You’ve heard of them. They have been in the news lately. They seem like you and me. But they are a community within a community. But they are different. They do something that seems alien to us. Something anathema.
I am talking about polygamists. Men living next to us that are taking multiple wives as endorsed by their religion. No one really knows how many there are, but there are likely more than we would care to believe.
Now, if you think I am talking about Warren Jeffs or that strange polygamy sect in Texas that the government pulls out all the stops to put down. Think again.
The polygamists to which I refer are not in the slammer nor are they backwoods hicks on a secluded compound in Texas. No, they live right next to you in our major cities. The government, however, is not beating down their door to put a stop to it. Why? These are not Mormon polygamists, they are Muslim polygamists.
[NPR] Take Zaki and Mecca, who have been married for nearly 12 years. In their late 20s, they live in the Philadelphia suburbs, have a 5-year-old son and own a real estate business.
Zaki also has something else: a second wife.
Two years ago, Mecca told her husband she wanted to study Arabic in the Middle East, which would mean a lot of time away from home. (NPR is not using any full names in this story because some of those we interviewed could be prosecuted for bigamy.)
“We were talking about it,” Mecca recalls, “and the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘I’m going to have to find you another wife!'”
Zaki was game. After all, he had been raised in a polygamous home in Philadelphia. Like many black Muslims, his father subscribed to an orthodox view of Islam that allows a man to marry several women. Zaki says he loved having seven siblings and four mothers, especially at dinnertime.
“I would find out who’s making what that particular night. I know that this mom makes barbequed chicken better than my other mom makes fried chicken, so I’m going with the barbequed chicken tonight. Things of that nature,” he says with a laugh.