The scent of hashish filled the air. The dark, drab theater turned into a male dominated disco party as all spectators jumped out of their cold steel chairs and waved their hands in the air to the pounding rhythm of Lollywood pop music. Shocked by their enthusiasm at mimicking legendary Pashto movie star Shahid Khan’s dance moves, I sat back and observed. “This is the way life is supposed to be! When you feel like dancing, get up and dance! Anywhere! Anytime!” I thought in reflection. Chair pounding ensued as the men howled and yelled at the female actress in a bright red outfit who suddenly revealed her bare shoulder. Khan’s character gently brushes his leathery hands against the actresses’ shoulder and the crowd roars as if their favorite team just won a cricket world championship match. Absolute mayhem ensues after Khan rips the cap off a liquor bottle and takes a few swigs of the prohibited beverage. At that moment I realized that I was thousands of kilometers away from my home country, whose mass media glorifies human carnal lust and desire by exposing all parts of human sexuality and anatomy. Controversy sells tickets all across the globe, especially in ultra conservative Peshawar.
I transformed myself into a spitting image of Shahid Khan. Upon exiting the movie theater, I came across a store with colorful pictures of the Pakistani actor plastered all over the walls. “Your face. Here!” mentioned a man in broken English with a beaming smile as he pointed to a picture of Khan holding an AK-47 in a blood stained shirt. A few minutes later my face was photoshopped onto the canvas and I was in the middle of a fictional gunfight with a Lollywood gangster. What a perfect souvenir I obtained that day!
One Wife? I’ll Take Four!
After my outrageous movie theater experience, an old man with a warm smile on his face waved his hands in my direction signaling me into a tea stall. The man ended up being a 75 year old poet and university professor who bragged about his ability to recite poetry from memory. He closed his eyes for a few moments and recited some verses that he composed himself and I could feel the passion in his voice tone and facial micro expressions. Experts say communication is more than eighty percent non-verbal and upon listening to his poems I could tell he was an expert at his art form.
Next, our conversation topic changed from poetry to women. The professor proudly stated that he had two wives and wants one more for the simple reason of “lust.” He explained that the Koran says you can have up to four wives but anything more is not permitted. He said he is a wealthy man as you need to provide economically for each wife equally. I asked him what kind of woman he was looking for to be his third wife and he expressed his interest in having a wife that is 35 years old, beautiful and intelligent. He said 18 years old is too young but 35 seems like a good age.
Upon further investigation of the issue of having multiple wives, the Quran states: “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.” It should also be pointed out that polygamy was practiced in the pre-Islamic Arabia before the revelation of the Quran, but was uncontrolled and without regulation. Islam attempts to limit polygamy to having a maximum of four wives and attaches conditions to each marriage. In reality, it is only less than two percent of the Muslim population that has more than one wife as monogamy is prevailing in the contemporary Muslim world. The option of husband sharing can be a blessing in times of shortage of men, such as after brutal warfare. Also, married couples with medical issues or sterility may consider this option in a positive manner. It is hypocritical of the West to criticize this way of life as society glorifies extramarital relations and sexual promiscuity. It is time to rethink our definition of morality in North America and Europe and seek to understand before criticizing others with varying outlooks on life.