There is this story – a parable – of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus in the Bible. A traveler was robbed, beaten, striped off his clothes and left to die on the road. A religious priest traveling saw the beaten man and walked away and so did a Levi. It was a man from Samaria who stopped and helped the injured man. Hence, the Good Samaritan.
Now I want you to imagine if the Samaritan later on made it his point to remind the man he helped that he was his savior? And that he should forever be in service of him? Would we still consider him a the Good Samaritan?
And with this I go to my point. I try to eschew the topic of polygyny as much as possible, but reading through Ustadh SirnucyLaf’s post comments, and seeing how excited the men were on finding a huge reason why we should all do polygyny is unsettling. Something is missing in the discourse.
A while back, I developed a theory which may explain some thought processes behind abuse, and this theory I call the Good Samaritan Complex. In this complex, a man thinks of himself as doing favors to his spouse by being a good husband. He sees other women being abused by their spouses, and he thinks to himself, ‘Well, look at me, I don’t do that, ‘I’m a good guy.’ So when disagreement breaks out in the house, he looks at his spouse, and sees an ingrate, who should be thankful for having a good husband like him, unlike the cursed among men out there hurting their spouses. So in a circular way, he becomes angry at his spouse, and unwittingly fall into a mindset that facilitates abuse. He will see himself as doing favors, and so the recipient should be thankful.
The problem with trying to justify polygyny with several social or economic reasons is that it is damaging to the whole concept of humility and justice from the sides of the men. When we say men should marry more than one wife because there are too many single women outside, what we’re inversely saying is that the women should be married as favors to them. And this is extremely problematic.
We’re already going into a sacred relationship with a huge bias and complex. And what that does is that when the woman challenges you, you may one day say or react to her in a way that would show you expect her to be thankful for marrying her.
Instead of doing more damage by making up reasons where Islam does not require them. Can we spend a little bit of time educating ourselves on responsibility, humility and importance of community, selflessness – things Allah actually requires of us.