Conflict & Justice

Jordan: Polygamy on the rise?


Jordanian couples form a long line as they take part in a mass wedding party in the Jordanian capital Amman, on July 20, 2007. A Jordanian Islamic charity Al-Afaf today organised a mass wedding for 32 couples to help young people unable to afford the expensive ceremonies that the Arab tradition usually demands.



For some men in Jordan, three wives are not two too many. 

Mohammad Al Hajaya recently celebrated the launch of a new campaign to promote polygamy in Jordan with a wedding party.

Al Hajaya got married to a new wife - his third.

"A serious effort must be made to highlight the concept of polygamy as an Islamic teaching. It's existed before Islam, but Islam organized it and introduced it to solve a wide range of social problems," Al Hahaya, who runs the recently Committee Supporting Polygamy in Jordan, told Al-Jazeera in this video report.

Al Hajaya launched his organization to combat what he called a growing culture of unmarried female "spinsters" in Jordan.

Around 87,000 Jordanian women over 30 years old are still single. The average marriage age for women has risen by five years (from 21 to 26.4) in the past three decades, according to a report by The Media Line.

For Al Hajaya, taking multiple wives is one way to protect unmarried females.

"What shocks me is that some fight polygamy and call it a home-wrecking tool," Al Hajaya told Al-Jazeera.

Many countries in the Middle East permit polygamy under Islamic laws, which state that a man can marry as many as four wives as long as he is financially able to treat them all equally.

The practice, however, is rare.

In some countries, men can barely afford to take on one wife. The average age for young men to get married throughout the region - most notably in Egypt - is increasing.

And many women in the Middle East feel that polygamy has no place in a modern society.

"I’m against polygamy in principle and believe it should be banned by law," Leila Hammarneh, projects director at the Arab Women Organization of Jordan, told The Media Line. "It harms the woman's honor and adversely affects the children in the household."