Young Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia oppose polygamy

July 13th, 2011 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, July 13 (IANS/AKI) A vast majority of young Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia disapprove of the traditional acceptance of polygamy. They are, however, reluctant to openly support interfaith marriages or premarital sex, says a new survey.

In the survey conducted by two Germany-based cultural organisations, 86.5 percent of 1,496 Indonesians interviewed and 72.7 percent of 1,060 Malaysians said they were against polygamy.

More women opposed polygamy compared to men, who are permitted four wives under Islamic law.

Opinions among the young in both Muslim-majority nations “have shifted from the traditional viewpoint that sees polygamy as an Islamic precept”, says the survey by the Goethe Institut and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

The all-Muslim respondents who participated in face-to-face interviews in October and November last year were 15 to 25 years old.

Indonesia and Malaysia have southeast Asia’s largest Muslim populations. Polygamy, however, has become widely debated in both countries in recent years.

Women’s groups say many men who enter polygamous marriages neglect their existing wives and children financially and emotionally.

Activists say polygamous unions in Malaysia account for about five percent of new marriages. The practice is thought to be more widespread in Indonesia, but many marriages are performed secretly at mosques and are not recorded by the state, says the survey.

Supporters of polygamy have recently set up clubs in both Malaysia and Indonesia, encouraging women to be totally obedient to their husbands and insisting the practice can solve social problems such as prostitution.

The rejection of polygamy in the survey was “remarkable considering otherwise overwhelmingly favorable attitudes toward social and religious conservatism”, the study authors wrote.

However, a whopping 92 percent of the Indonesian respondents and 62 percent of the Malaysians said they were unwilling to wed someone from a different religion.

“Even if they are willing to marry a spouse of a different faith, they wish for them to convert to Islam,” it said.

Only 1.4 percent of the Indonesians and 1.6 percent of the Malaysians polled said premarital sex was acceptable.


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