So I have just had a discussion with some of my friends.
And they raised an issue that is often the heated topic of choice in many ‘girl talk’ sessions.
Should a man be allowed to have more than one wife. Islamically.
If you were a woman, whose husband wanted a second wife, would you agree?
What would you say? What would you think?
Islamically, what is the ruling on this.
A hot topic, yes?
It is also one of the favourite topics Non-Muslims use to highlight the supposed ‘neathanderal’ attitudes of Islamic culture.
In any case, here are the some of the issues we talked about. (Using a fictional discussion amongst fictional characters of course 😉 )
Three girls sat around the kitchen table having coffee, and a much needed catch up session. The topic of Polygamy in Islam comes up.
Aisha: I WOULD NEVER ALLOW MYSELF TO BE A SECOND WIFE. Never. Ever. Ever. I would die before I let that happen. I would leave him. I would not stand for it. Ever.
Hajra: Well, aren’t you Muslim though?
Aisha: Well Of course I am.
Hajra: In that case, in Surat Nisa it says:
“… marry women of your choice, two, three, or four, but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one…(Surah al-Nisa, 3).
Hence it is allowed! How can you call yourself a Muslim, if you don’t agree with what is in the Quran? You cannot pick and choose what you like in Islam.
Aisha: Weeell. I still wouldn’t be able to handle it. Honestly and truly. I just couldn’t do it. Allow my husband to sleep with another wife? Allow her to live with us for example? Allow him to look after her children as well. I know myself. I would not be able to.
Rabiyah: Okay. Well, none of you have mentioned the criteria. The requirements. In the ayah it says that a man should be able to treat all of his wives equally. And only IF he can do this, is when he is allowed to marry more than one wife. Men are human. There is no way they can treat all the wives equally. Allah knows this. Which is why he put the requirement in place. To dissuade men from going around and marrying wives left right and centre.
Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “A man who has two wives and he does not deal justly with them will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment with half his body paralysed.” (Sunan Tirmizi, no. 1141)
If he buys butter in one household, then he must buy butter in the other household. Not margarine. If one wife has a car, then the other should have one as well. The number of nights should be shared equally with the wives. The wifely duties should be distributed equally.
If a man can truly do this, then and only then is he allowed to marry more than one wife. If he is not financially capable of maintaining all the wives in an an equal manner, or not emotionally able to be fair between them, then he should stay with just the one wife.
ALSO, there are reasons. There should, ideally, be specific reasons for a man to go out and marry a second wife.
If she is ill.
If she is unable to bear children.
If she cannot meet his sexual needs because of illness.
Genuine. Real. Reasons.
Not randomly, because he has seen a ‘hot piece of ass’ and feels like he can go ahead and enjoy life by having more than one woman.
Aisha: Even with all the reasons you have listed. I would still not be able to handle it! Because after all, he has promised to be with me through thick and thin. Just because I am ill, he decides he wants another wife? And throws me to the curb? I just would not be able to tolerate it. At all!
Hajra: Well, even you, as a woman, you have similar rights. If your husband is impotent, or he has an illness and can not look after you, you are allowed Islamically to ask for a divorce and get another husband. But if you choose to have subra, and stay and work things out and look after your husband, your reward of course will be from Allah. And that may be better for you. The same goes for a man. Yes he is allowed a second wife if his first wife is ill or cannot meet her wifely duties. However, if he chooses to have subra and stay with his one wife, Inshallah that may be better for him.
Rabeya: I think, I think, and I may be wrong. But, men are created differently compared to women. They may have a stronger sexual drive. And perhaps weakness when it comes to women. So Allah has created this caveat. This ‘clause’ so to speak. To allow for this ‘weakness’. Would you rather your man went out and cheated on you with a hundred women, as they do in the Western world? Or would you rather he made the young girl respectable? Married her and looked after her.
A lot of women don’t mind the extra help. It means company. There are two of you. You work together to look after the household and your husband and your children. I know saying that is controversial. And a lot of people may label me ..I don’t know…ignorant or oppressed or brainwashed for having such ideas. But Polygamy is not a new concept. It has been practiced in many cultures across the world for centuries, and still is! It has been devilised by the Western world. Yet look at their society; Divorce, affairs, mistresses. Well, at least a higher rate of. Because even in Muslim societies those things exist.
And also, its not to say there will be no difficulties. There will be jealousy. Potential strife. Disagreements.
However, that doesn’t mean it can’t work. Or you should dismiss it because it does not fall in line with your ‘feminist’ views of the world.
Aisha: I am not being feminist as you say. I am just saying what would or would not work for me. I am an individual at the end of the day. And what works for one individual may not work for another. Some women may be happy with that kind of situation. I must say, I am not one of those. And I have clearly stated to my husband; If he marries another wife, I will leave him.
Rabeya: Subhanallah. But I do see your point about you being an individual. Fair enough.
Hajrah: Yes, I see your point. And besides its easier said than done. Saying : ‘A man can marry more than one wife’ in theory, is all well and good. But when it is YOUR husband, it is a different matter all together. And the subra, and strength, and Iman it takes, is not a small thing. And I truly believe for the women who manage to accept this, and live with their husbands and co-wives well, their reward is with Allah and He recognises and sees the sacrifice they have made.
Aisha: In any case. Allah knows best.
Hajra: Yes, all we can do is pray that we are doing the right thing. And leave the rest to Allah.
Aisha: Yeah. But I would kill him. If he did that. I really would.
*More peals of laughter*
My views and that of my friends may be flawed. But it is from the little knowledge we have, from the little we have gleaned from our parents relationships, our friends marriages and what we have seen around us. Insha’allah, may Allah guide us all towards the righteous path. And keep us from Naar and protect us all. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, or add to the discussion. I welcome any new knowledge, Hadiths, Ayahs.
- Duties & Rights After Marriage (nuzhatg.wordpress.com)
- The First Two Years: A Marriage Survival Guide (islamgreatreligion.wordpress.com)