Australia: Sharia-Sanctioned Polygamy and Child Marriage

Despite an overall apologetic tone borne of transparent obeisance to cultural relativism,  two legal academics, Dr Ann Black and Dr Kerrie Sadiq from The University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law are “suggesting” in their research publication, “Good & Bad Sharia: Australia’s mixed response to Islamic Law” (due to be published in the University of New South Wales Law Journal on Monday July 25, 2011) that,

Australia is right to act with caution in dealing with Sharia law.

Why are even these obviously devout votaries of the academic social religion of cultural relativism concerned about the practice of Sharia in Australia at all, or what they term, with revealing euphemism, “legal pluralism?”

One reason was extracted from the forthcoming paper of Drs. Black and Sadiq, and cited by The Australian’s legal affairs editor, Chris Merrit:

Valid Muslim polygynist marriages, lawfully entered into overseas, are recognised, with second and third wives and their children able to claim welfare and other benefits.

Merrit’s background article on Black and Sadiq’s findings also noted how this practice of Muslim polygamy in Australia involved “marriages where one party is under the lawful marriage age.” And Merrit provided this additional context:

The findings come soon after Ikebal Patel, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, triggered a backlash inside the Islamic community when he called for Australia to compromise with Islam and embrace legal pluralism.

…The latest research has found that while polygamy is unlawful, mainstream law accommodates men who arrive in Australia with multiple wives and gives some legal standing to multiple partnerships that originate in Australia.

More alarming “context” not addressed by the report of Drs. Black and Sadiq, and in fact dismissed by Dr. Black in these words, “The ‘foreignness’ of Sharia law is increased by media reports which highlight ‘differences’ and feed into fears about the Muslim presence in Australia,” was provided by The Australian Daily Telegraph:

On Sunday, a recent convert to Islam in Sydney was allegedly lashed 40 times with electrical cable by men from his mosque, in a terrifying home invasion, as punishment for drinking alcohol – forbidden under Shariah law. Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

The staid report by two Australian cultural relativist academics should (but won’t) make our mainstream media talking heads curious about how mainstream Islamic opinion views polygamy in the United States. For example, what have the esteemed mainstream Islamic clerics of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) opined regarding polygamy? The AMJA mission statement maintains:

[The AMJA was] founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America. … AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities.

A report in The Muslim Observer published October 21, 2010, highlighting AMJA’s “seventh annual American conference of imams,” confirms that the organization is accepted as such by the mainstream American Muslim community. AMJA and its recent “training” conference for American imams were described in these banal terms:

The organization AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America) has a list of scholars associated with it which stretches from Al-Azhar University to Virginia’s Open University, and back across the ocean to the professors at Saudi universities. Its website,, provides fatawa on many issues and promises 24-hour access to scholars who can give legal opinions on the issues people face. AMJA focuses on providing fatwas to Americans, and believes it is able to provide culturally appropriate fatwas although many of their scholars are not American–because they have some American scholars and because of the technological ties that bind AMJA’s American scholars with those abroad. AMJA just had, in Houston, its seventh annual American conference of imams, and two local Michigan imams attended, namely Imam Musa of Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center, and Imam Ali of MCWS. Mr. Sadiqul Hassan of AMJA explained that “the event was the 7th annual imam workshop.” Mr. Hassan said that AMJA is “a fiqh council basically,” with “scholars who live abroad and inside the U.S.; we have experts in different fields to educate about life in the U.S. — fatwa are based on life in the U.S.”

Not only does AMJA extol polygamy in accordance with the Sharia, AMJA endorses its extra-legal (i.e, vis a vis US law) application here in America, as can be readily gleaned from these two “fatwas” or Islamic legal rulings:

Fatwa 2134 Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah  Date 2006-10-27

Polygamy in Islam is permissible for different reasons, like:

1- The sexual energy of men is more than that of women in general. So, in some cases, one wife is not enough to fulfill the conjugal desire of her husband

2- Pregnancy and delivery negatively affect the shape and physical attraction that women have.

3- World wide, the percentage of females is always more than that of males, eventually, there must be a solution, either to permit adultery and prostitution, or to allow polygamy

4- One husband could take care of more than one wife at the same time; socially, financially, and even sexually as I mentioned above. However, the opposite is not right because of the physical and psychological capability that Allah the all mighty gave men.

Fatwa 3370 Scholar Dr. Hatem al-Haj  Date 2007-08-08

Comment from Muslim questioner: We know that polygamy is against USA law. But I heard from my friend that as long as you don`t register your marriage to the registrar, it is okay to have more than one wife here in the states, i.e., all the wives are living here. The argument that he made was that the law that prohibits marrying more than one is against the shaariah so, it is okay for us to break it…There are some scholars in the USA are practicing polygamy without the knowledge of the authorities using that argument….

Dr. Hatem al-Haj’s response: Polygamy is halal in Islam and may be highly recommended when the number of females is bigger than that of males to afford all females a decent life that suffices their physiologic, emotional and other needs. The US law about polygamy is against the Islamic law, for no one can make prohibited that which Allah specifically made allowable.

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