The Muslim Handmaid’s Tale


When I was nine years old, my mother gave me an abaya and a niqab and said they were my token of honor. She said every honorable woman wears them, to let the world know she is protected by Allah. I wore them with pride.

My brothers went to school. My parents kept my sister and me at home, using the permission to home school that many muslims use in my state. My parents told me it was a privilege to be able to stay home and learn only what’s important, my sister and I were hidden pearls, too valuable to be allowed to go to school. I thought it was wonderful to be so precious.

When my brothers came home from school, my sister and I always had to prepare food for them, serve at table, and afterwards we did the dishes and the laundry and brought our brothers tea and cookies. I asked my mother, since my sister and I were more precious than our brothers, how come we had to wait on them and not the other way around. My mother told me that it was another kind of precious. My sister and I were precious as gems for our future husbands and mothers of our future children and being obedient and modest was our value, while our brothers were precious because they were men, leaders and our protectors. My mother told me never to want anything other than what a woman should want, to be pleasing to my husband anda modest and good mother.

When I was 16, my father and mother told me I was to be married. I should be proud because my husband was a scholar, a respected man in the community. He gave me a heavy gold necklace. I felt proud. And I hoped that this would mean new experiences, a new world opening to me. We were married. The women celebrated up stairs, the men downstairs. In the evening, I was taken to my husband’s house. We spent two hours praying. Then, without speaking a word to me, he made me his wife.

My husband is a very religious man. We have no radio, no TV. I’m not allowed to listen to music. We only have religious books, and my husband keeps them in his den, and sometimes gives one to me and tells me what to read. I’m not allowed to leave the house without him or my mother in law. We have talked about it many times, I even asked my father to talk to my husband about letting me go for a short walk on my own, or maybe to the shops. But my husband says no, and my father says I should be grateful really since my husband is so eager to protect me. I had a son a year ago and my life is better now since I have a purpose and something to do with my time.

Half a year ago, my husband told me he was going to marry another wife. It shattered me. I do love my husband, and he and my son is all I’ve got. And since I only see my parents a couple of times a year, and my mother in law once a week when we go shopping, my husband is my only connection with the world. I begged him to allow me to go to the masjid alone, told him the Prophet allowed it, but he answered it is only allowed when the world is completely safe and it is not. So I cant go. So every other week I sit in our apartment alone with my son. I can see the neighbors through the window but I can’t talk to them. I have nobody to talk to, days go by without my using my voice. I don’t want to call my parents or my sister, I’d break down and cry and I don’t want that. I wait until they call, and then I just tell them everything is fine.

My husband only sleeps with me those nights when he believes I could become pregnant. The rest of the time, he tells me he is fasting and can’t be intimate. I guess he gets what he wants from the other wife.

So here I am, a prisoner in my own home, in the middle of America. I live in a country that is free, but my religion has made me a prisoner. A couple of nights ago my sister called me. She is married too, and her life is very similar to mine although her husband is only talking about polygamy, he hasn’t actually taken another wife yet. My sister had seen this series on TV, called a Handmaid’s Tale. She said it was about christianity, but she said she felt it was about us. It was a story about how women were taught they had to obey their male owners and dress in modest clothes like nuns and perform ceremonies to have children with men who had wives and concubines. Women weren’t allowed to go outside without being watched, and they weren’t allowed to read. And it was all made to seem like they were respected and protected.

This is us. We are the muslim handmaids.

My sister said the handmaid in the story had said that “They shouldn’t have made us wear a uniform if they hadn’t wanted us to form an army”.

I put on my abaya and my niqab and wait for my mother in law to come and fetch me to go grocery shopping. My husband won’t be home to use me for another three days, he is making babies with another woman in the name of our religion.

“They shouldn’t have made us wear a uniform if they hadn’t wanted us to form an army”.


54 thoughts on “The Muslim Handmaid’s Tale

  1. Wasalaam

    Such sad reading.
    When I saw the tv series I thought about how they made women believe the ceremony to make babies with a fertile handmaid with the wife present was normal. They said that the wives would fall for it if they sold it as a religious ceremony, something religious and good. This would make people, women, accept something completely unnatural as natural. I believe this is a great picture of polygamy. Polygamy is something very unnatural that men want because it gives them sex and power so they make women believe it is a ceremony, something religious, and this way they make us participate in something completely disgusting and unnatural.

    Polygamy is exactly like the intercourse ceremony in Handmaid.

  2. *sigh* I wish I knew where this lady was….I want to go take her and her son away from that house. NO ONE should live like this.

  3. I know it will sound really stupid but if she is aware of this why doesn’t she leave?

  4. Salam all.
    I need help. I am so depressed. Husband secretly married almost two years back and I found out 8 months ago. Still so so devastated.

  5. Oh boy. And to think that the handmaid’s tale is not about christianity at all, but a somber fantasy only. For the “handmaids” in this blog post, it is dire reality.

    I can only say – I would never let my entire life be wasted away. You are so lucky to live in the USA and not in KSA like another poster here – nothing keeps you from running with your child. You could seek prelimarly shelter and protection in a woman’s shelter (completely anonymous and used to protecting women from searching relatives during the divorce proceedings), and divorce your husband according to US laws based on his adultery with another woman (which it is according to US laws). He will never be granted custody of your child if you Detail the lack of love, the level of possessiveness and control, the psychological coercion and abuse you went through (this is what your marriage is to US courts). You might be able to qualify for witness protection should your family or husband threaten you in the process (which would be a crime).

    I can tell from experience splitting with your family that will not let you live a happy, fulfilled life isn’t that bad. Living a happy, fulfilled life is worth it.

    Even if the loss of the family hurts. It gets better with time, and with the realization that those who for religious reasons would want you to live like a graveyard flower, confined and always near death despite still alive and able to blossom, they do not love you. They love their perverted version of faith and piety, but deep down they Else they would not force you into your misery, nor refuse to help you out when slowly dying inside.

    Best of luck to you.

  6. I finally watched The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu after reading this article. I’ve always meant to read the book, but never did. Now I know I have to. OMG. SO much of it rang way too familiar. M wasn’t religious – at all, really – but like a lot of Muslim men, or Christian or whatever for that matter – he’d trot it out when it suited him. And you know, after awhile living polygamy, as completely fucked up and screwed up and miserable as it was to begin with, DID begin to be sort of “normal.” We adapt to our surroundings and circumstances, and I think it’s what we have to do to survive it. Same with being in prison for years. A kind of institutionalization sets in.

  7. This is so similar to my life,

    I also married at 16 and have one child. My husband is also considered a scholar. He doesn’t let me leave the house either except once in a while to visit my mother in law. We used to go grocery shopping together but ever since baby was born I’m not allowed to go anymore because he doesn’t want the baby going to the market places. There are times when me and the baby can go 3 weeks to a month without stepping a foot outside. I’m not even allowed to sit on the porch because we live close to the masjid and he says even with my niqab, abaya, and gloves the men can see me. We don’t have a TV either, music is a big No, I’m not even allowed to read books other than Islamic ones that he picks out for me. I don’t have a co-wife and my husband says he’s not interested in another wife but I always wonder when I’m older and he gets bored will he change his mind. He’s from a different country and he wants to move there in a few years. I’m so scared to go because I don’t speak Arabic, and I always fear he will end up marrying one of his cousins or something, and I’ll be stuck in a foreign country with a husband who only shows up half of the time. I love him very dearly and I could never regret my baby but I wish I had never gotten married. I wish I had gone away to college instead. Lived on campus, grew into myself and figured out who I wanted to be before relinquishing every aspect of my freedom to him.

  8. Can I ask you something, Sommer? Based on what you’ve shared, I’d like to know exactly what there is about this man you could possibly find to love?

  9. Honestly I don’t know. I can honestly say I’ve never felt head over heels in love with him, but I do love him.

    He’s the first and only man that I’ve ever been with, he’s the man that my parents chose for me. He does have some redeeming qualities like he’s really funny and loves to make me laugh, he takes good care of us financially and otherwise. He’s a gentle person when it comes to anger, he’s never been aggressive with me and hardly ever raises his voice. In the beginning of our marriage I was 16 and not completely mature, he showed tremendous patience with me. I’m only 18 now so I’ve grown a little but I’m sure I can still be immature at times. He’s also a very loving father, I know that he does really love me, perhaps more than I love him.

    However his negative qualities are still there and I don’t completely ignore them. He’s extremely misogynist. He can be really opressive with how strict he is about Islam. He hardly spends any time with us because he spends the vast majority of his time teaching, and learning Islam.

    I’ve thought about leaving him a few times, but it’s not so easy even in America. I figure the grass won’t be greener on the other side being a single mom and all. And I’m scared of remarriage, there are worse Muslim men out there than him, I suppose.

  10. My husband has been married to his second wife for 7 years now. I’ve only known for 4. He supposedly worked in a different city and being married for 20+ years at the time, I never doubted him. Btw, this what saudi husbands tell their foriegn wives. Saudi women just know when their husband has a second wife. It still is very difficult as she has an apartment in the same building. His excuse was that he wanted more children as supposedly from my last pregnancy I miscarried and was told not to have anymore children. So i suggested taking in an orphan baby girl. She is now 10 years old. Alhumdulilah our pride and joy. As for my husband and his wife are unable to have any children. He’s the problem as she miscarried early on. But his Ethiopian wife refuses to take in an orphan. This woman wants nothing more than to have a child. She is a very devout Muslim woman..
    I still love my husband, I think or is it just a matter of staying for my grown children. We’ve been together for over 35 years. We met in college and fell in love. He was on scholarship from KSA. My husband and I are more like friends. He’s nearly 60, obese and very unhealthy. So marital relations are near to nill. Im only 5’1 and 105 lbs. It’s a constant battle of jealousy. I see the kind of marriage they have and it’s truly about Islaam. She is from a poor African country.. She has a better life and wants children..But is totally against raising an orphan..For us it’s more about the life now. Ever since I found out we have traveled the world. Every year traveling someplace new. We’ve been to Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Eygpt and Indonesia. Stayed in 5 star hotels and saw all the sights each country had to offer.. I am grateful as I still love him. But I have learned that my money is mine. Yes I help out with traveling expenses. He is now building multi family building. I dont put any money into it. As she has no income and I only pay for my famiy household necessities. Which I know is his responsibility but InshaAllah it just might be the one deed that gets me into Jannah. InshaAllah.

  11. Fiona I hope you are well, although I do sense that some major upheaval occurred in your life nearly a year ago when the blog abruptly ceased to operate for a while. I am pleased to see that it appears to be active with comments however you do appear to be subdued and less forthcoming with your personal experiences. Your story is like a page turner novel, which I think many readers and commentators found value in hearing, particularly as it was the foundation from which other commentators shared their own experiences and gave others confidence to unload their personal journeys without being judged or labelled.
    Maybe one day you will feel ready to share once again.

  12. I feel the same as Lost….I’m happy to see the blog active but miss hearing from you, Fiona….
    I get the worry about remarriage. Trust me, I’ve been married more than once, and the last time, which landed me in polygamy, was the final straw. I’m single and very happily single. No one to answer to, no one to tell me I must alter my behavior to suit their narrow little profile of how a wife should behave. My son and I have our own little home and I work and indulge in my writing without anyone complaining about dinner being late or the house in less than perfect condition. I wouldn’t get married again for all the tea in China…unless the guy respects me as his equal, has a life that doesn’t revolve around what I’m doing, is drop-dead gorgeous and has lots of $$$. Just kidding. Kinda.

    There’s always worse out there. But there’s always better, too. At the very least, someone who’ll respect you as a woman, a human being in your own right. Oppression and subjugation is not love. It’s control. I really hope one day you’ll love yourself enough to know you deserve better. As does your child.

  13. Salam All
    So my husband married without telling me.
    Was very patient and understanding the first month when I tried to come to terms with Polygamy.

    Then he completely changed his attitude towards me..

    Says I am unable to accept her and that she is sacrificing so much to be with him and I don’t love him but am selfish and can’t share.

    I already have accepted that she isn’t going anywhere and while I am definitely not happy with my life I still live him too much to leave him.

    We have 2 kids and I don’t wanna break up my little family.

    The issue is he keeps telling me that if I am unhappy I should leave and that is she is a part of our family now and if she is not in his life he is not interested in being in mine.. sigh.

  14. Lifeless

    The situation you’re in is not going to change. The best thing you can do is seek a divorce. Your husband is abusive, disrespectful and 100% pussy whipped.
    You can go though the rest of your life being heartbroken and tortured or you can go though a year or so of heartbreak.
    The best thing you can do for yourself, children is leave. Most times in these situations the 2nd marriage breaks down quickly so don’t think that she is winning. Even if it lasted, you’ll still be better off.

    TRUST ME, GET OUT!!!!!

  15. Lifeless, has the thought not occurred to you that your little family is already broken up?

  16. Lifeless

    Your little family is already broken, it was broken the minute she walked into it. Make no mistake about that. Make sure you see a solicitor for child support etc. Gather proof of his adulterous affair and how he treats you, include the money and support you’ve given to his business and if you can records of all the money he’s spent on his whore. Make sure to add the emotional torture he’s put you and the children through.

  17. May I just say with regards to Fiona: All of us readers are curious, no point in denying that. But I think we cannot be treating Fiona, who is a real person in the flesh with a real life and family, and real problems, as if she was a novel (as much as we all are conditioned to “watch how it ends” or “watch how it continues” from the books and media we consume throughout our lives).

    I guess that is the point, Fiona and her life are not ours to consume.

    Whatever she chooses to share on a public blog at what point in her life we can be grateful for and enjoy the interaction she allows (invites/wants). But the tricky thing in our present social media world is just because ppl have at a point shared a lot of their personal life does not mean we should expect them to keep doing it. Or push for it. I think we are a generation that will hopefully develop an etiquette for how to deal with ppl exposing (parts of) their lives and personalities. We are so not there if we think of the sh**storms and personal attacks many “public” bloggers face; hopefully we will get to a polite and respectful way that allows ppl to be comfortable with how much or little they share of their loves, or how controversial their sharings are etc.

  18. Kjmilton,

    Believe me I’ve spent long hours day dreaming about how awesome single life would be, all the freedom I could enjoy, sigh I envy other people my own age who are actually enjoying their teens :(. I guess I’m just weak, I’m scared of what people would say and I’m scared of the unknown, what if I end up worse off than I am now. There’s also religion I guess, I fear that I’ll end up in hell for leaving my husband just because he wanted to live an ultra Islamic life and I just wanted to “follow my desires” as they might say.

    On the bright side I am going to school, and working on my degree, so hopefully if the time comes and I find the strength to break out of here, I’ll be able to get a decent job.

  19. Lifeless,

    Coming from a different angle:

    I know leaving you husband and divorce is not so easy, I mean no one wants to end up divorced, I totally get it. But Is there really anything left of your marriage, worth saving, do you still love him and do you think he still loves you despite his behavior? Do your kids really still benefit from the marriage? Is there any part of you that believes you’d be better off single?

  20. Lifeless,
    Your name pretty much says it all.
    I got that same speech from my (now ex) husband when I found out about the other. Basically he attempted to break it off (yeah, right) and what I got was a husband moping around with his face dragging on the ground. He made himself look so miserable I felt guilty (I know…wtf?) so I told him to go be with the woman if he wanted her so bad. What I SHOULD have added was that my house doesn’t have a revolving door, but I didn’t, so polygamy is where I ended up. Ugh.

    I think if #2 would have been a halfway decent person it could have been okay. I don’t know. But regardless, he pretty much said the same thing, that either he gets us both or I can skeedaddle out of the marriage. I refused to be the one to file for divorce because I refused to make it easy for either of them. So we stayed married which made #2 miserable and gradually ever single f#ck I ever gave for this man died. It got to where I looked forward to her nights so I could have some peace and quiet without him around irritating the crap out of me. Finally, the subject of divorce came up (by him) and I said GLORY HALLELUJAH.

    That was going on 4 years ago. I’m so happy I got out of that dysfunction, as are my kids. Yes, Lifeless, kids survive divorce just fine…especially when, as others have pointed out, your family is already broken. Having a mum that’s at peace and not a constant ball of stress and heartbreak is more important than a 50% father coming and going. Clearly HE doesn’t give a shit about the kids if he made it clear that if he can’t have his new playtoy then he doesn’t want you, either.

  21. Sommer, get your degree.

    Fiona, I think Chris spoke for me already. I’m glad to see your blog back up, I check it all the time. But whatever you have to do in your life is what you have to do. Hugs from me, and just about everyone else on this blog who knows you.

  22. Sommer,

    I keep forgetting your just 18…same age as my youngest child. I have a tough time wrapping my head around that….even though my 2nd youngest became a father at 18, but believe me, I was FREAKING OUT about it.

    I am curious about your family….why did they allow you to marry so young, and how old is your husband, by the way? I get the distinct impression he’s older…by a fair number of years.

    You SHOULD be daydreaming of the life you could (and should) be living…college, friends, hanging out, enjoying your youth. At 18 you’ve barely begun to come into yourself. The changes in development…emotional, mental maturity…that hasn’t even happened yet, and here you are, a wife and mother, and a virtual prisoner of twisted religious ideology at the hands of a man who apparently thinks you’re property, not an autonomous intelligent person. I think it’s appalling and such a waste.

    My daughter in law got pregnant at 17. She finished high school though on hers and my son’s graduation day they were holding their baby daughter in the photos. They married last year and have another baby girl. But they get out and enjoy life, together and with their own sets of friends. I support them 110%…if they need anything, I do what I can, because I know they’re young and struggling and life’s not always perfect. They’re still learning what this whole adulting thing is about. Do you have family you can turn to? I sure hope so.

    Religion…ah…well, that’s where I’m a bad source of advice because I’m not Muslim, Christian, Jewish. However, I’m knowledgeable about religion (which I guess is why I’m NOT of the Abrahamic faiths) and I know that what your husband is doing is how he THINKS Islamic life is supposed to be led. However, his view is a warped, misogynist, patriarchal and abusive view, which is far too common among Muslim men as well as many orthodox Jews and right-wing Christians. It’s just a few degrees shy of violent militancy, in my opinion. Right there with The Handmaid’s Tale, as this article indicates. You’re worried about hell for leaving your husband who is twisting religion to suit his purposes? Oh, honey….you’re IN HELL NOW.

    If you’re in the US or the UK, or pretty much anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, you have tons of options to get out and live your daydreams. You don’t have to live like this.

  23. I want to thank Fiona and the many posters here for sharing their stories and insights, you’ve helped me find my strength to put my polygamous marriage behind me. I’m only two months into the legal divorce and only a few days pass talaaq, but what a big difference. It has taken 3 long years to reach this point. The intense saddest and consuming anger are gone, I feel myself returning to my pre-polygamous self, with some scars but wiser, too. I have a young son to focus on and we will be fine.

    Three years ago I couldn’t see myself without the ex, I was afraid of being alone and a single mother. A turning point was when it finally dawned on me that I already was a single mom. I also came to realize that if I stayed, the hurting would never end. There would be the big hurts (he was talking about taking a third wife) and the little hurts (his various profile pics were of his son with his second wife) and all the million other hurts in between. It feels damn good to not care about any of it!

    In the end, I may very well end up alone, but at least now there is the potential for being with someone who treats me good. Before, there was zero potential. Either way, I’m at peace.

  24. Salam all
    In a way, you all are right. My marriage is already broken.

    I dont why I am unable to leave him. He keeps throwing religion in my face saying that they have done nothing wrong. So why am i hurt if i am a muslim?

    Did I mention that he married a close friend of mine?

    He treats her like a Goddess and she walks around like a matyr claiming that she is doing everything to make me comfortable amd not demanding anything from him at the moment.

    I cant figure out the sudden change in him. He was so loving and caring when he broke the news to me but now he keeps repeating the nonsense she keeps spouting and says I dont know what love is.. I am selfish and cannot share..but that she knows what true love is.. that she is not here to break our marriage but I am still so hostile to her.

    And how can just forget she is my friend..
    Apparently she became my friend after they married to get close to me so we could all be a happy family and I am the one who is not able to move forward etc etc..

    He makes me feel so guilty that I have reached a stage where I am apologizing to him instead!!

    I dont know why I am unable to let go.. I have become so weak emotionally..

    I would have never taken this kind of behavior from him earlier..

    Dont know why and how I am taking his nonsense..but still love him and staying..
    He has brought me to my knees. I am driving myself mad thinking of his change in behavior and how can he just blindly trust whatever she says about me when we have been married almost 12 years..

    She haa manipulated him to such an extent that he only ts her words.. he trusts her with everything financially and he haa stopped talking to me at all..

    If i wven aak a simole question abiut his day I get an exasperated sigh and he tells me to leave him alone.

    He to her with so much love and concern.

    It hurts so much. He was a wonderful husband and father till this happened..
    He was so so good to me and loved me ao much.

    How can someone suddenly change so much??

    I have lost all respect for myself too and cry all the time.

    He cant even stand me touching him now.. but i still hold on.. he says I am only attached to him. That I dont actually love him. He treats me so rudely yet here I am still with him..

    I keep hoping he will change again amd go back to the person he once was to me..

    I dint know what is holding me to him apart from emotional attachment.

    I have never been any man accept for him and I also cant imagine any other man in my life. I dont want to be alone either..

    I am so confused. So depressed. No guts yet to walk out..

  25. Yay! Welcome to the other side, Kodiak!!! ❤
    You worded it so beautifully. It's great over here on the other side. NOT without ups and downs of course, but I wouldn't go back and change a thing. Except maybe I wouldn't be so stubborn, and would have made the move much sooner.

    Chris & Dale, I hope I'm not sounding like I wanted to invade Fiona's space, that's not the case at all. I just miss hearing from her.

  26. My parents are the ones who wanted me to get married so young. It all started in my first year of high school. I had stopped wearing hijab, and I’d made some non-Muslim friends. One of my best friends was a gay male. At the time I didn’t base my friendships on religion, and my friend being gay was a complete non-factor. Our relationship was so light and innocent, he didn’t act or behave any different than anyone else and I really didn’t care who he had a crush on. Of course my parents didn’t see it that way. By the end of that school year I chose to wear my hijab again by my own free will, and I felt really good about the decision, I felt Like my heart was finally in it. Unfortunately my parents had already decided I wouldn’t be going back to school and I’d be homeschooled instead.

    They got me a mentor, she acted like my big sister. She motivated me and encouraged me to be more serious about Islam. I will admit that I was a very impressionable, it was easy to mold me. I started to dress like her, niqab, all black, gloves. I started to believe the things she told me about the quran and the sunnah. It wasn’t a big deal back then because I still had the freedom to go out whenever I wanted. I still had Muslim friends. We all dressed the same so I never felt out of place with them. We had fun, we kept up with social media and our favorite tv shows and everything. I still felt like a normal girl. I worked really hard on school and managed to graduate high school early.

    When I told my parents I wanted to go to college, they told me that they didn’t think it was a good idea. They said if I went to school I’d be led astray and I’d fall into the traps of the shaytan. Basically, they didn’t want me to go chasing the worldly life and I should be more worried about my afterlife and the best way to preserve my spot in jannah was to marry a good Muslim man. They had already found me a husband who they really loved because he was a scholar. They wanted me with a man who wouldn’t let me go astray and who would look after my deen.

    My husband is 13 years older than me. I was 16 when we married and he was 29.

  27. My husband is a lot stricter than the husbands of most of the friends that I left behind. Apparently I’m supposed to be proud and thankful to Allah about that. Most of them still have a certain level of freedom. I don’t really talk to anyone about my struggles there’s no one that I trust enough.

    The funny thing is I have an older brother, he’s two years older than me and currently in university. He’s a party animal, he drinks and smokes weed like his life depends on it. He sleeps around and openly dates whoever he wants. I’ve never seen him even pick up the Quran let alone pray.

    No one asks him to ditch his non Muslim friends or girlfriends. My parents make excuses for him. They say he’s just young and he’ll grow out of the phase. They don’t like that he sleeps around but they don’t see it as a huge deal because no ones going to ask him if he’s a virgin when he’s getting married.

  28. I’m lucky enough that I was able to get financial aid and a scholarship in order to continue my education. If it wasn’t for that there’s no way my husband would let me, every semester he starts up his complaining, but I don’t care I won’t give it up. I actually enjoy school, I love learning. I do a lot of writing on my free time, and I’m a huge fan of literature and language. I’m not allowed to read fiction but i sure do write it. If my husband knew he’s probably confiscate every pen, pencil, and keyboard in the house. He’d say that fiction is a form of lying and so it’s haram.

  29. Lifeless

    I was similar to you and so are many other women. It’s rejection that makes us hang on for dear life to the husband. We turn into something similar to a crack whore. If we don’t get kind words, love, attention etc we start feening. We can’t get enough, even if it makes us sick. Divorce is actually similar to polygamy in so many ways. If you Google how women felt when they went through a divorce you’ll see youself over and over. Difference is, while in polygamy the feelings never go. You have to shut down, shut off all feelings, thoughts and emotions, just become zombie basically.

    Don’t let him give you that crap about “if you was a good Muslim” I read your story and the details elsewhere he’s the one that need religious advice. It makes your situation 10 times harder that he’s not even trying to be nice. Some women can make it through if the husband tries to keep the first marriage together, he has to ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PAIN. If he can’t do that, it’s a waste of time.

    The longer you stay, The harder to leave.

  30. There is nothing at all wrong with anything you said Unchained, I know you too well to interpret anything you say as invasive.

    I’m so glad to see your picture, and hear from a real person. I’d like to abandon a handle, but don’t yet feel up to it.

  31. Unchained, thank you! Now that I am on the other side I wonder why in the world I stayed so long. I was stubborn, too. And it just took a while to build myself back up after being shattered.

    Lifeless, I can really relate to place you are now, I was there, too. I just couldn’t pull away. My ex was super nice just after he married but eventually his niceness unraveled when I couldn’t accept it. About the time it started unraveling he said “SHE is so understanding about you.” Meaning, why couldn’t I be more understanding about her. He’s lucky he was 10,000 miles away because I could have choked him. After a flood of tears I said, let’s see how understanding she is when you take a third (turns out she isn’t too understanding). I feel for you Lifeless, hopefully in time you’ll see that you deserve better.

  32. Unchained, I’m sorry if I gave that impression. I had the impulse of wanting to know what happens in Fiona’s life, and from there started to think: We are relatively new to this world of social media, and relatively new to strangers sharing the most intimate of their lives via writings or photos whilst allowing for interaction (that’s the new part in our contemporary world compared to previous forms of “soul baring” to me). I started to notice a feeling of me wanting to “see how it continues”, and that feeling seemed similar to the one we have when reading a novel, or watching a movie.

    From there the thought came, not from you or anyone else. I feel like when it is not close friends we interact with on a face to face basis, we could treat the people opening their lives to a certain extent (be it a blog or a youtube channel) like a novel or tv series, hence like a commodity, desiring and demanding “more” to a different extent than we would in face-to-face friends.

    I don’t know if this makes sense. It was more of a general observation in how we “consume” what people offer on interactive new media.

  33. Dale,
    It was never my intention to give up my handle but I have 2 WordPress accounts and keep forgetting to switch from my “real life” WordPress and Unchained. Then I figured the hell with it…I don’t care who knows who I am.

    Sommer, do you realize both your parents and your husband have possibly committed a felony? Again, I assume you’re in the US. Underage marriage was the downfall of the FLDS Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs in America…I don’t see where your situation is really any different. And no, religious freedom doesn’t supersede it. Your parents are just as fanatical as your husband, again, just this side of militant jihadis. There’s no excuse that justifies the injustice done to you.

    Not allowed this, not allowed that. Not allowed to be YOU. Not allowed to breathe, to see daylight. I don’t know why, but it still shocks me that these things happen in twenty-first century civilization. Again, what is there to love? These people have trampled all over you, Sommer. I wish I could help you.

  34. Sommer,

    I’m so happy to read that you’re a writer. I’m a writer as well. One of my manuscripts centers around a situation much like yours, an 18 year old mother and wife of a religious fanatic many years older. She escaped with her child. Polygamy is a big part of it (she was the 12th wife of a religious leader/scholar, not a Muslim but with very similar ideologies). It was really therapeutic to write, as I’d just gotten out of my marriage to my polygamous marriage to a Muslim husband.

    I’m not published yet, but that’s been my choice thus far. I’m working on revising my novels at the present time. Just think, if you had the freedom to write what you want to write (and based on your posts here, I believe you’re a very good writer), you could gift the world. I think you’d do very well.

    What are you studying? And once you’re finished with school, what will your husband “allow” you to do with your education?

  35. I do want to clarify that my husband and my family are in no way militant islamists they are extremely hateful of the ideology, as am I. And they do not support the killing of innocent people of any race, gender, or religion.

    Yes, I live in the United States. We are married both legally and islamically. In my state its legal for an adult to marry a minor 15 and older as long as both parents and the minor agree and sign an emancipation form.

    For a long time I believed everything that I was taught about the women’s place in Islam. I accepted that I was of a lesser rank by default just for being born a woman. I remember whenever my husband was upset with me, I would send him hadith’s about the woman being deficient in comparison to the man and being cut from the bent part of the rib, and I would ask him to forgive me for my shortcomings because It is in my nature as a woman to be inferior to him and I can never be as wise as he is. I’ll never forget how happy it would make him every time I would belittle myself in comparison to him.

    I can’t pinpoint when my perspective shifted but my values have changed dramatically. I no longer feel content with the role islam has given me as a women. I feel like I’m so much more and I’m worth so much more. I’m in constant war with myself. I want to be able to call myself a devoted, proud Muslim again but I can’t deny the feeling of anger and disappointment those hadiths give me, I feel so disconnected from the role Allah wants me to play. I wish I could honestly say that I don’t scroll through pro feminist quotes and find myself agreeing with many of them.

    I tell myself it’s all just a test, and I just have to keep praying and asking Allah to save me from the whispers of the shaytan, and that even if I dislike certain things about Islam it doesn’t mean it’s bad for me. The afterlife is better than even an atom of happiness in this worldly life. But I’m still struggling and it can get so depressing being my own enemy.

  36. Writing is truly amazing isn’t it? I always feel at peace when I’m writing. It’s therapeutic in a sense, being able to sort out all the thoughts and ideas in my head and create a whole new reality and life.

    Your book definitely sounds like something I could relate to.

  37. I’m undecided as of now what I want to major in, I’m between English and psychology. Both would require me to further my education to at least a masters degree in order to get a decent job, which I don’t mind.

    As for what my husband would allow me to do with my education as of now, nothing. From his observation of the women in America , he’s concluded that having my own money would make me arrogant and disobedient,. He also says there’s no need for me to work because Allah is the provider and we don’t need to be excessive in wealth, he rather I focus on homeschooling our kids.

    I’m not letting it discourage me though, one can never go wrong with education.

  38. Sommer,

    I didn’t mean to imply that your husband and your family ARE violent militant Islamists; what I mean is, their denying you the right to have any kind of a life (mainly because you’re a woman) is similar in its fanaticism and warped ideology that’s completely at odds with 21st Century America. It really does remind me of the FLDS more than, say, ISIS, and the FLDS are most definitely extremist, radical fundamentalists, though they’re certainly not above abuse and murder/honor killing from time to time (blood atonement for apostates, for example…it is part of their doctrine).

    You’re right….in doing research on the subject, I find the legal lines get blurred when it comes to underage marriage and statutory rape laws….it’s a huge problem that needs to be remedied, and steps ARE being taken to do just that. Many young girls are coerced into marrying much older men and legally, in most states not much can be done about it provided parental consent is obtained. It’s as if a piece of paper absolves the felonious and predatory nature of these relationships. But those who encourage, manipulate, coerce and force a teenage girl into marrying some guy twice or more her age SHOULD be held legally accountable, in my opinion.

    You said, “I’ll never forget how happy it would make him every time I would belittle myself in comparison to him.”

    This tears me up inside. It literally hurts to read that entire paragraph, but this…oh, man.

    You said, ” I feel like I’m so much more and I’m worth so much more. I’m in constant war with myself. I want to be able to call myself a devoted, proud Muslim”

    A devoted proud Muslim isn’t someone who allows herself to be locked away from life and starved of growth, sweetie.


    The first one had a big impact on me, because she lives and works in and for my state… Ilhan Omar. Another proud and successful devoted Muslim lady I’ve been Facebook friends with for many years is Nargess Moballeghi, an Iranian/British journalist, writer, and producer. She’s awesome.

    Then I look to my ex’s family…yeah, he’s a dirtbag, but his mother (may she RIP) sisters, sisters-in-law, nieces etc were wonderful, smart, ambitious, hardworking women who took exactly zero crap from any man, be it their husbands, brothers, fathers, or some perv on the street. My mother-in-law was a pistol….definitely she was the boss. I respected and admired each of these women so much. My ex’s niece is VERY devoted to her religion, and when I left his country she was in her final year of med school to become a pediatric neurologist.

    Being a devoted proud Muslim doesn’t mean you must be subservient, obedient, silent, subject to the orders of others and locked away from the world, Sommer. It means you go out there and grab the world that Allah created. You grab it by the balls and give it everything you’ve got to give to it. I’m not talking about gaining wealth – though surely that would be nice, ain’t no two ways about it.

    If I were religious, I wouldn’t buy into that blind “Allah provides” nonsense, like you’re supposed to sit back and wait for Allah to shower gold coins or something…that’s how people end up starving to death! Allah provides, yes, indeed … he provides you with a brain, a body, 2 capable hands, a curious nature and a creative, ambitious drive to use to be the best you that you can be.

    English or psychology…both are good. Both are versatile enough to take you into the real world doing wonderful things. As a writer, I’m partial to English, of course, but I took psych in college and found it fascinating as well. My nephew just got his doctorate in Psychology and is published. He works in PTSD research in California.

    Women who work are “arrogant and disobedient”, and that scares the pants off him. Not so surprising, really. Most ultra-orthodox men of the Abrahamic faiths suffer from some level of gynophobia.

  39. Unchanined

    I really liked your post to sommer. It’s what is wanted to say and you put it so nicely.


    What unchanined said about using what Allah created to fulfil yourself is so true. What gets me is when men won’t allow a wife or close family member to visit a male dr etc but won’t allow the women to become Drs. It’s completely contradictory. Is there a way to youbfalk to your husband and explain that what you intend to do with your education will benefit the Muslim ummah, and it would mean you’d be able to give more in charity if you have your own money. I think he sound more extreme too. Me and my husband are devoted Muslims and he has no issues with me working or gaining a non religious education. We tell on Allah to protect us from arrogance and disobedience. We rely on Allah to provide too and as unchanined said, it doesn’t mean to sit and do nothing THAT’S IGNORANCE.

  40. Unchanined

    I really liked your post to sommer. It’s what is wanted to say and you put it so nicely.


    What unchanined said about using what Allah created to fulfil yourself is so true. What gets me is when men won’t allow a wife or close family member to visit a male dr etc but won’t allow the women to become Drs. It’s completely contradictory. Is there a way to youbfalk to your husband and explain that what you intend to do with your education will benefit the Muslim ummah, and it would mean you’d be able to give more in charity if you have your own money. I think he sound more extreme too. Me and my husband are devoted Muslims and he has no issues with me working or gaining a non religious education. We tell on Allah to protect us from arrogance and disobedience. We rely on Allah to provide too and as unchanined said, it doesn’t mean to sit and do nothing THAT’S IGNORANCE.

  41. Wow, kjmilton your post absolutely resonates with me, you’re 100% correct.

    There’s the Hadith about trusting in allah but tying ones camel which absolutely supports everything you all are saying. I suppose my husband means that he’s already providing enough so I should be grateful to allah for what I have and trusting that me as a woman need not work, and I should stay home with the kids instead. I’m certain that he understands that allah being the provider doesn’t mean we should sit around because he himself doesn’t sit around, he’s a very hardworking person, but it’s just his way of jerking me around and shaming me into doing what he wants.

    He does believe and has expressed to me that women can work, become doctors, nurses, lawyers, even engineers. He agrees that there is an actual need for women in the workforce so if a woman leaves her home to work then she is leaving for a need and that falls under the verse. He has also told me that a woman who works and benefits the people and has good intentions may also be getting good deeds for her work.

    However he also believes that a woman is under her husband and should obey her husband so if her husband does not want her to work than she shouldn’t. His personal preference is to have a wife who stays home with the kids, so that is the only role left for me to play. I think he feels like since he is regarded as a religious figure and example his wife and children must also be a certain way.

    His family members are nothing like him. His mom and sisters hate what he’s doing. They all have higher education and work in highly professional settings. Even his brothers are a lot less strict about Islam than he is. They say practicing Islam exactly as the prophet did is beautiful in theory but the world has changed so dramatically that it’s necessary to be lenient on certain things like niqab and forbidding intermingling between women and men. He wasn’t raised like this he became like this on his own, I guess through his studies of the Quran and sunnah.

    Before me, he was engaged to the daughter of a close family friend. She is a very proud feminist and educated woman, I know for a fact that he would’ve never told her not to work, or go to school. Her parents wouldn’t even have let her wear niqab. And he was fine and perfectly happy with all of that. I don’t know why it’s different with me, why he thinks he can basically be a control freak and lock me away so long as he provides.

  42. I think a lot of muslims in the west are being influenced by the “Salafi” minhaj through the various teachers and imams that went to places like Yemen and Saudi to study and brought back this way of understanding that calls for complete fundamentalism and shuts down the idea of adapting the religion in any way, shape, or form. “Salafia” is seriously spreading like wildfire especially amongst younger people in the U.S and U.K. Who spend a lot of time on the internet and go on websites like Islamqa, and listen to various preachers on YouTube. It’s been a long time since I met a practicing Muslim my age; teens and early 20’s, who didn’t call themselves “salafi”. Even on social media some of the most popular Islamic pages for the younger generations are pro-salafi. It’s like the new cool thing, similar to how sufism was with our parents. Even my husbands Ex-fiancé who is a super feminist proudly calls herself a “Salafi” although she admits to “not being a very good one”. I’ve come to the conclusion the Salafia sounds good on paper and in theory but it only benefits men.

  43. Sommer

    You’re 100% correct on the so called salafis. There was one on here. It’s a very dangerous mentality and hinders the progression of Muslims worldwide.

  44. Rainbow,

    Idk sometimes I feel like it’s extreme, other times I feel like these are the rights Allah has given him, if he wants to order his wife to stay home and not leave the home without him, and he fulfills whatever rights he’s supposed to, then under the fold of Islam is he really doing anything wrong? Maybe I’m the one who’s wrong for wanting to oppose my husbands authority. 😦

    I have no doubt that you and your hubby are devout Muslims and I don’t think my husband would disagree. All along I figured that this is how most wives of Muslim religious leaders live, and if I wanted to live a different lifestyle I should’ve just married an ordinary Muslim man. My story is almost identical to the original author’s and I know a lot of women living in Muslim countries live similar lifestyles.

    It just makes me angry that I was coerced into getting married before I even had a good understanding of what I wanted in life.

  45. Sommer

    I see what your mean. I don’t think You want to oppose his authority, rather live your life. It was a very young age to get married and have children. I wasn’t raised Muslim, it was something I chose later in life. You’re story is so important to me and I believe many other women who are raising Muslim children. From your parents prospective I can understand they wouldn’t want any harm to come you in terms of the religion, I feel the same about my children. I have a daughter and fear she will be enticed by the the lifestyle of the non Muslims. I see now, thanks to you, that it’s her decision to make, it’s her life and only she must live it. I know that sounds so crazy to many people that I had to realise that. there’s a fine line between protection and oppression. I want her to marry and have children, although not as young as 16.

    You’re right, religiously no one would see a problem in how your husband treats you and sure, We should be grateful for everything we have in life, but I do feel an overwhelming sadness for what your experiencing. I don’t even have an answer for how you could get out of this situation. I know I like to benefit from the protection and finances of my husband, and the benefits that Islam allowed me, I don’t mind to spend the majority of my time at home, with the children. That was my choice, and think everybody should be entitled to that choice. I think you have a right to be angry about being coerced in general, even more so at such a young age.

  46. Assalam alaikum

    First of all, I’m not a victim. I try not to see myself as a victim and I don’t want to be treated like one. BUT the pain of having your husband marrying someone else is like no other pain. I have had some rotten things happen in my life and I thought I knew what it was to suffer, but I really didn’t until my husband married another woman.
    Yeah, I’ve done what most other women do. I’ve searched the internet high and low for answers, why did he do this to me, could it really be his right, isn’t there a loophole somewhere, isn’t there anything I can do. I suppose you know exactly what it’s like. Well, by now I’ve sort of come to terms with it. Not accepted it maybe, but I’ve learned to live with it. Maybe not, but I’ve learned to survive. Sort of. And yes, I see it as a test and maybe I will be rewarded with Jannah if I pass.
    But you know, I’ve never been able to understand where my needs are met in all of this. All talk is about the needs of the husband. He can marry another because he needs more attention when the wife cares for the kids. Hm, yeah. But what about the fact that I need more attention now when my days are full of nappies and burping and I feel less beautiful with my stretch marks and boobs hit by gravity? He can marry another because he covets other women. But what about the fact that I spend so much time alone with the kids while hubs is at work or with his other wife that I’m starting to covet Tinkie Winkie? He can marry another because he needs variation in his life, but what about the fact that variation for me nowadays is choosing between ordinary Pampers and Up-and-Go?
    I don’t want to be bitter. It’s really not who I am. But how on earth can anybody claim that polygamy is to meet the needs of both men and women? I have room and board, but that’s it. All my other needs are down the drain, and will never ever be met. That’s the truth about polygamy.

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