Some Muslims in U.S. Quietly Practice Polygamy

Some Muslims in U.S. Quietly Practice Polygamy

That is component certainly one of a two-part report.

Notice Role Two of This Report

Although polygamy is unlawful when you look at the U.S. and a lot of mosques attempt to discourage plural marriages, some Muslim men in the usa have actually quietly married numerous spouses.

No body understands exactly how numerous Muslims in the U.S. are now living in polygamous families. But based on academics researching the issue, estimates cover anything from 50,000 to 100,000 individuals.

You can observe a few of the ladies taking part in polygamous marriages when you look at the lobby of Sanctuary for Families, a women that are nonprofit center in new york. It bursts with color as being a dozen ladies in bright African dresses and head wraps gather for the noon that is weekly for West African immigrants. The ladies come every week to the help team where they discuss difficult dilemmas, such as for instance domestic punishment, medical dilemmas, immigration hurdles and polygamy.

Polygamy is freely practiced in elements of Africa, and nearly every among the ladies in the team has experienced polygamy firsthand – either as a spouse in a plural wedding or having been raised in families with one daddy who’s got a couple of spouses.

Group user Sarah claims that in her own Guinea that is native spouse springs it on their spouse which he’s likely to marry somebody else. Sarah, such as the others interviewed with this tale, would provide just her very first name.

“Sometimes he state, ‘OK, my goal is to be hitched the next day,’ or ‘I’m likely to be married today.’ He is going ask you to answer like this. It simply happened in my experience,” she claims.

Sarah starts to cry. Other people nod in sympathy. These women can be all Muslim. The states that are koran men may marry as much as four ladies. The Prophet Mohammad had wives that are multiple.

But there is a limitation, claims Sally, another team user. The spouse cannot prefer one girl over another – along with his wide range or their heart.

“You’ve got to love them the in an identical way, share every thing similar means, similarly,” claims Sally. “no one may do that. It is impossible.”

Invisible Lives

Nevertheless, Muslims training polygamy when you look at the U.S., despite state laws and regulations prohibiting it.

Listed here is just exactly exactly how a guy gets all over statutory regulations: He marries one girl under civil law, then marries one, 2 or 3 other people in religious ceremonies that aren’t identified by hawaii. Various other instances, males marry ladies in both America and abroad.

A lot of women keep quiet for anxiety about deportation or retribution.

For instance, Sally’s husband relocated to the usa from the Ivory Coast before she did. Whenever Sally joined up with him, she found he’d hitched somebody else in the usa. But without appropriate immigration documents, she did not forward dare come and report him to your authorities.

She stated whenever she found its way to the U.S., her spouse and his wife that is new put within the cellar.

“They told us to prepare, clean, try everything. I did not talk English. And I was told by him, ‘Don’t state absolutely absolutely nothing. You state one thing, she actually is going turn you into deported. And me personally, i’ll take jail.'”

Ultimately, Sally left your house along with her kids, now works at a locks braiding beauty salon. But that anxiety about deportation stops many from leaving their polygamous relationships.

“Legally, they truly are hidden,” states Julie Dinnerstein, a senior lawyer for Sanctuary for Families. “If you might be the next or 3rd or 4th spouse, that marital relationship will not be recognized for immigration purposes. This means when your spouse is just a resident or card that is green, he can not sponsor you. This means in the event the spouse gets asylum, you never get asylum during the exact same time. The person is definitely likely to be in a situation of greater energy.”

Secret Ceremonies

When you look at the previous decade, Muslim clerics started initially to realize that some guys whom desired a spiritual wedding had been currently hitched to another person.

Based on Daisy Khan, whom heads the United states Society for Muslim Advancement and it is hitched to an imam, polygamy is much more common amongst conservative, less educated immigrants from Africa and Asia. It really is rarer among middle-class Muslims through the center East. She adds that nowadays, imams do criminal record checks on the grooms to ensure they are perhaps perhaps maybe not currently hitched in their house countries.

Some clerics when you look at the U.S. perform 2nd marriage ceremonies in key.

Khan, who pre-marriage guidance, states she constantly raises the matter of polygamy with engaged couples.

“In addition reveal to them that as a lady, you have got particular legal rights, and also as a person, he might 1 day exercise his directly to have wife that is second” Khan says. “and often the guy claims, ‘No, no, no. I am never ever planning to do that.’ And I state, ‘Well, in the event you ever get tempted, think about we put that into the agreement?'”

For other people, a Blessing

Abed Awad, a family group legislation lawyer in nj-new jersey, says for all men that are muslim numerous spouses means numerous kiddies — which will be considered a blessing in Islam. And because Islam permits intimate relations just in wedding, polygamy legitimizes the connection in Jesus’s eyes.

Awad says conservative Muslims argue that in polygamy, “You’re really accountable for that individual as your spouse. As well as the intimate relationship becomes a relationship of love and companionship rather than only an intimate fling.”

Awad stresses he does maybe maybe perhaps not condone polygamy. But he claims some conservative women that are muslim some benefits — specially those who find themselves divorced or widowed.

Mona, a Palestinian girl with six kiddies from her first wedding, is thrilled to be a 2nd spouse. Whenever Mona got divorced in 1990, she became a pariah in her own conservative Muslim community in Patterson, N.J.

“When women divorce or separation,” she claims, “the people look down upon her — looking to her like she’s 2nd course.”

Then 14 years back, a guy approached her become their 2nd spouse. She resisted in the beginning but then grew to appreciate him and decided to be their wife. She states her issues evaporated.

“When I married the husband that is second everyone’s okay,” she claims, smiling. “because I have a spouse. if we get anywhere, i am free, no body speaks,”

He offers up each of their families, in which he divides time passed between the 2 houses. Mona claims the very first spouse ended up being at first annoyed, but she got familiar with it.

” What may be the issue? He stay all the life like this if he is not happy with the first marriage, why? You understand, my religion is great since it offers woman and man another possiblity to be delighted.”

NPR is certainly not exposing Mona’s final name, along with her spouse wouldn’t be interviewed because of this tale. Her spouse could possibly be faced with bigamy.

‘ A Person Is Adequate’

At Mam African Hair Braiding beauty salon in Queens, N.Y., husbands in many cases are the main topic of discussion.

Because the Senegalese owner, Miriam Dougrou, weaves cornrows on a young girl, she states that her dad hitched four females and she had 19 or 20 siblings. She lost count. Therefore did her father.

“Sometimes he does not understand whom’s who, and then he your investment title” of their kids and spouses, she stated.

“He calls them # 1 and number 2,” states Dougrou’s spouse, Timothy.

Miriam Dougrou will not desire Timothy to possess a 2nd spouse. “Sometime he chatted about it — like a tale. But he was told by me, ‘I’m perhaps not joking. Do not tease me personally because i will not be a 2nd wife. I’m going to function as first and final spouse.'”

Therefore does Timothy, who is sitting into the corner maintaining awfully quiet, would like a 2nd spouse?

“No,” he states having a half smile. ” One is enough for me personally.”

Skip to toolbar