Hunting for wife number 2 online: Playing Islam to Wahhabism distortion
Look who’s coming for dinner, it's wife number two! While many will smile at the premise such a statement implies, one controversial Muslim entrepreneur decided to make it the basis of his new UK business venture … Talk about playing to a stereotype.
Azad Chaiwala decided to make it the basis of his new UK business venture … Talk about playing to a stereotype.
Actually, Azad Chaiwala did more than just play to a stereotype - that of the unapologetic, misogynist serial polygamous Muslim man, he flat out exploited a legal loophole to inflate both his bottom line and family ergonomics. Yes, you read that right: ergonomics!
When women are reduced to human commodities, we might as well use the appropriate lexicon.
As of this October (2017) over 100,000 Muslims are reported to have signed up to SecondWife.com, a website that promises to do … well, just what its letterhead implies: find men a second wife. Nights are cold and gray in the UK so one may forgive some individuals’ eagerness to brighten their horizon with some good old-fashioned merriment and cheer.
Readers will forgive my sarcasm, but as a Muslim woman - a Shia Muslim woman I should make abundantly clear, I feel very much entitled to my seething anger at seeing my faith reduced to a sad social experiment with profoundly disturbing connotations. And yes, Islam does indeed allow men to marry one, two, three, and four but not without very clear caveats. Which caveats I must stress are so strict indeed that monogamy remains the default setting par excellence of modern society.
At the risk of angering those segments of the Muslim population who view marriage as a mathematical exercise, I’d like to gently point out that while polygamy may be a necessity in the light of very specific socio-political set-ups, Islam does not allow for individuals to be treated as cattle. With every right comes proportional responsibility.
One cannot decontextualize the Scriptures to rationalize abuse, and in this particular case individuals’ flirting with illegality. Though I will admit that tradition bear heavy on the matter of polygamy - heavier I will argue than those rules the Quran enounces on marriage and divorce, it stands to reason to consider the context in which this ‘tradition’ is being practiced, advertised, and monetized.
Renowned Islamic scholar Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi settled the issue of polygamy in Islam rather eloquently when he wrote in The Concept of Polygamy and the Prophet’s Marriages: “In Islam, the ideal marriage is the monogamous form of marriage. Limited polygyny is a provision approved by Islam for exceptional circumstances only, and that also with many stringent conditions.”
Regardless of Mr. Chaiwala’s needs, and quite clearly moral self-entitlement, his first obligation is to the laws which govern his place of residence: the United Kingdom. Loophole or no loophole (British law, however, does not stop unregistered religious ceremonies from taking place), I found rather distasteful for any individual to claim a right knowing he or she violates the spirit of the law, in the name of multiculturalism.
It is such disdain which fosters resentment and eventually fans sectarian-based hatred.
SecondWife.com creator Chaiwala says the website came from his “need” and “thinking there’ll be other people in my situation.”
But need is not a euphemism for a free legal pass. The repercussions of such a rationale are too far-reaching for anyone to tolerate, especially if we consider the social context in which Mr. Chaiwala formulates his rationale.
Are we just supposed to ignore that in most cases in the UK, polygamy has been linked to abuses - whether physical or emotional? Are we supposed as well to dismiss the correlation in between such behavior and the rise of radicalism among a disenfranchised youth, whose understanding of Islam has been reduced to a sad dot com on a questionable website?
Let me make myself perfectly clear here: it is not xenophobic, or sectarian to expect communities to conform to the rule of law. And for once the word ‘integration’ bears no neocolonial implication.
For any society - regardless of its religious identity - to function, all members therein need to respect the law, and if not, foot the consequences of their choices.
And while communities may wish to challenge the state on particular issues, as to accommodate their own wishes and traditions, it ought to be done rationally, not on the back of a business card calling for polygamy to become trendy.
But Mr. Chaiwala is not interested in any such dialogue. Why would he when he’s been busy playing into the Wahhabist handbook on all things chauvinist?
“It takes two hands to clap; a guy can’t do it on his own. We’ve got so many successful marriages, and so many women signed up themselves… they are opting to enter this kind of relationship,” he said.
I will echo what Yasmin Rehman of the Centre for Secular Space told the Daily Mail: “He’s promoting inequality and exploitation of women, and undermining what marriage is about. And he’s making money out of it.”
There is something so profoundly perverse in projecting one’s depravity onto the intended victims of such depravity that words fail. And although I will admit that in some cases polygamous relationships are consensual, they still hold no place in 21st century Britain.
I also resent Mr. Chaiwala’s allegation that polygamy somewhat acts as a moral safeguard against fornication. Again, to reduce society down to sexuality’s lens speaks more of this entrepreneur’s depth of character than it does Britain’s. Enough already with such nonsense.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.