If there are Four Wives? Issue of Polygamy Introduction in Crimea

The public of the Crimean Tatars actively discusses the issue of polygamy introduction.
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Crimea is today on the threshold of creation of a new social community. Firstly, the Slavic society consisting of the Russians and Ukrainians, joined more than 200 thousand of the Crimean Tatars — people of other faith and essentially other ethnic identity. Secondly, in the conditions of full social freedom there is a growth of national consciousness of all ethnic components of the Crimean society.

The principle of real political, economic, social, cultural equality becomes a basic rule of relations in the new community. Unfortunately, neither heads of the country, nor heads of the region, nor the political structures are not ready to comprehension of scales, essence and legal grounds of these requirements. The author of the concept of "a new Crimean social community", the Crimean-Tatar journalist and publisher Shevket Kaybulla considers that the new social community of Crimea "requires other rules and forms of relations construction".

Crimea already left "conservative expansive-aggressive mass psychology", but it still did not arrive to recognition of necessary level of tolerance for new society. And the basic factor in this process of social transformation was the ethnic factor, which, according to Shevket Kaybulla, "should become neutralizer of aggressive mass psychology", but it is necessary, that the society would have this new condition well-realized. The new community will differ from the old one, since it will not allow to dominate one ideological system or one political power, and also will manage to prevent development of the conflicts which arise due to lawlessness of the officials, into ethnic ones, as it was before. Also it will help to withdraw socially-psychological pressure in the society, to neutralize attempts of the usage of dirty technologies on purpose of stirring up ethnic groups against each other in due time.

Polygamy as a "backwardness"?

It should mean big practical changes in the life of Crimea — termination of information wars between ethnic groups in local mass-media, real alignment of position of different religious communities, refusal of use in political needs of such ethnic factors, as language, culture, history. In this respect seems to be very productive campaign of the Crimean-Tatar mass-media on education among the compatriots of tolerant social and religious ethics. As the main principle serves the 104 ayat of the third sura of the Quran, requiring tolerance as condition of happiness of a person. Discussion in several mass-media of such topics as "The Muslim in the shadow of a mosque", "The Muslim is able to choose friends", "Follow the straight path, and you will not get off", "Without burdening neither yourself, nor others" and many other things, leads to active distribution of a high culture of behavior to a multinational society, to formation of the social consent.

Thereupon also attracts attention public discussion among the Crimean-Tatar people of such a difficult social phenomenon of Muslim tradition, as polygamy. Why this problem in ethnic education of the radical people of Crimea became one of defining nowadays?

First of all, nowadays both in Ukraine as a whole, and among the Crimean Tatars, women numerically surpass men, and such demography in practice does not give possibility to find the happiness for each of them. Many of them cannot establish a family. Secondly, the Crimean-Tatar people, which number never exceeded one million people, is nowadays in conditions when it makes only 13—14 % of the population on its native land, sees one of ways of the decision of their problem in escalating of its quantity. Accordingly, if the state does not give a quota for coming of the Crimean Tatars in the power, to receive equal position in economy and politics it would be possible only by increase in quantity of the ethnic voters and workers. And it is true, birth rate among the Crimean Tatars, stimulated by the Mejlis, nowadays exceeds birth rate among other national groups of Crimea.

Thirdly, in these factors many participants of the discussion see a guarantee of preservation of the Crimean-Tatar ethnic identity. Therefore, two other discussions — pro and contra international marriages and about birth rate level, are simply continuation of the discussion about polygamy. By the way, the polygamy problem was more than once mentioned in discussions and even in Kurultays of the Crimean Tatars, what testifies that it has not only religious, social, ethical and demographic, but somewhat political value, too.

Fourthly, the participants of the dispute consider two more real factors. Polygamy is legislatively forbidden and from the ethical point of view it is considered as pure "backwardness" contradicting to the way of life of educated Europeans. And at all legislative interdictions during all periods of history and in all societies there really existed and exists now both the latent polygamy, and the latent polyandry, "the Swedish" families, other forms of sexual co-habitation of not two, but a bigger number of people. Mistresses and lovers were before, and until now they are the real phenomenon of the European society. Muslims, unlike the Slavs, put this phenomenon in rigid frameworks of the law.

The Muslim law orders to men in a real-life situation of polygamy not to produce single mothers as it is found at the Slavs, but to care of all wives and their children similarly and fairly. And the law permits to marry any of subsequent of four wives only if the man is able to maintain all of them equally and only with the consent of all previous wives. Such a Muslim rule does not lack justice, unlike our numerous "triangles" which make unfortunate at least one, and even all three, and children in addition…

Libertinism or responsibility

And what do the Crimean Tatars think? The author of the publication under a pseudonym The Woman in the article under the title "Say "NO" to Polygamy!" writes, "Actually, those who stands up for the idea of polygamy, do not care about preservation of the people and improvement of a demographic situation, they simply wish to legalize the libertinism". According to the author, except ethical reasons, nowadays polygamy is inadmissible even among Muslims because in the present economic situation when it is difficult to provide even for one family, no any man can maintain equally and fairly not four, but at least two wives. She says that in polygamous marriage "all wives should be treated equally: they should have equivalent houses, clothes, love. Not everyone can financially completely provide two families for one hundred percent. And if he can — the love all the same is not to share. One he loves, the other one - tolerates. And if spiritual feelings are alien to a man, than these are just instincts, and, pardon, debauchery".

One more participant of the discussion, apparently, conceiving quite in an European way, stated her opinion sharply enough, "Polygamists are tyrants. No any woman in her soul will agree to divide her husband with another one. Two wives: both do not agree, both are dissatisfied. Is there love?" This author refers to history, "The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had several wives, but he lived twenty five happy years with his first wife Hadija who was 15 years older than him, and only after her death he married other women. And the main objective of his marriages was distribution of Islam among various tribes to which his wives belonged".

Nowadays polygamists want the second wife to be young and beautiful, with no children, while the Prophet Muhammad married one of women who was the widow, and he simply saver her and her children from poverty. Are present men ready for that? Hardly!

Nevertheless, this author is against international marriages. She, contrary to the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, does not agree that polygamy serves to familiarizing of women of other faiths with Islam.

The author of the other publication, Gulnara Abdullaeva, considers that nowadays many of the Crimean Tatars devote their life to education and business. As a result "to find a free man above thirty is much harder and then there is a possibility of the so-called free marriage. And there is nothing reprehensible in it. It is normal, when a man who has possibility to provide the woman, incurs responsibility for her. He does not destroy her first marriage, but the last word remains after her - to stay with him, or to legalize relations with another, free one".

She refers to an old folk custom of the Turks — levirate, when "the widow had the right to marry again to close relatives of the died husband, for example, to his brothers. Thus, the woman in the Muslim society was always socially protected, and the family of the husband was obliged to incur guardianship and care of her and her children".

Gulnara-hanum writes that "our men are brought up not in the best traditions of the Islamic countries, where polygamy is treated in absolutely different way. Not everyone will venture to incur responsibility equally to love and maintain several women at the same time". The author considers that this extreme measure — polygamy — can be comprehensible only in case when the marriage is not the first at young girls, and that nowadays there will be no such a father who would agree to give his beloved child as a wife to a man who already has a lawful family.

And Emine Inat considers that "the modern Crimean Tatars have to live in essentially different social and economic conditions". Nowadays the Crimean-Tatar women work on the same level with men in all spheres of life — "from hothouses and gardens to business, policy and civil service". Nowadays the Crimean-Tatar women are present in the offices of scientists, in high schools, and at the wheel of the car. Physicians are alert - women do not leave any time for themselves, the number of oncological and gynecologic diseases grows, death rate indicators among young women increase. She considers that in such conditions polygamy does not become the adequate answer to time calls, but will lead to additional psycho-emotional loading. She also pays attention to the feelings of children who were brought up in "the first" marriage: whether they are ready to reconcile to it and whether anyone will ask their opinion?

The question is: how the Crimean-Tatar women could stay faithful to their traditions and at the same time to be modern European women? After all, the requirements of Islam in Crimea not always were observed strictly - the Crimean Tatar women never dressed a yashmak and not always covered their heads with hijab. And polygamy was not spread in Crimea so widely, as in the Arabian countries. Therefore the question of polygamy cannot be common, obligatory, the question of possibility of marriage (though, according to the law, it cannot be officially registered) with already married man should be considered individually by each Muslim woman, only taking into account concrete vital circumstances...

On the other hand, this discussion should concern the Christians-Slavs of Crimea, too, and the people of other nationalities and religions, if in our country is formed a new social community. Whether the Jews, the Slavs, the Armenians, the Greeks, the Bulgarians, the Czechs, the Germans could comfortably dwell in one society with polygamists, especially provided that the formal law of the state forbids it? Whether they are ready to tolerate it or it will be uncomfortable, and they will condemn this tradition of their neighbors?

Discussion about polygamy admissibility is still far not finished in Crimea. Very few men took part in it. Imams and experts on theology are silent, unfortunately, and scholars and sociologists still did not join the discussion, but one thing is unquestionable: this uneasy and unusual problem for us already disturbs our society and should be discussed as deep and thorough as possible to find the true and comprehensible decision.

Nikolay SEMENA, Simferopol.

(Given with some changes)

By the newspaper "The Day"

Related Links:

Crimea: Islam Today

Inter-Confessional Conflicts in Crimea are inflated by Politicians and Journalists, - Expert Opinion

A Civilisational Dialogue in The Crimea

Islam in Crimea. Modern Aspects of Development

In 30 years Crimea Will Become Muslim – Expert’s Opinion

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