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Polygamy: Injustice to First Wife?

26 July, 2017
Q As-salamu `alaykum. What about the first wife's opinion on polygamy? If he wants a second wife just because he wants a different woman and different pleasures, should he care about the hurt his first wife will feel?


Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- As for polygamy, it is allowed by Allah Almighty, our Lord. So, no Muslim can reject a ruling stated by the Shari`ah. However, it should never be used by husbands against their wives unjustly to hurt them.

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2- Rather, polygamy is a solution in certain cases when there is no other way out to avoid adultery or any other social problems.

Responding to your question, Dr. Muhammad Salama, PhD, Islamic Studies in English, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Sciences al-Madinah International University (Mediu), states:

First, as a ruling and law prescribed by the Shari`ah, a Muslim may not raise objection to polygamy or any other Shari`ah ruling or law.

Allah Almighty says, “And it is not ever for a believing man or a believing woman, when God and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have for themselves a [contrary] choice in their affairs. For whoever disobeys God and His Messenger has truly strayed into clear misguidance.” (Al-Ahzab 33:36)

Submission to Allah’s laws, whether one understands the wisdom behind them or not, is an essential part of being a Muslim.

Second, polygamy is an exception not the rule. A man is required to be just and give each wife her rights in a fair way, which is difficult for many men; otherwise, he has to face the prophetic warning, “Whoever has two wives and is inclined to favor one of them over the other will come on the Day of Resurrection with half of his body leaning.” (Abu Dawud)

Third, polygamy has been prescribed to achieve great purposes and solve many social problems:

1- It is the alternative of adultery that has spread in other communities that disallow polygamy as men there look for pleasure outside marriage.

2- It helps decrease the number of unmarried women in the society with all the problems this increasing number causes.

3- It is the solution of the situation when a man comes to hate his first wife but does not want to divorce her and break the family.

These are just few manifestations of the wisdom behind polygamy.

Fourth, at a personal level, a Muslim woman, after being fully pleased with such a divine law, may refuse to be a part of a polygamous relationship. She can even record her refusal in her marriage contract, because she does not have to accept this situation.

Allah Almighty knows best.