Studying for a PhD in engineering at Cambridge, she might not seem like a prime candidate to enter into a polygamous marriage.
But that is what Nabilah Phillips did, dropping out of university to become the second woman married to businessman Hasan Phillips who has since acquired a third wife.
Yesterday it emerged that Mrs Phillips, from North London, is among thousands of Muslim women entering into such relationships which are illegal in the UK but allowed under sharia law which permits men to have four wives.
Nabilah Phillips dropped out of Cambridge to become one of three women married to businessman and charity worker Hasan Phillips, 32
A new television documentary, The Men with Many Wives, exposes the rise in these unions – of which there are believed to be as many as 20,000 in Britain – and the dating agency, Muslim Marriage Event, responsible for setting many of them up.
Having already been through a divorce Mrs Phillips, 35, originally from Malaysia, signed up to a similar matrimony service specifically looking for a married man.
She told the programme: ‘I was looking for someone who had been married or was already in a marriage.
‘I was married before and having gone through one divorce, you kind of know what you want in marriage, so I wanted someone who already knows how to be a husband.
‘I really enjoy being in a polygamous relationship. We are not stupid people who are forced into this type of relationship.’
Through the service she signed up to she met 32-year-old Mr Phillips – also divorced but re-married to City worker Sakinah, 33, – and decided to abandon her studies to become his second wife.
The wives occasionally meet when Mr Phillips, who as well as being a businessman also works for a charity aiming to spread the word of Islam, organises family outings.
Nabilah Phillips said: ‘If any problem happens between co-wives it’s usually his fault. Praising somebody too much. “Why don’t you be more like her, she’s this, she’s that”. If he didn’t say that, we would all be happy.’
She has two children with Mr Phillips, who has six in total, and helps to run his import-export business. But abandoning her high-flying academic career was not her only change after she married. She also began wearing the Muslim veil, the niqab.
She told Radio Times: ‘I wanted to wear one before I got married – being married to Hasan has given me the opportunity to wear one and be steady at it. The only prejudice I have met so far has been from other Muslims.’
During filming Mr Phillips, who converted to Islam from Christianity when he was 16, marries a third woman, Somalia-born Anub, 41.
He did not invite his other two wives to the small ceremony, held at the local mosque, saying: ‘I don’t think it would be right to invite them. Even though they are accepting of polygamy, you don’t want to really rub it in their faces, “Look, I’m getting married”, and expect them to be happy and have a party about it.’
Each wife lives in a separate house in London and Mr Phillips spends three nights in each home before moving on to the next.
The programme, to be broadcast at 10pm next Wednesday on Channel 4, also speaks to Mizan Raja, who claims to have more than 50,000 clients on the books of Muslim Marriage Event, which appears to facilitate polygamous marriages.
He said the popularity of such arrangements is driven by the women who are having difficulty finding a husband, and admits that while these women are looking for security, many of the men have baser motives.
He said: ‘Most men who want to do polygamy, probably 80 per cent, it’s a sexually driven thing.’
Source: Daily Mail