Saturday, December 09, 2006

Terengganu award to reward polygamists?

It was reported that on Thursday, Wan Mohamed Wan Hassan, a state executive councillor of Terengganu and also Community Development and Women's Affairs Committee chairman, told the Terengganu state assembly the state government would be giving special awards to married man who are willing to take single mothers as their second or third wives to ease their (the women’s of course, and not the polygamists’) financial burden.

He told the assembly that the special award was a token of appreciation for these men.

I understand from a Muslim mate that the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) started the 4-wives permission to cater for the survival needs of war widows, unfortunate ladies whose husbands were killed in battles during the early days of the Prophet’s struggle.

I remember seeing a movie titled ‘A man called Horse”, which depicted the life of a white man (English) captured by and then, after some trials ad tribulations, adopted as a full fledged member of a Sioux tribe. In one scene, a Sioux widow, whose husband was killed in an inter-tribal battle, had to surrender all she owned and leave the tribe to die in isolation in the wilderness. Apparently that was the tribal tradition as no one wanted or could look after old her.

The Prophet (pbuh) must have foreseen such a social problem when he evolved the Islamic matrimonial formula as a social construct. The main thrust of his teaching was directed at the welfare of the war widows, and not at men’s sexual recreation. So the man assigned the duty could well be a 21-year old smart handsome looking warrior being detailed with an ugly war widow aged 55 with several children.

Some sensible variations of the 4-wives rule applied in cases when a wife could not bear a son for the husband or could not enable continued consummation of the marriage.

Other than declaring the state would be (unnecessarily) issuing special award for implementing a teaching of the Prophet (pbuh), has it been wrong the for the Terengganu Exco member to publicise the noble virtues of such a welfare scheme?

Well, the opinion of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Women, Family and Community Development Minister, was that while the intention might be good and noble, the move would invite trouble.

She wants the Terengganu government to drop any intention to reward married men who are willing to take single mothers as additional wives.

She stated: "I was shocked to read the news in the newspapers this morning. I immediately called Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh for an explanation."

"The Menteri Besar (MB) promised to get more details on the matter for me."

She said the worrying thing is that it can be misinterpreted, in fact abused by some irresponsible men as an open cheque book for polygamist indulgence in Terengganu.

Meanwhile, MB Idris Jusoh denied that the state government was planning to give out the special award. He said so in an SMS to reporters the next day saying the newspaper reports on the matter were inaccurate.

Hmmm, do you think the newspapers report was inaccurate? Or, is it yet another UMNO (state government) manoeuvring to upstage (and out-sex) PAS for the next state election? A perverted path to be more PAS than PAS?

Though not a Muslim, I am willing to lend my support to the welfare scheme on the following conditions:

(1) There be an asset test to determine whether the wannabe polygamist husband can afford it, and treat the new or additional wives fairly and equally. I believe this is enshrined in Islamic teachings, though sometimes not applied here in Malaysia.

(2) Likewise for the ladies – they must truly need the financial support and are not just pretty faces with concealed (therefore un-emphasised but nonetheless substantial) sexy buttocks and cleavages!

(3) In keeping with the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh), there must be no ‘picking’ or ‘selection’ by the wannabe polygamist husbands. It’s supposed to be a welfare scheme and not a dating agency. If they volunteer for the scheme, the management of the scheme will assign the wives (anyone of any age) to them to be looked after with severe penalties if they reject their assigned wives.

(4) The management or Board of the scheme must be made up of people who won’t indulge (conspire) in a ‘nod & wink’ relationship with the wannabe polygamist husbands, making the welfare scheme nothing more than a cover up for the men to get the women of their lusts.

I am willing to volunteer if needed ;-)

Well, I reckon my challenge to the proposer(s) is not entirely out of synch with the intentions of the Prophet (pbuh).

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