Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Responses to "To My Dearest Sisters... From a Co-Wife"
Response from Rita: "It is difficult to imagine that any woman would find polygyny acceptable."
I read your article and the letter ...and I was astonished at your stand about this subject prior to reading the letter. But as a woman, of American Arabic Decent, and having been born in the states, and raised in Lebanon at a very young age I do have a clear understanding of our cultures, and my religion (Islam).
I must though acknowledge, that I felt with the sister, and I understood the humor she uses in her writing, however it was not a humor of ha.ha...haa...but rather it was a painful experience through the journey of the minds and the possibilities of what if, and if she encourages her husband to pursue the other sister, and what would life be like.
It is difficult for me to imagine or comprehend that any women would find it acceptable. I would not accept it. I understand the intention and religious meaning of the idea of having to bring another wife into the picture, but it is extermely difficult for me to imagine or encourage my man to say it is alright to have another woman in my home. We are living in era in which the world has changed. We should educate our children, husbands, wives about our religion, not encourage such a thing. I make no appology for my language in this statment, but it is almost now a days it looks like having to bring a (whore) to share the bedroom in which my husband and I would be sharing. I love my sisters, and I will stand by my sisters whether that sister be Muslim, Christian, Morman, or otherwise. I will as a sister encourage my sister to not accept less, to not degrade her character, and her desire to live life, ;but rather as a true sister I will take the stand to help her find a man, in which she can build her own walls, build her own happiness, and be her own maid in her own castle.
How wrong, that our culture feels that it is alright. It is not. You were wrong to say that you think the idea is great, but than you are the author, and authors are known for wanting to encourage a conversation, whether it maybe pro or con, and you have successfully done so. I do not in any shape or form want to come across as wanting to insult you in anyway, but it is very hard for me to beleive that another sister would say it is alright,,,because it is not.
I must say I enjoyed reading the prayer in the letter, and having to recite some of the arabic words , it made feel that I am still an Arabic Lady, beleiving that there is a God, and he is for everyone. I want to be the wall in which my sister can lean on, the wall in which my sister can cry on, but I also want to be the wall in which I can show my sister to build her own dream castle, with flowers, and a garden in which no one can share into but herself, husband, and children, because that is the true meaning of life.
Finally, I would like to say I have been divorced for 12 years and having raised a great daughter on my own, and having been through many rocky roads in my life, from abuse, to having suffered a heart condition at the age of 39, diabetes at the age of 19, I cannot describe to you what happiness is. But I can in one word tell you that my daughter is my sister and friend, and happiness in life.
God bless all of my sisters rich or poor...muslim or non muslim for we are all one just wanting to be happy.
Rita, Assalaamu-Alaikum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuhu.
I have to thank you for your response. Feedback is always crucial for future writings, because it is so helpful to decide what we need to be addressing more when we write. There were certain points I want to address.
I understand your viewpoint and what you are trying to say. But the problem is just that - it is "your" view point. Just like the way I aired my viewpoints through the article I wrote regarding polygyny. My intention in writing that particular article was to give Muslims and Muslimahs alike a brief insight in what actually goes on in the mind of a co-wife. My purpose was to educate people as to what really goes into making a peaceful polygynic family. Polygyny is not just about the act of being married to more than one woman, it is much more, in word and deed.
But the fact remains that polygyny has been ordained by Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala). In fact it is a Sunnah and a recommended act, just like many others acts of the Sunnah are. MashaAllah. And this holds irrespective of what I say or what anyone else says. Men do not even have the obligation to inform their wife that they wish to marry another woman. It is in the shari'ah. If any woman wishes to stipulate before marriage that she does not wish to have a co-wife, she can. And the man is obligated to fulfill his word in deed once he marries her in accepting her stipulation on paper. In this case, she can only stipulate that she be divorced in case he wishes to take another wife. And her stipulation will be fulfilled. It is as simple as that. If she chooses otherwise, she is very welcome to do so. Al-Hamdulilaah! No matter what society calls her.
The society that opposes polygyny is the very same society that calls hijaabi women "oppressed" or "uneducated". Does it make anymore of a difference if they decide to call us by some additional names too!?
Each and every muslim has to realise their duty towards Allah, irrespective of how they feel or how society feels. Am I exempted from the five obligatory prayers just because I don't feel like praying? Will that be an excuse for me on the day of Qiyamah? It can never be! Likewise, it works for polygyny as well. Just because someone does not think it is right, that does not change the fact that it is very much allowed and accepted. Besides, would I stop wearing my hijaab just because I was poked fun at and mocked in the streets here where I live? No! I won't. And the same goes for polygyny and any other act that is Islamic in every way, irrespective of how much we like or do not like it.
Has Allah (Tabaarak wa Ta'ala) made a mistake when He permitted polygyny!? Astagfirullah! He (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is far from imperfections. Tabaarak Allah. To believe that He is perfect is a fundamental tenet of Islam. Or did Allah only permit this for a particular set of people? If yes, which set would that be? Ya Ukhtee Rita! If you personally feel you shouldn't accept polygyny for whatever reasons, how ever significant or trivial, that is just fine with me. In fact, I'll support you through and through until the end. But, there is a big difference... in fact a very big difference between choosing something for yourself and choosing something for everyone else. Is this freedom of choice? Do I not have the freedom to choose what I see fit for myself? Do other sisters not have the freedom to choose what they see fit for themselves? What harm do we cause when we choose polygyny upon ouselves or encourage it, it being a part of Islam, not as a personal fancy?
Rasullallah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) had many wives. Was he wrong in marrying so many women? The most obvious reasoning given by those very same people in response to this question is that he married so many women because it was necessary for political reasons, to expand his tribe and connections. But, I don't think that answers why he married Lady Ayesha (raa). She was very young at the time of her marriage and the Prophet (saws) was very close to Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq (raa). He did not have any need to strenghten an already strong bond with his dear friend. The same goes for the daughter of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab - Hafsah bint Umar. He and Rasullallah (saws) were very close friends. Why then did Rasullallah (saws) decide to marry Hafsah?
Rita, you referred to women who marry into polygyny as "whores". SubhanAllah! Ukhtee! I have only one question for you. That would only mean, by your thinking, that all of the prophet's (saws) wives were whores. Is that what you are trying to imply? Was even Hajira (as) our mother and the mother of Ismail (as) a whore too??? May Allah forgive my use of words. Astagfirullah.
I don't mean to attack you personally. I really don't need to. But, Ukhtee! What has been ordained has been ordained. Our duty when we were created and as Muslims is to first accept with full conviction and submission the words of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) in full trust. That is what "Islam" means, in its true essense - submission to Allah. We have no choice in the matter. If you personally do not accept something like polygyny, that is a whole different story. I have a lot of friends and family who don't accept it for themselves. But, they know where they need to draw the line. When we educate our children and women about Islam, polygyny is a part of it. Maybe small, but it is a real part of Islam. Irrespective of personal likes and dislikes.
If you go about teaching Islam and true submission to Allah, and then you call a woman who enters polygyny a "whore", I see big double standards there. Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) had two wives. In fact, Hajira (raa) was a servant whom he (as) married. Many of the Sahaabah had more than one wife. And honestly, if I were to believe in what you said to me... I would never believe in Islam, I would never accept Islam. If I were already Muslim, I'd probably renounce my faith. Because I see contradictions and double standards in all that you say. I would only understand that Islam is so full of flaws that it can never be the one true religion. I'd rather be an atheist. Because I would think that Allah and the Prophet made so many mistakes.
Once again, Ukhtee! I stress on this...
and my intent is not to mock you or insult you or to offend you.
If you personally do not wish polygyny on yourself, that is completely
fine with me. I am in full support of your choice and I respect
your choice. But, if you are to call names or to openly denounce
polygyny even though it is very much allowed in Islam, then,
Ukhtee! I can't help but have to clear up some points here. You
basically have taken the liberty to "politely" insult
sincere muslims. MashaAllah. And I have an obligation to clear
some misunderstandings, as your sister in true faith and belief.
As Rasullallah (saws) said, "a Muslim is a mirror of another
Muslim." You may have had a bad experience with a personal
situation. Allahu knows best. But that still does not justify
your position. I end here, InshaAllah. And I pray to Allah that
He (Tabaarak wa Ta'ala) opens my heart and your heart and makes
us firm and obedient Muslims. Aameen.
Second Response from Rita:
I am happy to know that you have received my letter, and for you to think that I would refer to the Prophet's wives as "whores" may God forgive me, for you have read into my letter too deep.
First of all as an Arab-American I probably have more respect for my faith than the average Muslim. Secondly I have no disrespect for anyone that covers their hair. My mother is very religious, my relatives are religious, and I am religious also. I may not cover my hair but it does not mean I have no faith.
If a woman moves toward the idea of a wanting to be in the same home as another woman that is her choice in life. I would never encourage it nor will I accept it that is my opinion. The only bad experience I have had with my faith is (not) being able to question, to argue a point in order for me to gain a better understanding. Not to change the world, or make people follow me, but rather for me to learn and to grow as a person. I too am confronted with the ignorance that your fellow sisters deal with daily. It is important for you to know that just because you follow a certain in path in life, it does not make you ignorant or inferior.
I have learned a few things from your letter that will aid me in my quest to find a better understanding of Islam. I do not agree with your beliefs nor will I accept them. However I respect the fact that they are your beliefs and that you're the one living by them not I. Ukhtee, the viewpoint that I expressed in my letter reflects my opinion of polygyny in the 21st century. Things have changed and so has society. I am not stating that you should live your life according to what society deems right or wrong, but there are certain things that are simply not acceptable.
Granted society is often wrong with regards to what is acceptable,
morality being the judge. Polygyny is something that has no place
in a 21st century culture. The ways of an old world are not always
applicable to the new world. What was done thousands of years
ago may not easily translate well into society. For instance
I have friends who are not covered whose husbands have brought
home other wives. The husbands never acknowledged the effects
that the other wife would have or whether the second wife was
even wanted. This is my question to you: if a woman was to have
several husbands, would her lifestyle be ordained by Allah? Or
would she too encounter the same ignorance that plagues anyone
who lacks an understanding? Would she be held to a different
set of rules? And who are we claim to know what Allah has ordained
to be acceptable or unacceptable?
Siddiqua's Second Response:
Rita, Assalaamu-Alaikum wa Rahmatullaahi
Aren't there plenty of sad lives out
there broken even from monogamous marraiges? I have come across
plenty of men or women who don't know what it means to have a
family or to enter a marriage! Families and homes are broken
because the man does not know his limits and boundaries with
regard to his parents and his one wife. Why then blame polygyny?
We have all the tools and the instruction
booklet. We'll have to open the booklet and study it and then,
use the tools for our own benefit. InshaAllahu Ta'ala.
Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika wa `ash-hadu an `laa `illaha `illa anta astagfiruka wa atoobu `ilayk.
Siddiqua Hassan Haswarey