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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 6 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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'POLYGAMY FOR WOMEN' demand in Saudi Arabia sparks row in Muslim world

Arab journalist seeks polyandry for women:

Why only men are allowed to practice polygamy in Islam but not women?

A Saudi woman demands Polyandry

Saudi Feminists and Polyandry

Polyandry call is 'akin to blasphemy'

Female polygamy - might improve a Muslim woman's lot - article sparks row in Egypt

Does Polygany Degrade Womanhood?

Polygany (Ta'ad-dud)

Awakening: A Story of Polygyny

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

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SAUDI ARABIA: 'Polygamy for women' article sparks public row in Egypt, Muslim world

January 5, 2010

"Allow me to choose four, five or even nine men, just as my wildest imagination shall choose. I’ll pick them with different shapes and sizes, one of them will be dark and the other will be blond. ... [T]hey will be chosen from different backgrounds, religions, races and nations.”

So reads the first paragraph of Saudi journalist Nadine Bedair’s controversial article, recently published in the Egyptian independent daily Al Masry Al Youm that raised the question of why only men are allowed to practice polygamy in Islam but not women. As expected, the daring article, entitled "My Four Husbands and I," has stirred the pot among various groups.

Comments and criticism on the article continue to trickle in at a steady pace nearly a month after its publication, especially in Egypt, from where it originated. There, some Muslim authorities and lawmakers have attacked Bedair, condemning her writings as inflammatory and sexually provocative.

One of those who reacted with fury to her reflections on the alleged unfairness of polygamy in Islam was Sheikh Mohamed Gama’i. He lashed out at the Saudi journalist in an article published on an Egyptian news site, saying that “no woman has the right to attack our traditions in this manner” and said that Bedair ought to be “stopped.”

The article has also irritated some in Egyptian political circles, with one Member of Parliament reportedly filing a lawsuit against Al Masry Al Youm on accusations of promoting vice.

In her argument, Bedair suggests that either both men and women be permitted to take several spouses or that it’s time to make the rules more fair and come up with a new "map of marriage" in which men can’t marry more women just because they’ve gotten bored with the old one.

Islam allows men to marry up to four women at the same time, but only if they can treat the wives equally.

While Bedair's article has been met with a storm of criticism from some conservatives, there are those who believe she has a valid point and that her commentary has opened the door to an important, and long overdue, debate.

One Egyptian imam, Sheikh Amr Zaki, said the concept of polygamy simply doesn’t fit in with today’s societal structures and that the world would be better off if the practice was banned.

"In our world today, polygamy should be unacceptable. There is no need for it and, besides, no man can truly love more than one woman and vice versa," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.

Heated discussions on the female polygamy article and polyandry in general have also surfaced in the Arab blogosphere and in Web forums in the region.

Echoing Sheikh Zaki’s argument for scrapping polygamy, one female commentator writing in online Muslim youth culture magazine Elan argued that there is just no need for the centuries-old practice in today's world.

“Back in the seventh century, men married multiple wives for practical reasons -- to forge alliances and strengthen communities, save widows from squalor, etc. But things are different now. I really don’t think single women need to be rescued anymore. If a woman remains unmarried at 30, I think she’ll survive. And if a man is so bored by one woman, then maybe he shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place,” she wrote.

Some clerics insist, however, that male polygamy provides social security for widows and divorcees.

Then there are also those who believe that the article is not so much about polygamy as about highlighting women's rights issues in traditional Arab nations.

Saudi blogger Ahmed Al-Omran, who runs the popular blog Saudi Jeans, is one of those who takes on Bedair’s article from a different perspective, saying it does not so much argue for women's right to practice polygamy as it does to serve as a stinging criticism of the practice.

“People who attacked Nadine [Bedair] missed the point entirely. ... She was just trying to criticize polygamy by putting men in the shoes of women who accept to be part of such marriages. ... I think one of the good outcomes of Nadine's article is that it has rekindled the debate on women's issues in the country, especially those concerning how judges, and the legal system in general, treat women,” he told The Times in an e-mail conversation.

Women living in some conservative Arab countries are left with few rights, in principle, if their husband suddenly decides to marry an additional woman.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut


Arab journalist seeks polyandry for women

Saudi journalist stirs row after publishing article in favor of polyandry for women in Muslim world


A Saudi female journalist stirred a row in Egypt after publishing an article in favor of polyandry for women.

The piece, published in the al-Masri al-Yaum newspaper, promotes the notion that women should be allowed to marry several partners, similarly to the right enjoyed by Muslim men. According to Islamic law, a man is allowed to be married to four different women at any given time, as long as he treats them equally.

However, journalist Nadin al-Badir suggested that polyandry be permitted to both women and men. The female writer also proposed that Muslim men be banned from marrying more women merely because they are bored with their current partners.

According to a BBC report Friday, a parliament member already filed a lawsuit against the newspaper for publishing the provocative item.

As could be expected, the article also elicited angry responses among Muslim clerics, who argued that the ideas presented in it are anti-Islamic and that the journalist had no right to attack tradition.

However, one cleric defended the article, claiming that it did not constitute an attempt to promote polyandry among women, but rather, it aimed to expose readers to the suffering of women as result of their husbands' conduct.,7340,L-3822111,00.html


A Saudi woman demands Polyandry

by Shakir Lakhani

December 27th, 2009

Years ago, I read about someone asking Imam Abu Hanifa about why a woman was not allowed to have more than one husband. He asked his daughter (Hanifa) and she is reported to have said, “If she has more than one husband, how can anyone explain whose child it is that she has borne?” So the great Imam (who is followed by most Sunni Muslims) explained that this was the reason why Islam forbade a woman to be married to more than one man. Now a Saudi woman in Egypt has asked why polyandry (the custom of women having more than one husband) should not be allowed, since DNA testing is now easily available to determine parenthood.

Most people may not be aware that polyandry has been practiced in many places throughout history. It is still the custom for a woman to have more than one husband in certain parts of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and even in India. No one knows why the practice originated, although it may have been found necessary in societies where the number of men outnumbered the women. In Pakistan today, for instance, there are 106 men for every 100 women, which means that half a million Pakistani males will never be able to marry (unless they marry men or go to other countries to find marriage partners). In the Middle East (particularly the U.A.E.), the number of men in most countries is much more than the number of women.

What would happen if a mysterious disease struck women only and there would be only one woman for two men? I know that the Abrahamic religions (to which Islam belongs) strictly forbid polyandry. Would the priests, rabbis and mullahs then get together and allow women to have more than one husband?


Saudi Feminists and Polyandry

December 20, 2009

The funniest article I have read recently was one in Ynetnews about a Saudi who wrote an article suggesting that just as men in Saudi Arabia are allowed to have multiple wives - up to four, specifically, so too Saudi women should be allowed to have multiple husbands.

Her call for polyandry was in the name of equality.

A Saudi female journalist stirred a row in Egypt after publishing an article in favor of polyandry for women.

The piece, published in the al-Masri al-Yaum newspaper, promotes the notion that women should be allowed to marry several partners, similarly to the right enjoyed by Muslim men. According to Islamic law, a man is allowed to be married to four different women at any given time, as long as he treats them equally.

However, journalist Nadin al-Badir suggested that polyandry be permitted to both women and men. The female writer also proposed that Muslim men be banned from marrying more women merely because they are bored with their current partners.

According to a BBC report Friday, a parliament member already filed a lawsuit against the newspaper for publishing the provocative item. s could be expected, the article also elicited angry responses among Muslim clerics, who argued that the ideas presented in it are anti-Islamic and that the journalist had no right to attack tradition.

And of course it concludes with the explanation that:

However, one cleric defended the article, claiming that it did not constitute an attempt to promote polyandry among women, but rather, it aimed to expose readers to the suffering of women as result of their husbands' conduct.

tha Talkbacks were also pretty funny, specifically #3 who said

Muslim Feminism: We also want to be backward and stupid like our husbands!" Why are they such morons?


Polyandry call is 'akin to blasphemy'

Lawyer files complaint over article questioning why polygamy is allowed for men and not women

By Duraid Al Baik

December 23, 2009

Traditionalists argue that Islam forbids women to marry more than one man at once to determine the fatherhood of the child in case the women becomes pregnant. This argument has now collapsed because modern science can identify the father of any child through DNA testing, Nadine Al Bdair says. Image Credit: SuppliedImage 1 of 212

Dubai: A 790-word opinion article by a female Saudi writer, Nadine Al Bdair, might start a fierce legal and social confrontation between traditionalists and reformists.

In her weekly article published on December 11 in the Egyptian newspaper Al Masri Al Youm, Nadine cynically urged religious scholars to issue a verdict allowing women to marry four men simultaneously to equate them with men in the Sharia, a move that was considered by many Muslims as blasphemous and a blunt call to wreck the foundations of the religion.

Her argument was that women could now marry more than one man thanks to scientific developments.

"Traditionalists argue that Islam forbids women to marry more than one man at once to determine the fatherhood of the child in case the woman becomes pregnant. This argument has now collapsed because modern science can identify the father of any child through DNA testing," she said.

Nadine, a Dubai-based Saudi journalist, who started her career as an opinion writer in a number of Saudi and Gulf newspapers, has lived in Dubai, Cairo and Washington. She also works as a presenter of a TV show at the Virginia-based Al Hurra TV Arabic Channel. Nadine's weekly programme, Mosawat, that translates into equality, focuses on issues related to women's rights in the Arab world.

Lawyer Khalid Fouad Hafez, who is also the secretary general of the People Democratic Party in Egypt, filed a complaint against Nadine and Magdi Al Galad, editor-in-chief of Al Masri Al Youm, for his role in publishing the opinion article in the newspaper.

In a telephone interview, Hafez told Gulf News the literal meaning of the article is blasphemous and includes a call for an immoral act, which, he stressed, is a violation of the Egyptian criminal code.

He said the case was filed at the public prosecutor office on December 15 under the number of 21663.

"I am waiting for the decision of the public prosecutor in order to start legal investigations in the case," he said.

"Regardless of the nationality of the writer and the place of her residency, the prosecutor has to take action against a crime committed in Egypt and has to do whatever is possible to bring the perpetrators to justice," he said.

Hafez believes that Egyptians have every right to secure the society against Nadine's call to ‘legalise adultery' and allow women to marry four husbands at the same time.

"People who have little knowledge about Islam might be seduced to think that Islam permits polygamy for women based on the advancement of science and DNA test technology according to [Nadine's] call," Hafez said.

This a crime and unless Nadine repents it in the same newspaper, he said the law must take action to protect the society. Hafez said he has never been against freedom of expression. He said he had volunteered to defend many journalists in the past in court cases.

Free speech

"I am known amongst journalists as the ‘lawyer of journalists'. I represented journalists in courts free-of-charge in a number of major cases in the past and won verdicts in their favour. In this particular case which I filed against [Nadine], I would not have reacted this way if Nadine limited her call to expressing her own views without calling for fatwa to alter the religion in accordance with her sexual desires," he said.

Gulf News contacted Nadine to comment on the complaint filed against her in Egypt and if she was willing to appear in courts to defend her views, but she declined to comment.

Staff members at Al Hurra TV in Dubai and in Washington, who were reached for a comment on the case refused to give an official statement.

A senior official from Al Hurra told Gulf News on condition of anonymity that the Nadine issue this time is related to her activities outside Al Hurra and the station has nothing to do with it.

"We will review the level Al Hurra would support [Nadine] once the legal action starts against her," he said.

Salwa Al Lubani, a female Jordanian writer based in Cairo, told Gulf News that she believes Nadine has the right to discuss any issue and the society has the right to discuss the points being highlighted.

"Filing a case against [Nadine] or any other writer is inappropriate and such a move in the 21st century reflects the rise of fanatics in the Muslim world. In the 60s and 70s [of] the past century, writers [had] more freedom of expression than we have nowadays.

"I read [Nadine's] articles and I have a feeling that she sometimes expressed her views in a confrontational manner that diverts her aim from the main course, but this is not an excuse to refer [Nadine] or any other writer to courts.

"We have crisis in the Arab and Islamic world and we should work together to resolve them before they hit the nerve of the society which is about to explode."


Female polygamy - might improve a Muslim woman's lot - article sparks row in Egypt

DECEMBER 18, 2009

In the very place of Islam's birth - women were allowed to take more than one wife or to practise polyandry. Muhammad is claimed to have improved the rights of women by taking 13 wives and somewhere near that number in concubines - as booty from various plunders - though history tells another story.

Numerous legends refer to the female-centered clans, matriarchal practices, and matrilineal inheritance of ancient Arabia and surrounding countries. In Assyria, the head of a family was called the "shebu," and was originally a female, or matriarch. In other mideastern lands, polyandry was sanctioned - a woman could marry several husbands, who left their own families to live with hers; she could also initiate divorce by turning her tent to face east for three nights in a row. Before the onset of patriarchy, women may have experienced superior - or at least equal - rights with men. Queen Sheba in Yemen

Although the original article written by an Arabian journalist - uses the idea of women's polygamy - as a way of highlighting the abuse many Muslim women suffer. Muslim men who push for the right to marry more than one woman in Europe - do not understand that women would have to be extended the same right.

Up in the Himalayas - Nepal some of the Buddhists in remote locations - still practice polyandry - where the woman takes a few men - who can be brothers and the youngest son is sent off to the monastery.

A member of the Egyptian parliament has filed a lawsuit over an article questioning why polygamy is allowed for men in Islam but not for women.

The article in the newspaper Al Masry Al Youm was written by a female Saudi journalist, Nadine al-Bedair.

It has been denounced by some Muslim clerics as inflammatory and anti-Islamic.

But others have said it serves the purpose of highlighting how badly some husbands treat their wives.

The article was clearly meant to cause a big stir and it has.

Published in the independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, the article by Nadine al-Bedair suggests that polygamy should either be allowed for both men and women - or else there should be a new concept of marriage where men are not allowed to take a new wife just because they are bored with the old one.

'Promoting vice'

In Islam, men can marry four women at the same time - but only if they can treat them all equally.

In practice, women in more traditional parts of the Arab world can suddenly find themselves after years of marriage with few or no rights if their husband chooses to take a new wife.

The article has drawn predictably strong criticism from some Muslim authorities in Egypt, with one saying the author had no right to attack Islamic traditions and had to be stopped. [Hey that's the same as in Europe]

An Egyptian MP has taken up that gauntlet, filing a legal complaint against the paper, accusing it of promoting vice.

Other clerics have said male polygamy serves a social purpose, allowing widows, divorcees and unmarried women to find a partner.

But one cleric at least has taken a different tack.

He says the article is clearly not an actual call for female polygamy, but an appeal for people to wake up and see how badly some women are treated by their husbands.



Does Polygany Degrade Womanhood?


Islam allows a man to have more than one wife, what is the significance of this? and do you think this degrades womanhood? I have wondered about this aspect of Islam but on asking various people.. I have never got a consistent reply. I was wondering if you could clear this for me.

It is more than obvious that an ideal family setup is the one in which one man and one woman decide to live their lives as man and wife. Islam makes no exception to this rule. There are a few points from which we can clearly derive from the Qur'an that according to the basic scheme of God for this world, a family should consist of one husband and one wife only. For instance, we can see that when God created Adam, it was not a team of women created for his service, but just one, to be his partner. In the same way, even today the balanced setup for a household is normally where one man and one woman combine to form a family. There is nothing in the teachings of the Qur’an or the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) that negates this rule.

But even though an ideal family setup consists of one husband and one wife, there could be a number of situations where the society demands of a person to compromise the ideal family setup and enter into a second marriage for the general good of the society and "womanhood". It is exactly such a situation that is mentioned in Surah Al-Nisa’, where men are allowed to enter into a polygamous life. I would like to present a brief analysis of the related verses of the referred surah, so that the context in which this permission is granted may be clear to you.

The setup in which the verses were revealed is that the Muslims in the battle of Uhud had lost many lives due to which many women had become widows and many children had become orphans. In this setup God says:

People, you must remember that you are all the creation of one God and the children of one mother and one father; the orphans in your society are no different. It is your responsibility to look after the well being and interests of these orphans; if they are young and cannot look after their assets themselves, you must look after these assets for them, and in doing so, you must not unjustly consume their assets fearing that you will have to return it to them when the time comes. In case you fear that you shall not be able to fulfill your responsibilities (regarding the assets and well being of these orphans) in a just manner, God allows you to marry the mothers of these orphans; upto four marriages. But in case you fear that you shall not be able to deal with these wives in a just manner then you must not enter into a second marriage.

As can be seen from the above context, the permission for a second marriage is granted, not for increased pleasure but to provide ease in fulfilling a social responsibility. In this context, we may say that there are two conditions in which a person is allowed a second marriage:

1) There should be a socially justifiable reason for it;

2) If a person fears that he shall not be able to maintain a just balance in his dealings with his wives, he must not enter into the second marriage.

It is obvious that when a permission is granted for something, people may take advantage of such permission and use it for satisfying their personal pleasures. The Islamic state, in such a case can take action to check the misuse of such allowances.

In the present times, where a second marriage is looked upon with disgust, there are many instances where a widow has to spend the rest of her life all alone and nobody wants to marry a divorced woman etc. A man, who is naturally inclined towards marrying a young woman for his only wife, may be willing to take an older divorced or widowed woman for a second wife. One of the results of this allowance in the Arab society was that men took upon themselves, as a responsibility, the support of divorced and widowed women by taking them as their wives. This, as can be clearly seen was a great advantage of the referred allowance.

To summarise the above points, Islam does not in any case advocate polygamy, it only allows polygamy, in certain cases where a person feels that a second marriage may help him in carrying out an important social responsibility, that in his opinion, he must fulfill. A second marriage, for the sake of conjugal pleasures alone, is against the spirit of Islam and may be prohibited by the Islamic state.


Polygany (Ta'ad-dud)


As one glances across the history of Islam, one cannot help but notice the deep impressions made by faithful believing women who comforted, trusted, and endured poverty and hardship, nursed and even fought in battles beside their men - women who willingly hid their charms because of Allah’s (SWT) command and strove to show Islam to all nations - women who were not overly influenced by the lure of the material world and who excelled within the Islamic bounds set for women.

Yet, today there are those who ask what type of woman would marry a man who is already married, without considering the fact that they need go no further than the wives of our Prophet (SAW) and other eminent companions to find the answer. Of course the standard reply is that those were different times. Perhaps they are unaware that Allah’s (SWT) laws are contained in the final dispensation, Islam, are not bound by considerations of time or place, but stand applicable whenever circumstances permit. No Muslim can deny that Allah (SWT) has sent His last revelation, His last Prophet (SAW) and His last Divine law and declared that He will not accept anything other than Islam as religion,

"…This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…" (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

"And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers." (Al-Imran 3:85)

And, Allah (SWT) has already instructed Muslims in no uncertain terms not to make unlawful that which He has made lawful. Thus, it is not fitting that those who choose to follow the Prophet’s (SAW) Sunnah be condemned for availing themselves of an option given to them by Allah (SWT).

Polygyny is not a decadent or indecent relationship but a valid part of the marriage system of Islam. Allah (SWT) says, "And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls, then marry (other) 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 or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice." (An-Nisa 4:3)

One must note that man is first told to marry two, three or four women, then he is advised to marry only one if he cannot deal justly with more than one. This does not mean that Islam encourages all men to marry at least two women, but that such an option is undoubtedly permissible for those who can fulfil its conditions.

The verse also sets the upper limit of four in a society in which an unlimited amount of simultaneous marriages were allowed. Thus a man must be able and willing to divide his time and wealth in an equitable fashion before he is allowed to have more than one wife. Conversely, if he is unable to feed, clothe and house all his wives justly, then, according to the Qur'anic command, he should not marry more than one.

The point is that the permissibility of Polygyny has been exemplified in the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who was allowed by Allah (SWT) to marry nine women during the same time period. It is true that many of the marriages were for socio-political purposes like encouraging the marriage of widows, breaking certain taboos and linking clans; however, the Prophet (SAW) still married those who pleased him and turned down those who did not.

Nevertheless, many Muslims today find the subject of polygyny distasteful and insist on considering plural marriage demeaning to women. This is primarily because the roles of men and women in western society, at least, have become severely distorted. Women openly compete with men for the same jobs; men sue their wives for support payments; women’s clothing styles include suites and ties; men’s clothing styles include bracelets, necklaces, ear rings and long hair, and both sexes wear interchangeable clothing under the title of "uni-sex". The female has lost her natural position of protection in western society and is thus obliged to fight for equality with the male. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising to find western women and their eastern counterparts vehemently opposed to polygyny.

Women outnumber men at birth and live longer than men do. American women today can expect to live to be 77.9 years old and men can expect to live to age 70.3 according to the Center for Health Statistics. Couple that with the high incidence of violent crime among males, their war dead and the rise in the rates of homosexuality and it becomes obvious that there are not enough men for each woman to have one. Thus many women are obliged to become mistresses, girlfriends and playmates to fulfil their natural physical needs, leaving their psychological needs distorted in such demanding relationships.

Muslims can choose to join the West in it death throes, falsely called "progress" and "sophistication", or choose to retain Islamic values. It is a fact that the average married western citizen continues to seek personal sexual freedom outside the framework of marriage. Serial or progressive monogamy in which a person remarries a number of times is so widespread today that it has arrived as an alternative marriage structure in American society.

Some researchers predict that we are close to the day when 85% of all men and women reaching the age of sixty-five (in the US) will have been remarried at least once. Thus we can see that an Islamic society, which honours, shelters and protects women, is definitely preferable to a corrupt open society which forces women into despicable roles out of desperation or ignorance in order to compete with men for survival. Men are the natural guardians of women and every woman should be under the care of a guardian.

There is no doubt that no woman relishes the thought of sharing her husband with another and that plural marriages provide a base for jealousies to arise. However, the laws of Islam always give precedence to the general welfare of society over the individual discomfort or personal preferences. Hence the Islamic marriage system includes polygyny to protect and provide for the ever present surplus of females in most human societies. The institution of polygyny is the Islamic marriage system also takes into account certain undeniable aspects of human nature which affect male-female relationships. These aspects represent the natural instincts which must be present in order for men to be prepared and able to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the surplus females in society. Simply stated, men must have a greater instinctual sexual drive and a natural desire to have more than one wife, this has been scientifically proven.

Certain conditions are attached to plural marriages in Islam in order to protect the women involved because it is invariably the women who are taken advantage of in such relationships. For example, a man may not have more than four wives at a time and each marriage contract is legal and binding, involving the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as the first contract. That is, wife number one is not the mother or chief of all subsequent wives, nor is wife number four allowed preferential treatment at the expense of the other wives. Each individual marriage contracts carries the same amount of weight in an Islamic court of law and thus men are not allowed to openly attach greater importance to one at the expensive of the other. Such behaviour would not be equitable treatment and might even be construed as oppression.

The Prophet (SAW) was reported to have said,

"Whoever has two wives and leaned unduly to one of them will come on the Day of Judgment with half of his body leaning." (Sunan Abu Dawud)

So the man must live with all of his wives on a footing of equality and kindness. In fact, the whole question of permissibility of plural marriages in Islam is tied to a given man’s ability to deal justly with all his wives in terms of his time and wealth.

The most important factor in a truly Islamic marriage is the piety of the partners involved. This fact was alluded to by the Prophet (SAW) in the following statement:

"A woman may be married for four reasons: for her property (wealth), her rank (lineage), her beauty and her religion. However, you should marry the one who is religious and you will be satisfied." (Sahih Bukhari)

Therefore, love, as it is known in the West, is not a prerequisite for marriage in Islam; hence the concept of plural marriages does not have as emotionally devastating an effect on a true Muslim woman as it would have on their non Muslim counterparts, except where WESTERN influences are great. In Islam, love usually follows marriage, so it is better to marry a religious, pious, disciplined man and love for Allah’s (SWT) pleasure rather than to develop a pre-marital romantic fixation which often fades in time due to the inevitable trials of marriage.

Hence, if a man is able to care for and take care of more than one wife justly, there is no sin on him if he does so. On the contrary, he should be commended for following the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) and fulfilling his role as a guardian of women.


Awakening: A Story of Polygyny


Muslimah Inspirations

Awakening: A Story of Polygyny

Asalaamu Alaikum, I don't know if my story will inspire, but if it at least comforts and assuages the fears and insecurities, that I know I too once had, Khair Insha'Allaah.

I embraced Islam in my mid thirties. I had what most single independent minded "modern" women aspire for. My career, my own apartment, control of my own life, Ha! little did I know, in my early ventures into the local culture, what was to transpire. I say local, as by pure serendipity, (Allah Knows Best) I had landed up in the Arabian Gulf, a refugee really having being evacuated, so to speak, out of Iran in the 1978 Revolution. Naively I came expecting to stay a week or so and have never left. Twenty one years on I can truly say that Allah, Subhanana wa Ta'ala has his plan.

I didn't take to the expat lifestyle here, my parents, who had arrived two years previously, were considered a little eccentric, my father loved nothing better than to sit down with one of his Arab friends and talk for hours over endless cups of suliemani tea. My family and I were round pegs in square holes! Having really been something of a nonconformist all my life I had no problems mingling with the local ladies and in fact what started as intellectual curiosity grew into a strange awakening. I began to see that I was more comfortable with these moral, traditional, even anachronistic but straight speaking and yet warm, generous hearted folk, and began to wonder why. The answer was that they were living Islam. Islam was the key.

I started to ask myself serious questions about my expectations of life, my hopes, my goals. A more spiritual intensity was aroused. I began to pray, my own way. I had never been a member of any church oriented religious group, despite being sent to Sunday School as a child (I had defied them all and stubbornly refused to recite the Lords Prayer, and been cast out). I began to read Qur'an, to read anything on Islam really. I asked many questions, and was surprised to find that none of the answers were other than natural. I realized that perhaps I had always had an Islamic mentality although suppressed. (Fitra, SubhaanAllaah) An astounding revelation to someone who thought she really knew herself and her abilities! This was the beginning of my submission to Islam.

Along this journey I was privileged to meet and have the support of several true and devoted women, whose influence had great impact on me. I was encouraged to search and guided into the True Path, that of Qur'an and Sunnah. I began praying according to the Sunnah and, had made the transition out of my inappropriate Sales career into quieter more conducive employment, which didn't compromise my beliefs.

I was still studying and learning. I led a less hectic lifestyle with more peace and security than I had ever known. All along my Sisters in Islam were gently chiding me about not being married. I wasn't ready. I thought, oh so selfishly. They were searching and suggesting suitable partners. After about two years, and finally achieving a level of acceptance that I could not progress further without "completing my Deen", I agreed to see a few Brothers. To be a western revert here is something similar to being "flavor of the month".

There were offers, but I had to be so sure, Estaghfirullah, I had a list of conditions....... (Cobwebs from the days of Jahailliyya). My first condition was not to share my husband!!! Estaghfirullah. There had been one brother who through intermediaries had sent inquiries. I wouldn't consider him, he was already married with 6 children, not western educated, I was sure he wouldn't have anytime to share, and would definitely not understand our differences, oh how superficial I was.

Not deterred in the slightest he quietly returned , and inquired several times over the year. Finally, a little irritated and very arrogant, I deigned to allow an audience, (Estaghfirullah) with chaperones, to get him out of my hair for once and for all. We met and I proceeded to set my conditions. He smiled. I inquired as to his wife's opinion on his taking another wife. He smiled. I asked about his children's opinion. He smiled. I was infuriated but tantalized. Why wasn't this going the way I planned (Note the arrogance here, cobwebs again... Allah (Azawajal's) Plan is far superior).

His wife was aware and wished to meet me, his children were excited. I could be myself, a western revert, he didn't expect me to adopt Arab ways. (A problem often encountered by others). I could find no logical reason to reject him. I was outdone! (Allah's (Azawajal's) Plan, again) Confused I prayed Istikharah, again and again. The next day I woke very early and prayed Tahajjud, a feeling of calm flowed over me, I wasn't afraid, I wasn't anxious, I was at peace, Al Hamdulillah, Masha'Allaah. We met two days later and I had no more questions.

My father, on the other hand, was hyperventilating! He requested a meeting. It was set up. They talked. My husband smiled. My father dissolved. He too could only say that he couldn't see anything untoward but was still aghast when I said we were to sign our contract the next day. My father tremulously attended the Nikah as a witness (in addition to the two muslim witnesses and the Qazi who was my Wali/Wakil) this in itself was an act of diplomacy and good Da'wah that my father never forgot. I am happy to say that since then my father, step-mother and younger brother have all, Masha'Allaah Tabarak Allah embraced Islam.

The first thing we did was to visit my co-wife a quiet lady of great generosity, with whom, to this day, I have never had any confrontation, Al Hamdulillah, Masha'Allaah. Those early days were an examination in many ways, a lot of adjusting to marriage and each other, but here, after twelve years, I can say truly, that I would rather have my situation, (married to this man; who's family is the center of his life, who's Taqwa is ever increasing Masha'Allaah, who guides and supports me in my striving to grow and be the best Muslimah, wife and mother that I can be, who indulges my incorrigible tendency to drift back to my old mentality (independence, self-reliance, and more than a touch of opinionation die hard), and who has been there for me and with me through the most special and precious times of my life) than any other. Masha'Allaah Tabarak Allah.

In all our affairs we always return to the Qur'an and Sunnah if there are differences, Al Hamdulillah. My husband tries his best to be patient and kind with me, he is a good and responsible husband, provider and father to our two daughters. Masha'Allaah Tabarak Allah. Our marriage continues to grow and our relationship deepens, we have had many trials, Al Hamdulillah, but his having another wife and other children has not hampered his efforts to be the best he can be for all of us. Masha'Allaah Tabarak Allah. We live in one compound , now in two villas, our children, all nine, Masha'Allaah roam from one house to the other freely. We, my co-wife and I, go out shopping and visiting together. We entertain as one family unit, my husband always smiles and invites our guests to enjoy our food, as "East meeting West"!

And that's exactly what we have, with a firm foundation in Islam, Al Hamdulillah, which has no nationality or race, Masha'Allaah. Which supersedes our Nafs, which doesn't condemn our human weaknesses, but recognizes and encourages us to overcome them. As Always Allahu Alem.

Allahumma inna na'udhu bika min 'ilman la yanfa'u wa qalbin la yakhsha'u, wa nafsin la tasha'u wa du'a la yusma'u

("I seek refuge in You from knowledge that does not benefit, from a heart that is not humbled, from a du'a that is not answered, and from a soul that is not satisfied", Aameen)

Taken from Muslimah Inspirations.


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