THE Most Unlikely Person in Polygamy

My childhood was very happy, summers spent in our family home in Norfolk, swimming, riding, playing, fishing, building tree-houses. My brother and I and our cousins, and later on friends from school, loved those summers πŸ™‚ In the autumn we always visited my grandparents, family was important – and grouse πŸ˜‰

Winters were spent in London, my parents both worked a lot and when my brother was off to school I could feel rather lonely at times. So the library became my favourite place, I would spend hours there living through all kinds of make belief adventures πŸ™‚

I went off to school when I was eight. I loved school. My school was in Sussex, beautifully situated at the edge of a bluff, teachers were wonderful and I was taught to believe in myself and in humanity. We were taught that we could do anything, accomplish anything, and we were given the best tools to do just that.


After that I went to Oxford. I studied Art and History and joined a theatrical. And the Oxford Union. πŸ™‚ Getting me to talk has never been a problem… πŸ™‚ I loved the debates, and the openmindedness. By that time I was a typical tweed Brit, proud of my context, self-assured and easy going. I met Mark at Oxford. He swept me off my feet with his charm, his exotic looks and his adoration. When I first took him to meet my parents, my mother said “I believe you will marry him”. She was right. We were married while still at Oxford, and had our first child. I think, looking back, we were a bit proud of the bohemian fashion of it all πŸ™‚ My parents were happy, but now I can admit – to you and to myself – that they probably wouldn’t have approved of Mark had he just been an Omani upper class boy, no they accepted him because of his English mother, who is even a distant relative of ours.

Those were wonderful years. We had two beautiful children, Mark worked in the City, I got a fellowship. When I look back, it still makes me smile.

Then my parents were killed in a car crash. The shock, the pain – unbelievable. The present became unbearably Β precious. I kept my family so close, I never wanted to let anybody out of my sight. My brother let me have the house, he knew I needed to hold on, hold on to family, hold on to love. When the children were off to school, I felt so alone. I started writing and completed my Ph.D. I ended my fellowship and did lecturing in stead. I’ve always loved to travel. I’ve had a very happy life.

I am the last person anybody would see ending up in polygamy. I’m the typical milk and honey English girl. I know I’ve lived a life of privilege, and I am grateful.

But I’ve lived through pain too. First the death of my parents. The shock was horrible. It scattered my world.

Then the slow, killing agony of having to watch my brother die. He was slowly tortured to death, but managed to keep his dignity and his warmth and marvelous sense of humour right until the end.

Still polygyny is by far the greatest pain I have experienced.


30 thoughts on “THE Most Unlikely Person in Polygamy

  1. ((((HUGS))))
    Other than the life of privilege, I can sure relate. If someone had told me 10 years ago what I was about to face, I’d have thought they were nuts. I’m a very average American, working class, tomboy (hunting, fishing, working on cars, sitting around a fire having a Leinies and cracking dirty jokes with the guys), tough-girl. I curse like a sailor and speak my mind. I eschewed relationships for years, preferring to raise my kids alone and drama-free.

    Yet there I was. I seriously don’t know how the hell I ended up where I did.

    I also experienced tragic losses. My best friend since age 15, I mean beyond best friend…we were sisters really…was killed on her son’s 2nd birthday by a drunk driver at age 29, 20 years ago May 22nd. I still haven’t quite come to terms with that. My dad (who I was super close to) passed in 2005. I had an abusive relationship when I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter, who I subsequently gave up for adoption because I was homeless, penniless, and already had 2 to raise. That was in 1990, and, I thought, by far the most difficult thing I ever went through. (we have since reunited). But fast-forward a few years and polygyny hit me. OMG it seriously was the single most painful, life-altering event of my life. I agree with that 100% Fiona.

    People on the outside of the situation may not understand why polygyny is more painful than these other events. I can only say because you entrusted this man, you brought him into your world and you together created a new world. You put your whole life in his hands and vice-versa. He’s a part of you. But then he deliberately breaks that bond, makes you question everything all the way down to who he really is, takes half of himself from you, builds a whole new life with someone else that’s off-limits to you, tells you that you must accept it, and continues to hurt you deliberately. The car accident that took my friend was an accident. My father dying, well, death is an inevitable part of life. Placing my daughter for adoption was something I did to provide her with a better life, to give a childless couple who desperately wanted a baby the opportunity to be parents. It hurt like hell, but I knew it was the right thing to do, and that we would meet again one day (and it’s amazing, she is a mini-me in looks, personality, everything). None of these things was an act of utter betrayal, eviscerating everything I believed in. Polygyny is.

  2. And imagine, we would meet here and become friends as a result of all this πŸ™‚

    Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

  3. unchained and fiona, Sorry to hear about the loss of your parents, there is nothing more painful than to loose people you care for and reading your posts i was thinking some day i will loose mine too, i just wish they loose me first.

    fiona you and mark are now equal in polygamous relationship. does that take away some of your pain?

  4. That question is very tricky. As you know, if you’ve read my story, marrying Graham is what allowed me to open up to Mark again. I believe, I would never have found a way back without Graham. But no, it doesn’t take the pain away. It just makes it bearable.

  5. so fiona you should not even support consensual and equal polygamy. because it is painful. only two people seem to be happy in this relationship: graham and mark’s first wife.

  6. Oh, but I’m happy. I’m blessed. πŸ™‚ And I can’t wait to tell you about Mark.. πŸ˜‰ And Graham is happy too ❀ Bimbo on the other hand… well, not my problem!

  7. I support monogamy and i think monogamy should be the rule. Well isn’t it the rule ands still Fiona’s husband was able to do it illegally. As an outsider i think she should have reported her husband and the Arab men’s club to authorities for planning an immigration fraud and trafficking a Yemeni woman to illegally practice polygamy in UK. I also understand that its said than done but thats what i think women and the law enforcement system needs to be made aware of at least to stop this inhuman and illegal practice in countries where polygamy is not permitted.
    And all Muslims with similar thinking as Saad and Mariam and other Muslims online saying polygamy isn’t permitted, they all should make a lot of noise at International level to change the laws in Muslim majority countries that are clearly not Islamic as Saad explains and those scholars in videos explain. I mean Muslims need to do this actively than just passively saying “Its not the Islam its the Muslims practicing it wrong”

  8. Big hugs for both of you and all others who had go through this pain. I think this should encourage all women to be financially and emotionally prepared for such a situation and have a conversation with their husband that this is something they would NEVER accept and that she is prepared and able to leave. The problem comes when the Sharia laws of child custody and men being protectors and all that comes in. It makes me so sad that women’s rights are being considered less important than religious freedom. In India Muslim women have no protection from law of the land against these practices. Not that laws that are other existing laws are being effectively implemented! (Saad will understand this better as its the same situation in his country too).

  9. India seems to be one of the worst countries in the world for women right now. But there seems to be a strong movement for increased women’s rights too.

  10. I agree the women’s rights condition in India is really bad. North india states including my state are the worst. The only hope in India is that people raise voice and demand that this needs to be stopped. Not an easy thing for such a large population and poor law enforcement.
    On the other hand some laws have been effectively enforced e.g. harassment for dowry etc. If only all women were free and empowered enough to be able to speak up and report the crimes. Misuse of some laws favoring women is also widespread. Many women are using dowry related laws to settle all marital disputes and teach their dominating or abusive husbands a lesson. People fear dowry law so much that sometime innocent families make many compromises monetary or other out of court to avoid being falsely accused of dowry harassment.
    So india is a transition stage but good thing is that everything gets debated so much in media and that puts pressure on Govt to improve the law enforcement. We are long long ways from getting anywhere close to the law enforcement situation in developed countries.

  11. Hi Laila, the thing about making noise at such a rather huge and worldwide practice is that the person making the noise had better be knowledgeable. The people need proof in order to stop or very much restrict the practice of polygyny. There are hundreds of scholars well versed in the religion and spent their lives studying the religion, and if they didn’t make noise on this, but actually spoke on polygyny that as long as the husbands can be just and ‘equal’ between the wives then it is allowed up to four, then what about a person who is young and barely much educated in the religion (comparatively)?

    The one strong opinion against the polygyny behavior is censoring out the first half of the verse in so many websites and videos I have seen. Or capitalizing and bolding the phrase on marrying women of your choice, two or three or four, in the entire line. Or keeping the entire line intact when quoting but describing the line in a way as though the first half of the verse was indeed rambling or something. Or that it is not relevant in today’s world, but suddenly the remaining verse is relevant, without the previous condition.

    The problems I am facing now is that some interpretors are interpreting the verse that in the past men who had orphans’ properties under their name would marry the orphans if they were attractive to them and that they don’t have to return their property back. But later they felt they would be doing injustice to the orphans since they are the only guardians the orphans have, so any mistreatment means the orphans have nobody else to turn to. Then the verse on marrying women of your choice, two or three or four, came if a person feared injustice to the orphans. Well, I still see the concept of plural marriage attached in the same line as orphans, so I don’t know how this is relevant in today’s world.

    The other interpretation is that if a person fears injustice to the orphans, then the man may marry their mother, or a woman who takes care of the orphans, who are without a solid male guardian and are helpless with their property under the current guardian’s name. This makes more sense, although I am still investigating.

    So yeah, meanwhile I express my dislike to the situation of the Muslims (and non-Muslims married to Muslims who pulled off stunts like polygyny) but I am careful not to speak too much in case I am hounded for more detailed information from accurate sources. Or detailed interpretations. Which I am still figuring out.

  12. Good suggestion Laila but do you know what happened to that scholar (javed ghamidi) for his differing views from mainstream Islamic Fiqh.

    He is now living in Malaysia because Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan killed two of his dearest friends and threatened not only to kill him but to bomb his neighbors too.

  13. Yet I love being there. Go figure!

    It’s true that the culture supports oppression of women to varying degrees. There is however a stark contrast between the villages and urban areas, and women are getting more and more vocal about asserting their rights in every facet of life.

    India is a nation of contrasts and contradictions. It makes my head spin trying to figure it out, forget explaining it!

  14. From what I know of you as a long time reader… the way you think, act, your background etc… it is very surprising that you’re in polygamy and married into a culture/religion that goes against many of your values. However, it’s what makes your story unique being told through different eyes than the norm and really shows that love conquers all. Polygamy has caused you pain, and yet it has also been the source of joy: happy and relaxed days spent with Graham and now your baby. Which wouldn’t of happened had you not gown down the path way less likely taken from those of a similar upbringing. Sometimes things only make sense when looking back.

    P.s. I was on the debate team in college as well. The hardest part of debate was arguing pro things i was actually against in real life. If I found myself on the pro side of a polygamy debate, I’d surely lose. Wishing you a lovely day. πŸ™‚

  15. //India is a nation of contrasts and contradictions. It makes my head spin trying to figure it out, forget explaining it!//
    this itself was a good explanation πŸ™‚

  16. muslims men + women cannot only marry non muslims but they can also marry monkeys, donkeys, horse, kangroos or muslims non muslims. islam has no problem with that. One who believes in his message will only marry a muslim and it is same for both believing men + women.
    Reason: most important aspect here is children will or will not be raised with islamic values.
    Believing men and women who are conscious of monotheism will definitely raise their children up with their islamic values. At that time society was patriarchal, men had more say in the family. more over muslims had a military might and they were rising civilization in arabian peninsula. so Allah gave permission to believing men to marry from people of the book because they believed in monotheism too. At the same time Allah asked believer men that believing SLAVE women are better for you.

    “And wed not idolatrous women, unless they embrace faith, and [remember] a believing slave-girl is better than an idolatrous woman, although you may fancy her. And wed not your women to the Idolaters, unless they embrace faith. And [remember] a believing slave is better than an idolater, although you may fancy him.[2] (2:221)”
    please understand that QURAN is only addressing Believing men and women and you can see that in the verse i quoted.
    Quran makes a distinction between Believers and muslims.
    ” The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”” 49:13(AlHujrat/QURAN).

    so muslims are free to marry who ever they want. and people who are terrorizing them are not doing any service to Islam.

  17. more over Allah doesnot say if you marry your daughters to non muslim they deserve death penalty. so i don’t know why these muslims are terrorizing the girl.

  18. Laila. there are 1.6 billion muslims. it is difficult for me to justify their actions. i know after watching all this how you feel about muslims and islam.
    this is the last time i will bother you to go through this discussion. i don’t claim you will be satisfied but you will be able to understand situation of muslims.
    here i am posting this link.
    and maryam if you are reading i will urge you too to go through this link.

  19. Runa Laila shown in the picture is from Bangladesh, not Pakistan! Lol. She started her career in Pakistan though.

  20. In Denmark where I live one of the major clothingschains tried to market see-through string underpants for girls aged 5-13. People were outraged because it is disgusting and revolting to sexualize little girls, they should be wearing clothes to play in not clothes that pretend little girls have anything to do with sex. The clothing chain was forced to retract the string-panties because people were som angry. Someone stated here on the blog that a piece of cloth is not harmful and should be allowed to wear always. But I believe a piece of cloth can be very harmful and should sometimes not be allowed or atleast we should have a public outcry to say that in our society it is not ok. See-through strings for little girls is not ok. And hijab for little girls is not ok. A girl is not a sexual object and should neither be flaunted as one or covered as one. If a grown woman chooses hijab – well I still have a right to object. The hijab says a woman’s hair or maybe even face is as awrah as a genital which is very demeaning and also an awful sexualizing of women. Flaunting or covering – is the same. It is saying that women are sexual objects to be flaunted or covered. It’s the same.

  21. //If a grown woman chooses hijab – well I still have a right to object.//

    So even if the woman chooses to cover herself, you have a right to object. So maybe if I see women’s clothes cut and styled in a way that emphasizes certain parts of her body in a sexual way, I have a right to object to that as well. Okay, I really don’t want to start a whole new hijab/clothes-for-women debate, but just thought of replying to this that’s all.

  22. I believe Mariam, no offense, that if a woman chose to walk around in a muslim society, or where you live, wearing only see-through thongs yes you would object. Because it is offensive. Because you are offended by the sexualization of woman. I am offended exactly the same way, and most of our society, by the hijab or niqab. It sexualizes and objectifies woman exactly the same – hiding or flaunting is the same, it says woman is a sexual object. To me the hijab is like walking around in a bra and hot pants, and the niqab is like walking around in only a see through thong. I am not trying to anger you Mariam, I am trying to really explain why people can find the hijab extremely offensive. If you have a right to react negatively to women wearing only thongs in the hightstreet, I have a right to react exactly the same way to a woman in a niqab. And I do.

  23. Not again,
    // it is offensive. Because you are offended by the sexualization of woman. I am offended exactly the same way, and most of our society, by the hijab or niqab.//

    well your country your rules. you have a right to strip their hijab off because they are living in your country. and they should pay the price and deal with it else leave the country. that’s all i would say.
    if you don’t want muslim women to roam in your streets wearing hijab good enough. muslim women who are sensitive to their hijab should not be in your country in the first place. if they want to live and enjoy luxuries of a developed country they should live by their rules.

    SO i will not even argue, if you demand ban on Azan in your country (muslim call to prayer) because it is a ‘Noise pollution’ and you are disturbed by it. (like a Hindutva outfit launched campaign to ban Fajr Azan in India. )


  24. Wearing thongs is not the only way a woman sexualizes herself. When I go to women’s stores to buy clothes, usually the clothes are much more tight fitting and emphasizes curves and parts of the body me and many other women are not comfortable with at all. Many times I have to spend hours in shops to select one or two outfits, which I am more comfortable wearing outside and don’t feel a lot of eyes turning to look at the parts of me which might be emphasized further due to the outfit. Nobody needs to agree with me and the other women here, it is our higher standard of modesty that’s all. Which also includes the headscarf for us.

    So yeah, if our standard of clothing is called offensive we might as well call the clothing items we see on a regular basis in stores offensive as well. to us. Our sense of modesty is part of our faith. So better we just leave people as to how they dress.. Unless they are walking nude or see-through a lot in the street. That has the capacity of distracting people, men or women, since that is more of an overt sexualization compared to covering it all up. Anyway, I am tired of this debate already.

  25. // A girl is not a sexual object and should neither be flaunted as one or covered as one.//
    pardon my ignorance dear and help me understand this.
    A girl is not a sexual object. indeed she is not. But men will always be attracted sexually to women no matter what. when ladies put on make up, i argue they are flaunted as sexual objects.

  26. Salomon, I guess just like for you, you might be accustomed seeing short and fitting clothes for women at a regular basis, for us Muslims we are accustomed seeing women wearing longer and more loose clothing and hijab and niqab at a regular basis. No one bothers much actually. Maybe some are offended at the niqab since it hides the face and the person has difficulty communicating with her more easily. I had two different guys recently ask me whether I feel hot in my hijab. That is all. Maybe for you guys you see it at another level.

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