Thursday, September 27, 2007

Polygamy in ISLAM- Explained

The post will talk about

  1. Polygamy( man with more than one wife)

  2. Conditions for Polygamy

  3. Misuse by the ignorant people

  4. Polyandry( a woman with more than one husband)

The overwhelming majority of Muslims are monogamous, that is, they have only one wife. The fact that few Muslims have more than one wife has become a matter for propaganda against Islam and such propaganda can give misleading impression of the Islamic way of life. This is especially so when it is non-practicing Muslims who are highlighted on the issue of being married to more than one wife.

Islam allows restricted polygamy, that is, marriage to more than one woman, to the maximum of four. The normal Muslim practice is monogamy, that is, one man married to one wife. Polygamy is the exception.

The Quran has imposed strict conditions for marrying several wives. “Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one."(4:3).

This verse says that to marry more than one woman, a man must be able to be fair and just to each of them. If he is not able to be so, he should marry only one wife.

Note: (4:3) implies 4th chapter, Verse number 3 of the Holy Quran.

Another verse of the Quran says, “You will not be able to deal fairly between your wives, however much you wish. Yet do not turn completely aside (from one) so that you leave another in suspense, if you maintain proper conduct and do your duty. Allah is ever forgiving and Merciful. ” (4:129).

This further emphasizes fair treatment.

But in special circumstances Islam allows polygamy. These situations are:

  • When a wife is barren and cannot bear children, but the husband wants children. It is better to have a second wife than to divorce the barren one. But the barren wife has the option to seek separation from her husband if she wishes, on grounds of 2nd marriage of his husband.

  • If the first wife is chronically ill and she is unable to carry out her marital and household duties, the husband may marry another woman and so help restore family peace.

  • Polygamy may be the solution to the problems of a society which has more women than men. This happens especially after war. The verse in the Quran allowing more than one wife was revealed after the battle of Uhud in which many Muslim men were martyred.

Carefully look at the importance of first two points. In non-Islamic society, such an unfortunate woman is mostly looked down and cursed upon, and it allows the husband to dump or mistreat the first wife and marry another woman. In the process there is no moral binding over the husband to look over the welfare of the 1st wife. There is no accountability. Even his family and the society will be by his side. This is polygamy without Islamic condition of fair and just treatment.

Whereas, in Islamic society, which talks about polygamy with fair treatment, the foremost condition to marry is that there should be fair and just treatment of the wives, thus the husband cannot be unjust to his 1st wife. The husband has fear of Allah. Also the community and family will ensure the 1st wife is given due importance and respect.

But today, in some of the poor Muslim countries, some poor men still practice polygamy. What benefit would it really serve the society and Islam for a person to bring more illiterate and starving kids into this world? I honestly believe Allah Almighty will hold accountable every man who practices polygamy. Poor men practicing polygamy don't provide fairness to the newly born kids and to the economically crippled society, and certainly not to their wives either. Allah Almighty clearly demanded that we be fair and think thoroughly before having multiple wives. He clearly encouraged just having one wife.

But if a rich guy practices polygamy the way some of the oil rich Gulf-Arab multi billionaires practice it; by marrying and divorcing on Thursdays which ensures that he never exceeds four women, and at the same time he always experiences new sexual pleasure with a new woman every week, then believe me Allah Almighty will damn him really bad in the Day of Judgment, because this is not the spiritual point from allowing polygamy in the Holy Quran!

I think practicing polygamy among those who can afford it really depends on the individual case. If the man's wife strongly opposes to polygamy to a point that she would seek a divorce, then obviously he can never satisfy her, and most probably can never be fair enough with her because he would be always fighting and arguing with her, where it may not be the case with the other wife. So destroying a marital life and damaging the kids for a personal reason is really not fair by itself.

In Western society, it is common for a man to have mistresses and/or multiple extra-marital affairs, in which case, the woman leads a disgraceful, unprotected life. The same society, however, cannot accept a man having more than one wife, in which women retain their honourable, dignified position in society and lead a protected life.

Thus the only two options before a woman who cannot find a husband is to marry a married man or to become public property (or lead an unprotected life). Islam prefers giving women the honourable position by permitting the first option and disallowing the second.

Islam strictly forbids any sexual relationships outside marriage. Having more than one wife is better and more dignified than having a number of mistresses. There is no such thing as a mistress in Islamic society. Islam has given dignity to women by marriage and has protected them from the exploitation of greedy and selfish men.

There are several other reasons, why Islam has permitted limited polygyny, but it is mainly to protect the modesty of women.


Having more than one husband by a woman is forbidden in Islam. It creates problems rather than solve them.


If a man is allowed to have more than one wife, then why does Islam prohibit a woman from having more than one husband?



A lot of people, including some Muslims, question the logic of allowing Muslim men to have more than one spouse while denying the same ‘right’ to women.

Let me first state emphatically, that the foundation of an Islamic society is justice and equity. Allah has created men and women as equal, but with different capabilities and different responsibilities. Men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically. Their roles and responsibilities are different. Men and women are equal in Islam, but not identical.

Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verses 22 to 24 gives the list of women with who you can not marry and it is further mentions in Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verse 24 "Also (prohibited are) women already married"

The following points enumerate the reasons why polyandry is prohibited in Islam:

1. If a man has more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified. The father as well as the mother can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father. Islam gives tremendous importance to the identification of parents, mother and father. Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, especially their father undergo severe mental trauma and disturbances. Often they have an unhappy childhood. It is for this reason that the children of prostitutes do not have a healthy childhood. If a child born of such wedlock is admitted in school, and when the mother is asked the name of the father, she would have to give two or more names! I am aware that recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified with the help of genetic testing. Thus this point which was applicable for the past may not be applicable for the present.

2. Man is more polygamous by nature as compared to a woman.

3. Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. A woman undergoes several psychological and behavioral changes due to different phases of the menstrual cycle.

4. A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is not the case in a man having more than one wife, and none of them having extra-marital sex.

The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. There are probably many more reasons why Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has prohibited polyandry.

More from an Orkut Friend, DANIAL ALI, PAKISTAN.

1) why islam didnt allow women to have multiple husbands

the answer to the question is that of common sense...

a) if a woman was having sex with multiple husbands then how would the father be known (dna tests have only been developed recently)

b) lets say a woman has 3 husbands and all of them want a child at the same time. how would that be possible?? a man can impregnate his 3 wives at the same time and hence fulfill their desire cos theoretically a man can father hundreds of children in a year but a woman, only one.. also multiple husbands would mean most of the womans time spent in making babies for husbands. its for these reasons that multiple marriages for a woman would make no sense and thats the reason islam didnt allow it.

1 comment:

M Wasim said...


وَلۡيَسۡتَعۡفِفِ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَجِدُونَ نِكَاحًا حَتَّىٰ يُغۡنِيَہُمُ ٱللَّهُ مِن فَضۡلِهِۦ‌ۗ وَٱلَّذِينَ يَبۡتَغُونَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ مِمَّا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُكُمۡ فَكَاتِبُوهُمۡ إِنۡ عَلِمۡتُمۡ فِيہِمۡ خَيۡرً۬ا‌ۖ وَءَاتُوهُم مِّن مَّالِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّذِىٓ ءَاتَٮٰكُمۡ‌ۚ وَلَا تُكۡرِهُواْ فَتَيَـٰتِكُمۡ عَلَى ٱلۡبِغَآءِ إِنۡ أَرَدۡنَ تَحَصُّنً۬ا لِّتَبۡتَغُواْ عَرَضَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا‌ۚ وَمَن يُكۡرِههُّنَّ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ إِكۡرَٲهِهِنَّ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬ (٣٣)

(24:32 and 33) And marry those among you who are single (i.e. a man who has no wife and the woman who has no husband) and (also marry) the Sâlihûn (pious, fit and capable ones) of your (male) slaves and maid-servants (female slaves). If they be poor, Allâh will enrich them out of His Bounty. And Allâh is All-Sufficent for His creatures' needs, All-Knowing (about the state of the people). (32)

And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allâh enriches them of His Bounty. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), give them such writing, if you find that there is good and honesty in them. And give them something (yourselves) out of the wealth of Allâh which He has bestowed upon you. And force not your maids to prostitution, if they desire chastity, in order that you may make a gain in the (perishable) goods of this worldly life. But if anyone compels them (to prostitution), then after such compulsion, Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to those women, i.e. He will forgive them because they have been forced to do this evil act unwillingly). (33)

(Quran Explorer...Translation of Dr. Mohsin)

The Quran Claims;

[4:82] Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than GOD, they would have found in it numerous contradictions.

So Please read and study Ayat 4:1 4:2 and 4:3.....AGAIN.....
IF Allah has really given permission to have multiple marriages...then those women are amongst the ORPHANS... under conditional circumstances, ONLY!!!