1. Boy sees girl.
2. Boy pesters girl's wali.
3. Boy meets girl.
4. Boy woos girl.
5. Boy marries girl.
That seems simple enough, right? But let's start complicating it. Boy is married--let's call him Zayd. The girl knows--let's call her Zaynab. The wife (we'll just call her Zayd's wife) knows her husband is courting a second wife, even over her objections. At some point between steps 4 and 5, let's say 4.5, all parties--Zayd, his wife, his children, and Zaynab--all meet to discuss the situation. Naturally Zayd's wife still objects but is given very little say in the matter.
Zaynab is easily wooed by Zayd, accepts the notion of polygyny and is even convinced of Zayd's capacity to be fair and just between wives. After a few weeks of intense courtship, Zayd and Zaynab get married at the spur of the moment, with the consent of Zaynab's wali of course, but in privacy with respect to the rest of the community. Thereafter, Zaynab proceeds to introduce the man to her friends, inquiring as to their opinion of her new husband.
Now, doesn't it seem more logical to petition one's friends for opinions before contracting the marriage? I'm not a fan of overly long engagements myself, and to publicize an engagement which is not certain can be difficult for some couples, if they decide in the end to not get married. But somehow, "Surprise, we got married today!" doesn't seem like the right course.
If the thought "Did Zayd tell his wife about the marriage?" is going through your head, I'm sorry to tell you the answer is "Not yet." And when asked when he planned to tell her, he said "In three days." What is the significance of three days, I wonder? I'm still wondering.
I sometimes gauge how appropriate an activity might be by how much I wish to keep it to myself--the inherent shame associated with it is a kind of guide suggesting that it is probably not a good thing. And if a marriage has to be kept secret at the beginning--from friends, family, spouses--then is it really such an occasion for joy?
And if considering someone for marriage, why not introduce the person beforehand? Why not ask, before signing the contract, what other people think?
Because for me, "Surprise, we got married today!" followed by, "What do you think?" with a coy wink seems to only engender the following response, "You didn't seem to want to know before, and I doubt you'd appreciate what I think right now." After all that skirting around, my opinion is far from favorable.