Monday, 15 February 2010

Polygamy on the rise in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR — Rohaya Mohamad, a 44-year-old Malaysian doctor, chats happily about her plans for the evening, a romantic dinner for five with her husband -- and his three other wives.
Rohaya and her family, which has produced 17 children aged between seven and 21, are among growing numbers of Malaysians entering into polygamous marriages, a phenomenon that observers say is linked to rising "Islamisation".

Critics say that the practice, legal for Muslims who make up 60 percent of the multi-ethnic population, is out of step with modern times and that it degrades the lives of women and children.

But Rohaya and her fellow wives say the arrangement works just fine for them, allowing them to easily juggle childcare, domestic duties and careers in their busy households.

The undisputed head of the family, 43-year-old husband Mohamad Ikram Ashaari, shuttles between the women's separate homes, spending a night with each in rotation before they join up on the weekends for family time.

He has taken a new wife every five years, starting with Juhaidah Yusof, a softly spoken 41-year-old who takes care of all the youngsters, and concluding with pretty 30-year-old Rubaizah Rejab, an Arabic language teacher.

His second wife, divorce lawyer Kartini Maarof, introduced him to number-three Rohaya -- who had sought the lawyer's services while divorcing her first husband, with whom she had seven children.

"She could see how busy I was so she offered me her husband. Initially I said no as I didn't want to hurt her... and my dad was really against it because polygamy has never been seen in a positive light," she says.

The family, part of the controversial Ikhwan Polygamy Club which says its mission is to improve the reputation of multiple marriage, believes it is a cure for social ills like adultery and pornography.

"Men by nature are polygamous, they have girlfriends and mistresses, they visit prostitutes -- it is normal," says Rohaya. "God has made men like that."

"But in Islam there is a way out which means you must be responsible for the women you want to be involved with."

They shrug off criticism that the club has its roots in Al-Arqam, a group banned by the Malaysian government which called it an illegal Islamic sect.
There has been particular controversy over plans to spread the club abroad, with branches in Indonesia to add to its network of 1,000 members across Southeast Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

Mohamad Ikram is a director with Global Ikhwan, a company whose diverse activities include restaurants and noodle manufacturing and which also manages the club.

"We want to say that polygamy works if you follow the rules of God. We don't expect people to follow but we want to change the mindset," says Rohaya.

The women say that in such a big household, friction is inevitable but they have learned to resolve their problems.

"It's a big family so it's normal that sometimes we argue, sometimes we get on, sometimes we get jealous," says Kartini.

The four wives seem to have an easy rapport with each other and their offspring, who troop in from school dressed in traditional flowing outfits before touching their foreheads to the hand of a visitor in a polite greeting.

But sociologist Norani Othman from pressure group Sisters in Islam says that these educated women and thriving children are not the typical polygamous family.

She says the practice's original purpose has been warped, and that the strict conditions to ensure women are fairly treated are routinely ignored.

"The Koran speaks of polygamy under certain circumstances -- for example, a war where you have lots of war widows and orphans. Historically a kind of emergency or welfare measure," she says.

These days, men can rarely afford to properly care for multiple wives and hordes of children, particularly in Malaysia's urban areas where the practice is becoming increasingly popular.

Her research has found that first wives, who often refuse to sanction the new marriage, are cut off financially and emotionally -- plunging them into poverty and depression.

Noraini says that up to five percent of marriages in Malaysia are polygamous, a figure that has risen as rules limiting multiple marriage have been watered down over the years.

"Over the past 15 years you can see a gradual increase... coinciding with the rise of Islamic revivalism, of Islamic fundamentalism," she said, adding it was likely there had been a further steep rise in the past few years.

"The impact of conservative Islam is that it gives an impression to ordinary faithful Muslims to just practice polygamy without seriously thinking of its repercussions."

But Mohamad Ikram and his family insist that polygamy can work well if those involved adhere to the rules laid out in the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

"I consider myself lucky that I have four wives, it reduces the temptation to commit sin," he says.

"Even though it's already enough, there's always the desire to have more -- one isn't satisfied with just four," he adds with a smile.


I came across this news yesterday in one local newspaper. It was originated from the news agency AFP.
I was somewhat appalled to read about the woman's (Rohaya) admission to polygamy.
Yes, i am a Muslim. And i have to admit by the syariah law. With that i have to also accept that any Muslim man who are 'suitable' and have the 'affordability' can and allowed to marry more than one.

Yet, it must be agreed that no one would dare to challenge the fact there are many men out there (in Malaysia i.e. because this news is focusing on the country and its inhabitant) who can't afford to marry more than one-- will unfortunately managed to dupe ladies into accepting their hands to the world of husband-sharing and the troublesome avec heartache being absorbed in a polygamic family.

I remember one incident back in the mid or late 90s where a man was married to twelve women at one go! That i am sure a totally different case altogether.
(I remember this well because i was covering the news about this homosapien who had then left his wives and many children after being apprehended by the authorities) and that the families were temporarily sheltered at one individual house outside Kuala Lumpur.

Ok -- Let's get back to this news.
I do not know the real reason behind the 'boost' my country received for having this AFP writer jotting downs news on this topic...(well perhaps other news related to economic and the country's being aren't tasteful enough for the news agency to tap on Malaysia and the local newspaper to have it printed on the right page.)

I seriously would like to challenge the reason the writer or observers (as she mentioned) said why polygamy is on the rise in Malaysia --"..... a phenomenon that observers say is linked to rising "Islamisation".

Was it actually the rising of "Islamisation" or was it actually the Muslim men (here in Malaysia they are the majority Malays because they are born Muslims) are getting more manipulative and are maximising their 'privileges' as MEN in the Islamic contexts. The stories of husbands marrying more than one had been much talk about, and we have been exposed to all kind of reasons behind their intentions.

To the extend that neighbouring country's Islamic authorities in the north are being sought after by the ordinary to realised their marriage to the second or third wife, of course this is done when they did not receive any YES from the current wife.
All they got to do when they're done there was to register it at the auothorised department and pay some small fine-- viola! the current wife mouth automatically will be shut close.

This is what infuriate people such as yours truly because, just to legalised one's lust, all a man got to do is have the pathetic lady follow them across the border and shake hands with two or more witness and they can carry on having 'slumber parties' without committing a sin and being rest assured won't be caught by certain Islamic bodies set to catch Mulims in close-proximity.

So, what happen to the first wife, who had been loyal all the while. Doesn't her feeling being weight upon properly? Does lust and sex are the made of men making companionship, love and trust to be surpressed to the lowest in their head?

And perhaps for people like Rohaya (which i am very very sure is a very rare case) who wanted the shed of ' golden umbrella' in the hereafter days fall prey (or actually allowing themselves freely to be manipulated and surpressed) are being subjugated mentality and physically by a man rather than living a lone and free life, thus making her oblivious to her own feeling by sharing the boner with another one or two other women.

I guess the government Islamic authority should do some background check on this Ikhwan Polygamy Club and

its mission 'to improve the reputation of multiple marriage'.
I cant comprehend their believes that by being polygamous, the nation (with it's Muslim men so ever on heat!) social ills like adultery and pornography will be cured.

Whatmore when this sicko club are being hailed by women and one of them is this Rohaya with her statement that 'men by nature are polygamous, they have girlfriends and mistresses, they visit prostitutes -- it is normal," would definitely spelled that Muslim men especially are sex maniac. And maybe she had been introduced to that kind of men before she marry this 'godly' Mohamad Ikram guy.

She also said (unless it's a made up statement) --"God has made men like that."
Wow...!! I really thought that is way too much for her to say so and that her statement might be taken wrongly by some quarters who are not well versed by this polygamy and Islam.
As for someone who is in the 'don't know' zone, such as me, I'll say that she is putting the blame on God by creating men to be such sexually driven creature roaming around the face of earth!

Would I be wrong to say that Muslim men are only out for sex, and that the Prophet Mohammed (saw) actual intentions marrying all those women are taken wrongly or being interpreted to one's whims and fancy and by people such as this Mohamad Ikram and other men who shared same ultimate needs?

Imagine being married to a man who is taking a new wife every five years!
And the best thing about him is,he never married some troubled and poor woman, but 'coincidentally' choose and being introduced to those with qualification and working class.

Would i be wrong again if i thought that he and his mates would never put themselves into marrying ugly, blind or a poor widow with train of kids to really be the champion of polygamy and its actual reasons.

All in all i guess this Rohaya and Kartini are somewhat desperate for 'credit' God Almighty would grant them in the hereafter. And they are so overjoy watching and finding future wife(s) for their beloved Mohamad Ikram (who i am quite sure a damn happy man already for not having to search for new wife or run away to the border to get married, but instead future wife being introduced by his current wife(s)).

The last statement from this lustful man "I consider myself lucky that I have four wives, it reduces the temptation to commit sin," again is a definite remarks that he is a very lustful person, and would haunt brothels and have girlfriends if he only got one wife like any other NORMAL guy.

"Even though it's already enough, there's always the desire to have more -- one isn't satisfied with just four," he adds with a smile


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