Monday, January 24, 2011

Is he really trying to hurt you?

Bism Illah wa as salaam alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Time and again sisters raise the issue of the hurt involved in polygyny. They often consider their husbands to be oblivious or insensitive to their pain. However, I ask you to think about the man you are married to. Does he purposely try to hurt you? Does he revel in your pain and misery? Does he smile with glee when you show confused hurt and heartbreak? If you can answer no to those questions, then don't imagine it is any different for polygyny.

For those of you with children, when you had your first child and formed that incredible bond of love with them, could you ever conceive of hurting them? So, what happened when you decided to have a second child? Did that mean you no longer loved the first, or loved them less? Yes, having the second child will take time away from the first, but did you have the second child to hurt the first child and cause them misery? Surely, no. Allah guided you to make a decision to have more children. Allah blessed you with more children.

Just so, Allah guides a husband to have another wife. Just so, Allah writes who that other wife will be. Just so, Allah writes what lessons and benefit he, and you, will derive from that other wife.  It isn't done to hurt you; it is done as part of the Master Plan. Allah has sent this to him, just as much as He has sent it to you. Your husband is trying to find a way to follow what he is guided to, and also prevent your pain and reassure you of his love. It's not easy...  for anyone.

I could write more, but I want to get this post out. I wrote this in a comment on a different post (thanks, Umm Salwaa), but it deserves it's own space. It's not about what others do to you, it's about how you react. Allah sent it all and it's all to bring us to a better place in relation to Him. This is not exclusive to the wives! The husbands are taking on a lot, and it is not easy for them to cause pain and heartache to the woman they naturally want to protect from hurt and harm. Do you really think they would do it, and put you through it, if it wasn't clear to them from Allah?

Don't question the nature of creation, just take whatever comes and own it. Accept it as especially yours, from ALLAH not your husband, sent as a test and a blessing.

Disclaimer: This post is about the good, practicing, Allah-fearing husbands,  not the players who wouldn't know taqwa if it was the only word in the dictionary.


  1. As-salaam Alaikum Sister, I hear my husband's voice within your words, he expresses the same thoughts as you just have, subhan'Allah, and in "saner" moments i understand, but at times.... i guess its just like waitng for the shoe to drop, once fallen maybe i'll breathe more easily insha'Allah, though i tell myself it is foolish to wait for something which i don't even know if it will happen during my life time!
    I'm sorry if it may seem like i'm blogging in your blog, i do consider puting up my own blog, but i hesitate because i know that if my husband were to ever know of it, it would hurt him (not the way i feel, just the fact that i've put it out there for others to read) plus i'm lazy too :)!
    I did want to tell him that maybe i we should not speak about any potential co wives, but he felt that much that i say to him makes him think and consider aspects of the sistuation he does not consider otherwise - our last "discussion" made him re evalute what the kind of person he was considering in terms of his "geereh" and he thanked me for bringing it up! You see he is possessive and would not be able to cope with a wife who insitists on working outside the home- esp in a mixed i try to keep myself distracted, chide myself for my week emaan, and try not to strain my ears for the falling shoe!

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  3. I'm sorry I felt my comment may cause fitnah so I deleted it.

  4. Certainly that's one way to rationalize it. But if we know that something we *can* do without (like polygyny, like too much fatty food, like smoking cigarettes) causes our spouses tremendous pain, then would we not do better to leave it?
    I see a lot of conflict in the comments on poly blogs and I believe a great deal of it arises from the implication by many women in polygyny that those who don't want it absolutely *must* tolerate it, when that's obviously not the case. If a woman doesn't want, or feels she can't bear, to live in polygyny, and Allah makes a provision for her to escape it, then she has done no wrong. And that's what I don't see being acknowledged on this, or any other poly blog; that women who refuse, for whatever reason, are not "bad Muslims," nor have they rejected the will of their Creator, because, using your same logic, if He wanted them to stay in polygyny, He'd not make a way out for them. So just as those who accept polygyny in their lives ask all others to respect their situation, their choices, so those others ask the same respect in return, rather than the insinuation that they are doing something wrong by living monogamously.

  5. Bismillah.

    Firstly, wa alaykum salaam wa rahmatuAllahi wa barakatu dearest Mai. MashaAllah tabarakAllah sister, I enjoy reading your blog so much, you are really lovely and have such a fantastic way of looking at life! May Allah increase you in wisdom and patience and endow me with as much (or more inshaAllah!) as you have, ameen.

    Onto my comment, be warned it's really long, sorry!...

    I agree with what you've written in your post, sister, and since marrying I have thought a lot about polygyny and as well as which analogy to use to explain when asked by non-Muslims about it. Unless we start likening women to either possessions -such as cars, horses, gold/silver, land etc- or to children I feel there is no perfect analogy to explain how men feel about their desire to have more than one woman.

    Most women, myself included, would hate to be considered part of a 'collection' of material possessions or to be likened to a child -even an adult child as this relates the husband's role to that of 'father' which personally gives me the creeps. I know, sis Mai, you didn’t mean to imply that women are mentally like children, rather you were trying to describe the love that goes along with the relationship, that it doesn’t diminish just because there is more than one – there is more than enough to go around and parents love each of their children in different ways for the special individuals that they are. That aside, the husband's role is of another nature according to Islam (for brevity I won't go into it here). But even if we use the analogy of children, a wife can never be 'on the same level' as a child because of the blood bond which forever joins parent and child. A husband and wife will never have an inseparable, eternal if you like, bond due the fact that upon a divorce this special bond ceases and they are like any other man and woman to each other. But that’s not really important because think Mai was simply using this analogy to describe the way humans are equipped to love more than one (parent for child/children & husband for wife/wives).

    I think most (rational) women know their man's primary intention when marrying again is not to harm or hurt them. Women know that a man's primary intention is because he desires women and women are often hurt/angry/jealous when confronted with the apparent truth that she seemingly cannot satisfy all of his needs. I do think however that his desire to marry again overcomes his knowledge that she will be extremely hurt. As a woman I do not understand this (read, I do not like this) and am hurt to consider that my husband’s desire to have another wife may overcome my possible hurt.


  6. [cont]

    What I have also come to realise is that a man's desire for marrying more women usually has nothing whatsoever to do with his first wife. In fact, if his first marriage was so unsuccessful it is unlikely he would even think about getting married to a second – wouldn’t he run from it? Rather if the first marriage was so unbearable he would most likely divorce her and marry again, rather than have two. So, perhaps all first wives with husbands considering polygyny should take it as an extreme compliment that their husbands wish to marry again, lol! And yes, sometimes he marries for things that are deficient in his first (e.g. lack of children/ imbalance in sexual frequency). Anyway, as I was saying, it is all about HIM and has to do with HIS desires. Men are creatures unlike women and women are creatures unlike men - both sexes forget this when trying to understand the behaviours of the other. I don't mean to say men are childish but the expression 'Boys will be boys' comes to mind when I think about men's desire for women. Funny how they are happy with three shirts, one pair of pants and a pair of shoes in their cupboard but if they could they would have as many women as they could handle and then some they would do it! This is how they are. No matter how we cry and scream and pull out our hair and say it shouldn't be so the fact is this is how they are. As time and history have proven, men *like* women, they desire them and want more than one (yes, even that brother that tells his wife, “Yes, Honey I only want you’ – truth is he *does* really want you - & her, & her if he was able to do it (aka his wife wouldn’t castrate &/or divorce him and he could afford it). And alhamdulillah Allah put limits on how many a man may marry and how to treat them. I'm sorry if my thoughts upset anyone, I don’t mean to offend, remember this is just my opinion which is derived from observing, reading and asking questions. Also, keep in mind the ayah in Al Imran (14). And Allah knows best.

    Another thing I have come to realise is that we can't change how men think and we can't change the situations that come to us; this is Qadr. What we can change is how we react to that situation. Some women react badly by being nasty towards her husband and the new wife. Some women don't yell and scream or make life miserable for everyone - they just bow out saying, 'Yes, this is halal, but it's not for me, ma'a salaama'. And then there are some who realise that it's a test and accept that this is a chance to grow and learn. I like the quote, 'A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water'.

    And while I think this point about men irks a lot of women, perhaps a lot of men are irked by things that are inherently female…and they just have to like it or lump it as do we. We should all (men and women) remember that we perhaps hate a thing that is good for us and perhaps love a thing that is bad for us…and Allah knows while we do not. Whenever I start to get a bit grumpy at hubby (men!) for loving women I remember 1. How gorgeous we are! and 2. our beloved Prophet sallahu alayhi wassalam said, ‘I was made to like women and perfume, and the comfort of my eye is the prayer.’ So if you hate this quality in men, then remember the Prophet was also a man.

  7. [cont]

    Sorry, that was a really long comment!

    Subhanaka allahumma wa bihamdika, ash hadu an la ilaha illa anta, astaghfiruka wa atoobu ilayk.

  8. Sis Ayah, salam alaykum, I just saw your comment and I certainly do think that we should all respect another's situation and not judge, that's for sure! With any difficult situation we should always advise one another to be patient and try to deal with it...why should the advice be any different if the person is faced with polygyny?

    I certainly agree that we shouldn't be made to stay in a marriage that causes one absolute and utter pain. If a woman truly can't handle it, Allah will not test her with that and will make a way out for her (maybe the marriage had become something bad for her and this was her 'way out' Allahu 'alim) , this we know as it is a promise from Allah not to be tested with more than we can bear. I also believe that if a person is patient (i.e. perhaps not saying things like, 'Not over my dead body, he's not'), before 'The Situation' even if they are able to handle it Allah may, in His infinite wisdom, not give a polygynous marriage to a woman as her reward. Allah knows best of course! It's also quite possible that a woman's feelings may change towards her husband after he marries again and she may not love him anymore, and she might ask for divorce or khula because of this. And (correct me if I'm wrong) as far as I know there is nothing against Islam to do so. And it's not for anyone to scold her or look down on her for doing so! But forgive me for playing devil's advocate, but do we ever stop to consider that not having more than one wife could be causing a man indescribable and absolute pain? Do we ever think about how they feel? I'm not a man, of course, but we can't judge them by how *we* feel...

  9. Ahluul, Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

    Mashaa'Allah, jazaaki Allahu khayran, wa barak Allahu feeki! All you wrote was nothing short of excellent, mashaa'Allah. When we step back and keep Allah's protection over our thoughts, things simply are what they are, and that's just fine.

    May many others benefit from what you wrote and may it elevate your ranks in Jennah al firdaus greatly - ameen.

  10. Keep in mind that the condition of women in society has changed drastically throughout the centuries. At the time when the ayaat on Islamic polygamy were revealed, women were generally regarded as less than nothing and had no rights or power. Women married to Muslim men at that time, were FAR better off compared to non-Muslim women, in terms of their treatment, their rights and the fact that their husbands were limited to only four and had to be fair with time and financial support. This is completely different to contemporary society where women are far more independent and have more options in life. I asked an Egyptian shaykh here's wife about polygamy back home and she told me that if the woman is from a wealthy family or if she has grown sons to support her, she may very well leave her husband. But as most women are dependent on their husbands for their livelihood, they end up accepting it. Importantly, because the majority of women end up accepting polygamy, it becomes 'normalized'. In other words, when your husband announces his attention, you already know of an aunt, a neighbour ,your cousin who are all part of a polygamous marriage, so you don't feel like you're the only woman in the world who this has happened to. I think this is a very important point and illustrates why blogs like Mai's are so crucial to make women in this situation feel like they are not alone. Especially those from a Western background where (succesful - i.e. no divorce) polygamy is very, very rare.

  11. Ayah, As salaamu alaykum!

    I am the first person to promote monogamy and to remind everyone that the Prophet, salla Allahu wa sallam, was married to Khadija, radhi Allahu anha, for over 20 years exclusively. Not only that, she was always in his heart and Aisha, radhi Allahu anha, was jealous of Khadijah although she was no longer alive! There is no crime in monogamy, or wanting it.

    However, if Allah gives you "more" then here's where we don't promote walking away. It's true that I don't address the other route - divorce. It isn't that it isn't an option, or that sisters that ultimately end up divorced are bad. I never said that. The reason I don't include that statement in my posts is because it is the first thing women seem to think of. Rather than run from Allah's decree, I try to focus on the aspect of running TO His decree and seeking the reason he sent it.

    Sometimes polygyny it is such an exposer of wrongs, oppression, and unbalance that it does result in divorce. But frankly, if we "polygyny blog people" promote divorce, aren't we simply telling others to reject Allah's tests and walk away instead of having tawakkal? Some people will walk anyway. Some people will have tawakkal and still end up divorced. However, as your fellow Muslimah, the only thing I can safely to is tell you to have complete trust and reliance on your Creator and believe that His Plan is Perfect. Where that takes you is then in Allah's hands.

    Much of the problem WITH polygyny is because we don't accept it as Allah's Will...but the Haqq is Qadr Allah, mashaa fa'al - Allah is controlling it all and He does as He Wills.

  12. As for likening women to possessions as Ahluuul mentioned. (Sorry if this is obscene but) I noticed in my Arabic dictionary that the word for 'vulva' (bid'a) has the same root as the word for 'piece of meat' and the word for 'commodity'. (I am not making this up.) It is also related to the word for 'cutting off, amputating' which exactly is the same word for 'sleeping with a woman' and 'making a business investment'. I am not a native speaker of Arabic so maybe one of the Arab ladies can say whether these words are widely used or not. What I can say though, if this is the case, it really does begin to explain to me why Arab men seem to like 'acquiring' wives and why the dowries of Arab women are so high...... (I have the Hans Wehr hardcover, page 62)

  13. My dear Umm Shudah,

    Hang on to those saner moments, LOL! And, truthfully, it is a beautiful thing that you are helping your husband see this from other aspects. What does that do ultimately? Benefit you and your own family because he, in having a clearer idea of the criteria he must set, will inshaa'Allah, be sent someone who will be a blessing to you all. These are things that you have...his trust and value of your advice. Allah is the give from your heart and when advice is sought, give it.

    "Is there any reward for good, but good?" Ar-Rahman.

    No, nothing but rewards multiplied!

  14. Umm Azeeza,

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran! Why would we even question the likening of women to possessions? It is clearly written in the Quran,
    (Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, vaulted hoards of gold...) [3:14].

    Allah told us!

    Something interesting, that keeps flitting in and out of my mind when it comes to these various issues is this. If Allah tells us we cannot believe without Him sending us tests, and tells us that this life is a prison of tests and trials for the believer, then why are we constantly surprised at those tests? If we weren't created with these differences and if these issues didn't exist, where would the tests be? It is the different nature of men and women, along with their imperfections, that makes many of the tests possible.

  15. Salllamm Everyone:) Couple of comments. I LOVE THE QUOTE AHUUL!! loool Women are like teabags...Mashallah Sister!! You put a smile on my face. Thats my new messenger quote.. ;)

    @Ayah... Love your name.. That is my Muslim name :) I dont hear it often so I had to comment.

    I love all the comments. You ladies know exactly what to say and it always makes me stop to think about how I handle my own situation...Thank you! :)

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  18. Did I say something bad? LOOOL I come back and two post have been removed...Uhhh Ohh...

  19. LOL, Daisy you are too funny!
    Someone posted a comment here for my husband's blog, because she couldn't post on his. I responded that I'd posted it for her and that the problem with his blog was fixed...then deleted them as they weren't anything to do with this post.

    Don't worry, it's not you...we are loving and appreciating our lovely flower, mashaa'Allah!

  20. Masha Allah! This was a nice post and the comments are even better. I love the quote "women are like teabags...............

  21. As-salaam ailekum sisters! Loved the comment: 'A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water". I'm in pretty much hot water now...but reading your comments is like adding mint and honey to the cup. Msha'llah! Jasak'allah Khair to you all.

  22. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Anna Aysha. Welcome to the tea party!

    Mashaa'Allah, I'm glad we're all helping make that hot water soothing and pleasant. Hot water is very purifying... Inshaa'Allah, you'll come out of it as fresh as a spring morning - ameen.

  23. Salaams, I guess I will have to agree with Ayah on this one here. Yes most husbands dont laugh if your are crying and rejoice knowing that they are hurting you. BUT, they know polygamy is and often heart breaking for the first wife, and still do it. They value their own desires over the happiness, of their wife. And expect the wife to roll with the punches and "accept Allah's decree" . I have a big problem with this. In some situations where the first wife seeks a second in order to have a larger family this is beautiful. However most instances polygamy is forced on the first wife and over an extended period of pain she must "accept it" or peace out. There is pain with polygamy. Whether the husband acknowledges it or not. It has nothing to do with not looking at the big picture. Its the mere fact that women are emotional creatures and love deeply. To wait years to finally find "the one." the so called love of your life. And then to have your heart ripped out your chest when he decides to remarry is ALOT of pain. There is a "new normal" the wife has to adjust to. Her old marriage is now dead and gone, and she must find a new way to love him. So much changes. Not trying to be Debbie downer just keeping it real. Its nothing wrong to admit that it hurts, whether its decreed or not.

  24. Mai, You seem to be a person who takes life's lemons and makes lemonade out of them trying to use a recipe you believe is from God. I suspect, from my life's experiences and from reading between the lines, that you have tasted the bitter and sour taste of those lemons quite a bit before you learned to make lemonade. Or are you one of the lucky ones who has had a lemonade recipe all along?

  25. @Jaiyana, I'm not saying it doesn't hurt, or that men don't proceed regardless of the hurt, I'm just saying that it isn't their intention and it's really from Allah. He controls the actors, He controls the play. There is a reason why the woman has to adjust to a new normal...and just as with everything else in our life, we sometimes don't see it until later on when we look back at a situation. I cannot tell you how many times life-shattering things have come along for me, and every one of them I can now look back and say, "Aha! I see the value in it. I see where Allah took me with that. I see how it helped me get to where I am now." It hurts, yes, but it's still Allah sent and it's still a blessing, even if a hidden one to you at the time.

  26. CM, were you reading my Love your Lemons post, LOL?

    Well, to answer your question, I have had many difficult times, life changing events, and many people who acted according to their own agenda and hurt others and themselves in the process. I don't mean in my married relationship only, I mean since a child, starting with my parents and proceeding on from there.

    Allah gave me something which has gotten me through, not when I came to Islam but from as far back as I can remember. He gave me, deep in my heart and mind, the sure knowledge that everything was part of His Plan, everything happens for a reason, and even if I cannot see the reason at the time, I will see it eventually and understand the benefit in it. Even my parents reinforced this concept for me.
    With that knowledge as a surety, it isn't natural for me to just sit and stop my life, thinking everything is sour and I'm not moving on. I just keep on other words, make my lemonade and wait, if necessary, to taste the sweetness. I think that innately I have always understood that the One who created me, ultimately has the Perfect Plan for me.

    People have disappointed me, because I had expectations of them that they didn't meet. After years and years, I finally realized that they aren't here to meet my expectations! Just as I act and believe according to my own convictions and agenda, so does everyone else. The expectations, the benchmark that must be the measure of success, is the one set by God. For us as Muslims, is clearly laid out in the Quran and Ahadith, so we have no excuse. When people don't meet those benchmarks, they hurt themselves. Yes, it hurts those around them who love them and don't want to see them do wrong, but ultimately it's between them and God. It isn't mine...I don't own it. I only own me and what I do.

    So, even in tasting the sourness of the lemons somehow I guess I've always had the recipe...because it is inside me. However, as I've grown, the recipe and repertoire of other uses for the lemons has developed into something extensive. I must also add that there is no single event in my life where my lemons haven't ended up as beautiful and beneficial fruit in my life.

    Thanks, CM. I really appreciate your questions!

  27. Salaam Alaikum dear Mai,

    Beautiful post as always, mashaAllah! What a great example you gave comparing men who take multiple wives to couples who have multiple children. I never looked at it that way but alhamdulillah it makes perfect sense. InshaAllah I will use that example when explaining polygamy to others =)

  28. I have a dear friend who is a lot like you as far as making lemonade goes! When I first met her I thought she was fake, in that she always seemed so together. I didn't believe that people could be as perfect as she presented herself. As I got to know her better and she opened up more to me, I saw that she was not perfect and that she did indeed, very often "pucker", before she "made the lemonade". I was able to learn (and I am still learning) a great deal from her, but only after and because I saw that she was human too. lol Seemingly perfect people can be very intimidating, at least to me.

    I know you and your husband are trying to share what you have learned from your own experiences in order to help others. But sometimes I wonder - doesn't she ever shed tears, doesn't she ever get mad, wouldn't she like to smack him about now. lol I know there is absolutely no use in dwelling on negative emotions, but sometimes I think at least mentioning that you have them helps others see that you are real.

    I hope you both will continue to keep your blogs inspiring and uplifting, but I do wish that you would sometimes show that you do indeed occasionally pucker. lol Not in a complaining way (which I know is not your style), but in a way that shows the lemon, the initial pucker, and then how you take it and turn it into lemonade. Or in some cases - how the lemonade doesn't taste so good causing you to pucker again, which makes you have to start over trying a different recipe.

    Just a thought! :)

  29. CM: In my post, "When Things go Wrong in Polygyny" I think I made it clear that although I came through it all, I most certainly did "pucker." I made my dua' in tears and desperation. As you will know from my husband's blog, that marriage that started for all the wrong reasons was the biggest obstacle we have faced. I actually shouted at him once and flipped out. That was my big drama, lol.

    My struggles are usually internal...and they don't become external until I've managed to get a good perspective. I suppose my puckering is on my prayer rug...where it gets transformed. Sometimes I think if I get too far into my lemonade recipe development, it will not be understood, but I'll take your words under advisement. :D

  30. I understand what you are saying about getting too far into the recipe development and that is a good point! Also your comment - that your struggles are usually internal and don't become external until you have managed to get a good perspective - explains a lot to me about how you manage to handle things so well. You have been blessed with a lot of patience and wisdom! Keep sharing that wisdom, because your perspective is fresh and and a real rarity!