A women’s greatest fear
These words can strike fear into the heart of any Muslim women in a monogamous marriage. It is a dreaded word to most modern Muslim women these days: “My husband wants to take a second wife!”
Polygamy has existed for centuries in many different cultures. It is not just within Islam that polygamy is encouraged. From Hinduism and Christianity to the different African cultures, it has been there and will remain there despite the efforts of many to do away with it. Polygamy was previously not recognized in South Africa. Today, however wives from polygamous marriages even inherit according to the South African Law of Succession and Family law.
I was once asked about my views on polygamy by a non-Muslim many years back. I hang my head in shame at the answer I gave to him. I was only twenty-one and thought I knew everything there was to know about Islam back then. How arrogantly, I answered. I am now ashamed to say that I thought in such a small-minded and narrow way back then, but I have grown and this is all part of my journey of growth and self-development.
Divine rights of a man
You are a Muslim woman, but you don’t believe or accept polygamy, how is that possible? The holy Quraan clearly gives a man the rights to have four wives. Who are you then to refuse his God-given, divine rights? I ask. Polygamy is a sunnah and and lawfully allowed in Islam provided that specific rules are followed. It has to be implemented in a transparent manner and not a hidden/temporary marriage. Also a man has to be fair and just to all four of his wives.
Many years ago, I used to have debates and arguments with my brothers and any man who even whispered the word polygamy near me. Stupid and naive that I was, I argued about things I had no knowledge of. About two years ago, my younger brother sat me down and took the time to explain polygamy to me in detail. I promised to listen to him with an open mind without interrupting him. At first, I sat with my arms crossed thinking what I would say to him and how I would argue my point. However, as he went on, something within me began to change. I really started to understand the hikmah (wisdom) behind polygamy.
Allah (GOD) swt is so great. A staunch feminist and a passionate activist against abuse of women, I used to be adamant that every man only saw polygamy as a tool and means to satisfy their desires and hurt and exploit innocent women. How wrong I was! There are many men who exploit their God-given rights to have 4 wives, by marrying women and then treating them badly. There are however many individuals who have successfully taken more than one wife and lead extraordinary lives. They are fair and just and provide love, care, and support to all four wives equally. Their family life is in order and these families really thrive upon this setting.
Strong Imaan and proper taqwa is the solution (Fear your Lord and have faith in His wisdom)
The key lies in the level of imaan (faith) and intentions of both the husband as well as the first wife. Which women wants to share her man? Every single woman is territorial and jealous. Even the wives of Nabi Muhammad s.a were jealous. That being said, if a man is mentally strong enough to handle four different women in his life, then Bismillah, let him go ahead with polygamy.
During the time of our prophet Muhammad s.a, polygamy was encouraged not for carnal desires. There were many reasons but mostly it was there to take care of women. When a woman lost her husband through death or divorce, the companions of the prophet s.a would marry them to save them from zina (adultery) and poverty and to protect their best interests and sometimes even offer support as role models to another mans children in cases where the fathers had passed on.
The way I look at it, polygamy is a blessing for women. The benefits are numerous. Many women today do not want to be a second wife, neither do they wish to share their husbands. This to me is shallow and immature behavior as Muslim women. A while back a newly married bride, I know personally, asked her husband to take a second wife. She said that she had chosen someone for him based on the women’s marital status. Here was another woman just like her, divorced and struggling to make ends meet. I was utterly shocked. The women who did this was young, stunningly beautiful and what surprised me was that she was newly married. I took her aside and I asked her if she was okay? Why would you even suggest that? I wondered at that time. She selflessly chose to open her heart to another women.
Can you imagine a polygamy hater hearing this? I was appalled and shocked beyond words. After careful scrutiny of her intentions and reasoning, I realized how beautiful polygamy is and more so, it was a wake-up call for me too.
No need for consent from the first wife
You as a Muslim woman need to understand that Jannah (heaven) lies under the feet of your husband. If you please him, you please Allah. If he decides that he wants another wife, you cannot stop him. I honestly believe that if you ask for a divorce, just because he took another wife, you are cruel and selfish beyond words.
If a man secretly marries that is not part of Islam. However, just remember that a man does not need a first wife’s permission for polygamy and that says it all. Deception is discouraged and frowned upon. However, if a man comes to his wife honestly and explains his intentions, allows the first wife to be a participant in the procedure of choosing another wife and is good and kind to his first wife, then what is the problem?
Stop Complaining and learn to appreciate what you have
Women often complain about their husbands. I am going to be brutally honest here. Some women say they have run out of excuses: “Honey, not tonight, I have a headache!” is now becoming a stale excuse. You can’t always satisfy his desires, if he has a high sex drive then what should he do? Commit adultery?
Men are from Mars and women are from Pluto
Women need to understand something, men were created very differently to us. Some men are weak, and women are the strong ones. We can control our desires. Some men can’t. The obvious solution is polygamy. If you as woman lack in the stamina to be the wife, he needs then don’t push him to sin.
Besides this, if a man marries another woman for Allah swt sake and wishes to assist a woman entirely for Allah swt sake and you stop him, you are preventing him from fulfilling what Allah has allowed. You are preventing another woman from her blessings! Open your mind ladies, and start thinking like a Muslim, not like a self-absorbed so-called modernist. Look at the bigger picture and how it will eradicate poverty and adultery.
Know your stats, see the bigger picture
Do you know how many women are single? Do you know that there future predicts that there will be more women on earth than men? In answer to your burning questions in all your minds right now. No, I am not desperate or stupid enough to jump into a polygamous marriage without being sure about who he is and what he stands for.
I know my place as a Muslim woman. Just as you don’t have a choice when it comes to proper hijab, you must cover because this is divine law! Right? It clearly states in the Quraan cover, cover cover! In the very same way, you must accept polygamy as divine law clearly stated in the holy Quraan.
Would I be a second wife? Yes! Would I allow my husband to have a second wife? Yes, definitely I would! In fact at one stage I begged my ex-husband to take another wife for different reasons that are personal. I once even suggested he marry a close friend of mine who was divorced and older than him. He thought I had gone insane.
Benefits of polygamy:
- Plenty of me time when he is with her.
- You know where he is when he is not with you.
- Shared responsibility for example:
- He owns a business. Each wife can manage certain department. Or you could take turns to cook and share meals etc
- Thawaab and blessings for following the sunnah and upholding the divine decree of Allah swt
- If you maintain a kinship and friendship with her it will be mutually beneficial – she will be there for you and your children if you fall ill.
- One big happy family – who needs outsiders when there are more than enough insiders?
- Discounts for shopping in bulk…hahah
- Most importantly mutually assisting others in matters of deen by encouraging one another to be their best.
- Security and support. You have a team behind you, what more do you need?
So, ladies before you decide to hate polygamy, know that you hating the divine rule and law of Allah swt, your creator. Are you disputing the hikmah and wisdom of the Lord of the universe, you have the audacity to do that?! Please feel free to leave your comments. Thank you for reading, I know this was a really long read.