Ulema and feminists against polygamy club
by Mathias Hariyadi
Many Muslim authorities calling for a fatwa to ban the spread of this practice. According to the promoters polygamy nears one to "love of God." But according to women the practice humiliates wives and is a source of domestic violence and abuse. Suharto was anti-polygamy; Sukarno had many women.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Groups of Muslim leaders are furious with a club that promotes polygamy and has asked the National Council of Ulema (MUI) to issue a fatwa banning it. Even the Indonesian feminists are up in arms against the club because polygamy “is a violence against women".

The Global Ikhwan polygamy Club was opened on 18 October in Bandung (West Java) in the Grand Aquila Hotel, with the participation of 150 guests. Among the guests was the founder of the club in Malaysia, Chodijah Binti Am. The purpose of the club is to promote and disseminate polygamy. The theme of the evening was in fact "Polygamy, a powerful solution to meet the love of God." "By adhering to the philosophy of the club and practicing polygamy - explained Am - people experience the merciful love of God When the wives are not good, they will pray to ask God's help. If a woman is married to a polygamist, the use of praying for God's help will be continuous”.

Such affected religiosity is unconvincing for Muslim leaders. Kiai Hajj Bunyamin, Bandung Islamic leader, says that the club of Malaysian origin is "immoral" because its purpose is to "inflate carnal desire among males”. "I am totally opposed to the club," he said. The Head of Ulema of West Java, Kiai Hajj Hafidz Usman asks "What is the benefit of this controversial club "; academic Jujun Junaedi, warns against instrumental use of Islam made by the club. "According to me - he says - the Ulema Council should block it”.

The polygamy club of in Bandung was founded by Mohammed Umar, of Malaysian nationality, according to whom the club just wants to "promote the moral value of the practice of polygamy." To find new members, the club has opened an account on Facebook, with 302 new members so far, 32 other Indonesian families intend joining.

There are three directors of the club: Mohamad Safir, Latifah Abd Al Qohar and Andrew Fah Tan. They require only one condition from new members: the wives of polygamists should not be more than four.

Hedi Muhammad, head of Indonesia's West Java Muslim called on the Ulema Council to ban the club to prevent possible conflicts between husbands and wives. The opening of the club has in fact caused a wave of resentment and outrage among the women of Bandung. The director of the Women’s Institute, Elin Rozana, in a press conference declared her categorical rejection of the club. "The presence of this group - she said - not only hurts women from Indonesia, but also produces moral violence against women."

According to the Rozana, by promoting polygamy, the club violates the basic human rights of women. "Polygamy is one of the most widespread violences against women. It has always created conflicts between family members and produces domestic violence such as sexual abuse, physical attacks, psychological pressure, etc... "

She is echoed by Abdul Hamim Yauza, Head of Legal Division of the Institute of Indonesian Women for Justice: "the practice of polygamy - he says - will only result in a number of sad stories in the home: abuse and strained relations among members." In his opinion, polygamy is against the spirit of Indonesian Law No. 7 / 1984, that ratifies the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Hegel Tarom, of the Woman Group Kalyanamitra, is fighting for the closure of the club. "Every marriage - she says - must be based on the philosophy of equal status between man and woman."

According to traditional Islamic law, Muslims can have up to 4 wives. Some personalities from Indonesia, pro-polygamy and rich, say that they should have more than four wives.

Under President Suharto (1967-1998), Indonesia adopted an anti-polygamy stance. Each representative of the government and bureaucracy who practiced polygamy was immediately fired. To make things clearer, Suharto has also launched the Law no. 1 / 1974 which prohibits members of the government apparatus from practicing polygamy. According to Indonesians, Suharto's strong stand was inspired by his wife, Tien Suharto, a woman from Java, very traditional, but who did not see anything positive in polygamy, only "family disputes and domestic abuse."

The first Indonesian president, Sukarno, known as a megalomaniac and a womaniser, had practiced polygamy.