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Joe Grind, matie and the perfect family

Published:Sunday | June 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Rashidah Khan-Haqq

Polygamy has been leading the news recently. For once, Jamaica hasn't been fed tired, dogmatic Christian rhetoric, but male and female Muslim perspectives on polygamy were presented. Both proposed polygamy as a solution to Jamaica's family crisis. A news report, 'Polygamy, solution to Jamaica's family crisis' (Gleaner, June 4, 2015), quoted female Jamaica Islamic Council member, Rashidah Khan-Haqq:

"I don't understand why ... it's being looked upon as such a disadvantage when, to me, it has practical use. I think it can solve a lot of our problems."

She may have slightly overstated her position because, reading on, she seems to be focused on one problem, namely, male infidelity. Condemning the Jamaican male 'bag a gyal' inclination, she said, "I will have people looking down on me and saying I'm at a disadvantage because my husband can have four wives. But at the same time, these same housewives, when the man is out there cheating with God knows who, you're there ... thinking your husband is faithful but he isn't ... . That, to me, is [a] worse disadvantage."

Rashidah was also on TV making the case for polygamy from wives' perspective. She disclosed each wife gets a "dowry" of whatever she wants. She, however, only asked for "books", which makes her Pastor Boyne's perfect woman.

On June 14, The Gleaner's In Focus led with an article by Al-Hajj Mekaeel Maknoon, acting emir ('The case for polygamy'), in which he argued the Christian family model has failed while the Muslim model would stop the rot. He proposed polygamy be legalised because:

"Under the present law, what currently prevails, as the Jamaican ... family model, is a blend of monogamy mixed with:

(a) Fatherless, one-parent families; and/or

(b) The horrid, brutal and undignified degradation of women ... compelled by circumstances and/or intimidated and physically forced by their oppressors to take to the streets and prostitute themselves, or have children with different men as a means of survival."


Disadvantaged women


He also argued that Judaeo-Christian law places the "other woman" at a disadvantage, thus denying reality. According to Maknoon, this would be impossible in polygamy because "within the Islamic polygamous framework, safeguards and benefits from a polygamous marriage arrangement are even greater, born out of the [Islamic] belief that the husband holds his wife/wives on trust and is accountable to the all-powerful Creator for [how] he treats them, and provides for his family".

He concludes that polygamous marriages are divinely regulated: "A Muslim husband would, therefore, fear having to account to the Creator for not looking after his family; leaving a wife hanging by always being with another of the wives; and treating the women unfairly and [un]equally."

All this would be hilarious if everybody wasn't taking themselves so seriously. Humans of all creeds, characters and religions have a tendency to overplay their hands, and religion, in particular, breeds pomposity and exaggerated importance of dogma.

The truth is, when it comes to 'marriage', there's little real difference between Islam and Christianity. Muslims believe in polygamy; Christians believe in monogamous 'marriage' with concubines. The Bible alleges kings David and Solomon's concubines had God's blessing. The Bible also endorses polygamy/selective adultery (2 Samuel 11: 2-4). God permitted concubines as a practical solution to numerical and power imbalances between genders, which is EXACTLY Jamaica's today. Christianity, a male-dominated religion, operates under the compassionate philosophy that what wives don't know won't hurt husbands and adroitly avoids the financial complications arising from legalised polygamy.

I neva ask yu fi marry;

I neva ask yu fi love.

I only want you to dance one rocksteady,

Ah, ah.

Muslims try to regularise (and regulate) concubinage to include tripartite consent.

I feel a way when yu chase I

because yu look so fine.

But yu mek me sorry, girl,

that yu change your mind.

Can't rub; can't dub; can't wine

It's all an illusion. God created man and woman to complement each other in procreation. Christian dogma would have men suppress their God-given nature. Islam acknowledges it and tries to make it easier on men. Man's nature can't be suppressed. In Christianity, it's frequently repressed. Repressed nature tends to find alternative, often violent, expression.

The bad news for polygamy is that man's nature remains whether he has one, four or 40 wives. The majority of men will still have concubines. The man with four wives has more legally enforceable responsibilities; the man with one can easier escape responsibility. Polygamy cures nothing. Solomon had 300 concubines.

Also, if you believe lust or cheating was invented or practised exclusively by male Christians, I have a flat piece of land in Bog Walk for sale to you. God gave female Muslims and Christians as much ability to lust as men, just limited the reproductive result. So, no matter how often a woman cheats, she'll only produce a maximum of one child per annum. The consequences of male infidelity are limitless.


Religious nonsense


Polygamy won't cure family or social problems. It's a Muslim tool to achieve world domination, which they'll accomplish without having to fire a shot in anger. This is why Muslim extremists like ISIS are so embarrassing to the Muslim mainstream because their methods are stupid and unnecessary. The sooner Christianity wakes up to this imminent, real threat to its existence and discovers more liberal ways to execute the divine edict 'Go ye forth and multiply' without having to go to the extreme of polygamy, the better.

How can Christians fight back? Christians must accept:

- There are many ways to 'marry' that don't involve church ceremony.

- Single parenthood is as valid a method of populating the Christian world as the nuclear family ideal.

- Children born out of wedlock (where the father is married to someone else) have done nothing wrong and neither the child nor his/her parents should be condemned.

Christianity should be focusing on responsibility. Circumstances of children's birth are irrelevant. The Church must insist children are cared for and educated. Abandoned children or those in children's homes must be permitted into loving homes (including those of same-sex couples) as adoptees with the minimum of red tape. Right now, the nonsense experienced by perfectly suitable prospective parents trying to adopt destitute children is destructive of the nation and of Christianity.

First yu step pon mi lef' foot;

put yu han inna mi face.

Then I feel your kneecap creeping up

to a tender place.

De way yu drop it is murder;

de way yu cause I pain.

and every time yu squeeze me girl

I feel so shame.

Yu can't rub, can't dub, can't wine.

Can't Dub, an early recording from top-class show band, Chalice, spoke of a young man out for a night of fun without strings attached, but could so easily be a metaphor for Jamaican males' unofficial polygamy. For readers too young to remember (or recall), the lead singer on that single was the exciting Oswald 'Trevor' Roper (of blessed memory), although the song was co-written by original lead singer, Robi Peart (around whose guitar, vocal, songwriting and keyboard skills the band was originally built), and bandleader, the brilliant Wayne Armond.

Robi's brother, Gary Peart, doubled as band manager/producer of the record. Can't Dub was written at Robi's apartment, accompanied by plenty spiritual inspiration and merriment. I'm saddened to learn Robi Peart, the spark that became Chalice, hasn't been well. Please recover soon, Robi.

Bandleader Wayne Armond, unmatched locally (my opinion) for musical talent and creativity except maybe by Stephen 'Cat' Coore, was inspired to a musical career by an old jukebox installed in St George's College's canteen which, as a student, he'd set to play Hi Life by Granville Williams Orchestra as often as he could. In the early days, Chalice also featured Keith Francis (bass); Mikey Wallace (keyboard, vocals); the amazing Ervin 'Alla' Lloyd (keyboards/vocals); and foundation drummer was The Old Ball and Chain's favourite and my idea of Jamaica's best, Desi Jones.

I still remember (and recall) attending with Old BC (when she was Young BC) a live concert featuring The Spinners (then my favourite group). A relatively unknown band named Chalice opened the show with Robi on lead vocals. Wayne, in pyjamas and holding a pillow, sang I Still Love You and whipped up girls in the crowd to a level of hysteria usually reserved for Michael Jackson. It was good to be there. Spinners had a tough act to follow.

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to