Ethnology: An International Journal of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Vol 47, No 3 (2008)

POLYGYNY IN ISLAMIC LAW AND PUKHTUN PRACTICE

Charles Lindholm

Abstract


The Pukhtun of Swat in Northern Pakistan refer to Islam to justify their practice of polygamy and female subordination. However, Islamic law is far more egalitarian than Pukhtun practice. Using case studies and statistical evidence, this article argues that husbands in Swat take second wives mainly in a spirit of revenge, reflecting the endemic hostility between spouses that exists within this strongly patriarchal segmentary lineage organization in which romantic love is ideally reserved for chaste extramarital relationships. An ideology of the primacy of paternal blood underlies the misogynistic attitudes characteristic of Swat, and prevalent elsewhere in the Middle East and the Circum-Mediterranean region. (Polygyny, Islamic law, patriarchy, misogyny)

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