A Self Reflection on Muslim Women

A wife in the hand is worth two in the bush

A Qajar pottery tile with the Virgin Mary and child. Possibly Ishafan, Iran, late 19th century / Christie’s

Jordan to me is a country in the Middle East, and then only it is a basketball legend. I went there, in a tourist city called Aqaba, for two weeks in January 2016 and came back contemplating some aspects of Arab life, especially religion, and how it reflects the family making.

The majority of Jordanians follow Islam. What I knew about Islam was that it is a quite young religion (comparing to Judaism and Christianity), and it is monotheistic, what makes it similar to those above. I used to know some muslims earlier, was in close contact with some, and so I heard a lot about how they deal with their family members: fanatically guard women of any troubles, treat brother’s life as their own.

The human relations I saw in Jordan conformed to my idea of a so serried, so “right”, so full of dignity, and, thus, happy family. The young wives looked thin and unapproachable, not so young husbands were proud of their wives and the brood of kids following them. I was mostly examining them at breakfast hours and afterwards roaming the hotel alleys. An awe, appreciation, and respect bordering with adoration that filled their talks and coffee passings unconsciously made me anxious. What was so appealing and annoying at the same time in their manners? I had no hard time to analyze this reaction, as I had it before: I dislike so much things that I am sharply missing in my own life and, particularly, relationship.

I immediately found a counterargument that perfectly knocks down all advantages of being a Muslim woman. It is p o l y g a m y. Yes,

Polygamy is legal for Muslim men according to law.

And even the U.S. Embassy can neither stop a man from taking a second, third, or fourth wife in Jordan, nor can it get such marriages dissolved. So together with esteem, safety and material guarantees every Muslim woman lives with an understanding that she might be not the only and/or not the first wife in her family. I will not trade this for any obstacles of being a self-earning not socially stable woman in a Western world.

I realize that the mode of life in that calm, rich monarchial country might differ from other Arab regions in the world. I also understand that what I saw as an observer of different “exotic” culture might not fully mirror the real issues Muslim families face behind the hotel territory.

Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque in Aqaba where I got a booklet of Five Pillars of Islam./ Photo by Francicso S., Tripadvisor