Polygamy: Norm or Exception?


I had previously understood that polygamy is allowed in Islam. Recently, however, I was informed that Islam is in fact against polygamy, yet still there are some that say polygamy is the right of man and is the norm and not the exception. What is your opinion on this matter?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, we would like to thank you for your question and the great confidence you place in us. May Allah reward you abundantly for your interest in knowing the teachings of Islam!

As regards the issue you raised, the European Council for Fatwa and Research issued the following Fatwa:

“There is a consensus amongst Muslims, historically and currently, that polygamy is permissible, and that it is not allowed for a Muslim to have more than four wives at any one time. Further, that if a Muslim has two or more wives he should practice equality of provision and abode amongst them. For Allah Almighty says: “…marry women of your choice two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them) then only one or (a captive) that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice.” (An-Nisa’: 3)

We know of no clear evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah, which encourages the Muslim to either keep to one wife, or to polygamy. However, it has been narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whosoever had two wives and treats one of them more favorably than the other will come on the Day of Judgment bent to one side.” (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah) This hadith warns against polygamy should the man not be able to practice equality amongst his wives.”


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