Various Fatwas on Polygamy

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Relevant Material

Rules on Equality Among Wives
(Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi)

Maulana Thanwi’s Islamic Treatment of his Wives
(Maulana A S Desai)

Miscellaneous Fatwas Related to Marriage
(Maulana A S Desai)


Q. Is it necessary to obtain the permission of the first wife if the husband wants to marry a second wife?

A. Permission of the first wife is not incumbent for the validity of a second marriage. The man can get married to a second, third or fourth wife without the permission of his other wife/wives. However, it is best to inform them.


Q. Does the first wife have a say in her husband’s second marriage? Does the husband have to get her permission?

A. The husband does not require the consent of the first wife for marrying a second wife. No wife will grant permission. A subsequent marriage is not reliant on the consent of the existing wife.


Q. Will a man’s Nikah be valid to more than one wife if he knows that he cannot support them?

A. It is permissible for a man to marry four wives. It is compulsory for him to provide equal financial expenses and equal nights to all his wives. A husband who discriminates between his wives with regard to these two aspects (support and nights) will rise on the Day of Qiyaamah with half of his body paralyzed. This is only one form of punishment. If he is unable to maintain more than one wife, then he should not marry again. However, the Nikah will be valid even if he knows that he is unable to maintain more than one wife. The effects and consequences of marriage come into existence only after Nikah. If a man gets married to a woman for the first time, i.e. she is his first wife, then too it is Waajib (compulsory) on him to support her and spend the nights with her. Just as it is compulsory to fulfil the rights of one wife, so too is it compulsory to fulfil the rights of the other wives.

If a man believes that he will be unable to fulfil the rights of a second, third and fourth wife, then he should not get married to more women. However, the Nikah will be valid in the same way as the Nikah is valid with the first wife. For example, when a man married his first wife, he was fully aware at the time that he will be unable to support her financially nor afford to provide her a home. In this case too, he should not marry until such time that he can fulfil the rights of a wife. Nevertheless, if he does get married, the marriage will be valid. The same rationale applies when he marries a second wife. The Nikah will be valid. Failing to observe the rights of the wives is a separate sin.
Close Answer


Q. Is it allowed for a wife to demand divorce because her husband has married a second wife?

A. It is not permissible. If the husband marries a second wife it is not grounds for divorce.


Q. Does the first wife have a right of demanding Talaaq if her husband marries a second wife?

A. Islamically the first wife has no right to demand divorce or separation if she is displeased because her husband married again.


Q. Is it correct that a man has to treat his wives equally both financially and emotionally?

A. Equality applies to financial support and night times. It does not apply to the emotional aspect. It is impossible to treat wives equally in terms of emotion. The Qur’aan makes it clear that a man is not blameworthy or sinful if there is no emotional equality. It is just natural to love one wife more than the other for a variety of reasons. However, he is not permitted to display his emotional inequality to the other wives. It is not permissible for the husband to discriminate between his wives and curtail any of their rights because he may love one wife more.


Q. When a man married his second wife she had agreed to waive her right of equal nights and equal maintenance expenses. After a few months, she claims her rights. Does she have the right to renege from her earlier agreement?

A. As long as the second wife agrees to waive her rights, it is permissible. But she has the right to re-instate her rights and demand that it be fulfilled even if she had initially agreed to waive them.


Q. A man married a second wife. The first wife refuses to live with him. Is the husband still obliged to provide equal maintenance to her?

A. If the first wife refuses to live with her husband, then she cannot claim equal expenses.


Q. Is it permissible for a man to marry a second and third wife only for the sake of fulfilling his sexual desires?

A. It is permissible for a man to marry another wife even if it is only for the sake of his sexual desires just as it is permissible to get married to one woman for the sake of sexual desire. All men marry primarily for this reason. The other aspects, e.g. procreation, caring for the women, etc., are by-products. Despite their fundamental importance, it is furthest from the minds of men when they marry. Only those with exceptionally high Taqwa have the other factors of altruism in mind.


Q. I am a divorcee who intends getting married to a married man. My family is dead against the marriage. They say that a woman who becomes a second wife is a ‘whore’ and a ‘slut’. She brings disgrace to the ‘izzat’ (honour and respect) of the family. Please give me some advice. I am in a dilemma. Is it permissible for me to get married without their consent?

A. Your family is displaying a crudely un-Islamic attitude akin to kufr. They appear to be victims of Hindu culture. Their attitude and vile statements in deprecation of marrying and being a second wife are undoubtedly kufr. They have lost their Imaan with such statements and attitudes. It is necessary that they renew their Imaan and their Nikah. When Allah Ta’ala has permitted polygamy in the Qur’aan, it is clear kufr to refer to a woman as a ‘whore’, ‘slut’, etc. merely because she chooses to avail herself of a right which Allah Ta’ala has granted. By ‘disgrace’ they are implying that Allah’s Law is bringing disgrace to them.

For such people who see ‘izzat’ in Hindu and other kuffaar customs, attitudes and practices, the Qur’aan Majeed says: “What! Do you search for izzat from them (kuffaar)? All Izzat belongs to Allah.” Disgrace is in the commission of haraam, and Izzat is in following Allah’s Shariah. In the circumstances ignore the haraam statements of kufr which your family members are making. You are an adult. According to Islam you can represent yourself. You don’t need anyone to represent you for Nikah. Have a small Nikah. The minimum requisites for the validity of a Nikah is the presence of two male Muslim witnesses, the bride and the bridegroom.
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Q. A 28 year old widow is prepared and desperate to get married to a pious married man. She is prepared to be his second wife and to spend only two nights a week with him. The man too is keen to marry her, but the whole community including the families of the man and the woman are against this second marriage. Will the man and the woman be sinning if they get married against the wishes of the community?

A. In fact, they will be getting much thawaab for ignoring the stupid and shaitaani wishes of an errant community who follows the path of shaitaan. It is the man’s Qur’aanic right to marry this woman. Marrying widows/divorcees is also perfectly permissible. While the errant community will rather condone the man committing adultery, they will not accept a sacred union, viz. Nikah. The man should ignore the wishes and criticism of the community and proceed with his new Nikah.


Q. My second wife forbids me from spending much time with my first wife and children by her. She makes my life miserable when she discovers that I was with my first wife for any part of the day. She even insists that I spend more nights with her than with my first wife. What is the Shariah’s ruling on this issue?

A. The ruling is very clear and concise which every Muslim is aware of. You are required to mete out equality of financial expenses and equality of night times between your wives. It is compulsory to spend an equal number of nights with each wife. The rule of equality does not apply to daylight hours. You may apportion out the daylight hours to your convenience. It is haraam for you to submit to the unlawful dictates of your second wife. If such submission leads to violation of the rights of your first wife, you will be guilty of a major sin. You will be inviting calamities on yourself and on the Day of Qiyaamah you will be resurrected with half your body paralysed. Allah Ta’ala has made the husband the dominant one and the ruler of his home. He is not supposed to be a cuckold and submit to the haraam commands and wishes of his wives.


Q. Does the Shariah impose any controls or restrictions on a man if he wishes to take a second and a third wife? Some argue that if a man is not wealthy, it is not permissible for him to marry a second wife. Is this correct?

A. Marrying a second, third and fourth wife is just like marrying a first wife. Assuming that a man who is not wealthy or who is poor is not allowed to marry a second wife, then by the same token he should not be permitted to marry a first wife. To be wealthy is not a condition for the validity or for even the permissibility of marriage, whether it be to a first, second, third or fourth wife. The husband is required to mete out equality to all his wives. This is his obligation. A faqeer (pauper) is obliged to maintain his wife. However, the Shariah does not stipulate that he first earns and saves up money, then marries. He may marry even during his state of poverty. After marriage, he has to work and ensure that he provides the expenses for his wife. The same applies to the person who marries a plurality of wives. Those who claim that the Shariah imposes restrictions on a man who wishes to marry again, are in error. They are affected by western concepts and suffer from an inferiority in thinking, which they gained from their western upbringing.


Q. What is the attitude of the Shariah towards a person who despises and criticizes a second, third and fourth Nikah?

A. Despising or criticizing second, third and fourth marriages is an attitude of kufr. It is the product of westernism and the liberal education of universities. The following is the Fatwa on this question issued by Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh):

“A person who finds fault with any hukm (law) of Allah Ta’ala or way of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), considering it to be dishonourable and its upholder to be shameless, is undoubtedly a mal-oon (accursed), an opponent of Allah and a kaafir. He is a murtadd (renegade) and a jahannami (destined for Jahannum). Inspite of acknowledging polygamy being a hukm of Allah Ta’ala and a Sunnat, he persists in despising this hukm o¬n account of customary practice. This aggravates his kufr and opposition to Allah Ta’ala. He is an unfortunate mal-oon, for he believes his custom (the prevailing attitude of people) is better than the law of Allah Ta’ala. To sever all ties from such a person and to ostracize him are precise acts of the Deen. It is never permissible to maintain family and friendship ties with him. It is imperative to remain aloof from him. Believing him to be the most-hated creature of Allah’s creation. Become his enemy. Never perform Janaazah Salaat for him because he is a kaafir. This is recorded in the Kutub of Hadith, Fiqh and Aqaaid.”

This Fatwa which was ratified and counter-signed by fifty Muftis of Hadhrat Gangohi’s time, is adequate commentary of the Shariah’s attitude towards those who despise and criticize the Qur’aanic permission of polygamy.
Close Answer


Q. A man married a second wife without the knowledge of his first wife. Some years later the first wife discovered this. Now she and her family are demanding that the husband divorces his second wife. What should he do?

A. He should do what the Shariah instructs him. He should never submit to the haraam dictates of his wife and her family. It is haraam for him to divorce his second wife to satisfy the haraam dictates of his first wife and her miserable family. They are enemies of Allah’s Deen, hence they display such kufr.


Q. Many people say that the second wife is a home-breaker. Please comment.

A. It is not the second wife who is a home breaker. The kufr concealed in the heart of the first wife is the homebreaker. When a person is dissatisfied with Allah’s laws, then Allah Ta’ala constrains that person to damn himself/herself by displaying his/her kufr.


Q. A muslim couple has been married for a year and a half. During this year and a half of marriage the wife's mother kept interfering in their marriage. The mother finally got her way and the daughter left her husband. After six months of separation the wife comes back to the husband claiming that she wants him back and wants to work on their marriage. But during this six months of separation the husband as moved on and met someone else and fell in love with this person. My question is: Is this marriage still valid or has it been over the moment the wife moved out? And if it is still valid then that means the husband is being unfaithful to his wife?

For the six months that the wife had left home, she was constantly under the curse of Allah and His Angels. Now after six months when she returns she finds her husband making preparations for marrying another woman. She has absolutely no right to complain. The husband is fully justified getting married to the other woman. In so doing, he is not unfaithful to his wife. On the contrary, she has been unfaithful to him for having absconded from the marital home. However, if the husband has had any pre-marital relationship with the other woman, then obviously he was unfaithful to Allah Ta’ala, not to his wife who had run off like a lewd woman. Nevertheless, this man is fully entitled to get married to the other woman. At the same time the marriage with his wife is still valid. The six month separation period did not invalidate the Nikah. The husband may either retain his wife in Nikah and marry the other woman as his second wife or he may divorce his wife. This is entirely his choice.


Q. Is it proper for the first wife to recite wazeefas so that the husband inclines more to her, spends less time with the second wife and generally gives the first wife more benefits. The first wife feels that there is nothing wrong in this because the wazeefas consist of Qur'aanic verses, not sihr (jaadoo) or anything of that sort.

A. It is haraam to misuse the Qur’aan Majeed. If a copy of the Qur’aan Majeed is flung at a person with the intention of hurting him, this despicable act will be haraam. It cannot be argued that the hurt is being caused with the Qur’aan and not with sihr, etc. The Qur’aan commands that the husband metes out equality of treatment to both wives, i.e. he has to give both equal expenses and spend an equal number of nights with both. Whether sihr or any lawful method is used to harm others or to commit injustice or a sin, it will be haraam. The method of causing the harm and sin is of no consequence. The act remains haraam. In fact, using a lawful method, especially a sacred object like the Qur’aan Majeed, for haraam is an aggravated haraam. If Qur’aanic verses are used in an amal to break up a marriage or for winning in gambling or for any other haraam act, it cannot be argued that the haraam act has become lawful in view of the amal consisting of Qur’aanic verses. The action of the first wife is haraam.


Q. What kind of reward can a first wife expect for restraining from acting upon the dictates of one's natural jealousy towards here husband's other wives?

A. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

“Verily, Allah has decreed for women (the reward of restraining) envy, and for men the reward of (fortitude) in Jihad. Therefore, the woman who adopts Sabr when her husband marries another woman will obtain the reward of a Shaheed (Martyr).”

The attitude of jealousy is deeply ingrained in the nafs of a woman. The idea of her husband taking a second wife is intolerable to her. In fact if she lacks proper knowledge of the Shariah, she destroys her Imaan with utterances and attitudes of kufr should her husband marry a second wife. Allah Ta’ala is the Creator of both man and woman. He understands the natures of His creation. By design has He created in woman an incorrigible degree of hasad (jealousy). This world is the abode of struggle and self-purification. There will be no opportunity for self-purification and moral reformation in the Hereafter or in Jannat. The only abode of purification in the Aakhirah is Jahannum (Hell-Fire). Allah Ta’ala has bestowed to us the wonderful opportunity of this brief earthly life for self-purification and reformation. This process requires constant and diligent struggle against the promptings and demands of the bestial nafs.

For women, Allah Ta’ala has ordained an easy way for the acquisition of the lofty ranks of shahaadat (martyrdom). She has to exercise Sabr, struggle and restrain her nafs by refusing to fulfil the dictates of her jealousy, especially when her husband takes another wife. While the generation of envy is natural, and for which there is no sin, giving vent to the demands of the evil tendency of hasad is not permitted. She is required to apply pressure on her nafs, restrain the dictates of the nafs and compel herself to accept the situation, and conceal the flames of hasad which will consume and ruin her if she submits to the envy. This is the way of martyrdom ordained by Allah Ta’ala for females. In fact, the Shariah has simplified the acquisition of martyrdom status for women. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

“A woman attains the rank of martyrdom with her engrossment in her household activities.”
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Q. Please advise regarding considering being a second wife and whether one should agree to a secret Nikah.

A second wife, in fact even a third and a fourth wife, are in exactly the same category as a first wife. The norms of western society, which have been acquired by Muslims, have created in Muslim society similar attitudes of repugnance which westerners display towards a plurality of marriages. In the Qur’aan Majeed and in the Sunnah there is overwhelming evidence for the perfect permissibility of marrying more than one wife. The life of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), of the Sahaabah and the great personalities of Islam in all ages are more than adequate evidence for the sanctity of the institution of polygamy in the same way as is the institution of monogamy. In fact, it is an attitude of kufr to hold in contempt polygamy. This attitude is tantamount to criticizing Allah Ta’ala who has made polygamy lawful, and it is an indirect assault on the practice of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), the Ambiya and the Sahaabah.

Western society tolerates fornication and illicit associations by husbands and wives. But, a second marriage is unthinkable. Muslims who ape the west suffer from the very same irrational mental disease. Since the kufr draws filth and falsehood like a magnet draws steel, a compromise with the adultery committed by a husband and even a continued illicit relationship are acceptable to a wife. But never is a second wife tolerable to the first wife. Muslims too have inherited similar emotional stances, attitudes and ideas of the western kuffaar.

Even Muslim wives and Muslims in general frown on a second marriage while wives and many others outrightly reject it. As a last resort to prevent the second marriage, the husband’s continued illicit relationship will be condoned with a blind eye, but not his Nikah which is viewed worse than adultery— Nauthubillaah!

In view of the strong opposition of society and the wife in particular to a man marrying a second wife, most men who become entangled in illicit relationships, but are overwhelmed by remorse, endeavour to rectify the wrong in a clandestine way. Since they lack the courage to do what is proper, they enter into secret marriages.

Clandestine marriages bring in their wake grave and heartbreaking consequences. Both the man and woman who contemplate such a marriage should reflect seriously and not enter into a union which resembles an illicit relationship. In other words, they should not enact a secret Nikah and conceal the holy bond from the community and the first wife.

The opposition, taunts and criticism of society should be ignored. The Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala is of paramount importance, not the emotional eruptions and pleasure of the people. Deficiency of Imaan constrains men who contemplate second marriages to either opt for continuation of the illicit affair for fear of antagonising the first wife and society, or at best, they arrange a secret Nikah.

Nikah, it should be understood, is a public institution. The teaching and spirit of Islam emphasise the public announcement of a Nikah. That is why the presence of witnesses is an integral constituent of the marriage ceremony which is not valid without witnesses. The public announcement of Nikah is of such great significance that according to the Maaliki Math-hab, it should be proclaimed and advertised with even the beating of the duff (drum). The Hadith states that the distinguishing feature between Nikah and zina is public announcement. While Nikah is publicly proclaimed and acclaimed, zina is concealed. Now if Nikah too is treated with secrecy, what difference is there between marriage and adultery?

It therefore does not behove Muslims to conceal what is above board, pure and halaal. Concealing an illicit association is understandable, but not a halaal union enacted to obliterate the illicit affair. A marriage performed in secret and concealed from public knowledge is in conflict with the teaching and spirit of Islam.

A secret marriage cannot be concealed for too long. Sooner or later the matter comes to the notice of people. Those who are unaware will justifiably believe that an adulterous affair is existing. When ultimately the Nikah becomes known, a storm erupts. If the Nikah was performed in accordance with the demands of the Shariah, the resultant effect would have been infinitely milder than the consequences of a secret marriage becoming public.

The woman too should understand that she should not submit to the demanding emotions of the married man who is desirous of concealing the contemplated Nikah. It is most dishonourable for a woman to allow herself to be entrapped in such a marriage in which her position will be not much better than that of a mistress. While married, life will continue as if an illicit affair exists between herself and her husband. What pleasure and happiness can an honourable Muslim woman derive from a marriage which she has to conceal, and always duck and dive to save her ‘image’ and the ‘reputation’ of her husband?

Over the years numerous such clandestine cases have passed through our office. The results are always miserable and grievous. A woman who accedes to a man’s desire for a clandestine nikah should understand that she will not be treated as a decent wife by her husband. She will live in suspense. She will not be favoured with the rights which a Nikah grants a wife. She will be denied the honour of running a home. The husband will violate most of her rights. She will live in frustration and despondency. Although a wife, wedded to her husband in Allah’s Name, she has to live in darkness and under a cloud of suspicion.

After a lapse of time, the man tires of his secret wife. The glamour must necessarily wear thin. Then the serious problems begin. The woman comes to her senses when it is a bit too late. Never submit to a secret marriage proposal. If a man lacks the courage to publicly proclaim his second marriage, it is a sure sign that he will violate the rights of his second wife. He lacks in the quality of Islamic manhood. He marries her to soothe his conscience. His sole motive is sexual gratification. But a happy marriage is not based solely on this factor.

If he refuses to have the Nikah in the Musjid and put you on the pedestal of Islamic wifehood, issue a firm refusal for your own sake. Do not open up the avenue of a miserable life for yourself by acting the part of a mistress under a veneer of marriage.
Close Answer


Q. A man has two wives, each one living in a different town. He has children by both. He has made both towns his homes. What is the status of these two towns for him ((in terms of shortening prayers))?

A. Both towns are Watn-e-Asli for him. He will be a muqeem (resident) on both towns. He has to perform Salaat in full in both places.



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