La Tahzan Wa La Khauf

Don't Be Sad My Friends

Women, Polygamy and Islam

It has been considered for years that Islam does not give equal rights to men and women, and consider women only subject of comfort for males. This opinion has been delivered time and time again by renowned women activists but their basis of arguments being only the alleged facts. Their main argument is against the permission given towards polygamy in Islam. But many scholars who have gone through the pain in studying what Islam actually says have different opinion. They agree, in general, that Islam's approach to polygamy is most balanced and rational and is based on the moral, psychological and physiological demands of men and women (The Independent 13).

It should be remembered that taking more than one wife is only permissible, not ordained by the Quran - as some 'progressive' activist would like to believe. The Quranic verse that allows polygamy should be read in the context it was revealed. The Verse says, "And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two, three and four, but if you fear that you may not do justice to them, then (marry) only one" (4: 3). This verse was revealed after the battle of Uhud. In that battle, many Muslim men died and as such a great social problem for the protection of widows and orphans arose, necessitating an institutionalized polygamy for a convenient solution of the problem.

Some of the eminent Western scholars who actually studied Islam, quite blatantly criticized the Western and other self proclaimed writers for venting their opinion as facts. In her book The Life and Teachings of Muhammed, Dr. Annie Besant, the renowned English leader of Theosophical Movement, says: " There is pretended monogamy in the West, but in reality, there is polygamy without responsibility; the mistress is cast off when the man is weary of her ... the first lover has no responsibility for her future, and she is a hundred times worst off then the sheltered wife in a polygamous home. "When we see thousands of miserable women who crowd the streets of Western towns during the night, we must surely feel that it does not lie in the Western mouth to reproach Islam for polygamy. It is better for woman, happier for woman, more respectable for woman to live in polygamy, united to one man, only with a legitimate child in her arms and surrounded with respect, than to be seduced and then cast out into the streets perhaps with illegitimate child outside the rule of law, uncared, unsheltered, to become victim of any passer-by, night after night, rendered incapable of motherhood despised by all. "You can find others," continues Annie Besant, "stating that religion Islam is evil because it sanctions a limited polygamy. But you do not hear as a rule the criticism ... that monogamy with a blended mass of prostitution was a hypocrisy and more degrading than a limited polygamy. "... it must be remembered that the law of Islam in relation to women was until lately, when parts of it was imitated initiated in England, the most just law, as far as women are concerned, to be found in the world. Dealing with property, ...rights of succession,... cases of divorce, it was far beyond the law of the West, in the respect which was paid to the rights of women. Those things are forgotten while people are hypnotized by the words monogamy and polygamy and do not look at what lies behind it in the West - the frightful degradation of women..."

Divorce in Islam

The next point of confrontation regarding women is the issue of divorce. It is a well accepted thought that Islam allows the husband to get rid of his wife on his free will, any time he likes by uttering a particular word three times repeatedly. This idea is totally baseless and has got nothing to do with Islam is quite clear when one takes the pain of studying it. first of all, the marriage in Islam is a social contract, and it can be dissolved if it proves, in any way, injurious or incompatible to the wife or to the husband. The wife has been given as much right to obtain the divorce as the husband. But the process of divorce has been set with a time limit of three months, so that a major decision like this is not taken in a moment of anger, and then both of them reproaches it after their anger vents out. This has been clearly instructed in the Holy Quran, but made unnecessarily confused by some elite class to suite their own purpose. On the Timing of divorce: " O Prophet! if ye do divorce woman, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately) their prescribed periods: And fear Allah, your Lord: And turn them not out of your houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of open lewdness " (LXV: 1). On waiting periods for divorced women: " Divorced woman must wait three monthly courses. And it is not lawful for them to hide what Allah has created in their wombs, if they sincerely believe in Allah and the last day..." (2:228) Thus a clear three months period is mandatory before the final pronouncement is to be given. Each pronouncement of Talaq has to be made with a month's increment between it, so that their is chance that the couple repents and decide to continue their life together. After all, the prophet's saying goes 'Divorce is most disliked by Allah among all permissible things.' As women have got full rights to decide on to their separations, they also have full rights to chose partners in marriage, which is against what the 'learned' class would like to believe. No marriage in Islam is valid unless the bride and the bride-groom give their verbal consents regarding their marriage.

Status of Women in Islam

The status given to the women by Islam is another point of conflict as most of the "literate lots" would very much like to believe that women in Islam are still unliberated. However, it would be pointless to defend Islam by saying that Islam did give Women full equality in all respect to men (as some scholars defending Islam tried to do), as in reality, Islam does recognize the fact that women and men have their differences on the basis of their physical and physiological aspects, which is clearly stated in the Holy Quran in the following verses: "... Wives have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with the generally known principles. Ofcourse, men are a degree above them in status, and above all is Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise" (2: 228). "Men are in charge of women because Allah has made the one superior to the other and because men spend their wealth on women" (4: 34).

Thus, in Islam, men and women have absolute equality in stature, but with a complete difference in labor. Being subjected to the responsibility of taking care of the house-holds, is considered somewhat degrading nowadays, forwarding the possible idea that Islam has kept women away from nation building. But if we are to consider Napoleon's saying that 'Give me a good mother; I will give you a good nation', then we can see that in reality nation building starts at home, and failure to learn correct guidance at home would lead the generations to degrade, without even being concerned over it. In fact the Islamic concept of household is that it is the smallest unit in the greater organization of the Nation as a whole. The home is a little kingdom where authority is exercised by both husband and wife.

Never Say Never

by A Muslim Sister

As an American woman embracing Islam, there are often hurdles and challenges to be met. One of the most difficult aspects of Islam for me to accept was the permissibility of polygyny. The very thought of it seemed so bizarre and I chose to ignore it rather than accept it or to ever take part in it.

I embraced Islam about 7 years ago. This was also the beginning of a long struggle in search of the perfect husband and father figure for my children and me. I was provided a Wali from my community in order to handle this matter in the correct manner as to avoid mixing unnecessarily with other men, as well as to protect my best interests. It was a difficult process as most of the Brothers whom showed interest in marriage to me were looking for a second wife. It seemed that there were no single Brothers looking for a wife who already had children.

Almost a year of searching (I was feeling very desperate!), my Wali was approached by another Brother. Of course he too was searching for a second wife after moving to this country because of political/economic reasons. My Wali informed me that he seemed very sincere. He needed another wife as he planned on being in the US for several years and wanted to avoid living in haram. The Brother came here in hopes of providing better for his family overseas. To my dismay he had several children, didn't speak English, and did not have any formal education as he started working from the time he was 13 years old. He was even older than I preferred. However, I was informed that he is a good provider and a hard, skilled worker.

I still refused to meet with him because I did not want any part of a plural marriage. How could I share a man with another woman? How could I compete with the bond that they must share having several children together? Where would I fit in and how could I compete with all that it entails? Besides, he wasn't even educated! I couldn't imagine how he could possibly support the large family he already had as well as another family! Not to mention he was not a legal resident and I feared he was looking for a green card. It did not matter that I was desperate, I still would not agree to such circumstances. I would just continue to wait for the right person to come along.

Al hamdulillah! A couple of weeks later, another Brother was interested in meeting with me! He was only a couple of years older than I, never married, and no children. Not only that, he was educated (working on his Ph.D.), fluent in English and a legal resident! I was so excited to meet him I could hardly wait! He sounded like the ideal husband!

Right away, we met with each other and talked (with my Wali present of course). We both felt that we were perfect for each other. We were eventually married and we both felt very blessed. All of my prayers were being answered and my search had finally come to an end. I was so relieved and excited to begin a new life with my new husband. We packed all my belongings and moved to the state he resided in. I felt that my life could not be more perfect than it was now!

Well, Sisters, I couldn't be more wrong. After the move, my life started to fall apart really fast. Almost immediately, I could see signs of conflict between us. I couldn't believe it! My world came crashing down on me! I could actually see it happening right in front of my face but I could not stop it from happening. Two people never clashed as much as we did! How could this be happening to me? We disagreed about everything! We simply were not compatible. However, I was determined not to lose this marriage! I never wanted anything more badly than I wanted this marriage! I couldn't understand why this was happening when our marriage was based on Islam. We continued talking but neither one of us could understand what the other was saying. Eventually we were like enemies and it was getting really ugly. I began despising the way he talked, walked, laughed, etc. (I am sure he felt the same way.) At this point we both felt that divorce was the only answer. I felt like a total failure and I was so ashamed! I could never return home and be the talk of the community! My Iman had dropped very low. I only wanted to disappear.

I contacted my Wali's wife and she gave me the number to a very nice Sister in another state. I called her (Maashaallah) and she agreed to help me relocate to where she lived. (This state was even further away!). Consider me crazy but I decided to go for it! I felt that I had nothing else to lose. I loaded all of my belongings in the back of a U-Haul trailer and we left for our new home. I was really scared. The drive was about 17 hours long and I had never driven for more than 3 hours by myself. I would just have to think of it as an adventure and say Bismillah!

The next day, I arrived at my final destination. I found the home of this very sweet Muslim Sister (Maashaallah). Previously, I had spoken to her briefly on the phone and never actually met her in person. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Sister in niqab come out and greet me so warmly. I was so exhausted from driving (especially on the freeways in this large city). My niqaabi Sister was so enthusiastic; I soon forgot my troubles. She drove me all over the city in search of an apartment. Al hamdulillah by the end of the day Allah (S) provided me with an apartment in a really nice community with several other Muslim families. The apartment manager skipped the credit check, as that would have taken more time! Everything happened so smoothly with such ease, that I knew that this was what Allah (S) wanted for me. I felt I had made the right choice by moving there.

The very next day, Allah (S) provided me with a job! I started right away. My employer was Muslim and didn't mind that I wore hijab. For once I felt happy and at peace with myself. I started to feel that maybe it wasn't meant for me to be married and that I was probably better off single. I started making many friends right away. I met so many nice Sisters and my Iman was getting stronger once again.

After my Iddah, a Muslim Sister approached me from my apartment complex. She wanted to know if I was interested in getting married again. She insisted that she had the perfect Brother for me. (How about that!?) A little reluctant, I listened to what she had to say. She explained to me that he lived in my home state and that he was a hard worker and a good Muslim. He was very, close friends with her husband so he wasn't a complete stranger. Then she came to the "he's looking for a second wife part." (Not that again!!!) I immediately told her I was not interested in a polygynous relationship. She understood how I felt and did not pressure me any further.

That very evening, I went to bed thinking how awful it would feel to be a woman and share your husband with another woman. I could never be a part of that! I felt that I was too jealous and selfish of a person. I felt so angry that men could do that to their wives. I couldn't even imagine how these women must feel.

The next morning I awoke thinking about the Brother who wanted a second wife. Somehow, Subhanallah, my heart felt lighter thinking about it. I actually began contemplating marriage as a second wife! (Imagine that!) I started thinking of all the positives that could result from this marriage. After all, he did have previous experience with women and children (a major problem in my previous marriage). Because of his experience and age (maturity) I felt that he might be better prepared to deal with my children and me.

That same morning I contacted the Sister and asked her for more information about this Brother and told her that I might be interested. (And Sisters, the entire time I was thinking that I must be out of my mind!) The Sister explained to me that this very sincere Brother was looking for a good Muslim (practicing) wife. He wanted her to be a part of his family and eventually return home with him to his native country. She went on to tell me that he does not speak any English and is not formally educated. He had been a hard worker from the time he was 13 years old. (Wait a minute! This sounds too familiar!!! Could this possibly be the same Brother I refused to meet over one and a half years ago?! That would be impossible considering, that this Sister is not familiar with any of my friends' back home - over 4 states away!) After inquiring, she informed me of his name and where he worked. After our conversation ended, I immediately called a friend of mine whose husband knew the Brother I previously refused to meet.

Subhanallah! It was the very same Brother! I was totally shocked! (Could this be a sign from Allah (T)?) I knew now that I had to meet with him. I shared the news with my friend and she immediately arranged for her husband to talk with the Brother and arrange a meeting. The Brother drove to meet me (a 17 hour drive) a couple of days later. Upon meeting him, I knew right away that this Brother was for me! We were both very pleased with each other. Two days later we were married at the masjid.

Alhamdulillah we have now been married going on 4 years now and I can honestly say that I have no regrets. Allah (T) has filled our hearts with love for each other that continuously grows. I previously believed that I would have to make too many sacrifices being part of a plural marriage. I now know that I have gained more than I have lost alhamdulillah! My life is now richer than it has ever been. I now have a wonderful, large family who love and care for my children and me. My children adore their stepfather and he adores them. My husband's other wife (Maashaallah) is my Sister and friend and I love her dearly. Her children are like my own - I love them and they love me as well. We all have the same goals and want what is best for all of us.

And yes, alhamdulillah my husband loves his other wife tremendously, and for that I love and respect him even more. I wouldn't want it any other way! He informs us that he loves both of us in the same way that a mother has room in her heart to love all of her children-differently (because we are both different), but at the same time -- equally (as can be expected). He only speaks kind words about each of us and at the same time is careful to try not to create jealousy or animosity between us. Of course I was jealous at first, (and so was she) as this is normal, however those feelings eventually turned into love and compassion for my Sister.

Allah (T) has been so good to me alhamdulillah! My husband (Maashaallah) supports all of us financially with Allah's help! (Even without a college degree and high paying corporal job). I have to admit that there were some difficulties at times when it comes to language barriers, but nothing we can't overcome with patience. My husband now speaks English well, and my knowledge of Arabic has greatly increased.

So Sisters, I just wanted to share my experience with you. Never say "never" because if it's Allah's will -- you can't avoid it. You can run (like I did) but you can't hide from what Allah (T) has planned for you. The most important thing to do is to put your faith in Allah (T) and surrender to Him. He has the ability to change and soften our hearts in any matter. Allah (T) knows best and may He continue to guide us all on the right path. Ameen.

Taken from Muslimah Inspirations.


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