New Books Network

In her wonderful new book Polygyny: What it Means When African American Muslim Women Share Their Husbands (University Press of Florida, 2015), Debra Majeed,...

In her wonderful new book Polygyny: What it Means When African American Muslim Women Share Their Husbands (University Press of Florida, 2015), Debra Majeed, Professor of Religious Studies at Beloit College, provides an analytically robust and moving account of the aspirations, paradoxes, and problems attached to polygyny in the African American Muslim community. By combining ethnography, history, and performance studies, Majeed seamlessly weaves together the theological, legal, and sociological dynamics of living polygyny. Readers of this book are treated to a riveting and incredibly lucid portrayal of a complicated phenomenon that brings together intimate individual stories and the broader historical and societal conditions that generate those stories in a remarkably effective fashion. In our conversation, we talked about the idea of Muslim Womanism, the methodology of dialogical performance, the Qur’an and polygyny, the paradoxes of polygyny, Imam W.D Mohammed’s teachings on polygyny, and the emotional and psychological impact of polygyny n children and women. This is among those rare books that are at once methodologically exciting and complex and yet astonishingly accessible and well written. Polygyny should also make an excellent reading in courses on gender and Islam, Islamic law, American Islam, and American Religion more broadly.