Polygyny: Thoughts on Facebook, Writing, and Personal Life

Last year, over a phone conversation with a sister I met on Facebook, whom I’ve grown to love and respect a great deal, I had a rare, brief window into the world of Nigerian Muslim women you’d refer to as practicing. I know, I know. I’m not ready to propagate the same old sad stories abound on social media. One conversation led to the other, and there I was, listening to heartbreaking stories of women who’d husband married new wives, and as a result became utterly broken, some suffering complete nervous breakdown, becoming depressed, or becoming doubtful in their faith. 

We’d tried, several times before, trying to gather men, and discussing ways to be better, but husbands usually think they know better, so there was really no need for any group effort. Some groups were created and the vast majority of posts were about the other room and… 

As a writer with a background in psychology, with a somewhat moderate following, I knew strategies towards attitudinal changes, and the power of media. The implicit information we get and how they become part of our schemas with which we absorb new information. Years ago, LGBTQ issues were looked a certain way, but with a powerful and consistent media agenda on TV shows, Movies, even Cartoons, what was strange years ago is now the new normal. 

I don’t own large media houses. But I do have my website and a following on Facebook of the population at the receiving end of polygyny issues. So, why not use this platform to put this marriage, sanctioned by the Creator of the world, Who knows us better than we do ourselves, into Muslim women’s consciousness in ways that exude mercy, respect, and community through beautiful humor that are respectful, stories that humanize and beautify it, and reflections? I thought to myself, ignorantly. Particularly, when most of the voices from Muslim men speaking about it on social media do so in disparaging, disrespectful, merciless ways. Ways devoid of mercy. I don’t need to mention names.

I don’t like to complain. Rather I find ways to act positively. The logic was simple, with brothers cavalierly venturing to polygyny, perhaps putting the lifestyle on people’s consciousness, particularly women, would at least make it less alien, and possibly less, even by a fraction, less destructive than without it in their consciousness.

However, what happened was people personalizing it to me. Thinking that they’re safe from the whirlwind of Polygyny in their own marriage, there are projections and questions about the writer’s personal life. 

I want to keep this essay short, because I’m a story writer. I don’t really care for essay. It lacks that artistic beauty of implicity. 

So, I leave with these prompts? 

Would you rather we ignore a real social issue that is destroying homes, particularly women because people are coming in with disastrous preconceived notions and bad faith? 

How weak are we that people who are living lifestyles that earned God’s wrath in the book you hold in high esteem get to talk openly with pride about their ways, while a path sanctioned by God, is what we want to keep hush because it makes us uncomfortable? 

For brothers, do you really think it’s fair, or a good thing to keep quiet about something until one day, after years of investment in a relationship, you decide to surprise your wife with something huge enough to destroy her mental well-being and shatter her soul just because you can? 

Emotions are not fact. Emotions are not fact. Our emotion is by a large degree the consequence of what we consume. What are you consuming? 

We say fitrah has been corrupted. What do we mean by that? 

What do we mean when we say we love for others what we love for ourselves? 

There are a lot of singles – widows, divorcees – Muslims like yourself that are in the prime of their age with all the emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, and financial needs that romantic companionship – marriage – in Islam offers. You know them. They’re finding it absolutely impossible to meet someone worthy. They’re crying their eyes out. Put yourself in their shoes. That’s empathy. Walk a year in their shoes. Then look into the Qur’an, and reflect on the Wisdom of your Lord. Now ask yourself again, what’s the meaning of the Muslim ummah is like a body. What does it mean that Muslims are allies of each other? 

Today’s educated Muslim men in Nigeria, and some in the west from Nigeria are doing away with the relics of Judeo-Christian-Western imperialism which includes forced monogamy. It’s not in their culture. And they’re radical enough to shatter such a restricting, selfish way of living. The social norms are changing, and they’ll probably continue to. 

***

For those curious about the writer, some marriages, like mine, may or may not practice polygyny because of certain things. But that does not mean your marriage will not be polygynous soon. And it won’t be the end of the world. 

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