A Muslim from Sunderland who started a polygamy “matchmaking” website for men seeking multiple Sharia marriages says that monogamy is not “in tune” with man’s nature and believes he has already been responsible for 100 ‘weddings’.
Azad Chaiwala, 33, who launched Secondwife.com in 2014 followed by Polygamy.com this year, claims that both sites have 70,000 members looking for polygamous marriages.
Unapologetic about his own desire for multiple wives, he told his own wife early on in their marriage, which was arranged by his family, that she would not be the only one.
However, in seeking a second wife Mr. Chaiwala admitted that none of his family wanted to help saying “there was a taboo about the subject”, reports The Times.
Noting that there were dating sites catering to every “niche, desire, and fetish”, he said: “I think polygamy is more in tune with [man’s] nature than monogamy.”
Chaiwala’s Sharia marriage websites were directly cited in the review on social integration by cohesion advisor Dame Louise Casey on how foreign cultural practices contrary to British values are being tolerated. The report largely blames the “tolerance” of “regressive” cultures for segregation and said that pressure should be put on migrants to integrate.
“The practice of unregistered polygamy appears to be more commonplace than might be expected,” Dame Louise said. “The existence of matchmaking sites like secondwife.com and the prevalence of unregistered marriage is particularly concerning.”
Her report said that there were approximately 100,000 Sharia marriages, many of which are not recognised by UK law and therefore do not offer the same legal protections to women in cases of divorce. A sizeable proportion of these ‘marriages’ are thought to be polygynous (specifically where a man has multiple wives).
Baroness Cox, a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, said in October that polygamy is “commonplace” within Muslim communities in Britain, with husbands fathering as many as 20 children by four wives.
She explained: “Under sharia law, a husband is entitled to up to four wives providing he takes responsibility for making appropriate provision for all. In many Muslim communities in this country, polygamy is commonplace although as a nation bigamy is legally forbidden.”
Witnesses to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, as part of the broader inquiry into Sharia councils, have warned that the number of polygynous marriages is on the rise.
They point out that whilst polygamy is illegal, there is no requirement for a civil, legal, ceremony to precede a Sharia marriage. This means that imams are under no obligation to refuse to perform a marriage because the man is already married.
Aina Khan, a leading family lawyer specialising in Islamic marriages, said that the Marriage Act was “out of date”.
“It dates back to 1949 and only Anglicans, Jews and Quakers must register their religious ceremony with the register office . . . Now nearly three million Muslims, with origins from many countries, live here.”
Noting that having more than one wife was an outward sign of religiosity, Ms. Khan said that of the couples who came to her seeking to separate, a quarter involved polygynous issues.
“It is not a recipe for a happy marriage. They do not last,” she said.
In 2015 Amra Bone, who was the UK’s first female Sharia council judge, said that “the government cannot…ask Muslims not to have more than one wife. People have a right to decide for themselves”.