Last week I was talking to a friend and somewhere in the conversation she said "Well it looks like she's joined the kelab taat suami (club of subservient wives)" and I thought she was using a very witty metaphor until lo and behold, she sent me a link to this article:
The KIT/OWC was started by members of the Global Ikhwan Group in Malaysia, which started a Polygamy Club last year. GIG in turn has links with Al-Arqam, a sect banned in Malaysia for having allegedly deviated from Islamic teachings.
I found several Malaysian blogs with comments on this and it felt like everyone had given their two cents' worth. Even AWARE and PPIS from Singapore have denounced it and right now everyone's watching these few families who are setting up a Singapore chapter of this club.
So what is this club all about? Certainly it has an exclusive membership - Muslim women only, possibly in polygamous marriages. A specific kind of Muslim women - conservative, perhaps financially insecure.
The social situation in Malaysia is different, and economically too, but I'm racking my brain trying to think why Singaporean women would want to open such a club. I can only come up with the following:
- These women sincerely believe it's a God-given command to be obedient to their husbands. If their husbands take care of them materially and emotionally (the husband's duty), they have no reason to not be obedient (the wife's duty). If the husband is less than perfect, then sabr (patience) is the answer to all troubles in this world.
- Talking about marital sex with a good purpose (building a good marriage and preventing social ills) is a way to circumvent our society's taboo on talking about premarital or marital sex.
- It's a simple, universal answer (good sex) to complex problems (divorce, gambling, adultery, domestic violence, prostitution), and everyone loves a simple answer.
But what are the implications of thinking like this?
- Women carry the entire burden of abovementioned complex problems. Already people say Muslim women are the source of fitna (chaos) in this world. Need I say more?
- Men are essentially shallow, sexual creatures, with no desire for emotional intimacy or intellectual stimulation with their wives. Muslim men already can divorce much more easily than Muslim women, and "bad sex" is added to the list of reasons for divorce that don't require proof.
And anyway, this is not special to Malaysia/Singapore or Islam. There are 'Submissive Wife Projects' in the "West" too!
One is the Issacharian Daughters/Wives newsletter, which promotes girls to live with their family (not going to university) and helping their father's work until they are married, whereupon they start helping their husbands.
This is the blog of Dana, married to a "wonderful, Godly, patriarch", with her own thoughts about being a 'submissive wife'.
My take on this is that if a woman wants to be an obedient wife, go ahead. If she wants to be an equal partner to her husband, that's fine too. But let's not put unfair burdens or stereotypes on each other.
P/S: Polygamy is not actually a contradiction to this club's mission. Some said that if a woman could satisfy her husband enough he would not go looking for other women. But polygamy (or specifically, polygyny) is allowed for Muslim men, and does not fall under adultery.