Maha Yamani

Polygamy and Law in Contemporary Saudi Arabia

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The topic of polygamy in Islamic countries is generally perceived by outsiders as something linked to harems and Hollywood-style foreign intrigues. The practice is frequently viewed through sexual connotations and male power versus female powerlessness. The purpose of this book is to shed light on the often misunderstood polygamous situation in modern Saudi Arabia. Through a unique series of local interviews with both men and women involved in polygamy, both maritally and professionally, the author invites the reader into the homes and personal lives of the people directly affected. The result is a moving, candid examination of the frame of mind, impulses, incentives, reasons and circumstances that drive individuals towards polygamy, as well as the social, legal, economic and emotional consequences that inevitably follow. The book also examines the historical origins of Islamic polygamy in Mecca and Medina, as well as the legal situation in Saudi Arabia today. The author argues that a combination of gender differences created through local laws and public policy decisions, the revival of customary tribal practices and the pressures created by the sudden materialism of modern life have all led towards a misapplication of the original Islamic legal essence of the practice, and a re-adaptation of the laws regulating it.
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411 printed pages
Original publication
2008

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