Where Are The American Muslim Polgamists?

I came across an article on how numerous Muslim polygamous are. They are estimated to be as much as Mormon polygamists. The full article can be read here.  It talks about how Mormon Polygamists such as us are working to change the law, and yet Muslims are not rallying to change the law.

They refer to urban anthropologist Robert Dannin who points out in his 2002 ethnography, Black Pilgrimage to Islam, some of the most intense and divisive feelings about polygamy are found within the Muslim community itself. According to him, many Muslim women are frankly relieved that the law of the land forbids husbands from taking multiple wives. We recently wrote a post about Muslim women in the UK turning to polygamy because of a lack of good men available among other things, so I wonder how true that is here in the U.S.?

He also points out that male Muslim religious leaders may have slightly different motivations in accepting the legal status quo. Fear primarily, when at a time when leading presidential candidates can suggest the routine wiretapping of mosques and nearly half of the American public has a negative view of Islam, defending polygamy may seem to incendiary at this time.

Even here in Utah we have had African and even Bosnian and other ethnic groups emigrate that include Muslim polygamists. I know this because some of the social workers we have worked with to educate on our culture have told us about some of these groups and the struggles they have, not unlike ours in some cases. I am sure the stigma Muslims have in this country have a lot to do with it. But I would like to here from our Muslim friends or others with experience out there as to why they think there is not more support for changing the law from this community? Also, if anyone has credible numbers on how many of them there are in the U.S?


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13 Responses to Where Are The American Muslim Polgamists?

  1. Natja says:


    I wrote a book review of ‘We want for our sisters what we want for ourselves, Polygyny ~ Co-partnering: A relationship, marriage and family alternative’ by Dr. Patricia Dixon. In it, she interviews three African-American Polygamous communities and out of the three the Islamic community, though by far the largest group of Polygamist were, by far the least happy. According to Professor Dixon this was because of the ‘way’ Polygamy was entered into (often on the sly) the lack of community support for people in Polygamous marriages and also the way it is practiced, with no concept of ‘sisterwives’. Islamic Polygamy mandates each wife must have her own home and there is not a expectation of a bond between them. Therefore there is less benefits to living Polygamously to these women and often a great level of competition. The book is really fascinating.

    • Alina says:

      We will have to check out the book. That is not surprising. We find that in those families in our culture where there is not strong sisterwife bonds and living together the fulfillment is much lower. One of the best ways about living this way is the relationship we women have.

      • Raaz says:


        Well lets clarify some important points.

        Islamically speaking:

        1.Eventually he has to keep all his wives equal though that does not mean if he buy an apple for one he must buy an apple for the others. Its more about respecting the wives’ rights upon him and emotional factor which Joe has pretty well explained.

        2.Then we comes to the question, can the co-wives lives together under one roof?
        Well, of course they can. What should be understand is that if they are willing to or not. Islam does not condemn this. You can live under one roof but each wives must have their own bedroom and that it.

        P.S-Online you can get many views like many uses lines from Quran,misinterpret them.

        3.As far as fighting for the issue its simple.
        The majority of women is against it and some man, so how can you go for a fright where there is a problem within ourself, still we have hope, maybe one day.
        The society norms and thinking indoctrinates people and direct them away from their ethics.

        4.And eventually its the Political issue.
        Here I live in a multicultural country where politics is pretty much based upon religious acquaintance rather than country’s prosperity. So if you add [people against this in own community] + [other community against this] + [vulgar concept of the world] +[whether its in favor to the politician] = (-ve)answer.

        Polygyny is characterise as a man marrying multiple woman for sexual gratification only. Well the day this mindset will change then maybe there will be a light.

        P.S-Religions essence should be seek from Religious Scholars. No writer is more informed about islam than a Sufi Muslim Scholar. Likewise you learn to make the bread from the baker not the shop seller.
        After having a good base then you may refer to books otherwise you’re just building without solid foundations and misunderstanding the Islamic concept.

        Thats my view, yeah not from America :P Hope it still helps :)
        Your website is very interesting particularly the way you understand how this Polygyny life is all about, rather than thinking woman are just suxual toys. Family and love nothing greater to promote love, values, respect and security :)

        -A practised Sufi Muslim

    • Hondo says:


      Dr. Dixon’s book is excellent! May I also recommend David Maillu’s, “Our Kind of Polygamy,” and Philip Kilbride’s, “Plural Marriage for our Time?” Also excellent works!

  2. John Nomads says:

    An old friend (a convert to islam) recently told me of his taking another wife. He and his wives and he simply keep quiet to avoid problems.

  3. Liz M. says:

    I grew up in the Mideast oil fields, so I am more comfortable with the subject of polygamy than other Americans may be. I think you are right about American Muslims. They do not want to make waves by defending polygamy. Attitudes toward Muslims and Arabs today are similar to attitudes towad Asian-Americans in WWII. As in your experiences, if I make any reference to Arab culture, Islam or polygamy, the response is instantly negative, even from people who think of themselves as politically incorrect.

    • Liz M. says:

      Oops, I meant “politically correct.”

      You wrote about the expense involved in raising a large family. When people ask me about a man in the Mideast having multiple wives, I tell them I have only been to one household in which the man had two wives. He was a successful businessman. The “right’ to marry multiple wives is similar to our American right to buy a yacht or a mansion. It’s still up to you to meet the financial obligations.

      My late mother explained to me that the husband was obligated to treat all wives fairly. There was, as in your situation, no head wife or favorite wife. If one wife got a diamond, the other wife got a diamond. If one wife got a car, the other wife got a car. This was further complicated by the prohibition against women driving. Each wife would need a chauffer to drive her car.

  4. abdullah says:

    Another good book is:

    You might want to contact http://www.cair.com/ and ask them what they are doing to decriminalize polygyny in America. They are a group of Muslim lawyer activists.

    It is not necessary in Islam to have a separate house for each wife. It depends on consent.

    A common mistake Muslim men make is they rarely discuss polygyny before marrying the 1st wife. Then they expect the 1st wife to go along with it because Islam allows it. It is kind of like blackmail because divorced Muslim women have a hard time.

    Potentially polygynous men must only marry women who are supportive of polygyny.

    Marrying two women who are supportive of it from the beginning is a splendid idea.

  5. Co-Wife says:

    Hi all,

    I am an American Muslim convert and the first of two wives, we’re living in the US. It’s been a difficult journey but we’ve gone through the worst of it insha Allah (God willing). I love my co-wife dearly now….I’ll admit I didn’t always feel that way!

    My husband never intended to become polygamous, he wasn’t even looking for an affair much less another wife, but it just happened. He fell in love with the woman and she fell in love with him. Did I kick up a holy fuss? You bet. But so did my co-wife. There was a lot of fighting going on and more than once I nearly left my husband but I just couldn’t do it, even when it made the most sense (by American thinking anyway). I compromised by sort of pretending there wasn’t another woman, cut off any and all communication with her, and just kept building that wall. It was on the surface an “ok” solution but inside it was miserable. She was my enemy….my heart was closed to any other feeling about her and about their marriage. Heck, I even refused to acknowledge their relationship as indeed a marriage.

    Now, we’re all at peace. We’re working as one team. My co-wife and I do not share a home, but we share a marriage, a deepening sisterhood with one another. Mutual love and respect and care on all parties is paramount to a smooth polygamous marriage. My co-wife is not my rival, certainly not my enemy, she’s my sister in faith. It’s a beautiful thing.

  6. Mohamed says:

    In response to the title “Where Are The American Muslim Polygamists?”
    F.Y.I. Please be aware of the fact that most of the American Muslim Polygamists are naturalized citizens and not born in the USA. What difference does it make? simply stated (many Ameicans never seen immigration paperwork) immigrants are clearly asked to state on the immigration papers that they will not practice polygamy.
    So, you will not find anyone willing to risk losing his citizenship!!!
    Maybe their offsprings will step up, if the american mainstream culture did not affect them.

    • Alina says:

      That is an excellent point and one that people need to realize more. There is a lot of fear I am sure surrounded around immigration of people from polygamous cultures, Muslim or not.

  7. Mary says:

    Hello, I am an American Jew engaged to a Muslim. I am concerned that I cannot have children. I know his fam in the ME have a virgin they want him to marry. He has refused to marry her because he loves me. It is my opinion he should have us both as wives because I can’t give him a child. Also his family will be happy if he marries her and I want peace in his family. Does anyone know my options? How can we both be wives? Should one stay in the ME and he visit or can he bring her here. Does anyone have any advice? I was raised with a belief in plural marriage and it is not so horrible a thought to me as long as we all get along. I could use some advice, thanks.

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