Malaysians arrive for second wives

A Songkhla provincial mosque has become a popular destination for Malaysia's married Muslim men looking for a valid second marriage – or even third and fourth – after their polygamous request is rejected by their first wife, whose permission is required.

  • Published: 24/01/2013 at 10:03 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

The mosque is frequently busy organising Nikah -- a simple Muslim wedding ceremony in which a man and a woman declare their commitment as husband and wife -- for about 10-30 pairs of brides and grooms, mostly Malaysians, every day, Chem Hemman, vice president of Songkhla Islamic Committee, said on Thursday.  

The event is held in a specially arranged room at the mosque, with a simple decorative heart shaped floral arch for photo opportunities installed in front of it.  

The ceremony is basic, but is in line with the principles of Islam, Mr Chem said. 

In Islam, a married man must seek consent from his first wife before looking to marry a second, third or fourth wife. In Malaysia, most first wives do not consent to their husbands’ wish, forcing the men and their future wives to travel to the southern province to perform the Nikah, Mr Chem said.  

Despite being a religious ceremony, the Nikah could take place at any convenient venue, outside a mosque. 

The presence of the bride’s father is not needed if she voluntarily embarks on a marriage and the distance from her residence was at least 96 kilometres to the place in which the holy matrimonial event is performed.  

The couple only pay for marriage documents while the Nikah service is free of charge. 

The committee will issue a certificate to endorse the marriage and inform the Consulate-General of Malaysia in Songkhla to confirm the validity of the couple’s union, Mr Chem said.  The ceremony draws single men and women and widows as well as men marrying second, third or fourth wives.

Brides and grooms from Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei also come to endorse their union at the Songkhla mosque, Mr Chem said. This could promote cultural tourism for the province and the lower South because most couples are accompanied by a big group of family members, relatives and friends who serve as witnesses and guests in the ceremony. The married couple often stay for their honeymoon in the southern region, he added.  

Photos by Vichayant Boonchote

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