Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why would anyone want more than one?

I find all types of religion fascinating... even though I don't really practice any particular religion. But I must admit, one religion I know almost nothing about is the Muslim religion.

So, the other day, when my friend Engineer was explaining certain aspects of his religion I was extremely curious and at first a little disgruntled. Engineer is a friend of mine from Pakistan who is living here in the US and getting his master's degree. He is married... but it was an arranged marriage.

I know, I had the same reaction...

Arranged? Are you out of your mind? But he assures me that he is very happy with the arrangement, which is good. Also, over 50% of marriages here in America end in divorce, so maybe we (as a people) aren't the best at picking our own mates, either. I'm not sure what the divorce rate is in Pakistan, but I have a feeling it is much less than that.

Plus, with their marriages there are certain rules that the parties must adhere to... and if one or the other is not meeting those requirements that is grounds for divorce. So it's not like you're stuck with some loser who refuses to put any effort into it... which is good.

But that wasn't what had me so interested the other day. Engineer was explaining that in Islam it is possible for a man to have more than one wife... in fact, he can have up to four, apparently. My jaw made an audible noise when it hit the desk. I was outraged. How can this be? And, of course, my first questions were: 1. How many husbands can a woman have? and 2. Why only 4? I mean, if you're going to have multiple wives, why put a limit on it? Seriously.

As for the first question... women only get one husband. Wait a minute... that doesn't seem fair. But then Engineer informed me that the man can't enter into a second (or third or forth) marriage until he has absolute permission from the first. Oh, and whatever the first wife has, all other wives must be provided for the exact same. So if wife #1 is living in a 4,000 sq ft home then wife #2 gets the exact same. Can you imagine how spendy that would be? Holy crap.

I'm going to venture a guess that not many men get to exercise that particular option... just sayin'. I just can't imagine many wives going yeah, sure, go find yourself a 2nd... but maybe that is just me? After all, we all know I don't share well.

For the second question (why only 4) he really didn't have an answer for. That one still baffles me. But, whatever. A lot of different things in a lot of different religions baffle me. We'll just add it to the collection.

And then we got on the subject of temporary marriages (it's like dating, but with a contract) but that's a whole 'nuther blog...


  1. The whole arranged marriage thing is interesting. A lot of our international students (China/India)talk of the difference between "love" marriages and "arranged" marriages as practiced in their culture. Even though they are very Americanized in many things, they still support and defend arranged marriages - at least for other people.

    The cultures are so different, though. Women are often second class citizens in their marriages. I don't think we realize what we have in the US.

    The polygamous marriages are something else. I know they exist in China - but I've always gotten the feeling that they were NOT approved by the first wife. I'm thinking that is a claim that is rarely true. In cultures where women have reduced rights, I'm not thinking they really can stop a second (third or fourth) marriage.

    I'm with you. I can't fathom multiple spouses. It seems to create a host of problems and solve none.

  2. From what I can gather from this friend, if his wife said no and he did it anyway that would be a HUGE sin in his religion and she would be able to divorce him for such an infraction.

    She seems to be very much a partner in their marriage... but this is an outside perspective, and who really knows what goes on between two people.

    But they seem pretty happy and in love. That's more than I've got going at the moment ;)