I’ve requested a few times for muslim sisters in polygamous marriages to approach me for an interview. I was delighted when I received an email from this sister and learned more about her story. Formerly a single mother and with no intentions of entering into a marriage like this she has become a gracious and beloved second wife to a brother who, from what I’m told, is doing his utmost to do it right and according to the example of the Prophet peace be upon him. Please read their story with an open mind and keep the discussion respectful.
Note about language: We have used the word ‘Polygyny‘ throughout the article because it more accurately describes the Islamic practice which is the allowance of more than one Wife but not more than one Husband (Polygamy on the other hand describes plural marriage of any kind) Also the sister (who will remain anonymous) has used several arabic-islamic words and phrases, I have translated most of them and intend to make a glossary of words for our readers that are not familiar with arabic-islamic terminology.
First jazaki Allahu khairun (may Allah reward you) for approaching me and sharing this intimate part of your life with our readers. Let’s start at the beginning, how did you come to be a second wife? Was it something you sought out or did your husband approach you?
As-Salam Alaikum. First I want to say that I am very pleased to have an interview with you about polygyny. Well, for this question, it will be a little hard to answer. The fact is that I was very much interested in him, but showed no sign. On the other hand, I am assuming he was not interested in me, or he was playing the same game and showed no sign. But, the fact was that there was a rumor that he refuses to marry anyone else who tried to because he was content with one wife. So, I just felt as a little girl with a crush which was eventually going to disappear.
One day, there was a misunderstanding in a statement I made, he took it the wrong way because that was just his desire (miraculously). I knew then he liked me back, so I suggested he goes to my Wali (male guardian) and he did the next day.
A lot of sisters question the husbands motives for marrying more than one wife. Without wanting to delve into anything too personal, what were the circumstances that led your husband to marry again?
Well, one thing I know is that he was very careful and didn’t want to marry for the wrong reasons and turned down many offers. So, to my understanding, I am assuming that children was one of the strongest issue. He has been married to his first wife for 6 years whom is older then him and they have no children and from how he is known in the community, he adores children and children adores him.
Still many sisters question the motives of a second wife, some sisters have even harshly compared second wives to mistresses. What do you have to say to those sisters?
My immediate response is to be careful what comes out of their mouths, they will be questioned about it. This is Islam. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) made it permissible. But, I strongly believe one of the reasons for such ignorance is the way some brothers go about doing it. The secrecy, the lies and deceit. Unfortunately, some of our Muslim brothers act like the people in Jahilliyah (the time of ignorance before Islam) What I mean by that, they would hide their second marriage, they would give the first wife more time and more money etc… Then, hey, what else can you call that? Alhamdullillah, I am known to be as special to my husband as his first wife is. I am no secret, he pays my rent just like he pays hers. So, my sisters, just get a brother who fears Allah to not go through feeling like a mistress.
From your point of view how do you think your husbands first wife dealt with your marriage?
Hummm!!! You see, my husband does not discuss it much. But what he did tell me once is that she was not too happy at first and refused to talk to me when I asked my husband to talk to her. I had a conversation with him on how it is his duty to make her feel secure and loved. He never really discussed that anymore and I never asked him either. What assured me that she is not ready to have a friendship with me is that she had a nice and respectful conversation with me once but extremely brief. But her niece who comes to the Masjid pretty often shows nothing but love and kindness towards me, offers me food and hugs. I also met her sister last week who was very nice to me as well.
You’ve talked a bit about how you see your co-wife to me before and I admired what you said, how do you feel about your co-wife and what efforts have you made to reach out to her?
Like I said, at first, before we even got married, I asked if I can talk to her and her answer was no, and that she doesn’t need to talk to me. After we got married, I kept insisting to my husband. He said its best to wait for the right time, maybe when she moves to the USA.
Before my husband left to visit her overseas, I insisted on sending her money and gifts because the Prophet(sallallahu aleihi wa salam) said gift giving draws hearts together. And I did. When my husband got there, I called her cell cause my husband gave it to me for emergencies until he gets his own cell phone. She answered. She was very brief but polite like I stated earlier.
Honestly, I was hurt. Very hurt. I wanted a relationship with her, but I guess she is not allowing it or is not ready yet. I am giving up trying and maybe it will get better when she comes to the States inshaAllah (God Willing)
What were your own views and feelings on polygany before your marriage and how have they changed since?
At the beginning, I swore by Allah I would never be involved in Polygyny. All the sisters and my wali knew how firm I was about that. It happened, I don’t know why. Now, I can say that my view is a little different. If your husband is fair and everyone involved fears Allah and won’t abuse the other one regardless of the jealousy that might occur, then it is perfect. This funny thoughts come to me sometimes, (smile), that he is a real man for being able to deal with 2 women, this makes me have a lot of respect for him.
There is plenty of benefits in it. I mean, if there is a reason for it, like if a wife can’t have kids, or if a sister is old and don’t have a husband or if a sister went through some kind of crisis and needs to have a husband etc…, then I am for it. I am against it only when brothers do it for the wrong reason. When they don’t do it fisabilllah (for the sake of Allah) When they do it only just because this sister looks good (but doesn’t have Taqwa (God-consciousness)).
What are your views on the roles and duties of a husband with multiple wives?
Simple- Equal financial treatment, equal time. The husband must also be able to fulfill the sexual desire of all his wives, not ever compare them (that would be an immense mistake) and not allow disrespect between them. The heart is a different issue. You cant help who you love more even though most women wish to win first place.
Again without wanting to ask too personal of a question, I understand your co-wife is in another country at the moment and your husband divides his time as best he can. What steps does your husband take to remain fair between his wives and keep things peaceful? How do you think this will change when you are living close by?
He is trying his best. He visits her for 3 months out of the year and she is in the process of moving to the States inshaAllah. He contacts her pretty often, not that he tells me, but women are smart. And also, because he contacts me 26 days out of 30 when he visits her. He would love to have total equal time, but for now, its just not possible financially.
I really don’t care about how it will be when she moves here, the most important thing is that she makes it here so she can get as much time as I am getting. I know my husband will not make us feel any different inshAllah, he is just a good man, a true blessing from Allah. More jealousy may occur between me and her, but I know we will not harm each other. I am not too worried about that.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing polygynous families and how has your family dealt with these issues?
Each family has their own issue. I am not sure on how I would describe that. But for his family, they love me and the ones who know her loves me and her. They are truly special and caring people. Even though his mom is not 100% in love with polygyny due to her own experience, but it is coming along fine. His dad loves me.
On my family side, they are really all Christians, and Allah knows Best about my mom. She took her Shahada(declaration of faith) but does not practice. My brother’s fiancee, I told. She had no problem with it. My brother overheard a Muslim brother say that to my husband on our walimah (wedding party), he really doesn’t care either. My mother was just digging to find out what was wrong with him since in her opinion all men are dogs, asked me the question once, and of course I could not lie. I switched the subject, went to the bathroom and came back to face the same question again. After her speech, entitled, “she knew something was wrong with him and that he could not be that nice”, I explained to her that I was the one keeping it a secret and that my husband actually wanted to tell them and he really did. Now, she loves him and they probably call and text each other more then once a day even with her limitation in English. So, it worked out fine.
You mentioned jealousy to me earlier, did you know that Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) was jealous of Khadija (Allah be please with her) because she was always the most beloved to The Prophet (peace be upon him) even after her death? Jealousy is normal I am sure, a tool of shaitan (the devil) perhaps. How do you cope with it and keep it from affecting you?
(Laughing out loud). I remind myself that I have no reason to feel jealous. He gives me no reason. It just drives me crazy to think sometimes that he doesn’t love me more then her just cause my mind tells me so. I want him to love me more and out of the blue one day, he was laughing and telling me he realized all women want to be loved more after coming from visiting her. This made me think that she is feeling the same way. Its pretty funny at times. But, what counts, he is a very nice person. He really loves my boys. He blushes when I tell him the boys say they love him. He loved them before I even imagined we were going to get married. He listens to me and cares when I am hurt. I never had that before. Right now, I am 6 months pregnant with his first child and he is very supportive and loving. He calls me precious and he once said that I am his diamond and he has to take care of it. What else do I need? Hearing that, and being treated like that, he can even love her more if he would like (smile).
MashaAllah that is wonderful! How do you think you would react to your husband taking a 3rd wife? What lessons from being a second wife do you think you could apply to that if ever faced with it?
I would NOT be happy if he takes another wife in the future. I think he should be satisfied cause I am having his kids since she couldn’t yet, so he should be satisfied. (Laughing out loud). Wrong, but that is how I feel and he laughs every time I say it by replying that I am doing the same thing his 1st wife was doing but he is not thinking about that, and Allah knows Best. But if it happens, I will respect her as I want to be respected by my co-wife and I will be patient inshaAllah but I would not encourage him at all in this matter.
There is so much I’m sure our readers would like to know, I hope I’ve asked at least some of the right questions. What advice do you have for women who may be entering into a polygynous marriage?
Do not enter a marriage thinking that you are going to take over. Its wrong. Respect your co-wife regardless how jealous you get. Be very sensitive towards her/them. Treat your husband well and most importantly, be Patient. Verily, Allah (SWT) loves the patient and we all want Allah to love us.
Any advice for first wives and husbands considering a second wife?
Depend on the situation. If you have a good marriage and he is fair, be patient and don’t assume that he doesn’t love you. There may be a reason fisabillillah (for the sake of Allah) he is doing it. Talk to him about how you feel. Remember this world is temporary and Allah tests us all the time. Be patient. Your husband may even love you more then you can imagine.
Finally, What would you like our readers to know about your situation and others like it? What misconceptions are out there that you’d like to address?
I want everyone to know that I have never been happier with a man before. He is truly a blessing from Allah and I can’t believe I found it in polygyny. There are a lot of misconceptions, it depends on the individuals involved. If you are doing the right thing, then it helps erase misconceptions. Mistresses don’t get equal time, mistresses are not known to everyone. Islam stops all these things that put a woman down. The Prophet’s (saw) wives were treated all equally even though he loved Aisha (ra) more. And if we claim we follow Islam, we must try our best to follow his Sunnah. Stop the deceitful things.
Source: Interview with a Second Wife