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9510Marriage News: Muslim clerics to boycott marriage of drunkards, dowry seekers

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  • Zafar Khan
    Jan 19 4:13 AM
      Muslim clerics to boycott marriage of drunkards, dowry seekers
      Press Trust of India | Biharsharif (Bihar) January 14, 2014 Last Updated at 15:21 IST

      http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/muslim-clerics-to-boycott-marriage-of-drunkards-dowry-seekers-114011400498_1.html

      Drunkards and dowry seekers in eastern states will find it difficult to get their marriage solemnised with a group of Muslim clerics deciding to boycott such people.

      The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of clerics called here by Kazi Maulana Mansoor Alam, chief of "Darul-Qaza", a district unit of Imarat-e-Shariah, which regulates religious activities of Muslims in Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.

      Giving details of the deliberations held last week, Alam told PTI that the decision was an attempt to fight social evils like dowry and liquor which are prohibited in Islam.

      The clerics have decided to launch a campaign in Nalanda district to appeal to Imams of local mosques to join them and keep away from performing marriage ceremony of individuals in the habit of drinking liquor and seeking dowry, he said.

      Nalanda, home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has a sizable population of Muslims.

      He said the decision was in tune with tenets of the holy Quran which prohibits consumption of liquor and terms taking or giving dowry as "haram" (unlawful).

      Alam lamented that there was an increase in dowry-related cases and alcohol consumption particularly among youths of the community and said the clerics felt there was an urgent need to prevent such vices.

      They emphasised that Muslim marriage should be performed in accordance with "Shariyat".
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      The Philosophy of Marriage in Islam

      http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-the-scholar/family/marriage/174518-the-philosophy-of-marriage-in-islam.html
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      Does Islam Allow Courtship Before Marriage?

      http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-the-scholar/morals-and-manners/social-manners/relationship-between-sexes/467537-is-courtship-before-marriage-allowed-in-islam.html
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      Polygyny: Is It Fair?
      By Aishah Schwartz
      American Writer, Activist & Photojournalist

      http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/living-islam/islam-day-to-day/family/466713-polygyny-is-it-fair.html

      "My husband has taken a second wife!

      La Hawla Wa La Quwwata illah Billah(1)" the first wife sobs uncontrollably.


      It's the end of life as she has known it; her perfect world.


      Or is this how Muslim women react because of the negative stigma associated with polygyny in societies and cultures that over-romanticize monogamy – causing us to lose sight of the beauty of Islam and its teachings?

      Let us pause to reflect on the greater good, rather than what society has us believe is the greater evil.


      What Is Polygyny – or Is It Polygamy?


      By definition Polygyny is a marriage in which a man is allowed more than one wife. It is one of the three forms of polygamy (plural marriage).

      The other two forms of polygamy being: polyandry – wherein a woman has multiple simultaneous husbands; or group marriage – wherein the family unit consists of multiple husbands and multiple wives.

      In fact, most human societies practice some form of polygynous marriages. According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of the 1,231 societies under study, 186 were monogamous, 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry. Therefore, the view of polygyny as immoral is based upon a particular cultural norm that is not a universally recognized majority.

      On the other hand, we have the West's monogamy, inherited from Greece and Rome where men were restricted by law to one wife but were free to have as many mistresses among the majority slave population as they wished.

      In the West today, most married men have extramarital relations with mistresses, girlfriends and prostitutes. In the United States it is reported that nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce, one of the top five reasons being infidelity. And a 500-page survey, compiled by the European Union's Eurostat statistical office in Luxembourg revealed earlier this year that Britain has the highest divorce rate in the EU.

      Consequently, the Western claim to monogamy is false.

      Why Polygyny?

      If Allah Almighty is good and wishes good for His creatures, why did He legislate polygyny? Something which would be deemed unacceptable by society or as harmful to most women, who are so easily disposed to jealousy and envy, afflictions otherwise known as the wolf behind the door.

      And yet, the un-recanted legislation lives through the Quran, the guide of Muslims in their walk through this life (dunya):

      {And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls(2), then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].} (An-Nisa' 4:3)

      As Dr. Bilal Philips explains: "Divine legislation looks at the society as a whole seeking to maximize benefit. If a particular legislation benefits the majority of the society and causes some emotional harm to a minority, the general welfare of society is given precedence."

      Welfare of Society

      Many have argued that polygyny is not applicable in present day society, citing that the original ruling was delivered in 625 A.D. directly after the Battle of Uhud, the devastation of which resulted in a need to accommodate for an excessive number of orphaned children and widowed women left without support.

      In present times, there is a disparity in the number of women vs. men converting to Islam, and subsequently these women are taught that they can only marry Muslim men. So, while we are busy calling non-believers to Islam, are we thinking about who will marry the female converts?

      In the UK it is reported that the decline in available husbands has become such a problem it is now referred to as the 'Muslim spinster crisis'.

      Remembering that polygyny is a form of polygamy, Dr. Amna Nosseir, Professor of Theology at Al-Azhar University, said that polygamy was indeed prevalent in the Arabian Peninsula in the pre-Islamic era, yet with the advent of Islam it became subjected to several restrictions.

      "Before Islam, a man could have an unlimited number of wives and without any moral restrictions," she said. "Islam sanctioned it under specific circumstances and in accordance with a set of regulations."

      Nosseir added that the problems arising from polygamy are not related to the law itself, but rather to misapplication.

      "[Some] men resort to polygamy when it is unnecessary and without being fair to the women they marry." This is, sadly, undeniably true.

      Regulations of Polygyny

      Today polygyny is seen as an exception rather than a rule, and indeed, this is true, as it takes an exceptional man to navigate its oftentimes tumultuous waters.

      But the Quran and Sunnah do not leave men ill-equipped when making a decision toward polygyny, or in demonstrating how to enjoin women in understanding what is best.

      {And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.} (Al-Baqarah 2:216)

      Very specific guidelines for polygyny are set out in the Quran and are cited as follows:

      1 – Justice or Fairness (3)

      Allah says: {…but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one.} (An-Nisa' 4:3)

      This verse (ayah) indicates that just treatment is a condition for plural marriage to be permitted. If a man is afraid that he will not be able to treat his wives justly if he marries more than one, then it is forbidden for him to marry more than one.

      What is meant by the justice that is required in order for a man to be permitted to have more than one wife is that he should treat his wives equally in terms of spending, clothing, conjugal relations, or other material things that are under his control.

      With regard to justice or fairness in terms of love, he is not held accountable for that, and that is not required of him because he has no control over that. This is what is meant by the verse , {You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire.} (An-Nisa' 4:129)

      2 – The Ability to Spend on One's Wives

      The evidence for this condition is the verse: {And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His Bounty.} (An-Nur 24:33)

      In this verse, Allah Almighty commands those who are able to get married but cannot find the financial means, to remain chaste. One such example is not having enough money to pay the mahr (dowry) and not being able to spend on one's wife. (Al-Mufassal fi Ahkaam al-Mar'ah, part 6, p. 286)

      And in support of understanding between co-wives (from hadith):

      Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

      "The wives of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) sent Fatima, the daughter of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him). She sought permission to get in as he had been lying with me in my mantle. He gave her permission and she said: Allah's Messenger, verily, your wives have sent me to you in order to ask you to observe equity in case of the daughter of Abu Quhafa. She (Aisha) said:

      “I kept quiet”

      Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to her (Fatima):

      “O daughter, don't you love whom I love? She said: Yes, (I do). Thereupon he said: I love this one." (Al-Bukhari, 755)

      Management of Polygyny

      There are so many variables to consider in striving for success in any relationship, but polygyny, of course, makes a marriage all the more challenging. For sure it is not for those that are weak of heart. In fact, it takes brave hearts.

      Spouses not only have to know themselves, they have to also be open to knowing and trying to understand the man they've married, as well as understanding one another as co-wives.

      Many of the sisters I engaged with over the past few weeks during my investigation into polygyny, offered suggestions on how to get along with a co-wife.

      One co-wife wrote to me saying: "First and foremost, remember that any co-wife or potential co-wife is your sister in Islam and already has rights from you. Don't hate the sister, thinking if it wasn't for her your husband wouldn't be remarried; he probably would, just to a different sister."

      Another co-wife suggested, if possible, engaging a co-wife in conversation to learn about one another's likes/dislikes, pet peeves, hobbies, habits, etc., so that each has an idea of the other sister's personality. This is an exercise that can help prevent misunderstandings based on assumptions that oftentimes leap to a woman's mind whenever she thinks she understands something that, in fact, she doesn't.

      "Keep a no bedroom-talk, no problem sharing rule. It is so easy to get carried away with this one, but I really don't think either wife needs to invite fitnah into their inter-personal relationship. Setting boundaries is good for everyone," suggested another co-wife.

      My thought is this: Don't hate your co-wife for what you fear her presence in your husband's life will do; love her for the sake of Allah and what you can achieve together for His sake – and the sake of the man you both love.

      Let us not dismiss the fact that the nature of the husband is also a factor in polygyny. Patience, compassion and understanding are essential to a man's success in managing his professional and personal life – and ensuring that peace and harmony reigns in his marriages.

      Yes, things can get complicated – another chapter by itself – but what is there about life in general that isn't complicated?

      It's important that we monitor our intentions, strive to follow through – pray, pray, and then pray some more – believing always that Allah knows best, and knowing that not every polygynous marriage ends in disaster.

      Divine Revelation of Choice

      Readers may be saying aloud: "I hear everything you are saying. Maybe I agree; maybe not. But what are my options? Do I have a choice in the matter? If my husband takes a second wife should I ask to be divorced?"

      Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said:

      “When the Divine Revelation of Choice was revealed, the Prophet started with me, saying to me:

      “I am telling you something, but you needn't hurry to give the reply till you can consult your parents."

      The Prophet said that Allah had said: {O Prophet! Say To your wives; If you desire the life of this world and its glitter... then come! I will make a provision for you and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek Allah and His Apostle, and The Home of the Hereafter, then Verily, Allah has prepared for the good-doers amongst you a great reward.} (33:28)

      Aisha said:

      “Am I to consult my parents about this? I indeed prefer Allah, His Apostle, and the Home of the Hereafter.' After that the Prophet gave the choice to his other wives and they also gave the same reply as Aisha did." Aisha knew that her parents would not advise her to part with the Prophet. (Al-Bukhari, 308)

      The wise husband said: "Under no circumstances am I going to abandon either of my wives. Each of them plays an important part in my life."

      The Irony

      While Western societies tout monogamy as the only form of legal marriage, anthropologists(4) also treat serial monogamy, in which divorce and remarriage occur, as a form of polygamy.

      How?

      Serial monogamy establishes a series of households that continue to be tied by shared paternity and shared income.
      Divorced or not ladies, the polygynous husband will remain married; to one or more of you, so think wisely before making your choice.

      The irony is that, the wife seeking divorce falls into the category of serial monogamy; unwittingly remaining in a form of polygamy.

      Let us pause then to reconsider – isn't polygyny fair?

      How Muslims practice polygyny is another story.

      Read Part 1 - http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/living-islam/islam-day-to-day/family/467513-polygyny-what-was-i-thinking-part1.html
      Read Part 2 - http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/living-islam/islam-day-to-day/family/467585-polygyny-utah-legitimacy-a-change-.html
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      Mass wedding to promote Islam in Nigeria
      Published: 3:11PM Saturday December 21, 2013 Source: AP

      http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/mass-wedding-promote-islam-in-nigeria-5784153

      Islamic religious authorities married 1,111 couples at a mass wedding aimed at combating rising rates of divorce, births out of wedlock, and the number of impoverished widows and divorcees forced to make a living on the streets in Muslim northern Nigeria.

      Thursday's wedding in Kano city comes as the Hisbah Board responsible for Shariah law has been clamping down. Thousands have been arrested in recent months for improper dress, selling alcohol, prostitution and indecent mixing of the sexes. At one recent ceremony, a bulldozer crushed 240,000 bottles of beer.

      "The high rate of divorce is a worrisome situation resulting in adultery, prostitution and the births of children out of wedlock, and has become dangerous to society," Deputy Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje said at the ceremony at the main mosque of Kano, Nigeria's second city.

      It is not clear if the stronger implementation of Shariah is connected to charges by extremists waging an Islamic uprising centered in northeastern Nigeria that northern governments are failing to enforce the law.

      Kano has had several terrorist attacks, most recently multiple bombings planted around bars serving alcohol in the city's Christian quarter that killed at least 24 people in July (before alcohol sales were banned). Last year, an assassination attempt on the emir of Kano, a revered Muslim leader who has spoken out against extremism, killed his driver and three bodyguards. And nine women in a polio vaccination drive were executed in drive-by shootings.

      The mass marriages also are seen as a way of wedding bachelors who cannot afford the cost of an individual marriage and may resort to prostitutes. Millions of young Nigerians cannot afford the dowries required by customs for both Christians and Muslims, as well as the costs of many gifts and ceremonies leading up to a marriage.

      "Poverty is the major setback to people getting married, while divorce is becoming rampant," said Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, commandant general of Kano's Hisbah board. There are no figures on divorces, but some analysts say as many as 50 percent of marriages in northern Nigeria end in divorce.

      There were calls at the ceremony for laws to make divorce more difficult, though it was unclear how that would line up with Shariah law that allows a man to divorce his wife simply by saying three times "I divorce you."

      Grooms married at the mass ceremonies are not allowed to divorce without the permission of the Hisbah, and then they can be subjected to a fine of 50,000 naira ($313).

      While most marry happily, and officials match-make with a choice of partners for those who don't already have one, some are given little choice.

      Arrested prostitutes are given a choice of joining in a mass wedding or going to jail.

      "If our operatives (the religious police) arrest prostitutes, we normally give them an option to marry," said Aisha Atiku, planning director of the Hisbah board. "If they agree, we will include them. But if they disagree, we cannot force them (into marriage)."

      Thirty-five willing participants were barred from Thursday's ceremony because they were found to be pregnant or infected with the HIV/AIDS virus, officials said.

      Divorced or widowed women in northern Nigeria often are left destitute, thrown out of their homes by the husband or his family members, and sometimes even lose custody of their children, according to Dorothy Aken'Ova, a human rights advocate in Minna, in central Nigeria.

      Her International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights has gone to court to help widows reclaim their children and goods. But she said that most women do not know their rights, and often Islamic law is adulterated with traditional practices that favour men.

      Many of the destitute women are forced to prostitute themselves or beg on the street. Also Thursday, Kano's government banned street-begging.

      For the mass wedding, the state government paid a token dowry of 10,000 naira (about $65) for each bride and gave them household utensils. Grooms were given white brocade robes for the ceremony topped by scarlet hats, with brides in matching red outfits.

      Some 4,461 couples have been wedded en masse in the past 18 months, Ganduje said.
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      Thai Muslims Marry Eloping Couples
      OnIslam & Newspapers
      Monday, 06 January 2014 00:00

      http://www.onislam.net/english/news/asia-pacific/467823-thai-muslims-marry-eloping-couples.html

      CAIRO – Breaking family restrictions, hundreds of Malaysian couples are eloping to tie the knot in Thailand, tapping into lenient marriage conditions in the Southeast Asian country.

      “The marriage procedures are more lenient in Thailand, compared with Malaysia.” Zaleha, working for one of Kelantan's marriage agents, told the Daily Express on Monday, January 6.

      Several agents in the north-east Malaysian state of Kelantan have been offering Muslim couples a rare service which allows them to elope and get married in Thailand.

      Thailand choice was more related to lenient marriage rules in the country, much different from the Malaysian which conditions the approval of their families for females, and the consent of the first wife for males.

      With more than 100 marriage certificates, marriage in Thailand coasts Malaysia's eloping couples about RM9M ($2,740,000) per month, according to one of the marriage agents.

      Each couple pays nearly RM3000 to the agent to help them to certify their marriage. The payments include coordination with the Islamic councils in provinces like Narathiwat in southern.

      “Our expenses to take a couple to Thailand come up to about RM450 and this includes the fee to obtain the official marriage certificate from the council,” Zaleha said.

      “We ensure receiving marriage certificates on the same day, which is frequently demanded by my clients,” Zaleha said.

      Zaliha has also asserted the efficiency of the agents services claiming that she has a close ties with Tai officials at the council.

      The agents' marriage program includes returning trips for the couples.

      “Besides, most couples do not want to stay longer than required after tying the knot, otherwise they would have to spend more on hotel and food bills.” Zaliha explained.

      Taking advantage of the service, a former divorced woman, Hailijah, said the she had married in Narathiwat a year ago through the agents.

      The 48-year-old Halijah said that she had eloped with her second husband after his failure in getting permission to register his first wife into polygamy.

      “After my first husband died, I met my new husband who was my first love 30 years ago,” Halijah said.

      Eligibility

      Officials at Narathiwat Islamic council confirmed that the council has maintained legal and Islamic standards to make sure that the brides are divorced or haven't been married before.

      “We ask for their original divorce certificates and valid travel documents with immigration proof of entry into Thailand, before marrying them,” said Abdul Aziz Che Mamat, the deputy president of Narathiwat Islamic Council.

      According to Mamat, widows bring along the death certificates of their husbands as a proof of their eligibility to re-marry under Shari`ah.

      “It is easy for men, as we will marry them to the women they bring to our office even if they do not get permission from their first wives or religious authorities in Malaysia,” Mamat said.

      “It is my duty to facilitate the marriages of Muslim couples without permission from their families, to prevent them from committing zina (illicit sex).”

      Malays, mostly Muslims, make up nearly 60 percent of the South Asian nation’s 26 million population.

      Ethnic Chinese and Indians - most of them Buddhists, Hindus and Christians - make up about 35 percent. The rest are indigenous people and Eurasians.

      In Islam, a virgin girl cannot get married without a guardian.

      Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned, “A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her, and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.”

      As long as the girl is in her father's house, the father is her guardian and she has to obey his commands and follow his directions. However, once she gets married, then the responsibility over her moves to her husband.
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      Polygamy offers young women of Kazakhstan a ticket out of poverty
      NARIMAN GIZITDINOV ALMATY Sunday 08 December 2013

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/polygamy-offers-young-women-of-kazakhstan-a-ticket-out-of-poverty-8991759.html

      Given the choice between love and money, Samal, a tall, curly-haired woman of 23 from a village in southern Kazakhstan, would take the cash. Struggling to pay rent and tuition from her salary as a waitress in Almaty, the commercial capital, Samal says she would drop her boyfriend in a heartbeat if a wealthy older man offered to make her his second wife.

      “Becoming a tokal would be a fairytale,” she says during a break at the café where she works, using the Kazakh word for the youngest of two wives, who traditionally gets her own flat, car and monthly allowance.

      The gulf between rich and poor “exploded” in Kazakhstan after it gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and it has still not closed, according to Gulmira Ileuova, head of the Centre for Social and Political Research Strategy in Almaty. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was in power for more than two decades, undertook a state asset-sale programme in the 1990s that enriched a group of insiders at everyone else’s expense, said Ms Ileuova.

      That gap is fuelling a revival of polygamy, which has become a status symbol for affluent men and a ticket out of poverty for young women. The practice of taking more than one wife flourished in this Central Asian nation for centuries, first as part of its nomadic culture and later under Islamic sharia law, until the Bolsheviks outlawed it in 1921. The trend has spawned two best-selling novels and a television talk show.

      “It has become prestigious to have a tokal,” Ayan Kudaikulova, an Almaty socialite and author of one of those novels, said in an interview in her café, surrounded by purple walls and bearskin rugs. “They are like Breguet luxury watches,” said Ms Kudaikulova, wearing a red Alexander McQueen trouser suit and an Alain Silberstein timepiece. “Unfortunately, not having a junior wife is now shameful for wealthy men.”

      Before the Soviets took over after the Russian Revolution of 1917, many rich Kazakhs would buy second wives from parents, often with livestock, which helped to spread wealth. Those unions were governed both by common law and sharia. Polygamy is still technically illegal, though there is no prescribed punishment for it as there is in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, where the maximum penalty is two years in prison. Indeed, Kazakh lawmakers have tried to legalise polygyny at least twice since 2001 – most recently in 2008, when the measure failed after a female parliamentarian insisted on including polyandry, or multiple husbands, as well.

      More than 40 countries, almost all in Asia and Africa, still recognise polygamous marriages, even though the United Nations said in a report in 2009 that the practice “violates women’s human rights and infringes their right to dignity”. A poll published last year by the state-owned news service Kazinform found that 41 per cent of Kazakhstan’s 17 million people favoured legalising polygamy. Twenty-six per cent said they opposed it, 22 per cent had no preference and 11 per cent thought it would be a waste of time because the practice already exists, Kazinform found.

      “Tokalism has started to become noticeable,” said Ms Ileuova. “That’s in part because 50 per cent of the population is poor.”

      Samal said she does not need expensive handbags or fancy cars – but if she is going to give up looking for true love, it better be worth it. “Every woman wants to be the first and only love for a man,” Samal said. “But it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to struggle alone.”

      ©The Washington Post/Bloomberg
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      Polygamy Stirs Row in Morocco
      OnIslam & News Agencies
      Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:00

      http://www.onislam.net/english/news/africa/467765-polygamy-stirs-row-in-morocco.html

      RABAT – The general prosecutors in Morocco announced on Sunday, January 5, their plans to open an investigation into a Salafist sheikh who accused a politician of “apostasy” for calling for a ban on polygamy in the country.

      “After the statements of Abdelhamid Abounaim that undermine organized bodies, an investigation will be opened,” the prosecutor said in a statement cited by Agence France Presse (AFP).

      The controversy erupted several days ago when Driss Lachgar, head of the opposition Socialist Union of Popular Forces, called for a ban on polygamy in Morocco, though it is allowed in islam according to the principals of Islamic Shari`ah law.

      He also urged a debate on the share of women's inheritance, which is half what men receive on the death of a relative.

      The suggestions angered the country’s salafists who condemned them as against Islam.

      In response, the Salafist sheikh Abdelhamid Abounaim accused Lachgar of “apostasy” in a distributed video.

      King Mohamed VI reformed Morocco’s family code in 2004, making polygamy more difficult.

      A man must now seek the consent of other spouses and the permission of a court before he takes another wife. However, polygamy has not been banned in the country.

      In Islam, marriage is a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman by virtue of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

      Each partner in this sacred relationship must treat the other properly and with respect.

      Islam sees polygamy as a realistic answer to some social woes like adulterous affairs and lamentable living conditions of a widow or a divorced woman.

      A Muslim man who seeks a second or a third wife should, however, make sure that he would treat them all on an equal footing, even in terms of compassion.

      The Noble Qur'an says that though polygamy is lawful it is very hard for a man to guarantee such fairness.

      As for inheritance, Islam, as a divine religion, sets down rules that strike a balance between men's responsibilities and women's rights.

      Islam gives the girl half of her brother's share in inheritance because Islamic Law doesn't oblige her to spend any money on anybody other than herself.

      On the other hand, Muslim man, who is usually the bread-winner of the family, is obliged to spend on his wife, his children, his brothers, his sisters, and his mother and father.
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      What kind of woman is willing to share her husband?
      MONDAY, 29 APRIL 2013

      http://theislamawareness.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/what-kind-of-woman-is-willing-to-share.html

      Farzana is a senior nurse, 36, attractive, selfpossessed and articulate. “I have begun to consider polygamy,” she tells me at a matchmaking event in central London for divorced and widowed Muslims interested in marrying again. “When you think about love in an Islamic way, the co-wife idea makes sense.”
      According to Mizan Raja, who set up the Islamic Circles community network and presides over the east London Muslim matrimonial scene, women are increasingly electing to become “co-wives” – in other words, to become a man’s second or third wife. As I reported last year in the New Statesman, Raja gets five to ten requests every week from women who are “comfortable with the notion of a part-time man”. He explained: “Career women don’t want a full-time husband. They don’t have time.” So couples live separately, a husband visiting his wives on a rota.
      A dapper City boy listening to Raja whispered to me: “Actually, that’s not right. In late twenties a girl is considered past it, so this arrangement is the best she can get.”
      If you’re divorced, widowed or over 30 and Muslim, finding a husband in this country can be a challenge. Does polygamy, or more specifically polygyny (a man taking more than one wife, as opposed to a woman taking more than one husband), as sanctioned by the Quran, offer a possible solution?
      Aisha (not her real name), a divorced single mother with two children, recently chose to become a second wife. She was introduced to her husband by a friend. She says that at first she was hesitant. “I was like, ‘No, I can’t do it. I’m too jealous as a person. I wouldn’t be able to do it.’ But the more that time went on and I started thinking about it, especially more maturely, I saw the beauty of it.”
      They agreed on the terms of the marriage by email, covering details such as “how many days he’d spend with me and how many days he’d spend with his other wife, and money and living arrangements”. They then met twice, liked each other, set a date and were married. Her husband now spends three days with Aisha and her two children from her previous marriage and then three days with his other family, unless one of them is ill, in which case he stays to help but has to make up the missed time to his other wife.
      She confesses that “if he was to stay all the time I’d love it”, but says that having time off “is definitely beneficial in some ways as well”. She has “more freedom” to see her friends and her family, and it is a relief “not having a man in your face half the time, when you are cranky, and he can go somewhere else and you can manage the kids on your own”.
      As a divorcee, bringing up children on her own for three years before remarrying, she built up an independent life for herself: “It’s hard to let your goals go for a man all over again.” Although she concedes they have had a “few teething problems” and that it took his first wife “some time to come to terms with it”, now, she says, they “have come to an understanding . . . We are finding our feet.” Both sets of children are aware of the new situation and have accepted it. In fact, she says that her husband’s daughter from his first marriage “can’t wait to meet second Mummy” and her own son, who now has a father figure and “role model” that he was previously lacking, is “really happy with it”. They have yet to experience “a big family get-together”, but Aisha says she is “hopeful that will happen soon . . . I’ve spoken to her [the first wife] a couple of times. She seems really lovely. I would really like for us
      to become good friends . . . for there to be that kind of bond of sisterhood between us.”
      The main obstacle to happiness, according to Aisha, “is the sense of ownership” and jealousy. “But that’s something that you’ve just got to use your wisdom to get past . . . It’s more important for me to have a father for my children . . . to have a helping hand when I need it.” She insists that problems arise only when the husband does not treat both wives equally, as explicitly mandated in the Quran, or when the wives are not mature enough to rationalise and accept the situation.
      Anecdotal evidence, in the absence of the statistical kind, suggests that polygamy is on the rise in Britain. And according to a poll conducted over a week by Singlemuslim.com, 33 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women would choose to be part of a polygamous marriage. Because such marriages take place through an unregistered marriage contract, they do not constitute bigamy, a criminal offence in the UK.
      The reasons for polygamy are complex. Aisha says that, from her point of view, “Single mums don’t have the pick of the bunch . . . [Polygamy] is there so we can still have the benefits of marriage, so we don’t have to be left on the shelf, so our children can still have role models, father figures, and so we can still have that emotional stability, financial stability and security.”
      The stigma of divorce, as well as later marriages and the importing of foreign brides (15,500 women were admitted to the UK in 2011 as wives of British men, according to Home Office figures), have all exacerbated the problem for Muslim women looking for a husband.
      Aisha tells me that her husband saw polygamy as his religious duty. “A lot of people think it’s just about sex but . . . sex goes out the window after a while. If you don’t want your husband marrying someone else, what would happen to these single mums, then, and these divorcees? Is it fair that they just stay on the shelf? We should be looking after our community. Islam is all about community and society and we should look after our brothers and our sisters equally, otherwise it’s every man for themselves.”
      Kalsoom Bashir, the project manager of the Muslim women’s rights organisation Inspire, and Khola Hasan of the Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton, east London, both believe that forced marriage is another reason for polygamy. British men are forced into marriages, often with cousins imported from “back home” with whom they have nothing in common. “For a man who has been in the difficult situation of being forced into a marriage, and the numbers are huge in Britain, absolutely huge . . . for many of them, polygamy is a good way of being happy and keeping the family happy,” Hasan explains.
      The Quran instructs Muslim men to “marry women of your choice two or three or four”, but warns that “if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly [with them] then only one or [your concubines]. That is more fitting so that you do not deviate from the right course.” The Prophet Muhammad said, “Whosoever has two wives and he inclines towards one to the exclusion of the other, he will come on the Day of Judgement with his body dropping or bending down.”
      In other words, “It is mission impossible,” according to Mufti Barkatulla, a senior imam and sharia council judge in Leyton. He firmly believes that there is no place for polygamy in modern Britain. “There are a number of cases we have come across and there is hardly a case where a man can balance all the duties required in a polygamous situation . . . In today’s industrial society, it is impossible to observe the conditions laid down by the scriptures.” Polygamy, he points out, predates Islam and was permitted in Islam in the context of war to offer protection to war orphans and widows. Many of the Prophet’s 11 wives were widows.
      Sara (not her real name) is a 40-year-old Muslim convert. She accepted the practice of polygamy as part of her religion and when she fell in love with a married man, she was the one who suggested that she become his second wife. “I was busy and studying. I felt I could cope with not having someone around all the time,” she tells me.
      In reality, though, Sara now says, their marriage was more like a religiously sanctioned affair. “Because of the social taboos against [polygamy], it had to be secret from the community and I couldn’t have any children . . . because then it will be known that he has a second wife.” Although she met her husband’s first wife, going on holiday with her once and even offering to babysit her children, the first wife never fully accepted the situation. “I really had this idea that we somehow would eventually find some way of getting on . . . I was imagining it would be like these stories I have heard of where it works, so I thought it would just be a matter of time and we were destined to be together.” Eventually, after six years, Sara sought a divorce.
      In his 25 years presiding over thousands of divorce cases at the Islamic Sharia Council, Mufti Barkatulla has heard many similar stories. Between 2010 and 2011, 43 out of the 700 applications for divorce to Leyton’s sharia council cited polygamy as the main reason.
      Mufti Barkatulla and Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the former director of the Muslim Institute, devised a Muslim marriage contract – in effect, a religiously sanctioned prenup, to be signed at the time of the nikah, or religious ceremony – that sought to address the imbalance in Muslim marriages, giving women equal rights to divorce, allowing them to feel safe from rape or abuse, and preventing husbands from taking a second wife. It also states that the nikah must happen in conjunction with a civil ceremony, for extra protection.
      He tells me the story of a woman whose husband “had agreed to a civil ceremony but because dates and everything were not agreed the husband kept on delaying it”. One day when she got home, she found a notice on the door: “Everything is over. Collect your things from my sister’s house.” The woman told him that she felt as though she had been “on trial” but eventually was discarded.
      An estimated 70-75 per cent of Muslim marriages in the UK are not registered under the Marriage Act, unlike Christian and Jewish marriages, which are registered automatically. Mosques have the legal right to register to conduct civil weddings, but only about one in ten have chosen to do so. A nikah or Muslim marriage can be performed anywhere, even using proxies or on Skype. When a marriage is not registered and the relationship breaks down, the unregistered wife has no rights to spousal or child support and can even be left homeless, denied her due share. In the event of the husband’s death, the registered wife and her children will inherit and the unregistered wife and children will not.
      If Muslim marriages are unregistered, and take place outside of the jurisdiction of this country, there is no automatic recourse to justice through the British courts. Instead, an aggrieved party must go to an unregulated sharia council for mediation. The crossbencher Baroness (Caroline) Cox is concerned by this clash between sharia and civil law. “There is now operating in this country a kind of parallel quasi-legal system and that goes against the fundamental principle of liberal democracy of one law for all.” Of polygamy, she says: “To have more than one wife is not acceptable in the UK and people . . . must accept the laws of the land they choose to live in.” In 2011, she introduced the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, which had its second reading in the House of Lords last October and “would make it illegal for any person or contacts to be established which would operate as a kind of alternative legal system. Anyone
      purporting to operate in that way in a judicial capacity would actually be committing a criminal offence that could [be punished with] a prison sentence for this alternative legal system.” The bill will be re-tabled in the next Parliament.
      Khola Hasan of Leyton’s sharia council believes that forcing mosques to register all nikahs, and thereby banning polygamy, will only make Muslims feel more persecuted. “The Muslim community in Britain already feels victimised,” she says, and it will inevitably force the practice underground, leaving women more vulnerable. She argues that, rather than banning polygamy, which she views as a “solution to many complex and difficult situations”, the practice should in fact be recognised by British law.
      According to the Singlemuslim.com poll, 61 per cent of Muslim men and 28 per cent of Muslim women agree with Hasan that British law should be changed to permit polygamy. “Britain is refusing to accept that polygamy takes place,” she says. “It’s a reality and I think the British legal system is going to have to open its eyes and accept that it’s a reality in Britain.
      “Polygamy is not going to go away.”
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Muslim Films Promote Marriage in Canada
      By Muneeb Nasir
      OnIslam Correspondent
      Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:00

      http://onislam.net/english/news/americas/463501-muslim-films-promote-marriage-in-canada.html

      CAIRO – A landmark documentary series on marriage was released in North America this week at the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

      “Divorce is on the rise in many communities and the traditional support structures that once sustained relationships are far fewer than before,” Jawad Jafry, the Producer-Director-Writer of the series, told OnIslam.net.

      “Our objective was to create high quality content that could engage people effectively and help them easily access some essential strategies for a happy and successful marriage.”

      The series titled ‘Marriage Success’ consists of ten documentary films about getting married and staying married.

      “We've produced content for people thinking of marriage, newly married couples as well as married couples,” said Jafry.

      “Our films will be available on the marriagesuccess.ca site in Ramadan as well as through our Facebook, Twitter and our YouTube Channel.

      “The website also contains film notes, related articles, suggested reading and web resources,” added Jafry.

      The films are grouped into two broad categories: Before Marriage and After Marriage.

      The Before Marriage films deal with 6 of the most common issues in the early stages of married life.

      The After Marriage films focus on four winning strategies that couples can learn or reclaim at any point in their lives to improve their relationships.

      Each film presents well-known Islamic scholars, social work professionals and dramatic artists and focuses on a single issue, how this problem can affect marital relationships and advice on how to overcome it.

      The project has been sponsored by the Canadian-based charitable organizations, Faith of Life Network and Baitul Mal.

      Challenges

      The films are meant to address the challenges facing married couples.

      “This project tackles some major destructive elements that could endanger marriages thereby it has great ramifications on the lives of married individuals, children, immediate relatives and the society at large,” Dr Hamid Slimi, Faith of Life Network President and Executive Producer of the series, told OnIslam.net.

      “We looked around and asked ourselves how important was a project like this and would it be contributing positively to our society.

      “The idea evolved beyond a series of videos to a compilation of expert guidelines from different levels and a successful story on how religion, science and social work together to make a point.”

      The 6 Before Marriage titles and issues each film addresses are:

      - "Happily Ever After?" (Expectations of Marriage)

      - "Money Fights" (Finances)

      - "The In-Laws" (Balancing Marriage and In-Law Relationships)

      - "Communication" (Strategies on How to Establish Meaningful Communication with Your Spouse)

      - "Domestic Violence" (How Abuse Affects Both the Victim and the Abuser)

      - "The Porn Epidemic" (How Pornography Exerts Such a Powerful Influence on the User and How it Affects a Marriage)

      The 4 After Marriage film titles and issues each film addresses are:

      - "De-escalation" (How to Lower the Emotional Temperature When Conflicts Arise)

      - "Mutual Consultation" (The Importance of Shura in a Marriage)

      - "Effective Communication" (Knowing How to Properly Address an Issue in a Positive Way)

      - "Listening and Bonding" (Listening is Part of the Qur’anic paradigm of Love and Mercy).

      “If Islam considers marriage to be half of the practice of the faith as we read in the hadith,’ when a person gets married, he/she has fulfilled half of the deen’ then it shows the importance of this institution and its critical importance in life,” said Dr. Slimi.

      “A healthy marriage leads to a healthy family which leads to a healthy society.”

      Muslims make up nearly two percent of Canada's some 32.8 million people and Islam has become the number one non-Christian faith in the country.

      A poll has showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian and are more integrated and better educated than the general population.