Friday, December 25, 2009

One Wife, Two Wife

I have tons of things to do this today and can't seem to get myself going. I have literally been Sleepless in Salalah. I find myself waking up wayyy before Fajr (dawn prayer) and can't go back to sleep. I end up staying up the whole day juggling the kids, the house, hubby and my other very important priorities. There's never enough time in the day. To make matters worse, last night we received really sad news. I need a little inspiration, hence the photo.

Yesterday evening we went to visit some family. I always have such a great time with them and sincerely appreciate their hospitality and kindness towards me. It's not always easy to communicate and often times we end up playing charades, but some of them speak English really well. The sad, unfortunate news? My twenty-five year old sister-in-law is divorcing her husband of 7 years. She doesn't want to be with her husband anymore because he decided to take on a second wife ... irregardless of her feelings. She has returned to her fathers house, she just gave birth 3 months ago, and they have one other child, 5. As a woman, it was very emotional for me to listen to her side of things and I couldn't help but despise her husband. I am well aware of what Islam says about Polygyny and its permissibility etc, so please, to those of you who wish to give Fatwas (legal rulings) save it. She is not the first woman to experience this sense of betrayal and certainly not the last. It happens way to often, here in Salalah. Many women are suffering from polygyny done / gone wrong. In my sister-in-law's case, she of course has the right Islamically to a divorce, but so much is at stake. I refuse to understand or empathize with his reasoning to take on another wife, I refuse. I sat with her a while and asked her all sorts of questions, I just had so much trouble making sense of it all. The strength in her words, her apparent confidence in her decision and her optimistic heart have left me feeling like super woman. The photo at the top is dedicated to her. I am totally routing for you Fatima!

ps I'll be joining her at the gym this week ... horray!


  1. As someone from a county where polygamy is illegal I can only try to imagine what grief this must cause her. I wish her a lot of of strength and positive attitude to deal with the consequenses of the choice she has made.

  2. May Allah make it easy for her, and guide her husband not to be selfish. Ameen.

  3. I respect the religion of Islam but I will never understand polygamy. I have seen it destroy families and hurt women beyond imagination. Not only should Fatma divorce this guy but she should get some kind of compensation even if its money. How can a man marry again when his first wife doesnt agree with his decision? and the poor chhildren, does anyone ever think about the children???!!! I don't think Islam should legalize polygamy anymore it just doesnt work.

  4. Anonymous, it happens all the time "man marries again when his first wife doesn't agree". I don't think men really think that their decision will affect their children in a negative way, but it really can, to the core.

  5. That's very tough!

    A man needs a super powerful excuse to get a second wife and of course the approval of his current wife (which is probably the hardest approval to get out there).

    May Allah give her even more strength and confidence in this rough time for her =(

  6. Hello Rania,

    I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I am struck by your writing. I have been living in the Middle East for 6 years now and I have seen more than I should of torn women and their children due to plural marriage (I have given shelter to one). It's a shame. If a woman is permitted a divorce is she not allowed to prohibit her husband from taking a second or third wife?

    Please share the types of justifications men must provide in order to exercise a plural arrangement?
    Wonderful for Fatima to rid herself from him. How insensitive of him.

    would appreciate feedback
    cheers M

  7. I think polygamy works if the man is considerate and the woman the same. I've seen it work in several cases. But seen it go wrong in more.

  8. My Allah the almighty be with both sides and and lead them to reunification again.
    Yes what shall i say we cannt do anything to stop this scenario in such polygamous societies.
    iam not a devotee of polygamy..

  9. Great post Rania.

    Anonymous, a man can take on a second wife in Islam if
    (a) his first wife cannot have children and she AGREES to the marriage
    (b) his first wife is ill
    (c) correct me if I'm wrong, but I think men are encouraged to marry widows in order to protect the orphans
    قال الله تعالى : { وإن خفتم ألا تقسطوا في اليتامى فانكحوا ما طاب لكم من النساء مثنى وثلاث ورباع فإن خفتم ألا تعدلوا فواحدة أو ما ملكت أيمانكم ذلك أدنى ألا تعولوا } .

    My neighbor married his brother's widow because she had seven young children and he thought it best to have them raised by their uncle and kept safe in the family. I think that makes complete sense because where would she go with seven kids and no source of income? Who would support her? No one.

    There are valid reasons in Islam for having more than one wife, and men are instructed strictly (see Quran verse above) to treat their wives equally and fairly.

    HOWEVER, I am a witness to the fact that 99% of polygamists in Dhofar marry for the wrong reasons. I have only met ONE MAN in my whole life who took on a second wife for the right reasons (my neighbor).

    And I know about 50 polygamists. Each and every one of them took on a younger prettier wife when they turned 45 and started feeling old. They married for selfish reasons, and Allah will punish them for the pain they caused their families and children.

    I have not met one man who has been able to treat his wives fairly. It's a sad messed-up situation, and I pray that Allah guides our men to a better path in life because polygamy doesn't really work nowdays.

  10. Impressive blog Rania!
    Some of us men don't realise marriage is a foundation that comes with huge responsibilities and obligations. Thats why I am kind of skeptical about guys marrying at an early age (early twenties) because then mostly they do it for pleasure unaware of the consequences. I feel sorry for Fatema getting divorced at this age and with two children. I thought seven years would be enough to strengthen the nod between a couple. I don't want to attack her husband as I don't know his reasons but man a little of sensitivity would be good. Your timing just sucks; for God sake your second child is just 3 months old and you are running away leaving your wife? I hope you don't come back later to take custody of your child after he is all grown up. What will you tell him/her? That I chose to leave your mum when you were just 3 months old!?
    Polygamy has its conditions and guidelines but mostly we turn a blind eye to the conditions.
    Rania: whats the possibility of the husband changing his mind? Perhaps the elders of the two families could join forces to keep this lovely family together.
    May Allah guide us.

  11. nadia a man can take up to four wives and he doesnt have to have a reason. if the wife does not agree then she is allowed to divorce but he can still take a second wife.

    men never marry for a "good" reason. im telling you the truth. im a man. no virtue, no honor, just variety.


  12. I can add that men in Dhofar marry a second or a third or even a fourth wife for two main reasons: The first and major one is 'pleasure'. Variety means more choices, means you'll not going to get bored.
    The second one is for show or let me say ‘notability’ i.e. if you have money you need to show your power and ability to get what you want by getting more wives, and the others should understand and behave according to that when they are dealing with you.

  13. Yes Ma7fif that's the exact situation in Dhofar. Pleasure and Pride.

  14. Anon 11:49: That's not what the Qu'ran says. Nadia is VERY correct in what she stated except for (arguably among scholars not us fools) maybe the first point (the wife must agree to adding #2, or #3---this wasn't always the case with the Prophet's wives R.A). BUT since the Qu'ran says you have to treat them fairly as a condition, if this cause wife#1 such distress and isn't to support an orphan or widow, then a man ISN'T being fair to #1.

  15. so sad :(

    Unfortunately, getting the 1st wife's approval is not a condition. As much as I'd love it to be, especially NOWADAYS, but islam does not state it as a condition.

    The ONLY condition is that the man is able to be fair to both (or 3 or 4) wives. i.e. fair financially, emotionally and mentally. However, most men ARE NOT FAIR in one or two of those areas, that's why most polygamists go wrong.

    I know lots of situations where the women suffer more (obviously), and it causes chaos. I pray for them all to have strength and trust in Allah to overcome this - either by divorce if they choose to do so, or living with a second/third/fourth wife in peace.


  16. I have a Dhofari friend whose father married more than 30 women (successively) until the family stepped in to restrain him! He was an older man and I guess needed someone to look after him, acting like a personal maid. Btw, many of his wives were from Hyderabad in India.


  18. Dear Anonymous,

    I hope you're not talking about the man I'm thinking about ... :)

  19. Nadia: Thank you for clarifying polygamy in Islam, saved me the trouble :).

    El Nino: I hope that the families can come together and help the young couple sort things out, inshaAllah. It appears though, that the husband is not willing to change his mind.

    AB: youre so right. Dua'a is the best solution to making a situation better.

    Mahfeef, I think most men marry again for those exact reasons you mentioned. Problem is, after you get "used" to the four wives you have, you'll get bored again...then what?

    non-Omani Princess thank you so much for the link. Ironic because I just did an interview myself!!! But from a first wife.

  20. Somebody give the English translation of the verse plz!!!

  21. I am not Omani or a Muslim but I did speak to one man with two wives and he told me that a man with more than one wife is a king as they compete to please him. I leave you to reflect on this.