In this counseling answer:
“I would suggest getting marital counseling from a specialist. If you decide that you are able to deal with the situation, forgive him and respect his other relationship. If you think you won’t be able to forgive, your financial situation should not be the main reason to stay married.”
As-Salamu ’Alaikum sister,
I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is a lot to process, especially for a convert and a new mother.
I want to start by saying alhamdulillah you accepted Islam in your life, even though everybody and everything was against you. Unfortunately, your friends and family are not educated about Islam which left you in a fragile situation, draining all your energy, hopes and expectations, especially regarding your husband.
The first suggestion I have for you is trying to reconnect with your family and friends. Islam teaches us how to behave with our parents and family members; you really have to bring them close to your life again. The holy Quran teaches us to be gentle and kind to our parents. We should always treat them with respect and obey them in any reasonable request that does not go against the teachings of Allah. One argument that you can use is that our religion accepts all the others and guides us to respect people of other faiths. Following the prophetic example, when a Christian delegation from Ethiopian churches came to Medina, the Prophet (peace be upon him) opened up his mosque for them to stay in, hosted them generously, and personally served them meals. He (peace be upon him) said: “They were generous to our companions, so I wish to be generous to them in person…”
You can gradually try to re-establish a relationship with your friends and family by sharing with them something about Islam that is close to the teachings of Christianity. Talk to them in a non-confrontational way, always being patient and respectful. I advise you to bond with your family, because I believe they can provide you comfort and love in this time of hardship and future times. Even if everything was great in your marital life, your husband should not be the only source of care you have.
Regarding your husband’s second wife, first of all, I want to clarify the conditions that a man can look for a second wife and in which context it was revealed. The verse allowing men to marry up to 4 wives was revealed after the Battle of Uhud, where many Muslim men were killed.
“And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].” (4:3)
The social context behind the revelation is very important. In those days, a woman without a husband didn’t have means to survive, safety couldn’t be guaranteed and she could literally starve to death. In that society, it was also a common practice that man would travel and have intercourse with different women and have children without necessarily caring for them. In this context, Allah in His infinite mercy revealed to humankind the possibility to marry 4 wives, which in those times was absurd, considering that the Quran limited the number of relationships a man could have. We must understand that this was a way to provide for women, especially widows and orphans, and to care for them – not to fulfill male’s sexual desires.
It is clear that your husband did not marry this woman out of compassion; instead, he did it to “fix” his sin. Babies are blessings and his child has nothing to do with the parent’s mistakes. However, the way he conducted this situation wasn’t honest. If he really repented from his mistake, why didn’t he tell you about the other woman’s pregnancy from the beginning? You have all the right to be upset and even seek a divorce, if it is what you desire. Don’t let him minimize your feelings sister, it is not drama; it is a very delicate situation involving 3 innocent children.
Now, with all that said, the question you have to ask yourself is whether you would be comfortable with him having a second wife, or do you want to move on? Unfortunately, he misunderstood the Quranic verse and is now trying to justify his great sin in the first place, but now the reality is that he is already married, and you have to think if you are able to forgive him and peacefully stay married.
You also have to take into consideration his ability to treat you and his second wife fairly. In the very same verse stated clearly that if a man cannot treat his wives with equity, he should not marry more than one woman. In any case, he is absolutely responsible for his child, no matter what his marital status with the child’s mother is.
I would suggest getting marital counseling from a specialist. If you decide that you are able to deal with the situation, forgive him and respect his other relationship. Your heart must be free of resentment, and you really must ask Allah for guidance and try your best to live happy with him. If you think you won’t be able to forgive, your financial situation should not be the main reason to stay married. The United States government offers many programs to help single mothers to stabilize after a divorce. Look into the social work division in your city, and, of course, the law to take care of the child you have together will enforce him to provide if you choose to separate. Unfortunately, it is a complicated decision, and I will pray to Allah to make it easier as possible on you.
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