Coping with Polygamy:
A First Wife’s Jihad
By Umm Janna
(Part 2 of 4 Part Series)
The intensity and persistence of the pain and hurt that I felt when my husband took another wife was unlike anything I had ever experienced before in my life. Most of us probably associate the most difficult trial of all with the loss of a loved one. When I first began writing this book, about 13 years ago, I hadn’t lost anyone in my family that was very close to me. Since then I have; that was certainly a difficult period in my life. Every situation is different, though, and everyone’s reality is different. For me, polygamy continues to be the most difficult trial I have ever had to deal with. We thank Allah for the good and the bad.
I remember quite vividly the day my husband broke the news to me. My husband, children and I were riding home in the car. As we pulled up into the driveway for my husband to let us out before he parked, he said, “I’m marrying the sister.” I suddenly felt numb and dazed, robot-like. I got out of the car, unlocked the front door and entered the house. I felt almost like in a dream world. I can recall waiting for him to say he was just kidding. But he never did.
The first night was the most traumatic of all, although many other nights and days competed closely. Because I was still pretty much in shock, the reality of what this all meant to me hadn’t really set in. What I did realize was a gut wrenching agony, loneliness and sadness. The loneliness was beyond loneliness where I wished for companionship. It was a loneliness of emptiness, one of loss. It was at this point that I realized that I had no one but my Lord—Allah.
I do not recall sleeping at all that entire night. I made dhikr almost continuously. When I wasn’t making dhikr I was making salat and dua. And through all of it I cried…probably the whole night through.
For every pain that a Muslim experiences even the pricking of his finger with a thorn, some of his sins are forgiven. (Bukhari)
Some people feel they are being weak if they cry. But according to one hadith, the Prophet (saw) cried when he was saddened. And he is the best of models. When the son of The Prophet’s daughter was dying, she sent for The Prophet (saw). He sent a message back for her to be patient. She sent for him again. He then met her and held the baby. Tears fell from his eyes. His companion asked, “Oh Rasullulah, what is this?” He said, “They are tears of mercy. And Allah does not have mercy on those who do not have mercy.” (Bukhari)
Grief and sadness are normal reactions to the loss of something that is dear to us. It is normal to cry. It is normal to be sad. But it is also a time to be highly conscience of Shaitan. Shaitan is a sworn adversary of man, and he knows our weaknesses. This is an opportune time for him to take advantage of our vulnerabilities. That evening, before my husband left to marry his second wife, I recall making a conscious choice to either go into a raging fit or be patient. Allah Most High blessed me and helped me to be patient. According to a hadith, The Prophet (saw) said:
Patience is at the first strike of calamity. (Bukhari)
I have had many weak moments since that first day. But I feel that one of the reasons Allah has blessed me to hold on to His rope rather than let go is because of the patience that He allowed me to have at the first moments of my calamity. And Allah knows best.
The importance of remembering Allah at this initial time cannot be over emphasized. The Prophet (saw) has given us du’as to say at the time of trials. According to hadith some du’as for distress are:
Oh Allah: In thy mercy I have hope. So leave me not to myself for one instant, and set right my affairs. There is no God but You. (Abu Daud)
Oh You Living Eternal One! To Your mercy I Appeal! (Tirmidhi)
There is no deity but Allah, The Magnificent, The Clement. There is no Deity except Allah. Lord of The Magnificent Throne. There is no Deity but Allah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the earth, Lord of the Glorious Throne! (Bukhari, Muslim)
When going through a trial as difficult as polygamy, we need all the weapons and defenses we can gather to help stay focused on why we are here in the first place—to worship Allah.
One of the most trying situations I experienced was when I saw my husband’s second wife the next day after they were married. Although all sorts of things passed through my mind as to what I would like to have said, Allah blessed me to be patient. When you ask Allah over and over to bless you to be strong, you may be surprised at how strong He can make you. He truly has power over all things. I wanted to spend as little time as possible with her at this time, or anyone else for that matter. Although I felt resentment and betrayed, for some reason I can remember pushing myself to be very sociable with the sister. Years later I would opt for a relationship that was more distant and dis-involved. I will explain why later.
(Next week, insha'Allah: The Depression)
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