Are Secret Marriages Permissible in Islam?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


I’ve read that marrying a second secret wife is technically permissible but generally unwise and wrong in today’s time. I want to understand how it is technically permissible. I understand a man need not seek his wife’s permission. However, it seems to be basic ethical decency to have an honest and non-deceit-filled marriage, to let the first wife know beforehand. Why does this basic decency not matter in Islam in this scenario, e.g., it may be halal to lie technically – but is it good and encouraged to be a liar, a dishonest person? Is that being a good Muslim? Secondly, I thought any marriage has to be announced to your family and community. Your wife is your family; would she not be told ahead and invited to your second marriage?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

I pray you are in good faith and health. Thank you for your question.

It would be wrong of any man to do a secret marriage in this way, and it would undermine the wife’s honor and respect. Islam and its teachings of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and His companions (Allah be pleased with them all) have not encouraged to do secret marriages. In fact, the opposite is mentioned to announce your marriage. The validity of marriage (nikah) in and of itself is a separate matter; even scholars do not permit it unless there are exceptions; if one is committing adultery, then it is better for him to do so than to remain in sin.

Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Announce the marriage.” [Ibn Hibban]

This is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has mentioned in other hadiths, in addition to the contract, in order to cut off any suspicion of promiscuity, such as having the guardian’s presence and preventing a woman from conducting it by herself, to beat the drums, raise voices, and hold a banquet. (walima)

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[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.