Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
I have no problem marrying widows or divorcees or reverts with children. People always try to tell me that if I want multiple wives, I can only have four widows or divorcees. Is it permissible for me to marry four virgins if I am certain I can treat them all equally?
I also don’t need to ask my wife’s permission to marry more wives, but I will definitely marry in public because zina is hidden, and marriage is the sunna of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) that should be public.
Shari’a says I’m fine as long as I can find four women who are aware of my financial situation and still want to marry me, even if I can’t financially support four wives. Am I correct?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
I pray you are in good faith and health. Thank you for your question.
People usually get married to one woman, and if they can, they try to marry or intend to marry a second, third, and so on. In the Western world, there are very few instances of multiple marriages. However, there are cases in every town or city, possibly in other parts of the world.
The Quran allows a man to marry up to four women, provided the husband meets their financial, emotional, and physical needs. A husband should consider the entire context of the permission and conditions rather than just the simple permission to marry up to four women.
Context of Multiple Marriages
Allah Most High says, “If you fear you might fail to give orphan women their rights (if you were to marry them), then marry other women of your choice—two, three, or four. But if you are afraid you will fail to maintain justice, then (content yourselves with) one or those in your possession. This way, you are less likely to commit injustice.” [Quran, 4:3]
“You will never be able to maintain (emotional) justice between your wives—no matter how keen you are. So do not totally incline towards one leaving the other in suspense. And if you do what is right and are mindful ˹of Allah˺, surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Quran, 4:129]
One should look at the hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “A man who has two wives and he does not deal justly with them will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment with half his body paralyzed.” [Tirmidhi]
Treating Wives Justly
Treating wives fairly and equally is easier said than done. Many people think they are capable of treating their wives justly, but the reality on the ground is somewhat different. They start off treating them justly but eventually fall into the major sin of unjust and unfair treatment.
Equal treatment includes all physical and financial needs. It is very difficult for human beings to be completely fair, a fact that the Quran recognizes.
Wives Who Will Absolve Their Rights
If you can find wives who will absolve their rights knowing your financial incapability and accept you as you are, then it will be permissible. However, they can ask for it later in their marriage, which can be difficult for you.
The summary is Islam recommends marrying only one wife; however permits up to four, one at a time, with conditions of being fair to the co-wives and not harming any of them physically, financially, or emotionally.
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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.