AMA - My father is a polygamist with 4 wives, and I have 24 siblings
I'll be acting as a proxy for my friend Abdulrahman, we live in Saudi Arabia where the law allows up to 4 wives to a single man.
Abdulrahman has 11 Brothers and 13 sisters. 5 of them from his mother.
I'll be translating the questions to him and replying back in English (obviously).
Further proof: http://i.imgur.com/o9MKV.jpg A photo of the passports for everyone in my house, which includes me my mother and my 5 siblings.
EDIT: Better proof
EDIT2: Thank you reddit for this opportunity, my friend gives you his warmest regards. Living a life behind locked doors and complete privacy can be tiring. Its nice to know what the rest of the world thinks about our cultures and traditions.
The youngest wife is 22. The firstborn is 35.
Is there any jealousy between the wives?
As a linguist, I'd like to know how you're rendering "butt-load" in Arabic. Thanks in advance.
Its not a direct translation, otherwise it would sound very wrong. ಠ_ಠ
Has violence every occurred because of said jealousy?
The 3 eldest wives hate 4th one which is my fathers favorite. Shes the youngest and he spends most of his time with her.
What does your father do that he can support that many people?
Do you think polygamy in unfair to women?
Will you be a polygamist?
Life here isn't very expensive, which is the main factor in allowing this sort of thing. My father is currently an officer in the army but is assigned to a 9-5 desk job in a government sector. He also started a company which supplies building supplies to contractors, and its been very succussful, my older brothers run the company which means he has more free time.
EDIT: Plus no taxes whatsover!!
No I don't think its unfair in the current social circumstances in Saudi Arabia, polygamy is looked upon here as very desirable because it proves a man has wealth and is able to supply for a large family. But I probably wont be a polygamist given how hard it is to manage such a large family.
This doesn't really answer the question of whether it's unfair for women, though. Yes, it proves a man has wealth and is able to support a large family, but do you feel it is unfair for a woman who has to deal with, as you say, a "buttload" of jealousy and the likelihood she will be supplanted by a younger woman? Do you think Saudi Arabian women would prefer monogamy?
From a moral standpoint I do think it is unfair and I wish it wasn't legal in the first place. I do wish these silly social habits die off in the near future.
But it works out very well in our case especially when a wife has her own home and open-mindedness towards the other wives.
Do you ever gather all 30 and have family events? (dinners etc)
EDIT: derp calculations.
Its rare for ALL of us to get together but its happens at weddings, funerals and graduation ceremonies.
Thanks for your reply. As a follow up question, when such events do happen, with which subfamily does your father most time?
PS. Sorry if the term "subfamily" is offensive.
LOL, well here in Saudi Arabia there are no mixed male-female parties or weddings. Each gender has their own ceremony/whatever in a separate place and they never mix. So my father is always with us the sons.
How does that work at weddings for the newly wedded couple? Does the husband celebrate with the males and the wife with the females? And then do they join again to head home in the evening?
Muslim woman here, and someone who generally doesn't like polygamy, for numerous reasons. I'm going to assume that you are a Muslim family for obvious reasons.
You said that your father favors his newest wife, the youngest one, the most among the others - what do you think about the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stressed (through example, as well as words) that one must be just to all wives, in the case that one marries more than one? The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was known to have treated his wives so well, that each one of them thought that they were the most beloved, when in fact, he was simply treating them all the same.
The Quran stresses this as well, frowning upon the idea of having more than one wife, because a human can never be absolutely perfect in the justice and treatment of his wives.
I'm not attacking your father or you, I'm wondering what you thought about the differences between how your dad treats his wives, and how it is generally viewed in Islam.
He treats all of his wives very fairly and applies the prophets teaching throughout his life.
When I said he favors her I meant emotionally since she is less of a headache compared to the large sub-families he has to deal with.
That's along the lines of what I meant... I wasn't talking about justice in terms of money, place to live, etc, but love and emotional bonding. That is what is stressed by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Quran.
The prophet muhammad was asked who his favorite person is and he said "Aisha". This is a very popular hadith. And even though the prophet had 9 wives he preferred on over the other 8.
You just can't control emotional love.
How do you view your step-mums? Do you acknowledge them as family or do you only see them as the mothers of your siblings and therefore have no attachment to them.
I consider them like aunts, and i respect them very much.
What's the age range between your siblings? Also if you don't mind answering how old are you?
The eldest is 35, the youngest is still in the womb (4th wife is pregnant)
Are your sisters forced into the marriage? Can they actually reject and choose when they want to get married?
They aren't forced at all but marriage here is incredibly strange and difficult. Given that its all arranged, a girl cant just go out in the wild and meet someone, this means that she usually only has one shot and needs to marry the first man that asks for her hand. Plus the dowry is insane, you need to pay upwards of 50,000 dollars to her or her father for the marriage and unemployment is at 30%.
- How important is religion to your family?
- I want to ask about women and polygamy again. Do you think it is unfair to women that men can have multiple wives, but women cannot have multiple husbands?
Religion is the number one factor in our lives, everything we do is based on it.
In the current situation I don't think its unfair given that women can't easily find work, so the men end up being the suppliers for a family; also some women never have a chance to get married due to the stupid cultural norms here so if a man asks a woman hand in marriage she will usually accept even if he already has a family just for the sake of not being alone.
Great AMA. This will really clear up a lot of stuff for people living in the west.
I grew up in Jeddah till I was 10 and then moved to Canada. One thing that I never figured out but was always curious about...
Since you are in a very heavy Muslim culture, this requires all women that are not in direct blood relation (I.E sisters, mom, grandmother etc) to wear a headcover or a Hijab when they are near males. Therefore my question is, when at a family event of some sort where one of your
Step Half-sisters (sister from any of your father's wives) is she required to wear a head cover around you? If yes, is this religious? or cultural?
My Step-sisters don't have to cover up in front of me, nor do my fathers other wives.
How is your personal relationship with your father? Many fathers in the US won't take the time to form a bond with their one or two children, let alone twenty-four.
Its pretty good, fathers here rely on their children to do everything and I'm actually one of his favorites since I've been doing good in school and on my way to a good career.
The daughters on the other hand are married off at ages 16-18, mostly to their cousins. My uncles have fairly large families too.
This is really interesting! Thanks for posting.
1. Do you want an arranged marriage like your father? 2. What age do men start getting married? I noticed women are married between 16 and 18 often, but I assume men are older since they have to pay a dowry.
3. What's a common price for a dowry?
No choice. My mother already has a wife in mind for me.
Usually around 21-22, which is right after university. But the father always helps the son with the dowry.
Usually starts at 15,000 dollars and goes up to 40,000 dollars for the more upperclass families. My family is at 100k riyals which is around 25,000 dollars on average.
My future-wife is my cousin from my mothers side, and yes I've seen here a couple times. We are getting engaged right after highschool and the marriage will be after college.
Her beauty doesn't really matter as much as the socioeconomic level of her father.
What considerations does your mother use when choosing a wife for you? Attractiveness? Brains? Her family?
Does she consult you at all?
The main consideration is how religious she is, the more the better. Her intelligence doesn't really matter compared to her family or her beauty.
Is it really as bad as everyone says it is? Are the wives mistreated or does it actually work alright?
I ask because back when prop 8 was going through, I suggested that people also be given the right for polygamy (keeping government out of marriages, I drew no arbitrary lines), and I was flamed and downvoted to oblivion.
It works out pretty well, but its not for everyone. Each wife has to look past the jealousy and just focus on their children.
How often do you see your father, and who do you live with?
Currently I'm living with my mother and 2 of my brothers.
We have 3 large 6 bedroom houses, and each wife lives in one of them with her children. While the 4th wife which is still childless has her own apartment not far from our neighborhood.
Where does your father live?
Well in Islamic law a man must treat his wives fairly by spending each day with a different one.
For example on Saturday he would spend it with the first wife, on Sunday with the 2nd wife, on Monday with my mother the 3rd wife and on Tuesday with the 4th wife. And so forth.
As a man, does it frustrate you that you can't date? Or do you date secretly?
In all honesty, I would love to date.
My generation has a modern Western mentality but is trapped in an incredibly locked up society. BlackBerry Messenger is our primary dating service around Riyadh :0
How old is your father?
He is currently 55.
What does his Father do to support a family of 30?
Do you think your Father has a favorite wife?
How does one go about meeting four wives (arranged marriages? Just meeting women?)
Does he feel closer to his birth Mother and his birth Mothers' kids than the other Mothers' kids?
1 and 2 have been answered.
Arranged marriage definitely, you don't even get to see the woman you're marrying in most cases. You just go to her father and ask for his daughters hand in marriage and pay the dowry and its all done.
Of course I feel much closer to my birth mother and my full brothers and sisters.
With respect to your first answer -- How do you feel about that system? Is it legal to date, court or even get to know a women before marriage? Or is the only option to pick a family, pay the dowry, then hope you two get along?
Your mother will pick the girl out for you, you will then get to meet her and see her when you're engaged but only for a limited time, you won't get to date her or live with her before the wedding.
Well each wife has her own fairly large house to run, usually the daughters and the live in maids do the dishes.
Sadly my father prefers the 4th most recent wife, given that she is the youngest (22) they only got married around a year ago. But he usually is very fair with my mother and step-mothers.
On a scale from 1-10 how hard is it for an American citizen to move to Saudi Arabia, get citizenship, convert to Islam, and pick up four 22 year old wives?
But if you convert to Islam and have a couple billion laying around it might come around.
Does your dad attend any of your social activities? Such as a sport or some other kind of hobby?
He does usually come to parent-teacher meetings for each of us, which I give him credit for.
Does he come then with all 4 of his wives? Just one? Or alone?
Schools are separated, only male teachers in boys' schools.
How do you like it? Do you wish you were part of a monogamous family or do you not mind it? Any specific perks of the large family or things that really suck about it that you can share with us?
I like having a big family, I can always throw the chores on one of my many younger siblings.
Do you think there will come a time in the future where polygamy will no longer be accepted as it is today?
Nope, its hard wired into our religion.
It my become less popular but it will never be unacceptable.
do they have divorce over there? and what happens if a wife wants a divorce? does she get a share proportionate to the total number of wives? so if there are 4 wives does she get 1/4 of the stuff?
Divorce does exist, and when that happens the wife doesn't really get anything she goes back to living in her fathers home.
Are you extremely close to your step brothers and sisters or do you just stay within your immediate siblings
I'm very close with them especially the ones from the first wife as they are the eldest and most respected.
Do you have any siblings that you just cant stand?
Some are idiots yes.
Is reddit not blocked in S A? Can you access /r/gonewild ?
Everything 18+ is blocked, but VPN's and proxies are magic!
Are their laws or regulations that punish people who own or access adult content? Or is it just frowned upon?
Well the possession of porn is definitely a felony which is punished by the religious police. But everyone has a password on their electronics which limits their power.
Thank you for doing an AMA and sharing your knowledge. What about the men who can't get wives because they are too poor? I would imagine an underclass of poor and unmarried men would tend to destabilize the society. How are they dealt with?
Brothels? 'Prison gay,' where horny men practice homosexuality because that's the only option? I've heard some Arabs only consider it gay if the man is the receptive partner, is that true? Lots of police to thrash them when they gt out of line?
We have the "moderatly-to-very rich" class of people, and then we have the "barely making it" class.
The latter has an incredibly hard time getting married because most families don't want their daughters marrying someone from a low class family.
Here in KSA luxury seems to be the norm, a man is expected to have a 5 bedroom house and a live in maid to get married otherwise its not gonna happen. And for those people that can't afford the luxury they just get the short end of the stick.
We all love our mothers (well most at least) but is it ever the case that one of your siblings gets along with another wife better than their own mom?
Also, are Saudis aware of the polygamists in the USA and if so, what is their take on them...i.e. do they cheer them on or say 'they're not doing it right'?
No. Because each child is expected to serve and take care of their respective biological mother which creates a bond between them.
Saudis think that its wrong the way they are doing it, all living in a single house and such.
Do non-Muslims live there as well? And if so, are they allowed to have a polygamy?
Also, I've always had a problem with the terminology. How do you refer to your father's other wives? Do you call them "Umi" or something else entirely?
So you have 5 siblings from your mother, and 21 other siblings from two of your father's other wives. Are you close to any of the other 21 of your siblings? I mean, you guys stay in different households, since that's the rule, right? Do you usually hang out with a brother...from another mother?
Non-muslims aren't allowed to marry muslim women, so thats a no.
I refer to them as "Aunty" or "3ama" in arabic.
How common is divorce? What would your father do if he got tired of one of his wives and wanted to marry someone else?
Divorce rates are pretty damn high, unhappiness even higher.
Its just that its very hard to get married in the first place, getting married again is pretty far fetched so you have to accept what you have. And also, child custody always goes to the mother, no exceptions.
Not trying to be funny, but genuinely curious: When it comes to bedroom stuff is he allowed be with more than one wife at a time? Or would it be considered "immoral" because there's two people of the same gender together?
I honestly do not know. Its never been asked to a religious scholar but I assume no.
Why does the law set the limit at four? Is there a reason for that specific number?
The law is based on the Religion, and the Quran sets the limit at 4.
How old is the youngest wife compared to his oldest sibling?
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