I stood in for my PS yesterday as he couldn't make it to be the guest of honour at one mosque's forum on a better family life (keluarga bahagia dan diberkati). The forum itself is run of the mill with the panelists advising the audience that couples should as usual be nice to each other, respect each other etc kind of thing. But during the Q&A sessions, out of the many, two questions stood out.
The first questioner was asking about the position of a colleague of his whose wife has just passed away leaving him with their two children ages 1 and 2. He wanted to know whether it is wise for this newly widowed husband to get married. He did not state the reasons but one can guess what the reasons are - physical, emotional etc. The answer given by the forum panelists were not very clear. All I got was at the end of the day, you have to decide for youselves. I am not sure whether that's the answer we were looking for but then I am not sure whether that was the right forum to raise it. But it does set one's mind thinking from both the male and female angle. Should he and if he should, why? What happened if it's reverse? Should she and if she should, why?
A second questioner was asking about the position of a polygamist practisioner. I guess this is related to the above. The hypothetical person decided to take the plunge and got himself another partner. The questioner was how can he achieve 'keluarga bahagia' when most polygamists in practise find it difficult to maintain harmonious relationship between the two partners. When I heard that, to me one of the easy way to have keluarga bahagia is not be in that situation in the first place. But then to each his own. Again the panelist's answers were a bit off the mark but I think it was deliberately so. They were focussed on the need for that particular individual to be 'adil' or just to all his spouses. I wish him luck.
These two situations are apparently quite common in Brunei. Road traffic accidents apparently is the 10th biggest contributor of deaths in Brunei Darussalam. There are a number of children whose parents have died due to car accidents and these tended to be very young families. So there are a number of cases where the husband or the wife has to decide whether or not to remarry.
But even if not for accidents, single parents due to divorces are also rising. In 2001, there were 306 divorces among Muslims but it was 380 by 2004. Surprisingly out of that number, 92 divorces occur among couples who have been married between 10 to 14 years. I know of a couple who had been together for umpteenth years suddenly divorcing and the wife recently remarried. What will happen to the children? Will the husband or the wife takes care of them? So this is becoming to be a real issue for children who are affected by deaths and divorces. Whereas polygamists raise another issue altogether which I would not like to go through. All these issues are polarising issues and I am sure may readers out there have their personal opinions.