Holy matrimony?: The print politics of polygamy in Indonesia

Publication year

See the section on Ayat Ayat Cinta by El Shirazy.

As much controversy as the novel and the film have generated over the theme of polygamy, though, the novel is not really about polygamy, nor even necessarily an endorsement of polygamous marriage. Rather, it is about faith and morality and duty—specifically, how one should practice Islamic morality and ethics in a complex world. Fahri, a model of Muslim character, is portrayed as someone who would probably prefer to keep himself confined to a simple life of Islamic scholarship and an uncomplicated, happy marriage to one woman. However, he is thrust into a world where difficult decisions must be made and where his faith is constantly being tested—a world where there is hatred and suspicion based on the identity politics of religion and nationality; false accusations and harsh treatment in jail; the adoration of multiple women whose love cannot possibly be returned; and a Christian neighbor and friend who will surely die if he will not marry her even though he is already happily married. Fahri must navigate the uncertain waters of these circumstances and yet establish himself as someone who is unwavering in his faith. (226-227)