'A polygamous man must be fair to his wives'

Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah, EMBUN MAJID AND ILI SHAZWANI

MEN in polygamous marriages must treat their wives fairly.

Married with four wives, Datuk Dr Zulkepli Mohamad from Kota Baru, Kelantan, said they must be able to divide their time equally and treat their wives fairly.

He also suggested that the wives should live in the same area or neighbourhood.

“If a man wants to take another wife, look for someone who lives near the first wife’s home or in the same district. This is to avoid problems in future,” said the 53-year-old who has 11 children.

Dr Zulkepli said he also ensured that his family members, especially the children, received good education, particularly in religion.

“Having four wives and 11 children makes me the happiest man in the world. We are one big family and the children are very close to one another,” said Dr Zulkepli, who runs an audit firm here.

A 48-year-old businessman from Kuala Lumpur, who wanted to be known only as Shah, said having more than one wife made his life more manageable.

“I am a businessman and have to travel frequently between Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan. I have been diabetic since 2004 and when I was away in Kelantan, I was in desperate need of a companion to look after me.

“Thank God, I met my second wife who is from Machang,” said the 48-year-old father of nine.  Shah had another wife but she died of cancer in 2009.

Like any other marriage, he said a polygamous marriage presented its own challenges.

“The important thing is for the husband to be equipped with religious knowledge so that he can handle any situation without harming people in the relationship,” he said.

Karim, 58, from Kangar, learned about polygamy the hard way when he was ordered to pay a fine of RM1,000 and attend lengthy court proceedings before he could register his second marriage.

He and his second wife got married in Betong, Thailand, and the registration took over a year to be completed.

“My second wife is from Penang. I did not dare ask for consent from my first wife to get married again because I feared that it would ruin our marriage.

“After consulting my second wife’s family, we decided to tie the knot in Betong. The bride’s father gave his blessings and even followed us to Betong as the wali,” he said.

Karim only made an application to register the marriage with the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) a few months later, hoping to buy time before his first wife found out.

“I ended up having to pay a RM1,000 fine and had to attend court proceedings for alimony settlement for my first wife. A year later, I finally obtained my marriage certificate,” he said.