Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Polygyny Guide for Muslims from Pixie's Perspective: the good, the bad, and the ugly

[LOL, the pic above is unfortunately how alot of Muslims (at least in my experience] veiw Polygyny: the practice of a man having more than one wife, in Islam, up to a total 4 women on the condition he treats them all fairly].

I'll start first with the ugly, which is, when men or women abuse the practice. Often men will disregard all the rules and sunnah (traditions exempled by the Prophet Mohamed salalahu alhi wa salaam, and his Sahaba) in either who or how they take a second wife. Or they do not treat one or more of the wives fairly. Also, women are guilty of behaving badly, and hurting what is halal in Islam. No wonder alot of women and men cringe at thought of being in my situation :(. Or that non muslims can make it the brunt of attacks on Islam.

In Islam, WHEN, and WHO can a man take as a second wife? Islam says that it is permissiable for a man to marry up to four women, but in the same verse that allows this, says this is done to support orphans. In Islam, an orphan is a woman without a maharam (male guardian, such as a father, Uncle, brother of age, or a husband). In the specific ayah pertaining to the allowance for this practice, it is termed in caring for women who have no husband or provider/family. So, Islamic orphans include those with no living family or living father or Uncle, Converts/reverts who have no Muslim relatives, widows whose Muslim husband has passed away, and divorced women. Many women in these categories are also single mothers. *ALSO* if a first wife, or the other wives are ill or unable to fulfill their wifely roles, it is ALSO permissable for a husband to take another wife, because he does deserve to have his requirements as a husband met. This can either be for reason of the wife/wives having dehaibilitating conditions, or inability to have children/bareness. The women the man marries must be Muslim or a practicing and chaste Christian or Jewish woman (practicing means they follow the book of their religion btw, and they are rare these days). The HOW of this is set on the condition that a man must be fair to all the women. This does not mean he cannot have feelings more for one than another* because the Prophet Mohamed sallalahu alahi wa salaam had a preference for Aisha R.A over his other wives, but he must not let that preference be apparent in his treatment of all his wives. His spoken sentiments cannot be more for one than another, he must provide equally for financial and physical needs, and the time allotted must be the same for each wife.

The ugly: 1.) Some men completely neglect the fairness aspect concerning their wives. They spend all their money and time on one and completely neglect the other/others. This voids the validity of their marriage and women can divorce their husband over this, and he will have to answer to Allah on the Day of Judgement for this ill treatment. 2.) Some men marry a second wife only temporarily and then divorce her. This is haraam. This man is cursed. 3.) Some men marry another wife when there is nothing wrong with their first wife and look for a younger, prettier, and virginal second wife who is no way unable to find her own husband (as might be in the case of times of war) as a first wife or in dire need of physical and financial support. This is not being fair to the first wife, in the insecurities it might breed in her, and is not of the sunnah. The Prophet Mohamed salalahu alahi wa salaam was engaged to Aisha R.A before he married any other of his wives, and she was his only virginal wife, in fact, the only one who was not a widow or divorcee. All the wives that proceeded his engagement to Aisha R.A., were older than Aisha. His 2nd engagement after Aisha was to Sawda R.A who was widow senior to the Prophet salalahu alahi wa salaam, and was described as not being the colouring favoured at the time by the Arabs & slightly overweight by some of the companions. Obviously, concern should be for providing orphans with support and family, when taking multiple wives and the first wife has no condition upon her. 4.) Women behaving badly. When a wife tries to manipulate her husband from fullfilling his duties to his other wives. If she tries to steal time or money that should be more evenly distributed, questions him to reveal intimacies involving the other woman's lovemaking or private parts or to force him to give her gifts or sentiments not of equal value to something given to the other wife/wives, she risks making her marriage void before Allah, and will not be able blame her husband for this on the day of judgement. Also, speaking bad of the other wife to the husband, family or friends, revealing sins of the other wife/wives, refusing to say salaam or accept a visit or gift from the other wife, or trying to cause physical harm to her sister wife... ALL OF THESE things are not befitting a believing woman and may cause her to lose Allah's mercy for she will not be judged for her husband's actions, she will be judged for own towards another believer, and another sister in Islam.

Alhamdulilah, in my own situation, what keeps me from the ugly is A. my husband exhausts himself treating his wives (us) fairly. B. Neither of us he had married because one was younger or more attractive than the other. He married us firstly, because of the kind of Muslims we were. F, my sister wife, is the same age as me, give or take a year. She is GCC Arab and I am white revert/convert, and we have different looks, but neither of us is glaringly more attractive than the other. F also had kids to support and in her culture, divorcees almost always get looked down on. Had my husband more time (since it is difficult enough as it is dividing our days into equal 3 days Pixie, 3 days F [our ideal]) F knows an older divorced Omani girl our husband could marry to give her attention, and a home of her own, and children, since alot of women want children. If it were feasible, and affordable, both of us would support our husband to have another marriage if he married for an Islamic reason we'd also get reward for, such as sharing all the things that help a woman find happiness and strengthen her islam. Plus, it did not look like I could have children. F was very kind to me, and our husband informed us of his intention to marry again, and let us meet eachother before anything concrete to see if we'd like eachother ect. and could guage if the other woman could handle being in the same family.
C.) F & both see eachother as sisters in Islam. We do want for eachother what we want for ourselves. We are not always perfect, but we hold on to this ideal and try to measure ourselves by it.

Unto the bad. Even in the most halal of situations where everything was done the right way, not everything can work out perfectly.

Some men will never be able to treat all women fairly, or to marry for the right reason. These men should not marry more than one woman out of fear of Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala.

Some women will never be personally secure enough to be able to own their own identities in a marriage, even WITH their husband having only one wife. I was the only wife before. I had to get over my insecurities, to need Allah and know myself more than I needed a husband or attention and affection on the 24.7 to get to this. This can be a woman's beauty, but in a marriage with more than herself, it can be something that ravages her self-esteem. I personally believe that if a man is good and Islamic, all women could potentially be able to handle a marriage such as mine which is why it is halal, but I know from how many of us have been raised in our societies, insecurities and inability to define one's own identity run so deep, that the situation would be impossible to rectify in some cases. If you do not know your own value, know that what you have to offer no other woman can in the same way and glorify Allah by that, then my situation is probably not right for you, or will be very challenging. Women always say they couldn't because they are jealous, but jealousy is a small thing and is cured easily, but insecurities take alot more work. There is also nothing wrong with not being able to define one's identity so strongly, I am not saying that women who can accept these marriages are superior in any way at all. I am simply saying, despite what alot of men think, even the good ones, not all women are ready for it, or should have to accept it. Men should consider their wives abilities, and weigh them with their own needs/preferences. *If marrying again causes your wife to divorce you or be mentally unstable, probably you shouldn't marry, because she isn't at the state you can treat her fairly, even with her as a wife alone.

Additionally, society sucks, Muslim country or no. My own experience. F & I both have to deal with families that are nasty about the marriage (and I haven't even TOLD ALL MY FAMILY!). Some people simply refuse to visit F, and some friends stopped visiting me. I am afraid to tell people because we get the cold shoulder alot, and especially non Muslims here, they're kind to either F or me, but not both of us, and Husband is always regarded as pure evil. While F & I have come to terms with the gossip and people telling us to divorce Husband, we don't like it. Husband never cared, and says men are a lot nicer about it but are scared of their wives lol.

People (women) seem to think that the first wife either was not attractive enough for her husband or was sexually boring or bad somehow or that the second wife is a slutty manipulative man-stealer/ or a beauty who is everything first wife was not. Third wife USUALLY gets away with everything, so I think being third wife would be easiest lol! People are always trying to pity the first wife or hate the second, whether or not the wives accept the situation and are friends.

So I conclude, even if you live in a place where 2-4 wives is not that rare and certainly not against the law, society sucks. I think because Arab Muslim men have mistreated the institution for so long that it got a bad rap, even from the Muslims.

The Good: A.) You get all the benefits of being married with some perks of being single. You can make whatever you want to eat for dinner 3 days out of the week. Sometimes I make a plain can of soup, or just eat icecream and no one will ever care. I can go out with my girlfriends for as long as I want and husband is never like, I am bored, come home. I can choose whatever I want on TV or movies, and I can wear slobby sweat pants or a Granny jalalbiyia and not make the bed or do the dishes and not feel like a lazy or bad wife. How many married people can do that? Hmmm. Plus, the spark is always there when your man comes home. He missed you. Also, he thinks you are perfect, because you had 3 days to make the house clean, or do a home decorating project, or memorize a surah, master a new recipe, and make yourself as fabulous as possible. He has no idea unless one of your days ends up being s asick day or period day, that you aren't the best dressed or most interesting woman on earth. Or that you burn the new recipe on the first 3 tries. This really, really suits me. I love attention, I really do. But I think I get bored of it, and need a break from it, to really appreciate it, and be worthy of it. B.) Your sister wife is actually your friend and confidante. If you are mad at your husband and right, she's on your side and mad at him too, and he's more likely to change then if it was just you pointing out something that he's messing up. Two witnesses are always better than one. If you are wrong, she can make you laugh at yourself, and feel better anyway. Sometimes she likes to do the things that you hate to do with your husband and that he wants someone with him with. For example, our husband loves running and sports. F hates running. I like it. Husband and I run together. Husband likes volleyball. I hate it because I bruise very easily. F likes it. Works out so we both don't have to do stuff that we hate. And stuff husband hates like girly movies? Well, he still has to suffer through the same movie twice in a row if both F and I like it. It is nice for me having no Muslim family, to actually have a Muslim female relation. We can sit together and halal 2 girls and a guy hanging out situations, though be warned, in such situations, one woman is always playing the friend role, and the other the wife. I am okay with the friend role. I like my kind-of-gooshy moments in private. I am not a sentiments-in-public girl. I think a marriage works best if the husband marries 1 romantic type girl (F, definately lol), and another anti-romantic but into practical love kind of thing (me!), that way he can love both equally but in different things. That seems to be our marriage's strength, the three of us are realizing. C.) These kind of marriages help women who'd otherwise be alone find the phsyical protection and affection that they deserve. Otherwise they'd engage in haraam relationships to satisfy natural urges and longing for attention and affection, or be resigned to celibacy and maybe unable to support themselves, or marry men who would be less suitable or likeable to them. And in cases where the first wife is unable to fulfill her wifely duties, it makes it easier on the husband to fulfill his role as a husband, but have his requirements fairly met as well. This way, when done Islamically, and with love for all our sisters, no one is abandoned or allotted less.

I find it very helpful for women to read a book on women's issues by a Canadian woman called "Bent Rib" on the polygamy section of the book. Actually, I do recommend the book for all reverts or women living in the West as they explain many controversial Islamic issues, and "Women Around the Prophet" with a special look at the Prophet's wives, and his relationship with them. Also the men of the Sahaba's proposals to women, to understand polygyny in an Islamic manner. LOVE, LOVE these books.

InshaAllah you all found this rather opinionated post to be informative. I got alot of unpublished comments when I announced the news about my marriage lol, so I thought I'd gather the majority of my thoughts on the subject in one place.


<3 Seedi-Sami<3 said...

salaams pixie

loved this post

im newly married but recently had a bit of a scare with the woman monthly thing (alhamdulillah its fine now).. and i kina convinced myself that if i could never conceive a child ....i would defo let my husband remarry and i would be happy with that because i know how badly we both want to be parents....

reading ur article and seeing how its like from the inside.... made me realise how much harder it actually is.. it takes a lot of self confidence ...and you have to be content with yourself....although alhamdulillah you are lucky the second wife is someone you see as a sister and could get along with....

its lovely to see your islamic strength and imaan which is making this work and i pray that if i am ever in that situation.. i would certainly remember this and see you as a role model xx

Banana Anne said...

Salaam alaikum,

Jazakallah khair for this post, truly. This is the best insight into the issue that I have seen so far. While I personally don't have any desire to be in such a marriage, it's very refreshing to read such an honest post that discusses both the good and the bad, and emphasizes the fact that if one wants to practice polygamy the rules laid down in the Qur'an and sunnah must always be kept in mind.

Anonymous said...

as-salam alaikum Nice post.. there are many reasons I would like to have a sister wife. my husband doesnt seem to like the idea and after all we still have our struggles.

jana z. said...

i agree with banana Anne!! refreshing and great insight! as i said previously, so many women complain and complain and then get angry when i say im not interested!! lol. to each his own. im happy for you if you enjoy being a co wife!! jazakallah khair!

Pixie said...

<3 Seedi-Sami<3: Wa alaykom e salaam ramatullahi wa barakto. BTW, mashaAllah you are a very beautiful girl and very young, so you still have a few years before you have to worry about being barren. I am nearing thirty (not quite but it feels that way) and it did turn out, that with alot of dua, I could concieve even after being told by doctors I couldn't so alhamdulilah:). Yes, for me it is easy because I know my rights in Islam, and myself well enough to know my needs. And they usually meet up. As a woman you have to be able to communicate your needs to your husband so he can respond well to them if you are going to be a co-wife so self-awareness is a must, along with being able to laugh at some situations. Being friends with the "other wife" is a must in my opinion. I couldn't do this without there being some openness and friendliness between us. I don't think you have to be besties, but you do have to be able to communicate eachother and stand being in the same place. For me, it is isn't that difficult, but I know from some of my friends personalities, how it would be.

Pixie said...

Banane Anne: Wa alaykom e salaam ramatullahi wa barakto, I really haven't come across alot of sisters blogs about being in a plural situation. I wish somebody out there kept a list of them and linked them up to me:D. It would be totally cool if the first and second (and third?) wives all kept a blogs so we could read all accounts. I'll ask F what she thinks cuz her English is good, but her family is way more protective of personal identity than mine is, and if she connected herself to me, well someone would know who she is. Yeah, the treat them fairly, and wives having good Islamic manners to each other is sooooooo important. I've heard horror stories about the 1st wife poisoning the second. Scary, and SUCH bad adab. Alhamduilah, the way we did (though not always, we're human) everything was to sunnah, so it is all working out.

Pixie said...

hind: Asalaam alaykom ramaatullahi wa barakato, as long as you get a good Muslim (who treats all Muslims with Islamic manners) having a second wife is actually nice and has many benefits (more than drawbacks I figure). You sound like I did three years back now, lol. I was always asking ym husband about the idea and he was always going, it's alot of work. Smart men, huh? If you ask my husband now if he'd recommend it for men, he says he'd prefer it to them being unfaithful to women, but that isn't a good reason for such a marriage in itself, and that it is a very hard thing for a man to do, so not easy to recommend. But to support women Islamically who society reject? He is all for it in those cases.

Pixie said...

jana z.: I think we all will complain from time to time but to do it without explaining later how maybe one overreacted is a bit... er... dramatic. I also think first wife can always complain the first 5 months. Things will be a bit more for her to get used to:) always, plus the newlyweds do get a honeymoon period of 3-5 days in a row that do not have to be distributed evenly between the women so you can understand, anything not even is a stressor. But what I can't stand is when a second wife is mad at a husband for marrying a third, or a third is mad about him marrying a fourth, at least, when financially everyone is equal, because these women were ALL OKAY with this happening to the women before them. That makes me scratch my head and go, whattttttt???????? Hypocrite much. LOL. It is just me, maybe I don't understand their situation.

Aisha said...

Assalamu alaikum dear

I think you're a strong woman who manages to handle this kind of marriage, and a big inspiration to muslim women all over the world since you are a revert from West who have really adopted all the sharia laws. Don't get me wrong, it's a really good thing because I am quite surprised how a revert strives to live by islam fully and properly while there are sooo many muslims out there who think it's hard to follow the laws of islam. So much cred to you for that!

I think however that the reason why some women don't want their husband to take a second wife does not always have to do with their insecurities. Insecurities result from the husband taking a second wife. For instance I am quite confident in myself, but I couldn't stand my husband taking a second wife, because that would make me feel insufficient, thus creating feelings of insecurity with myself. And I have struggled a lot to get to the point where I am now.. So if my husband wanted to take a second wife, I would most probably divorce him and let him live happily with his new wife and wish him all the best in his new marriage that he didn't have in his first. And then I would never ever get married again because I can't consider myself loving another man other than my husband, at least not in the same way.. But I hope we don't get to that point bcs I love him and enjoy the marriage with him. But everything is a matter of our characters as people, some like it this way and some like it that way.. and some just don't like it all. And I always say that everything is fine as long as it makes you feel good, and as long as it is islamically correct (of course), so I really respect your choice of entering upon a polygamy marriage although I couldn't do it myself. After all, we muslims are there to support each other. Even if I do not know you in person I will still support your choice. But as for the friends who stopped visiting you for the choice you have made.. Well, let's just say that real friends would have supported you in whatever makes you happy. Everything is a test, and if they failed this test it seems like it wasn't worth having them in your life from the beginning. But then again, I don't know you or your friends so I may be mistaken and if I am, may Allah forgive me for this. I just don't think it is right for them to just... stop visiting you for this. Well now I have to stop writing otherwise I will write you another novel.

Anonymous said...

salaamu alaikum

Great post and quite interesting...a lot of what you say makes 100% sense, frankly...I only just wish more marriages like yours worked as well as yours. Frankly all those bad ones ive heard about and know...are what keep me not too down with it...but I do know now and again they do seem to work out. My hubbiest uncle is 1 such example, had 2 wives...cuz the first was barren...but the wives become friends and their families/lives were so together, seriously...a good example of a polygamous marriage that worked. His uncle just recently passed away and his 2 wives-who are now quite old, sold their homes and now live together in a small apartment, caring for each other.


Umm Hamza said...

Salams sis! What a beautiful explanation, masha'Allah!!! I had to overcome a LOT of insecurities to accept my situation wholeheartedly. Recognizing my individuality has made a huge impact on my self-esteem as well as easing my fears as a co-wife.
People's reactions disappoint me, especially as I am in a muslim country. I would remind any muslim (reminding myself first, of course) who is backbiting or insulting a muslim practicing polygyny that they are commiting a big SIN. Even if poly isn't for you, it's haram to demean another believer.
Two things I would add: to "the Good" list, I would add that any woman involved in poly is taking MANY hasanat for her patience insha'Allah. It may be the thing that tips the scales in her favor on the Day of Judgement. I also wanted to recommend the book "From Monogamy to Polygyny, A Way Through" as an Excellent read.

Anonymous said...

I've started and deleted this commet at least 3 times now. Ah you cut into my internet wanderings....

After reading another blog post you made that (I believe) says Muslim men should (only?) marry orphans...I find myslef wondering why The Prophet took Aisha (spelling?) as his 4th wife, as she was not an orphan.

Now I freely admit that I've done little study in Islam (I'm BTB Jewish..or at least strive to be), so I might be mistaken on one or more of my points in the previous paragraph.

That being said..I wish you much joy and happiness with your new sister wife and your little one. First births are a true gift from G-d and I pray yours is blessed, safe, healthy and happy.


Pixie said...

Aisha: Wa alaykom e salaam, thanks for your support about the friends. I think... they just don't understand or don't want the situation for themselves so much that they find it difficult to accept that someone is happy in it.

I disagree about the insecurities being caused by a man taking another wife. See, you know about them already right? That means they are in you already. They don't just appear with the other woman, or you'd only know/become aware of them when/if such a situation should arise (that happens to alot of people apparently who think they are okay with the concept and then in such a marriage wind up complaining or unhappy). I agree, it's not for everyone, but I believe it is because of those insecurites, and I do believe any woman could overcome should she wish to, but not that it would ever be easy. And really, one doesn't have to. They do have the right to divorce simple because they are not happy so really I can just speak from myself and my own observations:). Alhamdulilah for the fact no other woman (or man) can make me insufficient for the life and love Allah S.W.T has given me. InshAllah, you and your husband will always be happy, and that all Muslim women find good husbands and that there are enough good men for us all, ameen;)

Pixie said...

Um Ibrahim: Wa alaikom e salaam ramatullahi wa barakato, wow, thank you for your story about the Uncle and his wives. Yeah, the bad ones keep me from defending brothers who want to take a new wife alot of the time here. They see us, and go, I'd like that, but have ALL the wrong reasons usually, or don't understand the concept of the time and patience and the PROCESS of being fair. So I will get my husband to question and question. LOL, the funny thing is alot of sisters are afraid of my husband being friends with their husbands cuz they think he'll convince their men to get a new wife, but in all the cases where one of his friends has thought about it, my husband got the friend to examine his reasons (which have all been wrong in his friends and aquaintences so far) so actually we've talked people out of it lol. And I always insist on talking to the first wife about her husbands plans, to see if I can assess if she is ready for such a thing. Alot of the men don't think about what it takes on their wife's side, and what will make her comfortable. Me and my co-wife have thought about a third, we could do it, but we have some hang-ups about finances, and time ect. Also what kind of woman. We both agree to someone who needs help and has trouble getting family and a husband. Our hsband says he's too tired right now, and well, it is expensive, sooooo... not all women work like us so.

And that's another silly prejudice. Not all mulitple marriages are sit at home wives who only peer out of the home in gloves and niqab lol. Somehow that's what people expect and we're like, we both work.

Pixie said...

Umm Hamza: Wa alaikom e salaam ramatullahi wa barakto, jazzakallahkheir for the book recommendation. I will try to find it.

Hmmm, hehehe, I probably don't get hasanat for my patience, cuz I know my patience pleases my husband and he thinks I am like, the most awesome chick ever, lol, cuz of that, and since the reward of that is so good, I probably don't have to sacrifice too much for the sake of Allah in regards to patience. But I think, when we give up our days for our co-wife when she has a special need or something, not expecting r husband or her to make up for it later or get something for it, it is 100% something done for the sake of Allah and I think major baraka comes from that. INshaAllah;)

Pixie said...

Hi Casey:) : Thank you so much for your good wishes for my family and our baby. I wish the same for your family.

Aicha R.A was the first woman the Prophet Mohamed was engaged to after the death of Khadijah R.A (his first, and during her lifetime, his only). But because of her young age she was not the first in marriage. She was, the only vigrin.

I do believe men may marry virgins for reasons such as the wife having health problems, or even if she wishes it of him, but if he claims he is marrying of the sunnah (of the way of the Prophet Mohamed and how the Qu'ran outlines the practice without these medical exceptions) the women married after the engagement to Aisha R.A, were all divorcees or widows, or those who entire family had been killed in battles. So either orphans, divorcees, or widows. Alas, so many men do not care for this, and simply seek a younger version of their first wife, in the same virgin state. Which is not what Rasoolulah did or what the Qu'ran suggests.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

I thought the answer would fall along the lines you gave...I just wanted to know for sure.

Although that question leads to another...How does inhertiance work (on both a personal and legal level) in plural marriages in Islam?



Pixie said...

Casey: No problem!

Inheritance. I honestly have studied ineritance less in marriage cases and more between brothers and sisters, but it should work that the children's portions are divided up first, and then the wives. The boys of both wives will get equal for what portions they were alotted, and the girls of both is both have girls, and the wives will get the same as the other wife. THIS being of course, of the husband's wealth. But if our husband dies I think there'd only be the pension to split. Our husband spends almost all his wealth on us as it is, sooooo.... that'd be the only thing to divide up at all.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu aleikum dear Pixi.

I really loved reading your blog about polygny in islam and your own experience.

I just recently got a co-wife. Only Three weeks ago, al hamdolillah. I am very satisfied with my co-wife and she is a very dear siter to me. In fact we have been close friends for about one year now.

I never imagined that my husband would remarry, and when I came to islam I had a hard time to accept this, but slowly Allah has made it more easy for me, al hamdolilah.

I have been a muslim for almost 7 years, al hamdolillah.

I really relate to what you wrote about your own experience with poligny. I reconize some of the things from my own experience.

I was stribing to be a 100% wife all the time and found it hard too spend so much time figuring what to make for my husband to eat or trying to be the best wife in all the ways imagineable the whole time.

Sometimes I would feel like a was married to two men in one! Subhan Allah! (lol)

I have started to enjoy having more time for myself, al hamdolillah, not worrying about what to make for dinner (on her days), or cleaning the house before my husband get home. I relax on the sofa drinking tea or treating myself with spa and henna.

I also have a strong sence of fairness and love for my sister to have what I have for myself. I find it very important that the man follows what he is obliged to, to be fair and just to the both of us.

I want to be in touch with you sister, is it possible?

fatima said...

naj- assalamualaikum, masha allah, i really liked ur post. i had rather a bad perception towards a man having more than one wife. but after reading ur article i have bcome more broad minded with the subject:)thnx