Polygamy –Plural Marriage in Islam…All you need to know.
Islam’s Position on Polygyny
The issue of Polygamy (man having more than one wife or a wife having more than one husband) in the Islamic context it is better to use the term ‘Polygyny as it is more accurate and refers to a man having more than one wife to a maximum of four at one time, providing one can meet the two conditions; 1.able to provide the basic necessities for all the wives and 2.spending time equally.
The normal protocol is to marry 2, 3, 4 but if one cannot be just in provision and time, than the man should marry just one. Allah said; ….then marry other women of your choice—two, three, or four. But if you are afraid you will fail to maintain justice, then ˹content yourselves with˺ one (Soorah Nisa; 3)
The Messenger of Allah sallal lahu alaihi wa sallam said; Anyone who has two wives inclines to one of them (with sharing of provision and time spent) will come on the Day of Resurrection with a side (of his body) hanging down”. Sunan Abu Dawood 2133 . Bulugh al-Maram 1067. Graded Hasan by Shaykh al-Albani in Al Targheeb wat Tarheeb 1949
This Sunnah is practiced in Muslim lands in Asia, Middle East, Africa. Other religious communities around the world also practice it. Many countries have made it a criminal offence if one marries more than one woman, hence the first wives of many Muslim man are registered and additional wives are not. The law however has no problem with a man having a wife and at the same time having as many mistresses and girlfriends one wants. Even marriage itself is prohibited until 16/18yrs of age for boys and girls. But, to fornicate before that age is overlooked, even encouraged with contraception. Hence, we have a high rate of teenage pregnancies and abortion rate, even in the Muslim communities.
The topic of marriage. The rights of Husband and wife. The rights of children. The conditions of an islamic home. Plural marriage, should all be discussed more often amongst youngsters and implanted in the mind, as it is the only way a male and a female in Islam who like each other can be together, only through the marriage contract. As we know they are bombarded with the issue of boyfriend and girlfriend, free mixing, love and sex all the time through the media, films and music. Just like drugs, gangsta way of life etc. All these are glamorised in the society. We are living in a hyper sexualised society.
Muslims are often accused of being promiscuous because polygamy is legal in Islam.
- Islam did not introduce polygamy. Unrestricted polygamy was practiced in most human societies throughout the world in every age. Islam regulated polygamy by limiting the number of wives and establishing responsibility in its practice.
2.Monogamy of the West inherited from Greece and Rome where men were restricted by law to one wife but were free to have as many mistresses among the majority slave population as they wished. In the West today, most married men have extramarital relations with mistresses, girlfriends and prostitutes. Consequently the Western claim to monogamy is false.
3.Monogamy illogical. If a man wishes to have a second wife whom he takes care of and whose children carry his name and he provides for he is considered a criminal, bigamist, who may be sentenced to years in jail. However, if he has numerous mistresses and illegitimate children his relation is considered legal.
4. Men created polygamous because of a need in human society. There is normally a surplus of women in most human societies.[ Russia: 46.1% male to 53.9% female; UK: 48.6% male to 51.5% female; USA: 48.8% male to 51.2% female; Brazil: 49.7% male to 50.27% female (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 17, pp. 34, 270, 244). Exceptions in China and India due to wide-spread infanticide on a national scale.] The surplus is a result of men dying in wars, violent crimes and women outliving men.[ According to the Center for Health Statistics, American women today can expect to live to be 77.9 years old, while men can only expect to live to 70.3] The upsurge in homosexuality further increases the problem. If systems do not cater to the need of surplus women it will result in corruption in society. Example, Germany after World War II, when suggestions to legalize polygamy were rejected by the Church. Resulting in the legalization of prostitution. German prostitutes are considered as workers like any other profession. They receive health benefits and pay taxes like any other citizen. Furthermore, the rate of marriage has been steadily declining as each succeeding generation finds the institution of marriage more and more irrelevant.
5. Western anthropologists argue that polygamy is a genetic trait by which the strongest genes of the generation are passed on. Example, the lion king, the strongest of the pack, monopolizes the females thereby insuring that the next generation of lion cubs will be his offspring.
- Institutional polygamy prevents the spread of diseases like Herpes and AIDS. Such venereal diseases spread in promiscuous societies where extra-marital affairs abound.
- Polygamy protects the interests of women and children in society. Men, in Western society make the laws. They prefer to keep polygamy illegal because it absolves them of responsibility. Legalized polygamy would require them to spend on their additional wives and their offspring. Monogamy allows them to enjoy extra-marital affairs without economic consequence.
- Only a minority will practice polygamy in Muslim society. In spite of polygamy being legal in Muslim countries, only 10-15% of Muslims in these countries practice polygamy. Although the majority of men would like to have more than one wife, they cannot afford the expense of maintaining more than one family. Even those who are financially capable of looking after additional families are often reluctant due to the psychological burdens of handling more than one wife. The family problems and marital disputes are multiplied in plural marriages.
- Conditions have been added for polygamy in many Muslim countries. For example, in Egypt, the permission of the first wife must first be obtained. This and similar conditions are a result of colonial domination. No woman in her right mind will give her husband permission to take a second wife. Such a condition, in fact, negates the permission given by God in the Qur’an.
- Others have accepted polygamy on condition that it not be for “lust”. That is, if the wife is ill, or unable to bear children, or unable to fulfill the husband’s sexual needs, etc., taking a second wife is acceptable. Otherwise it becomes “lust” on the husband’s part and is consequently not acceptable. The reality is that “lust” was involved in the marriage of the first wife. Why is it acceptable in the case of the first and not the second? As has already been pointed out, men are polygamous by nature. To try to curb it by such conditions will only lead to corruption in society.
- Feminists may object to this male right by insisting that women should also be able to practice polygamy. However, a woman marrying four husbands would only increase the problem of surplus women. Furthermore, no child would accept his or her mother identifying the father by the “eeny meeny miney mo” method. The question which remains is, “If God is good and wishes good for His creatures, why did he legislate something which would be harmful to most women?” Divine legislation looks at the society as a whole seeking to maximize benefit. If a certain legislation benefits the majority of the society and causes some emotional harm to a minority, the general welfare of society is given precedence.
For further reading, refer to; Polygamy in Islam by Dr Bilal Philips
The below interview is conducted by Emma Apple www.emmaapple.com
I’ve requested a few times for muslim sisters in polygamous marriages to approach me for an interview. I was delighted when I received an email from this sister and learned more about her story. Formerly a single mother and with no intentions of entering into a marriage like this she has become a gracious and beloved second wife to a brother who, from what I’m told, is doing his utmost to do it right and according to the example of the Prophet peace be upon him. Please read their story with an open mind and keep the discussion respectful.
Note about language: We have used the word ‘Polygyny‘ throughout the article because it more accurately describes the Islamic practice which is the allowance of more than one Wife but not more than one Husband (Polygamy on the other hand describes plural marriage of any kind) Also the sister (who will remain anonymous) has used several arabic-islamic words and phrases, I have translated most of them and intend to make a glossary of words for our readers that are not familiar with arabic-islamic terminology.
If you are a First, Third or Fourth wife who is interested in doing an anonymous interview about your experience, please contact us and tell me a bit about your story.
First jazaki Allahu khairun (may Allah reward you) for approaching me and sharing this intimate part of your life with our readers. Let’s start at the beginning, how did you come to be a second wife? Was it something you sought out or did your husband approach you?
As-Salam Alaikum. First I want to say that I am very pleased to have an interview with you about polygyny. Well, for this question, it will be a little hard to answer. The fact is that I was very much interested in him, but showed no sign. On the other hand, I am assuming he was not interested in me, or he was playing the same game and showed no sign. But, the fact was that there was a rumor that he refuses to marry anyone else who tried to because he was content with one wife. So, I just felt as a little girl with a crush which was eventually going to disappear.
One day, there was a misunderstanding in a statement I made, he took it the wrong way because that was just his desire (miraculously). I knew then he liked me back, so I suggested he goes to my Wali (male guardian) and he did the next day.
A lot of sisters question the husbands motives for marrying more than one wife. Without wanting to delve into anything too personal, what were the circumstances that led your husband to marry again?
Well, one thing I know is that he was very careful and didn’t want to marry for the wrong reasons and turned down many offers. So, to my understanding, I am assuming that children was one of the strongest issue. He has been married to his first wife for 6 years whom is older then him and they have no children and from how he is known in the community, he adores children and children adores him.
Still many sisters question the motives of a second wife, some sisters have even harshly compared second wives to mistresses. What do you have to say to those sisters?
My immediate response is to be careful what comes out of their mouths, they will be questioned about it. This is Islam. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) made it permissible. But, I strongly believe one of the reasons for such ignorance is the way some brothers go about doing it. The secrecy, the lies and deceit. Unfortunately, some of our Muslim brothers act like the people in Jahilliyah (the time of ignorance before Islam) What I mean by that, they would hide their second marriage, they would give the first wife more time and more money etc… Then, hey, what else can you call that? Alhamdullillah, I am known to be as special to my husband as his first wife is. I am no secret, he pays my rent just like he pays hers. So, my sisters, just get a brother who fears Allah to not go through feeling like a mistress.
From your point of view how do you think your husbands first wife dealt with your marriage?
Hummm!!! You see, my husband does not discuss it much. But what he did tell me once is that she was not too happy at first and refused to talk to me when I asked my husband to talk to her. I had a conversation with him on how it is his duty to make her feel secure and loved. He never really discussed that anymore and I never asked him either. What assured me that she is not ready to have a friendship with me is that she had a nice and respectful conversation with me once but extremely brief. But her niece who comes to the Masjid pretty often shows nothing but love and kindness towards me, offers me food and hugs. I also met her sister last week who was very nice to me as well.
You’ve talked a bit about how you see your co-wife to me before and I admired what you said, how do you feel about your co-wife and what efforts have you made to reach out to her?
Like I said, at first, before we even got married, I asked if I can talk to her and her answer was no, and that she doesn’t need to talk to me. After we got married, I kept insisting to my husband. He said its best to wait for the right time, maybe when she moves to the USA.
Before my husband left to visit her overseas, I insisted on sending her money and gifts because the Prophet (sallallahu aleihi wa salam) said gift giving draws hearts together. And I did. When my husband got there, I called her cell cause my husband gave it to me for emergencies until he gets his own cell phone. She answered. She was very brief but polite like I stated earlier.
Honestly, I was hurt. Very hurt. I wanted a relationship with her, but I guess she is not allowing it or is not ready yet. I am giving up trying and maybe it will get better when she comes to the States inshaAllah (God Willing)
What were your own views and feelings on polygany before your marriage and how have they changed since?
At the beginning, I swore by Allah I would never be involved in Polygyny. All the sisters and my wali knew how firm I was about that. It happened, I don’t know why. Now, I can say that my view is a little different. If your husband is fair and everyone involved fears Allah and won’t abuse the other one regardless of the jealousy that might occur, then it is perfect. This funny thoughts come to me sometimes, (smile), that he is a real man for being able to deal with 2 women, this makes me have a lot of respect for him.
There is plenty of benefits in it. I mean, if there is a reason for it, like if a wife can’t have kids, or if a sister is old and don’t have a husband or if a sister went through some kind of crisis and needs to have a husband etc…, then I am for it. I am against it only when brothers do it for the wrong reason. When they don’t do it fisabilllah (for the sake of Allah) When they do it only just because this sister looks good (but doesn’t have Taqwa (God-consciousness)).
What are your views on the roles and duties of a husband with multiple wives?
Simple- Equal financial treatment, equal time. The husband must also be able to fulfill the sexual desire of all his wives, not ever compare them (that would be an immense mistake) and not allow disrespect between them. The heart is a different issue. You cant help who you love more even though most women wish to win first place.
Again without wanting to ask too personal of a question, I understand your co-wife is in another country at the moment and your husband divides his time as best he can. What steps does your husband take to remain fair between his wives and keep things peaceful? How do you think this will change when you are living close by?
He is trying his best. He visits her for 3 months out of the year and she is in the process of moving to the States inshaAllah. He contacts her pretty often, not that he tells me, but women are smart. And also, because he contacts me 26 days out of 30 when he visits her. He would love to have total equal time, but for now, its just not possible financially.
I really don’t care about how it will be when she moves here, the most important thing is that she makes it here so she can get as much time as I am getting. I know my husband will not make us feel any different inshAllah, he is just a good man, a true blessing from Allah. More jealousy may occur between me and her, but I know we will not harm each other. I am not too worried about that.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing polygynous families and how has your family dealt with these issues?
Each family has their own issue. I am not sure on how I would describe that. But for his family, they love me and the ones who know her loves me and her. They are truly special and caring people. Even though his mom is not 100% in love with polygyny due to her own experience, but it is coming along fine. His dad loves me.
On my family side, they are really all Christians, and Allah knows Best about my mom. She took her Shahada (declaration of faith) but does not practice. My brother’s fiancee, I told. She had no problem with it. My brother overheard a Muslim brother say that to my husband on our walimah (wedding party), he really doesn’t care either. My mother was just digging to find out what was wrong with him since in her opinion all men are dogs, asked me the question once, and of course I could not lie. I switched the subject, went to the bathroom and came back to face the same question again. After her speech, entitled, “she knew something was wrong with him and that he could not be that nice”, I explained to her that I was the one keeping it a secret and that my husband actually wanted to tell them and he really did. Now, she loves him and they probably call and text each other more then once a day even with her limitation in English. So, it worked out fine.
You mentioned jealousy to me earlier, did you know that Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) was jealous of Khadija (Allah be please with her) because she was always the most beloved to The Prophet (peace be upon him) even after her death? Jealousy is normal I am sure, a tool of shaitan (the devil) perhaps. How do you cope with it and keep it from affecting you?
(Laughing out loud). I remind myself that I have no reason to feel jealous. He gives me no reason. It just drives me crazy to think sometimes that he doesn’t love me more then her just cause my mind tells me so. I want him to love me more and out of the blue one day, he was laughing and telling me he realized all women want to be loved more after coming from visiting her. This made me think that she is feeling the same way. Its pretty funny at times. But, what counts, he is a very nice person. He really loves my boys. He blushes when I tell him the boys say they love him. He loved them before I even imagined we were going to get married. He listens to me and cares when I am hurt. I never had that before. Right now, I am 6 months pregnant with his first child and he is very supportive and loving. He calls me precious and he once said that I am his diamond and he has to take care of it. What else do I need? Hearing that, and being treated like that, he can even love her more if he would like (smile).
MashaAllah that is wonderful! How do you think you would react to your husband taking a 3rd wife? What lessons from being a second wife do you think you could apply to that if ever faced with it?
I would NOT be happy if he takes another wife in the future. I think he should be satisfied cause I am having his kids since she couldn’t yet, so he should be satisfied. (Laughing out loud). Wrong, but that is how I feel and he laughs every time I say it by replying that I am doing the same thing his 1st wife was doing but he is not thinking about that, and Allah knows Best. But if it happens, I will respect her as I want to be respected by my co-wife and I will be patient inshaAllah but I would not encourage him at all in this matter.
There is so much I’m sure our readers would like to know, I hope I’ve asked at least some of the right questions. What advice do you have for women who may be entering into a polygynous marriage?
Do not enter a marriage thinking that you are going to take over. Its wrong. Respect your co-wife regardless how jealous you get. Be very sensitive towards her/them. Treat your husband well and most importantly, be Patient. Verily, Allah (SWT) loves the patient and we all want Allah to love us.
Any advice for first wives and husbands considering a second wife?
Depend on the situation. If you have a good marriage and he is fair, be patient and don’t assume that he doesn’t love you. There may be a reason fisabillillah (for the sake of Allah) he is doing it. Talk to him about how you feel. Remember this world is temporary and Allah tests us all the time. Be patient. Your husband may even love you more then you can imagine.
Finally, What would you like our readers to know about your situation and others like it? What misconceptions are out there that you’d like to address?
I want everyone to know that I have never been happier with a man before. He is truly a blessing from Allah and I can’t believe I found it in polygyny. There are a lot of misconceptions, it depends on the individuals involved. If you are doing the right thing, then it helps erase misconceptions. Mistresses don’t get equal time, mistresses are not known to everyone. Islam stops all these things that put a woman down. The Prophet’s (saw) wives were treated all equally even though he loved Aisha (ra) more. And if we claim we follow Islam, we must try our best to follow his Sunnah. Stop the deceitful things.
Emma Apple (also known as UmmHend) is a Kiwi Muslim Designer & Illustrator. Proud Mama to two awesome kids on the Autism Spectrum and the Founder, Editor and an Author here at Muslimas’ Oasis. You can also find Emma at www.emmaapple.com
Polygamy – Not my problem By Umm Zakiyya
“If you don’t want your husband to marry another woman,” the imams said, “then, reflect on the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). You should love for your sister what you love for yourself.”
I turned off the video and sipped my tea in the silence of the room. I had planned to watch the prominent imam’s entire lecture on the subject of plural marriage in Islam, but I couldn’t get past the first few minutes.
It wasn’t that I disagreed with his point. After all, it is true. If Muslim women who are already married think of a potential co-wife as a sister.
But is this mental shift really as simple as people make it sound?
Is it even realistic?
“What role do you think women play in polygamy?”
I had just arrived for a meeting at the home of a community leader and his wife when he asked me this question.
The inquiry took me off guard because it was unrelated to the subject of the meeting. He wasn’t asking about the details of women’s role in a Muslim marriage (He already knew that). He was asking what role they play in ensuring that a husband’s pursuit of subsequent life in plural marriage is successful and relatively uncomplicated.
“They don’t have one,” I said.
I could tell he hadn’t expected this response. Then again, I hadn’t either. But it was what I honestly felt.
Brows furrowed, he asked, “What do you mean?”
“She’s not the one taking another wife—he is,” I said. “So the burden is on his shoulders, not hers.”
“But don’t you think women have some responsibility in making it work?”
“No, I don’t.”
The shocked silence in the room made me realize I should clarify.
“I’m not saying she has no accountability to her co-wife,” I explained. “The co-wife is her sister in Islam, and she can’t violate her sister’s rights.”
I went on, “But what I mean is, beyond her normal duties when her husband is married to only her, her role doesn’t change when he marries someone else. But the husband’s role does change because he chose polygamy.”
He nodded, beginning to see my point.
“And when a man marries another woman,” I told him, “he must understand that his first wife will naturally be hurt and upset. But this comes with the package. And if he can’t handle this natural hurt and upset without blaming his wife or asking her to change, then he’s the one at fault. Women will be women,” I said with a shrug. “And if a man doesn’t fully accept what that means in reality, then he’s not ready for polygamy.”
I am saying is that whatever responsibility exists in making the Sunnah of polygamy work rests almost entirely with the man, who must engage in careful introspection, seeking advice, and making du’aa.
“But If You Fear…”
Though it has been many years since I had this conversation with the community leader, my views have not changed. If anything, they have become more resolute. And if there were any advice I would give to Muslim leaders who wish to tackle this topic with any success, it would be this: “Stop addressing women, and start addressing men.”
“And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].”—Al-Nisaa’, 4:3
“And when a man marries another woman,” I told him, “he must understand that his first wife will naturally be hurt and upset.
The more I reflect on this verse, the more I get a small glimpse into the infinite wisdom in these words. Specifically, five points stand out to me:
1- Allah is addressing only men in this verse.
2- No advice or instructions are given to women regarding plural marriage.
3- Allah is asking men to engage in careful introspection when determining whether or not to pursue polygamy.
4- The last part of the verse clearly implies that marrying more than one woman results in increased responsibility (and thus accountability) as opposed to marrying only one woman.
5- The last part also suggests that polygamy itself will be a challenge—so much so that Allah tells men outright that being married to only one increase the likelihood of the man being just to his wife.
No, I’m not suggesting under the guise of advice that “one is best for you” while secretly hoping that no man engages in this Sunnah.
Actually, in my heart of hearts, I do hope that men (at least the ones responsible and financially capable) find a way to make plural marriage work—with wives by their side who are both fulfilled and pleased. Otherwise, there will be an ever-growing list of single— never been married, widowed, and divorced—women denied the joys and blessings of an Islamic marriage.
But what I am saying is that whatever responsibility exists in making the Sunnah of polygamy work rests almost entirely with the man, who must engage in careful introspection, seeking advice, and making du’aa and Istikharah when making this difficult decision and subsequently living with its naturally challenging consequences.
It goes without saying (or at least it should go without saying) that if a man’s current wife doesn’t wish to be in polygamy, it is illogical to ask her to shoulder the responsibility of making successful something that she neither desires nor chose.
The real man is the one whose good treatment, patience, and understanding will inspire even the most reluctant and upset wife to stay with him—even as she may never like that polygamy is part of her life.
In other words, real men implement the Sunnah of being men.
Those women who seek to “love polygamy” often live in psychological and emotional turmoil as they deny themselves the right to hurt or even cry.
Will You Share Your Husband?
Time and time again I speak to women who have helped their husbands find another wife, supported their husband’s decision, or even made a habit of speaking or writing about the beauty of this Sunnah. Some have even gone as far as to share their home with a co-wife (something even I would not suggest or recommend).
Yet, despite Muslim women having gone over and beyond the call of duty in trying to overcome their natural dislike for sharing their husband…advice, lectures, and complaints by Muslim men on the subject of polygamy continue to focus on the actions and thoughts of women. It is always with the apparent goal of inspiring women to love the arrangement and relish in its blessings by giving their husbands “no problems” with the pursuit.
Ah… If only…
But the fact of the matter is that Allah created women with a natural reluctance and dislike for sharing their husbands.
When I speak to women struggling in polygamy, one of my first pieces of advice is to accept that polygamy is inherently difficult and painful for women. It’s not “supposed to” be enjoyable or desired, I tell them—even though this natural difficulty and pain does not preclude having a loving, fulfilling relationship with your husband though he’s married to someone else.
The real man is the one whose good treatment, patience, and understanding will inspire even the most reluctant and upset wife to stay with him.
Those women who seek to “love polygamy” often live in psychological and emotional turmoil as they deny themselves the right to hurt or even cry. They feel guilty for any resentment or emotional outbursts, and their husbands, unfortunately, often berate them for their struggles.
“This is the Sunnah,” their husbands may say, “so if you don’t love it, you have weak Iman,”—and, tragically, the wives believe them.
Ultimately, many of these women simply “break” and become so embittered and spiritually traumatized that they blame Allah or Islam for their misery—when neither Allah nor Islam asked them to “love polygamy” in the first place.
Be a man.
In my view, this summarizes the essence of the only advice men should give (and receive) regarding polygamy.
And, no, being a man doesn’t mean diving into polygamy while completely disregarding the first wife’s feelings. Sometimes, as we know from the famous story of Ali and Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with them), it may actually mean not pursuing polygamy at all. (Ali radhi Alluanhu did not pursue additional wives on advice of Rasool sallal lahu alaihi wa sallam that it will effect Fathima radhi Allahu anha’s feeling)
“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”— (Bukhari and Muslim)
Yes, women, like all believers, can benefit from reminders for their souls, and these reminders may or may not inspire them to accept polygamy in their lives.
Either way, women should love for their sisters what they love for themselves—as should men with their brothers.
But suggesting that this means a woman should accept polygamy and love for another woman to marry her husband is little different than suggesting that a man should accept divorce and love for his unmarried friend to marry and enjoy his beloved wife.
So, dear imams, let us ask men and women to focus on their own responsibilities and roles, not someone else’s.
And by the mercy of Allah, as a woman, polygamy is not one of mine.
This article is from our archive, originally published at an earlier date, and now republished for its importance.
By Umm Zakiyya aboutislam.net
Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy and the novels Realities of Submission and Hearts We Lost.
In conclusion; the male have been created in a way that they always want more women in their lives. It is not just for intimacy, but also importantly for companionship with a different person, character, personality, looks, appearance etc. It is a natural tendency for men. If a man was married to the most beautiful woman in the world, he would still want another. Before Islam, the number was unrestricted. Men married as many as they wished. Islam came and restricted the number and allowed a maximum of four wives at one time with the condition a husband can be just and fair with time and provision between the wives.
The Messenger of Allah sallal lahu alaihi wa sallam was given a special privilege to marry more than four women. For various reasons he married different women. Only Aesha, his third wife was a virgin. All the rest were either divorced or widowed. All of them are Mother of the Believers; Allah prohibited any man to marry them after the death of Prophet Muhammad sallal lahu alaihi wa sallam, they will be his wives in Paradise aswell. The Messenger of Allah sallal lahu alaihi wa sallam was not a multi-millionaire. He didn’t live in a palace, wore expensive clothes, ate fancy lavish food. Whatever he had he shared between his wives and family. He provided the basic necessity of food and accommodations. It has been reported that many days went by in his life where they only ate dates and water.
As for the female, they have been created in a way were if the husband loves her, respects and honours her. Takes care of her. Buys her gifts etc she is happy and content. As it relates to sharing her husband, It is also natural that any female will have jealousy and would not want to share their husband with another woman. This is perfectly fine. It is an individual choice, but should not lead to hating Allah’s legislation. Since Allah knows His creation better and has allowed it. A Muslim woman may be jealous, but if her husband insist in marrying more, than her jealousy should not lead to hatred for the co-wives. Or threatening behaviour towards the husband. Rather , she should be patient, tolerant, co-operate and work it out. In most cases those co-wives who are religous, knowledgeble, educated about the deen , including Plural marriage, come to accept these are sisters in the deen and become the best of friends.
If a wife cannot accept plural marriage for herself, then the husband may need to refrain in marrying more, so to keep the first family united and not wreck the first marriage and family, especially if there are children involved. He needs to use wisdom and patience. Why wreck the first marriage/family which you have built over the years? Also it is not wise to have a secret additional marriage, were a man does not tell either of the wives. Or tells the second but not the first. Naturally, the secret will come out, where he has been each night and he will be having to lie, which is prohibited.
Sister also needs to understand the need of the husband and his biological make up. Especially living in the West, in a hyper sexualised society. Many sisters have been influenced by the Hollywood/Bollywood movies and music, that one man, the ‘prince’ is the only man one should be satisfied with and not to ever share your man.
Whatever reason the husband wants to marry a second, third or fourth. Sisters should know that his love for her will always be unique and different from the love for the other wives. All are different to him as it relates to his love as he cannot control or has no control of his heart, but he is to be just and fair with time and provision. If he inclines towards one over the other, then it’s a big problem. Most men are not able to afford a second wife/family, so marrying in that situation will be unjust.
The Messenger of Allah sallal lahu alaihi wa sallam said; Anyone who has two wives inclines to one of them (with sharing of provision and time spent) will come on the Day of Resurrection with a side (of his body) hanging down”. Sunan Abu Dawood 2133 . Bulugh al-Maram 1067. Graded Hasan by Shaykh al-Albani in Al Targheeb wat Tarheeb 1949
Naturally, religious brothers think religious sisters should know this issue and to be accepting and accommodating. But not all sisters are the same even if they are religious, practising. Everyone has a different heart, level of knowledge, emaan and action.
Also the society and environment we are brought up in plays a heavy part in our thinking, mindset and outlook. A sister may accept everything of Islam, but plural marriage is difficult for her. She will accept the Sunnah of men marrying more than one, something that Allah loves and knows His creatures better than us so He allowed it. She has no problem with the legislation. But for herself, she cannot deal with being a co-wife. This is fine. Islam recognises that.
But education is what will give solace to her and looking at the lives of the Mother of the Believers and other Sahabiyya and our Salaf as-Salih from the females who openly accepted Allahs legislation on this issue and the needs of the husband. How they dealt with this issue and how accommodating they were, though the natural tendency of jealousy may have been present, but it did not lead to hatred.
The society we live in may prohibit plural marriage and prohibit marriage and not allow it, until one reaches 16 or 18yrs old, yet allows free mixing between gendas to take place in school, college, uni, work places and everywhere else. We see the celebrities having a new girlfriend every other month or marry and divorce within months. All because of free mixing. Comparing their partners, wifes, husbands personality, character and features, appearance with another person and seeing the defects. Never being satisfied.
If a boy and girl wants to get together, no one can stop them. Contraception and advice is given to them. If a girl is pregnant either abort the baby or the grandparents looks after the baby. Fornication and adulatory is widespread, hence various illnesses have appeared in the world. Rights of females are breached. Female are regarded as sex objects, just to satisfy mens desires and to sell products from cars to shampoo to chocolates.
The legislation of Allah is divine from the Creator for the benefit of humanity. God knows his creatures better than they know themselves. These laws have been revealed to protect the rights of everyone. Human intellect is limited. Real rights, justice, equality, peace, safety, security will only come about if we submit to divine legislation.
The wisdom behind the Prophet’s marrying more than four wives
Why did the Messenger sallal lahu alaihi wa sallam marry a number of women?
Praise be to Allah.
Allah’s wisdom is great, and part of His wisdom is that He has permitted men, in previous divine laws and in the sharee‘ah of our Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), to marry more than one wife. Plural marriage was not something done only by our Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). Ya‘qoob (peace be upon him) had two wives. Sulaymaan ibn Dawood (peace be upon him) had one hundred less one wives; he went around to all of them in a single night, hoping that Allah would bless each one of them with a boy who would fight for the sake of Allah.
This is not something that is limited to Islam and it is not contrary to reason or the natural inclinations of man; rather it is what wisdom dictates. Women are more numerous than men, according to what is indicated by ongoing statistics, and a man may have the strength that prompts him to marry more than one woman so as to fulfil his desires in permissible ways, instead of fulfilling them in haraam ways or suppressing them. A woman may fall ill or there may be reasons that prevent her from engaging in intercourse, such as menses and nifaas (post-partum bleeding); this prevents a man from fulfilling his desire with her, so he needs to have another wife with whom he can fulfil his desires instead of suppressing them or committing immoral actions. So plural marriage is permissible and is justifiable in terms of reason, natural human inclinations and laws. It is something that was done by the earlier Prophets and in some cases it may be dictated by necessity or need. So it should come as no surprise that this was done by our Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). And there are other reasons for his having several wives, which have been discussed by the scholars. These include the following:
- Strengthening the ties between him and some tribes, in the hope that this would make Islam stronger and help to spread it, because ties of marriage increase the bonds of friendship, love and brotherhood.
- Taking care of some widows and compensating them with something better than what they had lost, because this would bring peace of mind and consolation at times of calamity. It also set a precedent for the ummah of how to show kindness to those whose husbands were killed in jihad and so on.
- Hoping to increase the numbers of offspring, which is in accordance with human inclinations, increasing the numbers of the ummah and supporting it with those who it is hoped will support and spread the religion.
- Increasing the number of female teachers who would convey to the ummah what they had learned from the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and what they knew of his private life.
The motive for him having more than one wife was not mere desire, because it is proven that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) did not marry any virgin or young woman apart from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her). The rest of his wives were previously married women. If he had been controlled by his desires and that is what had motivated him to have many wives, he would have chosen young virgins in order to fulfil his desires, especially after he migrated and began to engage in jihad, and the Islamic state was established and the Muslims grew stronger and more numerous, in addition to the fact that every family would have welcomed ties through marriage with him. But he did not do that; rather he married for noble and sublime reasons, which are clear to anyone who studies the circumstances of his marriage to each of his wives.
Moreover, if he had been a man driven by desires, that would have been known from his life during the days when he was young and strong, at which time he had only one wife, Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid, who was older than him. (If he had been a man driven by desires), he would also have been known to show favouritism and be unfair in dividing his time among his wives, who varied in their ages and degree of beauty. But he is known only to have been completely chaste and honourable in his conduct, both in his youth and when he grew older, which is indicative of his complete decency and sublime character, and his upright nature in all his affairs. In fact he was well-known for that even among his enemies.
And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.
Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Qa‘ood, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan
Fataawa al-Lajanah ad-Daa’imah, 19/171-173
Wives of the Prophet