Wisdom behind Marrying More Than One Wife
Fatwa No: 414202


Assalam Walaikum
Dear Sheikh,
I want to know what is wisdom of Allah Subhan tala regarding the verse of multiple marriage specially we like to know wisdom fo Allah why did Allah Subhan tala first ordered muslim to marry two, three or four wives instead of one wife because ulema and general people in our society says Allah preferred for muslim men to marry only one wife. And discourage them multiple marriage which has resulted in many kinds of evil in our society.
And if any capable muslim brother who keep multiple wives or who are planning for it, they are labelled as womanizer, men who watch women unnecessarily for lust, they are mocked that committed adultery/fornication and now to correct this mistake they perform marriage, parent and relatives boycott relationship with them and also forced in every form to divorce other wives.
Please help us so that we may at least tell what is the wisdom of Allah regarding first ordering muslim to marry two, three or four wives then ordering if they are not able to do justice then marry only one.


All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Undoubtedly, there is great wisdom behind all the legislations of Allah, The Almighty. We may or may not know such wisdom, and we may be aware of some of its aspects sometimes and fail to know many others. We have previously pointed out some aspects of the wisdom for legislating polygyny in Islam, so, please, refer to Fataawa 86893, 86818, 183395, 91137, and 89278.

The man who is allowed to practice polygyny, as per the Sharee‘ah, is the one who believes himself to be most likely able to fulfill his duties towards multiple wives in terms of fairness in financial maintenance and overnight stay. This is why Allah, The Exalted, Says (what means): {…then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one} [Quran 4:3] If a man is unable to maintain justice among multiple wives, then it is impermissible for him to practice polygyny.

Whoever wishes to practice polygyny should deliberately think about it at length to decide whether or not this is of real benefit to him; polygyny may not be in one’s best interest in all situations.

In his book Ash-Sharh Al-Mumti‘ ‘ala Zaad Al-Mustaqni', Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him summarized this issue. We shall quote his statement in full given its importance:

Some scholars held that it is recommended to have only one wife and explained it by the fact that it is safer in terms of clearing oneself of his liability from (potential) injustice. This is because if he marries two wives or more, he may not be able to maintain justice among them. Moreover, monogamy is closer to preventing potential family breakup. This is because when a man has more than one wife, he will have children with each of them, and discord may arise among the siblings due to the discord among their respective mothers, as is sometimes witnessed. In addition, a husband is more able to fulfill his duties towards one wife in terms of financial maintenance and other rights, and it is also easier for him to maintain justice with one wife than with multiple wives. Maintaining justice (among his wives) is a serious matter that entails striving. This is the famous opinion of our school of Fiqh. If someone says that the verse that reads (what means): {…then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses} [Quran 4:3] proves the preponderance of the opinion that polygyny is better than monogamy, because Allah, The Exalted, Says (what means): {…But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one…}, thus stipulating that one limits himself to having one wife only in case he fears potential injustice, and that this essentially means that if he is able to maintain justice, then it is better for him to take four wives, we say, in response, yes, it is true that this verse has been brought forth as evidence by those who hold that polygyny is better. They argued that the verse says that having one wife should be the case only when a man fears inability to maintain justice among multiple wives. However, when we reflect upon the verse, we do not find in it an indication of that, because Allah, The Exalted, Says (what means): {And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four} [Quran 4:3] It is as if He is Saying: if you fear inability to be just and fair to the female orphans under your care, then you are allowed to have up to four wives. At that time, a man would have an orphan female cousin or other relative under his guardianship, and he would wrong her by keeping her for himself (to marry her) and refusing to marry her off to suitors, so Allah, The Exalted, Said (what means): {And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women...}, meaning: ‘Let go of them and the door (to marriage) is open for you, but you cannot take more than one wife if you fear committing injustice.’ Thus, the verse here would be indicative of the permissibility of polygyny, and it does not encourage it (deeming it better than monogamy). Accordingly, we say that it is safer to limit oneself to having one wife. However, if a man feels that one wife is not sufficient for him to maintain his chastity, then we enjoin him to take a second, a third, and a fourth wife, so that he feels secure (regarding the preservation of his chastity), is able to lower his gaze, and finds peace of mind." [End of Quote]

Thus, it becomes clear that the ruling on polygyny differs from one person to another. It may be obligatory on a man to take a second wife if he fears committing adultery. But to mock someone or throw disgraceful accusations at him for taking a second wife, this is impermissible; Allah, The Exalted, Says (what means):

·   {O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them, nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them} [Quran 49:11]

·   {O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.} [Quran 49:12]

Allah Knows best.

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