Why are men allowed to have four wives (polygamy1) and yet women cannot have more than one husband (polyandry2)?

1 The system of having more than one wife at a time.

2 The system of having more than one husband at a time.

A very common accusation we read about and hear is polygamy and Islam. Let us start with understanding this subject and why Islam allows it. Allah mention’s in the Quran:

“…then marry those who seem good to you, two or three of four,…”i


Suppose that a husband is tempted to unfaithfulness so powerfully that he finds himself: either resisting the temptation limiting himself to his wife despite the difficulty this poses for him, or surrenders to the temptation and commits adultery. In view of such a husband’s moral and spiritual weakness, what is most likely to happen? Realistically speaking is that he will end up adopting the second course of action, allowing himself to be drawn into sexual misconduct.

It is at this point that the principle of graded priorities comes into play in preserving our human interests and protecting us from sources of harm and corruption. Unlike the western practices of unofficial polygamy or should I say adultery? Islam has laid rules to be followed in order that the woman is not unjustly treated if an affair took place.


According to a Dec. 21, 1998 report in USA Today on a national study by the University of California, San Francisco.

About 24 percent of men and 14 percent of women have had sex outside their marriages; Affairs affect one of every 2.7 couples, according to counsellor Janis Abrahms Spring, author of “After the Affair,” as reported by the Washington Post on March 30, 1999.

Ten percent of extramarital affairs last one day,

10 percent last more than one day but less than a month,

50 percent last more than a month but less than a year, but

40 percent last two or more years. Few extramarital affairs last more than four years.

Web site carrying information regarding infidelity statistics said: ‘Look at the numbers from a recent issue of Playboy Magazine:

  • • 2 out of 3 women and 3 out of 4 men admit they have sexual thoughts about co-workers.
  • • 86% of men and 81% of women admit they routinely flirt with the opposite sex.
  • • 75% of men and 65% of women admit to having sex with people they work with.

The fact is that human beings are NOT monogamous by nature. That means they cheat.

According to Peggy Vaughan, author of “The Monogamy Myth,” first published in 1989 by Newmarket Press (third edition published 2003). Conservative infidelity statistics estimate that “60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair. These figures are even more significant when we consider the total number of marriages involved, since it’s unlikely that all the men and women having affairs happen to be married to each other. If even half of the women having affairs (or 20 percent) are married to men not included in the 60 percent having affairs, then at least one partner will have an affair in approximately 80 percent of all marriages. With this many marriages affected, it’s unreasonable to think affairs are due only to the failures and shortcomings of individual husbands or wives.” ii


Islamic law has established that if there is no avoiding the presence of another woman in a husband’s life, given the condition sexual tension from which he is suffering, then let this other woman also be bound by a marriage contract, and let the man shoulder towards her the same responsibilities which he shoulders towards his original wife, including payment of the dowry, financial support and provision of a place to live. In addition, let him commit himself to observing complete fairness between his two wives with respect to nights spent at their houses, provision of financial support, and the manner in which he treats them; let him 2 www.GardensOfSunnah.co.uk

likewise bear the responsibility for caring for the children born to the second wife just as he has done for the children born to his first.3

3 The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “He who has two wives, and does not treat them equally, will appear on the Day of Resurrection with one side of his body sloping.” (Tirmidhi and Hakim)

Rule: One who has two, three or four wives; it is obligatory on him to treat them fairly, meaning those things that he has choice over keeping in mind all his wives in terms of clothing, food, expenses and a place to live and do not give less in these to any of them. And those things that he has no choice in such as he loves one of them more than the other. Similarly to have intercourse equally with all of them is also not necessary. (Durr-e-Mukhtar, Bahar etc.)

Rule: To have intercourse once is necessary (Wajib) and one should keep this in mind to have intercourse frequently although there is no fixed amount, however, enough so that the wife doesn’t look towards another man and to have intercourse too often where it becomes a problem for her is not permissible (Durr-e-Mukhtar, Bahar etc.)

Rule: If it is the turn to spend time with one wife then the night will be taken into consideration and one is not allowed to go to the other wife without a need. One can go during the day for some reason and if the other wife/wives are not well then one can go to see them at night. And if the illness is serious then he can also stay with her when there is no one to look after her. He can not go to the other wives during the day for intercourse when he has to spend his time with a wife. (Johar etc.)

Rule: It is upto the husband that he fixes one day each with the wives, three days or even a week each. (Durr-e-Mukhtar)

Islamic law stipulates such provisions in view of the inescapable fact that if a husband takes on an additional sex partner without commitment to the types of responsibilities we have mentioned here, in other words, if he opts for adultery, this will be more destructive to human interests than if this added sexual bond is restricted and regulated by the controls and limitations involved in a legally valid marriage contract. The wisdom in this is that the fairness with which the husband treats his wives will look to overcome the feelings of jealousy or envy which might arise between the women involved. In the sense that the wives will be assured that their husband is treating his wives equally and fairly and thus not neglecting one wife over another. This will further lead to the wives directing their energies instead towards creating an atmosphere of happiness in each household. Secondly, these conditions serve to discourage the man from taking another wife unless there is a clear need to do so.

Given considerations such as these, one finds that according to statistics provided by the Arab League, the rate of polygamy in the Arab world between 1987-1996 came to no more than 7 to 10 cases per 1,000 it goes without saying that polygamy involves compliance with the conditions we have outlined above and which are derived from Islamic law.

While Western societies leave the door wide open for the husband to practise “unofficial” polygamy without binding him to any rules or holding him accountable to any standards of justice, Islamic law leaves the door to polygamy only partially open, as it were, by imposing heavy fines on the husband who engages in this practice and holding him accountable to a strict criterion of fairness with respect to nights spent with his respective wives, financial support, the provision of adequate, separate accommodation and personal treatment. Hence, treatment to all wives will be fair and they will not be used just as a toy!

I am sure you know someone who flirts with women and leaves her heart broken just for some personal pleasure. Is there no respect for women? Are the women just a toy? Where is the equality in this I ask? The West are very quick to point fingers, however, they don’t realise there are three fingers pointing towards them!

One night stand

In a one night’s stand or should I say an hour’s enjoyment, the man has fulfilled his enjoyment, leaving the woman used and thrown like a used rag or even left pregnant, leaving the woman with either two choices: one getting an abortion and killing a life; or secondly, bringing up the child without true upbringing by the father (if she knows who the father is). In Islamic law if a man wants sexual pleasure, then okay go ahead, however, with conditions; i.e. looking after the partner and those already mentioned. Islamic law looks at the respect of women rather than just using them for an hour’s enjoyment and leaving them with unwanted and life destroying memories.

Islam has taken into consideration the respect, and equality of women, but it is the West who don’t understand it!

Who’s the Daddy?iii

Up to three million Britons may be wrong about who their real father is, experts claim. But using DNA paternity tests to discover the truth can cause its own problems.

When Tessa found out she was pregnant after fertility treatment, she felt a mix of delight and doubt.

This wasn’t simply pre-baby nerves – she suspected that her husband might not be the father. For Tessa had started sleeping with a colleague when the stress of the ongoing treatment became too much.

Keen to build a family with her husband, she let him believe the baby was his. But her lover threatened to reveal all if she ended the affair, and Tessa soon fell pregnant again. This time, her lover started to make nuisance calls to her home. 3 www.GardensOfSunnah.co.uk

Tessa had no choice but to tell her husband. “I said to him, ‘I’ve had an affair and you may not be the father of my children.’ So with that, he went up the stairs, got dressed and left. And that was it,” Tessa says in Women Who Live a Lie, a programme for the BBC’s Five Live Report.

After a paternity test determined that her husband hadn’t fathered either child, he broke off all contact.

“I kept this a secret because I thought that my worst nightmare would come true, that the family would be split. Which it has been,” Tessa says. Her children, now five and six, never see the man they first knew as “Dad”.

Reasons in favour of polygamy

1) Wars and natural disasters may sometimes cause an appreciable decline in the number of men in society as compared with the number of women, for the reason that men take greater risks on such occasions as soldiers and fighters.4 Such events may leave countless alone to look after themselves or they may be provided with the security of a home and protection. The Islamic law prefers the latter course. Since it aims at the establishment of a pious, just, and morally strong society, it does not tolerate any woman seeking refuge under the roof of any man unless she is married to him or he is within the prohibited degrees of relationship to her.

4 Casualties in Iraq. The Human Cost of Occupation Edited by Michael Ewens. http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/ American Military Casualties in Iraq



American Deaths

Since war began (19/03/03):


Since “Mission Accomplished” (1//05/03) (the list)


Since Capture of Saddam (13/12/03):


Since Handover (29/06/04):


Since Election (31/01/05):


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