Sleepless in Setiawangsa – 13

I chuckled alone last weekend at grandma’s house reading about the lorry driver who applied to Syariah court to take his fourth (and hopefully the last) wife. The presiding judge found himself in an unusual – or rather shocking – position when the three other wives actually consented to their husband’s wish. The news brings us to this posting. Be that as it may, I need to remind myself that I am not a pious individual neither am I a Qur’an expert to dwell in this subject; whatever is written in the following paragraphs derives from my reading and personal understanding in so far as polygamy is concerned. I stand to be corrected at any point in this issue by anyone who has deeper knowledge and bona fide intention at heart.

Surah An-Nisa‘ 4:3 states that “if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, three or four; but if you fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one…that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice“. [Translation by Yusuf Ali].

The Surah opens a floodgate of arguments between men and women since time in memorial. Despite the glaring condition precedence to do justly among the wives, many decide to plunge into polygamy for reasons known only to them. No, I am not talking about the consented polygamy by a man who is basking in money, so to speak; I am talking about us mere mortals whose ability to do justly is greatly challenged in every step of the way.

Like what my friend Reza argues, “the Surah gives a blanket approval for man to marry another BUT with a strong pre-contidion”. Now, while many polygamous men claim that they are as impartial as a judge between the wives, plenty of injustices occur on the same platform. Records at Syariah courts prove that influx of complaints have been filed in polygamous marriages.

I am unable to defy the will of God in allowing a man to marry up to four wives. But the voice in my head tries in vain to define what constitutes “justly” in its literal sense. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali shines a light on my bleak path when he says, “Those who wish to take a second wife are not considered eligible unless they can show that they can afford to keep and be equally fair to both wives. Furthermore, marriage in Islam is never allowed without the consent of both parties, and any woman who does not wish to enter into a polygamous marriage has the right to refuse.” [Source: A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an at page 57].

With the exception of the lorry driver’s wives, I am sure, the majority of women would rather see their husbands being struck by a lightening than take another wife. I heard tales of polygamous husband who sleeps in a hotel when faced with two fuming mad wives. Another polygamous husband wishes Aidilfitri never appears on the calendar so that he won’t risk his neck deciding which house he should be in comes Pagi Raya. A client of mine (who is, of course, polygamous) swears that one day he will die while commuting from Ampang to Petaling Jaya in a futile bid to please both of his wives. Polygamy turns man into a consummate liar in order not to hurt his wives’ feelings.

While you pray polygamy would be as easy as depicted in P. Ramlee’s movie, the reality smacks the face of him who dares to take another wife. What we forget during this academic debate on polygamy is that we, women, end up getting crashed and burnt. But since it is in the nature of men to thrive upon challenge, I hereby rest my case.

I end this post with Surah An-Nisa‘ 129, the translation of which reads as, “you are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire“. With that I now open the floor for debate. ๐Ÿ™‚

Goodnight Sleepless wherever you are.


12 thoughts on “Sleepless in Setiawangsa – 13

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  3. I would be lying if the thoughts of having another ‘house’ never come across my mind, especially if there was an ego boosting proposal from the other party.

    But then I remembered the above words from the surah that us mere men would never be able to be just in this world, thus the proposal had to be declined.

    It is true, men will turn into consummate liars in order to please all parties concerned, and if that is not enough most of his circle of friends too in order to do the ‘cover up’.

    Nope, polygamy is not for me.

    Wisely said my friend…

  4. What people forget about this famous Verse in the Qur’an that some men use to justify their polygamous streak is that it comes with a very big proviso – the ability to deal justly amongst the wives.

    That in itself, is a very tall order to follow. The idealistic condition in which a man can take more than one wife should be few and far between. Alas, some men use this as a license to be on the lookout for other prototypes of his first wife, especially so when they have more money in the bank. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The root of all evils, my dear friend, is always money.

  5. Salam Sis:

    Surah AnNisa’ ayat 3 explains it plainly. IF man can be adil to all his wives.That is a tall order indeed and many if not all modern men can fulfill.

    Saying I can be just to them all is easy.Its just like making a promise that you know you’ll never be able to fulfill it.

    They’ll say they can be just if they follow their crotch and their heartless lust.

    ALLAH have put up a severe pre-condition which many men fail to understand.

    A friend (with 3 wives) told me years ago: Sorang pun susah nak jaga inikan pulak 3 orang!!Kadang2 mereka konfrantasi sesama mereka.Selalu pulak mereka berpakat dan konfrontasi dgn aku.

    Aske why did he marry 3 wives then? his answer: Dah jodoh aku.

    Eh Ta, factor jodoh tuh kena consider gak. I believe that is written for you kan?

  6. “Polygamy turns man into a consummate liar..”
    ” .. women, end up getting crashed and burnt.”

    Yet, some still go ahead with it. I say their actions are solely based on selfishness. That’s just my take on it.

    There you my friend, of course you agree with me on this one, since we do agree with each other’s point of views most of the time ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Elviza,
    As case I knew where a man married three wives and trying to be fair to all. His life is in shambles, he thought he is being fair to all the wives but in reality all of them are unhappy with his so called fairness. At times I pity him but then it was all his doing.

    Surah An- Nisa is very clear on polygamy but then men thought they are cleverer then God. As usual they end up in a mess along with the unfortunate wives and children.


    It is within the nature of human to be wanting something more. Even though it is a well know cliche that “less is more.” But hey, what do I know?

  8. hello, stumbled upon your neat li’l blog here whilst zapping through the info highway hopping from one link to another in search of something refreshing…

    well, an interesting issue indeed, polygamy. Being in such enviable/ostracised position and able to quietly whisper “been there done that”, i dare say that whomever is fortunate/unfortunate enough to be a party in such polygamous ‘affair’, would agree that “fairness” (or a plausible degree of it) is indeed human(e)ly POSSIBLE. No, i will not elaborate, less there’s a request.

    Glory be to Him, it is a futile attempt for us mortals to emulate any of His virtues, but try we must. That excerpt from An-Nisa, in my humble interpretation could also be interpreted as His comforting words to us polygamous male servants, at times of emotional hardship … when all our efforts to treat our wives fairly, trying to strike that elusive balance ends in heartache and seemingly doomed for failure. However, give up we must not! “โ€œyou are never able to be fair and just ..” His words comforts.

    I swear polygamy is a double edged sword. It’s a provision, use it to defend ugly vices, but use it wisely or end up in pieces.

    โ€œPolygamy turns man into a consummate liar..โ€
    well… look around. one can also say “monogamy turns man into an adulterer”….


    Dear Anwar,

    I see your point in the first 4 para of your comments. The second last got me into thinking, “either way, man is a liar then?” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad you stop by. Do come again, the pleasure of hosting you here is all mine.

  9. Ahem!

    (1) Is it always the women who crash and burn?

    I suppose this is so when the man takes a big huge gun to the woman’s head and forces her to marry him. Being thus caught in a polygamous marriage (one that she had no intention of being in) I can see why she crashes and burns ๐Ÿ™‚

    (2) Is it really polygamy that turns men into consummate liars?

    Polygamy has nothing to do with it. Men (and women, too, mind you) lie to their spouses all the time. Polygamy is not the culprit – trying NOT to hurt the other person is ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. And when this guy was asked to present evidence that HE could afford to financially maintain and sustain and be fair to all of his wives, he had the cheek to present financial statements/evidence that two of his WIVES had a few acres of rubber and/or palm oil plots to generate income??!!

    Errrrr…I think he was missing the point there??!!

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