Although polygamy is legal in Malaysia, it is rarely practiced in the open or with the knowledge and approval of all the wives involved in such a relationship. However, one company in the country – Global Ikhwan – only employs women, who view polygamy as the integral element of “the Islamic way of life.” Global Ikhwan is a Malaysia-based multinational company associated with the banned Al-Arqam Islamic sect, whose founder Ashaari Mohammad was once held under the Internal Security Act. The enterprise employs 4,000 people worldwide through its complicated network of subsidiaries, operates restaurants, clothing shops, noodle factories and health clinics – just to name a few. It also runs its own schools, care homes and rehabilitation centres.
Since the banning of the sect in 1994, some activities funded by the company have attracted widespread media attention and criticism. In 2012 for example, the female employees of Global Ikhwan established the Obedient Wives Club – a move seen by the authorities as an attempt to revive the sect. The Club encouraged women to act “like first class whores” in order to keep their husbands from straying.