In fact, I am already bored with this topic. Some months ago I got upset and annoyed when I found a message in Perempuan (women) mailing list I join saying the plan of PW, the owner of one grilled chicken restaurant in Indonesia, to launch a tabloid named ‘Polygamy. I could directly “read” that the tabloid would be used to blind society where the majority don’t know well about Islamic teaching. I wrote some posts in my blog about this (read => polygamy) and I believe the readers of my blog could easily conclude that I was mad. (This shows I completely agree with Aquarini Priyatna in her book Kajian Budaya Feminis /Feminist Cultural Studies that she writes coz she is angry.) The readers of my blog at http://afemaleguest.blog.co.uk where the most visitors are western people supported me to damn polygamy. The readers of my blog at http://afeministblog.blogspot.com where the most visitors are people from South East Asia were divided into two, one side agreed with my disapproval of polygamy; the other side scolded me for not reading Alquran comprehensively where it stated that a man can have two, three, or four wives (Surah Annisa: 3)
After looking for some ‘cracks’ of my own posts, that haven’t been discussed by me, I come to this idea to write as follows.
The most recent shocking polygamy news was between one public figure in Islamic teachings in Indonesia popularly nicknamed as AA Gym with a widow having one child, in her middle thirties. I must say that many people in Indonesia idolize him while I myself see him only as one ulema, not different from others who had been popular before AA Gym made a name for himself. In my eyes, all (religious) people who are well-read always have chance to (mis)lead their followers by using (or abusing) the verses in their holy books. It, then, depends on their personal character.
Because I am from literary discipline, now I want to see these polygamy things from literary theories.
First, structuralism theory. This theory focuses on what is stated in one work, without involving any other aspects, such as the writer of the work (using expressive approach must be very impossible coz as a Muslim, I do believe that Alquran was passed down to Prophet Muhammad from God), the society when the verses of Alquran were passed down to Muhammad, and the readers of Alquran. One verse mostly quoted by people who approve polygamy is:
"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;”(Alquran, 4:3)
But apparently they forget to quote the continuation of this verse, that is:
“… but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one" (4:3).
Again, in the same Surah Annisa verse 129 Alquran states:
“although you want to deal justly, you will not be able to do that.”
Forgetting the continuation of this verse must clearly show the egotism of the polygamy doers, and those ulemas who approve polygamy. Isn’t it already VERY CLEAR that men as human beings WILL NOT BE ABLE to do things justly, although only a slight, people will always have this tendency. Therefore, isn’t it possible to interpret that practicing polygamy is HARAM? And we all know that those ulemas are very sensitive with this HARAM thing? Why don’t they apply it in polygamy?
Don’t read one work (read => Alquran in this case) only part per part, and then not read them as a whole.
Second theory is sociohistorical theory. We relate one work with the social and historical event when the work is written. In this case, when this particular verse was passed down to Prophet Muhammad. The verse was passed down after Muslim troops were beaten by their enemies. Uhud war killed many Muslim men so that many women suddenly became widows. Remembering that at that time women didn’t have access in public spheres, not having rights for their own properties either, to save these, this verse was passed down, to give green light to Prophet Muhammad, and some other Muslim men in that era to save those women to take care of their own properties left by their husbands. Prophet Muhammad and some other Muslim men then took care of the survival of those women and their children using their own heritage. If they hadn’t got married, it was worried that their heritage would be given to some other people—such as uncles—who then would just rob those unfortunate women.
Viewing polygamy using this context, we can clearly see that in this era, practicing polygamy is no longer acceptable coz now women already have access in public spheres, in Indonesia (especially) women can become the owner of the properties their husbands left and take care of their own life.
What else, then, is this polygamy for done in this era? Only to celebrate libido, stated M. Hilaly Basya the chief of Youth Islamic Study Club Al-Azhar (Jurnal Perempuan number 31 “Menimbang Polygamy” published in September 2003.)
To end this article, well, AA Gym is just a human being. I must say that it is not his full mistake when many people in Indonesia idolize him (as if they forget that AA Gym is JUST A HUMAN BEING. Prophet Muhammad, the most chosen person in this world for Muslim people couldn’t avoid making his wife jealous with his polygamy, moreover some other people.) It just shows that AA Gym has been beaten by his egotism, and his libido.
PT56 10.19 041206