This letter was written by M, a woman who first contacted me in 2013. She has written to me many times since, and this time she asked me to publish her letter.
To my ex husband:
I loved you with all my heart.
I felt safe and protected in our marriage. We both shared in everything, when you studied we lived on my salary, when I broke my leg you nursed me, we made plans and shared dreams. You said I was your Noor, your light in life.
One day, out of nowhere, you told me you wanted to find another wife, a second wife. I remember there was a leaf brushing against the window and I sat there completely numb without being able to believe it was really happening I just looked at the leaf and tried to wake up from the nightmare. I didn’t argue, I didn’t cry, I didn’t say anything, because I couldn’t believe that you – my husband, my best friend, my soulmate – had said that you wanted me to share you with another woman. In the evening you made love to me. You caressed me and said I was the most beautiful woman in the world, you entered me and kept whispering “I love you, I love you, I love you”.
The next day we both left for work as usual, dropping our two children off at school and kindergarten first. It was as if nothing had happened, as if the shadow of polygyny had never entered. I started to think it had been a mistake, a horrible dream. But in the evening again, you said it: You wanted to marry another woman, and had I thought about it. I couldn’t say a word, I just cried and cried. You held me and cradled me and kept saying I shouldn’t be afraid, I had to trust your love, and Allah. I asked why, why, why, and you looked me in the eyes and said that you wanted to expand your heart, expand your love – not share it. You said I would always be your first love, closest to your heart. You said you wanted to be a good husband to somebody who had none. You said I should be generous. I wept for weeks, you held me for weeks. In the end I asked you to give me time, help me understand. You said yes. You found videos for me to watch, scholars who explained how polygyny is there for women, not for men, how it’s a test, a woman’s Jihad. How I would be rewarded for passing this test.
You made love to me every night, said that I must feel how much you loved me. You held my face between your palms and said that if another man ever saw my beauty you would die from jealousy. All the while, you were asking me, preparing me, to let you fall in love with another woman, make love to another woman. For the rest of my life, and in eternity.
One day you came home from work and told me you couldn’t wait any longer, that it wasn’t good for me to wait any longer. You were getting married that evening.
I fainted. I woke up in your arms, crying and screaming. You said that it would be better as soon as you were married. I would get used to it, I would stop being afraid. You had your sister waiting in the car, she came up to me and you left.
You married another woman.
I can’t even remember those seven days properly, it’s all in a daze, a turmoil of pain. I slept, I cried, I screamed, I don’t really know how I survived. You called now and then but I couldn’t bear to hear your voice so your sister told you I was getting better. Better?
When you came home, it was the worst day of my life. You came into our bedroom, smiled at me, got into bed next to me, smiled with your eyes and your mouth and said “I’ve missed you so much my love, did you miss me?” Now I know what it feels like to be so filled with rage that it’s possible to kill somebody.
I couldn’t let you touch me. I felt ravaged and soiled by your presence. You had proven to me that you had the heart of a whore, no worse. A whore sells pleasure, you just took pleasure and sold pain. Days and days passed, weeks and months. You left, and came home, left and came home, smelling of another woman, smiling at secrets textmessages, demanding I cut down on my spending on the children since you needed to support her. You other wife. I saw in your phone (yes I snooped) that you sometimes called her Noor, light of your life. You were getting angry with me because I didn’t adjust, because I couldn’t have you touch me, because I didn’t make your life easy. You had a councillor from the masjid over to tell me the angels were cursing me for making my husband angry, that I would enter Paradise through any door I choose if I would only obey my husband and accept polygyny. Everybody said it was a test, a test to see if I had faith, if I was a true mumin, if I had trust in Allah.
My children were suffering. They were hurt by my pain, they were hurt by their father being gone, they were hurt when their father told them he had given up on half their lives to love another woman and eventually her children.
Eventually, I gave in, I gave up. I said I accepted her as my co-wife, I allowed my children to go to her when you wanted it, I let you have my body, I was obedient. You were happy. You gave me a beautiful pair of earrings with diamonds and told me they would remind me of your pure and eternal love for me. I prayed and prayed for help, for some kind of sun to melt the ice in my heart. I felt abandoned, deserted even by my faith, by (forgive me) Allah.
I kept asking: Why did you do this to me? Why was this test sent to me? I begged for help, for mercy. And it came. I found Fiona. I found a friend. And through her I found the courage to search my faith again for answers, and I found them. “Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and only He grants forgiveness” The answer was there all along, I simply hadn’t seen it. The Quran says it loud and clear – mercy and fortune is of Allah, misfortune is created by ourselves!
Yes, polygyny is a test. It is a most horrible and difficult test. Allah asks us: Do we trust in him, or do we trust in our husbands? Do we prefer to cower in misfortune with our husbands, or do we leave in search of true partnership and the marriage Allah promises us, where husband and wife is a garment to each other? Do we really believe Allah would negate on that promise by wanting us to stay in polygyny, with only half or 25% of a man to protect us and our children? No!! If fear of loneliness, fear of not being able to provide for ourselves and our children make us bow to polygyny – we fail the test!! This is the true Jihad – do you have enough trust in Allah to leave your whoring husband and throw yourself on the mercy of Allah? He has given us permission to leave, and the true and ultimate test is if we dare trust upon Him. “No reason have we why we should not put our trust on Allah.Indeed He Has guided us to the Ways we (follow).We shall certainly bear with patience all the hurt you may cause us.For those who put their trust should put their trust on Allah.” I understand now what it means. We must leave, and put our trust in Allah and patiently accept that he will provide – we do not need the husband. Allah wants us to show courage, trust and patience by believing he will provide for us. Those who stay in unhappy polygyny are the losers – they who fail to trust in Allah and His promise that our husbands will be our garments. Some people say it’s Shaitan’s whispers when a woman feels hurt and betrayed when her husband betrays their marriage by taking another woman. But the words of Allah are loud and clear, he never causes us misfortune, we do it ourselves. The whispers of Shaitan come from the evildoers who say polygyny is a right of unjust husbands who have soiled themselves with plural women, so women should try to think of this misfortune as coming from Allah, they say this even though Allah says no misfortune comes from Him! Woe to these evildoers who tell lies in the name of Allah! The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Beware of lying because lying leads to dissoluteness, and dissoluteness leads to Hell. A person keeps on telling lies until he is written before Allaah as a liar.”
We have been told that we should not stay in pain, hurt and anger, we should trust Allah. We should not let our children be bereft of a full time father, protection and love. We should not stay with husbands who hurt us and humiliate us, simply because we fear that Allah will not save us from loneliness and poverty. Allah has made divorce permissible and he has told us that women are allowed to choose whom to marry. This is the true test of polygyny – do you trust Allah enough to leave and put our life in His hand, knowing that he will provide for us? Knowing that he has made a promise that marriage should be a garment for husband and wife, and not leave us naked half of our lives?
Allah kept his promise. He gave me the courage to leave you. He provided me with a good husband. A husband who loves me. I have given him all of me, and he gives me all – not 50% or less. He loves me and tells me every day how grateful he is that I came into his life. He spends time every day with the children, loves playing with them, helping them with the homework. Every time our eyes meet, he smiles. I had been so badly burnt by you, that I asked him how he feels about polygyny. He said it is revolting – a practice for men who are handicapped and have such disabled souls and hearts that they can’t allow them to be full of love, in stead they keep searching to be complete by pretending polygyny is still allowed in Islam.
There is one thing I regret.
When I told you I had filed for divorce, and for Khul, you started to beg and cry. You told me you loved me more than anything, that your other wife and the child she carried didn’t matter the least to you, that you would divorce her three times on the spot if I just promised not to leave you, that I could come with you right away and watch you give her a triple talaq. You said it over and over again, how it had all been a mistake, how you felt nothing for her, how you only wanted me. You obviously didn’t realize that you were saying that you had put me and our children through hell, hell, hell for nothing. I regret recording it all, and sending it to her. She didn’t deserve it, it was mean. I am sorry.
I am enjoying life now. My love, my soul and my beauty belong to a man who is deserving. Our children love him. Maybe some time in the future they will want to see you, but I’m not sure. They love him. They call him daddy.
And He provides from sources (we) never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is ((Allah)) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.