TheStar.com | GTA | GTA's secret world of polygamy:
"Polygamy is happening in Toronto; it's not common, but it's happening," said Hindy, imam at Salahuddin Islamic Centre.
Hindy, hardly a stranger to controversy, is well known for his friendship with the family of Omar Khadr, the young Canadian detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and his outspoken views on the implementation of Islamic law. In the past five years, Hindy said he has officiated or "blessed" more than 30 polygamous marriages; the most recent was two months ago. Even some imams in the GTA have second wives, he added.
"This is in our religion and nobody can force us to do anything against our religion," he said. "If the laws of the country conflict with Islamic law, if one goes against the other, then I am going to follow Islamic law, simple as that."
Those who condone the practice rarely let their views be known, and those who practise it themselves tend to do so in secret, making it difficult to record how many such marriages have taken place in the GTA. Equally hard to determine is how many polygamous families have immigrated to the country, despite a 2005 report commissioned by the federal Status of Women that tried to find out the extent of polygamy and its implications.
But conducting such unions in clear violation of Canadian law is wrong, according to Syed Mumtaz Ali, president of the Canadian Society of Muslims, who speaks frequently on polygamy issues.
"Muslims should not enter into polygamy while they are living in Canada, because the local Canadian law prevails. It overrules the Islamic law if there is a conflict between the two," he said.
Under the Criminal Code, polygamy was deemed a crime in 1892. Those who enter into reside in, or officiate a polygamous union can be charged with a criminal offence and face up to five years in prison.
But the last time polygamy was prosecuted in Canada was more than 60 years ago. Fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful, in southeastern British Columbia, have managed to get away with openly practising polygamy, believed to be an integral and necessary part of their faith, since the 1940s with little legal recourse."