A very revealing piece on sharia, marriage, and concubinage, as they relate to this story. “Why we passed Fatwa on Islamic preacher with 86 wives –Imam Ashafa,” by Emeka Mamah, Kaduna for Vanguard, August 30:
Mohammad Nureen Ashafa is the Imam of Ashafa Central Mosque, Tudun Wada, Kaduna; Vice President, Ashafa Mosque Foundation, as well as the Co-Executive Director of Interfaith Mediation Centre of Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum, also in Kaduna.
He spoke to some media organisations on the implications of the death sentence [fatwa] passed on octogenarian Islamic preacher, Mohammed Bello Abubakar, by the Jama”tu Nasril Islam [JNI], for marrying 86 wives contrary to Islamic injunctions. Excerpts:
Do you support the fatwa passed on Mohammed Abubakar for admitting that he has 86 wives?
I strongly support the JNI fatwa. In Islam, if somebody claims to be a Muslim, he professes Islam and he wants to act in the name of Islam, then he has no legitimacy to marry more than four wives. In Koran Chapter four, God made it very clear.
You are free to marry women of your choice; you can marry two, three, or four. However, if you feel you cannot do justice among them, marry only one wife. This scriptural text is not ambiguous.
This is a direct instruction from God, so, anything that negates that injunction is not allowed. You cannot marry more than four wives. There is room for concubine in Islam [i.e., sex-slaves]. And that is why you see some royal fathers have four wives and they have concubines.
The history of concubine has to do with slavery, if you had women who are in your possession as slaves. This is because in those days, people bought slaves. It may no longer be fashionable in modern times but the law is still there.[…]
So, if somebody says he has 86 wives, and he claims to be a Muslim scholar, there is nowhere in the history of Islam that such a thing is accepted. Prophet Mohammed had more than four wives, he had nine wives but he had the wives before the law on limitation on the number of wives a Muslim can marry.[…]
Considering that the law was “revealed” to him, the timing sure must’ve seemed convenient.
So, how do you share 86 wives in a year? It means that you cannot meet some of the women more than once in a week. In fact, it may not even be possible because we have 52 weeks in a year. So, if you see one every week, the others have to wait till the next year to take their turns. What is the legitimacy? There is no legitimacy for that in Islam. It is an abuse on the rights and dignity of these women. It is an abuse on the sanctity of woman-hood. It is an abuse to marry 86 wives in the name of Islam.[…]
And they say Islam harbors misogynistic tendencies! Look at all the concern shown here for the “sanctity” and “dignity” of “woman-hood.”
I am a polygamist because I have two wives and I try to give equal justice to the two of them. It is not enough for me to say that because I have enough money or houses then I should marry a third wife. A woman needs emotional satisfaction. That affection is part of the rudiments of marriage.
How does the man with 86 wives satisfy the sexual and emotional needs of these women?
He did say that “A man with 10 wives would collapse and die, but my own power is given by Allah. That is why I have been able to control 86 of them.” Before cynically dismissing his prowess, maybe the shura council should distribute a questionnaire among his 86 wives and ask them if they feel he has been adequately satisfying their “sexual” and “emotional” needs?
And the man is about 80 years old and the law of diminishing returns has caught up with him. If he were to be a younger person, then we may conclude that he takes Viagra or other stimulants but here we have a man who is about 83 years old having 86 wives.
One of the things that can nullify any marriage in Islam is when a man is not able to satisfy his wife sexually. If a man cannot meet the sexual needs of the wife, the woman is free to demand the dissolution of that marriage. It constitutes an abuse of Islam for any Muslim,anywhere to marry more than four wives.[…]
If a Muslim takes a bottle of beer and starts drinking in my presence and he claims to have a right to do that, I would take a cane and flog him right there if he is a member of my mosque because he is messing up the moral values of the Muslim community. The Islamic culture is unique because there are rules that guide the behaviours of a Muslim. That is why there is no compulsion in joining the religion of Islam.
A man has a right to decide to become a Muslim but he may not be free to just renounce the religion the moment he is in. There is no compulsion in Islam. You do not force people to come into the religion. However, when somebody willingly comes into it, it is not easy for him to say that he is leaving it.
Incidentally, this mafia-like association begins at birth and so has nothing to do with “willingly” joining. In other words, the vast majority of Muslims “willingly come into” Islam simply by being born.
He ought to have known the consequences before coming in. It is like being a citizen of America and tomorrow you say I am no longer an American citizen, I am now an Afganistan and I hate America.
You start condemning America. Will America let you go? It is treasonable felony because you have no right to be a citizen of Nigeria and sabotage the nation.[…]
But several Emirs and other rich Muslims have more than the prescribed four wives. If this man did not speak, nobody would have known. Are there mechanisms that the JNI can use to determine those who flout the law and perhaps also sanction them?
If you have more than four wives and you do not say it, the Sharia would not know anything about it. If you do not confess that you have more than four, nobody dares say anything because you have your privacy and your privacy is well protected in Islam.[…]
A big hint, hint, and a nudge, nudge to all you would be wild “playboys” in Dar al-Islam: keep that stuff on the low and you’re good to go.
There are four basic principles of marriage. There must be the interest across the parties. You do not hijack a woman and give to a man.
Didn’t we just acknowledge concubinage as being “legal” in Islam?
They must be interested in each other. There must be love. There must be acceptance by the families of the couple.