Polygamy in Tanzania

lion in tanzaniaTanzania is located in the eastern part of africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique.  Tanzania’s population is multi-ethnic and multi religious. The official languages of the country are Swahili or Kiswahili and English. It adheres to the republican form of government.

It wasn’t easy for me to gather Tanzania’s laws, regarding polygamy. I visited the Jami Forum and learned the following:

Exaud, Kwa kuongezea, pia ni kwamba Polygamy In Tanzania is permitted with consent of first wife; upon registration, parties are to declare whether marriage is polygamous, potentially polygamous, or monogamous, and marriage may be ‘converted’ to polygamous or monogamous by joint declaration Obedience/Maintenance: maintenance of wife or wives is husband’s duty; becomes wife’s duty in cases where husband is incapacitated and unable to earn a living; Courts may order maintenance under limited circumstances where husband refuses or neglects to maintain wife

Source: www.law.emory


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  • ana

    April 11, 2014

    Sk.Shaheed, welcome to the blog.

    I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I was dealing with security issues with the blog and I am just getting a chance to catch up a bit here. I just wrote you a post, but lost it and am here re-writing it.

    I know how very upset you are that your son-in-law is holding your daughter in Tanzania against her will. He should not restrict her from returning home to you and her family in Bangladesh.

    There isn’t very much I can do to help, as I live in the States and I don’t know the laws in Tanzania and Bangladesh. I’d suggest that you or your daughter contact the Bangladesh Embassy in Tanzania http://bangladesh.visahq.com/embassy/tanzania/. Let them know that her husband is holding her there against her will and she wants to return home to Bangladesh. The Embassy should be able to help her. Make sure she lets them know, if he is abusing her in any way and let them know he has another wife, as well.

    Neither you, nor your daughter should let him know that you are going to contact the Embassy, as he may try to sabotage it. Don’t let him know the details of what you are doing to try to get her back home.

    It’s amazing how Allah reveals the truth to us. Your daughter finding her husband certificate for his marriage to another woman is a prime example of how if Allah wants something revealed, no one can conceal it.

    I pray Allah swt help and guide you and your daughter, regarding this matter. The best to the two of yous.

    This is an open house. No need to knock. Just come on in.

  • Sk. Shaheed

    April 10, 2014

    I am from Bangladesh. My daughter she is living in Tanzania, Dares-salam. My son in law went there before two years for serving as country manager of a famous pharmacy. When she went there she found a marriage certificate in their house and came to know that he got married a christian lady with out informing my daughter. Now she is mentally very much up set. She wants to come back in Bangladesh but he is not giving her passport which he kept with him with a plea to get visa. Now what can I do and how can I help my daughter there?

  • omar zaid

    January 9, 2010

    Salaam Ana,

    Exception accepted, expected and respected. The point I was trying to make is exactly what you state in your second paragraph. Even with good laws on the books, unless they are enforced they are of little value.

    Hence, women in general, not just Muslim women, are being abused globally. And yes, Singapore is an exemplary model for many things but it is also a Totalitarian State (pretending Democracy) that exists as a model of Orwellian genius, and one must ask why it is that Muslims are best protected now in non-Muslim States run by kafir administrations.

    It is precisely because Muslim men are not walking the walk they talk. I have met so many people with pieces of paper representing contracts that are essentially unenforceable without finances enough to get the courts to intervene, that it is truly pitiful.

    To have non-Islamic governments step in and enforce socially oriented laws is a growing movement at present. The top scholars here have recently held forums on the subjects of family law. At the end of the day, the concensus is for better Islamic Education, and better enforcement of present laws rather than drafting new laws.

    The trouble is the legal system itself and the refractory position of lawyers who bend the law any which way they can to favor their clients and pockets, and most importantly, the wealthy shadow governments (elite) that really don’t want certain laws enforced. And there are ways to do this without bending the law.

    When I was going through custody negotiations during a previous divorce, I was suddenly hit with a court order forbiding me to visit my child. I had been accused of molesting the child. When I shared the insult of this slander with three of my collegues at the hosipital, they all said their ex-wives did the same to them, and they all lost custody. The lawyers of that period in un-American history were advising the wives across the board to do this.

    Now … its all well and good to have laws. I am not arguing that point. It is the Institutions of justice that now lack adab generally, and it is this that is responsible for my previous opinion.

    If people were indeed walking the talk, this would not be the reality. Rich people and even those with middle incomes can generally afford enough to get an approximation of justice, but 80% of the world’s population just can’t do this, and it is for these people sakes that I made my statements above.

    The reality faced by the greater majority is injustice despite the laws stating the contrary. That’s all I’m trying to say. These folk cannot place their faith in the law with any degree of confidence, and most lawyers will tell you the same thing unless they are young idealists.


    dr omar

  • Ana

    January 9, 2010

    Salaam Dr. Omar,

    I take exception when you say: “Most people are concerned with legalism because they are not practicing taqua or walking the walk the talk. The slaves of allah care little for these matters outside of the Shari’ah”. I am not going to debated you about it; you have your your opinion.

    I have a Marriage License and I abide by the laws of the country unless they are blatantly contrary to Islam and I do try to practice Taqua and walk the walk and talk the talk, the same as many Muslims who concern themselves with legalism.

    In reading the many articles on this blog in the section on Polygamy in various countries, one would see how women are terribly being used and abused by Muslim men practicing polygamy, which indicates a need and demand government/state steps in for their protection. Or, should everyone just turn a blind eye and let it happen? It’s a sad state of affars when government and state has to step in to protect Muslim women, simply because many Muslim men aren’t doing their jobs properly.

    This is an open house. No need to knock. Just come on in.

  • Ana

    January 9, 2010

    As Salaamu Alaikum Sis Searching,

    If anything, I was the one who gave the Singapore system rave reviews based on the little I know of it. I think it was the best I’ve learned of thus far. The information is beneficial for the section on the blog regarding Polygamy in various country. I will see if I could find something to post specifically regarding Singapore for that section, as well. Thank you for the info. that you provided for those interested in more info.

    Yes. Searching, by all means you could contact me using the “Contact Us” form on the site. I personally receive those contacts. I just cannot privately receive comments and answer questions that are appropriate for the blog, as I would be inundated with private questions, and wouldn’t have time to maintain the blog.

    This is an open house. No need to knock. Just come on in.

  • Searching

    January 9, 2010

    Assalamualaikum wr wb

    Thank you Sis Ana and Uncle Omar for your comments.

    I did not praise the system in Singapore to be perfect or ideal. And yes, I’m certain there are issues of enforcement.

    My intention was just to give an example of polygyny in another country for this section. The Muslim court system here has its benefits as well as flaws, as in other places.

    And I’m sorry I have made a mistake. It is not the Court that interviews the man and wife before he takes another wife. It is the Registry of Muslim Marriages. The Court handles issues of divorce.

    Fyi, if any readers are interested, you can Google “Syariah Court Singapore”, “Registry of Muslim Marriages Singapore” or “Administration of Muslim Law Act Singapore” for more info.


    PS: Sis, may I send you private messages at some point and is it through the “Contact Us” box?

  • Omar Zaid

    January 8, 2010


    Thank you sis Searching for your sharing. I’d like to make a few remarks about the over-reliance of people, especially sisters and their families on the “Court Systems” they think are there to protect their rights.

    First of all, the protection of your rights is the last thing on the minds of those who make the laws in this day and age. The dialogue that exixts between the State and the Governed is managed in such a way to give lip service to human rights while the State allows the privilidged wealthy to oppress the very people it says it serves.

    In Indonesia for example, and even here in Malaysia, there are hundreds of very goodlooking laws on the books, but there is absolutely no system in place to enforce them on behalf abandoned women. So most women can take their marriage certs and burn them for all the good the’re worth.

    The only people who get justice are the wealthy, and that can hardly be called justice. Even the Shari’ah courts fall far short of the mark when it comes to protection of women’s rights.

    So yes…. it may be nice to consider the laws of any given country, but the real questions are weather they are enforceable, and if they should be enforceable.

    I have seen one case after another from country to country where abandoned wives and mothers take their plea along with their legal contracts to the court systems and all to little or no avail. Justice prevails only where the govenment is run by just men, and I see no evidence for that situation in any nation in the world. If anything, we are collectively being forced into fascist police states where tyranny reigns.

    So i truly caution against relying on the so-called legal systems or ‘laws of the land’. Government Propaganda may suggests otherwise, but the truth is we are being herded away from Islam towards Nationalisms that support a pagan New World Order run by Iblis, and these leaders could care less about marriage and human rights, whcih is why the laws they pass are not enforceable lest it’s in their benefit, and protecting women’s rights is certainly not. Here is a nother Muslim Scholar’ perspective on the matter:

    “The national character is the product of animal instinct. Herd instinct is in the very nature of animals. Every animal finds its preservation in living with its herd. This is the only urge on which a nation comes into being and endures. Prosperity and well-being of one’s own nation becomes the highest values for the individual; the greatest patriot becomes the one who squeezes out the last drop of blood of other nations and decorates the magnificent edifice of one’s own nation with the gaudiness of this blood.”

    “Why is Islam The Only True Deen?”
    by G.A. Parwez trans. by Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque

    Now these values are not Islamic at all, because the adab of Islam rises above the “herd mentality” and therefore the laws of any land are anti-thetical to Islam on the whole because they are designed for the herd in favor of the Cowboys at the top who ride us to slaughter houses.

    I am just trying to purposely disillusion anyone who relies on national laws rather than Iman and the guidance of Allah. The laws are actually of no use unless you can pay a lawyer well enough to get them enforced in your favor.

    True faith and guidance supercedes these laws and makes them irrelevant to the slave of allah, because they can do him/her neither harm nor good as the slave of allah has no need of them because by the grace of allah his/her life transcends the need for them to interfere in his/her destiny.

    Most people are concerned with legalism because they are not practicing taqua or walking the walk the talk. The slaves of allah care little for these matters outside of the Shari’ah, which has taken a back seat to secular courts the world over.

    Hence, seek justice, refuge and guidance in Allah. for you ladies will find very little of these in men and their courts.


    dr omar

  • Ana

    January 8, 2010

    Searching, As Salaamu Alaikum! Welcome to polygamy 411. It’s wonderful to have you here and I’m so glad you’ve commented.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us all what you know about polygamy in Singapore. I thank Allah much He allowed you to share the information, as finding information about polygamy in other countries is far from easy for me. I really like the system that Singapore has. It’s the best one I’ve heard of thus far, close to ideal.

    I agree with you it’s best to be in a country in which polygamy is legal, as that is the only way I can see justice being done to all wives concerned. I see the injustice done to my husband’s other “wife” Carolinah, resulting from us practicing polygamy in the USA where it is illegal.

    I’m happy to hear you are enjoying the blog. You really can’t begin to realize how over joyed I am to read and learn about Singapore. I pray Allah (SWT) blesses you for your generosity and continue to bless you immensely in all area of your life. Thank you again, Searching. Insha Allah, you’ll stay with us, as we enjoy having you here.

    This is an open house. No need to knock. Just come on in.

  • Searching

    January 8, 2010

    Assalamualaikum wr wb

    Dear Sis Ana

    I am a single Muslimah, never married. Recent events have compelled me to find more information on polygyny and I am glad to have found several blogs on Muslim women’s experiences of polygyny, including yours. I have benefitted greatly from reading your blog, may Allah bless you for your efforts. I love the design of your blog, it makes reading and finding information very easy.

    Just to add to this section, where I come from (Singapore) – polygyny is recognised by law. There is a Muslim court which Muslims refer to with regards to certain aspects (marriage, divorce, division of property). For a man to marry a second wife, the Court will interview the man and the first wife. I don’t know if this means that he needs to get her permission, but it means that he needs to make it public (at least to her) of his intention. And if a woman becomes a second wife through the court, she is recognised as legally married and can enjoy the benefits of such recognition eg: registering her children.

    Even with such a provision, there will be men who will not do the right thing – I knew of someone whose husband apparently went to another country to get married, presumably to bypass the interview stage. They (first wife and him) got divorced eventually.

    Polygyny is not the norm in this country, and generally frowned upon by the Muslim community because of the negative perceptions. But it is recognised and can be publicly and legally practised. My point (finally! happy ) is, I do agree that we should follow the laws of the country we live in, and if the country does not make polygyny legal, then the man (and everyone involved) must think very, very hard about how it is going to work. Or maybe move to a place where it is legal. Here I am really thinking about the protection of the wives and the rights due to them.

    As I said earlier, I am just starting to learn about polygyny so I hope I did not give the wrong info about the Singapore situation.

    Thank you again Sis Ana for this blog. My prayers for you, for your continued reliance on Allah and for happiness and strength in your marriage happy

  • Ana

    May 23, 2009


    I’m sorry if I misread your comment. I will take a closer look at it, perhaps when I’m in a better frame of mind and can contemplate it better. I think I might have answered it again in a post I just made. Please bear with me, as I’m a bit distracted right now.

  • Donald

    May 23, 2009

    My second question wasn’t really a ‘what if’ scenario. It was about taking stock of your life and where you are headed. Nasrin, in another post, said you’re not angry and in pain — you’re just trying to take charge of your life. But how can you really take charge of your life, if you don’t know where you want to take it? I disagree with him. I believe the anger and pain are driving you more than any well-thought out goals. If you have no idea where you’re trying to get to, you could end up anywhere at all.

    You have choices. You’re not powerless. Continuing to do the same thing you’ve done for the last two and half years is a choice, but it will most likely only lead to more of the same. Carolinah and Alex have choices too, but it’s not for you to say what choices they will make. My first question wasn’t intended to defend Carolinah’s choices, but encourage you to try and understand them. In the same way, you don’t defend all your choices to us, but you (like all of us) want to be understood.

    Seriously, I would encourage you to have another look at my second question. Don’t wait until 10 years have passed and regret the choices you made (or didn’t make) now.

  • Ana

    May 22, 2009

    Donald, I try to stay away from "ifs". When asked "if", I always try to think of the question, "What would I do if I were a millionaire?" Who knows?

    I know Carolinah became "Muslim" a month or so before she "married" my husband. She knew she was marrying a married man. Being a Muslim second, third or fourth wife is supposed to distinguish a woman from being a man’s "mistress", "girlfriend" or, in a not so nice word, "ho." So why is she acting like those things? If she wasn’t ready to accept me, why did she agree to become a second wife? It’s apparent she accepted Islam only to have a relationship with Alex. It’s apparent she and Alex got together and called their relationship polygamy to justify him having a relationship with her outside his and my marriage.

    A non-Muslim family member of mine attended a wake for a non-Muslim family member of Carolinah approx. five months ago. Carolinah (now Muslim 2 years at the time) with her hair uncovered, was sitting in front of an open casket for a non-Muslim family member of hers, mourning the death. Alex was there, as well, hiding in the background so my family members wouldn’t see him. I had forewarned him that my family would be attending the wake. A Muslim is not supposed to attend those types of affairs. What does she practice of Islam other than polygamy?

    As for me, it is not incumbent on me to reach out to Carolinah, as I never, ever consented to Alex marrying another woman, and was opposed to it.

    Donald, I could only say what my intention is today and that is to remain married to Alex unless he divorces me. On my part, it would be a dragged out, bitter, nasty divorce. Carolinah will just have to live as the "other woman" until Alex or I divorce, or until I die. Those are my intentions as we speak. Can I foresee myself as content? Yes. I am ready to go to war and reap the spoils.

    I do not relish the idea of going back "out there" to single/marital sites looking for a husband. I do not relish the thought of ending up with a wife beater, drug addict, alcoholic, down low, cross dressing person, felon or whatever else is out there. Everyone has fault and flaws. I know Alex’s. Furthermore, I have no intention of being someone’s second, third or fourth wife, no offense intended to anyone. So, therefore, I intend to stay married to Alex.

    What has Alex actually done to me? He took another "wife" and I don’t like it. Is that reason to divorce?

  • Donald

    May 22, 2009

    Ana, some questions…

    1. If you were Carolinah, do you think you would have ‘initiated an alliance’?

    2. Assuming Carolinah is never going to leave Alex, what do you hope your life will look like in 5 years time? 10 years? Are you still married to Alex? If so, what does that marriage look like?

  • Ana

    May 22, 2009


    My mom has told me that Alex has shown me in every way possible that he loves me and I can’t see it. It is difficult for me to fathom that love, if he has a desire to be with another woman intimately and declare his love for her, to her. I think it’s not that I can’t feel the love, but can no longer appreciate the love.

    I think women and men intrinsically want to be loved, and be the ONLY ONE loved by the man or woman in their lives, which is influenced by lyrics in romantic songs, poetry, movies and romance as portrayed in our society. I agree that men and women do essentially want to be loved, but most of us only know the selfish kind of love.

    I cannot have Faith until I want for my "brother" (including sister) what I want for myself. It is difficult for me to want good for Carolinah, as I don’t know her. She has never initiated an alliance with me. I can’t want for my "brother" what I want for myself if I see her as my enemy.

    I think a woman’s ability to receive love from a man is hampered when the man loves more than one woman. I think it ultimately is a good thing for the woman, if she turns her attention away from the man, as she then has room in her heart to love God.

  • Ana

    May 22, 2009


    Thank you for taking the time to formulate such a thoughtful answer. You’ve given us more to ponder and you shined some light on the subject from different perspectives. Like you said, human are very complex.

  • Donald

    May 21, 2009

    Don’t men and women essentially want the same thing? We all want to be loved. However, what makes us feel loved, and how we express it to others, varies between individuals. Some women can evidently feel very loved within a polygynous marriage (think 3rd, Megan, Jane from Egypt, and others) while other women find the thought of it offensive and completely incompatible with the whole concept of love.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that women are programed to only love one man, and men are programed to love more than one woman. Since the woman can’t fathom (based on her own feelings) how anyone could love more than one person, does that affect her ability to receive love from a man who does love two women? Ana and CM… If you knew in your heart, that your husband loved you with the strongest kind of love possible, but also loved another woman the same way, would you still FEEL loved?

  • Nasrin

    May 21, 2009

    I don’t think its that simple. After all, cultures that have outlawed polygamy were run by men, and even in polygamous cultures, the vast majority of men are monogamous (or at least, serially monogamous). That doesn’t mean they (or women for that matter) are sexually faithful, just that, for the most part, they generally really only want to commit to one person at a time, for a lot of reasons both emotional and monetary. People like to point at other species to say how people "really" are, outside of societal strictures but humans are much more complex (not that they get the other species right either, for most of history they assumed that male wild horses were promicuous, while females were faithful, but with DNA evidence, HA HA, it turns out that over 1/4 of the foals were not fathered by the head of the herd), mostly because they have a lot more choice in how to behave. For instance, a tiger can’t decide to become a vegetarian any more than an elk can decide to start following Atkins, but humans can. I think both men and women want to be romantically loved, and both want to be sexually adventurous, but in cultures where men hold a great deal more power than women, they have more opportunity to explore both, and women have little choice but to stay. In cultures where women have more power, they are much more likely to opt not to stay in such a relationship, and more willing to be open about the fact that they are also exploring options. But of course, there are always outliers, men and women who are each extremely promiscuos or extremely faithful by temperment, but much more importantly, whatever people are more inclined to do, we human have a lot more choice in what we DO do than any other species.

  • Ana

    May 21, 2009


    Those are some heavy questions that you posed. You went way over my head! Perhaps someone else here could answer your questions. Thank you for asking them.

  • CM

    May 21, 2009

    If the answer to the men question is yes, the billion dollar question would be "Why did God make men and women to be totally opposite in their emotional make up?"

  • CM

    May 21, 2009

    Ana, I think you have hit upon the million dollar question! Personally I think it is the emotional make-up of a woman that makes them want a man to love (romantic love) her and only her.

    The other million dollar question is Do you think the emotional make-up of a man makes them want to be polygamous?

  • Ana

    May 20, 2009

    In an article at allafrica.com – "Tanzania: Women and Polygamy – a Controversial Issue," I read the story of a young girl. She related the following:

    "I come from a polygamous family. I can definitely tell you that my experience has not been good. My father had five wives. It was always war among the co-spouses and it was also war among us the children, including the young ones who did not understand what was going on. There was always the suspicion that one wife was going to hurt the children of another wife. Even those of us who wanted to be friends could not. After my father died, the hell started and it is still going on.

    While I understand that polygamy was useful to our ancestors in the old days, the sort of society we have created today does not really allow it.

    There is mass poverty. Today many of us are concerned with having enough to eat.

    Moreover, polygamy can cause a lot of unnecessary pain to families. No matter how well parents manage the family, endless quarrels, rivalries and jealousies will always draw people apart."

    Do you think the emotional make-up of a woman makes her inherently opposed to a polygamous lifestyle, if not-what causes the opposition?