I’m a little late posting this. Here are a few excerpts:

Clad in his Sunday sweatpants and a long blue Pakistani-style shirt, Ali, a 59-year old African American Muslim elder, popped in a DVD of “Big Love” – the HBO series about Mormon polygamists in Utah.

“Dude’s not handling this well at all,” he says as he watches Bill Paxton play an overburdened husband with three wives. “You know, I feel sorry for dude.”

Ali – who prefers to only use his first name – faces the challenges of polygamy every day. For 10 years, he’s been religiously married to two women, and lives with them under one roof in a working-class neighborhood of San Diego. Tuesday through Thursday he sleeps with his wife Hasanah on the first floor, then Saturday through Monday it’s upstairs with his second wife Asiila. That leaves his office, cluttered with photocopies of Quranic sayings and dusty pictures of relatives in hijab, as his only private room in the house.

“We get our time off, we got a sisterhood thing going on,” chuckles Asiila, 50, Ali’s wife of 15 years. She crosses her ankles underneath her overhead khimar, a black dress that covers her from head to toe. “To me, polygyny (polygamy) is for the woman. It’s really for the woman.”

This San Diego family’s life is part of a small but increasingly visible phenomenon of African American Muslims practicing polygamy, according to Debra Mubashir Majeed, associate professor and chairwoman of philosophy and religious studies at Beloit College in Wisconsin. For her research, she surveyed more than 400 Black Muslims and interviewed more than 15 polygamists.

“Most African American women who are into polygyny do so by choice,” says Majeed, adding that their reasons range from their interpretation of the Quran, to desire for independence, to needing a father for their children.

She says that a shortage of marriageable black Muslim men may be one reason polygamy is embraced.

“With the high number of African American men in prison, on drugs, out of work, or unavailable in some other way … the options are limited,” Majeed said.

I’m not sure if this is an offensive statement or not! It may explain the male POV but not the female.

Mohamed El Sheikh, executive director of the Islamic Jurisprudential Council of North America, said that many American converts to Islam, of all races and ethnicities, are already accustomed to having multiple sexual partners.

“After accepting Islam, some have continued this practice by giving the status of spouse to their sexual partners using the Islamic law,” El Sheikh said.

I remember when this sister was blogging.

Thirty-eight-year-old Azeez of upstate New York says the current shortage of eligible African American men justifies his plural Islamic marriage. The former Olympic wrestler converted to Islam 18 years ago and works as a technician.

“You have all these women out there,” he said, “and Allah has given a remedy to a situation.”

Azeez splits his week between two wives, who live half an hour away from each other. He fully supports his first wife, and is a father to his second wife’s son from another relationship. He says he didn’t consider taking on more than one wife, until he got a raise and the second wife agreed to help financially support herself.

“If it’s for you,” he said, “then Allah will make it easy for you.”

His 22-year-old first wife, who refers to herself as Miz Azeez, recently published diary-style writings about her marriage in “Polygynous Blessings: Musings of a Muslim Wife.” Her love for Allah, she says, frees her from dependence on her husband.

“With passionate love, and the whole concept of love in American culture … They put (their husband) up to a status like Allah. Like this is their life source, like if that person leaves, they’re dead – that’s it, life can’t go on. I don’t have that type of love for my husband.”

Miz Azeez says sharing her husband brings her closer to him and to God. After a year and a half of living in polygamy, she says she would never live any other way.

This story is pretty typical.

It wasn’t as easy for one anonymous 53-year-old American Muslim woman in the Washington, D.C., area to share her husband. After they had five children together, he took on other women, a total of four on separate occasions. When the international entrepreneur married a woman in a Muslim country, the first wife found herself financially insecure and alone for months at a time.

“I was just not prepared to include another family in that struggle,” she said, about her decision to divorce her husband after 10 years of polygamy. “I felt forced to rise to the occasion, and I felt I as the current wife had some rights.”

You can read the entire article here

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