Friday, May 22, 2009

Wives . . . one . . .two . . .three. . . or four?

There is always a lot of talk in the community amongst the brothers and the sisters about brothers acquiring multiple wives and/ wives from overseas. I would like to start a forum on the subject supported by findings from the Qur’an and Examples of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the sunnah.

We have recently concluded a two month study of the Prophet’s wives in our Sisters class at the masjid. In no way does this deem me a scholar on the subject, but I did learn some beautiful and useful things about The Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his dealings with marriage. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had eleven wives (give or take one depending on your source). His marriage to Khadijah, his first wife, lasted for 25 years, during which time he was monogamous. After Khadijah died, over the span of the rest of his prophethood he married Sauda, Ayesha, Hafsa, Zainab, Ume Salima, Zainab d/o Jahash Al Assadya, Javeria, Ramla Ume Habibah, Safia, and Maimona- May Allah be Pleased with the all. Ayesha was the only never married virgin the Prophet (PBUH) married. All the other wives were widows, freed slaves, or divorcees.

I will be the first to say I am not a scholar or shehka of any sort and may Allah forgive me if I have missed the mark in this article, but my intentions are not malicious. When we studied the example of the Prophet (PBUH), we learned that after the death of Khadijah, the Holy Prophet took on the other ten wives over time with the noblest intentions and all of his marriages symbolized something of a greater good for the Ummah.

. . .Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or that your right hand possesses. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.
Holy Quran, An-Nisaa:3

To my understanding, Allah has given man a great mercy and protection with this surah. This surah can protect men from committing an abominable sin- zina: adultery. Taking more than one wife can also make a community stronger by cutting down on the rate of single women and orphans, if there are not enough eligible men in the community. There are many blessings in polygamy as can be seen in the examples of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Holy Prophet said,

“Oh young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains the eyes from casting (evil glances) and preserves one from immorality”

Marriage is 50% of our dean and should be respected and upheld as such. My concern lies where some brothers are not taking accountability for their matrimonial choices, or perhaps more concerning are the types of conversations that are taking place concerning this subject. I will address the African American Muslim community because that is what I am familiar with. We must reflect on the ayat,

. . . that is nearer to you to prevent you from doing injustice. An-Nisaa:3

I’m going to talk straight for a moment- Why is taking up a second wife so illuminating of a topic amongst many black brothers who have already done an injustice to our community by having multiple children out of wedlock who they barely see, much less have a parental role? Don’t get me wrong, I love my brothers and give them my endless support. I also understand the struggles with dealing with non-Muslim mothers of your children who may reject your faith and the influence you have in your children’s lives. Unfortunately that does not diminish the fact that fatherless children is an epidemic in the black community. 70% of black children are born to single mothers. Compared to their two parent counterparts, these children are far less likely to get a high school diploma, much less a college degree. These children (especially boys) are more likely to be in and out of the penitentiary and more likely to repeat the trend of having children out of wedlock.

Muslims are not exempt from these statistics. According to Islam, the Muslim divorce rate is about 1/3. However I would hypothesize that number being larger among Black Muslims because I witness many marriages that never get officially recorded, and end shortly after in divorce. My question is- What happens to the children? There are many brothers who have children from previous relationships who they are not taking a hand in raising. Sadly, sometimes instead brothers empowering each other to be better fathers and husbands to the ones they have, there is immense encouragement for these brothers to take on more wives.

. . . that is nearer to you to prevent you from doing injustice. An-Nisaa:3

What if taking on a second, third, or fourth wife is doing an injustice to your family, the Ummah, and the community? I also have heard some African-American Muslim brothers complain about black women- black muslim women! The oath that their next wife will be from overseas. Allah (SWT) has taught us that no race is superior or inferior to another, and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) married women from different tribes. I love my Muslimahs from overseas and May Allah bless their marriages to whomever they choose. The issue I am raising is of the self-hatred many African Americans have. If you hate black women and you are black that means you hate your mothers, your daughters, your lineage. Even if you had children before you took your shahada, it is against Islam to discard of them as you attempt to embark on the path of the mustaqin (righteous).

Like many masjids across the country, the one I attend is located in a ghetto, amidst the drug dealers, pimps, and poverty. I grew up in similar surroundings in Philadelphia. As Muslims, we have to get off our high horse and ask ourselves “Have I contributed to the degradation of my community?” It is my guess that we have all at some point in time been enablers to the dilapidation of our community. This article was not intended in any way to attack our wonderful Muslim brothers who have denounced so much of the jahilliyah to do better for themselves and for the Ummah. At Masjid As-Sabur, I am witness to the selfless acts of brothers who serve Allah though worship and community service. This is merely a reminder that we can all do better. The black community is in dire need for us to lead by example. As Muslims it is our obligation to ask Allah to set us on the righteous path so that we may all step up and do the right thing by making decisions that will prevent us from doing an injustice.
Allah Knows Best.

-Judge Not!


Lakeisha said...

Very informative. I love the responsbilty perspective of the article.

Anonymous said...

MashAllah. Sorry I did not read until now. You make clear observations that are bothersome to many, even as an outsider I may see how quickly the injury comes from such behaviors. It is an indifferent struggle that will continue and most of us will spend our lives trying to reconcile. Keep straight with the best understanding of deen as possible and avoid listening to the uninformed voice :)

Because as it is well know, without the guidance of Allah, the Quran and Sunnah, we are truly lost!

May Allah forgive us all and protect us from the hellfire.

Latifa said...

This is well written Kay this is information that we all need to address instead of a sister worrying about what type of color the next sister has on. This is real everyday issues that go not just in the black community but around the world. Very well Kay proud of you and i learn from this article as well:0)