Tag Archives: Marriage Bandits

The Polygamy Catch-22

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.
Quran translation, Surah an-Nisa’ 4:3

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Confession time: I am no Sheikh or imam, I have no formal qualifications to speak about the deen. I am just someone who is active in Da’wah and working in the Muslim community helping others. Those I help are usually new Muslims who come to learn about the basics of Islam but also then later on when they need help if / when they get into personal difficulties in their lives.

So given I only have the one wife and my own my lack of deeni educational paperwork, feel free to ignore any or all of what you are about the read.

However it is based upon my own experiences in over 10 years of community activism, counselling others, reverts and non-reverts with their many difficulties and from asking questions myself from the people of knowledge I know and learn from and I would hope it carries some weight to those who are considering polygamy (or Polygyny for those wanting to be more precise in their English usage).

 


 

MY ADVICE REGARDING POLYGAMY

Now those who know me personally can confirm that I am quite pro-Polygamy. It’s a beautiful part of the sunnah and I post about it on this blog often. Polygamy  is a blessing to those families I know who are involved when it is done correctly and could solve many of the ills facing the Muslim community so why do I almost always find myself talking brothers out of  the idea of adding another wife to their home life?

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The rights of one Muslim over another are six.” It was said: What are they, O Messenger of Allah? He said: “If you meet him, greet him with salaam; if he invites you, accept the invitation; if he asks for advice, give him sincere advice; if he sneezes and praises Allah, say Yarhamuk Allah (may Allah have mercy on you); if he falls sick, visit him; and if he dies, attend his funeral.”
Sahih Muslim

It’s because the men wanting to take up this are for the most part not ready for it. It’s not necessarily something which is their fault but there is reason polygamous marriages fail at such a disastrously high rate.

Most men are not ready for this responsibility, they cannot do justice or sometimes even provide for two or more wives. Some are outright malicious and just want what they want and don’t care if people get hurt in the process.

 


 

A BIRD IN THE HAND…

Some may think they are ready for polygamy, hope they are ready, but they are almost always not but carry on regardless and marry again anyway. Especially with all the other brothers are telling them, “JUST GO FOR IT BRO!”

This is not the sincere advice mentioned in the hadith above, and none of us would want our own sisters, daughters or mothers treated in such a flippant manner by their husbands.

Sisters and those with waliya over them need to be asking the potentially polygamous husband-to-be whether he has spoken to the people of knowledge and what they say regarding his suitability for handling polygamy. Usually they don’t bother speaking to the people of knowledge first, and if they haven’t then don’t even consider this man.

Though some ill-advised polygamous marriages somehow manage to succeed, almost always they don’t and they often end up damaging not just the new wife’s life and prospects but their first wife’s also along with all the children from these marriages into the bargain.

So this is the first type of brother who falls into mistakenly thinking polygamy is for him and the least harmful, though by far the most numerous.

It’s not like he has bad intentions. They wish to fulfill their desires in a halal manner and don’t realize what damage they will do just jumping in unprepared and sadly I’ve seen so many of them come crying (sometimes literally) and asking for help and advice from the masaajid, imams or activists like myself after ending up divorced from one or even both wives, or close enough to it there is little anyone can do to help them fix this mess they’ve got into.

This problem is becoming sadly too common and the olde-English saying ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ definitely applies more often than not to most brothers because most lack the requisite traits to fulfill polygamy.

LEARNER DRIVERS

The second type of brother is like someone thinking the best way to learn to drive is by just buying a car, then crashing it, then buying another and crashing again, over and over until he gets it right. This is sadly how some take marriage, especially polygamous marriage which is a whole other difficulty level to marrying the first time and often a miskeen long suffering wife is somewhere in the background picking up the pieces each time things go badly wrong for this type of brother.

Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said: “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives, and I am the best of you to my wives.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3895; Ibn Maajah, 1977; and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi

They have a callous attitude to others to some degree and need to fear Allah regarding our sisters in Islam. But unlike the last group I’ll mention they not outright malicious and if they get the right wife for them, or somehow manage to learn along the way without breaking things totally then they’ll at least make a half decent effort at it even if they might fall short in some areas.

Usually these brothers can be found out as they don’t have much of a clue on how to handle polygamy, probably never even read a book on it never-mind sat with the people of knowledge, or else have a series of ex-wives in the background as a big sign post to avoid.

Brothers, these are our sisters in Islam, someone else’s daughter or sister, the fragile vessels and you don’t treat them in this way, Ever.

I think regular brothers have way too easy-come, easy-go an attitude to polygamy and you can see it in the way they speak about it among themselves and this is the fault for the rest of us who do not pull them up often enough when they start to discuss sisters in this way.

I genuinely think most of these brothers are giving advice not out of sincere intentions on whether polygamy is best for this particular brother, but because they selfishly wish to push polygamy so it becomes something more easily accepted in the community and so available for themselves.

BANDITS AHEAD…

The final group who go in for polygamy… marriage bandits or on their way to being such who actively don’t care about hurting their wives if it serves their needs and desires, or if they do care it’s not enough to actually stop them.

Such a ‘brother’ will sadly marry and divorce far too easily, his gaze constantly moving on to something new. As if this new wife, someone who is meant to be their sister in Islam, who intends herself to be his partner for life and the hereafter is nothing more than a latest girlfriend or baby-mama to be discarded after use for a time when he becomes tired or bored with her, or else she doesn’t fit an exact match to his criteria of what a perfect woman should be, an ideal which can never realistically be met.

The problem with the last group is that their personally flaws are often hidden well, as they know their own failings but don’t care about hurting others.

They’ll lie, cheat, hide all their ex-wives from you, and sometimes even other brothers especially if they are in the same hizb will lie for them also and cover their many past mistakes and sins. Others may often be impressed by their level of knowledge of the deen, even if there is not always more than a surface level implementation of that knowledge in their lives.

I’ve posted about marriage banditry before and it’s another reason (other than regular badly behaved brothers) why sisters should never speak to a man alone and why it’s important that a sister has a good wali doing the talking for them especially in the initial stages.

A man that is able to not just speak to a brother once or twice but check his references back to front. If a man has skeletons in his closet someone will know about them usually and these men are experts at manipulating sisters, but brothers can sniff them out more easily and anyway… if they meet resistance they will often move onto easier prey.

 


 

CATCH-22

And herein in the character of our polygamous brothers in the community lays the Catch-22 in the title.

Though I like the idea of polygamy and would love to see it practiced more, those who usually do ‘just go for it’ or are callous or even downright malicious in their intent are most likely to fail or don’t care if  they fail and continue to tarnish this aspect of the sunnah in the eyes of the majority of the people.

Those who fear Allah  the most in regards to their womenfolk are likely to stick to one even though they are the most likely to be able to succeed in leading and supporting two or even more wives and attached families.

I was present when a brother was speaking to a Sheikh in my city regarding polygamy, and whether he should seek a second wife or not. He’s known as an upstanding and just brother but yet he feared hurting his first wife and the Sheikh advised him this is what made him best suited to polygamy and that given his character if he could not do justice then none of us could.

I doubt the same advice would be given to any brothers falling into the three groups I’ve listed above if they’d gone to this Sheikh themselves.

 


 

THE THREE TRAITS

Being close to the masaajid in my city, and getting the chance to speak to many brothers I’ve seen the good, the bad and ugly in the community when it comes to polygamy and I’d like to end on a more positive note or at least more productive one and show how polygamy can work and succeed.

From my observations and speaking to those are successful polygamy requires three traits in a man to make it work well. Those that have all three of these traits will Allah willing make good polygamous husbands.
Two will probably work out OK, especially the later two.
One you’re pushing it… really don’t risk it bro, bird in the hand remember.
Zero and you’ve got little to no chance and anyone who knows you well, or doesn’t know you at all and is telling you to ‘just go for it’ is an idiot and should be told he is an idiot. Actually tell him I told you to tell him he’s an idiot.

If you wish to pursue polygamous marriages in the future you will need to cultivate these traits, train your mind and mold your character to something new and better and what’s more into the bargain you’ll become a better all round better husband to wife number one, a better Muslim and human being as well.

1. MONEY

OK not technically a character trait but yes money, dollars, pounds, dinars, whatever your local currency happens to be. This is part and parcel of being able to support and maintain more than one wife, actually to support even one wife.

And this attitude of working your butt off to earn a halal income is something I’ve seen in many successful polygamous husbands. However a lazy workshy brother is almost never going to provide properly for one wife, never-mind two plus so yes this does relate to character as well.

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.
Translation of the Quran. Surah An-Nisa 4:34

So if you’re not willing to spend on your wife or wives, you are giving up a large portion of your authority and in this I am not talking about brothers who make effort but still fall short, sisters need to be patient with such brothers, I am talking about those who don’t even put in the effort at all.

Yes I know the salaf used to marry again when in need of rizq and that Allah states in the Quran:

And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
Translation of the Quran. Surah An-Nur 24:31

But most brothers do not have those levels of tawakkul, reliance upon Allah, or have some other barrier from their sins or actions they’ve placed between themselves and the help of Allah coming to them. Some are frankly using this as an excuse to marry and not care about the consequences.

Yes the rizq comes from Allah, but brothers tie your camel also, do not expect wealth to fall into your lap with no effort or planning on your part.

I do know brothers with more than one wife who are poor, or at least less well off, but they strive and struggle in some form either in some deeni field and their wives are patient with that but is the exception, not the rule and sisters expect, and quite rightly so that we as husbands provide for them or at least try our hardest to do so.

2. MANLINESS

There are reams and reams of words written upon how to be manly from a point of view of Islam or non-Muslim society and these days especially as a counter to the feminist movement written by Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

(not to be taken literally…)

Manliness is not something most find easy to pin down, especially the meaning I am using here in relation to polygamy but it is something some people know when they see it in themselves or another brother.

So I want to be clear I am referring to being a man from the point of view of Islamic traditions here. This is nothing to do with the men’s rights movement and if you start quoting some badly written trashy articles by barely pubescent boys over on 4chan or reddit on how to be an alpha male trust me, if that’s your thing then right now polygamy is not for you and you’ve got major issues you need to resolve.

Nor is it forcing your wife to walk ten paces behind you pushing a buggy weighed down with bags whilst you breeze on ahead without a care in the world or bullying and pushing the women in your life around until their will is crushed and they obey automatically.

This ummah is meant to raise up strong women, as well as strong men. If you cannot handle a strong women, or feel you need to bully her or even beat her down, you need to dominate then no this is not manliness, or at least not any Islamic version of it.

For me the manliness I am talking about here for those who are successfully polygamous is being a leader or having leadership potential. Having that effortless confidence in their own abilities and inspiring good out of those around them, an air of command without needing to shout or bully others, an ability to quietly get things done without whinging or whining.

Though we might have difficulty pinning it down, women seem to be able to pick up on parts of it it straight away especially issues such as confidence, self-belief and this is one of the reasons why some brothers get easy marriage offers, even offers to take a second wife when some  otherwise good brothers struggle for years even a decade or more to marry.

Though it requires more than just confidence to be a man, women feel attraction towards such men in ways they cannot always get their head around and when other men see not just confidence but other admirable traits in a brother they trust in him being able to look after their daughter in terms of marriage.

Let me ask you brothers, if a man came to you with a weak, anemic personality would you really feel he going to look after your daughter properly? Times that lack of confidence in his manliness by 10 when it comes to polygamy.

Women need to be certain the man in their life is going to get things done, to just deal with things. This is obviously an even greater requirement in polygamy where shaitan, and all his little helpers among the jinn and mankind will be keeping the gossip going, running to each wife whispering in their ears trying to cause a rupture in the man’s marriages.

3. ‘PERSISTENTLY STANDING FIRM IN JUSTICE’

The final and most important trait of the three is being just towards others. Especially the women in your life. So much so that the condition Allah places on polygamy in the Quran is whether a man can be just or not.

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.
Quran translation, Surah an-Nisa 4:3

How many times does Allah mention being just in the Quran?

If you know yourself you are not a just man, then stay clear of polygamy as it will destroy you and destroy your deen, and possibly contribute towards doing the same of your wives and children when they see you behaving in an oppressive manner.

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.
Translation of the Quran, Surah An-Nisa 4:135

All believers have to strive to be just, towards each other and in this case especially towards their wives, Allah is saying if you cannot be just then one is better for you and dhulm, oppression is forbidden to us and can have grave consequences here in the dunya and in the hereafter.

It was narrated from Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, narrating from Allah, may He be glorified and exalted: “ ‘O My slaves, I have forbidden dhulm to Myself and I have made it haraam among you, so do not wrong one another.”
Sahih Muslim (2577)

All successful polygamous marriages I know of the man is just, known to be just to those around him in the community, just to Muslim and non-Muslim, just to all.

This is the most important trait of a polygamous husband’s character and without it either one or more of the marriages will break or else it will cause misery in his spouses even if he himself is happy and content in his life.

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The Prophet sent Mu’adh to Yemen and said, “Be afraid, from the curse of the oppressed as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.”
Sahih Bukhari

Touching on justice, some men think they are automatically superior in the marriage / marriages, by default of being the man in the home. That the degree that Allah gives them over women in Surah Al-Baqarah is because of what hangs between their legs, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ibn Abbas and others in their explanation of this ‘darajah’ degree of men over women, this superiority is in an man being lenient towards his wife or wives, and that when he is able to do this even when a woman is being unjust, as they are likely to be from time with even the best of wives then he gains this degree over women, and that this was part of ‘rujulah’ manliness in Islam.

Gingerbeardman – The Meaning of Men Have A Degree Over Them

 


 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

This is a long article but that’s not the only reason it’s taken me a while to write and it’s been even longer coming in my mind, that something needed to be put down on this subject.

As I said at the beginning, I am not anti-polygamy, I am very much in favour of it, it is just I am in favour of the right people doing it and the rest of the males in the ummah not listening when other brothers tell you ‘Just go for it bro!’

Those brothers who give polygamy a bad press both to the Muslims and the non-Muslims around us. As someone active in Da’wah for many years there are few things as annoying as seeing someone who is close to the teachings of Islam but has been put off by seeing some bad character, some injustice or evil taking place in the community.

So I am not trying to attack those brothers who are taking part in polygamy or put off those who are seriously thinking of it, just giving some thoughts on how it can be done successfully, what traits you need to build up to make a success of this so we avoid so many painful clashes in the community when it goes pear shaped.

And by successful, I don’t mean still married after a year or two, or even cancer survival rate ‘success’ chances of 5 years. I am talking life-long happy unions with all the ups and downs such marriages bring but mostly bringing that beautiful sense of sakinah to the husband and all his wives, that marriage is meant to bring.

There are so many unmarried sisters in the community, divorcees, widows, even young and now not so young single sisters who have just not been able to find suitable husbands and one of my forthcoming pieces is going to cover why this and why this is a particular problem in the Muslim community.

Polygamy is Allah’s solution to this problem and all the follow on issues it causes, and when done correctly can help bind the community together. Some of the stories I have gathered from those who have grown up in polygamous households, or in communities where it is common are awe-inspiring to someone like myself striving to practice Islam as a whole way of life.

My final comment is to those brothers out there, who find themselves feeling they would like to take another wife, and reflecting on themselves after reading this article think they have most if not all of these traits is that you first sit with a Sheikh, discuss this and whether he thinks you are ready, whether you are suitable for this type of marriage.

After you’ve done that, speak to your family and yes of-course your wife and be just in letting her know what you are thinking. Yes, she will most likely cry and there will be difficulties, but she is helper, your garment, you should be consulting with her on this matter as on all things and letting her know her opinion is valued and listened to is what will make it easier for her to accept.

The after all of this, you are still convinced this is for you then not to let the horror stories stop you from going ahead and may Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala put baraqah in your all your marriages and grant you goodness from it, ameen.

And those who pray, “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.”
Translation of the Quran. Surah Al-Furqan 25:74

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Gingerbeardman

Imran ibn Mansur – Shady Characters in the Da’wah

 

Imran Ibn Mansur, aka Da’wah Man speaks about some of the evils which take place in the Da’wah scene in the background and how the Da’wah has been made into a business by many du’at and Islamic organizations.

KEMAL EL MEKKI – CELEBRITY SHEIKHS

kemal el mekkiUstadh Kemal El Mekki exposes some of the more disgusting practices of the celebratory Sheikh circuit, not only financial but also marital impropriety in the form of excessive payments and marriage banditry.

I am not at all trying to say all of our teachers and preachers are crooks, just that sisters and those who have waliya over our sisters need to not fall into the same trap of thinking just because someone is famous, or known to be knowledgeable or pious it doesn’t make it so!

Remember these are men, don’t fall for the public persona of the celebrity, they have real lives and real struggles same as  the rest of us and so do your background checks, ask all the right questions just like with anyone else.

28 December 2013

Assalamu Alaykum Everyone,

There have been things about the world of Islamic speaking that have bothered me for years, I am not going to write a book about them, but I sure as heaven am going to vent on my page if I blessed well please. If you don’t like it join Justin B’s page. If you inbox me trying to sensor me I’ll just ban you (it’s soooo fun)! If you’re a speaker and you don’t like it…CHANGE!

I have no problem with people getting paid to speak, and there is nothing wrong with it religiously. But…

Once this famous speaker came to our area for a fundraising dinner. He wanted to get 50% of the amount raised! He raised 320K in 40 minutes and delivered a 40 minute speech. He wrote the speech on a napkin while he was at the event. There were many people donating that day, people that needed the money for their own families. If they knew he wanted to take half, would they have donated even one dollar?

How do I know this? I was there and I was the MC!

The Good news:

1. In the end the organizers spoke to him and he agreed to take less than 50% (but they wouldn’t tell us how much).

2. Insha’Allah there is still some good (conscience) left in the man because before the event he pulled my friend aside and said, “Make dua for me, I’m so in love with money”.

With stories like this, many people try to find hints and clues as to when the event took place and who the speaker might be. That is not part of concealing faults so just let it go. May Allah forgive us and conceal all OUR faults. Ameen.

I have no problem with a young speaker marrying ONE of his students, and there is nothing wrong with it religiously. But…

There was a da’iyah in one area, and every single time I’d meet him he would be with a different wife. He got married at least 25 times and each marriage would last a few weeks. Another da’iyah kept one wife, and he would leave her for two to three weeks while he lived with the new wife, then he’d come home divorce the new one over the phone and find another online, go away for a few weeks…and repeat.

Both these du’at once travelled to a small town, and married so many of the women there within a short span of time, that some of the community leaders called the shiyookh in our area to complain.

One shaykh said that when he first came to America, they were praying behind this Imam and when the salah was over, the Imam took the microphone and announced, “Asalamu alaykum, I just wanted to a say that last week I finalized the divorced with my wife and I’m looking to get married. Jazakum Allahu Khair wasalamu alakum”.

This is what we’re talking about today. Being a speaker, Imam, or leader of the believers is a great position that Allah puts one in. Imagine Allah gives you a weighty position and you use it to get women! It’s greater than that! And it’s certainly not the reason why the believers made the following dua in surat al Furqan (74):

“and make us leaders/Imams for the pious”

Ibn Abbas said this means Imams to be followed in (the) good (we do and preach).

Why am I writing this? For the next generation of speakers and for up and coming speakers. If they enter a world of crookedness with no one speaking against it, they might accept how things are.

But some will speak against it, even if others find it distasteful.

Wasalam

Kemal El Mekki

EXPOSING THE MARRIAGE BANDITS – ZAINAB BINT YOUNUS

Exposing the Marriage Bandits: Originally written for SISTERS Magazine, September 2012 

MarriageBanditsZainab bint Younus exposes the hidden abuse of marriage fraud that occurs within the Muslim community and warns vulnerable sisters how to avoid it.

Muslim communities around the world face many challenges, from both within as well as outside sources. Certain issues, such as poverty and substance abuse, are widespread amongst all races and religions. The Muslim community, however, also has problems unique to itself.

One particular phenomenon has come to be known as that of “marriage fraud” – a problem found in both the West and the Muslim world, although its occurrence has been more widely documented in the West. Most cases of “marriage fraud” are recorded to take place in certain areas of America, Canada, and the UK, although there is evidence that it also occurs in other Western and Arab countries.

Shaykh Younus Kathrada, a South-African born Canadian imam has provided Islamic counseling and support services for over 20 years. He identifies the “marriage bandit” phenomenon as being when Muslim men and who claim to be knowledgeable and pious Muslims, prey on vulnerable women and convince them into marriages, only to use and abuse them, and leave them soon thereafter.  Some of these individuals have married and divorced women countless times, passing them around to their friends and treating the women like a disposable commodity.

It is an evil practice which abuses and damages Muslim women; which destroys numerous homes, scars entire generations of children, and turns formerly earnest Muslims away from Islam completely.

The mentality that encourages this conduct has no religious backing or justification whatsoever, no matter what they claim or how they attempt to twist and use the Deen of Islam to excuse their exploitation of naïve and sincere women.
“Marriage fraud” is no small thing; it involves psychological, emotional, and physical abuse; manipulation; outright deceit and duplicity, and worst of all, lack of any sense of conscientiousness, responsibility, or taqwa.

Targets and Tactics

In a time when marriage is a hot topic amongst every generation of Muslims, when young Muslim men and women find it extremely difficult to find suitable marriage partners, women inevitably remain the most vulnerable sector. Pressured by family or the community, or simply due to their great desire to fulfill the sunnah of marriage, many women fail to take the necessary precautions when choosing a spouse.

In his experience with “marriage bandits” and their victims, Shaykh Younus has noted that certain women are at particular risk for being targeted by predators: converts/ reverts and newly-practicing Muslim women, especially those with non-Muslim or non-practicing families. There are various factors which place them at risk of being lured into abusive relationships.

Some women have turned to Islam after many difficult experiences in their lives, including having had previous multiple relationships and children from those relationships. In an effort to support themselves and their children, and often with a naïve view of what Muslim marriages are like, they eagerly accept proposals of marriage without digging deeper into their suitors’ backgrounds. Some of these women may have other issues which they feel make them “less deserving” of being “choosy” when it comes to choosing a spouse, such as mental illnesses, financial instability, or even body image issues.

Unfortunately, the predators know exactly what to look for, what to say, and what to do to persuade these women into marriage. In some cases, they will find their victims through cyberspace: in the context of “Islamic” chatrooms and forums, these men will reach out to women seeking Islamic knowledge and build an emotional relationship with them based on the Deen. They place a strong emphasis on marriage and polygyny, and will remind these sisters that their “place” is in the home as a wife and mother. Sooner or later, the men – and sometimes even the women – will propose to the other party.

Other abusers have a tried-and-tested method within their own communities. They will have a friend’s wife look out for and befriend new sisters who join the community, building a relationship with them and slowly encouraging them to marry “a good brother my husband knows.”

One extremely common tactic used both by the cyber-predators as well as the local ones is religious and emotional manipulation: pressuring these women to marry quickly to “fulfill the sunnah” and “protect their desires.” For women seeking stability and a life partner, the combination of emotional blackmail (a woman who does not get married quickly is not a good Muslimah) and flattering attention (“You are such a pious, wonderful Muslimah and I must marry you in order to protect myself!”) can be very persuasive.

When approached by men who promise to give them a “happy Islamic household,” who tell them that their beauty lies in their practice of the Deen rather than their looks; and convince them that polygyny is a sunnah that they should practice, many Muslim women are convinced by the idea of a perfect Islamic marriage and agree to these proposals.

Warning Signs

Almost all “marriage bandit” abusers display characteristics which should act as red flags for any Muslimah about to get married.
To begin with, the woman is often told that her wali is either unsuitable (due to not being practicing enough, not approving of the suitor, or because he is “making marriage difficult for no reason”), or not valid (especially in the case of women with non-Muslim parents and family). The man will then convince the woman that they have a better person to act as the wali, usually a close friend of the man.

Many women are also told that to ask for a mahr of any financial value is wrong, or against the Sunnah. The hadeeth about the most blessed marriage being that with the easiest mahr  is trotted out and used to make the women feel guilty about making any kind of monetary request.

A woman’s right to a wali who has her best interests in mind, and to a suitable mahr, are an inviolable part of the Shari’ah. No woman should ever be made to forgo these rights which she has been given by Allah Himself!

The Deceit Continues

Unfortunately, the abuse only continues and exacerbates once the woman agrees to the marriage. In many cases, she will find out that she has been lied to all along – that she is neither a first wife, or the only wife, but that the man she has just married has one or more other wives already. In other cases, she will be told that as a second (or third, or fourth) wife, she must either support herself financially or live in the same household as the other wives, and “share” everything!

Other women will find themselves suddenly not only responsible for themselves and any children they may have, but for the man as well. Some predators will hide their criminal records or lack of any education until after the nikah has been done, and then informing their wives that they are unable to work and support their family. They may insist that because they are “seeking knowledge” (usually on Internet chatrooms), it is the wife’s duty to support them in every way, including financially. If the wife complains or challenges him, she is then accused of being a disobedient wife and causing problems. Their earlier recommendations of women remaining within the home are quickly forgotten.

Abuse Across the Board

Financial abuse is not the only type of abuse many women experience in these marriages. Mental abuse and emotional blackmail are rampant; physical and sexual abuse also take place. Victims are often unable to share their experiences or receive the necessary assistance to recover from these traumatizing incidents. Instead, due to the stigma and taboo of all these issues, women who leave these abusive marriages or speak out are more likely to be ostracized within their communities.

Many women have found themselves not only used and abused, but abandoned as well. In some cases, women are divorced for no reason at all other than that their abuser has become tired of them or interested in new prey. Others find themselves pregnant, and are left both divorced and without any child support or even acknowledgement from the child’s father.

Losing Faith

Obviously, every type of abuse takes its toll and has a deep effect on those involved – not only the women themselves, but their children as well. One of the most terrible effects on the victims is that having lived through this vicious cycle, not only once but in many cases several times, the woman or her children may associate Islam with the abuse that they experienced. As a result, they may lose interest in practicing Islam, or leave it completely with extremely negative thoughts and emotions regarding it.

Less drastically, but equally painfully, is that the women feel used and rejected; that their Islamic rights have been violated and that they have no recourse. Some become completely embittered with the idea of marriage and see all Muslim men as predators and abusers.

How to Avoid the Trap

•    A wali is a Muslim woman’s right – a guardian who keeps her best interests in mind. Make sure that your wali is someone who truly looks out for you and whom you trust.
•    Ask questions! Don’t jump into a marriage blindly. Be aware of the type of person you are considering. Investigate, have your wali investigate, and don’t trust anyone naively.
•    Don’t give up your mahr. Again, this is a Muslim woman’s right which no one can take away! Be reasonable, but don’t be pressured into a “symbolic” mahr either, unless you’re absolutely sure of it.
•    Patience does not equal suffering. Be aware of the difference between patience with hardship, and being oppressed by someone who is withholding your Islamic rights. If your spouse is abusing you, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically, do not tolerate it. Seek the help of a supportive Imam or sisters who will find the appropriate resources for you.

It is beyond time for the Muslim community to recognize the predators that exist in its midst, and to stand up for its Muslim sisters. The Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Help your brother whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed.” He further emphasized that the only way to help the oppressor is to stop his oppression from continuing. Any Muslim who perpetrates or allows such blatant evil to continue is transgressing the rights which their fellow Muslims have over them.
May Allah enable us to stand up for justice, and grant us the courage to fight evil wherever it may be.

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is an advocate for social justice, and is especially concerned with the many issues that trouble the Muslim Ummah world-wide. She prays that Allah gives her the ability to change things for the better, even if her only weapon is her pen (or keyboard).