Big Faith

The show is called Big Love but polygyny really takes Big Faith

A rant

stop-the-abuse.jpg (Pardon the dust – still in the process of editing this)

Some sisters I know were discussing their various situations, with some urging sisters to be patient and others urging sisters to leave their husbands. A big row ensued about whether women should stay in polygynous/abusive situations or not. Then I got a comment here on ye olde blogge that indicated women should not even try to adjust to “something as horrible as polygyny”. So apparently there are two different issues that need to be teased apart:

To be in a polygynous marriage is not, in-and-of-itself, horrible. Many women all over the world are in polygynous marriages, and they are happy to different degrees depending upon such things as their husband’s temperament, their co-wife’s(ves’) attitudes, their own nature, their health, the climate, their children’s ages, whether their mom lives close by, whether they have a hang-nail today or not….all kinds of variables go into whether or not a person is happy. Polygyny is not a make-or-break factor.

The behavior of the husband, however, is often a make-or-break factor. One woman can be in a horrible monogamous marriage and another in a stable, happy polygynous one. Yet another woman may be in a happy monogamous marriage but her sister in a disastrous polygynous one. If a man treats his wife badly – whether the bad treatment manifests in obsessive control, beating, neglect, lack of maintenance or whtaever – then the issue(s) needs to be addressed as bad treatment.  Whether the marriage is monogomaous or polygynous is really inconsequential. If the situation involves bad treatment, it needs to be addressed as such. It bothers me when people see a polygnyous husband who treats one or more of his wives badly and they automatically blame it on the polygyny, when obviously the problem is the brother.

Now – a further distinction: There is a difference between “an abuser” – a person who habitually abuses those in his care – and “a husband who committed an abusive act”. In the first situation, not only should the wife leave the husband, but it could be considered fard on her to leave him, depending on the type and severity of the abuse, whether her children are being abused as well, etc. In the second case, a woman has to make a choice. She can cite the abusive act and request a divorce, no blame on her if she does that, or she can choose to forgive her husband and remain by his side even though he made a serious mistake, no blame on her if she does that either.

I believe that women in general should be much more open to polygyny, but I do not believe that women should be more open to being betrayed – or abused in any manner.

It is an extremely serious thing to advise a woman to request a divorce or to advise her to remain “patient” if she is being abused. And the thing is, unless a person is very intimately involved in a situation, knows both parties, and has seen them interact, there is no way to know who is suffering what. Maybe the wife who is in tears because her husband just took away her checkbook is a shopping addict who indulges her own desires while there are groceries that need to be bought! Or maybe the husband who is at his wits end because his wife is a nagger who won’t leave him alone is unemployed and neglecting her while he spends time out with his friends and neglecting the children while he watches TV! We can never really know what a situation entails, especially over the Internet. So insisting that someone should divorce or should stay married is not a wise thing to do.

As an advisor, all one can do is stress the need for the person to pray istikhara and give helpful tips on being patient, if that’s what the person is trying to do, or on relying on Allah for a decision made if they have decided to divorce, and always, always, on trying to improve one’s relationship with Allah, no matter what their marital choice is.

Whether to stay and be patient through a difficult trial or to pluck up one’s courage to leave a dangerous or iman-draining situation is, in the final analysis, a choice that can only be made by the persons involved. May Allah guide us all to whatever is best for us in the dunya and the akhira, and help us to always remind each other of Him. Ameen.


April 18, 2007 - Posted by | considering polygyny, Coping with polygyny, faith, Islam, marriage, muslim men, Muslim women, polygamy, polygyny, religion


  1. My first immediate reaction, after I learned that hubby had married another wife, was to RUN! But I slowed myself down and thought….I’ve been married 14 yrs…and he has never abused me or betrayed me before….let me give this some time and see what happens. SIGH. I found that not only had he married on me once…but it was twice….He claims this new wife was a situation that he was trying to help…and the only way to help her was to marry her….ya. It’s been almost 2 yrs of “helping her”…..doesn’t seem very temporary to me.

    So now that we have just about crossed our 16 yr mark…I feel that I have given my husband ample time to figure himself out….and ample time for me to see what I think.

    He owes me 8 mos in time….
    He isn’t planning to come live with us anytime soon,because of “difficulites”
    He is still married
    His kids never see him
    I’m having baby # 5….and he’s coming to spend 20 days….

    So it looks like after I finish up my 40 days..I’ll be moving on to phase 2. I was seriously holding out for some miracles. But Alhamdulillah….I’ve done my part. And I won’t be abused and neglected….that’s just the same as being betrayed……

    I’ve made my choices……but u know what? Sometimes, late in the evening….as strong as I feel….as sure as I step…..the tears sneak up on me…….it’s grieving as well…..subhanAllah!

    Comment by safaseeknsolace | April 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. AsSalaamu Alaikum, Safa! In many cases the struggle to make a decision and the wait before (in this case) your husband comes are much more difficult than implementing your decision once the time comes. (It’s like your first labor, ya know? Worrying about the pain and when labor would start, etc., was in many ways worse than experiencing labor itself!)

    May Allah make your best path clear during the 20 days and send His sakeena on you and the girls!


    Comment by juwayriah | April 21, 2007 | Reply

  3. Wa alaykumus salaam….strange thing here…although I speak arabic….it’s egyptian arabic…and the word Sakeena means knife. LOL! And I keep reading converts to islam…(like myself)….saying the same thing. May Allah send his Sakeena on you…..and am confused. LOL! Am going to ask my girls what else this means besides knife…’s too funny!!! I pray that the implementation of my decision is easier than the “labour”… seems to have taken a long time…..

    Comment by safaseeknsolace | April 21, 2007 | Reply

  4. dear Safa, sakina means tranquility, it is in the Qu’ran. That special tranquility that comes from faith.

    Comment by Asiya | April 22, 2007 | Reply

  5. Really Asiya? I thought that my own name…Safa meant tranquility? I still havent’ asked my girls…..

    Comment by safaseeknsolace | April 22, 2007 | Reply

  6. Actually, sikeen is knife (seen, khaf, ya, noon). Sakeena means tranquility or calmness that descends as a blessing from Allah, but I’ve only been able to find it in adj., adv., v., forms – the noun is listed as a huduu’ in my dictionary for some reason. I wouldn’t be surprised if sikeen has a kasra and sakeena has a fatha – I have no idea if that’s true, that’s just how I hear it.

    There is a teaching story about these two words that I heard Sh. Hamza Yusuf tell once. A sheikh went to visit a town and found them doing all kinds of weird things like hold knives while they prayed. Upon questioning he found that the parchment upon which was written their Qur’an and other texts had been partially eaten by mice or bugs. So they read that one should have “sikeen…” in prayer and inerpreted it as knife and so held knives with them in salat. LOL! So everyone is confused by these two words!


    Comment by juwayriah | April 22, 2007 | Reply

  7. Constantly by other women I am told I am crazy if I want a polygynous relationship. They cite the Mormons and act as if all polygynous relationships are the same. At one point my sister thought the idea was great but now she says that the man is selfish for having more than one wife.
    I wish I could take your article and post it on the wall for her to read it and ACCEPT THE FACT that even monogamous relationships can go wrong if people are not righteous…

    I love your blog. From last night to this morning, I have read every post and most of the comments therein. I am not a Muslimah but those that are of the same belief system as I could benefit from many of your words of support and wisdom.
    I hope you don’t mind, but I have already taken the liberty to direct quite a few people to your blog.

    Thanks so much for your words and I ask that the Living God continue to bless you and everyone who reads your blog. You are truly a wise woman!

    Comment by dreamgyrl360 | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  8. Dear Dreamgyrl360,

    Bless you for your kind comments! If you happen to drop bck by please comment again, since I missed you the first time around. Thank you for directing others over here, too.

    Take care,

    Comment by juwayriah | April 18, 2008 | Reply

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