By Lara Aromire
“Would any of you consider becoming a second wife”, asked Sister Zainab to the group of Muslim sisters gathered around in the Unilag Mosque during the end of semester Dawah camp. We all grumbled a resounding No.
Okay, she said and asked another question, “Would any of you allow your husband to marry a second wife”. To this question, a few mumbled yes, some twisted their eyes and rest, including I said No.
Sister Zainab, went on to talk about how polygamy is accepted in Islam, how it is not a sin if we decide to be second wives, how it is a sin to refuse our future husbands from marrying a second wife if we happen to be the first wives.
While reading, Dr. Ahmed’s In the Land of Invisible Women, I get to know that in Saudi Arabia and contrary to what is practiced in our side of the world. The Muslim man actually has to seek permission of (in most cases, inform) the first wife before taking a second wife. She has to accept this proposal and can file for divorce if her husband goes ahead to marry another woman without her acceptance/ consent. I can’t say categorically if above statement accurately depicts the Saudi marriage tradition.
My mum and Aisha just returned from Ilorin after the attending my step-sister’s 5 days wedding celebration. The wedding according to reports was beautiful and spectacular, only problem is she got married to a 51yrs old married man, whose first child happens to be the bride’s age mate.
Mum came back with stories of how everyone was disappointed by the step-sister’s decision to get married to a married man, an old one at that. She is young, had a boyfriend who she dumped for the married man. Her mother fought and harassed the man everywhere they met, even as far as Saudi Arabia. The step mother was the one who informed the man’s wife of the relationship, informing the woman to help her beg the husband to leave her daughter alone. She went to a lot of “alfas”, went for prayer sessions in churches and only gave up when the man categorically told her that, if the step-sister does not marry him, she will never marry any other man. Unfortunately the Step-father is late and everyone says that is the only man the step-sister ever listens to.
Everyone who attended the wedding actually commended the first wife for her acceptance of the marriage, she actually had to give a vote of thanks and a day was set aside where she would come dancing to the bride’s family, thanking them for giving their daughter’s hand in marriage to her husband.
The step-sister is a very independent girl who according to mum does not want to be tied down by any man. She is content with having her husband around for just 2 days at most 3days. Also she is not ready to suffer with any man who might in the future also marry another wife. She is 26, already performed the Hajj, has a thriving business of her own and in my opinion only interested in marriage to fulfil all righteousness and have babies.
The thing is I come from a long family of polygamy; polygamy is not strange or out of the ordinary for me. My siblings, cousins and I all have step-mother/fathers and half-sister/brothers. It was a common norm in the past generations. I look at families like the “Abiolas” and the “Okoyas” and wonder what the whole brouhaha is about polygamy. We look at these women and some of us admire their courage and some disgusted by their action which we see as destabilizing what is assumed to be a perfect home.
The hypocrisy of our time is that, some of these women who are actually second wives, who have been responsible for destabilizing some homes now come out to condemn the act. They do not want their daughters to experience the same suffering which they have put another woman through. They are the same one who will condemn another woman for stealing their daughter’s husband forgetting they did the same themselves.
I know Christianity does not allow this and I find it appalling when Christians pull the “my tradition allows me to marry more than 1 wife card”. For the Muslims, I just wish our men would be true to themselves and know that they can never be fair and treat the women the same way.
To the step-sister, I can only wish her a happy married life. Even though I can’t help but wonder if her brain is screwed to the right place. As to the question, can I become a second wife…it would be hypocritical of me to say it is ruled out, but my answer is still a resounding No.
Writer: Lara Aromire is a daughter, a sister and a friend whose daily existence is all about finding herself and exploiting her potentials. She is passionate about Human Resources Management, Travel, Photography and leadership. She blogs at http://www.labyrinthsoflahrah.com and tweets as @lhararom