This article depicts a canvas filled with the darkness behind the taboo word, polygamy. A large-scale study currently underway across Malaysia uncovers proof that polygamy harms everyone involved: from emotionally scarred children, to wives who think they’d be better off as single-parent households, and even husbands who admit “I wouldn’t recommend it for my son; it’s quite stressful.” Women are seen as the victim of emotion and economical breakdown not forgetting innocent children becoming unfortunate to be in a family with more than one mother. At the same time, they try to convey that men are also not approving of this act that is considered illegal in the United States of America.
Polygamy was a practice done by Prophet Muhammad, the last prophet of the believers of Allah. If we look into the purpose of polygamy back in Prophet Muhammad’s days was to help the single mothers who needed financial support due to losing husbands during the many wars in those days of upholding Islam. It wasn’t an act based on sexual needs by the Prophet.
It was a beautiful thing to do therefore, it became a sunnah or a summoned practice to be followed by the ummah. Rasulullah S.A.W has helped many families to come out from misery and difficulties, thanks to polygamy. Many wives could lift their shoulders without loads of burden and many children could live freely as other children.
All thanks to polygamy.
However, this honourable act has turned into an injustice, cruel and selfish thing to do. Do we blame the men for being beasts who thirst for sexual satisfaction, as claimed? Do we put the wives at fault for not embracing the sunnah? Or do we blame polygamy, itself?
I am here to strongly opine that polygamy shouldn’t be blamed as mistakes only come from humans.
As we analyse closely to this fragment of the article, “Polygamy also negatively affects the relationship between children and their mothers, with the child resenting the mother for being unable to make sure the father does not neglect them or for becoming depressed and also neglecting their emotional needs. Regardless of gender, they lack of confidence in their own ability to have stable relationships because they have only experienced a family life filled with traumatic quarrels and resentment. The children of second wives usually cope better because from birth they know their father has another family. But the children from the first family can see the comparison: the lack of time, lack of resources, their father’s absence when they needed him. Some of the children insisted SIS help them set up a support group to help them cope with feelings of isolation; at school they cannot relate their problems to anyone as they feel embarrassed about the situation.”
Instead of putting the blame on the gun, we should blame the person who pulled the trigger. I believe through polygamy, family members can build stronger bonds between one another. It is the exact reason to foster meaningful and unbreakable ties. Not all families will end up a wreck if it is a polygamous family. Many families managed to break the walls of prejudice and stereotyping and showed the society that children from polygamous families can end up like other children as well, successfully.
Yes, I concede to the fact that some children are indeed, the biggest victims as they get abandoned, get lack of love and attention and eventually, end up ruining their future. However, this could definitely be avoided if the parents have good discussions among themselves on ways and strategies to approach possible problems. Honest conversations are the key in constructing functional family ties. Now, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of both mum and dad.
Men should be aware of their limitations and their capabilities; to what extent can they give for their families? The Quran says 'Marry woman of your choice in twos' threes' or fours' but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, (with them), then only one' [Al-Qur'an 4:3]. Now, this is the fault done by the fathers if they fail to feed the mouths of his children and wives. And we aren’t just talking about food, it includes emotional needs, attention and love. Presence is crucially significant in a household. A man is to foresee the future, and think wisely.
For women, one shouldn’t break down when the husband talks about polygamy. A woman shouldn’t shut down when she sees the husband finding someone new. Discussing in the Islamic context, Dunya is temporary. And everything that comes with it, is temporary. It includes your child, your husband, friends, career and the list goes on. When it kills to accept polygamy, think of what is permanent, which is Allah. “Whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” (Quran, 2:256)
Based on Yasmin Mogahed in her book ‘Reclaim Your Heart’, an international Islamic speaker who did B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “There is a crucial lesson in this verse: that there is only one hand-hold that never breaks. There is only one place where we can lay our dependencies. There is only one relationship that should define our self-worth and only one source from which to seek our ultimate happiness, fulfilment, and security. That place is God.”
Women shouldn’t allow polygamy to be a ticket to be a bad mother to a child and a bad wife to a husband. Nothing will ever fill your heart unless it’s from Allah S.W.T. Therefore, why cry over a gift when you have the giver by your side, throughout your life.
All in all, husband and wives, fathers and mothers must cooperate in order to maintain a healthy household, despite the nature of the marriage; polygamous or not. Parenting is a skill to acquire and is an amanah to hold till the end. Children will not be affected if parents know how to deal with issues that come about.
If we put things in a comparative, a non-polygamous family will still face similar problems when it comes in the upbringing of the child. It all comes down to the parenting and not polygamy.
What is elucidated in the article explicitly shows the true mentality of our Malaysian society towards polygamy. I believe whatever comes from Allah S.W.T is the best for mankind and he has allowed the practice of polygamy. Allah will never burden His believers without knowing their capabilities of overcoming it. In the Quran, ayah 286, “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear.” Simply by believing that precious verse, women specifically mothers would never have to face the ‘problem’ that they are facing to the extent of extreme suffer and torture.
But if we dive into certain areas of polygamy like briefed in the article, “Sisters in Islam (SIS) research also looks at nafkah batin, a Malay term referring to sexual and emotional support. Those who support polygamy invariably claim that polygamy works if the husband properly follows the practice of giliran, or ‘turn-taking’: dividing time between the wives. All polygamous men claim they practice giliran, perhaps reflecting a subconscious recognition that the Qur’an enjoins equal treatment of multiple wives. But the in-depth interviews show that giliran is in fact unworkable: unplanned domestic crises such as a child falling sick or work crises all intervene to derail any giliran. Taxi drivers with wives in two different states, or those who lose time travelling between families, say they are sometimes simply too tired to give time to their other family. When asked “Would you recommend polygamy to your children, your son?” a number of the better educated, professional middle class men said, “Seriously, I have to admit I wouldn’t. It’s quite stressful.”
Understanding of the nature of polygamy is of course volatised to unpredictability like the issue raised in the above passage. In this part, I have to agree since research and studies have proven that husbands practicing polygamy is to ought to face issues based on one’s employment. A CEO of a company might have time and money to satisfy both parties as compared to a school gardener who earns less with a chance of non-insurance protected that is important for the family’s well-being.
The mechanism of giliran is inevitably tangible. It is volatile to the nature of the family; financial state of the money earners of the family, health guarantee and protection and many more.
In a nutshell, there are always two sides of the window and one could perceive polygamy as to what one sees. But this shouldn’t be stagnant as it is, as people should venture into other worldviews regarding polygamy and its possible implications; beneficial or detrimental. Opening of minds is important to produce a thinking ummah, to improve the bad and to sustain the excellence.
Wallahu A'lam Bishawab.
With all honestly, one who actually somehow for some reason supports polygamy,