Doctor draws heat for matching Deep South men with multiple wives

Mariyam Ahmad
2022.10.24
Pattani, Thailand
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Doctor draws heat for matching Deep South men with multiple wives Members of a female motorcyclist group who are against polygamy pose for a photo after distributing relief aid to villagers in Yala, Thailand, August 2022.
BenarNews

A group of Muslim women in Thailand’s Deep South is criticizing a doctor for promoting his services online to help local men find up to three extra wives, saying such polygamous matchmaking doesn’t follow the Prophet’s example.

Waemahadi Wae-dao, a physician and former MP from the mainly Muslim southern border region shrugs off the criticism about his fee-based activities as a matchmaker. He says he’s well-intentioned and helping to match men with wives in accordance with the Islamic principle that allows a man to have as many as four spouses.

Wae, who himself has four wives, started providing the services by advertising them on his Facebook page. The idea was to eradicate secret extra-marital affairs and help both parties find good partners in the Deep South, a largely impoverished and insurgency-stricken region on the border with Malaysia. He collects a fee of 12,000 baht (U.S. $315) from men for each successful match.

“This has brought me many criticisms online – some polite and some rude comments. However, I don’t really care. I take them as nonsense,” he told BenarNews.

Imams – Muslim preachers – are compelled to perform such marriages because in Islam a man can wed as many as four wives as long as he can provide for and maintain each of his families equally.

Wae uses an outdated practice for today’s world, Anchana Heemina, the president of the Duay Jai (With Heart) Group, a Thai NGO, told BenarNews.

“He is looking from a view of religious principles and the needs of those who wanted to marry more than one person. But he is neglecting why marrying four women was permitted in the past compared to the practicality of these principles in today’s context,” she said.

Polygamy is only encouraged in Islam when it comes to “oppressed or the orphans among women,” and justice can be done by marrying more than one, she said.

“If we follow all the principles, then there should be widows and poor women getting chosen, regardless of their appearance, shape or education, which is improbable.”

‘Men are after lust’

Anchana said Wae’s matchmaking service require women to describe their status, education, appearance, height and weight “as if they are contenders in a competition for the men to choose from.”

She and five other women in the Deep South interviewed by BenarNews said they were opposed to men marrying four wives, noting that for many men, their sole argument is that Prophet Mohammad allowed it.

Many of these men cannot provide financial and emotional support to the women they are marrying, as per the Prophet’s instructions, the women said.

Habsoh, 17, a Pattani province resident who is not married, said social media including Wae’s own Facebook posts, are drawing attention to something that had been hidden for years.

“Men are after lust instead of following a good example of the Prophet. There is no flaw in the Prophet’s way. It was good, and there is no doubt about that,” Habsoh said.

She asked BenarNews to use only her first name because of privacy concerns.

“However, these men are blindly choosing to have four wives with the excuse that the Prophet allows it, while they take no responsibility toward any of their wives.

“They do not properly manage financial support, or even give time and love equally,” she said, alleging that some men with more than one wife “are putting their wives to work in order to support him.

There have been many cases like this in her town, she alleged.

“The heavily pregnant woman has to work in the rubber plantation and raise young kids, while the man of the house lives a carefree life,” Habsoh said.

Doctor’s multi-step program for love

Wae, who used to represent a parliamentary constituency in Narathiwat province, said he started promoting his “match-making service” this year after the COVID-19 pandemic lessened.

While working as a doctor, politician, businessman, and social worker in different parts of the country Wae said he saw that people were struggling to find partners, so he sought to find a solution for lonely hearts.

He said he had received applications from more than 1,700 people. Many are men seeking their first brides, but about 170 of his clients were seeking additional spouses.

“One, men and women cannot live together without a marriage, according to our religion; two, there is a considerable number of older unmarried women between the ages of 27 and 35; and three, men were facing challenges in finding good women to marry,” Wae said.

He said he has devised a multi-step plan that includes finding a couple with “matching chemistry” and introducing them to each other; organizing a video call between the two in the presence of staff; making an appointment for the couple to meet along with a chaperone; making a formal marriage proposal; and organizing the wedding.

“Some problems they have encountered are that there are more of women than men, and sometimes the women are not OK with polygamy,” Wae said. “The disagreement stems from a misunderstanding and bad experiences with men who are irresponsible, careless and unjust.”

When BenarNews interviewed the matchmaker earlier this month, two wedding ceremonies were planned in the coming weeks for couples he had matched. Both grooms already have wives.

Abdul, a local from Yala province who asked that his last name not be used, said he had two wives but admitted his love for each was not equal.

“My solution is not to let the two meet. If that happens, then war will break out,” Abdul told BenarNews.

He said he agreed that it’s not always possible for a man to provide all of his wives fairly and equally.

“There can never be equal love for both, but I want to be with both,” Abdul said.

“I know the first wife lives in tears, but she must go along because the religion allows for it. She has to make peace with it.”

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