Bountiful, B.C.: The first thing that comes to mind is a recollection of the media frenzy surrounding the ultra-fundamentalist Mormon community, which under their so-called “prophet” Warren Jeffs practices an extreme form of polygyny.
The Vancouver Sun has a huge “exclusive report” on the subject, covering it's history, legal standing, and the court cases against Warren Jeffs and other members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. I recommend going through all the articles, which are fascinating (in a horrifying way) in and of themselves, as well as making us fervently grateful to Allāh for the Shari'ah He blessed us with that would prevent such a situation from occuring amongst Muslims (assuming that the Shari'ah was being properly implemented and practiced; and yes, I know that reality is very different from our ideals). There is so much that is so wrong about what's going on in Bountiful that I won't even bother writing about it – the shock you'll feel as you read about it will be the same feeling I experienced, along with horror, pity, and the urgent desire to go make Da'wah to them. Anyway, moving on:
One such article is titled “Legalizing polygamy” and discusses two sides of the story: how legalizing polygyny can provide protection for the (currently unrecognized) wives and children of polygamist men, and the bureaucratic nightmare it would be for lawmakers.
Hypothetically, if polygamy were to be legalized (which I highly doubt it will), what would it mean for Muslims? While polygyny in the Muslim community of B.C. (and most likely elsewhere in Canada) is extremely rare, I personally know of at least two families in my old city that are polygynous. As with the Bountiful cases, the second wives (as far as I know, there aren't any kids from the second wives) aren't recognized in Canadian law.
The polygamy/ polygyny issue leads to another hot Islam-related topic in Canada: the re-legalizing (is that even a word?) of religiously-based arbitration and family law, which was banned after the “Shari'ah law in Canada” fuss a couple years ago. Legalizing polygamy would mean recognizing the fact that some religions permit this practice… and more often than not, those same religions have rules and regulations that deal with polygyny – such as Islam. Would this mean that Canadian law would permit Muslims to refer to religious authorities so that they can deal with polygyny-related family law Islamically? If so, how would the system be set up? Would we have Shari'ah courts (of a sort) in Canada? Who would be chosen to sit as a qadhi, and on what basis would they be chosen? Taking into consideration the schools of thought, not to mention different mentalities (e.g. Salafi, Traditionalist, Modernist/ Progressive), you can imagine just how crazy the situation would become.
Keep in mind this is all hypothetical, and as I said above, it's highly unlikely that polygamy will be legally recognized and allowed in Canada… which means that the scenario I mentioned above would probably be non-existent. But the possibly exists. Polygamy exists, amongst Mormons and amongst Muslims and who knows who else. Will the Canadian government, and the Canadian masses (regardless of religion) dare to do something about it besides simply outlawing it (which people will, and do, ignore) and occasionally taking practitioners of polygamy to court?
On a totally different tangent: does anyone else see the double-standards at play here? While there is outcry and outrage against the Mormon's version of their own khilaafah in Bountiful, it's nowhere near the level it would be were it Muslims instead of Mormons. I wonder why there aren't any loud public protests, in B.C. or elsewhere in the country, calling for the dissolution of the Mormon community in Bountiful or the criminalization of all Mormon men who engage in polygyny (with underage girls or otherwise).
What are your thoughts on the subject?