Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
I know a lot of Muslim sisters, myself included, who are very confused about the reason why men are allowed to have four wives. Is it because they have such an uncontrollable lust for women?
I am confused because many women, myself included, lust for men just as strong. I know many women who wish they could have more male partners, so why is it that only men are allowed four wives? How come no one addresses female sexual desires?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Men and women are different, and the Shari’ah is vast and wise enough to encompass that, throughout the different stages of human history.
The ruling for four wives was a limitation – a way to limit the even larger number of wives and concubines which were common to men during the time of Revelation. I encourage you to read this article to better understand the context: The Muslim Marriage Crisis – A Frank Conversation with Imam Zaid Shakir.
The Prophet Muhammad (upon him be blessings and peace) was unique his decision to have only one wife – our Liegelady Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) – for the duration of their marriage. Only after his death did he marry again, to more than one wife at a time.
In the modern day context, it is highly inadvisable for a man to marry more than one wife. Polygamy in today’s age opens the door to financial, emotional and spiritual abuse. For example, irresponsible men keep their second wives secret from their first wives, causing so much heartache to all parties upon their death. Legitimate children from second wives often miss out on their rightful portion of inheritance, often because the first wife and her children didn’t even know they existed. When they do, feelings of anger and betrayal can surface.
There are many different reasons why polyandry (marriage to multiple men) is not permitted in Islam.
Among the five things preserved by the Shari’ah (preservation of religion, life, intellect, lineage, and wealth), lineage is one of them. If a woman were to have more than one husband, then she would not be certain about the identity of the father of her child. This matters in Islam. Not everybody is able to check the paternity of their offspring.
Please refer to this article: Why Polyandry Is Not Permissible?
One of the most common challenges faced by wives is difficult interactions with in-laws. The most infamous difficult interaction would be with a woman’s mother-in-law. In many cultures, the expectations upon a son-in-law are worlds apart from that of a daughter-in-law, and, sadly, it is rarely in the favour of the daughter-in-law. Allah knows this about His creation, and nothing of the sacrifice of women is lost on Him.
Please reflect on this – if a woman were to have four husbands, then she would be burdened with four mothers-in-law. None of the women I know would ever willingly endure something like that, no matter how attractive the prospective husband(s) may be.
Female sexuality is important in Islam, even if too little is written about it. Many young Muslim women are unaware about their sexual rights and responsibilities, and this ignorance is perpetuated because they are too embarrassed to find out, and/or they do not know who to ask.
In our fragmented modern world, there is a great loss of connection to authentic traditional knowledge, including a proud tradition of female scholarship. The misogyny and ignorance that you see today is directly connected to that.
I encourage you to commit to being part of the revival of traditional Islamic scholarship by enrolling in at least one course. Please have trust in your Just and Loving Creator. The mistakes of creation do not reflect on your Creator.
Can a Husband Marry a Second Wife Without His First Wife’s Permission?
My Husband Does Not Satisfy Me During Marital Relations. What Can I Do?
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.