Can sharing a husband be a feminist act?

After being married for a few years, I think it should! Now if you agree, beware that Shaitan will always be whispering in your ears to turn you sisters against each other. Ignore him! P.Feauxzar

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Most definitely. I’ve been husband sharing for 18 + years. I’ve been married both monogamously and *polygynously, and I prefer husband sharing. *(Polygyny – marriage of one man to more than one woman – is the only form of polygamy that Islam allows.) The view that husband sharing is immoral, inherently inferior and dooms at least one of the parties involved to a lifetime of grief and hardship, is considered an undisputed fact by those who believe monogamous marriages are the only path to happiness. Unfortunately, most Muslims today have adopted this opinion.
I truly believe that women thrive when they don’t get so caught up in a man that the idea of sharing him with another woman is tantamount to feminist blasphemy. In fact, I submit that if anyone wants to see real feminism in action they should find a loving, cooperative polygynous household! I’ll go even further: given the potential benefits of families with more than one wife, polygyny should be included in the Women’s Bill of Rights.

Loosely defined, to me, feminism means “pro-woman.” I considered myself a ‘feminist’ through my school and college years, and still believe that equal work should bring equal pay regardless of sex. I also believe cultural wrongs, such as female circumcision and honor killings, are a form of oppression. However, I gave up the “feminist” label when abortion, lesbianism, the inability of European women to accept the cultural differences of non-European women, and when the over generalizations of men and masculinity as anti-feminine became synonymous with feminism. Call a misogynist a misogynist, but also know that not all men are oppressive to women; many, if not most, have an incredible amount of love and respect for us “womb-men.” I think the feminist movement took a wrong turn when it failed to recognize that real feminists embrace their femininity, that women do not have to be “like” men in order to stand equal to men, and that the interdependent nature of the relationship between the sexes is something to be valued rather than denied.

In my view, the ideal feminist loves and respects human nature; both feminine and masculine. She neither chafes at the reality that most men are polygynous by nature, nor does she condemn this behavior as immoral or boorish. While most women cannot give their hearts and affections to more than one male, men can love and commit to more than one woman at a time. A confident feminist realizes that her husband’s natural bent toward polygyny will not damage her self-worth, and she possesses empathy for the women who are looking to marry, yet, for a variety of reasons, have not found a worthy single man with whom to unite in marriage.

So, when a new wife enters into a couple’s relationship, doesn’t jealousy immediately take root in the hearts of all females involved? Jealous feelings usually exist, and are generally considered a ‘natural’ reaction that all women go through – an observable ‘proof’ of a wife’s love for her husband. I disagree. Jealousy only exposes a woman’s insecurity (and perhaps rightfully so depending on her and her husband’s relationship). Jealousy is ‘normal’ in the sense that it meets the expectations of, and in fact is encouraged by, society, but it is not necessarily ’natural.’ There are many women who do not become jealous over sharing a husband.

Jealousy is a product of insecurity and competition. Most feminists would agree with Prophet Muhammad (saw) who warned us not to raise our daughters ‘in trinkets.’ In other words, we should not teach them to base their self worth on their beauty and material possessions. Doing so only inculcates an unnatural competition between women, and dulls their ability to realize their God given potential. In fact, based on an ayah in Surah Falaq, I challenge the idea that women have the ‘right’ to be jealous. Surah Falaq asks us to seek refuge in Allah from the envy of others, as well as the jealousies we might nurture in our hearts. The warning obviously implies the destructive nature of this emotion and reminds us that this inclination can and should be controlled. All it takes is a shift in thinking and attitude.

Having said that, I cannot deny that after eons of culturally accepted ‘jealousy’ being part of the matrix of human society, a woman will struggle with feelings of jealousy if she suspects that another female is in love with and enjoying conjugal relations with her man. Society should neither justify her jealousy as a natural response, nor make her feel guilty for reacting to the “other” woman with envy. Instead, society should counsel and support such a woman in order to help her overcome this spiritually debilitating disease.

Women are incredibly compassionate. If the wife wills (and is married to a just man), she can be perfectly comfortable sharing her husband. What modern woman doesn’t appreciate regular days off, with a little time to miss her man and anticipate his return? She knows where he is and whom he’s with. She can have the best of both single and married worlds. If the wives learn to respect, like and even love each other, an incredibly strong sisterhood develops. I once met three Muslim women who had been married to the same man. All three said that while they did not miss their husband, they sorely missed the sisterhood they had as co-wives.

Remember this: Allah is Just, and He allows polygyny. It simply doesn’t follow that polygyny is inherently unjust. Unfortunately, this may be the case for the majority of polygynous marriages these days–at least until the sisters overcome the societal pressure to dislike the arrangement and/or the brothers act with true justice. This sad state of affairs (no pun intended) just proves how far both Muslim men and women have strayed from the fitra (nature) of our deen; how we’ve forgotten how to behave with each other; and how we’ve lost the true understanding of Islamic family values.

“How many of our Lord’s favors will we continue to deny?”
Asiila Rasool, 50+, is married in an extended family whose mission is to revive the neglected sunnah of Muqimusalahjamah. She is a homeschooler, doula, homebirth midwife and lazy writer.

Papatia Feauxzar

Papatia Feauxzar is the Love & Relationship Editor of Hayati Magazine. Feauxzar is also a Muslim Publisher and an American author of West African descent living in Dallas, Texas with her son and husband. She holds a master’s degree in Accounting with a concentration in Personal Finance. After working as an accountant for a corporate firm for almost five years, Feauxzar decided to pursue Accounting from home while homeschooling her son. You can visit her website at www.djarabikitabs.com.

8 Comments
  1. Shukran

    From your argument follows that a man should not feel jealous should his wife choose to marry more men, as is allowed in the Quran if she becomes what they possess by their right hand. So a man should feel that it is an act of caring if his wife is falling in love and having conjugal relations with other men, especially since it gives him “me-time” and a chance to wish for his brother what he wishes for himself. Or not? Because this is the consequence of your argument. And it would be so good for the brotherhood if they had to be generous, especially in countries like Qatar where there are almost 3 men to every woman.

  2. Assalamu aleikum,

    Polyandry is not allowed in Islam, period. The scripture quoted is more for women slaves owned by a man…A Muslim man right in his mind has Gheerah and would not let polyandry occurs as he fears his Creator. We’re equal to men but we’re not built the same way. I would feel grossed out if another man other than my husband touches me…*puking in my mouth right now* This stuff is written by Allah the all Merciful. He would never say something for our demise. Masalam.

  3. Thank you for your answer. I wanted to say that the way you feel about polyandry is exactly the way I, and many others, feel about polygamy. It makes me puke in the mouth.

    As for permissibility, it is all in the interpretation.

    But in the text here, it makes it seem that rejecting polygamy in your life is because of nafs. That is not just. For most people, it is simply because nobody wants to live their lives with constant puke in their mouths.

    As you say – Allah would never say anything to our demise.

  4. Jazak’Allah khair for reading the post ukhty. We can agree to disagree as I understand the puking effect about polygamy for you and many other sisters out there. I was once there. Let say I had a change of hearts. And there is Ghusl… So may Allah help us all, facilitate the deen, and open our eyes for what we aren’t of, amiin. If I may ask… How do feel about the Hooris? http://hayatimagazine.com/faith/a-glimpse-into-jannah/

  5. Barak Allah fiki, ukhti! I love your excellent thinking on this subject, it matches mine as well. Allah allows a man to have up to four wives at a time and it is not our place to question this. It was my idea over 2 years ago that my husband needed to take another wife to join us, and alhamdulillah, Allah has recently blessed us with a beautiful sister who has joined our life and family. We are all three so thankful and happy for this amazing blessing, masha’Allah, it would fill a book to explain the depth of this miracle! Allah bless you and your family with every success!

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