Why Can a Man Have More Than One Wife is Islam?


Why Can a Man Have More Than One Wife is Islam?

Praise be to Allaah.  


Allaah concluded His Message to mankind with the religion of Islam, and He tells us that He will not accept any religion other than that. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:85] 

Your backing away from the religion of Islam is considered to be a loss for you, and a loss of the happiness that awaited you, had you entered Islam. You should hasten to enter Islam, and beware of delaying, for that delay may lead to regrettable consequences. 

With regard to what you mention about the reason for your backing off being the idea of plural marriage [polygamy or polygyny], we will present to you the ruling on plural marriage in Islam, and then the wisdom and noble purposes behind it. 

1 – The ruling on plural marriage in Islam: 

The shar’i text which permits plural marriage is: 

Allaah says in His Holy Book (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice”

[al-Nisa’ 4:3] 

This is a Qur’aanic text which shows that plural marriage is allowed. According to Islamic sharee’ah, a man is permitted to marry one, two, three or four wives, in the sense that he may have this number of wives at one time. It is not permissible for him to have more than four. This was stated by the mufassireen (commentators on the Qur’aan) and fuqaha’ (jurists), and there is consensus among the Muslims on this point, with no differing opinions. 

It should be noted that there are conditions attached to plural marriage: 

1 – Justice or fairness. 

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one”

[al-Nisa’ 4:3] 

This aayah is indicates that just treatment is a condition for plural marriage to be permitted. If a man is afraid that he will not be able to treat his wives justly if he marries more than one, then it is forbidden for him to marry more than one. What is meant by the justice that is required in order for a man to be permitted to have more than one wife is that he should treat his wives equally in terms of spending, clothing, spending the night with them and other material things that are under his control. 

With regard to justice or fairness in terms of love, he is not held accountable for that, and that is not required of him because he has no control over that. This is what is meant by the verse, 

“You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire”

[al-Nisa’ 4:129 – interpretation of the meaning]. 

2 – The ability to spend on one’s wives: 

The evidence for this condition is the verse: 

“And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allaah enriches them of His Bounty”

[al-Noor 24:33 – interpretation of the meaning] 

In this verse Allaah commands those who are able to get married but cannot find the financial means, to remain chaste. One such example is not having enough money to pay the mahr (dowry) and not being able to spend on one’s wife. (al-Mufassal fi Ahkaam al-Mar’ah, part 6, p. 286). 

2 – The wisdom behind permitting plural marriage 

1 – Plural marriage helps to increase the numbers of the ummah (nation, Muslim community). It is known that the numbers can only be increased through marriage, and the number of offspring gained through plural marriage will be greater than that achieved through marriage to one wife. 

Wise people know that increasing the number of offspring will strengthen the ummah and increase the number of workers in it, which will raise its economic standard – if the leaders run the affairs of state well and make use of its resources in a proper manner. Ignore the claims of those who say that increasing the numbers of human beings poses a danger to the earth’s resources which are insufficient, for Allaah the Most Wise Who has prescribed plural marriage has guaranteed to provide provision for His slaves and has created on earth what is more than sufficient for them