Polygamy in Islam

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Polygamy in Islam

There are people who know very little about Islam. But there is one thing many seem to know and that is a Muslim man can have four wives.

Islam permits men to engage in polygamy. They may have as many as four wives at the same time. Islam permits men to have one wife and be monogamous or have two, three, or four wives and be polygamous. Nonetheless, the number of wives that a man may have in Islam, if he chooses to engage in polygamy, must not exceed four at a time.

A Muslim man who engages in polygamy should deal justly with his wives in all matters that are within his limit, mainly in matters of maintenance. He is to divide his wealth and the time he spends between his wives equally, especially his nights. A woman may waive her rights and reclaim them at anytime.


Speaking from an Islamic perspective, polygamy means a man has more than one wife at a time and the number of wives does not exceed four at a time.


In general, the word “polygamy” refers to a marriage with more than one spouse at the same time. One person from one sex marries more than one person from the opposite sex, simultaneously. It includes a man who has more than one wife at the same time or a woman who has more than one husband at the same time.


“Polygyny” refers to a marriage of one man with more than one wife at the same time.


There is no need to debate whether the proper word is “polygamy” or ” polygyny” when referring to Islam. I am certain no one has ever heard of a Muslim woman having more than one husband at a time – NEVER in Islam.

Arguing “polygamy” and “polygyny” in Islam seems useless and is merely a matter of semantics. We, in Islam, know what polygamy is, so why argue about the words?


Islam did not create polygamy. Polygamy existed in varying degrees in different parts of the world, in diverse cultures before the spread of Islam. Polygamy was the practice of Jews, Christians, Buddhist, and pre-Islamic Arabs, perhaps others as well. What Islam did was to organize polygamy, and restrict it to four wives under strict rules of justice.

There were, there still are, and there will be people who misuse what is given them. In those cases, it is wrong to blame the authority or the giver. Blame the man who misuses what he is given. The man who misuses polygamy will be held accountable.


Some reasons why men engage in polygamy are:

There were frequent wars between tribes and nations. These wars resulted in an excess of women over men, as many men died in battle. In order to accommodate the excess number of women to men, polygamy was a remedy.

Polygamy healed the wounded heart of a woman whose husband died in battle.

Polygamy helped rehabilitate widows, orphans, and other women that were left without supporters or husbands as a result of war.

Polygamy was the solution for women that were helpless and destitute. A polygamous marriage provided those women with a means of livelihood and protection.

It was a chivalrous act to marry as many women as a man could support.

It was a huge indignity on a family and the entire tribe, if a female remained unmarried or married below her social status. Eligible girls of marriageable age had many offers of marriage. Parents competed with each other in providing enticement in the form of jewelry and property as dower.

Men engaged in polygamy to assure an increase in the birthrate. It was necessary for every person member of a tribe to try to increase the numbers in the tribe to which it belonged.

Polygamy was a solution in some cases where a wife was chronically ill, incapacitated, or unable to bear children.


There are still wars that leave women widowed.

There are still single women that cannot find husbands.

It doesn’t matter whether a woman is a physician, educator, or a lawyer; it does not matter what position she holds, for many women, marriage is their dream. Regardless of how much she excels in her work, for a woman (not all women, of course) her subconscious aim is that of having a family of her own, shared by a good man who is the father of her children.

There still are reproductively challenged (barren) married women.

The Quran is for all men, for all times. Polygamy is permissible in Islam. That permission was given by Allah (Great and Glorious is He)


A life of polygamy is probably a challenge for everyone that lives it. Polygamous marriages are not all the same, just as monogamous marriages are not all the same. Neither polygamy, nor monogamy is easy, shown by the divorce rates.


Polygamy 411 invites and welcome everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims here.

We invite everyone to share their stories about their lives and what they’ve experienced with polygamy.

We welcome all to read the story of my journey, as I lived and live polygamy.

I pray Allah (Great and Glorious is He) blesses us to become better Muslims, become “Believers”, and grow closer to Him.

“Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah: and Allah (always) hears the argument between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things).”
Quran: Surah Al Mudadilah 58, Iyat 1


12 Comments to Polygamy in Islam

  1. Bismillahir rahman nir raheem

    I once read a article online regarding Polygamy in Islam as my reasons were to attend to the reasons for it’s “debated” institution. I quickly realized the need for such practise in knot only among Muslims but among mainstream society., i. e. Americans and Europeans alike. Afterall, the population of women outnumber. the population of men 10 to 1 and with those numbers steadily increased ( see Population explosion: Gender Rate of Live Births 2011) everyda. I would have vehemently opposed the idea of Polygamy, however I agreed with the underlying reasons for it’s remedy and practice.

  2. Khadijah Sara ABDUL

    Allah(swt) is Most Magnificent and Merciful..He is the Planner of all Planners…He knows all things and sees all things. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the only example that we should live by….He is Allah’s(swt) last messenger and servant…..
    The Qu’ran was sent as a criterion, a guide to mankind….His life should be an example.no questions asked…His wives may Allah(swt) be pleased with them is a direct example of how all muslim women should live their lives…who are we to question..Fear ALLAH!!!

  3. going down on our knees to worship God is a pleasure when we think of all the blessings He has blessed us with

  4. Dear Nicholas

    Why are you on a muslim marriage website when you clearly oppose our rulings on the topic? The only thing absurd is your boredom.

    To all Muslims

    I think polygamy is the most difficult situation to deal with for both men and the women. There are many MANY men that abuse the rights granted to them, But like someone once said, with great power comes great responsibility. They will answer to Allah (swt)

  5. Also, how many men are out there, who have more than 1 girlfriend, who gets them all pregnant, half the time the kids don’t even know who their father is, he doesnt look after them. You have woman sleeping around, trying to figure out who the baby daddy is, young girls being promiscous at an early age because (well one reason) their dad wasn’t around, getting preganant, giving up the babies for adoption because they are ill equipped to look after them (sometimes) and then ppl have the nerve to complain about a structured practice like polygamy? Please. Polygamy is more modern than what I just described above. It isn’t for everyone myself included, but if it is there for those who can make it work and want to. If that (what I talked about above) is the definition of modernism you can keep it. Selam aleykum, peace. P.S Just watch the maury show or look up any official government statistics in this regard. It is terrible the epidemic we have reached.

  6. Nich’, who said we believe that there was a “man in the clouds” ? God is neither a man or a woman, that’s nonsense ! & infortunately many people can’t make the difference..
    Your “eternity of nothingness” is even more absurd than monkeys turning into men (Darwin’s theory), you really should think about opening your mind because one day you’ll realise that everything was written by the same Hand…
    &’ while “wasting your time” on muslim websites, why don’t you check the definition of modernity so you can realize how much it matters in Islam . . ?

    — Anyway 🙂 —

    A research showed that one man in Europe has about 14 relationships while he’s already married, so having two, three or even four wives and never cheating on them is much more admirable.. But being equal to them means loving them the exact same way and never prefer any of them, that’s tough. The Prophet always prefered Khadija, he loved her so much that he could not marry any other woman when he was with her. He is the one we must follow, Peace be upon Him <3

  7. asak
    good to know abt polygamy in islam to men by Allah . but one thing can i ask u . how abt unwise and unfair men who simply for no goood reason , or for a change , or for lowering his wife , or for simply gaining interest in other woman by attracting towards her wants to do polygamy . ppl can misuse tthis for his lust and desires. and
    one thing more this is not the tribes and battles age so men necesary not divulge in marrying more than one which may lead to birth of more and more females and sufferings with same issues and
    why men need not seek his existing wifes permission to remarrying another

    • Aisha Mohd

      Firdous men re actually polygamous by nature dere is nothing any 1 can do about it,.look at it dis way instead of a man to see a woman n lust for her outside d home its betr he marries her,..yes its aloud bcoz of pleasure too as u knw som men can hold themselves,..what if his wife is on her menstral cycle or has delivered a baby?
      I ll vew to log out,..ll send u d many reasons for polygamy in islam some oder day accordn to my understandn.rgds

    • i think we need to understand the very context of allowing polygamy in Islam. Quran allows polygamy to raise the status of women who became slave or captured or left with no guardian after war…

  8. also its his right, even if you dont like it he doesnt have to consault u, he should to consider your feelings but he doesnt have to… its not the ideal situation and im sure no women thinks she would want to share, but every situation is different and u should want whats best for you sisters. example: what if her husband died and her children and her have no one. dont let jealousy cloud ur judgement.. and there can also be benifits to having co wives, may Allah guide us to what is the right path for us Ameen

  9. When people are discoursing on an issue like this I feel very interested to read and hear people view being an african born where polygamy is in existence since long period of time to date a some one like me who leave in a polygamous society

  10. Um it’s MUCH better to have a polygamous marriage than to fornicate. So if a man has desires and he is at risk of getting himself in trouble with fornication then he would be better off marrying more than one wife than fornicating. This is also true if the man has a much higher libido than a women.

    You mentioned a lot of things but I’ll address just a few. I’m not sure exactly how marrying another wife lowers his original in status as we go by Muslim standards which do not make one wife lower than another. BUT I will say that in today’s society (and even during the Prophet’s (PBUH) time women get jealous in a polygamous marriage. And if the man is marrying another wife to hurt his original wife’s feelings then that is not a good reason, it’s cruel. Notice I did not say it is forbidden for him to marry another wife as I do not know if it is or isn’t. I do know that we are to treat even animals with kindness, so how then can it be okay to intentionally hurt your wife’s feelings (and really to hurt the second wife’s feelings).

    Look Polygamy in today’s is a difficult thing. It’s an institution that is under attack unfairly and I cannot think of a single Muslim women in the west who would want to be in such a marriage. This does not make it wrong. This is simply a societal influence and everyone needs to be careful. It requires careful actions and proper communication. Any man pursuing it should recognize the danger he is putting himself in and the stress he should expect to have. It’s yet another thing you will be responsible for on the Day of Judgment. At the same time should he pursue this action it should be with the right intentions and he should take pains to make sure his first wife knows and feels his lover for her and that his second marriage is not a rebuke of her. I would recommend that she be told as early as possible and she should be a part of the process. At the same time the wives should A. Not be angry or hate the each other and she remember that Allah is the final judge and they should be as kind and respectful with each other as possible (of course some jealousy will occur). B. They should try to bear and be patient with what is undoubtedly a painful and difficult situation and they should communicate with their husbands how they feel without being harsh or unpleasant. Remember if you are jealous over him he has some great qualities and you shouldn’t allow what good relationship you have to be ruined by jealousy.

    As for me, I don’t think I would do polygamy. It seems like to much work and frankly one family is difficult enough.

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