By Muhammed Adamu
CONTROVERSY-prone –or is it controversy-courting- Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is at it again. It has not been long since he stirred the hornet’s nest on the typical northerners’ penchant for building mosques even at the expense of child education. Nothing, in all fairness, could have been truer about my Muslim brothers.
That the typical northerner will sooner build a mosque than he will fund education is a fact and not a fiction. Most Muslim northerners tend to seek the pleasure of God more in the symbolic building of places of worship than, fundamentally, in the building and improvement of the human intellect.
In fact, the dust from Sanusi’s last heresy has not fully settled and the Emir is already at it again with a brand new heterodoxy: thus from having just stirred the hornet’s nest on an unpleasant, even if non-canonical, issue of mosque-building in favour of child-education, Sanusi has moved to open a fresh Pandora’s box on a matter –namely Islamic polygamy- that is both gospel in the truth of its practice and textually canon in the veracity of its Quranic provision. Or may be better to say that Sanusi has opened a Pandora’s box on a conjugal Islamic matter that is both a delicate preserve of the sacred realm and now a contemporary issue of serious demographic concern to the secular province.
Argument of the secular-minded Muslims
For reasons bothering on the socio-economics of life, Sanusi reportedly said that polygamy under Islam should be regulated and made the prerogative only of the wealthy and those who can afford it, -not, (as it has always been practiced especially in this part of the Muslim world), as a privileged pleasure field for all Muslims, not excluding the poor and the indigent who can ill-afford it.
The argument of the secular-minded Muslims and non-Muslims alike is that no one should be allowed to bring a child to the world that they cannot conveniently fend for.
But the retort –especially from non-secular faithful- has always been that ‘Allah alone has the prerogative to bring forth any ‘mouth’ into the world; and Allah alone feedeth all mouths that He bringeth into the world’.
And although even I cannot agree more with the logic of this theodicy, yet I do not believe that the Hadith in which the prophet is said to recommend ‘marriage’ or ‘additional marriage’ as divine remedy to economic privation, is of a strong chain of authority (musnad). And in fact like me, many Muslims are wont to believe that this very hadith is at best an interpolation.
Yet, the argument of the Muslim-secularists is still no less fluxed even from the premise of logic and common sense: if no one should be allowed to bring a child into the world that they are not in a position to cater for, why should then ‘polygamy’ and not ‘marriage’ generally, be the target culprit? Or maybe the counterpoint to this false premise would be to ask: ‘should a ‘monogamist’, for the simple reason that he is not a ‘polygamist’, be allowed to bring a child into the world even if he is not in a position –economically- to fend for it?’
Why should it not simply be said that: ‘no one is allowed to marry in the first place, who, in the likelihood that he brings a child into the world, may not be able to cater for it?’ –thus for some outlawing marriage kpatakpata!
But then again, if the argument against ‘polygamy’ is purely ‘demographic’ –i.e to control population growth- and not as pro-Sanusis make it to seem, ‘socio-economic’, -i.e to cut down on free-loaders- and if the so called ‘secular’ State is now instigated to delegitimise all conjugal avenues whereby our national population is needlessly to be inflated, then ‘polygamy’ should be off both the libidous mind of the poor and the benevolent caprice even of the rich!
Not as Sanusi suggested that polygamy should be the sole prerogative only of the rich. Thus in line with the western dogma of ‘population control’, allowing polygamy to those who are rich or those who can afford it is as preposterous as the Hausa saying: ‘ba chinyar ba, qafar baya’. It is the same ten and two pence. Head or tail, they will add to population growth.
It is thus clear from the foregoing, that whereas the ‘socio-economic’ perspective against ‘polygamy’ is motivated by the fear of bringing more ‘mouths’ to an already impoverished and improvident world, the ‘demographic’ perspective against ‘polygamy’, on the other hand, is motivated by the hedonistic fear of bringing more ‘people’ into an ‘already crowded world’.
But the question is still to be asked: ‘if the economic situation of nations had always been the basis for the right of foetal passage into the world, who would have qualified to berth into the world and who would have had to stay back in their mothers’ wombs because they are not qualified to come in; especially considering the fact that the world almost all through recorded history has journeyed under the yoke of man-made or nature-induced famine and pestilence –both of which are conditions unfavourable to bringing babies into the world.
God’s divine purpose for man
‘Go ye into the world’ the Bible says, ‘multiply and FILL the earth’. This is the divine instruction –from the divine plane of God- given to the ‘People of the book’; to set foot on the earth and to fecundate the world with men of their kind as a necessary condition to fulfilling the ultimate divine destiny of this wretched earth.
God has a divine purpose for this world; and it is the duty of man as God’s vicegerent on earth to key into that divine purpose and not to supplant it with morbid trepidation against the inevitability of an end time. Neither ‘eating to live’ nor ‘living to eat’ constitute that ultimate divine purpose of God. Multiplying to fill the earth and some day coming to the judgment of the Almighty, is the ultimate divine purpose. No amount of ‘socio-economic’ prudence or extravagance by man will slow or hasten this purpose.
And whether we like it or not, man will, sooner or later, ‘multiply’ to fill the earth’ if not by the legitimate copulation of polygamists and monogamists alike, then by the illegitimate philandering of fornicators and adulterers. The earth will have to be filled –someday; whether we grow its population at geometric rate of birth or by arithmetic progression.
In fact, with virtually more babies today born out of wedlock than within wedlock, regulating ‘polygamy’ or even outlawing marriage altogether is hardly redeeming enough of the dilemma man is in concerning how the world should be micro-managed in relation to the number of living ‘mouths’ it should feed, or in relation to the number of the un-born that it should be ready to admit.
A person is born into the world through the agency of the human reproductive system; by the copulation or mating of a man and a woman; in wedlock or out of wedlock.
Man, like virtually all other animals lower than him, is polygamist by nature. Simply because religion and or socio-cultural affiliations have kept him in denial of his polygamous essence, is not necessarily repudiative of that nature.
The Western world prides itself upon established biblical and statutory monogamy, but behind the façade of it vaunted ‘one-man-one-wife’, most so called western ‘monogamists’ actually practice what is called ‘successive polygamy’: -serial marriages and divorces.
Some Americans have married and divorced more than ten times in the span of less than a lifetime. If you use the law to delegitimise ‘polygamy’ what will you use to delegitimise ‘successive polygamy’? Or what do you use by the way, to outlaw serial child-bearing outside wedlock?
Diaphragms, condoms and other forms of contraceptives have failed to halt the rise in global population. And now man has even added ‘gay and lesbian’ marriages as a last ditched efforts –short of resorting to castrating especially us from the back countries of the world (who he alleges only ‘eat, mate and sleep’) in order to control global population. Truth is neither ‘God’ nor ‘nature’ –whichever you believe to be the transcendental God- does anything in vain. If God did not divinely plan that man should ‘multiply and fill the earth’, He would not have biologically equipped us with the accessories to ‘multiply and to fill the earth’.
Secularity and enforcement: If you succeed in reforming the health sector, man’s life expectancy naturally will improve. If man’s life expectancy improves, the chances that his procreative energy will be boosted is high. But will you then, in order to avoid that unpalatable outcome, neglect to improve the medical sector? Equally so, if you improve agriculture and make food available to all, men, now sated and belly-full, will soon put their procreative energies to legitimate conjugal use –if they are married- or even to the service of their philandering co-fornicators.
Will you then, to avoid that undesirable outcome, neglect to improve agriculture and to put food on every table? But worse still even a prolonged unfavourable temperate or tropical weather –in the West or in our own parts of the world- has a tendency to keep man at home and soon too, to challenge his libido and his procreative prowess. Will you then, in order to avoid that, enact a legislation to outlaw extreme weathers?
Legislation to outlaw extreme weathers?
There are rules governing polygamy in Islam. But how do you enforce those rules in a pretentiously ‘secular’ but ’multi-cultural and multi-religious society like Nigeria, without infringing on the rights of mutually-consenting Muslim adults who may wish to exploit the divine gratuity of ‘polygamy’? –especially the rights of females whose only chance in a lifetime to be in wedlock is by sharing a man with another, or other women.
If for economic reasons you must regulate polygamy; if you must prevent any from marrying more than one , or if you must bar some even from marrying any at all, maybe then you should legislate also to obligate the few who are rich (and as many as can afford it), to marry two; or three or even up to four, according to their riches –so that every Nigerian male Muslim, according to his economic muscle, will henceforth either plough in conjugally to spread wealth or help other women experience the pleasure of wedlock, or rather (if they are poor) to simply lay back and grow old in bachelorship because for their level of indigence, marriage has been legislated in their disfavour.
THE most economically-buoyant capitalist nations of the world –not excluding the bastion of it all, America- still have destitutes and destitution on their streets. Yet some of the most populated nations of the world are still more provident than some the most demographically prudent. As the Christians would say ‘let God be true and every man a liar’. There is no ‘mouth’ that the Almighty has ‘cut’ that He has not provided for in this vast planet called earth.
It is the failure of selfish political man and not the absence of divine provision that has put the world in the condition of perpetual lack! Political man has learnt to shackle and unsettle the world through the waging of wars and rumors of war, to keep it from attaining the bliss that God has intended for it.It is not the problem of religion; nor the inadequacy of the earth to provide.
It is the wickedness of man who politicizes everything including the economics of food –in a world where the have-nots starve to death and those who have in excess of what they need, dump grains at sea.
Those who continue to rob the economies of most nations are not the most ardent ‘polygamists’. Many of them are monogamists with a cat or a puppy, for child. Sanusi should leave Muslim polygamists alone.