Question: Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. Is polygamy the basic ruling and norm of marriage in Islam? Many Muslims are keen to have more than one wife believing that this is the basis and the norm. Is this Islamically correct?
Jazakum Allahu khayran.
Answer: Wa `alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
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.
Brother, we really appreciate your forwarding this question to us, and we commend your keenness on getting yourself well-acquainted with the teachings of Islam. May Allah help us all keep firm on the right path, amen!
As far as Islamic Shari`ah is concerned, there is nothing in the sources of Shari`ah to the effect that the norm or the basic ruling of marriage in Islam is polygamy or taking only one wife. The ruling of marriage in either forms depends on the circumstances surrounding that marriage. Polygamy may be obligatory for a certain person and may be haram (Arabic for: prohibited) for another.
In his response to your question, eminent Muslim scholar and renowned da`iyah Sheikh `Abdel-Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef states, It is not Islamically correct to say that the basic ruling or norm of marriage in Islam is polygamy or sticking to having one wife. There is nothing in the sources of Shari`ah to the effect that any of the two is the norm or the basic ruling and the other is not that. Had the basic ruling been polygamy, Almighty Allah would have created women more than the double of men in all ages and places in order for each man to be able to marry two or more women. That is because Almighty Allah did not order His creation to do the impossible. Almighty Allah always commands people to do what is possible.
So, what some Muslims may believe with regard to this issue is wrong. Furthermore, Muslim scholars are of the opinion that marriage whether in the form of polygamy or having one wife is subject to all the five Shari`ah rulings: wajib (obligatory), mandub (commendable), mubah (permissible), makruh (reprehensible), or muharram (prohibited). The ruling differs based on the circumstances surrounding the case in question.
Allah Almighty knows best.