By Robert Spencer, www.FrontPageMagazine.com
Myra Morton turned herself in on a Thursday. Police say she shot her husband, Jereleigh, to death the previous Sunday as he lay in his bed in their home near Philadelphia.
The Mortons converted to Islam in the 1980s. Jereleigh Morton had recently taken a second wife in Morocco: Zahra Toural, 35. (The first Mrs. Morton is 47). According to the police, Jereleigh Morton met Zahra in December 2006, on the Internet, and got married in Morocco last March. This made Myra Morton unhappy. She complained to friends that Jereleigh was no longer paying attention to her, but she felt as if she had to approve of his marriage to Zahra since it was sanctioned by Islamic law and it was what Jereleigh wanted. She wrote in her diary: I go give him the permission, because he argues with me when I protest this marriage. She even went to Morocco, according to police investigators, to sanction it under Islamic law.
Yet at the same time, she wrote to the State Department, urging officials not to allow Zahra Toural into the United States, and accusing her of terrorist ties. Evidently, however, this letter had no effect, and in any case it couldnt prevent Jereleigh from traveling to Morocco. So Myra Morton, desperate and deeply hurt, found a different solution that Sunday.
It is never easy for the first wives. Adile Sultan, the daughter of the 19th century Ottoman reformer Mahmud II, was married to Mehmed Ali Pasha, an army officer. One day Adile Sultan traveled to a mosque far from her home. She stopped for a rest at a mansion that was on the way. The hostess, who was unknown to her, offered her coffee and sherbet — and introduced herself proudly as the wife of Mehmed Ali Pasha.
Adile Sultan was shocked. And her life was never the same. Thereafter, says historian Phillip Mansel, she lived in seclusion, writing poems of increasing sadness. When she died in 1898, she was buried beside her husband. They never referred to his infidelity.
This is the story of just one woman, but it doesnt take much knowledge of human nature to recognize that its a story that has been repeated and is still being repeated the world over. Whenever women in the Islamic world have dared to speak about polygamy, the story is the same. Halide Elib, a proto-feminist in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, said flatly that polygamy was a curse, a poison which our unhappy household could not get out of its system…The constant tension in our home made every simple ceremony seem like physical pain, and the consequences hardly ever left me. The rooms of the wives were opposite each other and my father visited them in turn…
A twenty-first century American Muslim wife felt the same way. April Ray El-Hage, wife of convicted Al-Qaeda terrorist Wadih El-Hage, successfully resisted her husbands attempts to take a second wife. She couldnt, of course, deny that he had a right to marry again to do so would have been by her own account un-Islamic. But here again, her heart was greater than her religion. With an innate sense that polygamy was wrong, she fought back the only way she could: I made his life hell…I was becoming a real b—-. It took six months for Wadih El-Hage to relent, but April Ray ultimately won: her husband broke off his engagement to his second wife.
Myra Morton was not so fortunate. Infidelity doesnt justify murder (except in country music songs), however, it isnt hard to sympathize with her despair and pain. Still, on the question of polygamy, as on all instances of Islamic oppression of women, feminist groups maintain a stony silence.
Is that because polygamy is a remote problem, having nothing to do with American women? According to AP, CAIRs Ibrahim Hooper said that a minority of Muslims take second wives, and that Islamic scholars would differ on whether one could do so while living in the United States. How large a minority? Do these Islamic scholars take into account the fact that polygamy is illegal according to the laws of the United States?
Polygamy, in which women are regarded as chattel, is a human rights issue. But since it involves the avowal that Western civilization is more humane in this regard than Islamic civilization, dont expect human rights groups to be taking it up anytime soon. For, as I discuss in my new book Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isnt, the West is consumed with self-hatred and moral equivalence at precisely the time when Judeo-Christian civilization and values are facing a life-or-death challenge, and when Western countries should therefore be reasserting the fundamental goodness of their common civilization. After all, values that originated in a Judeo-Christian context are now accepted the world over, except in the areas where the sharp Islamic dichotomy between believers and unbelievers, and the idea that women are inferior beings created to serve men, supplant the idea of the equality of dignity of all people.
For the West to defend its heritage and values would go a long way toward delineating the nature of the present conflict still cloudy six years after 9/11 and giving people the will to resist sharia and Islamization initiatives. But the dominance of multiculturalism and political correctness ensure that this defense is not on the horizon. The sad case of Myra Morton is only the latest example of the human cost of this failure of will and courage.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.