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 Polygamy in Islam

Why does Islam allow men to have four wives?


Islam allows men to have four wives; however Islam recommends them to have “only one wife”

Quran states that:
“And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.” (Surah al Nisa: 3)

Polygamy is not a command, it is permission

As understood from the ayah, marriage of more than one wife is not a” command of Islam”; it is a “permission of Islam”. In other words, it is not an obligation that all Muslims have to obey; it is a permission that can be used in compulsory situations. 

However, if a man wants to use this permission, he has to watch out for justice and equality in every issue amongst his wives.

In Islam, a man who has more than one wife is obliged to act fairly by them in every issue. He has to stay with them in rotation. While he stays with one, he can’t go to his other wife without her permission. All wives of the man; no matter young or old; beautiful or ugly have the same rights, so he has to be equal to all of them without segregating. None of his excuses are valid. He has to behave all of them equally in feeding, dressing, dwelling and attitude. (Fiqh History and Islamic Law)

Besides, polygamy is a heavy responsibility on the male.

The man who will not be able to watch out justice amongst his wives is responsible before Allah (swt) and will be judged because of his unfair attitudes and behaviors on the Day of Judgment.
Narrated in a hadith;
“If a man has two wives but does not act fairly by them, he comes to the day of judgment as having paralysis on his one side. “ (Tac Interpretation) 

Some conditions may make polygamy a necessity

Polygamy provides a solution to some of life's problems.
As is known, “getting divorce” is not a required action. However, some conditions may make it a necessity for spouses. Islam allows spouses to get divorce under some conditions, but it isn’t a “compulsory”, it is“permission”. Our Prophet (pbuh) states that "The most hateful permissible thing (al-Halal) in the sight of Allah is divorce." (Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah). This permission doesn’t mean that Islam appreciates and encourages getting divorced; it means that if the conditions require divorce, spouses are allowed to do it.
It is the same with “polygamy”. Under some conditions, it may be a solution, even a necessity to solve social problems. For example, after a devastating war, there will be probably a shortage of men and many women will lose their husbands and will have to deal with extremely hard life conditions all alone. In this case, polygamy is the best way to protect the vulnerable and lonely women and best solution to prevent adultery and corruption, but of course it is upto the woman’s preference; she is free to choose to live alone. Or there may be some personal problems, for example the wife can’t have a baby although her husband desires or has some health problems that obstruct her duties to her husband. In this situation, wife may prefer a second marriage for her husband rather than getting divorced or being exposed to be deceived.
Therefore, polygamy is not a rule to apply any time; it is an exceptional precaution to apply under special circumstances. Since Islam is not a religion just caring the personal life but it is a life system that regulates and provides the pleasure of both social and personal life; it has to consider and provide solutions for all circumstances of life. A life system which does not offer solutions for any situations cannot last long.

Islam has not increased the number of wives that a man can marry to four; it has reduced it from forty to four

Islam Sharia has two kinds of rulings:
First part is the part of rules which Islam makes and legislates.
For example “zakah” is in this part of rules. Before Islam, there wasn’t a zakat concept. Islam has made “zakat” law to provide the association and cooperation between the poor and the rich and to maintain the prosperity and unity in the society.
The second part is the rules which Islam has made to modify a bad situation. By these laws, Islam amends evil, brutal and atrocious situations that existed before. Even though these laws may seem bad, they are the best that may exist amongst the evils.
Polygamy is one these rules. Before Islam, in the era of ignorance, men could used to marry to 25 and 30 women. They never gave importance to women and many of them even did not officially marry them; they just used women for their desires and personal services. Women were nothing more than servants without having any rights.
In such a situation, Allah (swt) revealed laws which are the best for the disposition of people. The habits which had been lasting for years have not been changed suddenly; they have been transformed into the best situation with the everlasting mercy. Because, the most difficult and the hardest thing for a person and a society is to give up his habits which he has been addicted for a long time. So, Islam has not forced that society which has been used to polygamy for many years to monogamy, but it has forbid the unjust and brutal situation that they applied on women and amended the polygamy by decreasing it to maximum four. Besides, it has stated the rights of women and declared many responsibilities and conditions for those who wanted polygamy. Thus, Islam has preserved the rights of women which have been neglected for centuries. (The Value and the Rights of Women) Kaynak: http://askaquestionto.us - Polygamy in Islam

Another question about this topic:

If I give permission to my husband for second wife, would God reward me for this extremely painful situation? Kaynak: http://askaquestionto.us - Polygamy in Islam



Actually, since Islam gives permission for the second wife, a husband does not have to get her first wife’s permission. Nevertheless it is better for him to choose monogamy to watch out justice and preserve her first wife’s love and respect. However, everybody, including wives who accept and endure polygamy although they are not pleased, will be rewarded for their patience in the face of unpleasant situations

It is stated in plenty of hadiths and ayahs that Allah (swt) will reward the steadfast with jannah

Patience which is mentioned in the Holy Quran over then 70 times means “to submit the compulsory situations that are contrary to the human nature and to endure the hardships. The purpose of being patience is not to be anxious in the face of hardships of unexpected situations, not to panic and to persevere. Allah (swt) gives glad tidings to the patient and praises them in the holy Quran and in the hadiths:

“Say: O My bondmen who believe! Observe your duty to your Lord. For those who do good in this world there is good, and Allah's earth is spacious. Verily the steadfast will be paid their wages without stint.” (Surah al Zumar, 10)

“O ye who believe! Seek help in steadfastness and prayer. Lo! Allah is with the steadfast.” (Surah al Baqara, 153)

And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast.” (Surah al Baqara, 155)

"No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that."  (Bukhari; Patience; 545) Kaynak: http://askaquestionto.us - Polygamy in Islam


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sultana noor said on "6.11.2011 00:11" :
I known that polygamy is allowed in islam but personally l find it unacceptable. Some men do it just for fun few men have good reason to have another wife.
Ahmed Sedat said on "6.16.2011 17:44" :
In my opinion,  the sentence "polygamy is not a rule to apply any time; it is an exceptional precaution to apply under special circumstances" explains the issue clearly and the ayah "ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice" recommends the way of justice. so  you may find people who abuse it unacceptable , but I don't think you can tell the same for Islam.
perod said on "7.26.2011 16:07" :
You shall not commit adultery-Musa.
Maryam said on "3.18.2012 14:54" :
I believe Sisters in Islam have to be respected in the same way they respect their husbands. All the arguments of wars, overpopulation or even financial support are not anymore reasonable at this time! If the woman has to hold back her jealousy, then the man can do the same with his needs...

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