Saudi Arabia: Growing up in Polygamy

Saudi Arabia: Growing up with Polygamy

Polygamy remains against the law and against the culture of America and much of the West as well. Yet, in Saudi Arabia and in Islam, it is an accepted practice. The understanding of polygamy remains an unsolved mystery and subject of curiosity to those who have not been exposed to it or have come from a culture where it is allowed and practiced.

A Saudi woman who was raised in a polygamous environment agreed to answer some questions towards shedding light and understanding on the issue is very much appreciated. Her responses are only very lightly edited for understanding but overall the following is all in her own candid words where she shares her thoughts and experiences on the matter:

I understand that you were raised in a polygamous environment. How many wives did your Dad have and where did your mother fit in?

He had many wives. I think he had a total of 9 wives but not all in one time because you can not have more than 4 wives at one time. My mom was his last wife and she was 16 years old and my dad was 45 old. At that time of the marriage, my dad had one other wife in addition to my mom. She was the first wife and my mom was the last wife before he passed away.

With multiple wives, how is a schedule usually arranged so the man spends individual time with each wife and their children?

My dad was a busy man in business so he would usually spend 3 months with us and then 3 months with the first wife and the other time he would be out of the Kingdom for his business.

Does a wife usually have her own home separate from other wives? How often or typical is it for wives to share a house?

My dad gave all his wives their own home so we would never be with the others. Although sometimes some of the family from other wives would come to our home to see us and some members from my family who love us would move into our home and stay.

What is the typical interaction (if any) between wives?

Well in regards to me and my mom, the other wife (his first wife) did not love us at all. She believed that my mom took her husband and that was not right for her. As a result, she was not good or kind to us at all.

As a child growing up in a polygamous environment did you ever feel that you did not get enough of your Dad’s time?

He was such a good father for us. I really miss him; he loved us so much. He loved us as individuals and also as a whole

How many siblings do you have? What kind of relationship do you have with your siblings who have different mothers than yourself?

I have a total of 22 sisters and brothers (wow!) from 4 of my dad’s wives. Some of my brothers from my dad’s other wives have never liked me or want to know me. I don’t know why since we are family?

What are your own views having been raised in a polygamous environment? Do you support it for yourself or others?

For me, I didn’t like my father having more than one wife. It was not good for us; not from my father but because of the woman. She will never like the other wife, for sure. At least that’s my feeling about that. I also do not like any man who will have many wives. It is not good for the kids. Yes, 100%, it is not good for the kids. My father died a long time ago and many problems started from that day. Yes, dear, here you will know why. My Dad divorced the first wife four years before he died. So that means in regards to inheritance, my mom is the first wife and she will have a bigger share from him. But problems arose with the son of the other wife and he gave my mother a very hard time because of the situation. That is really bad and it kills me inside. I feel if my father were here these things would never have happened to us. You know there are many and I know them who have problems like this…about the way they lie and say “oh we are a great family.” They lie about that so much. I know what it means to have many wives and have the father die. It kills all the future. I wish you know what I mean by that.

For me, I will never like my husband to take another wife. When he wants one, I wish he will come and ask me because I will never be with him at all after that. Because I have a stepmom I would never like it for my kids to be in that position. How would the man like it if his wife were to ever come to him and say, “hey, I love another man and I will go to him.” In my view, this is what the feeling is really about.

How does polygamy differ from misyar marriages?

Misyar is like having a girlfriend but in a halal way. I think a woman who accepts to be the wife in a misyar marriage is hurting her feeling as a woman and she is humiliating herself to be in the shadows. What is her feeling when she goes out with her husband and his real wife sees them or meets them? You know what happens? The real wife thinks that girl is her husband’s girlfriend, so you know what woman do (lol) if the man can have a wife then what is the problem to have her in a good way…you know what is stopping him to do that? He wants to use her but when he has had all he wants he will say bye bye. Most men who have a misyar wife don’t like the woman to have his baby!!!!! Why?

Are there any additional comments you’d like to add?

Some or many woman I know when her husband wants another wife he will ask his wife to go and find one for him. Do you believe that? I see my mom’s friend do that. She came and asked my mom to marry her husband. My mom asked why? She said “oh you are my friend and I know you will be better than another who I do not know.” A wife never knows is another wife is really bad. I don’t like it at all and feel a woman is not normal sometime. I don’t know why I am like this. My mom says she is like me too.

She is a good mom even though she never went to school. But I love her mind; she is so open-minded. She says my life is her life so she is the one who is by my side with my life and she told me love your husband as much you can and he will love you to

Thank you so much for your candidness and willingness to respond to these questions.


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