No British Muslim man has the ‘right’ to a second (or even third) wife

Source: The Telegraph
Secondwife.com now has 100,000 users
Secondwife.com now has 100,000 users

I’m not a second wife, and I have no plans to ever be one. There is only really one reason I need to clarify this, which is because I’m Muslim. And when it comes to tropes associated with Muslims, polygamy is right up there.

It probably explains why, this week, news surfaced of a British website called secondwife.com, which offers an online matrimonial platform for men seeking second (or more) wives in the UK. It launched in June, but interest appears to be growing with a reported 100,000 users having signed up. There’s also a sister site for those who are not Muslim called polygamy.com.

Polygamy is illegal in the UK, and carries a potential prison sentence of up to seven years. Second marriages are only recognised if they happened in a country where it is legal – but there is nothing to stop unregistered religious only marriage ceremonies taking place in Britain.

Supporters point out an inherent hypocrisy in our attitudes towards polygamy. We see Muslim multiple-marriages as revolting but, at the same time, champion the rise of the unconventional romantic relationship. Only last week, the writer Laurie Penny described her own longstanding polyamory.

In this wider context, surely polygamy should fit in? If all consenting adults are happy, who are we to judge? But when it comes down to it – and this may see me criticised by some members of the Muslim community –  I just can’t support it.

Shelina Janmohamed doesn't support polygamy
Shelina Janmohamed doesn’t support polygamy

The Quranic prescription for polygamy suggests that men can marry two, three or four wives (but not the other way round, naturally). The historic context was that men often died in battle. Polygamy was a way to ensure widows and children would be cared for. In that highly patriarchal society, where women did not earn money, the brutal truth is that this might be the only way a fatherless family could survive. So rather than the ‘perk’ for men it is as seen today, polygamy was an extra responsibility.

The Quran adds that if men fear being unjust between their wives, then they must avoid polygamy. In the Islamic world view, injustice is one of the most serious transgressions. This is where I think God has a sense of humour because he’s poking fun at men – you think you can handle more than one woman, but you can’t.

Today, polygamy is framed differently, as a way for men to show they are seemingly more religious and masculine. And – as the number of users secondwife.com has gathered in just a few weeks shows – there has been a recent upturn in its popularity in Britain.

It has seeped into conversation almost unknowingly. From YouTube videos to populist clerics and fictional stories shared across Facebook about women learning to love polygamy despite themselves. All framed in the discourse of men’s ‘right’ to polygamy and not infringing on this ‘truly Islamic tradition’.

Reference

Suggested Reading

Polygamy in Islam: What It Means?

13 replies

  1. No woman in her right mind would like sharing her husband. No man in his right mind would do it knowingly unless the alternatives were detrimental to his relationship with God i.e. God fearing man and not those who are lustful and use it to justify their selfish desires. Promised Messiah has touched upon this and stated that in cases where women know that the reason the husband is doing it for the sake of righteousness, they become partners and supporters. In his own case, he mentions that his wife, the Mother of believers, would weep in prayers for his second marriage to happen as it was the fulfillment of a prophecy from God.

    The issue of consenting adults has not been fully elaborated. The Promised Messiah also takes this line of argument and Western liberal tradition which emphasized individual and human rights, cannot over ride it either. Its nobody’s business if three consenting adults want that sort of an arrangement and accept implications of division of labor and of resources and attention. If we talk about equality then some would say that this should also apply to polyandry and I say yes but again that is between three adults and what sort of spiritual or moral justification they use to practice it. Its not my business to tell them anything. Those who want to say this oppresses women are guilty of challenging women’s wisdom just as many are when it comes to women choosing to wear hijab saying that this is forced on them no matter what those women say.

    Once the issue of righteousness of intentions is taken care off (and this is the biggest element and the most difficult) and personally satisfactory arrangements (justice requires equity and not complete equality) have been made and well understood by each individual the question of regulation comes in. Just as people are smart at avoiding taxes or finding legal loopholes to do it, although obviously not advisable, people can and do find ways to make arrangements that do not violate the law of the land. Law belongs to the domain of social order as long as social order is not under threat the law does not come into play. The law has no jurisdiction of what people do inside their homes or specific arrangements they make to fulfill their spiritual needs. Its not difficult to find examples of this in the US. Law is adhered to and respected and yet imperfect in fully satisfying human nature and its needs.

    Morality and fear of God are critical to what happens inside homes. The decisions made by a spiritually inclined family as a part of a spiritual community led by a righteous leader, are always respectful of the law, yet the consideration of spiritual welfare remain paramount and must remain so. Ultimately a moral arrangement facilitates the social order which is the original intent of the law. Given the global financial and economic system and the rapidly rising inequality, the fact is that a large number of man are unable to reasonably support a family. A relative and expanding lack of or death of manhood is the crisis with conditions almost akin to a war where many man die.

    We know that there is already a serious crisis in most communities where women and girls are unable to find good partners. So either they need to lower their expectations – which is rare nowadays – or compete for the attention of men, without consideration of whether they are already married or not. And that is what is really happening in most countries nowadays. What is the practical answer to this question is what I leave the readers with and especially women – but obviously not those who have decided remain single and lonely and have learned to like it.

    In all cases, polygyny is a marginal and exceptional situation and a very difficult and dangerous venture for all involved, If done for the sake of righteousness with all its implications, its not for the faint of the heart- don’t try it at home.

  2. Interesting read from the Economist: link below

    It may be true that the abolition of polygamy was a necessary step toward liberal egalitarian societies. But it simply doesn’t follow that legalising polygamy now, among liberal egalitarian Americans, threatens to turn back the clock. It may be that smoking bans in bars and restaurants have been absolutely vital to reducing tobacco addiction and smoking deaths. But if those bans are rescinded 100 years from now, how much demand will there be for smoking in bars and restaurants? And how much of a public-health problem would there be if a few people legally smoked in a hazy pub somewhere?

    That said, let’s suppose, as seems plausible, that the plural marriages that would come about in a more fully libertarian future end up reinforcing inegalitarian gender norms. Well, if that’s a reason to disallow them, it’s also a reason to disallow many inegalitarian monogamous marriages. In a lucid and illuminating post, Chris Freiman, a philosophy professor at William and Mary, offers a useful thought experiment:
    [I]magine that a new club pops up: the Society for Traditional Gender Hierarchies (STGH). Thousands of men and women nationwide sign up and pledge their commitment to the notion that a wife must always be the primary caregiver and a husband must always be the primary breadwinner. Needless to say, this is a bad club. You shouldn’t join and, indeed, you should morally oppose the principles of the club. However, even if marriages between STGH members are very likely to reinforce inegalitarian gender norms, they would still receive legal recognition.

    Of course, many actual American marriages are, in effect, STGH marriages. But we don’t prohibit marriages between those who have adopted traditional gender roles. “Part of liberalism is tolerating illiberality,” Mr Freiman rightly says. In the absence of credible evidence that plural marriage in America today would be any more inegalitarian or socially harmful than the old-fashioned patriarchal monogamous marriages that millions of Americans already have, it’s hard to justify, at least on liberal grounds, our legal prohibition against more than two consenting adults freely entering into a marital arrangement. As I’ve argued before, many of the unseemly and unhealthy aspects of existing American polygamous “marriages” are a side-effect of our having made them illegal, and a target for disgust and contempt, much as homosexuality was within living memory.
    Perhaps there are other, excellent arguments against legalising plural marriage. But for now, not even extremely sophisticated liberals are making them. Messrs Rauch and Macedo’s claims about the harms that would ensue from legalising plural marriage have the same speculative character as some conservative arguments against legal gay marriage. This ought to pique some concern.

    Fredrik deBoer, writing in Politico, speculates that liberal opponents of plural marriage remain “trapped … in prior opposition that they voiced from a standpoint of political pragmatism in order to advance the cause of gay marriage”. This is probably right. Now that gay marriage is finally legal from sea to shining sea, it’s time for liberals to refine their arguments against polygamy. We need better, more rationally compelling arguments if we wish to be fair in shutting against would-be polygamists the libertarian door that we’ve just blasted open.
    https://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/07/marriage-and-polygamy

  3. Hopefully Ahmadiyyah has claimed that Ahmadiyyah will bring Islam become a religion of peace, modern and progressive. Because we live in era technology.

    Hopefully Ahmadiyyah reject polygamy . Polygamy destroy the children and wive hsppiness.

  4. ====The Quranic prescription for polygamy suggests that men can marry two, three or four wives (but not the other way round, naturally). The historic context was that men often died in battle. Polygamy was a way to ensure widows and children would be cared for. In that highly patriarchal society, where women did not earn money, the brutal truth is that this might be the only way a fatherless family could survive. So rather than the ‘perk’ for men it is as seen today, polygamy was an extra responsibility.

    The Quran adds that if men fear being unjust between their wives, then they must avoid polygamy. In the Islamic world view, injustice is one of the most serious transgressions. This is where I think God has a sense of humour because he’s poking fun at men – you think you can handle more than one woman, but you can’t.===

    I agreee with you 100 percent.
    Those who support polygamy, they are extremist Muslim who want to preserve old Arab tradition. They do not care the heart of his wife and children.
    Hopefully Ahmadyyah men reject polygamy, promote 1 wife only.

  5. Polygamy is against the religion of Islam in the Western countries. This principal has been mentioned by the Promised Messiah himself.

    Today,Human rights and women empowerment is reassured by Khalifatul Maseh V by issuing 11 point “true Islam” directive for Ahmadies of USA. We must honor human rights, women rights and women empowerment granted by Islam.Islam is not a stagnant religion it is dynamic and befits time and space.

    .
    Polygamy is not one of the 30 Articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it never will be.

    We got to uphold and honor human rights, women rights and women empowerment given by Islam.

    No woman in her right mind would like sharing her husband.The topic should have been, “No British Muslim man has the ‘right’ to a third (or even second) wife.

    “Shelina Janmohamed doesn’t support polygamy”. I have not heard a Muslim women speak the truth like Sheline spoke . I adore her forthcoming . Women must speak out loud till male chauvinists stop promoting polygamy. It is crime again womenand children in this day and age.

    Polygamy is sin and crime, as our first Ahmadi Mubalagh Mufti Sb answered to immigration officer 100 years ago. “I have not come here to teach plurality of wives. If a Muslim will ever preach or practice polygamy in America he will be committing a sin against his religion —If a Muslim in Europe or America marries more than one wife, he violates not only the law of his country, but also a great commandment of his Faith.

    Love and peace for all.

    • Well, do you think this ‘modern’ trend is better than polygamy? Sex, fauxnogamy and the married man

      Polygamy is on the way out in Ghana, but marital cheating is thriving. There is a problem with how we raise our boys
      Ghanaian men

      Kobby Graham

      A relative recently explained to me how much more sex he’s been having since getting married. When I congratulated him for disproving the stereotype of the post-marital sexual drought, he admitted without wincing that his supply was “extracurricular”. In modern-day, majority Christian Ghana, the polygamy our ancestors accepted is no longer common, but to say that Ghana celebrates monogamy is not quite true either.

      READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/08/sex-fauxnogamy-married-man-ghana-polygamy

      • Polygamy and free sexual in Modren Soviety are not good at all. One wife is wise act. Islamic teaching do not want to hurt woman feeling, haram, and others.

      • I do not disagree with you that one wife is a wiser act (actually). (polygamy was always meant as an exception rather than a rule).

      • Mohtram,you asked , ” do I think this ‘modern’ trend is better than polygamy?” This is not the discussion here. We can start a new chapter to discuss it.

        Almost every women condemns polygamy. Mostly men support and promote it. Let me hear from our ladies about their personal views about polygamy and sacred family values.

        Hyper-sexuality disorder may be symptom of another medical disease or condition, for example Klüver-Bucy syndrome or bipolar disorder. It mat be side effect of medications. Hyper-sexuality disorder can not be treated with polygamy.

        Surely polygamy in not the treatment of sexual misconduct in any society. Polygamy itself is considered sexual misconduct by those who do not make polygamy holier-than-thou.

        If a Muslim in Europe or America marries more than one wife, he violates not only the law of his country, but also a great commandment of his Faith.

        Disclaimer: Everybody has right to free thinking and opinionلاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ I am expressing purely my personal opinion. I have no intention to offend anybody.

      • I agree with you to some extent. Just one (again): ‘If a Muslim in Europe or America marries more than one wife with an Islamic Nikah, without trying to register it as an equal wife (which he cannot, without telling a lie that ‘this is my first wife’) he does NOT break any laws. He just has a ‘partner’, which is rather usual these days…

  6. Mohtram Rafiq Tschannen Sb, you wrote something, probably you yourself wont know what you wrote. Are you suggesting polygamist to lie to government or God? God knows it all.

    Anyhow, No matter how much support you try to find from the writings of the Promised Messiah, his one sentence should give you his opinion, “In my view it is best that one should not do this”.

    There is no place in the Holy Quran where slavery has been prohibited. In fact Holy Prophet had a slave. There are many ahadith teaching good treatment of slaves. Do you think slavery is a good idea?
    Will you continue supporting slavery because there is no place in the Holy Quran where slavery has been prohibited?

    Polygamy is not treatment of Hyper-sexuality disorder. That guy should either se a doctor or get ready to go to jail.

    Disclaimer: Everybody has right to free thinking and opinionلاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ I am expressing my personal opinion. I have no intention to offend anybody.

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