denominations frown upon it. I find it to be confusing that in my culture there's adultry, divorce, "open relationships"... and people turn a blind eye to all that, but it is illegal for a man to marry a second wife instead of abandoning his first. To take resposibility for a woman, instead of treating her like a plaything for his own gratification (and women accepting that). It amazes me. It has led me on a bit of a quest. For one thing, in my Bible there are many patriarchs who had multiple wives. I ask myself, "When did it become wrong?" Still researching that question.
I personally am warming up to the idea. I've got my talents, but I'm not enough. I'd rather my husband have another wife who can help provide for his needs. Not just in a carnal way... for example my hubby could use a cleaner house, and I'm a horrid housekeeper. But even with carnal desires: I'd rather have a husband take on a second wife, than to do what so many men in today's world do... Cheat! However if my husband were to marry a second wife, I would like us all to share the same house. Sharing a house would save financially and save on time. I mean, it'd be only one house to buy, maintain, clean, and whatnot. Besides, honestly, if you're sharing a husband, what's so hard about sharing a house? LOL
DH and I have been married for almost 6 years, and though we're not certain we want children yet, if there's 2+ wives, there's more help. If it's almost dinner time, and you need something from the store, then instead of loading up the children and heading there, one of the wives can manage it alone and quicker, and the children are being supervised by the other wife/wives. Plus, in today's America it makes much more sense! I mean, a divorced man still provides financially for his ex-wife and kids. Also, with more wives, there's in-home childcare. It's cheaper, healthier (less contact with sickened children), and you avoid any feelings of abandonment for the children.

Honestly, you ladies are very lucky in that your faith is more allowing of polygyny than mine. I don't even have anyone in my group of friends to talk to, and know of no one who is/knows a polygynist family.

Not sure how you say it, but may you all be blessed. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting discussion about polygyny. I'm looking into this issue precisely for a story I'm doing about how polygyny affects muslim women.

I'm a journalist, you see, and I'm part of a project called the , a group that's exploring how faith plays a role in people's private life, particularly in their family lives.

Some muslim women I've talked to said that polygyny is actually on the rise in some communities, particularly in the african american muslim communities. Are you all finding this true?

I'm looking to talk to muslims involved in polygynous relationships about why it does or does not work for them. If anyone is in one or feels passionate about the issue either way, feel free to drop me a line at 510-816-2642.

old married lady said...

I am a Muslim sister, married for over 25 years with three children. Alhamdolillah. My main thought about polygyny is that it works for very few families. If a husband is extremely kind and thoughtful, dutiful to Allah and his wife, polygyny has a good chance of working out. However, since I do not live in dreamland, and based on what I have witnessed and experienced these many years, most men like this are rare. If a man is unkind, inconsiderate and often plays mind games with his wife, taking on a second wife will create problems, creating a lot of sadness. If the man is of the thinking that it is his right, that this is what he needs, perhaps he should consider the rights of his wife to be treated a certain way, and the rights of his children to have a full-time Dad.
If there are serious problems in a marriage already, most men considering a second wife are being very unfair in that they are looking for relief, love and comfort with someone else and at the same time failing to make that happen for someone they are already bound to.

The reality is that most men take a second wife because they want another sex partner. A wife who wants her husband to be kinder and more considerate does not have the same outlet. Generally she is told to pray, fast and be patient.

In Islam, there is nothing wrong with a man taking a second wife. But how many middle-aged men are really going to marry a middle-aged woman? There's the rub. Most of us, men and women are not being honest about "the second wife" issue. In addition, most men simply can not provide for more than one household unless they are rich. I always want to know how a man can correctly meet and develop a relationshp with another woman without there being a problem with his first wife. Does he buy the possible new wife gifts. Does he visit her. Hmmm....

Of course, in certain circumstances it may be understandable or desired, and yes, we are living in those conditions now (very few available men, surplus of single women/infertility).

I for one am really tired of the debate about polygyny being "legal". Folks, slavery is legal and as much as I would really like free household help, I would never consider such an abomination. And despite it's legality, it has been outlawed in many so-called Muslim countries. Another misconception is that somehow the wife will gain a new family and friend. No, the husband will gain a new family. There needs to be clarity in many people's minds about what polygyny is. If my husband took a second wife, I doubt that we would be friends. We would not be enemies, but if he chose her, that's his family. I already have my own circle of friends.

Polygyny has its place in society. It is not the norm, or the standard for marriage. And it is not encumbent upon any woman to live in a polygynous marriage. That is always an important point many fail to make note of.

The Prophet lived with Khadija for 25 years. After her death, he married an old woman as a means of protection. How many husbands would consider doing this. How many husbands can even think they come close to the conduct of the Prophet with his wives. Yet, most women are expected to be "perfect" in every way (physically, emotionally, spritually, domestically).

In the event anyone considers polygyny as an option, please realize that marriage is a serious matter and that if you are the second wife, you are the "new" one and are probably being treated much better than the first. If you are man reading this, please take my first paragaraph into consideration -- the part about being an exceptional spouse.

oldmarriedlady said...

I must comment on Luna's thoughts of polygyny. Muslim wives have the right to their own households, to be independent personalities and have their preferences recognized and needs fulfilled. I am not prepared to share my home with another and know of no woman willing to do the same. I am not prepared to care for someone else's children other than my own, just because the lady is also married to my husband. If I have a good relationship with another sister, whether she be my husband's other wife, that is irrelevant. And it is not encumbent upon a wife to care for other's outside of her household.

It seems that the prevalent concept of polygyny is that a man has more than one wife and the wives are friends and share in household duties, raising children, etc. in a household together. Not necessarily. Polygyny is not Big Love, which is only a television program with a script.

As a side note, for those who may question this train of thought, in Islam, just as a man has rights, so do women. However, often when a woman is mindful of her rights and preferences, it is not acknowledged and certainly not advanced, but often criticized.

For those who know of or may live in a marriage in which the second marriage was secret, then you may want to consider that the husband started the second marriage proving that he can not be fair. If the second wife knows she is the second wife, and the first wife knows nothing of this, how is that fair.

My reply to a neighbor when she asked for advice after her husband told her she was considering polygyny: get a special rate with her gynecologist for regular exams for STDs (common); or a good lawyer; her husband should start thinking of getting a new apartment (since he was actually living in her home).

I simply do not understand why Muslims are constantly stating Muslim women are the epitome of womanhood and dignity, yet we are constantly treated poorly by those who claim they honor and love us. And we get angry when others criticize us. Masha Allah, it may be based on actual facts, not media hype.

LittleChocolateDoll said...

If my husband ever decides to have another wife, I will divorce him instantly. Thank God I have a good education, a good job and a supportive family. I cannot believe some men have the nerve to suggest a second wife to their spouses!

I freely admit to being insanely jealous. I also have pride and would feel humiliated if my husband made me a co-wife. Hey, I'm a special girl and the apple of my parent's eye, my husband must treat me the same way!

I believe when your husband decides to take a "second" wife or a girlfriend or mistress then he is saying "You are unattractive to me. Physical attractiveness is what I treasure above all of your attributes. I don't respect you." When and if my husband decides to treat me thus, he can hit the road.

I am relatively young, and my husband loves me, but I see other marriages and based on what I have seen of men, I know he will someday stop finding me attractive and looking around (if not doing more than looking). How humiliating. Can a woman treat men in that way? When I think about men at times, I feel very vexed with them.

Do men think that their wives don't get tired of them? Can we go and get a second husband. One who has a better job, cooks, gives a better massage than the current one? How do you think your husband would feel if you did that? He would have a cow!

I am sorry for you ladies with a husband who wants a second wife. At any rate your sisters love you and no matter what the Koran says, I am sure God will make your husband pay for every minute of pain he gives you.

Finally, I think that if you really feel your husband can have two or more wives make sure he buys you a new car, jewelry etc. and he makes the second wife respect you and treat you with honor. If he buys her a necklace, he should buy you three and apologize to you for being a selfish jerk for the rest of his life.

amatullah said...

as salaamu alaikum wa rahmahtullah, may Allah azza wa jall plz forgive me. i do not want to go to the hellfire. but i don't and can't see these men worth sharing. i just don't see them as being that hot or important.maybe it is my husband. but i feel stupid sharing him. he just does not seem worth it. and as far as desires, i have very strong desires and i am by no means satisfied by him. it just makes me so... angry. not that he has another wife. but he gets to have something new and i have to put up with the same old him. no i am feeling like i am not religious. but i really feel very stupid sharing him. he just is not worth sharing in my eyes. i really feel like she can have that awful. and he comes in all puffed up with pride like he is really doing something. all i can think is what a idiot! ya Allah!

rafeeq said...

rafeeq/ as salaamu alaikum

As I was browsing I punched in the word polygany. I was shocked at the array of negative comments regarding a man taking on a second wife. I am currently in polygomous marriage and have been for 5yrs. I must admit I to was met with great resistance by my first wife. But constantly reminded her to fear her Lord. first and foremost Allah in his infinite wisdom knows perfectly well how he created man. The question is often asked why does a man desire another woman outside of his current monogomous marriage. This answer is with Allah the one who created men and the one who has made it permissible to marry up to 4 wives provided that he can provide equally in time and finances. Why is so many of you woman questioning the wisdom of Allah instead of fearing him. Who can make haram what Allah has made halal? I diagree with Ummkayhan who stated that there are plenty of men to go around, it is a well known fact that for various reasons the are more woman then men due to various circumstances ie; wars,imprinsonment and in this decadent western society homosexuality. What about the numorous woman that can't bear children due to age or some physical problems, should the man go without procreating, of course not.Sisters stop being selfish in your attitudes about the "God given right" of polygany because there is a great wisdom behind it. One has to only look at the sexually deviate catholic priests
that have abused counless children in their charge,why? because of the unatural act of restricting mans sexual desires. Sisters your negative attitudes towards polygany only causes fitnah within your husbands.He realizes this and it can only cause him to do something haram (commiting adultry,may Allah save us from this despicable act,Amin)or to get married in secret without your knowledge(which is permissable to a certain extent). Having a second or third wife supresses any desires to venture out to do something haram.The ironic thing that struck me the most was the comments by Luna, who is a Christian.She seems to appreciate the rights given by Allah to men more than our own God fearing muslim woman ,whereas in Chritianity once your married divorce is prohibited as in "to death do you part".So if they marry someone that thier totally incompatible with they are stuck for life.So sisters compare our great religion to the others then realize what a great blessing the Allah has favour upon us and stop defying Allahs' great wisdom and fear him for there is a great reward now and in the hereafter for doing so.May Allah soften your hearts to his wisdom and commands.

PM said...

"rafeeq" -- you seem to forget it is also a woman's "God-given right" to reject polygyny for herself. What's wrong? Are you afraid there won't be enough willing women for you guys to exercise you "God-given rights".

And btw, I don't know if you live in the "decadent West" you are referring to but I live in the decadent Arab world where homosexuality and pedophilia are alive and well. get your head out of the sand, man!

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