Thursday 14 August 2008 (11 Sha`ban 1429)
When polygamy is bliss
Arjuwan Lakkdawala I Arab News
JEDDAH: Polygamy is not an easy topic to talk about, let alone write
about. Nevertheless, it should be spoken about, as it is practiced in many
Islamic law provides men with the freedom to marry four women at any one
time on condition that they treat each of them with equal respect and kindness.
Islam also provides wives - the first, second, third, or fourth - the right to
either accept the husband's wish for another wife and remain married, or ask
It is also clear that Islamic law does not force women to remain in a
marriage if they do not wish to.
However, how can polygamy be a good thing for women? Women whose husbands
express a desire to marry a second time would find the concept to be
unacceptable. But can we really speak for every woman in the world?
What is right for one person cannot necessarily be right for every other
person in the world. I do not encourage polygamy neither do I discourage it. My
intention is to discuss the matter in an objective fashion, and investigate a
seldom-explored aspect of such marriages: The option of remaining married. And
the reason of wanting to stay married, despite the presence of another woman,
may be many.
Arab News interviewed some women who took the polygamy option to solve
particular, individual problems. "My first marriage didn't work. After 18 years
I finally decided to ask for divorce," said Farida G. "I have three daughters
from my first husband. A year after my divorce I remarried. My second husband
is a good father to my daughters; he loves them, but he also longs to have his
own biological children," she said.
She added that after giving birth to three children, she had her uterus
removed. "So now I couldn't bear children anymore. My husband was very sad
about this, and things started falling apart. That's when I decided that he
should have another wife. It was my idea, and I myself searched for a bride for
him," she said.
Um Aseel said she chose to remain married for the sake of her children.
"When my husband started hinting that he wanted another wife, I confronted him
straight away. I knew that it was becoming unavoidable; my husband had made up
his mind," she said.
"I initially considered divorce, but then I thought about the children. I
don't want them growing up without either parent or feeling that their home had
broken up. It was a hard decision, but my children mean the world to me, and I
will always do what I feel is in their best interests," she said.
Yasmin is a third wife. After the death of her first husband she was left
with six orphans and not enough income to care for them. "I married again and
agreed to be a third wife. I do love my husband and love motivated me to marry
him, along with the fact that I needed someone to financially support us," she
Zahra, 65, said that her 71-year-old husband is more active than her. She
added that they do not share the same interests anymore and that they used to
disagree on issues, something that motivated her to find him another woman for
"At my age I don't want this headache," she said. "So I encouraged him to
marry another woman who could cater to his interests."