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 
for divorce.

      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."

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