Islam, Polygamy and Western Subsidies

In Islam Muhammad is seen as the perfect example of life and conduct for Muslim males. Thus if he had many wives, then they can too. While Muhammad was granted special privileges and thus had around 13 wives (see sura 33:50), ordinary Muslims are restricted to just four wives (sura 4:3).

That polygamy is standard Islamic practice is quite clear. What is not so clear is how this works out in Western nations which have proscribed polygamy. The sad truth is, polygamy is widely practiced by many Muslims in Western nations, and we even subsidise all this through our tax dollars.

The Koran, hadith and authoritative texts on Islamic jurisprudence all speak to the place and regulation of polygamy. And the way it is usually carried out makes it quite conducive for Muslims in the West to get away with this with impunity.

The classical Islamic law manual by 14th-century scholar al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller, (recently translated into English) for example says it is “illegal for a man to house two wives in the same lodgings unless they both agree” (Book M10.2). Most Muslims indeed prefer that they live separately, and in the West, this is quite helpful for getting government (taxpayer) assistance.

One wife can live with the Muslim husband while the other three live elsewhere, and they can then collect things like the sole parent pension. Since many of these marriages are unregistered, they can easily get away with this. This is a big problem not just in Australia but around the West.

THE MEN WITH MANY WIVESJust yesterday we had this shocking headline coming out of England: “Strolling in a park, a London businessman and his THREE wives – just one of up to 20,000 such multi-wife marriages in polygamy Britain.” The article opens with the story of Nabilah Phillips who gave up her studies at Cambridge University and a future successful career, to enter into a polygamous marriage with the businessman. The article continues:

Nabilah, her husband and his two other wives are part of a growing number of polygamous marriages taking place in Britain. They are rubber-stamped under Sharia law, which considers polygamy completely legitimate as Muslim men are permitted to take up to four wives. It is, of course, in complete contradiction to UK law, under which bigamy is illegal and can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years.
But as such marriages are not recognised by English courts — and around 70 to 75 per cent of Muslim weddings go unregistered — those who marry under the system are not subject to prosecution. As a result, the practice is becoming increasingly commonplace across Britain, with 20,000 polygamous marriages now estimated to have taken place here.

Islamic Polygamy in Australia

But getting back to Australia, we have a history of this occurring, and many Muslim leaders have been rather open about it all. Let me just mention a few items here. For example, back in 2001, the ABC TV religion show Compass with Geraldine Doogue had an interview with the “founder of Victoria’s Islamic community,” Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam. In it was this amazing exchange:

In Islam, sex outside marriage is forbidden, so marriage is positively encouraged. Muslims rarely marry outside their religious group and while this couple probably take it for granted they can have a wedding according their custom, in Australia this is a relatively new occurrence. Islam recognises polygamy so prior to 1968 Imams like Sheikh Fehmi were not permitted to celebrate marriages.
Sheikh Fehmi:
It used to be at the time the late Mr Snedden he was the Attorney General. So I had a good meeting with him one day and tried to convince him that it is important for the Muslim to marry their own people. But he used to say to me, Well you know Sheikh Fehmi that you Muslims may marry more than one and when we are not allowed to let anybody here for have only one wife. I said to him, listen to me please you may register the first one and don’t worry about the second one. He laughed and said all right we won’t have anything to do with the second one. I stopped at the idea and at the time we had gained recognition from the Attorney General for all our Imams around Australia from that year onward.

Incredible! And that is basically what we have happening here. Polygamy may well be illegal in this country, but the authorities are effectively turning a blind eye to it, and are refusing to prosecute cases of this occurring here. Only when it was revealed just how much underage forced marriages are taking place that a bit of a crackdown occurred. I wrote that episode up here:

Let me cite more of our recent history on this. Back in 2009 Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, actually had a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald asking, “Why should polygamy be a crime?” In it he admits that most of these marriages are unregistered:

There is no requirement for such a union to be “legally” registered with a secular body that does not recognise the clauses in a Muslim union. Plural relations of this nature that take place in Australia are treated like de facto relationships and are not registered. This keeps them outside the ambit of the nation’s criminal and marriage laws. Such unions are not considered adulterous because they follow the rules of an Islamic union. They are not secret and they carry no stigma under God.

And as already mentioned, it is not just a case of Australian laws being broken here, but taxpayers having to fund this Islamic lifestyle. Consider a 2010 headline: “Growing number of Muslim men and multiple wives exploiting loophole for taxpayer handouts.” The article begins:

A growing number of Muslim men and their multiple wives are exploiting a loophole to get taxpayer handouts. Centrelink has confirmed it has investigated up to 20 cases of multiple relationships, including polygamy, in the past two years for payment irregularities. It has forced some families to pay money back.
Polygamy is illegal in Australia, but a Centrelink spokeswoman said it was not the welfare agency’s job to police polygamy laws. “It’s not our concern if they are a member of a polygamist relationship,” the spokeswoman said. “We look at whether they are receiving the correct rate of payment. We treat each couple independently.”
But Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria director Joumanah El Matrah said some men were exploiting Australia. “It (polygamy) was a minority but it’s certainly a growing minority because Muslim men realised it was possible to get away with it,” she said. She said Muslim men who took more than one wife and relied on Centrelink payments to support their families were not following Islamic law, which dictated they could only take multiple wives if they could afford it.

A year later a legal expert penned a piece about “Sharia law at work in Australia”. The article opens:

Sharia law has become a shadow legal system within Australia, endorsing polygamous and underage marriages that are outlawed under the Marriage Act. A system of “legal pluralism” based on sharia law “abounds” in Australia, according to new research by legal academics Ann Black and Kerrie Sadiq. They have found that Australian Muslims have long been complying with the shadow system of religious law as well as mainstream law.
But in family law, not all Muslims were registering their marriages and some were relying on religious ceremonies to validate unions that breached the Marriage Act. This included “polygynist marriages”, in which a man takes multiple wives, and marriages where one party is under the lawful marriage age. Their research, which will be published on Monday in the University of NSW Law Journal, says that the wider community has been “oblivious to the legal pluralism that abounds in this country”.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg. Australia already has a two-tiered legal system, with sharia family law largely running unchecked. And when multiple wives with numerous children exist, largely in unregistered marriages, the system is wide open for abuse, and they can claim taxpayer-funded handouts, pretending to be single parents.

So the clear law of the land is being broken, and ordinary law-abiding citizens are being forced to subsidise polygamy and sharia law in Australia. This must stop. The rorting of the system and the relentless creeping sharia are a recipe for disaster, and must be named and shamed by the authorities.

In the case of child brides mentioned above, only a slap on the hand took place over that one – the Muslim cleric got a mere $500 fine before being sent back to Pakistan. It is time our leaders get serious about all these related problems: the abuse of the welfare system, polygamy, child brides, human trafficking and forced marriages.

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11 Replies to “Islam, Polygamy and Western Subsidies”

  1. In this disturbing and brave exposé, a Pakistan-born baroness reveals how some of her countrymen have as many children as possible by several wives so as to milk our welfare system…
    ..a Pakistani man contracts a marriage in his native country, and then brings his wife to England to start a family. Because they have been married only under Islamic law, she isn’t legally registered by British authorities as his wife. Even so, they are able to claim child benefit for any children they have.
    But the state handouts do not end there, for under Islamic Sharia law, polygamy is permissible. So a man can return to Pakistan, take another bride and then, in a repetition of the process, bring her to England where they also have children together — obtaining yet more money from the state.
    Because such Islamic multiple-marriages are not recognised in Britain, the women are regarded by the welfare system as single mothers — and are therefore entitled to the full range of lone-parent payments.

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  2. To crack down on this, Bill, is not a way to win votes in electorates with considerable Muslim representation. I cannot see it dealt with by any political party. There are too many pragmatic reasons to let it continue – while our tax dollars are drained.

  3. Thanks Spencer. Yes as I wrote in another piece, the Western Sydney seats alone are a worry to all the major parties. But the truth is, Muslims comprise only just over two per cent of the population, so it is madness to let them hold the nation to ransom. It is high time for some political parties with guts and principles.

  4. Bill, I agree that the Western Sydney electorates seem to be challenges to the major parties to address this issue. I can’t see them doing it.

    Jo, a party may gain more votes if it clamps down on this issue, but it also may get more beheadings.

    For Aussies, the bigger issue IMO, is the practice of a libertarian approach to sex that has encouraged benefits for single mothers and their partners and this has allowed the polygamists to take advantage of this loophole. I think we are too far down the road of depravity to provide a substantive solution.

  5. Sadly, we are always far down the road of depravity, but we fight nonetheless. The distance down the road to depravity was quite pronounced in the time of Wilberforce, but he kept on fighting, and so should we.

    Yes Western sexuality is in a mess, as is Islamic. But we need to stand against both.

  6. Are Muslims the new aristocrats now just like the homosexualists who can flout the law with impunity? Loop holes can be closed and the benefits agency can certainly police false claims if they are so charged, and given the wherewithal to do it.

    Pressure needs to be put on the politicians to serve their voters and taxpayers without fear or favour! Where is the equality in this, would non-Muslim Australians get away with it?

  7. Another hidden problem involved in all this that you haven’t addressed is that, if the unofficially married women aren’t married under Australian law then they are also vulnerable if there is any abuse in the relationship. The women would not be able to apply for divorce under Australian law, would be in a much weaker position to apply for protection and will be financially vulnerable.

  8. We certainly need to redefine the language of all this – “multi-culturalism” is a nonsense word, since it is not strictly possible to have two cultures (meaning two world views) within one nation for any enduring length of time. Biblically we can see that most clearly in Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal.

    It is possible, however, to have multi-ethnicity, meaning that people in Australia came from different cultural backgrounds, BUT have come here to adopt a new way of life – Australian culture, based on Western values and the Western/Judeo-Christian religious foundation – and to deliberately leave behind their old culture.

    It is odd to talk about Western civilization when the Bible is so Middle Eastern, isn’t it? But this is the danger, because what is abhorrent in Islam, can be seen as being derived from the worst of Biblical practices.

    We certainly need to put pressure on our elected representatives to abandon the present policy of multi-culturalism, both on philosophical and on pragmatic grounds – it isn’t possible, and it is clearly not working (because it isn’t possible) – and replace it with a policy of multi-ethnicity.

    The old term was “assimilation,” but that fell out of favour with the elites, because it implied that Aboriginal people could work and live within Western norms, whereas the elites want them to live the “noble savage” tribal lifestyle – the very thing which is killing them.

    So we need some sort of “integration” into a commonly understood Australian culture, based on the values which have done us so well for over 200 years.

  9. To be fair to Billy Sneddon, what he probably said was that the second wife would have no status in Australian law – which is true.
    In Western societies bigamy is a crime because it is a variety of fraud; the second spouse has been usually let to believe that the other one is free to marry. It should be enforced in these instances. As Meredith Gemeren pointed out, it leaves the non-legal wives very vulnerable.
    Equally to the point, the imam who performs the marriage is also guilty of fraud. Therefore, it is important to introduce is law making it a seriously punishable offense to perform a marriage-like service on people whom the celebrant knows are not free to marry.

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