Reflections on Polygyny
Contributed by Siddiqua Haswarey
Assalaamu-Alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu...
Polygyny isn't a very well addressed issue these days, and the reasons are numerous... from the shaytaan's success in infiltrating our minds to the basic structure of our Muslim families and our failure in recognising these factors. And then there is the most basic reason... a woman's jealousy. And especially as women we know deep down what these reasons are.... if not all, the most basic ones yes and what it exactly feels like.
I can easily identify with this because I used to be one of those who wasn't very "for" polygyny. I remember how I said, "InshaAllah, maybe after I have a couple of children..." the very first time I was asked how I felt about polygyny, how I would feel to take a sister wife with a brother who was interested in marriage with me. And with myself being so unsure, that was the best, most sincere answer I could come up with.
Al-Hamdulilaah alaa kulli haalin! Al-Hamdulilaah! I have grown out of that stage. And have been more accepting, and inshaAllah, even look forward to it. I'll admit... it is a scary thought to be in a polygynous scenerio... a new wife comes along... I have no idea how she is or what to expect of her, and I have no idea how the man to whom I am married to will react. He might favor me over her... or her over me. I could turn out to be less needed by him... and in time maybe he will even decide to divorce me. Or I could be a sister wife that goes into an already happy marriage and things may all go wrong. Allahu 'Alam! Its all very scary, I myself still reconsider my ideas at times. I still do... to this very day.
But the only thought that really calms my heart is "Tawakkul-tu'alallaah" (I put my trust in Allah)! I can never really be sure until I am in a polygynous marriage. But, what I referred to was just a minor down side... the upside is tremendously huge. Really it is! Think about it!
When I say upside I not only refer to the fact of the huge amounts of reward awaiting a woman who is so obedient of Allah's Laws, and of reviving a sunnah that is being despised more than forgotten, but also the eternity of that reward awaiting that Muslimah.
Eternity is a strong word! Especially compared to ephemerel... the former stands nowhere!
I never really thought my culture had anything to do with it... or then again maybe it had everything to do with it. Maybe most of the cultures around the world have everything to do with it. We are brought up with this certain concept of marriage that we have in the back of our heads, of a "normal and happy" marriage being monogamous. Either we are brought up to believe this or we pick these ideas up somewhere else, and these days it more than likely the media that makes a huge contribution to our belief systems. And as we grow up it either manifests itself completely or in subtle forms... but it does show up in our decisions and the choices we make for a better and easier lifestyle... or so we think!
Then we pass these mistaken concepts down to our kids and they to their kids and it goes on. I was born into a Muslim family. And I have to admit being "born" and being "Muslim" are two completely different entities. Al-Hamdulilaah! I have been a practising Muslim for four years now. I never ever heard of polygyny being a "good " thing. Far from being a good thing... it's unheard of when it comes to the practical form. But I did most certainly hear of those horrendous stories about those co-wives that fought about trivial things and of how the man was all caught up in between and didn't know what to do... and that he was just paying the price of his "uncontrolled desires". Or how a sister wife made life for the first wife hellish. The "perversion" of a man that desired to have more than one wife, etc. etc.
Sadly, the people who repeat these stories don't really think about the impact it can have on their children as Muslims. From these people's point of view the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and his wives (radhi Allahu anhum aj'maeen) came under those labels of "perversion" or "husband grabbers," didn't they? Where would that leave us with regards to our high respect for them!? Are they still our role models now that we have an insight into their supposedly "debased" natures!? Or our children... how do they feel about taking them on as their role models!? Won't this just make us all the more ashamed of our deen, on top of the fact that we are already the odd ones out in society or in the countries we reside in, and not to mention the fact that most of us feel alienated already!?
Marriage isn't just about being with a man who you love or grow to love in time, grow to adore... it's about much more... much more than can really be explained verbally. Someone who is in a marriage will know what I am talking about and trying to say. We all know the usual reasons for marriage... but isn't marriage also about bringing two families together... expanding and strengthening the relationships that we already have, or that we have bonded one another into?
It's not just about me, him and the kids! It's about a whole family unit that grows with procreation and healthy interaction, and finally branches out into more family units that grow again... and the cycle continues! And from these very units come the leaders for tomorrow... the lions and lionesses that will lead the future either to prosperity or to disaster. Wouldn't that unit grow further with more women and their respective families and their bearing more children than one woman can?
Marriage in Islam is about the man's and his wife's coming together through that union and drawing strings that will bond them in ever growing tangles of love and compassion which deepen for Allah's Sake and with the coming children. Wasn't it like that during the Prophet's (sallallahu alahi wa sallam) lifetime and after? That is what marriage in Islam is about, isn't it? With polygyny it only gets diversified... its only expands further.
Relationships and the bonds we have as Muslims are a blessing from Allah -Tabaarak wa Ta'ala. True blessings! Think about how it would be without our fellow Muslims. Think about how it would be if we didn't have our parents or our siblings... or friends!? Or how it would be if we would be inconsiderate of each others' lives. I don't think this world would be any more livable than it already is... it would be worse.
Polygyny only expands those realms of consideration... love and compassion... because you begin to feel it inside your homes and outside of them.
I would love to be one to revive a forgotten Sunnah and to earn the `Ajr that goes along with doing that InshaAllah! I would love to be as the wives of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) were... when it came down to obedience to Allah -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.... a command from Him. We get so caught up in our individual lives and our personal needs that in the process we forget the real significance of being able to help a fellow Muslim.
Isn't one of the signs of eemaan to want for another Muslim what you would want for yourself? Isn't it about being sincere in our intentions when we try to help others... I mean really help! I know sisters who'd say... "I can help but, sharing a husband is different." I am not going to judge anyone's intentions, that is not what I am here for. And yes there are plenty of ways you can help a sister... but, really wouldn't it be nicer to see a sister who is happily married, cared for and with kids whom she nurtures to be the best of Muslims?
Polygyny is permitted by Allah - Subhanahu wa Ta'ala... it is blessing from Allah - Tabaarak wa Ta'ala. It was a Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa sallam) to have more than one wife. In fact he (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) had more than just four wives. And when it is ordained and permitted why do we have to argue... it makes no sense if we truly trust Allah... if we truly believe in Allah and His divine Wisdom.
The Western culture has embedded its mark deep on us, that for us women to even think of sharing a husband is utterly disgusting. That is what our westernised thoughts tell us to think... and exactly what shaitan wants us to think and believe. And shaytaan's plans are working so well! SubhanaAllah!
I personally believe in the huge benefits polygyny can bring to any society. My personal journey to these realisations are/were mine and I cannot exactly get anyone else to comprehend those realisations... no matter how hard I try. I have grown to truly trust and believe in Allah's wisdom. And part of that wisdom was to grant us Muslims the freedom of practising polygyny.
And really... life IS more than just being married and having a family of your own... it's more as a Muslim or a Muslimah... as we all grow as individuals and together as families. As we interact and learn and grow... and learn... and grow... as our hearts expand with Allah's Nur... it goes on until finally its our time to go to Allah. And then, what really matters is our position on that Day when fears will be so high... when nothing in this dunya will be of any good to us... Nothing!
It ultimately comes down to just Allah and myself... and what I did... what I did as a Muslimah... as an Amatullah... to please Allah -subhanahu wa ta'ala- here in this dunya to earn a place in either Jannah or Jahannum. And that is something that I have to constantly be aware of.
InshaAllah, I pray we all can be of those who will be of the companions of Rasullallah -Sallallahu alahi wa sallam- in Jannat Al-Firdaws and that our deeds will raise us to that position. Aameen!
Everything in this dunya that we have is an "Amanah" from Allah -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, our families... our children... our wealth/properties, why even our very lives. And we have to care for them as a trust given to us... if we don't then Allah -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala- can take that blessing back from us. He -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala and He -Tabaarak wa Ta'ala- alone has the power to do that and anything else beyond that.
We were created to worship Him -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala and serve Him -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala... to obey Him -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala ... ALONE.
We must excel in those qualities so we can earn a special position with Him -Tabaarak wa Ta'ala, so He -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala- can Love us. And who would want any love above Allah's Love?
Obedience to Allah -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala is not always easy... but, when you truly give up your heart and your whims... and desires to be as Allah -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala wills you to be... it becomes a part of you to accept as He - Tabaarak wa Ta'ala- has ordained... good or bad or rather what we perceive through our limited knowledge as good or bad. This life is so ephemereal... but, the heareafter is eternal... ETERNAL!
We have to decide where and how we wish to spend our eternity.
May Allah -Subhanahu wa Ta'ala- grant us all a heart that finds pleasure in accepting His every command and that is obedient and submissive. Aameen!
May Allah make us of the best women of Jannah and grant us companionship of the best men of Jannah as husbands... men who will help us work our way closer to Him... and may we be of those who will be blessed to see Allah's Beautiful Face on the Day when only few will be fortunate enough to. Allahumma Aameen!
Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika wa Ash-hadu Anlaa illaaha illa anta astagfiruka wa atoobu `ilayk! (Glory to You Allah and all praise is due to You, I bear witnes that there is no God but You, I ask Your forgiveness and repent to You).