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Christian Man Has 39 Wives…What if he were Muslim?

A 66 year old man in Guwahati, India has 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren…and he’s not done yet! According to Reuters [emphasis added]:

The more, the merrier is certainly true for Ziona Chana, a 66-year-old man in India’s remote northeast who has 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren — and wouldn’t mind having more.

They all live in a four storied building with 100 rooms in a mountainous village in Mizoram state, sharing borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, media reports said.

“I once married 10 women in one year,” he was quoted as saying.

His wives share a dormitory near Ziona’s private bedroom and locals said he likes to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

The sons and their wives, and all their children, live in different rooms in the same building, but share a common kitchen.

The wives take turns cooking, while his daughters clean the house and do washing. The men do outdoor jobs like farming and taking care of livestock.

The family, all 167 of them, consumes around 91 kg (200 pounds) of rice and more than 59 kg (130 pounds) of potatoes a day. They are supported by their own resources and occasional donations from followers.

“Even today, I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” Ziona said.

“I have so many people to care (for) and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”

Ziona met his oldest wife, who is three years older than he is, when he was 17.

He heads a local Christian religious sect, called the “Chana,” which allows polygamy. Formed in June 1942, the sect believes it will soon be ruling the world with Christ and has a membership of around 400 families.

What if he were Muslim? What if this was some Bedouin in Saudi Arabia? The Islamophobes would be all over it, claiming Islam takes away women’s rights, treats women as chattel, etc. etc. Indeed, some Muslims do just that. But, their crimes cannot be projected upon Islam. Polygamy is found in every culture and every religious tradition. But Islam-haters like “Police Blotter Bob” Spencer would never tell you that…

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  • private

    See: http://www.christianpolygamy.com, as polygamy is lawful in all fifty republics of America for individuals, and legal by forty-three of the foreign corporate state franchises of the foreign Corporate United States for persons if the truth were known. See also: Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure – Rule I. Applicability, Definitions (b)(7), and 18 USC 18, which were made Statutes in 2002 by the U.S. Congress to hide the truth of 18 USC 54(C), which stated, “Federal and state statutes within the fifty states do not apply to the sovereign(s)…”

    So, am I to think that the words used here:

    (a)(2) “the term “individual� means a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.�

    really means, in legalistic terms of art:

    … every freeborn man or woman, born on the soil known as one of the 50 several states, and living “without the United States� (CITE: 28USC1746(1)], nor subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of any of them, is the subject and object of Title 5 USCA Chapter 5 § 552a(a)(2)? Isn’t that title the rules for the agents of government to live by? The people at the SSA and the IRS routinely ignore these statutes.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    The problem with forever yearning after a vanished Golden Age is that by definition it’s all been downhill ever since. I’ve been on some Muslim forums where the people were sighing about how much more honest some medieval caliph was than the current run of Arab dictators. (The caliph would blow out the state candle and light his own personal candle before socializing privately with visitors, so as not to have his non-official affairs cost the state money.) But such an attitude runs the obvious risk of ossifying people’s attitudes, foreclosing them against the prospects of an open-ended future, and turning their hearts against the present age. Like the U2 song says, you glorify the past when the future dries up.

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    I don’t think that the Mughal empire was inferior; it had a rich culture, many British people, as William Dalrymple explains in White Mughals, adopted that culture.

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    The Ottoman failure regarding printing had less to do with Islam and more to do with the request writers attempting to maintain their monopoly; it was not Islamic, it was bureaucratic.

  • NassirH

    Petro, I’m glad you agree that Spencer’s view of Islam is extremely essentialist. Even Zudhi Jasser—who is widely regarded as a loon by the world’s Muslims and who aligns himself with Neoconservative war-mongerers, Ultra-Zionists, outright racists and the like—seems to have turned against Robert “Poison Dwarf� Spencer (as Charles Johnson calls him).

    Regarding the Mughals, their contributions to world civilization and relative “advancement� to their European contemporaries is debatable. As I’ve already mentioned, they’ve left a permanent mark on South Asia’s culture and the Mughal zenith was one of the high points of South Asian history. And again, when one thinks of India and its landmarks it’s usually Mughal, e.g. the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. The Mughal Empire was also wealthier than its Europe contemporaries and during 1526 it was the second largest economy in the world after Ming China—later in 1700, the Mughal Empire would have the world’s biggest economy but then decline. The biggest cities of Mughal India were larger and more palatial than London or Paris and the population grew from 150 million in 1600 to 200 million in 1800.

    Of course, as you’ve already highlighted, the Mughal Empire had many negatives. It unfortunately was hesitant to adopt foreign technologies, similarly to the Ottomans (e.g. Sutlan Bayezid II outlawed the printing of Arabic via printing press, but curiously enough welcomed Spanish Jewish refugees into his empire wholeheartedly). The Mughal Empire also had a lower literacy rate and its peasants were generally poorer than European peasants, although its elite were wealthier.

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    Revolutionaries in Arab nations could use the Muslim Corsair republics and divans as a blueprint for states grounded in Islamic culture; they were democratic and multi-ethnic, yes they had slavery (basically white on white slavery) but so did the USA and Ancient Greece and those are our main inspiration for democracies. Hakim Bey/Peter Wilson explains how corsair republics were structured:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pirate-Utopias-Peter-Lamorn-Wilson/dp/1570271585

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Salé

    It’s a rich shared heritage; one that has been thoroughly romanticized (see below for examples) people attacking the Arab revolutions act as if there can only be theocracy or dictatorship when in fact Islamic history has a third option. A modern state modeled after Sale would have a great deal of appeal, not only because of it’s exotic nature but because these republics were heavily multi-ethnic; thus it woudl attract the support of non-Arab minorities. If they want to counter Wahhabism they can draw upon the Azeri, Albanian, Bosnian and traditional Chechen forms of Islam.

    http://www.brokenfrontier.com/img/2004/dec/bb01_07_col.jpg

    http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1172986983l/236888.jpg

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    Thank you for the compliment! Revolutionaries in Arab nations could use the Muslim Corsair republics and divans as a blueprint for states grounded in Islamic culture; they were democratic and multi-ethnic, yes they had slavery but so did the USA and nobody argues that American invalidates any value found in American politics.

  • Cynic

    JW basically promotes the idea that recent unislamic Wahhabist extremism is the only real Islam, a dangerous and repulsive lie. The fact that Spencer can go on television and be accepted as a “scholar of Islam� proves that Islamophobia is very real.

    This is exactly what Loon Watch critiques. Right on the money.

  • http://thebandofstrangers.blogspot.com/ Jack Cope

    “I agree, although I do admire the medieval Caliphates.”

    The same here. The original Muslim states were good examples, but as I said, they lost their way which is unfortunate to say the least. Muslims need to drag it back!

    And you are bang on about Wahhibism, even in Saudi you may struggle to find a Wahhibi, there simply are not that many of them. And even then, many are not that extreme, I was informed, to my great surprise, that the writer of the now famous 900 page Fatwa against terrorism is in fact a Salfi/Wahhibi. We know why he pushes that line, he cannot back up his ‘scholarship’ any other way, nor can he let his followers know the truth. I am just as shocked as you are to see this man on TV and accepted, sickened is more the feeling actually. Words cannot describe it… the world is a mess and people like him mess it up even more. If we just saw the truth, that we are all humans and brothers and sisters…

    Anyway, enough, I look forward to conversing with you in the future and reading more of your blog.

    Salam

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    “It is also rather daft to judge current day Muslims on past times ”

    I agree, although I do admire the medieval Caliphates.

    “Anyway, I found your piece interesting.”

    Thank you, I also cannot stand JW; they promote Bosnian genocide denial and support Serb fascism, JW basically promotes the idea that recent unislamic Wahhabist extremism is the only real Islam, a dangerous and repulsive lie. The fact that Spencer can go on television and be accepted as a “scholar of Islam” proves that Islamophobia is very real.

  • http://thebandofstrangers.blogspot.com/ Jack Cope

    My opinion? The Islamic ’empires’ strayed from the teachings that they were given and collapsed because of it (the fact that they were called empires shows they strayed for starters). It is also rather daft to judge current day Muslims on past times (not that anyone is here, but they do). I think that more and more Muslims are waking up now, seeing how far we have strayed, and want to fix it.

    Anyway, I found your piece interesting. I have a number of problems with LW myself but when it boils down to the important question, i.e. who would I rather read, LW or JW (or which is more ‘correct’) then I think the answer is obvious, I’d pick LW any day. JW is not only vile, it is also pushing falsehood on purpose.

  • Petro Sahaidachny
  • Petro Sahaidachny

    @NassirH

    That is Rushdie’s opinion, besides Italy was less autocratic than the Mughal empire, apart from the republics there was no caste system and the republics had high literacy rates. The Byzantine empire was generally known as Rome throughout the Islamic world and Byzantine architecture easily equals that of the Mughals, the Hagia Sophia for example. I didn’t say that the Byantine and Mughal empires existed at the exact same time, I just meant it was a more fair comparison.

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    “Numerous royal privileges, as well as internal autonomy granted by the monarchs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth allowed the Tartars to preserve their religion, traditions and culture throughout the ages.

    The most notable military clans were granted with Coats of Arms and szlachta (nobility) status, while many other families melted into the rural and burgher society. Apart from religious freedom, the Tartars were allowed to marry Polish and Ruthenian women of Catholic or Orthodox faith, which was extremely unique. Tartars were also granted representation in Parliament.”

    http://polishtoledo.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    From what I can tell the Tartar treatment of women was the exception to the rule; the Ottoman empire treated women poorly and had an extremely low literacy rate, more people in 18th century Scotland could read than people in 19th century Turkey. Tartar Islam was not conservative by the standards of the time, it seems conservative compared to say modern Azerbaijan Islam. It’s also worth pointing out that the treatment of Tartars varied; they thrived in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Grand Duke of Lithuana was called Vattad, the protector of the (Islamic) faith.

  • NassirH

    “…a more fair contemporary comparison would be to compare Mughal culture to the Eastern Roman Empire or the Italian republics.”

    Their was a NPR interview with Salman Rushdie in which he said–if my memory serves me correctly–that the intellectual and artistic life of the Mughal Empire was on par with Italy during the same period. Of course, Italy’s Renaissance probably effected world civilization more than anything the Mughuls could bring forth. As for the Eastern Roman Empire (by which I assume you mean “Byzantine”), it was long gone by the time the Mughals Empire had begun.

  • NassirH

    “…I believe that a secular Muslim majority state can have a progressive approach towards women, Bosnia’s record with women even in war is infinitely better than that of the Serbs. Why? Because Bosnian culture is more secular than Serbia, where the nation and religion are one.�

    Yet the Tartars of Volga Bulgaria embraced conservative Islam and their womenfolk were more literate than their Russian sisters. And that’s despite centuries of religious persecution by the Russians (who apparently attempted to systemically convert their Muslim subjects). Here’s the relevant part of the article from the NCEMC database.

    “In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Tatar community was a curious element in the Muslim world. It had survived centuries of political and religious pressure, and, led by its merchant bourgeoisie, it had reached a high economic and cultural level. In the Middle Volga area, the proportion of literate Tatars was greater than among the Russians, especially among women. The Tatar bourgeoisie was aggressive and dynamic, able to compete successfully against its Russian counterpart. But at the same time, the Tatar elite lived intellectually in a conservative medieval world. Indeed, their strict conservatism had protected their community from contamination by a technically more advanced Russian establishment and preserved its Islamic character.�

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    Even if you are correct that was a very small part of my review. Perhaps advanced was the wrong, I meant that it was more humane and egalitarian; Ireland had a legal code based entirely around compensation, no death penalty, which is more ethically advanced than Pakistani law. I was comparing modern day Pakistan to Gaelic Ireland, a more fair contemporary comparison would be to compare Mughal culture to the Eastern Roman Empire or the Italian republics.

  • NassirH

    Yes indeed, the Ottoman Empire undoubtedly lagged behind the West during its last hundreds of years and there were rebellions, insurrections and massacres especially during the nineteenth century (and not just by or against the Ottoman). But again, all of that is irrelevant and none of your two aforementioned points would change the veracity of the article.

    BTW, do you really believe Gaelic Ireland is more advanced than Pakistan? That’s quite offensive to the over 150 million people who call themselves Pakistani. Perhaps Gaelic Ireland had progressive views in regards to gender relations (apparently they had concubinage and polygamy too), but using that logic many societies that didn’t have writing or the wheel could be considered more “advanced� than Pakistan. When we compare Gaelic Ireland with its contemporaries in the Muslim world, most of the nations of the Muslim world would undoubtedly be far ahead in terms of culture, literature, technology, etc. The Mughals who ruled what is now Pakistan, for example, were far more advanced in terms of art and architecture than their Gaelic Irish contemporaries thousands of miles away. The fact that Mughal mausoleums and forts have become symbols for India is a testament to their enormous influence. Surely the Taj Mahal counts for something?

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    Loonwatch cited the tanzimat reforms without historical context; there were massacres of Christians during and after the reforms were over, the Batak took place the year they ended. They were a failure since the movement did not create a tolerant egalitarian state; instead they wound up inspiring Hitler. In fact one could argue it’s an example of how the empire had lagged behind the West, enlightenment ideology only made an impact in the empire in the late nineteenth century.

  • NassirH

    Petro, I didn’t say that the Ottoman Empire should be free from criticisms—I said it’s quite ridiculous to malign Loonwatch for citing the Tanzimat reforms. Saying that the reforms somehow “don’t count� because of later war crimes is a classic non sequitur. Also, telling from your blog post, you seem to think that Loonwatch was playing apologist for the Ottomans. In reality however, they were simply highlighting the fact that the traditional penalty for apostasy was abolished in the Ottoman Caliphate (albeit only temporarily, at least according to you). Again, your blog didn’t contain very cogent criticism of Danios’ article—as exemplified by the following.

    Danios: “Before the Great War, the Ottoman Empire united Muslim lands under one symbolic leadership. (Perhaps an oversimplification but it suffices for our discussion here.) It is interesting to note that the Ottoman government eventually stopped enforcing the punishment for apostasy and finally abolished it altogether in 1844, more than one hundred and sixty years ago.�

    Petro: “United? Try brutally conquered, the Ottoman Empire was not a harmonious tribe of muslims, the Ottoman empire’s policies lead to revolts and secessionism among muslims; such as the Bosnian uprising of 1831.�

    See what I mean? Danios made it clear that there were exceptions. The Bosnian Muslims were affected by nationalism (which was virulent amongst the Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire) before other Muslim peoples in Ottoman territory. But that is aside the point; citing examples of rebellions against the Sultan is irrelevant to Danios’ argument.

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    @Beautiful Muslim Doll

    I don’t think polygamy is a horrible concept; it makes sense if you look at it in historical context, due to wars there was a shortage of Muslim men so husbands took extra wives, one could in fact argue that it was an admirable thing to do in such a society. Can polygamy be a positive lifestyle? Certainly; however in a country or area with a poor female rights record (parts of Chechnya controlled by Islamist fanatics) polygamy will be a negative lifestyle.

    I am monogamous, mainly because it is more practical; I would feel trapped in a polygamous situation due to the sheer amount of responsibility. Assuming you are correct about Scandinavia that is not equivalent to polygamy; those laws serve to remove official stigma against so-called “bastards.” The laws you mention make sense, having polygamy made official would only serve to further complicate a nation’s legal system and it would cause endless controversy, all for a fringe lifestyle. I am not against polygamy in general so much as I am critical of the form practiced by religious fundamentalists, there are healthy poly relationships in America and then this Mormon polygamy, the distinction is very clear.

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    “Oh really? How does the election twice of a woman Prime Minister in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan fit into your “Islam hates womenâ€? theory?”

    First of all we need to clarify what you mean by ‘Islam’, I believe that a secular Muslim majority state can have a progressive approach towards women, Bosnia’s record with women even in war is infinitely better than that of the Serbs. Why? Because Bosnian culture is more secular than Serbia, where the nation and religion are one.

    However to defend Islamic states by mentioning Bhutto is a silly ‘Oprah argument’ you are referring to a country where LGBT rights simply do not exist, Pakistan has a blasphemy penalty, a history of genocide, stoning etc. It’s true the Bible features polygamy however in the West, polygamy has not been practiced, apart from Gaelic Ireland (a more advanced society than Pakistan) the idea of having multiple wives was generally viewed with scorn. The phony religion of Mormonism horrified Americans because of its polygamy, it was also impractical, having multiple wives meant a great deal of stress and financial issues.

  • Petro Sahaidachny

    @NassirH

    The tanzimat reforms ultimately failed; the empire collapsed into genocide, not just of Armenians, the reforms ended in 1876, during and after the reforms Christians minorities were massacred the Hamidian massacres began in 1894, the Batak massacre of Bulgarians occurred the year the reforms ended. The fact that other governments have a history of genocide does not shelter the Ottoman empire from criticism; no serious historian entertains neo-nazi attempts to shift attention away from Hitler to Stalin.

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