Conversion no longer a defense

By Alex P. Vidal

“Those who imagine polygamy to be handy cover for promiscuity are apparently off the mark. If polygamists share one quality, it is that, polygamy aside, they are extraordinarily strait-laced.”—Molly Ivins

WE know a lot of Christian husbands who embraced Islam not because they love the religion, but because they wanted to escape the law against polygamy, or the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time.

Even before the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that converting to Islam to marry a second spouse is bigamy, it has become a common practice for some philanderers to abandon Christianity to justify their second marriage, not because of faith.

A popular lawyer, a former radioman, a notorious politician, an actor, and a former regional director, to name only a few we personally know. They all deserted the Christian faith to embrace Islam for fear their first wives would send them and their news partners to jail.

The latest SC decision has pointed out that under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws or Presidential Decree No. 1083, any valid subsequent marriages require the original wife’s knowledge.

“A party to a civil marriage who converts to Islam and contracts another marriage, despite the first marriage’s subsistence, is guilty of bigamy,” SC said in a 17-page decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen and released on Monday, March 21. “Likewise guilty is the spouse in the subsequent marriage. Conversion to Islam does not operate to exculpate them from criminal liability.”

The decision added: “Further, a married Muslim cannot marry another. In exceptional cases, a married Muslim man may do so if ‘he can deal with them with equal companionship and just treatment as enjoined by Islamic law.’”


Restrictions on the practice of polygamy reflect common Muslim teachings, rooted ultimately in the sacred texts of Islam, according to an article in Scholarly Commons.

“Scholars of Islamic theology make clear that Islam regards marriage as an essential institution, and it encourages all faithful fit adults to marry.

Marriage, the Qur’an teaches, builds alliances among groups and families, produces and nurtures legitimate children, protects and supports orphaned or abandoned women, and most importantly provides an essential means for husband and wife to provide material, physical, emotional, and spiritual support for each other,” the article said.

The strong assumption and preference of the Qur’an is for monogamy, not celibacy, and for monogamy, not polygamy.

In Why Two In One Flesh, it was emphasized that polygamy is only an option, not an obligation, for Muslims.

“The only two Qur’anic verses on point aim to restrict rather than encourage polygamy—which most (though not all) scholars believe was a common practice in seventh-century Arabia where the Prophet Mohammed lived,” explained the Why Two In One flesh.

One Qur’anic verse reportedly allows polygamy but only in the narrow context of protecting female orphans from the abuses of their guardians: “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one.”

A second verse, however, says the Why Two In One Flesh, questions whether justice can in fact be done to all women in a polygamous marriage:

You are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire. But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If you come to a friendly understanding, and practice self-restraint, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

In the Hadith, added the Why Two In One Flesh, the second most important sacred Muslim text after the Qur’an, the Prophet refused to allow his cousin Ali, who had married the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah, to take a second wife for fear of harming or hurting her. “Fatimah is part of me,” the Prophet said; “whatever hurts her hurts me, and whatever harms her harms me.


SMOKER? If we are smokers, we know that this habit can be hard to kick. If we have been thinking of quitting or have tried before, let’s not give up. It is never too late. Let’s take advantage of the options available. People who make a plan and get support can succeed.

LET’S PREVENT THE SPREAD OF FLU by doing the following: 1. Staying away from people who are sick–and staying home when we are sick; 2. Covering our mouth and nose when we cough or sneeze; 3. Washing our hands frequently; 4. Don’t touch our eyes, nose, or mouth.

Let’s eat colorful fruits and veggies daily for a delicious way to get our vitamins: ORANGE–sweet potatoes, mango, carrots. PURPLE–grape juice, eggplant, plums. Red fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk for several types of cancer. Let’s try cranberries, tomatoes, beets, and berries.

Life is always far beyond us to understand fully. It takes sadness to know what joy is, noise to appreciate silence and a cross to have a glimpse of heaven. Life is almost always unfair, but life loves the person who dares to live it.

Walking with God is the best adventure, finding God is the best achievement, and having God as a companion is the best source of happiness.

LET’S CUT OUR CALORIES by doing these simple things: Using skim or 1 percent milk instead of whole 2 percent; choosing water-packed tuna instead of tuna in oil; using “light” or fat-free or dried fruit instead of chips or candy; trimming fat and skin from meats; having one-half cup of rice or pasta instead of 1 cup; skipping dessert.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)