My colleague and I were two different newspapers this morning and we both said WTF in unison. We both were reading the same news. According to AFP and BBC, a member of the Saudi religious police has been accused of having six wives at the same time – two more than allowed under religious laws.
The 56-year-old was detained in south-western Jizan province. Three of the women involved were Saudis and the other three were from Yemen.
What is most ironic about this news is that the polygamist par excellence is actually a member of Muttawa (The virtue police). Members of the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are expected to enforce the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam, particularly regarding relations between the sexes. They tell women to keep all their hair hidden and raid coffee houses to see if people drinking coffee together are mehrams to each other. After a lifetime of lynching people for small offenses, the polygamist muttawa probably thought he is untouchable.
The accused denies the women are all currently his wives and says he has divorced two of them. Muslim men can keep up to four wives at a time under sharia, or Islamic law, which is applied in Saudi Arabia. I think he is very smart to play the numbers so that even if you have had a hundered wives in your lifetime, you never have more than 4 wives at any one time. King Saud, founding father of the kingdom married a women from all the major tribes to bring unity (what an absolutely original way to bring unity to one’s country) and is speculated to have had 22 wives.
I am wondering what kind of punishment this guy will get. Will it be Zina because not more than 4 women can be his wives so will he face lashes or will he be stoned to death? Will they only stone him to death or will they stone two of the wives? How will they determine which of the six women is he currently married to and who are concubines (I used for the lack of a more appropriate word). Should the authorities take his word for it after his lies?
Six is way too many a wives; even those who sanction polygamy think he’s pushin’ it.