The Second Wife



Would any of you consider becoming a second wife”, asked Sister Zainab to the group of Muslim sisters gathered around in the Unilag Mosque during the end of semester Dawah camp. We all grumbled a resounding No.

Okay, she said and asked another question, “Would any of you allow your husband to marry a second wife”. To this question, a few mumbled yes, some twisted their eyes and rest, including I said No.

Sister Zainab, went on to talk about how polygamy is accepted in Islam, how it is not a sin if we decide to be second wives, how it is a sin to refuse our future husbands from marrying a second wife if we happen to be the first wives.

While reading, Dr. Ahmed’s In the Land of Invisible Women, I get to know that in Saudi Arabia and contrary to what is practiced in our side of the world. The Muslim man actually has to seek permission of (in most cases, inform) the first wife before taking a second wife. She has to accept this proposal and can file for divorce if her husband goes ahead to marry another woman without her acceptance/ consent. I can't say categorically if above statement accurately depicts the Saudi marriage tradition.
My mum and Aisha just returned from Ilorin after the attending my step-sister’s 5 days wedding celebration. The wedding according to reports was beautiful and spectacular, only problem is she got married to a 51yrs old married man, whose first child happens to be the bride’s age mate.

Mum came back with stories of how everyone was disappointed by the step-sister’s decision to get married to a married man, an old one at that. She is young, had a boyfriend who she dumped for the married man. Her mother fought and harassed the man everywhere they met, even as far as Saudi Arabia. The step mother was the one who informed the man’s wife of the relationship, informing the woman to help her beg the husband to leave her daughter alone. She went to a lot of “alfas”, went for prayer sessions in churches and only gave up when the man categorically told her that, if the step-sister does not marry him, she will never marry any other man. Unfortunately the Step-father is late and everyone says that is the only man the step-sister ever listens to.

Everyone who attended the wedding actually commended the first wife for her acceptance of the marriage, she actually had to give a vote of thanks and a day was set aside where she would come dancing to the bride’s family, thanking them for giving their daughter’s hand in marriage to her husband.

The step-sister is a very independent girl who according to mum does not want to be tied down by any man. She is content with having her husband around for just 2 days at most 3days. Also she is not ready to suffer with any man who might in the future also marry another wife. She is 26, already performed the Hajj, has a thriving business of her own and in my opinion only interested in marriage to fulfil all righteousness and have babies.

The thing is I come from a long family of polygamy; polygamy is not strange or out of the ordinary for me. My siblings, cousins and I all have step-mother/fathers and half-sister/brothers. It was a common norm in the past generations. I look at families like the “Abiolas” and the “Okoyas” and wonder what the whole brouhaha is about polygamy. We look at these women and some of us admire their courage and some disgusted by their action which we see as destabilizing what is assumed to be a perfect home.

The hypocrisy of our time is that, some of these women who are actually second wives, who have been responsible for destabilizing some homes now come out to condemn the act. They do not want their daughters to experience the same suffering which they have put another woman through. They are the same one who will condemn another woman for stealing their daughter’s husband forgetting they did the same themselves.

I know Christianity does not allow this and I find it appalling when Christians pull the “my tradition allows me to marry more than 1 wife card”. For the Muslims, I just wish our men would be true to themselves and know that they can never be fair and treat the women the same way.

To the step-sister, I can only wish her a happy married life. Even though I can’t help but wonder if her brain is screwed to the right place. As to the question, can I become a second wife...it would be hypocritical of me to say it is ruled out, but my answer is still a resounding No.


♥  Lara

'Lara A

A Nigerian amateur photographer's personal blog on travels, books and all this that runs through this little head of mine...I am adventurous, open minded and a goal-getter.

28 comments:

  1. Well Lara...different strokes. It's never been a thing of joy to share whoever you're on love with. Am happy my religion does not allow sharing at all but as a Muslim u only have to pray that your husband is loyal to just you alone. A have a few muslim friends that have vowed to only marry one wife but u never know. As for your step sister @ 26, I think she's grown up tp fast, then again she's grown and its her life at the end of the day, this is what makes her happy, to each his own.

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  2. Lara, first time commenting on your blog. I applaud your honesty in admitting that although you detest polygamy at the moment and do not intend to engage in one you will not rule it out completetly. There are a lot of people who are very hypocritical in this world. They will condemn a second wife yet go out with a rich married man for money and the material things they can get especially tertiary students. Polygamy has its advantages particularly if the 1st wife consented to it and there is harmony at home but it has so many disadvantages that some people think it causes more harm than good. I believe it was useful in the olden days when our grandfathers were farmers.
    In life I have learnt not to arrogantly say never because such words tend to haunt you when you come full circle and find yourself doing the exact things you swore never to do. But I admire your sincerity in not playing the ostrich and bringing this subject to blogsville. All the best.

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    1. Thank you for visiting the blog and commenting. I never say never, life has its way of dealing with us all.

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  3. Very interesting post u have here, lady. Thanks for sharing. See everything I know about polygamous homes comes from Fuji house of commotion and maybe one or two stories from friends who had friends from polygamous homes. It never crossed my mind that Nigerian women sit down to think about whether they would allow polygamous relationships.

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    1. Prism, young non-christian girls do discuss the probability of polygamy. I know I have. At the rate at which it happens in the South, you cant help but wonder. Excuses range from lack of sons, to infertility etc

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  4. One more thing, I wonder how genuine the vote of thanks and dancing from the first wife of your step sister was. Also what does Islam say about polygamous dating? Does the man need permission from his wife before he asks someone out?

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    1. How genuine the vote of thanks is, I cannot say but according to witness report the first wife like the bride's mother had no choice. Also the husband had done a lot to cajole and given a lot of money to the woman.

      Dating is actually not allowed in Islam. We all get to inteprete the religion as we like.

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  5. No I won't be a second wife.
    I am a Christian and that is against my religion.
    I appreciate your honesty and openness in this post.
    You are right, I don't see how a man can marry two wives and be able to 'satisfy' both according to his role as the leader of the home.

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  6. I am not against polygamy, I tink it could work where all parties are on the same page. So man introduces first wife to new woman, and only proceeds when it is obvious they can work and live together. I understand there are disadvantages also, so to each their own.

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  7. This is where grown ups gather... Lara, once again, I'm honoured to be on your platform. I am reading... I am learning... and I am growing.
    May I add please, that the Bible does not in any of its verses condemn polygamy. It only set monogamy as a requisite for the endorsement of anyone that desires to be a Bishop. The canon law (mainly proceeding out of the common laws and cultures of Europe), which found its way into what is known among many people as Christianity, speaks of it as unlawful and the English law speaks of it as the crime of Bigamy. But polygamy was never regarded as a sin in the scriptures.

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  8. I've experienced polygamy firsthand and I must say, its disadvantages are way more than its advantages. It gives rise to so many unpleasant things in the home.

    Apart from the fact that I'm a christian,I can not be a second wife or,be in a home where my husband will decide to take a second wife..

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  9. An older friend of mine is being cajoled to take on a second wife. I'm watching with baited breathe to see if he will. I know I will be disappointed. Yes, I know his religion approves (Islam) but I also know he is a staunch believer of fairness and equality especially for womenfolk.

    In the end, it is a matter of love and choice. May my husband love me enough to not want to cause me pain.

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    1. @ Ginger Amen to your very necessary prayers. My mum was born a muslim, but she converted to Christianity after attending a catholic school and married my dad, a christian. So i have very close Muslim family, and i always said that if i were a muslim girl,i would make sure i married a christian, i would never marry a muslim because he can legally marry second wife and i can't stop him..

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    2. "May my husband love me enough to not want to cause me pain." Amen!!!

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    3. @Ginger: It is more of a matter of personal choice and maybe love.

      @Jemima: It is not legally allowed, but more of religiously approved with the cluase if you can treat all wives fairly which is not possible.

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  10. This polygamy issue... Appreciate your honesty, Lara. Insightful post. One this that worries me about the polygamy debate is women saying they would rather have a second wife as an alternative to cheating. Here's the thing: polygamy never solves the 'looking elsewhere' issue. How do you think wife number two came about?

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  11. Thanks for your honesty Lara. When it comes to polygamy, we should never say never especially as Africans. I do not wish for my husband to take a second and do not know how I 'd feel or react in that kind of situation. Thanks for admiring my meals.

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  12. I still don't understand why a woman would choose to be a second wife, but different strokes for different folks.
    It's in the novel, 'The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's wives' by Lola Shoneyin, that I was able to get a picture of polygamy and it's not pleasant at all.

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    1. Ay, I agree with you, it baffles me why a woman would want to be a second wife. Polygamy just breeds hatred, competition and enmity and this can go on for generations and innocent kids would be born into it

      Lara, I found this post very thought provoking and although it seriously baffles me why any woman would want to be a second wife, I realise that religion and spirituality can have a powerful impact on ones' point of view. So in this sense, I can see how a genuine muslim woman wouldn't mind as she would see it as something her religion makes room for.

      I remember watching a documentary sometime back about a christian sect in America where the men married more than one wife and all the wives seemed genuinely happy and pleased with such arrangements. I honestly couldn't get it but I guess it's a free world and to each his own.

      I do wish your step sister well and hope she doesn't later regret it. No mother wishes bad for her own child and I am sure her mother had very valid reasons to have fought and harassed her against that marriage.

      About the man's wife was genuine when dancing and thanking your step sisters' family for giving their daughter out; I really don't know. she could have been genuinely happy especially if your step sister was the third wife.first and second wives hate eachother but first and third wives tend to hook up and get along. Guess it's because the first wife is happy that someone has come to usurp the second wife like she did her.

      Personally, I hate the idea of polygamy, I honestly don't think any good can come out of it. Marriage between one man and one woman can be difficult on it's own and having more than one woman is just hell on earth for all parties involved.

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  13. I love this @ " For the Muslims, I just wish our men would be true to themselves and know that they can never be fair and treat the women the same way".I don't buy the idea of having more than one wife,it's catastrophic.For your step-sister,i think she'll be fine owing to the fact that she went against everybody's advice.

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  14. Thought provoking post.
    I personally do not like polygamy because I don't like to share and I dislike how it complicates families. However, I am learning not to knock other people's choices just because I don't understand them and that's the lesson I'm taking away from the way you have written this post. Respecting her choice even though you don't agree.

    I'm with you on "never say never"

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  15. lol...no way. love ur honesty.

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  16. I am a Christian and so it is a no - no.
    NO political correctness for me.

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  17. Each to their own oh. Good luck on the choices they make.
    Happy holidays, dear.

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  18. I wish your step sister all the very best but to be honest, she's in a much better place than all the mistresses we have all over town who because of their Christianity cannpot be second wives but sleep with married men and love them till they die. SHe's even better than the "aristo girls" in my opinion.

    As for me Christ says one man one wife so I don't approve of polygamy.

    To each his own sha.

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  19. I can't criticise the people that practise it because for some it works well. To each their own.

    Wishing you a happy new year.

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  20. Lovely post Lara, am a Muslim myself but I cannot be a second wife and neither will I accept my husband marrying a second wife.......the Quran says do it if you can love them equally. How many parents can boast that they love their children equally sadly very few, so how can a man love two women equally. I come from a close nit family and we are five girls...five daughters and my father din't have another wife.... why can't a man be satisfied and make it work with one woman.... may Allah make it easy for all of us

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  21. Lovely post Lara, am a Muslim myself but I cannot be a second wife and neither will I accept my husband marrying a second wife.......the Quran says do it if you can love them equally. How many parents can boast that they love their children equally sadly very few, so how can a man love two women equally. I come from a close nit family and we are five girls...five daughters and my father din't have another wife.... why can't a man be satisfied and make it work with one woman.... may Allah make it easy for all of us

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