Lifting the veil of polygamy

click on the picture to watch the film (80 minutes, free online)

This is quite informative if you:

  • want to hear testimonies of men and women who were born into and lived in polygamy
  • want to understand the difference between main stream Mormon and fundamental Mormon groups
  • want to see why Mormons are not really Christians

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Shattered dreams

I finished “Shattered dreams. My life as a polygamist’s wife” by Irene Spencer.

Former Fundamentalist Mormon speaks out about her life as a second wife in a polygamous marriage. She was married at 16, endured enormous hardships, living for years without common benefits of civilization, like water and electricity, was sharing her husband with 9 other wives, was mother to 13 children, and was mostly unhappy and depressed. She did it, because she believed in the afterlife as an exalted goddess, which could be obtained only by living “The Principle”.

Hart rending as it is, I was amazed by the strong convictions implemented during her childhood that did not leave her mind, and despite the doubts, carried her to a distant lands and a life which many have no clue about. Real brain washing works. It is sublime, perverse and totally controlling.

The best news is, that she has found God’s love at the end of it all. Currently she has 119 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.

Read more in her website IreneSpencerBooks.com and an interview with her.

Good video called “Lifting the veil of polygamy” introducing stories of people who lived through similar circumstances.

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Leila

Watched this last night. I think I am staying in the theme of Iran and polygamy…

The story line of this movie is evolving around young couple living in Tehran, Iran. Leila, the wife of Reza, can’t have children, and slowly sulks into her own world of self imposed rejection. Her mother-in-law runs the show, it seems, and convinces Leila to include another woman into their family, as a wife, of course.

The whole 2h of this movie, which seems like it was made in the 40ties, not in th 90ties, tries to make sense of emotional struggles of husband and wife trying to figure out what’s really the best for them, listening to the voices of their family members, customs, expectations and their own desires.

The acting is different than in Western movies. Some long shots are overloaded with Leila’s face, but overall if you are interested in a psychological mapping of a family life in modern Iran, watch this. Invaluable.

polygamy in the USA

I’ve just finished the book “Escape” by Carolyn Jessop, former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) member, who escaped with her 8 children, after many years of terrifying life with a man, who was one of the leaders in the FLDS.

She grew up in a polygamous household, and had to marry 50 year old man, being only 18 years old herself and becoming the forth wife. She was abused sexually, physically and emotionally throughout the marriage, not only by her husband, but by her sister-wives also.

Carolyn is the first top on the left, here with her husband and sister wives

The whole system of FLDS keeps the women as a subject to the men-powered world, which existence is based on perversity and control. They are degrading women’s lives, by diminishing them to working slaves, playing with their minds constantly to keep them vulnerable and subjected to the men’s wishes. Brain washed by the group’s leader’s, constantly abused, kept without educational opportunities, mentally tricked and emotionally drained, sooner or later, they become mentally unstable, depressed and mostly give up.

Carolyn found her strength by caring for her children, and was granted a full custody of her children after her escape from the brutality of the system, which promised heaven, but delivered hell on earth.

Very disturbing recollections of a young woman’s journey from a total believer in the cult’s religious teachings, to the world of freedom and reason.

The belief of FLDS: you can become a goddess in the afterlife if you will please your husband and live in total harmony with him (non-questionable obedience), he is destined to become god. On this picture, Carolyn is first on the right.

Carolyn’s position on the Texas court ruling (children returned to FLDS)

Read an interview with Carolyn in “Time”

Excerpt from the book

Video interview with Carolyn

Polygamy. Necessery evil or convenient resolution.

Last night I read a post in American Bedu blog about polygamy. It has over 100 comments.

I posted few of mine. Here they go.

If you are interested in this subject, please read the blog thread above to the end and leave a comment here or there.

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Road in Qatar.

Comment number 1:

Let me say on the beginning, that I really like your blog. Living in different cultures myself, I know how different it is.

I also like a lot of things about Arabic countries, but today let me “vent out” on the issue that is often “spiritualised” and, I believe, explained in a way as to keep the realtionship/marriage system in tact in these countries.

I lived in Saudi Arabia for a very short time, and then in Qatar. You have no idea, how many women feel rejected, depressed and underestimated because their husbands chose to marry another woman.

I think that Arab men living in the strict countries are no different than men living in the rest of the world. Why do I say so? My husband was an English teacher and he would tell me almost every day the stories he heard form them.

I don’t even want to discuss that, for it is a private matter, but firmly disagree that Muslim morals based on Islam are really functioning very well in these societies.

Most of the men were cheating on their wives. Most of them were bragging about it. Fathers would include their sons from a fairly early age into the “secrecy of pleasurable life” conduct. The “stories from Dubai”, “renting apartments” etc., “bachelors outings” were more common than I ever expected. And most of the guys would do whatever they would like, and then go to Mecca (we lived in Jeddah), so what’s the big deal, right? The level of hypocrisy was enormous.

Young girls were terrified thinking about what the future brings. They are trapped in a system, without the possibilities of making personal choices.

I wonder, if the guys would be happy knowing that their wives might find someone different some day, who would fulfill their desires much better than them. How it would be for a change to have a law about wives having possibilities to marry again. That would be a sight. I know it does sound outrageous, but why these man are thinking that woman’s emotional frame is so much different than their own. How in the world they can abuse them in the name of ….what?

I don’t think that the man in Arabic countries are much different that in any other region of the world. But they can legally do what in other countries would be unheard of. They can have 2 or 3 or 4 wives at the same time. Easy way out. (Oh, I know they have to provide for them all at the same level). Of course, they can divorce and some do. But some feel sorry for their wives and don’t want to be the “bad guys”, so…the religion provides a way out of the situation. How convenient.

I don’t think God would made the world a better place for one gender, just because they deserve better. And we all have the same emotional/spiritual/sexual needs. And we all deserve better. But, of course, I can not question the teachings of Islam, they are sealed. It’s just sad that women can be treated like that in the name of God’s will.

I could write more, these are just the symptomatic thoughts on the issue of polygamy in a Muslim society. I know I can’t say anything bad about the founder of Islam, but …what can you expect from the religion where the prophet-founder has several wives and the youngest one is an elementary school age kid? I am not being arrogant, just blunt about the facts.

By the way, I am not a feminist.

I hope I did not offend you.

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Boats in Qatar

Comment number 2:

Wow, so many comments…
Thank you.

Susie: Aisha was 6 (or 7) years old when she was married, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine years old. al-Tabari vol.9 p.130,131 (from http://www.muslimhope.com/WhyDidMohammedGetSoManyWives.htm#Aisha)

dalioness: I am sorry if you feel I have offended you. The fact is, 9 years old entering into marriage is very young, even for those times, when The Prophet lived, wasn’t it? I think what offended you, is the tone of my voice. As I said, I “vented out” my thoughts. I will try to be more sensitive.

By the way, I personally would have a biiiig problem if Jesus Christ would have several wives and consummate marriage with one of them being 9 years old. It amazes me continually, that Muslims do not feel nothing in that matter about The Prophet. Or maybe I don’t get something here…Enlighten me, please. (this is not sarcastic)

WM: I am thinking that whatever was/is permissible in the name of tradition/culture/religion (like concubines/young wives etc. even in the Bible, which I base my beliefs on) is not necessarily healthy for the individuals involved. I just can’t imagine that a 9 year old can be satisfied/happy (whatever that means)/fulfilled in a relationship involving sexual activity. No matter what millenium, continent, faith.
I don’t know what the “church fathers” said about marriage to young women. You are right -)

But the main point of my post was not about Aisha…

Plus…I like you, people. I wish I could learn Arabic while living there…. I am grateful that I had an opportunity to live among Saudis and Qataris. Their hospitality is fantastic. Food is the best. I will never forget the nights under the skies in the deserts. Neither the sand duning adventures.

Blessings.

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These signs you can see only in the Arabian Penninsula.

Comment number 3:

I will try to stay on the topic, although I’m itching to continue on the other themes we have touched. 

I think the institution of marriage in Islam, as explained and understood by Quran, scholars and Muhhamed’s exemple of life, does not provide space for any other discussion regarding: what if. It is what it is. And now, because it seems that some part of it is wrongly established, or interpreted, we have a problem, which in the name of Islam we have to cope with.

In my opinion the foundation of Islamic marriage is nothing else than a contract. There is no mention about nothing else than obligations. And the pleasure for man. Sex being and act of love committed in that way is part of this contract.

In Christianity, when a man marries a woman, they become one.

“Have you not read, he replied, that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Gospel of Matthew 19;4-6; Mark 10:6-9)

This is the biggest difference, I suppose, between this noble institution of marriage in Islam and Christianity. It is not my intention to put one superior to another. I am just trying to understand the whole concept. And we don’t understand marriage as a “lovy-dovy” infatuation start up, followed by years of coping with each other. But at least, we can talk to the guy more then three times before we get married.

Christian concept of love is mutual service, caring, charity, helping the spouse to become the best he/she can be and fulfilling their purpose and calling they were created for.

So, when we, Christians, get married (I am talking about believers, not the culture), we believe we are one. This union is forever. It is considered an intimate union in which the spouses give themselves, as equal persons, completely and lovingly to one another. It is intended to be a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love. One to one. Otherwise, it does not make sense. In this concept of marriage, there is no place for the third party. Sorry. Otherwise, there is no sense in promising life longing love.

The question is, are we so dependable on the cultural/social/religious values and dogmas that we can’t agree on universal understandings of views?

Now we are entering into the field of anthropology, which I am not that familiar with, but the basic view and understanding of a human being must be analized. The question will be, of course, is the human knowledge without presuppositions possible?

But I found, that in Islam you also understand every human being to have:
Jism (body, physique),
Nafs (personality, character), and
Rooh (soul, spirit).

My question is then: what happens to these “parts” of a human being, regardless the gender, when they enter into the union of muslim marriage?
How different is it for a man than a woman? What are the psychological aspects of everything connected with getting married? Do you believe that something “spiritual” happens when you vow before God to stay with this person forever? Do you think that sex is “spiritual”? What are the consequences then of one spouse disregarding this union, which was established in God’s eyes?

If both, men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah, why men seem to have more opportunities to sneak away from their obligations legally, while women can’t or their actions would bring such repercusions that they just give up and suffer to protect their dignity or children.

To be frank with you, my personal opinion is (not that it matters to you) that Mohammed simply justified his sensuality by making remarks which now cause tremendous confusion for those under Islam. I can’t get over hurijas(sorry for spelling, don’t really know how to) in heaven (by the way, if heaven is so carnal, promising super extra virgins to all the guys, not much for the women again, I would not want to be there. Plus the hell is populated by women anyway according to the visions of Mohhamed, isn’t? Really clever). What about “Muta” marriages? Legalized prostitution I would call it. What about the sex slaves? I don’t even want to go into the subject of hadamas in present day Saudi. Partially related, but makes me mad anyway.

Well, enough of rumblings. Have a good evening everybody. Or night?

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Qatar

Comment number 4:

I can’t argue sacramental marriage here obviously. -)

In a plain language, for Christians marriage is a covenant. One time and forever. With one person. Theoretically that brings stability and assurance, doesn’t it? Does it do the same for a muslim woman? I would be terrified not knowing if I can trust my husband, bc he has another option down the road.

And living in the Middle East and hearing stories over and over form the men, I must say, they are not different from any other part of the world. Just married women are in worse position, especially considering the law about the kids after divorce, so…. is there a way out for them? In reality no, because a woman will not willingly leave her kids behind. How many women do you know who did that?

Celibacy is not ideal for Christians. Read the Epistles. It is a choice in order to be given completely to God’s works (practically: more time, possibilities etc). It is for men and women who want to sacrifice their whole life in the service for God.

Sex is not a punishment for Christians. It is an expression of love and commitment. It should be enjoyed within the marriage.

Why do you consider “marriages for pleasure” haram?

Narrated Abdullah: We used to participate in the holy wars carried on by the Prophet and we had no women (wives) with us. So we said (to the Prophet ). “Shall we castrate ourselves?” But the Prophet forbade us to do that and thenceforth he allowed us to marry a woman (temporarily) by giving her even a garment, and then he recited: “O you who believe! Do not make unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you.” Bukhari: Volume 6, Book 60, Number 139.

And a known one:
“You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.”

No wonder they have to try hard. Seems, that even harder than the men, doesn’t?

What about the sex slaves? What about permissible rapes of the enemy prisoners? (Surah 4:24)
What will women do in Muslim heaven?

I find it fascinating that millions of Muslim women are happy about these everlasting virgins surrounding their husbands in the future life forever. Plus, if this is SO important, it somehow makes me think that sexual pleasure plays an leading role in Islam, if THIS is what you will get there and THIS is what the men are talking about and hoping for.
— Houris do not want wives to annoy their husbands, since the houris will also be the spouses [i.e. wives] of the husbands in the afterlife. —”Mu’adh b. Jobal (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘A woman does not annoy her husband but his spouse from amongst the maidens with wide eyes intensely white and deeply black will say: Do not annoy him, may Allah ruin you.” He is with you as a passing guest. Very soon, he will part with you and come to us.’” Ibn-i-Majah vol.3:2014 p.212

Does that mean that even in heaven married women have to make place for tens of other women and live in submission to ….who? What is Muslim woman’s hope in the afterlife? Again to be a wife among about 70+ others? What a hope to live for.

I think that all of these sayings and exemples of The Prophet (there is more, many more) create the world in which a man has a better “start of” position than a woman. But one can’t argue that, right?

Rumblings again, but it’s getting late here too.

Added in June 08: blog of a polygamist wife