Newsnight’s recent report into polygamy highlighted how the practice was on the increase within the Muslim community in the UK, despite it being reportedly on the decrease in the Muslim world. The report sought to understand the effects polygamy has on family life, and why Muslims in the UK may be taking it up. The report interviewed a woman who had been in a polygamous marriage and found it a negative experience. She claimed polygamy was not about ‘religion’, but about ‘Men out there’ who were ‘abusing women’.
Shadow Cohesion Secretary, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, raised her concerns about polygamy in the report, claiming that many of her female constituents are suffering within the practice, and she felt strongly that the Government was turning a ‘blind eye’ to it and the ‘social breakdown’ it was causing.
It is interesting that this report very vividly laid out polygamy within the Muslim community being the reason for social breakdown as well as the abuse and exploitation of women in society. As in reality even if it is on the rise, polygamy occurs within a very small proportion of the Muslim community, which is a community which itself forms a mere 2.8% of the UK population. Therefore the numbers of people affected by polygamy are minute, in proportion to the population of Britain.
So the question begs, how can such a small practice be blamed for the cause of social breakdown in society? Rather if the Government want to deal with ‘social breakdown’, should they not look at the actual social breakdown happening all around them - The mainstream attitudes in their society which cause fathers to walk away from women they have made pregnant without so much as a flinch, men who drug women at a parties and rape them while they are unconscious and partners who treat their women in whatever way pleases them? Are these practices sweeping across British society, over the miniscule practice of polygamy, not the ones causing real ‘social breakdown’ to the utmost degree?
Statistics only further highlight this ‘social breakdown’ that is occurring within British society today. One cannot blame polygamy for the fact that births outside marriage in the UK, have gone from about 10% in 1970s to over 40% in the 2000s, and in 2007 the proportion of lone parents as heads of households was treble that of the 1971 statistic of 4%. It is not in polygamy that can be pointed at for the fact that domestic violence accounts for nearly a quarter of all recorded violent crime in England and Wales and on average and two women per week are killed by a male partner or former partner. And it was not polygamy that caused the Children’s Society to conclude from their report of children in the UK that they were more depressed and anxious than ever - Rather it was the excessive individualism of adults whose love lives and romance came before stability and security for their children.
Therefore clearly, it is not polygamy that is causing 'social breakdown' in society and maybe if the media as well as Baroness Warsi turned their spotlight in the correct direction, they may begin to deal with the real social breakdown happening all around us. This has been and is continuing to be the disastrous effects of liberalism, where people believe they are free to do what they want and treat others however they want, irrespective of responsibilities, commitments and what is right or wrong.
The ironic thing about this polygamy onslaught is that if a man wishes to commit and gives rights to other women that he has a relationship with, this is criminalised under UK law – However if a man wants to marry one woman and mess around with others giving them no rights or commitment, he has full right to do so under the law. This highlights the utter fallacy of man-made law where the indulgements and fulfilment of sensual desires comes first, before the rights of people and what is best for family and the society.
No one denies that Muslim men who have conducted polygamous marriages and have done things such as conceal previous wives identities, denied other wives the same rights as the first, are not in the wrong, as Allah SWT says: ‘Marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial’ (Surah Nisa: 3) Thus unjust treatment is in fact in contradiction to Islam, as a man must be able to give all his wives equal shares in everything and must treat them all justly, as he is accountable to Allah for his treatment of them. The Prophet SAW said, ‘The best of you are those who are best to their wives and I am best to mine.’ However the issue here is not that polygamy is the problem, rather it is the fact that the men have not adhered by the correct process in line with the Quran and Sunnah, but have used it to fulfil their own whims and desires.
Finally this polygamy debate has been nothing more than the latest attack that the media has had the opportunity to undertake on Islam and namely on Muslim women. After debates about the hijab, niqab, burka all subjugating and oppressing the Muslim woman, polygamy is the issue that is next in line for this discussion. However this is rather misconstrued as it is not only Muslims who practice polygamy. Firstly as discussed above, masses of people practice ‘polygamy’ in British society, but it just doesn’t have the same name - Those who have affairs, extra-marital relationships. Also the Jewish community and many Christian groups within the US, such as the Mormons practice it, but the report did not even so much as touch upon their communities, and how women are oppressed in them.
What this does show therefore that such an attack is just the latest in line on the ever increasing attack upon Islam as a way of life, and all of its systems. Despite who else practices polygamy, and who else oppresses and subjugates women on an even bigger scale, it is Islam and Muslims who are under the spotlight and must take the blame for these issues. It is without a doubt the fact that the comprehensiveness nature of Islam is a threat to the Western values and a hatred is actively being built up of the distinct Muslim way of life, to try and curb its rapid flourishment across the globe. But we all know the beautiful words of Allah SWT when he assures the Muslims: “They wish to extinguish the light of Allâh with their mouths, but Allâh will perfect His light; even though the unbelievers detest it. It is He Who sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that it may prevail over all other religions, even though those who worship others besides Allâh may detest it.” [Surah as-Saff 8-9]