Friday, January 19, 2007

Mutaa Marriages

An interesting story about the increasing use (and abuse) of temporary marriages in Iraq. In Islam, polygamy is allowed up to a limit of 4 wives per spouse, under the condition that the man is able to support the entire family and treat each wife fairly. Whether a person thinks polygamy is right or wrong, it was (and still is) a practical solution to a common social problem - the death of men in war.

In mutaa marriages, the man pays the temporary wife for the privilege only for the duration of the marriage. The mainly Shiite practice is said to lessen the hardship of women that have lost their husbands or potential mates to war. Children produced in such marriages are the responsibility of the father whose abandonment is discouraged upon pain of death.

Without much analysis, I feel that the practice is wrong. It smacks of prostitution. Paying a woman for sex is prostitution, no matter which way you slice it. As an anti-sectarian Muslim male, I nonetheless believe that those in this situation should adhere to the spirit of the Sharia by marrying fully (the Sunni position).

That's not to say that it isn't a difficult call, full of contradictions and hyporcrisy. Some in the West think prostitution is wrong, some think it should be legalized. Others lambaste Muslim men for divorcing their women. Catholics are against divorce all together. Others say divorce is one of the most important achievements of womens equality (Muslims have enjoyed this matrimonial recourse for 1400 years).

The Prophet Muhammad is smeared for allegedly marrying polygamously during the later part of his life (his first wife was 11 years his senior and his boss). Yet, in the Western culture, losing one's virginity in gradeschool is not uncommon, while having multiple girlfriends is seen as a sign of manlihood (studs, mac-daddy's).

Unlike the previous Western conflicts such as WWI and WWII, where most of the troops who perished were unmarried young men, many who have died in the "War on Terror" and in Iraq have been married 20 to 30-something men with young families. Should these women spend the rest of their lives as lonely widows? Should they pay for sex or remarry? And if they remarry, to whom? A new study shows that more than half of American women now live alone. Perhaps some sort of mutaa-like marriage could be of comfort to them, or maybe they prefer their independence or turn to lesbian relationships.

Its a strange world we live in where stable families are being outnumbered by single-parent homes, childless singles, gay marriages, and mutaa relationships. I don't know, call me old-fashioned but I don't see too many positives in this trend.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Little Mosque On The Prairie

I caught the first episode of Zarqa Nawaz's CBC sitcom, "Little Mosque on The Praire." My initital impressions are that it is funny, but uneven, mildly cheesy, but earnest and realistic in portrayal of Muslim issues. It will improve over time, I think, a good show.