Can a Man Marry without the Permission of His First Wife?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


Is it true that in Islam, when a man wishes to marry, he is not required to inform or obtain permission from his first wife? Can you provide a hadith on this?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

I pray you are well.


Yes, this is true; the Quran permits a man to marry up to four wives but with due consideration financial, emotional, and physical from the husband. A husband should not look at the mere permission to marry up to four wives but the whole context of the permission with conditions.


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]

Also, “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]

Treating Everyone with Equality and Justice

Then 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 fairly and equally is easier said than done. Many people think they can treat their wives justly, but the reality 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 challenging for humans to be entirely fair, which the Quran recognizes.


Al-Miswar ibn Makhramah (Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, say upon the pulpit, “Verily, the sons of Hisham ibn al-Mughirah have sought my permission to marry their daughters to Ali ibn Abi Talib. I do not give permission, again I do not give permission, and again I do not give permission unless Ali ibn Abi Talib intends to divorce my daughter and marry their daughters. Verily, she is only a part of me. I am upset by what upsets her, and I am harmed by what harms her.”  [Bukhari; Muslim]

Imam Nawawi said, “The Prophet prohibited that because of his perfect compassion for Ali and for Fatimah, and secondly because he feared she would be tested with jealousy.” [Nawawi, Sharḥ al-Nawawi ‘ala Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim]

In summary, Islam recommends marrying only one wife at a time but allows up to four, one at a time, with the condition that one is fair to his co-wives and does not physically or emotionally harm any of them.

Reader on Polygamy in Islam

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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.