3 Marriage Models We Need to Rethink

We’ve all read those articles, “50 Ways to Make Your Husband/Wife Happy”, “7 Ways to a Great Marriage”, “11 Ways to Survive Marriage and Not Get Bored to Death”.  We’ve had our elders hand us pearls of wisdom (and unsolicited advice), had our peers tell us how being married really is (“for realz, bro”), and we’ve been to seminars that teach us the fiqh of love while others teach us the fiqh of staying together for the sake of the kids.

So instead of reinventing the marriage wheel, I’m going to point out some the weaknesses of the “marriage models” we all hold dear. Be prepared to get a little uncomfortable; maybe you’ve been struggling all this time to implement them and what I’m going to tell you will invalidate your efforts.  Nothing can invalidate your efforts; whatever effort you put in has, inshā’Allāh, brought you and your spouse some benefit.  Consider my insights instead as a way to keep your marital compass meticulously aligned.  Also of note, these models apply to healthy/normal marriages that are not abusive, physically or emotionally. If you feel you are in an abusive situation, it is important to immediately seek professional help and intervention.

Here comes the list.

 

Marriage Model Number 1

“I’ll meet your needs and you meet mine” (i.e. the Islamic golden hit, “Rights and Responsibilities of Husbands and Wives” halaqa/seminar/khutbah).

 

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This model has its value for sure.  From it we get a shari’ understanding of marriage: who provides what to whom, what behavior encroaches on our spouse’s “rights”, what behavior is considered sinful, what we can expect from them, etc.  All important information, no doubt.  After all, the sharī‘ah should be the foundation of our marriages.

Beyond that, this model wants us to understand that our partner is different from us and we have to learn to love them through their “love language” i.e. “meet their needs” with an understanding of what those needs actually are.  We usually really get focused on gender here; men want sex, women want emotional connection, right? (I’m joking; both men and women want both of these things).  This model tells us that we need to meet our spouse’s needs to keep them happy/fulfilled/satisfied (and married to us LOL).

But there are pitfalls.  Firstly, centering our marriage on meeting each other’s needs often makes us two very needy people.  That’s not very attractive.  Often times we end up getting whiny, passive-aggressive, angry, crabby, etc. that our “needs” are not being met; and all we can do is hope to punish this person with our relationship belly-aching until they finally hear loud and clear, “Hey, you’re doing a lousy job meeting my needs!”

When was the last time you felt attracted to someone who did that to you?  When was the last time someone nagged you or yelled at you and you felt like you wanted to connect with them intimately (emotionally or sexually)?  Probably never.  Yet without realizing it this is how we are “working” to get the results we want in our marriages.

Another pitfall in this model is score-keeping.  We withhold love/sex/affection/help because we feel like the “score” is out of balance.  To complicate matters further, each spouse has their own personal scoreboard of the marriage that’s completely left to their own biased umpire-ship.  Spouses withhold giving (or they do it without a lot of annoyed sighing) when they believe or perceive their spouse is doing too much taking without putting the same effort back in. Here’s an example:

 

Husband thinking: Didn’t I take her out to dinner, and now she’s going to say she’s too tired? (husband +1, wife -1)

Wife thinking: The evening was lousy because he put it together last-minute even though I reminded him for a week to make a reservation at a nice place. (wife +1, husband -1)

 

Another mistake we make in the religious crowd with this model is we boil down our marriage to a cookie-cutter-one-size-fits-all theoretical needs-meeting fiqh dilemma.  “Ya shaykh, whose takes precedence in making her happy, my mom or my wife?”  How many times have we heard this question, and we all know the answer.  Many years ago my husband asked Shaykh Yaser Birjas, “Shaykh, if I have to choose to make one happy, who do I choose, my mom or my wife?”  The shaykh gave a very wise answer: you have to make both happy (you won’t believe how far that advice has gotten my husband today).

In other words, we can’t get hung up on a hard and fast fiqhi answer, because it often ends up with someone being the “winner” and someone else being the “loser.”  Like the shaykh said, we need to create more win-win situations.  Our marriages cannot be sliced and diced to fit compartmentally into a fatwa.  We may be doing the “right” thing, but our spouse may be building up resentment that will harm us both later on.  We need to be a little more creative and practical.

To sum up, the major issue with this model is that ultimately needs-meeting keeps us “other” focused rather than self-focused; our behavior “waits” on our spouse’s and we try to conjure it out of them in all the wrong ways.  If we want to try to change our marriages for the better, we must start by changing ourselves, because changing yourself is the easiest, fastest, and most dependable method of change there is.

If our marriage isn’t too great, we had something to do with it.  We all co-created our marriages and there are definitely things we all can do to become better spouses.  As Muslims we should view our “half” of the marriage as ultimately a commitment to Allah, not to an individual.  We fulfill a promise we made before Allah to be a husband/wife and if that promise is too heavy, we should get help. One day we will be accountable for only ourselves before Allah for our marriage, so the only one we should think about “keeping score” with is Allah.  We don’t want to “lose points” with our Lord just because our spouse is.  Being an adult means we act as we do on our own principles and taqwa, not as a reaction to someone else’s behavior.  Believe it or not when we act out of principle, our spouse will begrudgingly respect us, and may even make their own changes for the better.

 

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184 / View Comments

184 responses to “3 Marriage Models We Need to Rethink”

  1. Abu Shanab says:

    Jazakallah khair for sharing your insights and opinions with us.

    You mentioned “having a safe word” in the intimacy department

    But I cant think of what to introduce that would require a “safe word”

    Could you guide us to some other articles that can teach us.

  2. Maqbool says:

    Salam

    Thanks for this article. I see that the author of this article is “Olivia”. But there is no 2nd name or real identity. That is not being very authentic…hiding behind a potentially false name like that. I mentioned this because the author advocated being authentic

    Thanks

    • She’s authentically my wife and her name is indeed Olivia.

      • Maqbool says:

        I am sorry for my comment. I regretted it as soon as I posted it. It was a knee jerk comment. I dont know why I turn into a “critique monster” when I am on Muslim matters. its only on MM.

        I apologize to sister Olivia. And to her husband if he was offended.

        Please forgive me if any offense was taken.

      • Ahmad B. says:

        Please forgive me if this is in the wrong section. But I had a question that I hope people who are in marriages with a convert can explain to me (either man or woman can answer).

        I am middle eastern and married to a white convert. This last Eid we went out to an Eid party where men and women are seated separately.

        As soon as I came home, my wife started crying. It seems that she felt judged, criticized, gossiped about by women in that gathering.

        Even before we went, I could tell she was hesitant. Mashallah my wife is social and and has friends (convert and non convert) from her own ethnicity, so I know she is not super shy. But she seems unwilling to spend time with Middle Eastern women because she says they look down on her and keep correcting her in her Islam in a very public and forceful way.

        I have heard white converts (men and women) having a tough time before. But I want to know what I can do to remedy this situation.

        Is this just something all women go through? (Forgive me, but I have heard women are hasrsher towards each other than men)

        Should I just let her be when she says she doesnt want to hang out with Middle Eastern women.

        Any advice or similar experiences out there?

        Much Appreciated

      • Siraaj says:

        Best thing I’ve found is that if she knows Islam well, the sciences and what have you, she can separate between what is culture, what is required, and will know the difference and feel confident when others confront her.

    • Al Maghribi Girl says:

      Yeah sister, next time please add the last four digits of your SSN

    • Nur says:

      Really, what does the author’s name have to do with anything? Hoping this is a joke.

  3. asrauf says:

    Thank you for sharing the marriage models that don’t work. I just have a comment about Model # 2 in which you encourage digging up things from the past. This is dangerous territory. A wife or husband is not obliged (rather must prevent) from revealing what happened in the past that Allaah has concealed. Rather s/he must conceal him/herself, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) said: “Avoid this filth that Allaah has forbidden. Whoever does any such thing, then let him conceal it with the concealment of Allaah.” (Narrated by al-Bayhaqi; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, no. 663).

    And Muslim (2590) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah does not conceal a person in this world but Allaah will conceal him on the Day of Resurrection.”

    • Lets build on efforts instead of nitpicking says:

      As Salamu Alaikum Br. Asrauf,

      I don’t think the author meant bringing up stuff ‘from the past’ (before marriage) as much as bringing up stuff that is currently affecting a marriage and making it into a cozy blanket that is boring…rather than exciting…ie, ‘ting.’

    • Olivia says:

      No, I did not encourage digging up things from the past. I mean talking about yourself as a person in the present.

  4. Polygamy meeting a woman's sexual needs? says:

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    Sister Olivia, can you elaborate a bit more about the sexual needs that polygamy (as endorsed by Islam and practiced within the bounds of Islamic law) can fulfill in a woman?

    I must admit I am a bit mystified in this area, noting that ‘threesomes’ aren’t allowed (apologies, I know that was disgusting and will make most deeply uncomfortable, but I didn’t know how else to get across the point other than stating it straight out)

    …and we as Muslims are not allowed to discuss what goes on inside ‘the bedroom’ with anyone else? Ie, the wives of a polygamous marriage are not to discuss with each other their own personal sexual experiences with the husband?

    The only thing I can think of is that, if chores, etc are shared, the wife may get ‘time off’ that allows her to recharge sexually (as well as emotionally, physically, etc).

    Of course, I could completely be lacking in imagination!

    Jazaki Allahu Khayran!

    • Olivia says:

      Walaikum asalaam,

      It may be very uncomfortable to hear, but emotions like jealousy are not always harmful, depressing, or painful in polygamy when the positive emotions in the marriages outweigh them. Women may not like me to say it, but friction and jealousy, or having the opportunity to “miss” your spouse, can actually add spice to bedroom lives, and that includes in polygamy. I don’t think polygamy is a solution for people who have dull bedroom lives, but I’m trying to enable people to understand that polygamy for women is not all pain, martyrdom or living in constant jealousy that harms and destroys a relationship. While this *does* happen, and I’m in no way trying to downplay it, we think it is the *reality* of polygamy in and of itself and in truth, it’s not. This was not the case in the family life of Rasoolullah (S). We read about the “jealous games” of his wives and even the “teams” they had. Do we think this was depressing and destructive, or a sort of fun and excitement, a jealousy in healthy proportions tempered by love and friendship? In the end his wives loved one another dearly and were friends; they tried to outdo each other, they smeared food in each other’s faces, they played jokes on each other. This is far from the depressing and strained relationships we often seen in polygamy now.

      And yes, if cowives do work together on the same team, they can enable each other to get date nights or help with the kids. But this will only happen if a brother approaches polygamy in a way that includes his wife and isn’t all just about serving his sexual needs; he would have to be thinking as a family.

      • F. Abdurrahman says:

        so you contradict yourself – first you say that marriage is to protect chastity and imply that a man should take a second wife to keep himself from zina – ie to meet his lust needs – and then you say it isn’t all about that. And please don’t quote certain Ulema who are so midirecting that they tell men whose eyes wander to go find a second wife…the Prophet peace be upon him said that if a man sees a woman he finds attractive, he should go home to his own wife for she has the same thing that that other woman has. He peace be upon him did not say: he should go pursue that other woman as a second wife. ! don’t quote Ulema out there who give immaturity a stamp of approval – there are enough Ulema out there who – when a man comes to htem with a low libido – advise that man to watch porn. Yes, this actually happens. Talk about total stupidity. We need to rethink sexuality in our faith practice. if you want to spice up your marriage life, try Tantra.

      • GC66 says:

        Good insight sister and I mean no disrespect with the following comment on polygamy:

        If Allah had intended men to have more than one wife……………then He would have given Adam(pbuh) more than one.

        I fully understand the directive of Muhammad(pbuh) and his time in having more than one wife. And yes, Abraham(pbuh) and other of the Prophets had more than one wife.

        But……..some things were abrogated during and shortly thereafter the time of His ummah.

        This may be one that was missed and could have actually occurred.

        Even saying so, it stands today as part of Islam and none has the right to abrogate it unless the society one lives in forbids more than one wife.

        I appreciate your perspective.

        Wassalam

      • Melanie says:

        The one thing that bothers me about polygamy is the reaction of the children, since polygamy is not widely accepted in our society.I think it would be very difficult for the children. As for ting you can imagine anything you want with the hassle of a co-wife.

  5. Leila says:

    as-salam alaikum. I like the first part of the article, and the honesty and style of writing throughout. But I have to wonder about perspective. I think that because it’s written by a woman, there is an attempt to make marriage exciting (ting) and keep it the central focus of life, when in fact it is only thus for a wife, and not for a man. Women are naturally more focused on their relationships – and marriage above all – as the central meaning of their lives. Men on the other hand are more focused on a mission, a purpose, that is outside of marriage, and for which a good marriage is simply the foundation, support, and source of energy-renewal. So this desire to make marriage exciting is a very female one.
    Instead of trying to spice up marriage to make it like a soap-opera or drama or musalsila with ups and downs and the frisson of jealousy and all, using polygamy of all things, just find a greater purpose to live for – how about trying to become a true Lover of God? that journey will give you the excitement you need and maybe even mean you will become amongst the Sabiqeen. trying to over-focus on making marriage a sparkling exciting drama is a bit like wanting to make meals exotic. In our faith, we don’t want to make these things become the focus – marriage, like eating – is the fulfilment of a need and the means to set one up to pursue the great and exciting battles that lie in our way: fighting one’s lower self to become a better servant of God, realizing one’s true potential as a worshipper of the Divine, being truly sincere – really, if we put our energies into this relationship with God, we’d have little time to get bored and start looking for ways to make the sideshows more interesting. There is so little time, and so much distance to cover, to reach our home with the Divine! Do we want to be in the company of the Prophet peace be upon him in the Afterlife? how about that for some “ting” ? the uncertainty of that…that is what kept the fires of love burning for the Salaf as-Salah.If we keep sayign we want to bring back the goodness that was once in this Ummah, let’s make our efforts directed there constantly. This article is a great marriage advice article for a secular context – but I respectfully say that for a spiritual community, we have only to look at the Companions and how little of this they practiced. they did not sit and ask each other: tell me something about yourself you have never told me/are afraid to tell me. They were too occupied with the Big Questions: will I enter Jannah? How do I be more pleasing to my Lord? How do I become closer to my Beloved Rasool Allah peace be upon him. I just can’t imagine them doing any of the things you have talked about (including polygamy for the sake of adding some excitement to their lives)…

    • Siraaj says:

      Sister, just out of curiosity, are you married, and if so, does your husband only talk to you about the deen and never ask you about yourself and vice versa? Also, can you please point out scholars of our faith who say this should be the only focus of marriage? Please kindly provide some good authoritative references, jazaks =)

      • F. Abdurrahman says:

        why does this reader have to provide authentic references when Olivia did not do so? Olivia just spoke about it all from her personal take on things, which is fine. but why should others not also offer their “two cents” to quote Olivia. And if you ask me – and I am married – yes, my husband asks me about deen and about myself in the context of deen. when he asks me how I’m feeling, if I’m tired – that is in the context of deen because if I”m tired it means I can’t offer as much of my time and energy to reading Quran and so on. I don’t see why you are making a dichotomy out of “deen” and “other than deen” – this is a profoundly secular way of seeing things.

    • Olivia says:

      Jzk for your response. I assume that whoever is reading this understands that while marriage is half our deen, it does not exist to the exclusion of our deen. Our Prophet S encouraged us to do everything with ihsaan, and while a person may only be spending, let’s say 30 percent of their time on their marriage, I am trying to enable that 30 percent to be done well by sharing this information. If you read the last part of my article, you will note that I mentioned that it is healthy for couples to support one another in pursuing their own endeavors outside of marriage as well. No where in this article did I advocate that marriage is more important than Allah or ibadah.

      However, marriage is the foundation of the next generation and for raising Muslim children, so we need to have healthy marriages to have healthy families. If you look around at the state of many marriages today and all struggles people have, making dua is no doubt essential, but so is putting in some practical work and developing emotional intelligence and relationship intelligence. Look at the cases of affairs and abuse that plague even “religious” Muslims, and you will see that we are in dire need of some practical advice.

      I don’t think the companions only spoke about jannah and worship of Allah with their spouses. Many of the companions were divorced; they had personalities and character flaws. We don’t get many glimpses into their personal lives, but if they were all just cookie cutter muslims working on jannah, we’d see far less examples of the arguments they had or personal problems with their spouses. There are numerous examples of this.

      Im not advising anyone pick up polygamy to add any ting, but the fact is that many men will go looking for it that way, and of those men (and women) don’t know how to make that a win-win situation. What advise would you give a woman who has to live in that situation in an emotionally healthy and normal way? Just focus on jannah? That’s very easy to say to someone who isn’t living that life on a daily basis. Marriage is meant to be a means to live in *this* dunya as well as a means to work on getting to jannah, its meant to be a halal means of playfulness and satisfaction, and a means of peace and tranquility in *this* life. Most men pursue polygamy to add sexual excitement to their lives, not to earn jannah. Polygamy is not an act of worship, it is a lifestyle choice, so ask any scholar if that’s halal and it is. I’m merely pointing out that there is perhaps a better way for women to look at this situation and for men to think about it before they go into it.

      In the end sister, no one here is saying that people should focus on marriage to the exclusion of their deen. That’s an assumption you have made on your own.

      • F. Abdurrahman says:

        “I don’t think the companions only spoke about jannah and worship of Allah with their spouses. Many of the companions were divorced; they had personalities and character flaws”

        the first sentence is your conjecture. do you have proof that they talked about other stuff? The second sentence does not constitute proof of the first. Being divorced or having personalities and character flaws does not imply that one focuses on other than deen.
        Also, you are right to put “religious” in quotation marks when you talk about those who have affairs. I wonder what kind of “religious” they are ….? what does it mean to be “religious” and what does it mean to be spiritually focused and mutaqqi? and of the Sabiqeen who will be the first to enter Jannah?

      • Aliyah J. says:

        I want some of this “Ting”….where can I get it?

        Can I find it on amazon….does it come in different flavors?

      • Walid says:

        yes marriages have struggles today but the solution is not “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and create your own version of sexual gratification, but halalified. Let’s first start to talk about how our context and environment are damaging us and how we can take a strong stand – where are the muslims like Kilbourne – on the frontline against this fisq? no, we never seem to stand up for the benefit of all! http://www.csmonitor.com/2000/0106/p20s1.html

    • M. Mahmud says:

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      My thoughts on this.

      I’m not married, but I hope to be one day, and like what Leila seems to speak of, I fantasize about having my sweetheart be my supporter(and I hers) in our efforts to enter Jannah. Talk about adventure and excitement!!! What is more exciting and more adventurous, more important than to be saved from the fire of hell and entered into Jannah? What brings more life to the heart, more fear more hope, than making ones goal the next life? This keeps the hearts alive and I think the combination of fear and hope will be best for keeping the hearts of the husband and wife attached to each other. The best way to stay together is to be on a path-call it an adventure if you like-where one feels the constant need to turn to ones companion.

      In this way the people whose intention is the end are favored over those whose intention is nothing but this life. As people explain, you seek happiness in this life and you will inevitably be disappointed. Nothing lasts even in this life. It’s a right on Allah that whatever he raises in this life he also brings down. So the spark at the beginning of the marriage will die now. What lasts is the couple who are married for Allah’s sake. They have a constant drive.

      I also agree with the author if this article. I for a second when reading this considered the thought(hey if we are religious no bad things will happen.) But that’s a delusion. How many of the best men and women on earth divorced each other? It’s not like the same challenges that face nonbelievers won’t also face Muslims. We are all human and marriage is a human institution and requires certain solutions. The book of Allah and the Sunnah have guidance for our marriages. Furthermore, we live in times where we can advise one another to the advantages and pitfalls of certain things(hence this article.)

      Marriage is one of the special affairs of human beings that is integral to both this life and the next.

      So a good balance is necessary. Let us recognize the good and bad of marriage models and also recognize that nothing good in a marriage will truly last unless the couples intention is the akhirah. This Ummah is between two extremes-neglecting the dunya and neglecting the akhirah.

    • Maqbool says:

      You are right….There was this study done that showed mens core values are ambition, goals etc but over time men become more focused on family and spirituality. For the women, she starts off being focused on her family and her relationship and then over time, she begins to focus more on her own personal growth etc

  6. Leila says:

    it is also a mistake to call polygamy a Sunnah. It was not practiced by the Prophet peace be upon him in a manner that could result in it being a Sunnah – it was practiced by him peace be upon him in a form that we cannot practice it – ie. he peace be upon him married more than four. Just like we cannot say that marrying a woman as young as Sitna Aisha (radi Allahu anha) was is a Sunnah. These are things that were special for the Prophet peace be upon him. Had he, peace be upon him, married four women or 2 or three in the period when he was married to Sitna Khadeeja – ie not becuase he, peace and blessings upon him – was ordered to do so by God – then we might be able to see it that way. Otherwise what we have in polygamy is a practice that was common for many millenia in human history, that Islam came and did not abolish but set strict limits upon. Islam did not legislate nor encourage it, nor did it originate in our Sharia, anymore than eating or sleeping – these things exist in human experience & Islam tells us how to do them in a way that is spiritual. Many scholars have also explained that it can actually be un-Islamic to practice it against the custom of the wife’s family and culture. What I see in your approach is that it is a sort of western approach that wants to find sexual excitement in something that was meant to be practiced – if it is going to be practiced – for a sincerely spiritual and Godly purpose – not to add excitment to one’s sex life. And God knows best. The way it is described makes one think more of polyamory. Women of the Companions experienced uncertainty not knowing if their spouses would be amongst God’s most beloved servants, and this made them feel a challenge and a desire to wake up in the night and pray for them and make homes where getting to Jannah was the goal. It is as if we are sure we’ll get there, and our husbands too, so that now we can just have a good time in teh waiting period before arriving. This is odd. The female Companions should have been more “secure” than anyone in thinking they’d arrive in Jannah but they were the ones who lived most in this “ting” of tension between hope and fear. Believe me, if you are truly engaged with your spiritual journey, you want everything else to be as placid as can be and as little demanding of your emtional stores as possible, so you can put all your ability to respond to “ting” into your life with God. You need all the energy and attention you can muster to make that life with God as good as you can…and it is not a boring one, and it does have many ups and downs, and it is the source of all excitement if you let it be.

    • Siraaj says:

      “it is also a mistake to call polygamy a Sunnah. It was not practiced by the Prophet peace be upon him in a manner that could result in it being a Sunnah – it was practiced by him peace be upon him in a form that we cannot practice it – ie. he peace be upon him married more than four.”

      So are not allowed to marry? Cuz he practiced marriage in a way no one ever did.

      • F. Abdurrahman says:

        The comment is talking about the FORM, not the daily practice. you are referring to daily practice in your last sentence. Leila is talking about format. Like fasting. We can’t fast in the form that the Prophet peace be upon him did: fasting days in a row with no iftar. But we CAN fast. Likewise, we can take the form of marriage that he, peace be upon him, took: eg. to Lady Khadijah peace be upon her. But of course, we may not be able to reach that level of ihssan in personal daily conduct and true love…These however are two different points and you have chosen to ignore the nuance. This should not be a debate but a sincere pursuit of knowledge. I feel you are getting defensive of your wife and the idea of polygamy and you don’t want to listen to the nuanced discussion that your wife’s article has opened.

    • Olivia says:

      Sister, polygamy is not an act of worship, it is a kind of marriage, and the main purpose of marriage is to protect one’s chastity. The vast majority of MUSLIM men who practice polygamy do so for sexual excitement or because they want sexual variety. It very rarely is done for “spiritual” reasons. No scholar will tell you that polygamy is only allowed for spiritual reasons. I am only pointing out that it needn’t all be misery for a woman if her husband is willing to include her in his decisions and take her emotions into consideration and is willing to think of as family unit. I’m trying to point a way that makes polygamy healthy for couples and livable. Poly is not all about martyrdom and community service marriage.

      Wouldn’t it be amazing if a man expanded his family and two wives could work together to educate Muslim children and they prayed together as a family? Wouldn’t it be great if those people could make amongst those whom Allah loves because they loved one another for the sake of Allah? Maybe they could all get up and pray together at night because, hey, one woman will have the night away from her husband so she can go throw water on both of the other two while theyre asleep, like dump a whooooooooole bunch of water on them. If Allah loves a spouse who sprinkles water on her husband or vice versa to wake them up for Qiyam al Layl imagine drenching your cowife and husband.. Cold water would be some good “ting” :P

      What I’m trying to say is everything I’m saying can exist within the framework of a righteous home where people work together for the sake of Allah. In your mind the two are mutually exclusive.

      • Nisi says:

        This sounds like an idealized viewpoint of what a polygamist relationship would be like. So a woman would have so little boundaries that she would actually go into the private bedroom of her co wife and husband in the middle of the night to wake them up for qiyam? I mean they are a married couple and deserve some privacy.

        I like reading about different viewpoints but it seems sad that someone is so bored with their marriage/life that they need to create some friction in order to find some excitement instead of being happy that they have a great marriage. At least if the intention is altrustic, you have hope in having reward from Allah(swt) instead doing it to spice up your life. It’s just opening up a door that might lead to regret and heartache. And then what happens when more time passes and polygamy becomes boring and too comfortable? If one cannot find other ways to create excitement in their life besides “creating uncertainty” then they are doomed to always be searching for the next thing.

        And for some things that polygamy might solve, it can create many others. Yes, it is possible that a woman might get more time for herself but it is also possible she will have more frustration being like a single mom sometimes, dealing with kids at night, etc.

        I don’t look at women who pursue/love polygamy as necessarily being more confident or having higher self esteem than other women who don’t. I just think they have different viewpoints than the mainstream society and maybe see it is a fetish or are interested in alternative lifestyles just like other people in society.

      • Olivia says:

        The water thing was a joke. Though the Propeht’s wives did used to play jokes on each other.

        Maybe the better thing to do would be to acknowledge the some women are okay with polygamy and leave it at that Nisi, rather than assume they are into fetishes or other things. It’s not right to make those kinds of assumptions abt another Muslim.

      • If a man takes a second wife to satisfy sexual desire, he will not be satisfied with a 2nd, nor a 3rd or a 4th. This is an immature solution to an immature man. If a man gets bored with the body of one woman he will eventually get bored with the second, third etc… Also, this also signifies that he is a selfish lover, with a male-centric view of sex. It’s all about him. I wouldn’t want him as a husband. I enjoyed your article except for the part about polygamy.

      • Nisi says:

        I’m not assuming just saying that people are interested in polygamy for many different reasons and it’s not always because they are more pious/altruistic or have higher self esteem than others.

        Its whatever floats your boat and I don’t have a problem with that. I just wonder what makes you qualified to give this type of advice on polygamy since you didn’t elaborate in the article. Usually someone who gives advice specifies their expertise such as they’ve been married for 10 years (for example) so what they say had some credibility because they have lived that situation. Without that, the polygamy advice falls flat and comes across as naive and idealistic imo.

    • M. Mahmud says:

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      “These are things that were special for the Prophet peace be upon him”

      This is not the case. Polygny is legal in this deen and many of the Sahaba RA practiced it. So is marriage at a young age. Both are legal. Islam is a blessing for humanity in that in can encompass a wide variety of cultures and creates ease and prevents difficulty by Allah’s permission. Some cultures have marriage at a young age e.g. Africa/India. In some places, polygamy is practices by mushrikeen. Our deen allows ease for them. It’s not a simple “good” or “bad.” It’s an option with various advantages and disadvantages for various people.

    • Abu AbdirRahman says:

      It is not a sunnah? depends b/c as we know, sunnah has many definitions. Sunnah includes actions, saying, and approvals. It is sunnah in that the Prophet (saw) did have multiple wives. (not necessarily meanining it is sunnah and that one gets reward for getting married to more than 1 wife)…Just like saying it is the sunnah of Allah to make all his messengers men. SUNNAH MEANING ACTION.

      Having multiple wives is something most men dream about (mainly for sexual reasons)….and Allah promises men Hur al ain in jannah for a reason…men would want these beautiful creations of Allah in Jannah.

      We were told to enjoy our spouses and to even play with them…what do you mean western approach? We are westerners and we do have a different culture than our eastern brethren.

      • Truth Champion says:

        ‘وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

        It depends what you mean by sunnah. Sunnah can generally used in three meanings:

        1. What is other than Quran from words, or actions or approvals of Allahs Messenger, sallallahu alaihi wa sallam.
        2. Which is synonym of mustahab, mandub (recommended).
        3. Which is opposite of bid’ah, i.e. something from religion, something mashru’

        As for the positions of hanbalis and shafi’is, then they say that it is mustahab not to marry more than one and hukm of marrying more than one, then it must be mubah, jaiz, i.e. allowed, not mustahab. So it cannot be considered sunnah in the second meaning.’

        courtesy of brother al-azkabani from IA Forums

  7. Adnan says:

    problem is: muslims of middle america are trying to make living this faith as “normal” and invovled with dunya-oriented building. we should take a lesson out of the pages of our brothers and sisters who have gone that route – the Christians. they are tired of their very satisfying and interesting and accomplished marriages, child-rearing, and all that, and they want a faith that is actually about changing the world. and we are so inward-focused now, that we reject the idea of going out and taking risks that have meaning. Just have a read of this example of what they long for, and what we should long for: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/07/when-you-are-done-with-pundits-soul-wrestling-looking-at-the-sky-25-things-i-learned-from-staying-with-katie-davis/

    • Olivia says:

      I stated in the article that the shariah should be the foundation of the marriage.

      • Abu AbdirRahman says:

        Even if shariah isn’t the foundation, people can have happy and healthy marriages. many non muslims have happier and healthier marriages than muslims.

        Yes, as muslims we should look for deen, but doesn’t mean we ignore other factors like social status and beauty.

        Just b/c two people are piois and marry for the deen, doesn’t mean they will have successful marriages. Even Abu Bakr (ra) got divorced and I don’t think it had anything to do with a lack of deen b/c all the sahaba were of the best of people to walk on this earth.

  8. Fritz says:

    Slightly toungue in cheek and zany. Nice!

  9. A Different Prospective says:

    I agree with Leila and Adnan to some degree but I think you guys are loosing focus on what the article is talking about. It starts off with tips and ways to make your marriage strong. Which is very important in a relationship because if the marriage is not healthy then your EMAN starts to deteriorate as well and your so lost in those constant struggle and dealing with your emotions of a bad marriage. And lets not forget the children that come out of those bad marriages. Its just a chain reaction. The author gives tips on how to make a marriage strong and bring a “ting” back to your marriage. It could be through different things or it could be through polygamy. Now if you are married in general your goal should be to please Allah (swt) and why can’t that happen through a polygamist marriage? I can imagine women who are in polygamy doing something great for the deen that can be more then the article that Br. Adnan posted. Why does it have to be that marriages keeps us more tied down and more emotionally drained. No, with the right intention with the right amount of “ting” I think polygamy can be the next big thing. We need to be focused on the end goal which is pleasing Allah. No matter what relationship we are in we are allowed to have that “ting” in this life so that we can accomplish greater things as a family unit. Polygamy is not for everyone but for those who are in it may ALLah bless their efforts and guide them and make them exemplary examples for the Ummah. Ameen.

  10. F. Abdurrahman says:

    I find it problematic that rather than dispel the incorrect idea that one should pursue polygamy for sexual or emotional fulfilment of the self, this article actually reinforces it. You can’t say on the one hand that it is a Sunnah, and then allow for it to be done with a niyah other than that which would have been in the Sunnah. The only reason a person should go for polygamy is to support a woman – not to fulfil his own desires. Indeed, fulfilment of a person’s desires could come about as a side-effect – as something that comes wiht it. but it is not the main reason – just like good health comes from fasting – many studies prove that – but that is NOT why we do it and that should NOT have any part in our niyah. If you are going to talk about it as a Sunnah, you should be clear that for both men and women it should be a service project – not an ego project. THAT is how the Prophet peace be upon him did it.
    To say that keeping one’s chastity is the only reason for marriage is also flawed. a lot of us would not have had to get married in that case…a lot of women that is.
    I find it extremely sad that you would say that marriage is not a spiritual thing or for a spiritual purpose. In Islam, even eating is for a spiritual purpose, and is PART of the deen – the way we approach it must be with taqwa, remembrance of Allah, and the niyah to become stronger to worship Him. how could you start to talk of marriage as being a dunya matter?
    also, a lot of couples who have levels of conflict in their marriage – low levels but it’s there – have this “ting.” My spouse and I had that for years. It kept us mentally focused always on the marriage and each other, because it was a high-maintenance relationship. THanks be to God, this is now not the case. We are much calmer – and we are actually able to focus more on other goals like serving Allah in daawah, like seeking closeness to Allah. If we want to talk about the thrill of jealousy, how about being jealous of those who are closer to Allah, which is what the Saliheen the world over are focused on and get their drive from. As for making marriage better, I’m sorry I just don’t see how polygamy is being offered as a technique. if you are offering your perspective as a way for women who find themselvse in that situation to cope with it and see it better, great. But if you are suggesting that out of three things you have to offer as marriage advice for a better relationship, polygamy is one, that’s really losing sight of many other things one could have offered such as making one’s marriage a platform for serving others, making one’s home a place of daawah, making one’s self more like the model of Lady Khadijah and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them – and you DO know about how they lived – how much their lives were about serving others and sacrifice and not constantly focusing on each other – but using their strength and the calm of their marriage to reach out to others. Frankly, if you have a calm and stable marriage, take your energies out to be a mentor to a person who is having a stormy marriage. THAT is what you might do to not be bored. Believe me, you’ll get a lot of satisfaction by giving sadaqa off your extra peace rather than going to look for things that can spice up your peace.

    • Farhan says:

      1. Your comment about how it is wrong for a person to engage in a polygamous relationship to satisfy their needs is incorrect. I have spoken with many Ulema about this, and they have said that sometimes it becomes Wajib on a person to get married (and sometimes married a second time) so they don’t fall into haram. Yes, it would be a very good intention to help others, but to marry to satisfy one’s desires so that they can keep away from the haram is also a noble intention.

      I would really recommend you that you read:
      Islamic Guide to Sexual Relations (Muhammad Ibn Adam Al-Kawthari)

    • Farhan says:

      2. What I believe the author is saying is that chastity is one of the main reasons why people get married, and not the only reason (I could be wrong). I also believe that this is why majority of people get married. We have that guilt factor within us whenever we do something that is against Islam. Therefore, marriage is a way to alleviate us from feeling guilty. By nature we are sexual beings. That is why there are so many Ahadith about fulfillfing one’s desires.

      For example:

      “O group of young men, anyone [of you] who can afford it should many, for it lowers the eyes and guards the private parts. Anyone who is unable to marry should fast, for it restrains the appetite.”

      or

      “When a woman attracts anyone of you and she captivates his heart, then he should go to his wife and have sex with her, for it would repel that what he feels [i.e. sexual desire]. (Sahih Muslim)”

      Again, there is nothing wrong about getting married in order to protect one’s chastity.

      • Adnan says:

        yes, look at the second Hadith. The Prophet peace be upon him did not say go marry another woman or that one who captivated you – go add her to your family…

    • Farhan says:

      3. I do agree with you that marriage is also a spiritual thing. However, I do appreciate the author’s willingness to talk about the ting factor. The sad fact of the reality is that many Muslims are looking for that ting. A lot of Muslim spouses are not sexually satisfied. This causes them to go look for it elsewhere, whether it be the internet or another person. What I take away from what the author is saying, is that Muslims need to start to be more open with their spouses about these things. We are not verbally saying it, but we are thinking about it. The Desi mentality is that it is wrong to talk about sex and how to improve our sexual lives. However, we are doing an injustice to ourselves and our spouses by not finding out what is permissible and not permissible. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve our sexual relations with our spouses. I think that the author is just trying to help us understand this.

      It kept saying that my comment seemed to “spammy.” That is why I submitted three different posts.

    • Em Hamzah says:

      I agree. I feel sorry for sisters who are in a polygamoys marriage who always are like, “my co-wife is awesome! She is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can drop the kids off and go shopping!!”

      I always respond with a dua that Allah bless their family. To me, it seems like their coping mechanism or a wall so that no one will say “Aren’t you sad your husband married another one?”

      I will be real
      Because, to me a regular muslim lady- the benefits of polygamy for me seem a bit like being happy that both your legs are broken so you can “enjoy a break from the kids, get that handicapped parking space”

      Of course, we should ALWAYS be happy with whatever Allah decrees, it just bothers me when people try to tell me not to feel or that I am not allowed. And the benefits of polygamy are sooooooooo worth it for me. Men are allowed to get married up to 4. It is not my responsibility if my husband wants to get married again to:
      -pay the bills
      -like it
      -love it
      -love co-wife
      -be best friends
      -not have feelings
      -have a say in it

      His marriage, his responsibility.

      Regardless of the reason or whatever. I think it is unfair to ask women to step on their emotions and play the martyr and be expected to encourage the husband to marry more-that only lasts so long anyways. We are women! We have enough to handle usually.

      • Adnan says:

        if both men and women have equal need for sexual satisfaction, and you are suggesting polygamy as a means of gaining sexual satisfaction – then it should be for women too. we don’t have a problem anymore about testing for who the father is. and many women work today so they could support their husbands. what is the actual MAQSAD and what is a side-benefit, and what is a custom, and what is polygamy in all of this? because it’s starting to sound like polyamory but for men only.

      • Olivia says:

        I don’t expect most women to like polygamy at all, but I don’t think you should judge other women who may be in it, for whatever reason. It may be the case that two women married to one man are happier emotionally and sexually in their respective marriages than many monogamous couples. Do you feel the same sorrow for mothers who are able to leave their kids with their mothers or mother in laws who they may live with, even if they have chosen to live with their mom/MIL?

        I don’t think any woman should play the martyr either. Most of my words on polygamy, which I think you dismissed in this comment, has to do about how a brother should not go behind his wife’s back and a woman should feel consensual, comfortable and confident. I also spoke about how polygamy should not be an endeavor that leaves a woman feel wounded, unwanted, or betrayed.

        But if people are happy in it, don’t judge just because you can’t wrap your mind around it. Different strokes for different folks, my friend. Some women aren’t sad, which I know makes many women uncomfortable to hear.

      • M. Mahmud says:

        Assalamalaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        Adnan, it is nothing but zina for a woman to have more than one husband. This is absolutely haram.

      • Muna says:

        Sorry but does it not seem slightly condescending to feel sorry for people just because you don’t understand how they can be happy in a certain situation does it not?

      • Em Hamzah says:

        I don’t understand how women can be happy in a battle. I am cheering my sisters on all the time who are in these marriages. The reward (on judgement day)of the battles is the fruit of being in such a situation not actually being in it. Though, this requires battle prep-patience, no backbiting and lots of dua. Anyways, no condescending comments, just facts. I don’t believe in fairytales. And marriage completely aside, no real happiness until jannah. May Allah grant us all jannah. I think marriage models usually are personal reflections pushed on the public readers- to add to the main article at hand.

    • Abu AbdirRahman says:

      SUNNAH in terms of actions….. Doesn’t neccessarily have to mean sunnah in terms of usul al fiqh and fiqh.

      So yes we can say it was a sunnah.

      The sahaba practiced it before the Prophet (saw) did…They had multiple wives while the Prophet (saw) was only married to Khadija. They got married cuz they wanted to and not only because they were doing “community service” by marrying widows.

  11. Omer says:

    I do not think you got a single post saying thank you without added criticisms. So I will be the first. Jazakum Allah khair, it was a very interesting read. I may disagree with your take on things, but I do appreciate you sharing it. It is definitely food for thought and with divorce rates so high, we could always use a little more research in this topic and a few new ideas. Who knows maybe your article could save a couple’s marriage. :)

  12. Sprituality says:

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    I’m following this discussion with interest…both Sister Olivia and those who agree with her, as well as Leila and those who agree with her are both right…

    I think the issue is how to deal with the mundane…’the boring…’

    Sr. Leila is right…ultimately, we need to get away from focusing so much on the Dunya and start focusing on the Akhira. The problem is, most of us are so far away from that stage at this point…improving ourselves to always focus on Allah and the akhira is a work in progress.

    In the meantime, following the advice of Sister Olivia is good way to deal with ‘boredom’ in a halal manner (although I don’t necessarily agree with the polygamy part).

    Taking the food analogy: some of us may get bored of eating the same food every single day. Thus, we may spend time on the internet looking up new recipes, buying new foods, and experimenting, to create ‘tantalizing’ new dishes to please our families and ourselves.

    Ultimately, one can well argue that this is a waste of time…we should not spend so much time obsessing with food, which is very much a matter of the Dunya – the food we always eat is a blessing from Allah and we should focus on worship instead. The companions certainly did not focus on making elaborate, delicious cuisine – there are far more hadiths about the Prophet (s) and how he and his wives (particularly Aisha) enjoyed a fulfilling sexual life than hadiths about the Prophet (s) enjoying decadent food. Yet, one cannot argue that cooking delicious cuisine is haram either, or even somehow ‘against Islam.’

    Again, most of us are not at that stage of closeness with Allah that He has become our soul focus. (Insha Allah, one day we will be!) We need to advise people based on where they are at spiritually: telling someone who doesn’t pray regularly the virtues of Tahajjud is not going to work. Just so, telling someone who, currently, is a ‘regular Muslim’ (identifies with the Deen, but does not practice consistently) who is bored with their marriage – that what they need to do is to dramatically shift their focus to Allah and Allah alone…may not work either…

    • Farhan says:

      To Spirituality,

      I believe what you mentioned about dealing with the boredom in a halal manner was what sister Olivia was trying to get at. However, we all like to act like religious police and cannot think outside the box.

    • Adnan says:

      so wait, you are saying that bedroom boredom results from lack of sexual variety for the male member of the couple, and lack of “ting” for the female. And from this assumption, you go on to say that the solution is not to become better lovers, but for the man to find a new warm female body to have access to, and for the woman, to add some low-level jealousy to her set of feelings regarding her spouse.
      I thought you said both men and women have emotional AND sexual needs – your hypothesis doesn’t reflect that.
      Also, for those arguing about the legit nature of getting hitched to #2 for reasons of lust and sexual appetite, can you provide one example of this from the Sunnah – just ONE example where this was given as a solution to lack of sexual excitement in a marriage?

      • Sprituality says:

        Not me :D!

        As mentioned, I do not not necessarily agree with the polygamy part (I explain in much more detail in a post below).

        But to be fair to Sister Olivia, she gave 3 different pieces of advice on marriage, of which 1/2 relates to polygamy…I think the other 2 1/2 pieces of advice could be useful in improving a marriage, including remove boredom from…keeping in mind that Sister Leila is also right, that ultimately, we need to look deeper.

    • Adnan says:

      what Hadiths talk about enjoying fulfilling sex life? not doubting there are but could you please supply them?

      • Adnan says:

        that question was for “Spirituality” who said: “there are far more hadiths about the Prophet (s) and how he and his wives (particularly Aisha) enjoyed a fulfilling sexual life than hadiths about the Prophet (s) enjoying decadent food.”

      • Sprituality says:

        As Salamu Alaikum, Adnan,

        Here is a site about Islam and sexuality, which mentions some hadiths about how the Prophet (s) approached sex…there are others, but this is at least a start…

        The site is called ‘How to make love to your wife in Islam.’

        “http://www.mydeenislam.com/how-to-make-love-to-your-wife-in-islam.html”

  13. Adnan says:

    look for variety not in another woman but in your own repertoire and way of conceptualizing intimacy. It CAN be spiritual. you CAN get better at it. It’s a skill, not a fruit and veggie – where variety is necessary…what men need to understand is that it is not variety of partner but improvement of process that they should be seeking. “By deepening the intimacy and heightening the erotic, we are capable of having sex that is far more than a physical joining of the genitals. We can have sex that takes us far above the physical rutting of animals, way up into the realm of the angels.
    […]you have to realise that it doesn’t just ‘happen’ (although plenty of people have experienced a glimpse of this possibility), just as blissful transcendent spiritual experiences rarely occur spontaneously. You have to cultivate deep sex.” – Jacqueline Hellyer

  14. Adnan says:

    just want to make it clear: I am not against polygamy – that is for consenting adults to consider. Some people might find it works for them; Shakespeare said: nothing’s right or wrong, it’s only thinking makes it so. If you think/feel/consider polygamy to be normal, attractive, good for you, it can be. If you feel it is something strange and uncomfortable, then that is okay too. I think Islam gives us this – it does not encourage or discourage it. It recognizes its value when it is part of people’s custom (urf) – ie. where people think/feel it is normal. Where people feel uncomfortable about it, Islam respects that too and asks men to not introduce it into their married lives when the woman will feel sad/stressed/negative about it. That’s it that’s all. So for those who are monogomous, for those who don’t find polygamy part of their custom – either they can “rethink” and try to gain a new appreciation for it, or they really need to discovery the mutlitide of other ways to healthily and monogomaously and spiritually solve their marital/life/sexual issues. There are MANY ways.

    • M. Mahmud says:

      “Shakespeare said: nothing’s right or wrong, it’s only thinking makes it so.”

      That’s not true. Allah and His Messenger made clear right from wrong like night is clear from day.

      • Barakah says:

        try to understand what was being said. no one is saying that we don’t respect and follow what Allah and His Messenger told us was right and wrong, and obey. But when it comes to polygyny, it is a matter of how one “thinks” of it – ie. whether one should go for it/intro it to one’s spouse all depends on how that first wife thinks of it: in other words, her 3urf (custom – what she is used to – what she finds ‘normal’). Sr. Olivia is trying to get us to consider this practice by “rethinking” about it – even when it is not our custom – to consider introducing it into our way of life here and now, as a possible solution for boredom – which again, based on one’s thinking – may or may not be a “problem” in a marriage. some people like boredom in one area cuz it lets them take risks in a new area of life as I think some readers have already touched on. It’s all about how u think of things…and I’ll add: that includes sex. the biggest sexual organ, folks, is the brain. google that and you’ll find a lot of help.

  15. Olivia says:

    Everyone is really firing off on all cylinders on what I said about polygamy, so rather than go comment by comment it is easier inshallah if I just take a minute to answer/clarify in one response:

    Firstly, I am not advocating that people pursue polygamy for a sexual escapade, men or couples. I actually mention that I think this often spells disaster, because it leaves the first wife feeling betrayed and anguished. It is a very selfish way to get some “ting” on the part of a husband. If one will note I advocated authenticity and ting within monogamy as the default, but the reality is that some men have polygamy on their mind and are adamant about it, so I put this in there for them so they can, I hope, inshallah, take a better approach that does NOT destroy their first marriage. Unfortunately in our Muslim cultures we are taught that no woman can ever accept it or be happy with it, so really there’s no point in including her in the process and its better to just surprise her with it. I disagree with this, and I think given that some women can accept it or even find her own “ting” in that situation, or other benefits, I implore whoever is serious about it to take heed and make sure a wife is consenting, comfortable and confident with herself when doing it. It doesn’t matter what the man’s reason is, sexual or noble, that is essential to preserving the health of the marriage.

    Secondly, I want to point that polygamy as we *think* we know it, is hinged on two extremes: nobility/martyrdom/community service marriage (which we back-pat and “oo” and “ah” and are impressed with) or sneaky, halal “affair” husbands who are bored and tired with #1 and don’t want to put in the work to fix their first marriage and would rather find a new thing. I am not advocating either of these models, I think they are both unrealistic and/or unhealthy. It is not wise to pursue poly for solely religious reasons, because eventually your heart and your loins will remind you that marriage is not merely a spiritual endeavor, and likewise pursuing it for your loins alone is not wise because eventually it will erode the spiritual health of the marriage by causing injustice, allowing shaytan to attack on many fronts, and the general responsibilities and patience required of husbands and wives will break if not well fortified with the remembrance of Allah.

    I had hoped that rather seem like I am endorsing either one of these, I am pointing out a balanced path, but because this article is more focused on practical advice, perhaps it seemed like I was advocating pursuing it for sexual reasons. I am not.

    However, I think we are very uncomfortable with the idea of polygamy being livable, doable, and not either done by a noble, selfless couple we can applaud or a lousy, horndog man we can love to hate. I am pointing out that polygamy is meant to be a very human, normal experience in which everyone can benefit and that it is not a painful, jealous, soul-crushing experience for women if it is done right and well, like we see in the example of Rasoolullah. Read the stories of his wives and you will see human women with human emotions living normally and happily. Yes, he married widows and divorcees, but behind close doors they were husbands and wives and those titles of widow or divorcee didn’t matter; they had human hearts just like the rest of us. I think we need a better model that centers on both deen and dunya and acknowledges the emotions and intimate health of everyone involved, not just men, but that also requires people to hear that we have some misconceptions about polygamous women and their emotions and intimate well-being. We make a lot of assumptions based on how we would feel based on what we think it is like. It is not about simply learning to “cope”, though it can be if it is not done right. People are often surprised by how poly can make you love a spouse more deeply or make someone a better lover, and it is not all just about women competing. It is much deeper than that, but most of us aren’t ready to hear it, and really that’s not our fault; poly is done badly by most Muslims and disliked here in the west. Most of us cannot even fathom how polygamy and true love can work, we have been told for so long it is a “solution” to singlehood of women or sexual desires of men.

    • Sprituality says:

      As Salamu Alaikum, Sr. Olivia,

      While I agree in principal that perhaps polygamous marriages could potentially be truly happy and sexually fulfilling for wives, I guess I just have not yet seen any examples of this regard: certainly all the polygamous marriages I have known of have been disasters. Thus, what I read is a theory – which not only sounds a bit strange, but for which I have not seen evidence (of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist…)

      But I can’t accept seerah as the evidence, because I interpret the seerah very differently than you have…I don’t think the wives of the Prophet (s) were necessarily happy with their situation. Rather, I think they put up with it, and for the most part, got along, because what other choice did they have other than not be married to the Prophet (s), the best of mankind? And for the most part, they were extremely pious women who knew how to behave.

      Although sometimes it got to be a bit much and human emotions and human behavior got through…And these behaviors (plotting against each other, angrily knocking over the bowl of another wife’s cooking, calling each other names such as ‘Jewess’ and insulting age and health status, trying to get Fatima (RA) to proposition the Prophet (s) to pay more attention to some wives versus others, etc) do not suggest a healthy ‘low level ting’ to me…rather, they suggest women who bravely tried to control their roiling emotions such as jealousy, but, understandably, at times failed, with painful consequences.

      Thus, the way I interpret the seerah, they would rather be in a polygamous marriage with the Prophet (s) than not be married to him at all, but, perhaps they would really have liked him for themselves alone.

      I think this is especially the case for Aisha…yes, she had friends amongst the wives, and ‘they formed teams’ etc – but a careful reading notes that she formed her friendships with the wives who were least likely to compete with her for the Prophet’s (s) love and affection…

      She seemed close to Sauda (RA), who was much older, I believe heavy set and not very beautiful. And also to Hafsa (RA), who although her age, was very argumentative.

      On the other hand, she had the most difficulty with Zainab (RA), and, even posthumously, Khadija (RA), both of whom the Prophet (s) loved most other than Aisha (RA).

      So, reading the Seerah, I do not get a rosy picture of polygamy at all…rather I get re-enforcement that its a very difficult situation for the women involved…

      …unless if one wife agrees to be ‘the less attractive, less loved one…’

      So, we go back to either the jerk male model of polygamy or the community service model of polygamy…and, the Prophet (s) seerah shows us the community service model of polygamy…

      • moonsighter says:

        As a reward for the choice the Umm ul Momineen made, Allah SWT sent down an ayah forbidding him from marrying any more wives or replacing his existing wives with others. I think that ayah is in Surah Ahzab, cannot remember exactly.

      • ZAI says:

        Brilliant comment by “Spirituality”…
        I was going to make the same points, but no need as she covered everything I would have
        said. & “Moonsighter” also points out that the situation had gotten so bad at one point
        God actually sent down an ayah telling the wives that they could choose to hold themselves
        to a higher standard as the mothers of the believers or they could choose divorce & dunya.

        I would be surprised if even 1% of women in the world would choose polygamy if they had choice. 99% would institute clauses in nikah nama/aqd that prohibits it for the husband with sanction of divorce and full mahr payment. Have been studies done where polygamy is still more common…Saudi, UAE, Afghanistan, Yemen and results are not good: Vast overwhelming majority of the women report severe depression, anxiety, bitterness,etc. For vast majority, the “ting” is ting of depression, jealousy, constant anxiety, hatered, bitterness or even questioning God’s justice.

        In fairness to Sr. Olivia, she HAS pointed out numeorus times at this point, that she is not advocating it for all people everywhere and are many negative paradigms. The question I’d ask though is if it is something that should be suggested to a general audience of Muslims if we are
        in an environment/age when MOST Muslim men are doing it wrong, are doing it for lust, many women have no say in it and laws/social pressure create an environment of discrimination for
        Muslim women? Perhaps this is an advice that should be saved for particular Muslim men/couples on a need to know basis…not a general audience.

        Finally, I do have one question though: What Muslim community is this meant for?
        If it is meant for Western Muslims, I have serious reservations. It is illegal here. That creates a whole set of other problems. 2nd wife would not have her marriage recognized by the state and
        basically forfeit all her protections/rights and simply have to trust a Muslim man to do right…nowhere to turn to if he doesn’t choose to and need enforcement.

        Further, in the current climate of Islamophobia where it is trumpeted 24/7 that we Muslims
        have contempt for the West and will not obey it’s laws as good citizens, this is the LAST thing we
        need. Personally, would have ZERO sympathy for a Muslim man in the west who is arrested or
        attacked by media for doing this….throw the book at him…don’t care. As a community we are in a
        very precarious situation with things that are much bigger priorities. Polygamy is not a required mandate of Islam nor does breaking this law overturn any injustice inherent in the law…it is NOT permissible to break the law in this instance.

      • If we wish to ‘interpret the seerah,’ we must be able to actually KNOW the seerah. There are numerous, numerous stories of how the wives of RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) loved each other deeply – even Zainab bint Jahsh and A’ishah (radhiAllahu anhumaa) who were rivals, spoke highly of each other and cared for each other deeply.
        Umm Habibah (radhiAllahu ‘anha) in fact wanted her own sister to be married to RasulAllah! And asked him to marry her, until he told her that it is haraam for a man to be married to two sisters at one time.

        Simply because you may not understand that polygamy can be (and is) a positive experience for some women (I would say, many women – you simply don’t know about them), doesn’t mean that it isn’t. In different parts of the world, whether it be Arabia or Africa or Europe, there are women who freely choose polygamy for themselves and love it for themselves. The fact that other women have not chosen it for themselves, does not negate the reality of those who do.

        And yes, I am a polygamous wife who loves my co-wife deeply and would never have my life or my marriage any other way, wa’l hamdulillah.

      • Melanie says:

        My thoughts exactly Spiritually! We are blessed to have so much information from the Seerah. I cannot imagine our children feeling comfortable with this type of household environment. You can get plenty of ting from your imagination..without the hassle.

  16. Audrey says:

    A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

  17. AbdulKarim says:

    Thank you Olivia for explaining more about the custom of polygamy. It is a custom that has been practiced in many human societies far before the revelation of Quran. It is not therefore an “Islamic” practice or “Islamic” imperative. Like slavery, it existed at the time of the revelation, but in a form that was overboard and excessive – a man could have unlimited number of wives. In fact, there were all kinds of relationships between men and women – including many types of adulterous relationships that were considered the norm. In all of this, the Prophet peace be upon him never engaged in any of those types of relations and when he peace be upon him did marry, it was not something he peace be upon him initiated, but something offered to him which he accepted, and it was a monogamous marriage that stayed that way. He peace be upon him never showed any indication of considering marrying another wife during his marriage to Lady Khadija (alayha assalam). When the Revelation came, it prohibited the majority of the types of men-women relations that were going on, though its prohibition of adultery and fornication. What remained was polygamy, and what Islam did with it was to strictly limit it. Polygamy was practiced for the establishment of family ties in a society in which this was the social order. If we look even at the marriage of Khalifa Umar to the daughter of Sidna Ali (radi Allahu anhum) we find that he clearly stated it was because he wanted to have another link to the Family of Rasool Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wasalam). In some parts of West Africa today, polygamy is practiced because the first marriage is entirely arranged and often the two partners are not well-matched, so the man seeks another wife. These are some of the reasons that polygamy is a social custom in history and in some parts of the world. Islam did not introduce it, anymore than we could say that Islam introduced slavery (not comparing the two in any other way other than to say that both were existing social practices that were relevant for their time but may not be relevant for every time and place). Islam, rather, regulated an existing practice. Therefore when people talk about wanting to revive polygamy or adopt polygamy in a situation in which it is not the social custom – like in North America, or in parts of North Africa, where it is really not part of the culture – then what you are talking about is adopting a custom from another culture/time period: one that is acceptable in Islam if done in an Islamic way, but is not an intrinsically Islamic practice. AS the author herself said: polygamy is not an act of worship – therefore it is clear that it is not a Sunnah (for a Sunnah is an act of worship) – it is just a type of marriage (a social custom that may or may not work and does not have an intrinsic link to Islam such that defending it is necessary). I don’t need to defend polygamy as part of Islam anymore than I need to defend slavery as part of Islam – because they are NOT parts of Islam. They have existed in human experience and still exist and may exist again in greater incidences, but they are not “Islamic” practices. Islam makes them human and decent and makes it possible to practice them without causing the harm that can be caused if they are practiced without conscience and in an unbridled fashion. Lastly, the issue that needs to be highlighted is that it’s not “a man’s right” to have more than one wife. It did not come as a “right” granted to men. It actually came as a limitation, and continues to fall under the fiqh regulations regarding “urf” or “custom” – under which rules in some situations it is not allowed to be practiced by the man (as another commentator has mentioned). A Muslim woman for whom polygamy is not part of her customs should not be living in fear that her husband will one day come to them expressing his desire for another wife and she will have to somehow find a way to make it make sense. it is enough, according to the fuqaha, that is it not part of her norms that he not even consider this matter.

    • Olivia says:

      Well, said. I also take issue when a man says it his is “right.” A right means you are guaranteed it by default and in the absence of it you are oppressed. The default is monogamy and it is the woman who has a right to remain unoppressed in her marriage by polygamy, thus the Quran warns against injustice and says if you fear it, only one. It is not man’s “right.”

  18. AbdulKarim says:

    *through its prohibition of adultery and fornication.

  19. Barakah says:

    modern Christian thinkers and advisors on marriage are head-and-shoulders above where their Muslim counterparts are. instead of always comparing ourselves to cosmo magazine and secular society, we should compare ourselves to thinking, spiritual folk and see how they are confronting the challenges of marriage in this time in which we live: http://bit.ly/1Eu06UM as well as: http://bit.ly/1t2j1Tr and finally: Blaine J. Fowers’s book called “Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness” = all of these three sources reflect on the idea that the kind of “farah” or temporal happiness that is being sought by so many (Muslims) in their marriages is not what we should be looking for – but rather, true lasting happiness that is reached through moral refinement, and seeking opportunities, including learning to be content/patient with “boredom” and accepting of challenges, to improve our character and our relationship with God above all else. Why is it we have to look to other than Muslim to hear echoes of the Prophet peace be upon him; and when we listen or read the advice of actual Muslims, what we get is secularist ideals with a thin veneer of “muslimness” painted over them? where is the spiritual, moral, driving force that should be present in our discourse?

  20. Farhan says:

    There are a few things that I don’t exactly agree with, but I do appreciate your willingness to write on a different perspective when it comes to marriage. It was a very interesting read, especially the ting factor. Being around a lot of scholars, as well as working at psychology center, I have heard a lot of marriage complaints. One of the biggest complaints from men is not getting their needs met, in particular when it comes to sex. Women also complain that their needs are not also being fulfilled sexually. I do believe that this needs to be talked about more, obviously in an appropriate manner.

    • Farhan says:

      There is an obvious ting factor that we cannot shy away from, especially when it comes to sexual relations. The fact of the matter is that we live in a Western society where sexual content is displayed everywhere. Now of course we need to lower our gazes, however, there are times where our gazes do slip. We see some things that we shouldn’t, and we start fantasizing about what we would like. A big problem is that it is taboo in Desi society to talk about sex. We start to get uncomfortable and shy away from this topic. We all are thinking about it, but don’t verbalize it. Couples need to verbalize to each other what they would like from each other.

    • Farhan says:

      I have heard of many married people watching porn or engaging in extra marital affairs because they are not getting their sexual needs met. A lot of times, one of the spouses will refuse to try different sexual positions to spice up their bedroom life. This makes it very boring for the other spouse, and they are not able to enjoy as much. They then look for that ting factor from somewhere else. I am not saying that this is correct, but it is a reality of what just happens. Therefore, couples need to be willing to help their spouses out. Try new things, have fun with each other. As long as they are not doing anything wrong, enjoy. A lack of satisfaction in the bedroom can lead to many problems. This will lead to infidelity or masturbation.

    • Farhan says:

      I urge people to read this book called Islamic Guide to Sexual Relations by Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam Al-Kawthari.
      Also please forgive me if I was very blunt with comment, and if it wasn’t as appropriately worded as it should be.

      To the author: Thank you for starting this discussion. I personally am thinking of specializing in Family Therapy, but was also thinking about Sex Therapy due to a lot of people complaining about this ting factor. However, I need to consult with some Ulema before doing so.

      *** Again it kept saying my post was too spammy. That is why I had to break it up into so many posts.

      • Rahma says:

        If you stop seeing sex as a way to get your needs fulfilled and rather start to see it as a union of energy-sharing and love exchanging and caring for one another and witnessing the miracle of two humans coming together in a way only God could have offered us, then you will have an entirely different experience for which porn or an affair would never be a viable alternative. the fact that people turn to porn as an outlet if things are not working in the marriage shows that their very view of sex the whole time was just as sex is presented in porn – something to consume, not something to participate in and *give* to the other and create a new energy that is a mix of the two people’s energies. I really think what is unIslamic in the extreme is the ignorant and despiritualized attitude we condone when it comes to intimacy and human lovemaking. And I believe it is a real departure from what was meant for us as Muslims.

  21. Sprituality says:

    As Salamu Alaikum, Adnan,

    Here is a site about Islam and sexuality, which mentions some hadiths about how the Prophet (s) approached sex…there are others, but this is at least a start…

    The site is called ‘How to make love to your wife in Islam.’

    “http://www.mydeenislam.com/how-to-make-love-to-your-wife-in-islam.html”

  22. moonsighter says:

    This was a fatwa from Darul Uloom Deoband on polygamy some years ago.

    Question: 38097 India

    I am married since last 9 years and have 2 children. During my college days I had one way love on a Muslim girl but she did not accept it then. But today after so many years she is not getting married due to some problem with her hair, she has lost 2-3 inches hairs from front and due to which she is not getting married and now we are again in contact and again I gave her my proposal for marriage and she accepted it and now we are planning to get married, she has no problem of me married, also she knows that I have 2 children and then also she is ready. So please advice me whether it will be good for me to marry second time?

    Answer: 38097 Apr 10,2012

    (Fatwa: 776/655/B=1433)

    According to Shariah, it is lawful to keep two wives at the same time but it is not generally acceptable in Indian custom. Here in India it is like to invite hundreds of problems to keep two wives. Moreover, the husband generally cannot maintain justice and equality between two wives. Hence it is better to have only one wife as the Quran said:

    فان لمَ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً

    You should discard the idea of second marriage; otherwise you would feel sorry later.

    Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) knows Best

    Darul Ifta,
    Darul Uloom Deoband

    It is also the position of the Shafii and Hanbali schools of Islamic thought that it is best and also sunnah to restrict oneself to only one wife.

    The reasoning their scholars provided for that is that injustice between two wives is haram, therefore it is better to avoid the risk of committing injustice in polygamy by avoiding polygamy altogether, even if one believes that he can be equitable between two women.

    Here are some of the quotes from classical works of these scholars.

    Ash-Shaafi’i is of the view that it is desirable to confine oneself to marrying only one although it is permissible for him to marry more than one. This is to avoid being unfair by being more inclined to some of them than others, or being unable to financially support them. [al-Hawi al-Kabir 11/417]

    Ash-Shirbeeni from the Shaafi’i School of jurisprudence, said in Mughni al-Muhtaj 4/207: “It is a Sunnah not to marry more than one wife if there is no apparent need.” [End of quote]

    Moreover, Al-Maawardi, from the Shaafi’i School of jurisprudence, said: “Allaah has permitted a man to marry up to four wives, saying: {…two or three or four…}, but Allaah advised that it is desirable for man to marry only one wife, saying: {…But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one} [al-Hawi al-Kabir 11/417]

    Ibn Qudaamah may Allaah have mercy upon him from the Hanbali School of jurisprudence, said in Ash-Sharh Al-Kabeer: [B]“It is more appropriate to marry only one wife. The author of Al-Muharrar [i.e. Abul Barakaat Al-Majd ibn Taymiyyah] said this, based on the saying of Allaah (which means) {…But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one}.” [End of quote from Ash-Sharh Al-Kabeer authored by Shams-ud-deen Ibn Qudaamah]

    Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen may Allaah have mercy upon him said: “It is safer to restrict oneself to only one wife. However, if one sees that one wife is not enough for him and he cannot maintain his chastity by having only one wife, then we enjoin him to marry a second, a third, or a fourth, until he feels comfortable, lowers his gaze, and enjoys peace of mind.” [Excerpt from Ash-Sharh Al-Mumti’]

    Imam Ahmed ibn Naqib al Masri said ‘’It is fitter to confine oneself to just one’’ [Umdatu Salik]

    Imam Ghazali said in his kitab al nikah: “It does not call for two wives, [since] plurality may render life miserable and disrupt the affairs of the home.”

    Also 99.99% of polygamous marriages which I have known have been a brutal catastrophe, especially in the West. Men abuse this a lot, thus tarnishing this institution. Many wives and children, especially the first wife are abused in polygamous marriages and many are even abandoned for a second wife.

    This is the case with both practising Muslims -Salafis, who often dump their wives on welfare benefits- and non-practising Muslims-many of whom even have illegitimate relationships with women before marrying them.

    • The sad fact is that we all know about the horror stories but know nothing about the MANY positive cases that have and do take place, may Allah protect them all.

      • Truth Champion says:

        I think moonsighter meant to say that the vast majority of polygamous marriages are shameful failures, hence our prominent ulemas dissuade us from the practice. The risk is always there. Prevention is better than treatment as the old adage goes.

  23. Re: GC66

    Polygamy was not abrogated. It is halaal as long as all the required conditions were met. For the love of God, please learn something about the true naasikh and mansookh before trying to talk about abrogation!

    • GC66 says:

      Sister……read my comment again carefully.

      It says that some things were abrogated during his time and polygamy MAY have been one that slipped through the cracks,

      There are some scholars who believe that it may have been abrogated shortly after Muhammad(pbuh) departed this earth.
      .
      There is no direct and clear evidence of this and thus no reason to ban it today.

      What is good for one culture and seems right to that culture is the opposite for another.

      What culture is right and what is wrong? Depends upon where you live.

      It is interesting that you choose “feminist” in your title but you are in a polygamous relationship.

      I am in a western country(obviously) and this is forbidden here by common law but it still does not stop some men from engaging in polygamy.

      Salam

  24. Abu AbdirRahman says:

    I know of many cases in which multiple wives worked out fine, especially when the woman can’t have children.

    Many of the mashayakh we respect and benefit from here in the west have multiple wives. maybe they can shed some light on why they are married to multiple wives and are they just doing it for “community service” cuz they are so pious. pun intended.

    we r all human.

    • Truth Champion says:

      Maualan Ashraf Ali Thanvi had two wives. However anyone who has read his works on marriage will know that he vehemently discouraged polygyny.

  25. Muna says:

    Woah. How did an article about improving your marriage turn into a fierce debate about the legitimacy of polygamy? The part about polygamy in the actual article is pretty minimal. In any event, why are people picking on sister Olivia because she said SOMETIMES polygamy can be good for everyone in a marriage? I personally cant envisage being on a polygamous marraige BUT i accept there are some (even if only 1%) who are happy with being in one. I refuse to be so condescending as to feel sorry for them if theyre happy.

    Absolutely nobody can say it is haram to marry more than one wife. We all know its halal so the issue is really about your opinion whether you think its a sunnah or not and whether you think it should still be practiced or not. If people have a different opinion to you, do like Elsa from Frozen and let it go. You are not going to suddenly change people’s mind about this.

    And here I am joining in the debate about polygamy. Awkward.

    • Truth Champion says:

      Marrying more than one is haram for those who cannot be equitable with more than one wife. That leaves room for debate on which category do nearly all men fit in? Just or unjust?

      • M. Mahmud says:

        ^ A man is commanded to be just between his wives. But even he can’t be perfect. That does not make marrying multiple wives haram for him.

        I agree with Muna. To each his own. It’s clearly halal and some will marry more than one and others will not.

        The article doesn’t seem to be about that.

      • Truth Champion says:

        @ M. Mahmud

        You seem to be giving 2nd marriage precedence before the requirement of justice. Allah has forbidden a man from marrying more than one if he even ‘fears’ not being just to the wives. The word used is ‘fear’. If he even fears injustice to more than one wife, its haram to do 2nd marriage.

      • M. Mahmud says:

        I am not denying the requirement of justice. You seem to be forgetting this ayah-

        وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُوا أَن تَعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ النِّسَاءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَمِيلُوا كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ فَتَذَرُوهَا كَالْمُعَلَّقَةِ ۚ وَإِن تُصْلِحُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
        And you will never be able to be equal [in feeling] between wives, even if you should strive [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah – then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.

        Yes Allah said to be just. Yet he also said we won’t be able to be fully just. Still, polygyny is halal. A Muslim man knows he won’t be able to be completely just between wives because he believes in the ayah above. Yet polygyny is still halal-he must try his best.

        Did you think of the above ayah before responding to me?

      • Truth Champion says:

        @M. Mahmud

        That is a strawman because that ayah you quoted is talking about emotional justice, whereas I am talking about material justice. I meant that justice in the material sense is required before venturing into a second marriage, which means that the 2nd marriage remains haram for the one who even ‘fears’ he will not be just materially :)

  26. Abu Milk Sheikh says:

    1) The argument that polygyny is against the law in the West is a red herring. A nikah is not recognised by the state. To the state, it is the same as the man having a wife and a mistress(es) – which is currently only illegal in 29 of 50 States in America and not illegal at all in Europe, as examples. As for legal recourse, Muslim communities in the West have access to judgement by the Shari’ah internally and in any case are answerable before Allah for ruling by other than what Allah revealed.

    2) The resulting discussion in the comments is an argument for the superiority of letting fiqh guide our actions. The spirit of the law is achieved through implementing its letter.

    First, these attempts at analysis of Seerah are unqualified and operate on the assumption that the jurists somehow didn’t understand the Seerah when developing rulings, and that we need to go back into the Seerah to do our own Ijtihad.

    Second, everyone is using their own subjective readings into the lives of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, his family and companions رضي الله عنهم أجمعين, speculating about their motivations and the Divine reasoning behind their behavior and Allah’s Shariah.

    Third, people speak about these blessed figures casually in manner not befitting their virtue and status. Some of the comments are downright disrespectful. What for? To prove that ‘my conjecture on the Seerah is more correct than yours’?

    Fourth, one can claim when speculating on Seerah that one isn’t’ deriving rulings’ or saying ‘this is halal & this is haram’, but whether or not you use the specific words is irrelevant – the reality is that one is deriving/issuing rulings. If one is unqualified to do so, one is speaking about Allah without knowledge and this is a major sin according to Al-A’raaf 7:33 (Ibn Qayyim comments on this verse and says that speaking about Allah without knowledge is worse than shirk.)

    Allah knows best.

    • ZAI says:

      “The argument that polygyny is against the law in the West is a red herring. A nikah is not recognised by the state. To the state, it is the same as the man having a wife and a mistress(es) – which is currently only illegal in 29 of 50 States in America and not illegal at all in Europe, as examples.”

      This is a straw man argument.
      No one is claiming nikah is or is not recognized by the state. The question is whether or not because nikah is not recognized, if a 2nd, 3rd of 4th wife has recourse to action since the state only registers one marriage. It is therefore related to the question of legal recourse, which is relevant and not a red herring.

      “As for legal recourse, Muslim communities in the West have access to judgement by the Shari’ah internally”

      Really?…and if the man still refuses to comply who are they going to call? Batman? Remember we’re working outside the law here.

      ” in any case are answerable before Allah for ruling by other than what Allah revealed.”

      Yes…in the akhirah. And what is your solution for the destitute women in this life? I’m sure the tax payers
      of Europe and America are curious. This type of nonsense among certain “Salafis” on the East Coast has led
      to the embarrassment of fatherless children, welfare lines, welfare scams and made of a mockery of Islamic
      law. Great solutions and assurances! I’m sure the majority of Muslim women can’t wait to sign up for this!

      • Abu Milk Sheikh says:

        Its’ better if you don’t use a mocking tone in this issue because we are speaking about Allah’s Deen.

        You mentioned two issues – “it’s illegal and Muslims should obey the law of the land” and “the marriage is not recognized so there’s no legal recourse.”

        The former is fallacious. Muslims in polygynous marriages in the West haven’t broken the law (except in 21 states in the U.S.) unless they register more than one marriage. They obviously don’t do so, because they are law-abiding citizens!

        Rather, their arrangement is perfectly legal because most Muslims in the West live in states that have no legal issue with a married man having mistresses. There is arguably no moral issue with polygyny either because these societies have polyamory, swinging, hooking up and various other forms of degenerate sexual deviance that is becoming increasingly prevalent and socially acceptable. From a secular perspective, anyone of them who claims that polygyny is unacceptable, legally or morally, is a hypocrite. Alhamdulillah who guided us to a Deen that doesn’t have any inconsistencies or injustice.

        I submit that you don’t understand the concept of Muslims “obeying the law of the land.”

        It’s ‘ajeeb that it’s acceptable, even promoted, for married men/women to be philandering adulterers/adulteresses but the minute you start talking about marrying more than one woman and entering into a binding social/legal contract with them, everyone sensibilities are offended. Worse than that are the spurious objections of Believers in the Deen of Allah and followers of the Sunnah of His Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.

        As for the latter, the Muslim woman is fully aware of what she is getting into. She is not compelled to accept such an arrangement. The marriage contract can have clauses to safeguard her interests. None of the parties involved are compelled to enter into this arrangement – the first wife herself has every right shar’an to divorce if she doesn’t accept her husband taking another wife- it doesn’t even have to be stipulated in her marriage contract. The ‘urf acts as an unwritten clause and is just as binding as if written!

        In addition to this, ultimately the only valid legal recourse is what is permissible in the Shari’ah and the only rights we have in such situations are what the Shari’ah gives us – even if/when we resort to a Western Court of Law for resolution. The verses about judging/ruling by other than what Allah revealed apply here. It’s an issue of ‘Aqeedah and one could possibly nullify one’s Islam if one insists on the laws of Kufr over the laws of Islam. “I want half of everything” can be kufr.

        Finally, with all that said according to the Shafi’is and Hanbalis the ruling is that monogamy (i.e. restricting oneself to one wife) is mustahabb and polygyny is mubah (i.e. it’s ruling will vary depending on the niyyah and situation.) I don’t know what the Hanafis and Malikis say. The matter is for the Ulema to deal with on a case-by-case basis. This ruling saves everyone a lot of wasted time and effort.

        Allah knows best.

      • ZAI says:

        “I submit that you don’t understand the concept of Muslims “obeying the law of the land.”

        I submit that you are separating two related issues:

        Without a legally recognized marriage, ie. registered…2nd, 3rd and 4th wife cannot
        procure ENFORCEMENT of any judgement, whether by court of the land or
        by Shariah shadow court. In essence, they would be left NO recourse if man
        chooses not to comply with shariah or the law of the land. It is EXACTLY like
        having a mistress, gf, etc. thus negates the benefits of marriage….exactly why
        homosexuals are fighting for those things. You are basically telling women to
        just trust Muslim men to live up to the law…and looking at how most Muslim men
        are already treating this issue is a BAD idea.

    • Dimaag says:

      Abu Milk Sheikh what do you mean by this? Please clarify what you mean here and if possible then by reference to a scholar or person of knowledge. Jazakallah.

      ”the first wife herself has every right shar’an to divorce if she doesn’t accept her husband taking another wife- it doesn’t even have to be stipulated in her marriage contract. The ‘urf acts as an unwritten clause and is just as binding as if written!”

    • Daagh says:

      Abu Milk Sheikh please clarify what you mean here with reference to the ulema if possible.

      ”the first wife herself has every right shar’an to divorce if she doesn’t accept her husband taking another wife- it doesn’t even have to be stipulated in her marriage contract. The ‘urf acts as an unwritten clause and is just as binding as if written!”

  27. Sarah says:

    While it may be true that we cannot pin down what the intention of a person in taking part in polygamy should be, we must acknowledge that each period of time and social context has unique factors that would come into play when it comes to polygamy. (While monogamy and the reasons a man marries the first time may be quite constant over the ages.) At the time of the Companions, peace be upon them, women were considered to need the social and economic support of men – it was not common and perhaps not considered positive for a single woman to live alone and pursue the pursuits of society alone. This came into play when we consider the institution of polygamy and the role it played, as well as the possible motivations for it. Today, being a single woman is not the same as it would have been then. Thus today, men looking to marry again are not seeing a second wife foremost as someone they will support financially, give a social place and family safety to, etc – but rather they are seeing her as a source of sex. You cannot deny that our current environment is affecting the way we see and do things; but at least acknowledge that you should not *project* this way of seeing things back onto the Companions may God be most Pleased with them!

  28. Sarah says:

    Another big difference is that in the past, in Muslim culture, it was not seen as a woman’s responsibilty to provide sexual satisfaction. The man was considered less of a man if he could not bring forth from a woman sexual pleasure for both him and her. (read Nefzaoui’s manual and you will find this attitude). Today, with porn and its popularization of oral sex practiced by woman for man, as well as cosmo and other magazines handing out tons of “advice” for woman on how to please her man, we have a reversal of the situation. Now Muslim men have absorbed this view and are exacerbating the problem by placing the full responsibilty for their sexual happiness on their wife, and even to the degree that they can look to another woman to sleep with, citing their “need” that is not being “fulfilled” by their first marriage. a man in the past would have been ashamed to admit he was such a lousy lover that he couldn’t bring forth pleasure – for him and her – in their intimate relation.

  29. Sarah says:

    Even in Quran, women are described as “tilth” that the man should cultivate – if a man is not man enough to bring forth goodness from his field…it’s his own lack of skill (and note that the fruit of that field is not babies – because in Islam the purpose of lovemaking is not just to have babies, but to share pleasure in love). don’t go jumping to the next field or you will quickly realize that “grass is greener” indeed – and that the problem lies in you. I would ask those who counsel muslims to realize that Imam al Ghazali mentioned that over appetite in sex is a disease. And if a man just wants the novelty of newness, and cannot find pleasure in deepening what he has, it is a problem inside him.

  30. Sarah says:

    sexuality is fine just as likign food is fine but gluttony is not okay, just as lust is not okay. each one must hold himself to account, and here is more on that from Imam al Ghazali: http://www.well.com/~aquarius/alghazali-shahwatayn.htm
    It’s all about the taqwa people, not just what is “halal” – Please see this short vid on why the Prophet salAllahualayhi wasalam did not marry from the Ansaar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Is_8U_IUI it’s not enough to say: “it’s halal” to make it the right thing to do. Sharia is not enough to live by –you are supposed to have taqwa and follow all the rest of the deen too which emphasises over and over that you have to have rifk – kindness and goodness – ihsaan in what you do and NOT HURT ANYONE especially someone like your own wife.

  31. Sarah says:

    would like to share this with you all: http://www.reuniting.info/wisdom/sources/islamic#cradle
    and the whole site is a great one for discovering what intimacy COULD be, and also healing from the affects of porn and other sexual excessiveness.

  32. Jazakillahkhayr for this article, Olivia. I found it very thought provoking masha’Allah and your invitations to laugh out loud with you were warm — and welcome — invitations to go beyond my comfort zone and think over the perspectives you shared.

  33. Ayesha says:

    salam everyone,
    once I was in a class and a scholar was explaining about homosexuality and talking about how it is the result of people getting into a state of wanting something different and novel all the time, and not being able to be contented (satisfied) with what they have, instead being in the habit of always looking for a new thrill, until they got led to haram upon haram. And the scholar offered the example of certain Asian countries where they became so much into looking for interesting foods and always wanting the exotic until it led them to eat monkey brains and snakes. This instatiable appetite for what is “new” can be a problem and should not be facilitated but should be seen for what it is: a tendency that could lead to greater dissatisfaction than ever.

  34. WAJiD says:

    Salaam alaikum,

    I don’t know how I missed this, but it is one of the best marriage articles I have read in a long time.

    Should be shared more widely.

  35. Shukr says:

    thank you for this interesting discussion Olivia. A challenge that most couples are not taking up – and that relates to making our intimate lives happier and more fulfilling – is one that the Prophet SAW gave to men: to make sure men gain control of their bodies’ physical repsonse to make it in time with a woman’s – which is usually slower. the ideal is for the man to either satsify her before himself, or for them to reach climax at the same time. “Once the husband has attained his fulfillment, let him tarry until his wife also attains hers. Difference in the nature of [their] reaching a climax causes discord whenever the husband ejaculates first. Congruence in attaining a climax is more gratifying to her be­cause the man is not preoccupied with his own pleasure, but rather with hers; for it is likely that the woman might be shy.” (Imam al Ghazali) Most men, muslim included, ignore this and don’t even try for it. but it IS advice from the Prophet SAW himself – numerous hadith mention it and how to get a woman going so she can be synchronized with the man. It’s not easy for a man to have control over his climaxing – most men “just do it.” And there is no proper sex ed to teach them otherwise!
    for a couple to be in harmony and firing at the same speed, they need to put in effort. this is an act of worship becuase you are following the advice of the Prophet SAW. “Now, it is fairly easy for a woman to satisfy a man and make herself available to him, even if she is not really in the mood. It is far harder for a man to satisfy a woman if he is not in the mood, and this is where an important aspect of male responsibility needs to be brought to every Muslim man’s attention, and stressed strongly.” (Ruqayya Waris Maqsood). http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Islam/2001/04/Turning-Sex-Into-Sadaqa.aspx?p=2#pzx3EM7l4W5zIhCY.99

  36. Siraaj says:

    LOL, I love this comments section. The overwhelming majority of the article is about monogamy and mentions something about polygamy, but the overwhelming majority of the discussion is about polygamy and the usual responses provided by Muslim leaders to duck and dodge questions about the practice.

    For those stating the Prophet (SAW) married multiple wives because he was required to, or because there was revelation telling him to, are you saying that he married Sawdah (a woman his age) after Khadijah because he wanted to, but then only married Aisha after her because of the revelation (yes, there was revelation), and that he didn’t love her? He openly stated this woman, whom he was required to marry, was his most beloved. And she loved him back – fiercely.

    What revelation required him to marry Umm Salamah? What “pressing need” – that she was a widow and needed financial support? She was already proposed to by multiple men, including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. She turned them down, and even hesitated on marrying the Prophet (SAW) and did not at that time understand how she would fall in love with the Prophet (SAW) after loving Abu Salamah so dearly. Yet he proposed with no revelation driving it, she married him of her own volition, and loved him truly in her heart even more than Abu Salamah, and he loved her back, as well as ‘Aisha and the others.

    These were not arranged marriages done for functional purposes alone. They didn’t just “put up with it” because he was the Prophet (SAW), and what choice did they have (a very nonsensical and dangerous line of thinking). These were real marriages. The Prophet (SAW) wasn’t the only one who married in multiples. Many of the Companions did so as well, and scholars of our faith, both in the past as well as the present. Prophet Ibrahim himself had two wives, and if you didn’t notice, the actions of the second wife and, as well as Ibrahim with her son figure prominently into the Hajj that just passed.

    There is a fine line between not liking something for yourself, which is allowed, and saying it’s not part of the faith, or make up reasons for why its practice is abrogated and outlawed. During the time of the Prophet (SAW) himself, he asked ‘Ali not to take another wife while married to Fatimah as she wouldn’t handle that well. It’s important to point out that even in that context, where apparently there was a shortage of men vs women because of war (Muslim countries aren’t at war now?), that preference to not like it could exist and someone could marry with that in mind. The point is, not liking polygamy, even in that context where it was prevalent, is not unknown and is perfectly normal. It’s in fact expected. And that’s ok.

    But to say it’s not allowed, abrogated, or done for functional / sacrificial reasons alone, either historically or from a fiqh point of view? That’s wildly inaccurate.

    • Truth Champion says:

      I actually really like this comment. Its very accurate. I for one find the whole ‘widows/divorcees’ card in polygamy very annoying. I have noticed that when a sister says she wants to put a monogamy clause into the contract (as per Hanbali law), a lot of people criticise her for being ‘selfish’ and not wanting for her sister what she wants for herself. Everyone will tell her about all the potential poor sisters she is stopping her husband from helping. Like give me a break. The vast majority of 2nd marriages are not done to help anyone, rather they are done for desire, which is of course itself acceptable. I think it is incredibly shameful how people play the widows/divorcees card into guilt trapping the sisters for not wanting to share their husbands while at the same time when they are married and start looking for a second wife, they look for a beautiful young virgin usually.

      If anyone takes a precursory glance into Islamic history, especially medieval, they will notice that all those men who married twice or thrice married for mere desire. And women were also not far behind fulfilling their own ‘desires’ of wanting monogamy. For example in the medieval town of Kairouan the vast majority of women stipulated monogamy clauses into their marriage contracts, and almost a third of these women who made the monogamy stipulations were previously married and not virgin.

      So for them, it was really only a matter of who got their rights first, the men or the women. People in general did not have the community sacrificial mentality that is expected by some today.

      Men took what they wanted and women took what they wanted.

      On a related note, for those who have read the works of he scholars of the past, you will notice that a number of scholars described the first marriage as sunnah and a religious act, however according to them the 2nd, 3rd and 4th marriages were merely worldly acts and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th wives were considered ‘worldly accumulation’.

      And this is of course, unrelated to the whole topic of scholars discouraging polygyny on the basis of injustice by men to their wives being the general principle.

    • Fritz says:

      Eloquently put!

      As if polygamy is only there to relieve an impoversshed “muslimah in distress” through the means of a “charity marriage”. I mean what does that make her? Can there not be a ‘polymorphous’ set of reasons to enter into a marriage contract?

      I think people are reading the article like it is some kind of legal document rather than the smooth blend of social commentary, opinion and humour tinged from an Islamic purpose which it is meant to be. I guess this reflects our difficulty in understanding how to read different modes of text.

    • ZAI says:

      “These were not arranged marriages done for functional purposes alone. They didn’t just “put up with it” because he was the Prophet (SAW), and what choice did they have (a very nonsensical and dangerous line of thinking). These were real marriages. The Prophet (SAW) wasn’t the only one who married in multiples. Many of the Companions did so as well, and scholars of our faith, both in the past as well as the present. Prophet Ibrahim himself had two wives, and if you didn’t notice, the actions of the second wife and, as well as Ibrahim with her son figure prominently into the Hajj that just passed.”

      Br. Siraj,

      I don’t think any of the commentators who make THIS point about polygamy were suggesting the marriages weren’t
      “real” or that the wives didn’t love the prophet or the sahaba. Is an over-simplification of the argument. The argument
      they are making is that despite the love, etc. these marriages did come with the baggage of very real tensions caused by jealousy, anxiety, competition and the like which are common to polygamous marriages, and that is undeniable. Absolutely cannot present this seerah in an
      idealized manner. If we’re gonna talk about the food fight, then absolutely also better talk about the real fight that only
      ended with revelation giving all of the wives what amounts to an ultimatum. Ibrahim(AS) example is actually another
      great example brother; according to the Jewish/Christian tradition 1st wife actually demanded the 2nd wife be abandoned or sent away…so the recognition of these realities are present in traditions related to but outside of our own as well.

      I agree with the rest of your comment. I don’t think anyone should conjecture about why people choose polygamy if it is a free choice, and don’t think anyone should conjecture that all of these marriages in seerah were done out of a sense of sacred duty towards widows, divorcees or orphans. Maybe some were, ,many weren’t. Also think that polygamy is a reality, sanctioned by Qur’an and cannot just be abrogated, wished away or banned. People who choose it should not be denigrated either.

      I would only add the addendum though that no woman can be forced into accepting it for herself. The onus should be on men to go find women who are willing, including wife #1. Women have every right to insert clauses banning it in
      their own marriages. Further, I absolutely hold onto to the idea that it is illegal in the West and not allowed. I will not accept anecdotal evidences of good cases. The fact is shariah cannot be applied piecemeal, especially in the case of
      legal-civil injunctions and given that the structures of law recognizing polygamy are NOT present in Western countries, it put’s women at risk. They have no avenue for legal redress and way, way, way, way too many Muslim men have abused this for Muslim women to just trust some brother to do right…and in current times when we are under the microscope I certainly don’t think it’s great PR either. Might as well hand it to Spencer, Maher and the rest with nice packaging and a big bow….and if someone chooses to flaunt the law and do it any way, I don’t even want to hear the word “Islamophobia” or for said man to made some cause celebre among Muslims.

      • Olivia says:

        Yes, you are right that polygamy has its competition and jealous moments. What I’m saying is, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This goes to a deeper discussion of having an “avoidant” approach to “negative” emotion versus say, having a “growing” approach to “uncomfortable” emotions. Here would be a discussion on how our society views things like love, jealousy, and insecurity. How we feel about things like personal growth. Buuuuuut that’s probably a tangent…

      • Olivia says:

        On legality, come to California, where Muslims are not the first nor the last stripe of “poly” people. What is illegal is having a marriage contract done in a Muslim country or having another one done here.

      • ZAI says:

        Sr. Olivia,

        As per “growing” or “negative” approaches, I think tons of empirical evidence falls
        on the side of these marriages being negative among Muslims. Again, I’m not
        going to denigrate the people who choose it freely, but I fully recognize and am aware
        that it will not work for most people and have negative consequences for most
        of them, especially the women. I also think every woman has a right to refuse, even
        the 1st wife, by inserting this into her marriage contract and if women in any Muslim
        society had free choice I guarantee you 99% would choose to do that. If men want
        this, let the onus be on them to find it. I think the Quran itself recognizes this
        and very, very strongly endorses monagamy….Heck, even math recognizes this
        and sex ratio of the world is 51/49, so polygamy cannot be a norm unless you want
        huge populations of Muslim men with no halaal access to women. See India and
        female infanticide for the results of that…

        Regarding legality/illegality…you left out the most relevant part of my point: I am
        not only talking about establishing multiple relationships with nikah w/o state
        involvement…but that because the state WILL NOT RECOGNIZE any marriage
        beyond the 1st a woman will not have LEGAL RECOURSE if the man does
        not fulfill marriage obligations financially or in case of divorce. The argument is two fold…so
        don’t need to come to California to see anything…Bigamy is very much illegal here
        in the technical sense….the law just can’t do anything about it unless it’s registered
        as you point out, so they expect people to follow the law in good faith…

      • Siraaj says:

        Polygamy isn’t illegal, bigamy is illegal, Utah was the last state that recently struck down its cohabitation prohibition due to the Sister Wives case. Second wife has to weigh pros and cons of relationship, she’s a consenting adult at the end of the day, and can decide for herself what risks she’s willing to take.

      • ZAI says:

        Let’s not get caught up in semantics.
        …and I’m glad that we can agree it’s a risk considering
        the state will not consider 2nd-3rd married and no shariah court
        has the power to enforce anything here.

    • JazakAllahu Khairin

      Aly
      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

    • Marina Mirza says:

      great points. no one is saying one must marry a woman to support her only – but you missed a very salient point. The CONTEXT at that time affected what polygamy meant. A wife – what did she represent, what did a marriage ENTAIL in those societies? support was part of the package – financial, familial, even spiritual. A woman was considered the amana of the husband – a sacred trust and he was head of the household and responsible for her wellbeing including spriitual. This was so much a part of their culture at the time that they did not even have to articulate it in an overt intention. Today, what does a woman mean to most men? sex. a way to satiate desire – this is what I’m hearing from so many of the commentators here. It is THIS which we have to examine then. Is this valid? or is it a form of gluttony that strips marriage of its higher purpose and makes it far from the way the Sahabas practiced it – so that instead of being an imitation of their practice, it is an imitation of the modern practices such as adultery and pornography – just different in name but not in spirit. Spirit counts in this religion, people. it counts for a lot!

      • Abu Milk Sheikh says:

        A wife was the amana of the husband back then but isn’t now?

        Entering into nikah with more than one woman- prescribed by Allah from above the seven Heavens and practiced by the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم- is an imitation of adultery and pornography?

        The verse on polygyny says “marry of those women THAT PLEASE YOU, two three or four…” This is not to deny that polygyny can and does have a higher purpose, but that the ayah explicitly mentions the disposition of the man towards them – which can include sexual desire, chivalry or other feelings. So the ayah is approving of marrying for sexual desire – and this is one of the instances where the ruling on polygyny can possibly change from mubah to WAJIB.

    • Marina Mirza says:

      why are you so opposed to the idea that Rasul Allah peace be upon him had altruistic intentions and spiritual intentions in ALL that he peace be upon him did. I don’t really know what you are trying to say/prove in what you say regarding the marriage of the Prophet peace be upon him to Lady Um Salamah radi Allaahu anhaa. ? you ought to know that the Prophet peace be upon him, indeed yes he loved people, but he loved Allah more to the degree that he was waiting for his time to go from this world – however he always appreciated and loved the human beings in a way that made them all feel good. His Khalil – as he peace be upon him said, when given the choice between staying in this life and going, was Allah. You cannot begin to imagine this – none of us can – but I think it puts all his actions, especially his marriages, in a new light. He peace be upon him was not acting as other men acted – on the same basis or with the same intentions. He was not marrying women for his nafs. You need to really consider this. He peace be upon him was a man with a mission and a man who already had a Beloved with Whom no one could compete. Please keep this in mind whenever you discuss the Prophet peace be upon him and realize that he had the noblest and most non-personal intentions of any human who has ever lived.

      • Olivia says:

        No one is saying the Prophet (S) didnt have altruistic motives. No one is advocating that it be done to satisfy sexual desire. But if a man wanted to marry another woman let’s say, out of love, he could do so even if she was a hot virgin. Let’s always hope love in and of itself has altruistic motives ;)

      • Truth Champion says:

        @Olivia

        Yes he can remarry even for mere desire. :D

        As a sidenote, as a brother (and maybe even as a (future) father), I would seriously disallow that for my daughters and sisters. I personally don’t know any man who would allow his daughter or sister to become a second wife. In fact I was reading a news article about polyygyny in Afghanistan and a man with two wives was asked if he would accept his daughter’s marriage to a married man…and he said no. :(

        All men understand each other :)

        Scholars of the past write, as I previously mentioned, that the first marriage is sunnah and a religious act whereas the 2nd, 3rd and 4th marriages are all (halal) worldly acts and that the 2nd and subsequent wives are merely objects of worldly accummulation whereas the first wife is for the deen by default as a general principle. The only way for a 2nd, 3rd or 4th wife to be for the deen is if the husband had SOLELY altruistic intentions for more than one marriage, otherwise they are accumulation of dunya as a general principle.

        Few men would allow their daughters and sisters be part of a man’s halal yet lustful (or lovey dovey) worldly collection.

      • Siraaj says:

        Sister, the point is he didn’t marry them because it was a nice thing to do for the community. If that’s all that was needed, he could have set up a waqf for widows and divorcees and been done with it, there’s no need to marry them.

        To say that the Prophet (saw) didn’t have physical desire towards any of his wives makes no sense, as there is nothing inherently wrong with it provided it’s channeled into marriage.

        For anyone saying it was “just for community” or that the context was different, please bear in mind they were in a society where promiscuity was free and open. A woman could sleep with multiple men, gather them all, and then say so-and-so was the father among the bunch. If you make such an assertion, bring evidence that the Prophet (saws) said such, otherwise you’re simply back reading your own fears of criticism from a western audience that looks down on such practices.

      • Siraaj says:

        Truth Champion, what’s the evidence provided they are considered worldly accumulation? Would you say Aisha (ra) was worldly accumulation for the Prophet (saw) since she followed Saudah? How about the rest of his wives? How about all the other sahabiyaat in polygyny?

    • Iman A. says:

      your way of writing about the marriage of the Prophet (SAW) to Ummina Umm Salamah (RA) is misleading. Just because there was no revelation that is in Quran related to it, does not mean it was not done with every intention to support those of his Ummah who were heartbroken. She loved her husband very much and had lost him – and only a proposal from the Prophet SAW would be something she would not/could not reject precisely BECAUSE it was seen by her (and by society) as more than just an offer of marriage (somehting she no longer felt she wanted) but an offer to BE with and be resurrected as the wife of the Messenger of God SAW. It was for this same reason that Ummina Sawdah wanted to stay married to the Prophet SAW even though she no longer wanted to have intimate relations – she still asked to stay married. It was an honor.

      • Iman A. says:

        here is a source: http://www.islamswomen.com/articles/umm_salamah.php
        I also think you completely overlooked the delicate lessons and beautiful subtleties of God’s workings, that this beautiful marriage proposal story showed us: a)the loyalty that Ummina Umm Salamah had to her first husband – that only respect and awe for the Prophet SAW could be greater than; b) how the dua in which we meet a museeba (catastrophe) by asking Allah to replace us with what is lost by what is better – even when it felt to Ummina Umm Salamah that nothing could be better than her beloved Abu Salamah – CAN actually come true (because the Prophet SAW was better of course)! c) how a marriage is not about age d) how Ummina Umm Salamah was obedient to her husband even after his death, which led to her being married to the Best of all manking (Abu Salamah asked her to make dua to get what would be better than him upon her losing him in one narration); e) how Allah maintained the honor of Abu Salamah by not making it appear that Sadaatina Abu Bakr and Umar were “better” than him (since the dua is about giving Ummina Salamah what was better than what she lost – and Allah did not want to make the destiny show before Ummina Salamah’s eyes that her own husband was less than the great image she had of him – but of course, knowing he was less than the Prophet SAW is a given and takes nothing away from his honor – quite the contrary)f) how the Prophet SAW honored his Companions who passed away and those who received heavy blows g) how Ummina Salamah was a great choice as she would be an asset to the Message and its transmission. She was also the mother figure to Lady Fatima. You can see that she had a great God-given role to play that went far beyond the cursory description you have offered. I even heard a scholar say that she was basically the Journalist of her time – if not for her, we would not even have the text of Sidna Jaafar’s speech to the Najashi – no one else was aware as she was of the great significance of that, and she was awake and aware and memorized it word for word. thus she was definitely a contributor to the Dawah.

  37. Amad S says:

    good ole polygamy — great way to jumpstart any comment section…
    My next article will “letter to ISIS and polygamy”… :)

  38. Olivia says:

    Guys, guys. No one is saying do poly for porno-type reasons or sexual escapades. Man. What i DID say (reading comprehension, everyone) is that if a guy is thinking about doing it for sexual reasons bc he’s looking for a ting, he had better make sure he has the right expectations of that lifestyle (no idealization0 and that his wife is on board otherwise everything is going to collapse.

    That being said but I’m sorry, polygamy isn’t all Hell and highwater. It’s not a medieval torture device. Jealousy and competition aren’t boogeymen, they’re two aspects of like a hundred human emotions and if you think they’re inherently bad, realize you’re own views about an emotion like jealousy are colored by your society, family, culture and probably choice of television and/or reading material as if your definition of love and marital happiness. And if you think being truly in love and romantic and all that and poly are mutually exclusive, you’re wrong again. Hasn’t anyone on here ever read The Wheel of Time? Rand al thor, Aviendha, Elayne, Min? Anyone??? LOL.

    Poly isn’t Islamic, its a lifestyle choice and it has been “Islamified” for us by the deen. But it can exist in all cultures for all sorts of different reasons, and unless those reasons go against the shariah for some reason, there’s nothing wrong with that. Interestingly, the vast majority of women I know in poly are middle class, educated converts, and they aren’t clueless women who were duped into it. Many of them want a close friendship with their cowives too, which goes against the eastern cultural norm of being “hands off”. I have a lot of different theories in my mind about this that I won’t go into here.

    I do think most stories we hear about are bad, and the men who go around marrying multiple wives when they’re on welfare already is shameful as are men who don’t focus on their current marriage and want revolving door wives for their sexual satisfaction. I wonder why we don’t hear the happy stories, maybe people feel shy to talk about it, maybe there’s too much hate for the idea of happy poly; it doesn’t sit well with us trying to pander to political correctness, it is a shameful thing in many cultures, and of course people have their own personal negative feelings and will project that onto even happy stories “Oh, I wonder what was actually wrong with her/them,” “I don’t care what they say, they can’t really be happy” or “I bet they’re just putting a good face on a bad situation.” My point is, even if people heard the good stories, would they believe them? If the example of the Rasoolullah is the only good one we want to believe, then that’s an issue because he was supposed to be an role model to the rest of humanity.

    • Olivia says:

      actually if a man is going to do it for ANY reason he had better check with wifey lol but lets be real most guys can’t have a decent conversation about poly with their wives.

      • Marina Mirza says:

        and I think we even need to go back one step further and ask: has something that was not that prominent as a focus in past centuries (sex) become far more accentuated and raised beyond the level of let’s say eating/sleeping (other basic human desires/needs) to the level of something that is incessantly on our minds and that we pay too much homage to – as if we want to prove to the world we are on the same raunchy bandwagon as them all. (‘hey, yah, I’m Muslim, but underneath this thowb I can still lust after “hot young virgins” (you lost me with that wording – I strongly believe muslims should not adopt the discredited language of a people who are totally excessive in their sexual behavior – we should be dignified in how we talk about other human beings) and talk dirty like the dirtiest of ’em – my religion lets me” – what’s behind this falling all over ourselves to prove that it’s okay to marry just for lust? is that really what we have to offer to people when we talk about relationships and marriage in Islam? and honestly, who wants that? yes, if you say that some convert women go for polygamy indeed it may be a result of them being more used to sharing their husband and sexual relations going on outside of monogamy.

      • Marina Mirza says:

        *more used to that, I say, because convert women are native to a society that does not look down on alternatives to monogamy, and they maybe the idea of sharing their husband may easily be relatable for them to other sexual arrangements of which they are familiar such as polyamory, swinging, and relatinships they have seen in the fantasy book series that Olivia referred to. Even the fact that they nickname it “poly” – which is the same nickname Non Muslims have for polyamory.

    • Marina Mirza says:

      the idea of marriage is not constant, it changes over time & based on the context/society. See “The History of Marriage” by Stephanie Coontz:
      http://www.stephaniecoontz.com/books/marriage/chapter1.htm. Stephanie shows that back in the day, sexual desire for the future bride/groom did not play into a marriage proposal/decision at all.

      • Marina Mirza says:

        Polygamy likely carried an entirely different set of meanings at the time of the Sahabas than it did for later Muslim generations and than it did for other cultures with different social arrangements and attitudes towards women, and than it does for us. Polygamy, like everything else in the life of Rasool Allah peace be upon him, carried a much purer and higher and nobler meaning than it would have for anyone EVER – just like all his actions which were all for GOD ALONE. (and btw we can even see what the attitude of the Prophet peace be upon him was to the fulfilment of sexual desire: it is a sadaqa. why? not in and of itself – not because it is SO all-important – but because IF it is fulfilled in a haram way, it would be a sin. You can even see that it is being presented in positive insofar as it is NOT a negative, and not insofar as it is a goal in and of itself.REF: http://islamicfocusarticles.blogspot.ca/2009/04/turning-sex-into-sadaqah.html).

    • Marina Mirza says:

      What I’m seeing from Olivia’s and other comments is that today polygamy can become a carrier for certain cultural ideas that we find appealing such as polyamory, relationships like those in fantasy novels like Wheel of Time; and in general, a real interest and heightened level of focus on sex and sexual gratification. Polygamy is just a vessel then – it does not carry its own particular intentions or values – but a culture will invest in it a set of hopes and desires and expectations and will repaint it to accommodate whatever it wants to accommodate. in this case, we need to be clear that what we seem to want to accommodate is today’s issues with being sexually placated/excited/entertained.

      • Marina Mirza says:

        BUT, while may want to argue that polygamy can be a successful manner in which to channel the sexual fires that our current context constantly stokes in us, we still have to ask: is this “culture” around us one that we accept? is it what we want to “work with”? just like we have to ask: is hijab just a form, and whatever substance there may be given the context, it is acceptable? Ie is hijab still hijab if women wear it to attract men? or has it lost its meaning? likewise, is polygamy still “Islamically acceptable” if it is being used as a channel to express what society is teaching us about sexuality – that we need variety, that we should concentrate on sexual gratification to the degree that one woman is not enough for us, that having multiple partners can be fun, that it’s okay to scope out women besides one’s wife – if so, it is a thin veil for a truly unIslamic type of behavior… if actions are but by intention, then what is our intention – for God or our passions/hawa nafs?? what is pleasing to God? does this action bring me closer to Him or farther? and is it worth the risk of coming to God with a face that is not able to look straight forward at Him (the punishment of a man who does not treat his wives equally).

      • Marina Mirza says:

        if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…(it is intention that makes a deed what it is in God’s sight. and if our intentions are the same as Joe Blo, then our actions are just the same as his). A rose by any other name…

  39. amocha says:

    You mention “…hang out with different people. This keeps our marriage fresh. ” What if the different people are of the opposite gender ? or mixed groups of mahrams / non-mahrams. ? Does such form of hangouts lead to more harmony or doubt? Should their be some ground rules about who they can hang out with after marriage. My fiance has a lot of guy /girl-friends from high school. They are ‘just’ friends apparently. Also sometimes hangs out in mixed groups. And while I trust them, I just find this quite abnormal, and quite unislamic. Any advise on what type of conversation could take place to hang out and “keep things fresh” but halal.

  40. wandpen says:

    Nice efforts made to discuss the topic, but I always find it remarkable that the women endorsing polygamy are never in a polygamous marriage themselves. Is there an article on Muslim Matters about polygamy written by someone who is actually in a polygamous marriage?

  41. Marina Mirza says:

    @Siraaj: you said earlier: “Please kindly provide some good authoritative references, jazaks =)” and I say the same to you. Provide some proof/references for your implying that Rasool Allah peace be upon him married his wives including Um Salamah for other than reasons to provide, support, honor, and bless them. Imam Anwar al Awlaki even says it was out of the feeling of being a Spiritual Elder that the Prophet peace be upon him married these women and out of a caretaker role, and says this with SPECIFIC reference to Um Salamah may Allah be Pleased with her. It is true that no one can fully grasp what the relations and attitudes between genders were at that time, but you absolutely must recognize when you cross a line in inferring to the Prophet peace be upon him a motive that you are projecting. btw this is what you said: “To say that the Prophet (saw) didn’t have physical desire towards any of his wives makes no sense, as there is nothing inherently wrong with it provided it’s channeled into marriage.” NO ONE SAID that Rasool Allah peace be upon him had no physical desire for his wives may God be well pleased with them – but it would have been AFTER marriage and this is key – absolutely key. And to also imply that it’s an either or situation: either marriage is the equivalent of a waqf or it is a way to express one’s sexual desire is totally wrong. We are talking about the Messenger of God peace be upon him – one who did not even have a need, let alone a desire, to do something as human as eating. He was fed by God. … please don’t project your human weaknesses and tendencies upon him peace be upon him. His marriages to his wives were not just the equivalent of a waqf, of course. Rather, they were a chance to honor these women, to allow a greater number of the Female Sahabas to benefit and grow from his personal love and care and become carriers of the traditions of his private home life which they all passed down to the next generations.

    • I assume that when the Aisha says the Prophet (SAW) was the walking Qur’an, and that when he marries a woman, he does so exemplifying love and mercy. The physical relationship is part of that love and mercy. There is no implication in my statement or others this is in the form of objectification, purely carnal, and nothing more. While he (SAW) fulfilled the other roles you mentioned, he also fulfilled the physical side of this. We are not simply spiritual beings at our highest level, nor are we simply physical beings at our lowest – we are best when we give ihsan to both, and THAT is what he exemplified.

      The problem we have today is that when individuals go for polygamy, it is automatically assumed they are operating at the lowest level – they are not the Prophet (SAW), therefore they should not or de facto cannot do it. The individual is guilty until proven innocent rather than the reverse. There are no conditions placed on individual either for monogamy or polygamy except what is contractually obligated. It boggles my mind that when scholars write a man should marry to fulfill his need and protect himself from temptation, no one bats an eye at the implication that a woman is nothing more than a vessel to protect oneself from falling into zina, nothing more. And then later it is assumed, well, what they meant was, this is one function, but what they are not negating the other aspects of marriage that come with the union.

      In no way is it implied that he (SAW) was simply driven by desire. At the same time, to say he was not attracted to his wives is an insult to the Mothers of the Believers themselves. Many of them were young and attractive, and Aisha (ra) was noted as jealous over a number of them, not just because they existed, and not just because of their deeds, but because of their looks. She was most jealous of Khadijah because of how much the Prophet (SAW) talked about her, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t jealous over the appearance of others, nor that the Prophet (SAW) did not want to marry a woman both because of her religiosity as well as her appearance.

      That is the default, and what is recommended by scholars as well. to say this was simply a caretaker, it was just spiritual, etc needs evidence. There is absolutely none. The default in marriage in all cases, the Prophets, the Companions, the scholars of the past is always one of mutual love, attractiveness, and religious character. When there are exceptions, they are noted. in the oft derided hadeeth on the recommendation of marrying a virgin from the Prophet (SAW), the Companion in question cites a different need for his family which was approved. In the case of Ibrahim, his wife Sarah gives him Hajar because of her inability to bear children (at that time). These occur, but when they occur, the reason for the occurrence is clearly noted.

      The Prophet (SAW) himself has told us to look at women for marriage as much as we need until we are convinced we wish to marry them. When a woman approached the Prophet (SAW) for marriage, he looked at her first, and when he decided he was not interested, HE LOOKED DOWN – he didn’t even ask her anything. he could have just married her for caretaker spiritual reasons, yet he did not (another companion asked to marry her and he was broke, and hte Prophet (SAW) found a way to make the marriage work through making the mahr the little Qur’an he had memorized).

      So now, I say to you and all others who have turned polygamy into a purely community service project, bring the evidence that this is what was intended and not back read potential benefits as operating reasons for why it occurred – prove it.

  42. Marina Mirza says:

    @Siraaj: sorry, I disagree with you on this statement: “The default in marriage in all cases, the Prophets, the Companions, the scholars of the past is always one of mutual love, attractiveness, and religious character.” The Prophet peace be upon him clearly said to marry a woman for her religious practice (not character, but practice: ie, “deen”) or that one would regret it. And I just feel sad for you that you think that when the Prophet peace be upon him looked at that woman, he looked to see if she was attractive. We have shuyookh today, of much lesser spiritual enlightenment than the Prophet peace be upon him, who in looking at someone, can see into their intentions and heart and soul; and we have a LOT of proof in the Hadith that the Prophet peace be upon him when he looked at people looked with the light of God (more than one Hadith refer to this: When God loves you, He will be the Sight with which you see). Definitely the Prophet peace be upon him was able to see in this manner. Since the wording in the Hadith is open to interpretation, I have every right to interpret it that way based on what I do know of the Prophet peace be upon him and how he was much beyond our realm of dealings. And just because Lady Aisha was more at our level in her youth and got jealous for all the wrong reasons, doesn’t mean that she was at all an accurate interpreter of the actions and decisions of the Prophet peace be upon him – in fact many a time she was wrong in her assumption and he proved that to her – eg. when she wanted to refer to looks/age regarding herself vs. Lady Khadijah and the Prophet peace be upon him very clearly showed her: it’s not about age and looks. It’s about something much deeper.
    you have no proof of what you are saying; and given the fact that the Prophet was sent as nothing EXCEPT a Mercy to all the worlds, so this proves that all his actions were nothing but a mercy, and not about personal interest.

    • Siraaj says:

      Sister, scholars can’t read intentions. The Prophet (saw) advised us to look at a woman as much as we need to to convince ourselves to we want to marry them, and he practiced what he preached.

      While I agree with you that the Prophet (saw) advised choosing someone for their religious practice as the highest priority, it was not said in a manner that implied you disregard attractiveness, it’s why he advised looking. What is meant and explained by scholars is that if a woman has no religious character but is attractive, or has wwealth or status, that’s a bad decision. But a person who you feel attraction to and they have religion, then yes, marry them.

      Also, please have a care for how you speak about the sahabiyaat, and the implications of your statements. You think she was rejected for defective character (problem #1), but it was OK to foist this person with defective character (a female companion) on someone else who was interested and not say to the man what the problem was (if there was one)?

      Finally, having a personal interest in something doesn’t mean you therefore have no mercy. The two are not mutually exclusive. I would imagine that many women would find it a blessing and mercy the a Prophet of Allah (swt) would love them and was attracted to them as well.

      • Marina Mirza says:

        wow! I NEVER said she had defective character. excuse me! don’t put words in my mouth. If you look at what was said above by IMan – actually quoted by her in the article about Umm al Mumineen Umm Salamah- it can be seen that the Messenger of God peace be upon him married for many reasons – not least of which because he wanted women who would be role models and transmitters of the faith, as well as be able to handle the life of being part of the mission – not an easy life. And so what I would imply is that the Prophet peace be upon him looked into this woman’s inner soul and saw that she was not a person for whom such a life would be easy/who had the capacity to manage it. I did not ever ever ever say she had a defect of character. every man who has an unusual life (eg. a shaykh, a daeee, a solider who is away most of the year, etc) would need to assess if the wife he is choosing has the wherewithal to live the kind of life he plans to lead. Waht I am saying is that the Prophet peace be upon him could do this assessment in one second if he peace be upon him could know that Fudaala wanted to kill him, wihtout Fudaala saying anything, and could heal him by a touch upon his heart, then he peace be upon him could definitely see more than we can see.

      • Iman A. says:

        I call a straw man. the original argument was not around being attracted vs. being merciful. Go back and read what is being said by multiple Muslims on this site.

  43. asrauf says:

    Allah (SWT) says in al-Quran al-Kareem:

    “And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice” [al-Nisa’ 4:3]

    What is meant by the justice that is required (in ayah above) is that he should treat his wives equally in terms of spending, clothing, spending the night with them and other material things that are under his control. With regard to justice or fairness in terms of feelings and love, he is not held accountable for that, and that is not required of him because he has no control over that. This is proven when the Prophet (ﷺ) was asked, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, ” `Aisha.’ …” [Sahih al-Bukhari 3662, Book 62, Hadith 14].

    This is what people get confused about when they read the ayat in the Quran:
    “You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire” [al-Nisa’ 4:129]

    First ayat is talking about material things and time (over which we have control). Second is talking about feelings and love (over which we have no control).

    • Abu Milk sheikh says:

      Dealing with the wives “justly,” as stipulated in the ayah, refers to the husband not oppressing any of his wives. It does not refer to across-the-board “equality.”

      Equality is only in dividing his time among them, i.e. each wife should get the same number of nights.

      In the Maliki madhab, wives are provided for according to their socioeconomic status, limited by the husband’s financial capability. A noblewoman is not provided for the same as a commoner. [Ref. Ath-Thamr Ad-Dani Sharh Risala Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayrawani]

      In ruling in the Hanafi madhab is the same as that of the Malikis. [Ref. Ibn Abideen’s Ar-Radd Al-Muhtar]

      In the Shafi’i madhab it is similar. A noblewoman is entitled to a servant, paid for by the husband, if she is accustomed to one, whereas a commoner is not. [Ref. An-Nawawi’s Minhaj At-Talibin]

      In the Hanbali madhab the husband it is not obligatory to spend on the wives equally, due to the difficulty that entails, as long as all the wives have what they need. [Ref. Ibn Qudamah’s Al-Mughni, Ibn Al-Qayyim’s Zaad Al-Ma’ad]

      Allah سبحانه و تعالى knows best.

      • asrauf says:

        Jazak’Allah khair for the clarification. Agreed.

      • Truth Champion says:

        Jazak’ allah khairan.

        Yet many people are unable to fulfil even the wife’s existing rights which you have mentioned above and cannot stay away from oppressing her!

        Scholars consider adl -justice- very difficult for men to maintain, hence many ulema encourage abstinence from second marriage and consider limitation to a single wife as the preferable lifestyle.

        As you said Hanbalis and shafies say that monogamy is generally mustahab [recommended]. They say its mustahab because adl in polygamy is generally difficult (a lot of Deobandi scholars like Mufti Shafi Usmani say this too, and hence discourage polygamy, but I am not sure of the actual Hanafi position).

        The only exception they make is for those whose chastity cannot be maintained with one woman.

        However note here that there is a difference between polygamy done for sexual ”desires” (in which case monogamy is still deemed preferable) and an actual sexual ”need” (which is when fear of zina predominates).

  44. Iman says:

    quoting Siraaj: “The problem we have today is that when individuals go for polygamy, it is automatically assumed they are operating at the lowest level –” `
    but this idea came from Olivia; quoting Olivia: “Im not advising anyone pick up polygamy to add any ting, but the fact is that many men will go looking for it that way, “ and “The vast majority of MUSLIM men who practice polygamy do so for sexual excitement or because they want sexual variety. It very rarely is done for “spiritual” reasons.“

    Olivia’s comments are what gave readers the idea that men are operating at the lowest level. I agree that she should not have said ths. She provided no proof to back up her statements.

    • Siraaj says:

      There’s a slight difference between what I said and what she said. I’m saying that for men who go for it, all are painted with the same brush, which shouldn’t be the case.

      What she’s saying is there are many who do it for these reasons. My comment is simply stating all people should be assumed innocent unless proven guilty. Her statement is many have been found guilty, though that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it with these reasons in mind.

  45. Amy says:

    hi, this has been an interesting read including the thoughts in the comments. I’m just wondering: isn’t your religion about being content with what you have in life, and not being greedy for more? and also, wanted to recomment to you all this book: “There’s a Spiritual Solution for Every Problem” by Wayne Dyer. I know that in every community there are issues, but not in every community is there the green light to induldge our passions. I have to say that while a lot of Muslims around me make a fuss about how wearing hijab protects a woman’s honor and makes men not look at her with lust, desire, passion, i’m seeing here that it’s not quite the case. men are allowed to “check her out” just as much as any regular guys do with women, and so what was all that about the hijab making a man look at a women for her inner beauty, not for her outer? i gues it was just nice words.

  46. Marina Mirza says:

    It is you, Siraaj, who should be more careful in speaking about the Prophet of God. You speak at times in such a way as if you talk about a regular man. The way we do things may be halal to look at a woman and assess her attractiveness when meeting her for marriage. but it’s a big big big jump to assume that the Prophet of God, peace be upon him, different from us in the most essential of ways: ie. that he was more concerned about teh UNSEEN – ie. people’s hearts and the wellbeing of the deen – than the seen; and more concerned about his Ummah than even his own self and his own salvation let alone his own dunya-existence – did things on the same level we do them. you are not making this distinction. we need to have reverence for the Prophet peace be upon him and realize he was far far beyond the concerns and likes/dislikes we have. subhanAllah. He peace be upon him offered us many things that were advice for us and made things easy on us. but don’t asume that he peace be upon him operated on the same level. I mean, I know REGULAR men, just men of piety, who actually marry ONLY FOR THE WOMAN’s faith and are very happy and blessed. they really don’t care about her level of attractiveness or they really go for her soul-attractiveness. you then realize that if THEY are like that, then of course Rasul Allah peace be upon him was even more noble and lofty in how he peace be upon him saw the world and saw women.

    • Abu Milk sheikh says:

      Narrated Sahl bin Sa`d:

      A woman came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I have come to you to present myself to you (for marriage).”

      **ALLAH’S MESSENGER (ﷺ) GLANCED AT HER. HE LOOKED AT HER CAREFULLY AND FIXED HIS GLANCE ON HER AND THEN LOWERED HIS HEAD.**

      When the lady saw that he did not say anything, she sat down. A man from his companions got up and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! If you are not in need of her, then marry her to me.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Have you got anything to offer.” The man said, ‘No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!” The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), “Go to your family and try to find something.” So the man went and returned, saying, “No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I have not found anything.” The Prophet said, “Go again and look for something, even if it were an iron ring.” He went and returned, saying, “No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I could not find even an iron ring, but this is my Izar (waist sheet).’ He had no Rida (upper garment). He added, “I give half of it to her.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said “What will she do with your Izar? If you wear it, she will have nothing over herself thereof (will be naked); and if she wears it, then you will have nothing over yourself thereof ‘ So the man sat for a long period and then got up (to leave). When Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saw him leaving, he ordered that he e called back. When he came, the Prophet (ﷺ) asked (him), “How much of the Qur’an do you know (by heart)?” The man replied, I know such Sura and such Sura and such Sura,” naming the suras. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Can you recite it by heart?” He said, ‘Yes.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Go I let you marry her for what you know of the Qur’an (as her Mahr).

      [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab Al-Nikah]

  47. Marina Mirza says:

    on looking: here is the Hadith: Once a Companion told the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that he was going to get married.The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, asked if he had seen her. When the man answered in negative, he, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Go and look at her for it is more likely to engender love between the two of you.” (Reported by Ahmad and others and it is Sahih).
    The Prophet peace be upon him is encouraging the Sahaba and if you want to say all men after him, to look at the one he is about to marry – NOT TO ASSESS HER and reject her if she is not attractive – but to “engender love between the two” – ie. to start off the marriage with already there being some feelings of love brewing. it is clear that it was not as a means of deciding whether to go ahead and marry her or – finding her unattractive – to then reneg. So looking in the actual Hadiths we have was not a means of deciding to marry or not, but rather a means to encourage the love to start flowing in a personal way that goes beyond the appreciation of piety and deen – which are the actual criteria for saying yes or no to a prospect.

  48. Marina Mirza says:

    I know a lot of people might freak out if they have to be told that indeed, the Prophet peace be upon him was saying: the only criteria you should be looking at is deen (in a woman) and deen and character (in a man) – people don’t like this idea and we see that Siraaj says that some scholars give the Hadith an interpretation that means you can marry with her money, lineage, and beauty in mind as long as she has deen. Well, not all scholars give it this interpretation. And if you actually went and read the reference I put up earlier to Stephanie Coontz’s book, you would be able to step outside your own worldview – in which physical attractiveness is clearly very important and paints how you see and read things – and see that it was of NO IMPORTANCE in past times when choosing a mate. only recently has it even become an issue. in the past, it was ABSOLUTELY normal to completely consider physical attractiveness as just a bonus – because there were so many other important matters that had to be there for a marriage to work: good character, stability, financial wherewithal to suport, etc. It’s like the rest of us and buying a car – most people except the very wealthy don’t really consider the beauty of the car – it’s a bonus if it’s nice looking but the major concerns are durability, economy, safety, etc….and marriage was seen as a project between two partners and you really have to make sure you choose someone who is safe and durable and in it for the long run….now we have a different attitude towards marriage and it is that marriages are disposable and they don’t define our destiny – we can walk away – so when you have this attitude, temporary phsycial beauty becomes higher on the list – and remember, it is only temporary if you are in it for the long run. As the english saying goes: pretty is as pretty does: it is her actions that make her beautiufl. and a smart man would get that.

  49. Marina Mirza says:

    There are two versions of the Hadith you mention about the woman who proposed to the Prophet peace be upon him: one narrated by Sahl and one by Anas. And neither of them, in their actual wording, even mention the Prophet peace be upon him looking at the woman. here are my references and you can read the actual Hadiths here: http://islamqa.info/en/20916 AND http://www.zawaj.com/can-a-muslim-woman-initiate-a-marriage-proposal/
    I still would state that even if the Prophet peace be upon him DID look, you must have room in your mind to realize that “looking” for him was different than “looking” is for an average man of today. Not only was the Prophet peace be upon him granted a much deeper sight and insight, but even the time was different: at that time, something called “firasa” was a common ability held by the Arab (and even in some Chinese too) – the ability to read the face and read in the face thing like personal qualities and tendencies and background. There is a narration of Khalifa Umar RA seeing a man and upon looking at his face, saying: this is a man who either practices magic or used to practice it. The man used to practice magic but became Muslim. That wasn’t a way to judge the man or make him feel bad. It was just a talent for reading a face that many Arab had. None of this would mean that the woman was not a good woman – certainly those who could marry Sahabas were not all at the level of marrying the Rasul peace be upon him. She would still have been a good woman but it takes a very very special one to be married to the Prophet SAW. All I am saying is that when you read a Hadith, do not project our own personal selves or our tendencies or our limited capacities onto it. We live not only in a different time, but we are very different than the Prophet SAW and should always assume a much higher and greater capacity in all of his actions, and a much deeper and broader meaning than our own actions.
    Not only this, but would it make sense that the Prophet peace be upon him tells us to marry the woman with the deen and yet in this scenario the way you paint it, he peace be upon him judges her solely on her looks? not even a combination of looks and deen?
    finally, you can see how shaped we are by our culture that the issue of beauty keeps comin up when actually the Hadith mentions 4 reasons a woman is married; already the other two: lineage and wealth – are no longer really reasons today – this just illustrates how different our society is from theirs and how we don’t have the same assumptions.

    • Marina Mirza says:

      just to show how different the mentality was in marrying, and especially how unique the attitude of the Messenger of God peace be upon him was than what we might assume – please read these references: http://d1.islamhouse.com/data/en/ih_books/single/en_Women_Around_The_Messenger.pdf (read page 242 to see how it came to be that the Messenger peace be upon him married Lady Hafsa. Right there you can catch a glimpse of how he peace be upon him was!)
      and here are two more articles to give an idea of what the marriages of the Prophet peace be upon him were founded upon: http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-14-991.htm & http://www.paklinks.com/gs/religion-and-philosophy/162769-thethe-11-wives-of-the-prophet-pbuh.html
      If you don’t have a sense of what the philosophy or hikmah was surrounding these marriages, you will get lost in the idea that they were for personal interest. Rasul Allah was only sent to this world to be a Mercy and not to fulfil the ordinary life goals of an average man nor did he peace be upon him have needs that he needed a human to fulfil for him. His marriages, like his living and his dying, were solely for Allah and in terms of why and how they were contracted – they were opportunities FOR THE WOMEN he married – to receive the gift of his love, to learn the Sunnah of home life, and to be examples to us women, and to be Mothers of the Believers. …just like his friendships with the Sahabas were not like your and my friendships. Yours and mine are mutually beneficial, but to say that he got benefit from his friendships would be wrong. The Prophet peace be upon him only needed God – no one else. He peace be upon him was not looking for anything of this world –he was like a traveller just passing through. The fact that the Prophet peace be upon him had friendships and other relationships was all to give the other person the chance to learn, the chance to be connected to him, the chance to serve the deen.

  50. Marina Mirza says:

    just to show how different the mentality was in marrying, and especially how unique the attitude of the Messenger of God peace be upon him was than what we might assume – please read these references:
    http://d1.islamhouse.com/data/en/ih_books/single/en_Women_Around_The_Messenger.pdf

    ***read page 242 to see how it came to be that the Messenger peace be upon him married Lady Hafsa. Right there you can catch a glimpse of how he peace be upon him was!
    and here are two more articles to give an idea of what it was really like – the marriages of the Prophet peace be upon him – what they were founded upon:
    http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-14-991.htm

    http://www.paklinks.com/gs/religion-and-philosophy/162769-thethe-11-wives-of-the-prophet-pbuh.html
    If you don’t have a sense of what the philosophy or hikmah was surrounding these marriages, you will get lost in the idea that they were for personal interest. Rasul Allah was only sent to this world to be a Mercy and not to fulfil the ordinary life goals of an average man nor did he peace be upon him have needs that he needed a human to fulfil for him – he gave to us – his marriages were FOR THE WOMEN he married – to give them love and joy and a close-up view of the Sunnah…just like his friendships with the Sahabas were not like your and my friendships – mutually beneficial – no – his friendships were all to give the other person the chance to learn, the chance to be connected to him, the chance to serve the deen….peace be upon him!

  51. Marina says:

    a continuous focus on outward appearance will lead to all kinds of problems. If the main criteria for a man marrying a wife, after deen, is her looks, what will he do when she gets older and many other younger woman outdo her in looks? will the marriage be legally annulled because she hasn’t lived up to what she first offered? this kind of thing is unsustainable and it is what leads to disconent, affairs, porn, going for a 2nd wife for the wrong reasons, etc. Attraction develops with interaction. this is why free interaction b/w men and women in Islam is not allowed. because it will lead to love. This is what people mean when they talk about falling in love after marriage. there is bonding that occurs, and it produces in the brain feelings of attraction. read the science of it here: http://www.reuniting.info/content/attraction-karezza-and-neuroplasticity
    and this is why the Prophet peace be upon him insisted that there be foreplay (bonding activity) along with intercourse. not just for the woman, but for the man too – it cements his desire for his wife. we need to make this loud and clear otherwise we are putting a stamp of approval on men’s shopping around and consumption of women’s physicality – as if they are objects, and we are making women feel they must compete and focus solely on being attractive to men. This is so far from where our minds and efforts were meant to be in this noble way of life.

  52. Walid says:

    “Advertising constantly … exhorts us to be in a never-ending state of excitement, never to tolerate boredom or disappointment, to focus on ourselves, never to delay gratification, to believe that passionate sex is more important than anything else in life, and always to trade in old things for new.” – Jean Kilbourne

  53. ummAda says:

    Subhan Allah! I don’t think I’ve read so many comments on one post ever! Sister Olivia, masha Allah the article was great and I love the way you try to talk about not focusing on stereotypical marriage models, even those that have arisen to remedy marital problems.

    Its amazing how everyone is so disturbed by the polygamy issue. Even though there was only a small mention of it. I’m sure you must have spent more time replying to peoples comments than writing the article.

    Jazak Allah khair for your efforts.

    P.S. I like the “seventh year itch”, was just telling my husband of the term…. we’re in our seventh year. Maybe thats why this year is more interesting than others.We like to have a good laugh over our issues once were past them.I think every marriage gets stronger once you solve an issue and move on. How could a relationship be strengthened without being tested? I guess that would be the “ting” that makes the comfort really cozy! It has to be a bit cold to enjoy a blanket…

  54. Walid says:

    with all due respect, the fact that the polygamy issue got so much attention is because a lot of people know of men who have abused this concept in ugly ways and have ruined their first marriages, traumatised their wives and children, and in general, made a mess of things. for no damn good reason. It’s a crying shame and I know of more than 3 converts to whom tis has happened and now they are really struggling with their deen. If a man had any sense in his head he would not go and bring upon himself and his wife and kids this kiind of a challenge. there is so much else he could do to better the world and his life, yet he goes and puts his time and energy into this kind of a blackhole.and the vast majority of women don’t know that this is not sanctioned in the deen -this kind of selfish decision that does not take into account the health (spiritual and metnal) of the first wife and counts solely on what is “permissable” according to the books. Muslims need to get real.

    • Truth Champion says:

      Numerous Islamic scholars, especially those in the Indian subcontinent, have highly discouraged marrying more than a single wife. A notable scholar of India in the 20th century, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, who despite being married to two women himself, said that the general ruling for men of the Indian subcontinent was that second marriage is considered to be as impermissible due to the immense familial and societal harms of polygamy in general (Source: Youtube video; ‘Polygamy in the West: A compliment or impediment’ [07:52]) – because if there is more harm than benefit in something then according to Shaykh Faraz Rabbani it would not be permissible.

      And Mufti Shafi Usmani, father of Mufti Taqi Usmani, also heavily discourages polygamy in his Maariful Quran.

      Maulana Hakeem Akhtar Saheb says that the Indo-Pak men in general are unable to maintain equality between the wives, therefore he discourages it (Source: Tarbiyat e Ashiqan e Khuda Part 2, Page 424).

      Imam Shafi’i also gave a unique translation of the third ayah in Surah Nisa, where he translated the last part as saying ”do not marry more than one woman so you do not become stressed financially”.

  55. Walid says:

    I’m not saying there aren’t couples who would be okay with polygamy. but this is key: COUPLES. not “situations” or “husbands” but couples – both husabnd and wife, need to decide, and the most important factor is the wife’s ability and capacity to handle such a thing -not just her initial yes to it (I think we all have moments where we feel on a high and want to be noble and wives want to make their husbands happy – but the husband should know his wife well neough to know: can she really handle something like this? is it really going to be in her best interest, long-term?)

  56. Iman says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qIyiHt6i5s&list=PLE52F941C46DEDA3C&index=5
    “we will be judged on how we dealt with our partners”

  57. Truth Champion says:

    Maulana Hakeem Akhtar DB’s work in Urdu, Tarbiyat e Aashiqan e Khuda, can be accessed here.

    http://www.khanqah.org/books/show/tarbiyat-e-ashiqan-e-khuda-part-2

    After page 424, he discusses polygamy. He says that men are generally unable to maintain equality between the wives therefore they need to remain with only one wife, as per Allah’s commands.

    He says that men of today are unable to be equitable and do not have the imaan of the sahabah to do justice between the wives.

    He also refers to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi who he quoted as using his own polygamous lifestyle to discourage others from doing polygamy.

  58. Zahra Sadat Mirmohammad says:

    Why does a woman have to obey her husband? Why does she need permission to leave the house and to work outside the home? Why does she have to submit herself sexually to him? Isn’t that marital rape? I’m so scared of getting married; it seems terrible and restricted freedom for a woman.

    • Zahra Sadat Mirmohammad says:

      I realize that I am wrong about marriage. Husbands are the head-of-the-family and should be obeyed within family limits, but this obedience should be to a righteous man, as a true Muslim man will have the best of intentions for his family, and he will not engage in excessive jealousy over his wife.

  59. Anum Shahid says:

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