Women Versus Men; Women Versus Women

No nation, culture, or community has found a truly peaceful resolution to the battle of the sexes. For the most part, it is a cold war that is fought on many fronts. We’re talking about urban, rural, and suburban warfare because for the most part the battles take place in the home. But the battle ground can be more public, like in political debates broadcast in every home in America or think pieces published in esteemed press. In some cultures men have always had the upper hand, so women must use indirect tactics in assymetric warfare. In other societies women are gaining more ground and they are able to make gains in in the workforce, political office, and even demand that their husbands–shudder–help with the laundry. The strategies vary as much as the millions of individuals who deploy tactics to undermine, overpower, or demand recognition of their grievances from their adversary.

It is my opinion that nowhere on Earth is the battle of the sexes fought with as much ferocity as in the Black American community. We’re talking family, children, and lives have been ruined in the collateral damage. At worst, the violence of these battles have led to tragedies and human loss. At minimum, the warring parties and innocent bystanders, have been traumatized by psychological warfare. I have first hand experiences in the trenches of what I’d like to call asymmetric warfare.

The sad thing is, that the most vulnerable (in my opinion this would be women) are often left with few allies. You’d think that in what seems to be an all out war, that there’d be some sort of solidarity. My first hand knowledge comes from the female front, so I can tell you little about what happens from the male perspective. But what I can tell you is that in the Black American Muslim community, there is little female solidarity. Basically, women have fragile bonds meaning that there is a lack of sisterhood. Instead, we seem to be tearing each other apart, all the while finding the weak spots of our adversaries of the opposite gender. I’m not saying that BAM women want to defeat their male counterparts. But basically, they want to have their grievances heard and have their rights recognized. Above all, they want BAM and the Muslim community as a whole to help rectify the problems that have led to some serious social problems and instability.

One of the major problems I have seen is gendered racism in the BAM community. This had led to some serious demographic problems, such as the shortage of viable BAM. BAM women are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable life partners. For the most part, people have written thoughtful posts on issues surrounding gender relations. However some of the opinions espoused by bloggers and commentators have been downright reprehensible. I, myself, felt alienated by some of the views held by some American Muslims during a lengthy discussion about the growing trend for BAM men marrying overseas. One that especially got under my skin was the tendency to criticize educated Black Muslim women for being nothing else than educated Black Muslim women. I am sure that many of responsible, hardworking, conscientious, and ethical Black men have felt alienated by some of the critiques BAM women have had of BAM men. For example there is the constant mantra, “There are no good Black Muslim men!” “Black men are trifling!” etc…

This constant mantra is something that I wanted to address. I wanted to talk about the woe is me attitude, the victimhood, that many of us women carry like its our cross to burden. We are martyrs right? Especially us Black Muslim women, the world has dealt us a terrible hand? I wanted to move beyond victimhood and to talk about how WE, as women, contribute to our own predicament. I want to talk about how our lack of sisterhood and self respect causes us to damage ourselves, and sometimes other people. I wanted to move beyond the two front war, to talk about what do we women do that damages other women. One of the primary causes of instability in the Black American Muslim family is polygamy or some type of infidelity. I wanted to talk about how Muslim women contribute to failed marriages and thereby undermine the struggle of our fellow sisters.

I’m not trying to criticize people who happily go into this situation. I, for one, don’t understand how can a woman be truly happy about such a situation. She has somehow been convinced that she deserves less, not a full partner in life. She must have been convinced that she is just happy to a man in her life, at least some of the time. Muslim Hedonist writes about how insulted one woman felt when she was approached as a second wife. I suggest her thoughts on the matter. When I read many of the writings of women who are in polygynous situations or were formally, I noticed a lot of pain. Forever loyal wrote a blog about second wives and how she doesn’t feel sorry when she reads their sob stories on the internet. Normally we blame men for these situations. But I think there are many women who are contributing the situation by promoting certain ideas that undermine women’s sense of self worth, or by women acting out of self interest when making moves on other women’s husbands.

One of the first ways that we Muslim women undermine our sisters is by promoting ridiculous, sexist views. Jamerican Muslimah wrote a great post on how Muslim women promote sexist views. Basically, as a woman, YOU are to blame if he finds another wife. This has left a lot of women paranoid and hating other women. She wrote:

It is clear who this idea stands to benefit. What I don’t get is why so many women readily accept it. I mean, it has double-standard written all over it! As Muslims, it is not our example anyway.

These views make it very difficult for BAM women to have a real grievance without the threat of bringing in another woman. When Muslim women seek counsel or help to resolve a major dispute, they are often face unsympathetic women who make them feel insecure and nervous. These women tell their sisters that they are nags, that they are ingrates. Basically, the find that good ole hadith about hell being full of women who complained about their husbands. Meanwhile, the sister who has had six kids, home schooled all of them, cooked three meals from scratch each day, washed and ironed everyone’s clothes, and ran a business out their garage, but couldn’t manage to look like a video ho in the bedroom at the end of the day still has to worry about another woman fulfilling her husbands, “needs”. This is the message you’ll many women get.

While we can take the brothers to task for creeping and trying to get wifey number two or three or four, who takes the women to task for trying to be the second act? I’m not saying that we should vilify second wives. I remember the first time I met a woman who was a second wife. If I remember right, it was at a protest against sanctions against Iraq in the early 90s. She was from another community, had worked with a Muslim guy before becoming Muslim and they “Fell in love.” While most Muslim scholars do not see polygamy as infidelity, I would say that developing an emotionally intimate relationship outside of marriage without the knowledge of your spouse’s knowledge is emotional infidelity. On one hand, you have Muslim scholars saying it is bad to free mix and love comes after marriage. On the other hand, they will accept this type of “love” arrangement. It bothered me to know that a man could legitimate his emotional affair with a co-worker and bring her into the picture with such ease. However, I chalked it up to her own lack of experience in the Deen. It didn’t seem like she was some femme fatale and all covered up in hijab and long sleeve shirts she didn’t seem like a hoochie either. She just seemed like a naïve new Muslimah who felt saved by the married guy who introduced her to the religion and his own complicated family situation. Despite all her justifications, it was clear that the situation was painful for her. A few years later I actually ran into her, still married, while in the women’s section of a mosque in an East Coast city. But more than a decade has passed and I’m not sure how the situation has panned out.

The above story was one of the more innocent situations. I have heard of more devious and destructive types of machinations on the part of single Muslim women who want to snag that eligible un-bachelor (Note: Umm Adam’s blog is pretty mild compare to some of the sordid stories I’ve witnessed and heard). Some women are so wrapped up in their personal loneliness and desire to have a man, any man, in their life, that they will move in on happily married men. Often tied into their sales package is a claim “There are no good Black Muslim men!” They have that Ana miskeenah attitude and somehow every upstanding married man is responsible to save the heaving hordes of unmarried damsels. Some women will forgo a real marriage and take the status of being a mistress in a misyar marriage. Other times that second wife ploy was a way to dethrone the first wife, the ultimate victory in the competition between BAM women. My basic challenge to this approach is that if this upstanding and ethical man goes hooks up with the next damsel in distress without his wife knowing, can he still qualify as upstanding and ethical? What happens when that situation becomes messy? Polygamous marriages are some of the most unstable marriages. Period. And with two broken families and potentially a dozen kids, can he still be there for everyone? Many of us are left shaking our head when we here about the aftermath of a disastrous polygamous situation.

I have been troubled by some of the stories I’ve read in blogosphere and some of the stories I’ve witnessed my own self. I think it is time that we as women begin to take a look at ourselves. We should respect ourselves enough to not hurt our sisters. And importantly, if we are constantly blaming men for the sad state of affairs in our community, we need to question if and how we enable their destructive behaviors. In a conversation I had a while back in Kuwait, my friend pointed out that much of the immature, boyish, asinine behavior has its roots in the ways we as women coddle our sons, brothers, and husbands. We have not held them to high standards. Instead, we have rewarded narcissism and promiscuity. We women have chased the dogs and made them feel like superstars. And even the good guys, some women have worked hard to bring that dog out of them.

I have, by no means, been thorough in my exploration of this issue. But I wanted to begin a dialogue amongst sisters. One brother mentioned noticed that there was a lack of sisterhood, citing polygamy as a major cause. I wanted to begin to talk about ways in which we can make better choices. I wanted to find a way in which we women can help each other to find a peaceful resolution to this damaging multi-front war of men versus women and women versus other women in the BAM community.

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45 thoughts on “Women Versus Men; Women Versus Women

  1. Salam Alaikum! What a wonderful post. Reclaiming our sisterhood and learning how to live victimless lives are so important. I for one have my own ideas an opinions on polygyny. Although I have had too many arguments with people who tell me I’m basically a bad Muslim to even want to discuss them these days. I’ve always felt that for the most part it is legalised cheating – there is this freedom that men feel they have to continue checking out women and hitting on them because they are really just looking for that second wife. I’ve also been insulted beyond belief by men who assume I’d jump into that situation and by my sisters who think I’m out to get their man just because of my age and single status. It’s hurtful and demeaning and does little to engender feelings of true community.
    You are also dead on when you say that women need to stop vicitmizing themselves…ana miskeenah indeed! But I think a lot of it has to do with the way we socialize our genders. If a girl is raised to believe that her only achievement worthy of community and God’s notice is to be a good wife then her sense of self-worth gets heavily tied up in her being that. (And you can have all the knowledge in the world but those hadith still sting!) We need a brave new world and people willing to take the steps to build it…
    Write on!

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  2. Nice article. This is ground zero for the ills of the Black community regardless of religion. I am truly at a loss for solutions because Black people themselves are the problem. We cannot even look to our brothers and sisters overseas with their honor killings, female genital mutilation etc. etc.
    I studied the war on poverty and during the years of the 1960’s and 1970’s and the gap between Blacks and Whites closed significantly on all fronts. Health, income, education, housing then by the 1980’s all gains stopped and now we are going backward on all fronts.
    The future of all families in America do not look good. Blacks because we are marginalized historically experience the bad things first then it becomes normal for everyone else.

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  3. Assalamu alaikom,
    This is a great post. Thank you for posting it. You know, when I was a single mom convert nearing 30, I had some of these situations offered to me, and I was offended by it, too. I must admit I was starting to panic a little bit (since by Muslim standards, I was single at an “older” age and I had a kid) but I would rather be alone the rest of my life rather than harm another woman. There are woman-hating women, or male-identified women in this world, of any color. It totally baffles me. Honestly, we women are sisters in the struggle together, we share the same experiences and have the same issues (at a fundamental level), so how we cannot behave compassionately toward one another is just beyond me… Shows you how little self esteem we have. (Speaking in general terms here.) Wonder how it is we’ve got so many women with so little self esteem… Hmm…

    Anyway… If polygyny works in other cultures, so be it, I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion on it. But I would say in America, mixing converts into polygyny is just a baaaad idea.

    A friend of mine was considering this because she is older and didn’t want the bother of being a full-time wife. I can’t blame her. Marriage is work, men can be work. But she would have been his dirty little secret more or less… A little something on the side. He wanted their arrangement kept secret from even her family. And it seems to me that so many second wives and families live secretly, like they are invisible. Tell me that’s healthy…

    The bottom line is that it’s illegal here in the US and it’s far outside the North American cultural norm (Utah, Arizona and British Colombia communities excepted!) So, it’s a hardship on anybody to try to practice this here. Someone’s going to lose. Everyone’s going to live with lies. It’s not worth it.

    I would be shocked if my husband wanted a second wife… But I’d get over my shock fairly fast because I would be busy packing. I don’t want to live outside the law, I don’t want to live with all those issues.

    Assalamu alaikom.

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  4. “While most Muslim scholars do not see polygamy as infidelity, I would say that developing an emotionally intimate relationship outside of marriage without the knowledge of your spouse’s knowledge is emotional infidelity.”

    EXACTLY! You’re a woman after my own heart. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said the same thing. What I find interesting is how a brother’s “search for a second wife” and the correspondance that ensures after he has found her resembles the infidelity I’ve seen in the dunya. The same type of creeping, secret phones calls, secret emails & IMs, sneaking out the house etc. And some people want to convince us that this behavior is not only acceptable but Islamic??? Nah…send that one back!

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  5. Assalaamualaikum my insightful sister,

    I could not agree more with you and Jamerican Muslimah. I’ve been completely disappointed by imams responses to brothers who “creep” to get a second wife. Mainly the response has been “He doesn’t need your approval. It is his Islamic right.” This annoys me on so many different levels because this type of sneaky behavior erodes the foundation of a potentially lasting marriage. It puts suspicion and pain in the heart of a woman. I wish people would understand that protector and maintainer is more than just bed & board. To me, it is showing the deepest level of concern and care. When something hurts your wife you should feel that hurt and want to look to the source of the pain. Of course, this works both ways.

    Margari, I read this post days ago and hesitated to comment because (unfortunately) I am deeply pessimistic, at least right now, when it comes to sisterhood in Islam. I have a hard time finding MEANINGFUL relationships with sisters in Islam. Yet, I can talk about “the real stuff in my life” with my Christian and non-religious friends. It is almost like we have so much competition and censorship that we can’t speak beyond Insha’Allahs and Masha Allahs. I see sisters more concerned with how tight a sister’s clothes are than really knowing their sisters. I am sorry if this sounds too harsh or judgmental but this has been my experience.

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  6. Samira I agree with you. It is easier to talk to non Muslim women than our Muslim sisters. Feel free to check me out. I am friendly and am always looking for new Muslim sister friends.

    Jamerican Muslimah as alwasy I agree with you. This sneaking around and out and out decite should not be allowed. But we see it over and over again in our ummah. Not only that but we find brothers giving advice on how to do it and eggin brothers on telling them: “its ok, its your right, you do not have to tell her anything, your the man” how can any woan feel safe and secure in a relationship that is built on lies. The quran says , “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Surah Al Rum 30:21) How can there be tranquility and love when you are wondering what your man is doing and who he is doign ti with.
    Men need to remember Prophet Salallaahu ‘aliahi wa’sallaam said “the best of you are those who are best to their wives.”
    They also forget the ayat that says one is better……..

    I can not believe this is what Islam is all about. I can not believe this IMPERFECT activity is a halal part of a perfect faith……..

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  7. Thank you for this post. Like the other sister, I’m also deeply pessimistic about the prospects of any real sisterhood in Muslim circles. But I think telling the plain truth is the beginning of correcting these problems. I’m amazed at how we as BAMs take our sickness & damage with us into everything we touch. This is why I’ve backed away from the ummah. I’m don’t always feel healthy enough to be surrounded by the hatred & madness. I don’t need extra drama & problems.

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  8. Asalamu alaykum,

    You’ve hit on some points I’ve been rolling around in my head for awhile. I’ve been thinking about how some sisters, particularly well-educated, liberal converts, who before their Islam would have supported women’s rights but are now actually harming them and reinforcing negative and destructive stereotypes for selfish reasons.

    It saddens me to see the number of previously outspoken, activist, intellectual, and independent unmarried sisters that believe to become submissive and unthinking and dependent upon a man, any man, even if they are not married to him is to become a better Muslim, and think that they must ask for permission from a nonmahram imam/wali type brother before even crossing the street.

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  9. You made some excellent points here! We are living in some very tiring and difficult circumstances, where we should be together, we are divided.

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  10. Salaam,

    It is interesting I just started a blog focusing on gender relations. Specifically from the male side of things. Firstly your honest tone caught my attention. One thing I have been saying for a long time is that the victim role women play is hurting them and have found few females willing to be honest enough with themselves to admit this. Another thing I commend you on is admiting that gender relations are akin to warfare this I firmly believe yet few within the Muslim community want to look at this reality. Obviously coming from a pro male prospective I am going to disagree with your assesment of polygyny. One important factor I think AA women have to come to terms with is the problem of the Matriarical structure of their societies. And this is why there is almost an all out civil war between the sexes in the AA community.

    و الله أعلم

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  11. More on Polygyny…

    Reading through the comments I am noticing a common problem the sisters are having with Polygyny. The “creeping” aspect of how SOME brothers handle this situation. I am a firm believer in establishing things on the front end. I think the mistake a lot of brothers make when it comes to polygyny is that they are not geniune about it from the begining. They will say whatever to get their foot in the door then they will use bait switch tatics, and women hate this as this demonstrates inconsistency in a brothers caracter i.e. instability and there is nothing more unappealing to a woman that instability. I think brothers who are looking for polygynious relationships should establish this on the front end. There is a particular brother I know that is happily marries to three wives. He always starts off any interaction by laying his intentions out in the open. If the woman knows up front that this brother is the “2,3, or 4” brother and she accepts this and the brother treats her justly and the main ingredient that he PROVIDES for her she will be happy. Women get angry when brothers aren’t doing it right, for example the brother is disingenious signfying a lack of trust. Or the brother is not providing but rather he’s pimpn’ four sisters out on food stamps and welfare signifying a lack of responsibility. So the main ingredient that is missing from our men is the lack of integrity.

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  12. Rasgeed More, You are right. The big “P” is not the problem it is the selfish men and sometimes the selfish women that want to practice it. However, this is NOT just an AA thing. I have seen this many times in the Arab world as well I have seen it is Egypt, Kuwait and here in UAE. They may not be pimping her for her foodstamps but he still sneaks, Lies, and does not provide support. I too have seen it work and do not think it is a horrible thing. BUT it should not be forced down a womans throat and it should not be entered into on false pretenses.

    I have seen many womens worlds turned upside down all because a man had a mid life crises. I do not know how many times i have seen a man take on an additional wife only to regret it and divorce her. He had his fun got the whole thing out his system BUT the women are damaged for life. or I have seen the men lose thier minds Many times he will place the 1 wife in a home far from him and forget about her maybe visiting her 1 time a week. Leaving her to take on the role of a man and fin for herself. Now many people will think what is wrong with being an indepandant woman. Yeah in the states it is one thing but here it is something different. As a woman that covers I have a hard time doing things sometimes. The people treat Muslims and non Muslims differently. I have had people not want to deal with me, they will say where is your husband, no i will not rent you this apartment you are a woman with no husband, I cant come fix your so and so becuase your husband is not home!!! This may sound strange but there are things that you sometimes cannot do as a single, divorced, or widowed woman here. And for the ARAB single woman it is even harder.

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  13. I beg to differ with Mr. Moore on several points. Using the term “matriarchy” obscures what is actually going on. There is a genuine difference between purposeful, deliberate “matriarchy” and matriarchy by default & abandonment. Very few women set out with the intention of being heads of households; unlike the patriarchy situation where the man being the head of the household is the plan & expectation. The African-American community is filled with matriarchy by default/abandonment. And casually using the term “matriarchy” serves to gloss over the male abandonment that is causing the bulk of this.

    Secondly, from what I’ve seen, very few women genuinely want to take sloppy seconds from an already married man. They do this because they are desperate to be married, lonely & have almost non-existent self-esteem. The dynamics are similar to the “shacking up” situation. Most of the women I’ve seen who were shacking did that as their 2nd choice in hopes of someday being promoted to marriage. Their male partners knew this & leveraged these women’s desperation for their own benefit. The same way these already married men leverage these 2nd wives’ desperation & lack of self-respect for their own benefit. Some men also use the threat of taking a 2nd wife as leverage over their wives. No matter how anyone seeks to verbally clean this up—by arguing that exploitation is okay if the willing victim is warned up front—it’s still injustice.

    Preying on somebody’s weakness is not honorable.

    And what I find disturbing is the lack of acknowlegment of (or interest in) the fear, suspicion & suffering that this situation causes for the women involved. Some men are delighted to hear women speak openly about women’s involvement & responsibility for their own mistreatment, but that’s about as far as these men’s interest goes. The focus is usually on upholding men’s whims & silencing any outcry. Polygamy is okay & not tyranny if done xyz way. Wife-beating is okay & not tyranny if done xyz way. By extension, similar arguments could be used to assert that slavery is okay & not tyranny if done xyz way.

    To me, all of these issues are a simple matter of justice. It’s about not putting things on others that you would never accept or want for yourself. For men, it should be about wanting the same thing for their wives that they want for themselves (not having to share their wife with anybody else). The same for women (not invading & encroaching upon another woman’s family).

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  14. Pingback: Intraracial Dating: Women Vs. Men, Men vs. Women at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  15. Sister Khadija,

    “And what I find disturbing is the lack of acknowlegment of (or interest in) the fear, suspicion & suffering that this situation causes for the women involved.”

    Again this goes back to our women playing the poor helpless victim role. Instead of taking responsibility for what you have the ability to control.

    The matriarical nature of AA female society is at the very least partially to blame for the current situation. What you have is the which came first the chicken or the egg arguement. Who is to blame “effeminate men or the dominering women that made them?” I fully acknowledge the historical circumstances behind this situation. It is interesting to note that African societies are patriarical while AA are matriarical some may argue this is extension and result of slavery which I find this arguement to be rational. Historical arguements aside the situation is what it is and what people need to do is start looking forward.

    “Secondly, from what I’ve seen, very few women genuinely want to take sloppy seconds from an already married man.”

    “To me, all of these issues are a simple matter of justice. It’s about not putting things on others that you would never accept or want for yourself.”

    The above comments highlight the exact problem I am refering to. Male and Females are valued for different reasons we are not the same. The fact that you refer to another woman willing to accept a polygyny as “accepting sloppy seconds” highlights the crux of the issue. Men are valued on their ability to provide essentially while woman are valued primarily on beauty and their ability to hold the family down. Why are we always making sex the central issue. Well the untold truth is many women see sex as a way to control the man. Actually in my experience it is insecure women that have a problem with polygyny women who know their own value and are secure within themselves have discarded such mental hang ups becuase they understand the big picture and they happy and provided for by their men.

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  16. Salaam alaikum,
    That’s funny Rasheed Moore, for the most part the men in polygamous marriages aren’t providing for women that well. A lot of these sisters work. Don’t get me started on the welfare cases. In states with welfare reform, this brings up some tricky issues. There are brothers who aren’t even signing birth certificates and sisters lying to the state saying they don’t know who the daddy is so that the state won’t come after him for child support. What type of situation is that? How many of these brothers have incomes to support two households in America? Seriously, have we done some economics? Some countries set a minimum income limit on polygamy. So, when you are talking about all this support and taking care of women, and these women living happy in patriarchy, how does this look like on the practical sense? Please do so, and provide some reasons other than providing for a sister’s physical needs in some halal-style arrangement.

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  17. Margari,

    This is the misconception I am trying to clarify I don’t know if you have taken the time to read my blog but you will see I am clarly against pimpin’ four sisters out on welfare. Again why are we letting sex conflate the real issue. Real men don’t want to come home and compete with their woman. A real man will take a piece of mind over a pice of A**. There are problems with our Brothers for sure this is what I am addressing. I want our brothers to man up, I want our brothers to handle their financial obligations. What I don’t want our brothers to do is get caught up in relationships where they are contstantly having power struggles with their spouses. When a man wastes all his enegery fighting and getting into power struggles with his spouse it takes away from the energy he should be using to provide for that spouse. What White, Latino, Arab women all understand is how to select and a King and how to treat him accordingly. The problem AA have (and I am generalizing because I know of some very sophistical intelligent yet submissive AA women) is that #1 they make poor choices in selecting men #2 they give the king treatment but to the wrong man #3 they become bitter and figure the only way to deal with a man is to beat him at his own game which thereby she only attracts weak men which adds to her frustration, sense of despiration, ultimately leading her to become more depressed and more angry meanwhile she is aging and her stock is plummeting.

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  18. WAS,

    Bottom line is this if you want someone that is going to tell you what you want to hear and what is going to make you feel good then go ahead and turn on Oprah, or go read some Dr. Phil, or Montell Williams. But if you want real solutions to real problems sometimes we have to swallow that bitter pill. I am not in anyway excusing my brothers, in fact I believe it is ultimately up to the brothers to restore the balance if you follow my blog without jumping to conclusions and remove any predisposed positions and emotional bagage I think you will find what I am saying to be helpful and positive in terms of normalizing gender realtions.

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  19. Rasheed,
    You clearly have issues with Black women, or women in general. There are some gender imbalances when it comes to demographics and education in the BAM community. But for the most part, brothers aren’t acting as emasculated as you like to claim they are. Really, it is about immaturity, not masculinity.

    Also, I find it offensive that you would reduce women to some market value or stock. That’s definitely not how our Prophet s.a.w. saw women, that is not how your honor us. Was Khadijah’s stock plummeting? Umm Salama or any of the mother’s of the believers.

    Also, before you make a case for polygamy, you need to first start off with economic viability and stability in marriage as an institution in the first place.

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  20. I have an issue with a matriarical society that is ruining it’s men and turning them into either punks. Or emotionally unblanaced thugs this is due to the fact that there is no rational hand to guide the family and children and the whole community is suffering.

    If you want to be dishonest with yourself that men don’t value women at least initially on thier external beauty then your not being realistic. And in fact this is against human nature and against our deen which is practical. We all know of the Hadith were the Prophet encouraged the Sahabi to look at his prospective spouse. This is the reality that a lot of women don’t want to come to terms with. Yes, as you get older your marketablity decreases. This is becuase women are primarily judged upon thier beauty, ability to bear children as well as their honor i.e. being able to hold the family down in a time of crisis. This is not to say older women can not get married but they should be realistic about their prospects as in the case with Umm Salama who accpeted plural marriage. Or in the case of Khadijah who was an exceptional business woman who had the Prophet’s back when the whole dunya was against him. I can hardly say either case is comprable to the situation of BAM women or AA women today.

    Regarding your statement about masculinity and maturity the two go hand in hand. A man is not mature until he comes to terms with his masculinity.

    Lastly regarding polygyny I am in total agreement that it should be economically viable and stability should always be the foundation of any strong and healthy relationship.

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  21. In conclusion my dearest respected sister it’s not about wining an arguement it’s about why is sister Margari so angry and so unhappy if she has all the answers. We need to be humble and open in our approach to solving a very complex and difficult yet important problem.

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  22. Rasheed,
    The sad thing is, that I thought you’d be smart enough to see my title was making fun of the gendered stereotype of angry black woman. But, silly you, you don’t get it. It seems like your presuppositions about me are more about how you feel about yourself when dealing with a woman like me, rather than what you really know about me. Like I said, deal with your own issues in your own time. If you were such a manly man, you wouldn’t have to go and announce it, “I’m the man of the house!” I guess somehow somebody’s matriarchal family got you feeling like the world is against you.

    You’re not coming up with real solutions. If you are saying men should man up, then why aren’t you doing some manhood training, getting some of the more shiftless members of our community some job skills, be good husbands. Why don’t you work on being a role model, as opposed to trying to take somebody down a notch. You’re just adding to the negativity that allows for so much foolish behavior.

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  23. It seems to me that this notion of males feeling that they are “competing” based upon their wives’ employment status is a relatively recent phenomenon. Black women have always had to work outside of the home. From what I’ve been told by older relatives, “old school” Black men didn’t have the issues that modern ones seem to have with feeling like they’re in some sort of competition with their wives. Most of those men would have preferred to be able to afford their wives not working, but that’s not at all the same idea as perceiving the existence of some type of competition. That whole “competition” mental construct is dysfunctional in itself.

    This matriarchy by abandonment & default is also a product of the last 40 or so years. This was previously not the norm among African-Americans. So no, I don’t think it dates back to slavery. It dates back to Blacks buying into several toxic White cultural ideas within the past generation. Such as White folks’ “sexual revolution” that cut the connection between sex & marriage. And cut the connection between sex & accountability (also know as “shotgun weddings”). “Old school” Black men generally wouldn’t tolerate somebody impregnating & then abandoning their daughters, sisters, nieces, etc. Even weak men were not permitted to walk away from their offspring (without serious repercussions).

    However, I’m bored with discussing Muslim male predators. There are far too many. And there are so many Muslim predators because there’s a pool of female enablers. I’m also not interested in trying to impress upon those who don’t get it, that maintenance involves more than physical room & board. It also involves emotional support. Said emotional support is not present in an atmosphere of suspicion, anxiety, & threat/use of leverage based on male privilege.

    I’m more interested in what can be done to reduce the numbers of Muslim women who allow themselves to be exploited. And to reduce the numbers of Muslim women who enable others to be exploited. What’s causing all of this? What can we do to stop it? Is it even possible to fellowship with women who are looking to hook up with other sisters’ husbands? Does it make any sense to even try to fellowship with such women? Should these women be shunned until they get their minds right? I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions.

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  24. I am going to let my statments speak for themselves. As far as you your neggative comments I will only say your reinforcing my arguements and illustrating the problem more clearly to all those with eyes. Your suspicions about my personal life have no foundation in reality as you do not know me on that level. On real solutions if you follow my blog than you will know what I am about.

    Salaam

    Rasheed

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  25. Khadijah,
    You’ve raised some important questions. I too am interested in finding ways that we can get women to not feel so desperate that they enable some shady behavior. That’s why I’m delighted that you’d write. I’m interested in finding ways to women make pro-active choices in life, so that they are not just settling for that “weak brother” in a loveless marriage or some on the side relationship. I think one of the things that is happening is that many BAM women have constantly heard the barrage of negativity from our brothers (i.e. the comments above, that they have little self esteem). Then they wind up in bad situation emotionally abused or left with a dozen kids alone fending by herself. When we feel good about ourselves, we make better choices in life partners. We stop looking for that smooth charismatic figure, or that wounded brother who feels like he has to assert his manhood by stomping all over our sense of self worth (which is inherent by the gift of life that Allah gave us), or that sick brother who is on some power trip and takes that “dabahuna” literally.

    I believe there are several roads that we can take towards healing ourselves and becoming better human beings and therefore better women, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, friends, and neighbors. I’m not trying to sound all new agey or self help freak-a-zoid. I believe in practical advice and proactive steps, I don’t think that we can do it alone. I believe people should be trained and have a firm grounding in our Deen. One thing we are lacking is good counselors and spiritual advisors. We need women who are trained to deal with trauma, with the pain that many women have experienced in their life. We need people who can guide women of all ages through the healing process. Through getting over old hurts and pains, we can move towards breaking old patterns of hurt and pain. We don’t have to carry that with us, and not into our future or present relationships.

    I think we can either do that individually or in group sessions. We can have retreats. We can have things online or phone conferences. The only thing is, I’m not trained to do that work. But I really believe that we have the resources to develop holistic programs that can heal our hearts, minds, and bodies. I truly believe that emotional and psychological problems keep us from attaining higher spiritual goals. Unfortunately, the Muslim community tolerates a lot of unstable people. We just turn a blind eye and don’t offer real solutions for people to deal with some deep issues.
    From there, we need more trained marriage and family counselors who are culturally sensitive. Just a start, it’s 2 am and I have to get up in a few hours.

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  26. Margari,

    You suggested trained counselors with a “firm grounding in our Deen.” What a wonderful idea (along with retreats, etc.)! Maybe I’ll look into that. I just know that something new has to be done. And somebody…err…maybe those of us who are concerned about this…have to do it. To put it bluntly, BAM women’s spirits are being systematically murdered. Just like those of the rest of African-American women. And we’ve got a lot of sick female co-conspirators participating in this process. I need to figure out what role I can play in helping. Thank you for your suggestions.

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  27. Reading some of these comments has been a learning experience for me. I know some brothers who have more than one wife but nothing like what was said here. Four wives on welfare is not polygyny, this is nonsense. Rights in marriage are clear in Islam and what was expressed in the previous comments falls well short of the standard. These men should not have one wife let alone more than one. Is it so hard to understand that some men are not marriage material? I really question the sanity of some of these men and women in these bogus relationships.

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  28. salaams sister margari, I must say firstly that I enjoy reading your blogs and the feedback you get from them. and yes I agree with the fact that the way some of these muslim men are going about getting another wife is sleazy and if they read about the life of the prophet and his wives theyd know better. One thing I must say though is your comment about a women being convinced that shes not worth having a man to herself is not correct in all cases. Some women take heed to the fact that Allah has allowed it and the hadith thats says a womens who is able to deal with polygomy gets the same reward as a man fighting in Allahs cause. Allah is the creator and he knows his creation far better than they know themselves. Allahs laws are not oppressive and he wants whats best for his servants. And when polygamy is done the correct way, it is actually a protection for the woman bc she is honored as a wife and not a side thing. People look at Islam as this womenising religion that gives the man as many women as he wants. Thats hardly the case, bc once a women has learned to cope, hes still struggling with dealing with the financial and emotional aspect of having to maintain 2 women (both emotianally and financially) I remember my anthropology professor (who is not muslim) saying 95% of the world is polygamist but Islam protects the womens rights. The problem is not polygamy, the problem is practice. and a women can be happy in polygamy, bc if that wasnt possible Allah wouldnt have allowed it.

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  29. Margari,

    I am over here saying Alhamdulilah to everything you wrote!!! This is what Sherman Jackson was getting at towards the end of his book. One of our largest problem (our meaning BAMs) is the self-esteem and emotional health issue. Don’t be afraid to sound too “new age” because what you are speaking about is the truth.

    Like you my training is not in this type of work but I am seeing what you see.

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  30. Margari,

    Your observations are correct. It seems to me that the BAM is extremely tolerant of mentally unstable & criminally-inclined individuals. This is why I rarely comment on Muslim blogs. The sheer hatred & rage emanating from a lot of people’s comments is poisonous just reading them. This acceptance of madness & criminality is another one of the reasons why I’ve stepped back from the ummah. Sometimes it’s just too draining to interact with other BAMs.

    And no, you’re not being new-agey. The BAM is filled with women dealing with post-traumatic stress disorders in the aftermath of being emotionally, sexually, & physically used & abused. Some of these emotional & physical attacks happened before they accepted Islam. The real disgrace that many of these attacks continued to occur in their lives AFTER they accepted Islam. And whenever these topics come up, there are always people trying to argue that exploitation & emotional abuse are divine gifts. They argue that it’s just the method of exploitation that was faulty. “If polygamy is practiced xyz way, then all is well. If wife-beating is practiced xyz way, then all is well.” To those who think this way: Are you willing to go back to the slavery that was practiced during the Prophet’s (PBUH) era? After all, the Quran mentions slavery. Any takers on going back to slavery? Using your arguments, one could say that if slavery is practiced xyz way, then all is well. Which leads me to the next problem:

    It occurs to me that there’s another angle to the exploitation of BAM women. Too many of us are taking our religious guidance directly from Muslim male predators, Muslim “Ike Turners” & from other men who enable them. Too many women are listening to Muslim Ike Turners whose “deen” consists of destroying women any way they can. Spiritually, emotionally, & in extreme cases physically. In addition to counselors grounded in the deen, we need new religious scholars.

    There’s so much work to be done (on so many fronts) to cleanse & heal the ummah.

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  31. LoL, wow. I agree with you khadijah. and one of the healings of the ummah is for the ummah to go back to the pure quran and sunnah bc we have certaintly drifted away from it. you mention slavery in the quran and wife beating, now the prophet muhammad was the quran in action did he indulge in any of this. and please remember their are mentioning of slaves but come on lets not get it confused with american chattle slavery. Muslims back in those days were told to treat their servants like they would themselves. sounds like modern day house maids now doesnt it.Their was a hadith that mentions how one of the companions of the prophet treated his helper so well people thought he was the servant and his servant was the one with the clout. All Im saying is we are not gonna find any peace and solutions in picking apart the quran like Allah made mistakes when he sent it down. and yes Im all for women studying and seeking knowledge on their own bc thats the path Im trying to pursue. Like the mother of believers. Far too many of us become parrots of our male counterparts without ever picking up a book and reading it… and in the end Allah knows best and humans know not.

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  32. As Salaamu Alaikum Brother Rasheed:

    You were doing OK until you said something about the sister’s blog title, and then said she was angry and unhappy.

    Isn’t that what “some” men do when they are losing a good debate? Resort to personal attacks on a woman?

    Case closed.

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  33. Amiramani,

    Actually, you’re making my point. The reality is that the vast majority of modern Muslims are NOT going to come anywhere close to the standard of behavior of either the Prophet (PBUH) or his intimate companions. You are pointing to the exceptions in terms of excellent behavior, not the norm. And certainly not what we’re currently doing.

    Also, was the often exemplary behavior of the Prophet’s (PBUH) personal, intimate companions representative of how other nominal “Muslims” were behaving? People such as the Muslim hypocrites that lived during the Prophet’s lifetime? I think not. Your argument is cherry-picking the best of the best & assuming them to be representative of the whole. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were plenty of nominal Muslim hypocrites during that era beating, raping & torturing their slaves/servants. The same way some of these hypocrites’ descendants are mistreating, beating, & raping their Asian maids/servants right now in modern Arab countries. Any takers on becoming a servant/maid in one of these countries? *Crickets chirping*

    Also, just look at what quickly happened during this conversation. Unfortunately, for too many Muslim men, it doesn’t take long for the mask to come off & they reveal themselves to be Muslim Ike Turners. And sick women are taking relgious guidance from these types of individuals. Like I said, the behavior of modern Muslims is nothing like that of the Prophet (PBUH) & his closest companions.

    Back to possible solutions: Maybe more of us could enroll in training programs like the ones they have for crisis hotline volunteers. So that we can at least point our wounded & sick sisters in the right direction to get help. Or encourage more of our (legitimate, non-Ike Turner-enabling) scholars to take courses in pastoral counseling. There’s a huge need for all sorts of counseling among BAMs, & I don’t have the training to do that. I’m not willing to commit to a degree program in this field, but I would be willing to take whatever training is available for laypersons in my area.

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  34. As Salaamu Alaikum:

    This is a very interesting topic and it has been interesting to read the comments to the sister’s post.

    In regards to the sisters and our problems with each other, it has a lot to do with us being pitted against each other by things we imagine to be real and to be of substance. Yes, sisters have become suspicious and cautious in regards to one another. And with good reason. Many of us have sunken deep into blasting, debasing, humiliating and plan old mistreating one another. I don’t think there are many of us who haven’t experienced first hand or at least heard of a situation where a sister (or even a group of sisters) comes in and befriends others just to show her true colors later on. The true colors consist of the original plot and plan of the individual(s). Sometimes the goal is a getting a man and sometimes it is just to have what the other sister may have or at the very least, dishonor or tear her down in the eyes of the people.

    There are a lot of sisters out there that have pure hatred in their hearts for their sisters in Islaam. It’s sad but true. Many of us have been victimized to the point our hearts are hard. We can no longer sympathize with each other. Sisters like this are out for blood. They only want to make sure that as many sisters feel the pain and endure the hardships that they have. These sick thoughts and actions somehow make them feel a bit better about the problems they have in their own lives.

    Jealousy and envy are major problems amongst women. Those two things lead many women down the path to hurt each other. If we really review the situations we know of, we will see that one sister sets out to hurt another sister because she is jealous and envious of her. Nothing would make a sister who has let shaitaan whisper these evil thoughts to her which become manifest in her actions happier than to see her sister derailed, broken and stripped of her honor and her family. Its really sick, I know, but it is very true.

    Sisters who do these things should be avoided. Other sisters who do not engage in this behavior should be safe from them. But you see the problem is that sister with the hidden agenda could be anyone. You won’t know until you or someone else begins to deal with her but by then it could be too late. Some of these sisters hide themselves and wait until they see an opportunity to execute their plans. In the process, many may have become fooled about them and their true intentions. Then you have sisters who clearly have issues. Even if you befriend them, in some cases, they still try to blast you and dishonor you. Sometimes we can’t win for losing. We have even seen this in the blogosphere. You sometimes see sisters getting blasted for giving advice to the blogging sister who asked for it. This is a transgression upon the sister and we really need to fear Allah.

    Our relationships have been weakened with one another because there is no trust. You can’t even turn to most sisters for naseehah without them telling other sisters, their husbands or communities all about what you confided in them about. This type of sister should never be trusted. But the rule of thumb should be that we should never tell ANYONE ANYTHING that we would have problems with others knowing. That helps to cure that. Keeping your mouth shut is the best policy. Take it to Allah. Ask indirect questions concerning fictitious individuals if you have to. But do not tell your private affairs. It fuels the evil and sick individual who loves to listen to shaitaan. They feel they have one up on you; they feel in control to destroy you at their whim. Even sisters who have been best friends for many years can have their friendship turn sour. So then what usually happens is that one or both sisters ends up telling the other’s secrets. This is not just. If something is told to you in confidence, fear Allah and leave it as such.

    Another problem is that women have been taught to compete with one another. We compete in beauty and in seeking men. But Islaam has shown us that we all have the same thing. Yes some of us are more beautiful, more religious and more educated. But we still have the same basic elements and we also have the same basic needs. We need Islaam to help us understand our place in this world and how to deal with it. We need good brothers who we can turn to and they can turn to us for comfort and support. Isn’t that what we all want? To be honored, protected and loved? I don’t think it is much to ask but I think that some women do have a problem doing what it takes to obtain it. I don’t mean demeaning yourself or accepting less in order to obtain that meaningful relationship. I mean understanding what Allah wants from us and then reconciling that with a spouse. We can’t do it all. We can’t be the bread winner, the homemaker and the lover all mixed up in one without getting burned out quickly. Something has to give. I think a lot more Muslim women would benefit from living more traditionally. If you have that idea before you get married, then it is easy to let your potential spouse know you are looking for a traditional Islamic marriage. You should spell out what that means. That means that you will take care of your home, children and guard his property ect, and he will protect and maintain you and any children financially. Of course marriage isn’t that robotic, but you have to start somewhere so why not start with the foundation and build upward? If you want to work and go to school, spell that out too. We all know we don’t have to use our money to support our households. But don’t be opposed to giving your family sadaqah because that is what it is when women give from their own wealth to aid their families. There is nothing wrong with helping your husband. The problem comes from some sisters when the mate that THEY CHOSE isn’t a good spouse and not one who can and does command their wife’s respect. She tends to find it hard to comprise with such a brother but at the same time you put him over your affairs by choosing him in marriage. So is that his fault alone? Sisters, we can sometimes add to marital fitnah by not trying to work with and compromise with our spouses who are deserving of our respect and admiration. I am not saying we do all the work or a good portion of it and he takes the credit. But if you know you have a good man, then take care of him and do what you can to preserve and cultivate your marriage. Its called protecting your investment. Wallahi you are not weak for doing so and you haven’t reduced yourself in any way.

    In regards to marital relationships, there are a plethora of different scenarios. Yes, some women are out to get another woman’s man. But most likely in the end she either doesn’t want to be with him after she got him or she feels he isn’t treating her how she imagined he would so she leaves anyway (or stays and wallows in her misery). Or worst case scenario the man ends up divorcing her even though she now loves him deeply. Whatever it boils down to, she ends up back to square one. Intentions are key. A woman who just intended to cause havoc, break up a marriage or see if she can somehow come out on top not only has a disease in her heart but also she has a bit of a mental problem. Life is not a game. Those who play with fire get burned. Come on sisters were are grown women not teenage girls. When we play those games we are usually not only playing them one on one. We are playing with lives of children of this Ummah. They get affected the most and then many wonder why these same children who when they reach young adulthood want no part of Islaam.

    Bottom line for sisters is yes we have to respect ourselves. We have to set high religious and moral standards for ourselves. We have the key, which is Islaam, but we let our culture and our ignorance devour us. We have to value ourselves and then we can expect others to value us. We shouldn’t blame anyone except ourselves for our problems and the situations we find ourselves in. It is from what OUR OWN hands have created. People only do to us what we allow them to do. If some brother doesn’t want you because you are black, then know that there are brothers out there who want you BECAUSE you are black. And of course this goes for sisters of other ethnicities, educational and religious levels. You just have to make sure you are bringing strong religious morals and values to the table while understanding the veracity of the world we live in. Marriage is not going to be perfect. Spouses will argue and debate about various issues. We are never going to see eye-to-eye on all issues. We are never going to say and do all the right things. But we can come to a middle ground to try and reach that level of contentment and tranquility that Allah promised us. If we correct ourselves and put our trust and hope in Allah, then what evil will come out of that? We have to make du’a.

    As for marriage, if you have increased yourself in true Islamic knowledge, increased your ‘ibaadah and asked Allah for what you need and what you want, then Allah will send someone who He Love biithnillah. He may be single or he could be married. But if you are doing what you should do and not allowing yourself to be harmed contrary to Islam, then you will have that which you need and you want. It may not come in the package you want but it will come inshaAllah ta’ala. We have to be patient. Pushing problems off onto men or other women is not helping to solve our problems. It starts with self first.

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  35. Khadijah you are absolutely right. so I think we are on the same page. The prophet and his companions were the examples as to how we should be so thats what we should aspire to be like. which is basically what I was saying before. Its not polygamy its the practice of those who cant and arent trying to aspire to be like the prophet and his companions.

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  36. or maybe I shouldnt just pin point polygamy but say its not the law or what Allah allowed thats the problem. The problem is how some people practice it. And it must be noted that their are serious punishments for these perpetrators.

    P.S- Sister Imanubillah You are SOOOOOO RIGHT!!! You hit the nail on the head!

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  37. Oh LoL, and another thing, I would love to be apart of any solutions seeking ideas you have so lemme know if you need my assistance with anything
    1 luv

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  38. Amiramani,

    Please consider the following: At this point, I would compare polygamy to a loaded AK-47. A loaded weapon that children, fools, & criminals are eagerly reaching for. In a reasonably safe society there are a very few legitimate reasons to own an AK-47. These good faith reasons to own one apply to a very limited set of circumstances. No, strictly speaking, the “gun” itself isn’t causing the murders among us. However, the “gun” has become one of the primary instruments criminals use to destroy other people. The “gun” is the primary weapon in criminals’ arsenals. Most decent people aren’t eagerly looking to buy AK-47s. In fact, responsible people (who are acting in good faith) are nervous about having these sorts of weapons around. These weapons are extremely dangerous in the hands of children, fools, & criminals.

    And so it is with polygamy among us. The people I’ve seen eagerly grabbing for this practice are children, fools, & criminals (for the most part). Their intentions are obviously ALL WRONG. Just look at the open hatred that male supporters of polygamy ususally have for women. They want polygamy in order to abuse women, which feeds their wounded & sick egos.

    Violent criminals take advantage of people who are so eager to defend their constitutional rights to bear arms that they ignore the harm that is being done with flood of guns. So it is with the Ike Turners among us. They take advantage of people’s desire to feel that they are defending the Quran. Muslim Ike Turners use this well-intentioned defense of scripture to cloak the harm that they are doing to women.

    I’m not saying ban the AK-47/polygamy. I’m saying that we need to take a step back & seriously screen & scrutinize those people (usually Ike Turners) who are so eager to practice polygamy. If we are honest, we have to admit that we’ve done a very poor job of policing the practice of polygamy. We’ve collectively allowed many women to be abused & pimped. We continue to allow women to be abused & pimped. Not to mention the children that suffer as a result of this practice. And I don’t see any realistic plans on the table to begin policing this extremely dangerous family arrangement. As I said earlier, we really do know that most of us are not going to come anywhere close to the Prophet’s (PBUH) standard of behavior. We consistently misuse anything we are given.

    I feel that if we’re not going to do anything to police the use of this practice (and all indications are that we’re not), we shouldn’t defend/promote it. How many more broken minds & shattered lives do we want to enable?

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  39. It’s unfortunate that you sisters are doing exactly what the enemies of Islam want, establishing a platform for spewing/venting destructive and divisive arguments which act as catalysts for perpetuating the same old saga of “Muslim women disenfranchisement” I question some you guy’s motivations for disclosing some of you own personal sordid tales of marriage as a self-vindicating way of shifting the blame or circumventing some the more important issues at hand (ie why are we so readily available to criticize Muslims when 200,000 PPl just lost their lives and we’re home watching TV and reading bloggs, wallowing in our sorrows and pointing fingers) And for the sister who posted the blog, save your drama for Oprah! ila liqaae

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  40. balancing factor why are you wasting your time reading this blog and commenting on it then? you hypocrite.

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  41. Wow, I loved this blog. Finally a sister who telling the truth and reality of polygany in Islam. I will definitely add you to my blog roll. Most of the comments were right on point. As a person who been through some of these things mentioned here, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about polygany. Most of the time it the black American Muslim Men who are just treating Muslimah any kind of way and then throwing an hadith in there and calling it Islam. (Atleast this is what I am witnessing) And there is not help at the Masjid. The only advice these Imams seem to give is to be patient. Patients has its limits especially when the situations are not addressed to the brothers.

    I was annoyed with Balancing Factor’s comment. It was ignorant and sounds like one of the BAM brothers talking about don’t air your dirty laundry, Your making Islam look bad. No brother, its the brothers and their actions with women who make Islam look bad. If these situation were addressed properly we would not need to “establish a platform”. These situations are happening everyday in our houses, in our masjid, in our daily lives. And you want us to “wallow in our sarrow”. Is this what you tell your mother, sister,or daughter for that matter. I think not!
    Yes, brother we are aware that 200,000 PPL just lost their lives however I am sure Oprah has donated to this situation as well as other Muslim brothers and sisters. At 7:45 am brother you were reading this blog and had time to comment. I guess you did not have something better to do. Does your wife know your creeping this early?

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  42. Pingback: Sapphires and the Enervation of Black American Women (Updated!) « Margari Aziza

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