Can a Man Marry a Second Wife If He Cannot Fulfil Her Rights?

Question:  Assalamu ‘alaykum.  Two of my uncle’s three children have had kidney failures. Doctors have advised them not to have more children. He now wishes to marry again, and his sister is encouraging him. I do not believe he can fulfill the rights of the second marriage. Can he remarry?


Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.
I pray you are well.


Multiple Marriages Have Consequences

In general, it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry up to four ladies. The feasibility and practicality of this changes with time and place. In most cultures, it is not the norm, and it can affect the iman of the first wife negatively.

Due to the strong emotional burden on the first wives – in this scenario – they could end up doing something which is not good for their relationship with Allah. This is a concern the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had for Fatima when ‘Ali considered marrying Juwayriya, the daughter of Abu Jahl. (Ibn Hajar Fath al-Bari)

Also, many a time, marrying a second wife can lead to one’s relationship with his children to suffer. They see their mother in pain and see that the father and his new wife are the cause of it. Eventually, it can strain their relationship. All of these things need to be considered when wanting to marry again.


Marriage Can Be Haram In Some Cases

One may marry another wife if he is confident that he will be able to be completely fair in his treatment of both wives. If there is a chance that he will not then he should not marry again. In fact, it may even be haram to marry another woman. If there is any sort of unjust treatment, then the likelihood of this is very high. (Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar)

An intelligent person does not put himself in a situation where he will bring harm to himself. Allah commanded the believers to remain with one wife if there is any chance of injustice: ”If you fear that you will not be fair then [marry] just one…” [Qur’an, 4:3]

This is enough to make most people think. At the end of the day, you can advise your uncle. He must make his own decisions and live with the consequences. Do your best to promote good relations with everyone involved. Allah will reward you abundantly.

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May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.