Polygamy in Islam
Missionaries and orientalists treat the subject of polygamy as if it were one of the rites of Islam, or one of its duties, or at least a desirable practice in Islam. This is an inaccuracy or a misconception. The overwhelming norm of marriage, for a Muslim, is to marry one woman to be his solace, the joy of his heart, the keeper of his house, and the one to trust with his secrets. Thus, quietude, love, and mercy, the foundation of married life according to the Qur’an, would support them. Therefore, the learned say, “It is disliked for a man who has a wife who is chaste and modest and who is enough for him to marry another. This will subject him to what is forbidden.” The Almighty says: “You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire, so do not incline too much to one of them (by giving her more of your time and provision) so as to leave the other hanging (i.e. neither divorced nor married)”. [Surah 4:129] The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “The man who had two wives and was inclined towards one of them will come on the Day of Judgement bent to one side”. [ Transmitted by Abu Dawud – his own wording – (3133), Al Termithy (1141), A-Nisa’i, 7/63, Ibn Majah (1969), Al-Doramy p.539, and Ahmad, 2/347, 471. All on the authority of Abu Huraira.] As for the man who is unable to sustain a second wife, or who is afraid of not being fair [ The obligatory fairness is to treat them equally in maintenance, clothing and housing. He is forbidden to go to the one on the night devoted to the other except out of expedience such as a crisis or grave illness. He is also forbidden to go there in the day time except for necessity such as a visit for a harmless illness, or to inquire about a certain matter he needs. If he does not stay long, there is no expiation because it is a slight matter. If he stays or has his lust consumed, he should expiate by going to the one he treated unfairly and staying at her place the same time he stayed with the first woman. That is what is decided as an elucidation of the obligatory justice.] to both of them, it is for bidden for him to marry another.
The Almighty says:” but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one”. [Surah 4:3]
Though it preferable for a man to have only one wife to avoid slips and out of fear of troubles in this world as well as punishment on the Day of Judgement, there are other humane considerations for the individual and society-which we will mention-that made Islam allow the Muslim to marry more than one wife. This is because Islam is the religion which conforms to sound naturalness and treats reality with out escape, exaggeration or fantasy.