Does Islam Allow Men to Marry Multiple Wives?

Yes. Muslim men can marry four wives.

I know, it feels weird.  You maybe have this ideal of American love stories where one man and one woman are together forever and there’s no one else.  I was raised with the same idea and in my future family, I hope that happens to be the case.  But it’s not always the case.  If you keep reading, you’ll get a little bit of insight into it, I promise.

Islam is a religion filled with feminism – equality for women is exceptionally important in our religion! The Prophet Muhammad commanded that baby girls may no longer be killed as they were previously buried alive within their society as the “norm.” (That’s just a quick of the top of my head example).


So, if our religion is so filled with this idea of equality, how come men can marry four wives and women can’t marry multiple husbands? HOW COME A GUY CAN MARRY FOUR WOMEN?!? How does his first wife feel?!

First, let’s look at this historically.

At the time that the revelation came that men could marry four wives at one time, men were dying in battle. In huge quantities. 

When a society loses a significant proportion of its men, and the women are not the providers as it is not fitting of the time in 600 A.D.+, who the heck is going to take care of those women? And children? How will they eat?

Mama bear can’t just go out and get a job like in today’s world. There were very few #bossladies. (Although Prophet Muhammad’s wife Khadija was a successful businesswoman when he married her!)

Thus, men married multiple women as a means of taking care of the society as a whole. 

Also, at the time, men were marrying twenty-seven or forty-six women at one time and there was nothing wrong with it.  It was culturally normal.  The decree that men could only marry four was actually a huge change at the time. JUST FOUR?

For example (the best of examples)… Prophet Muhammad (may God’s peace be upon him) was married to his first wife (Khadija) for 25 years before she passed away. He was not married to another woman during her life.  Their love story is very beautiful if you ever have time to read it.

When she died, he married multiple other wives (the number varies based on who you ask).  A majority of them were widows or of different tribes.  Their marriages were as a means to provide for those women or as a social means of connecting tribes together.

Still feel yucky? It’s okay….

This practice does happen in Muslim countries.  Someday when I decide to get married, I could be a second wife – or a first and he finds someone else to marry.

But, I’m not too worried about that, nor am I too upset.

Why? Because there’s multiple conditions upon which he has to fulfill in order to participate in this practice.

He has to treat all of them EXACTLY equally.  That’s not easy. I recently adopted two kittens that are sisters. I bought them at the same time, and I still have a favorite (shhh… don’t tell them).

He has to provide them each their own living quarters. If he gives one of them something, he has to give it to the other. You gotta be rich to have that kinda swag, people!

And yes, there are people (albeit very few) that I know that are children of second wives or third wives or fourth wives.  Their father is still the strong, loving father to them as he is to his other wives and other children.  Their mothers still feel taken care of and loved by the father from what they tell me.

Look… I can’t lie. It’s not for everyone.  With my upbringing, I don’t think I could sleep a wink knowing my husband is with another woman and that I have to share his heart with her. 

But, because this is a decree from God, I accept it. I respect it.  

If my husband wants to marry another wife, there will be some STRONG words from me against that choice, but it is his right.

And, if he has a valid reason for it (i.e. by the time I’m married I’m 47 years old and I can’t have babies…) then I could absolutely understand that situation.

When I look at these two aspects – the practicality and the context historically – I see why it’s SO rare among Muslims and SO RARE among my group of friends and their families.

Once I talked to a friend who was divorced and I asked him why didn’t you take another wife instead of getting divorced? He said, “HALF of a wife would be too much for me, why would I ever want TWO?”

And, that’s the common feeling of Muslim men.

A vast majority want the same lovey dovey fairytale the girls want. Especially the ones from our generation.

May Allah make each woman and each man who come together in marriage fulfilling to the other – emotionally, domestically, physically, and in all other applications. May they care for each other in all contexts. And, may He help us to see His Reasons behind His Wisdom.

“And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you.” (Quran 2:216).


4 thoughts on “Does Islam Allow Men to Marry Multiple Wives?

  1. Perfect quote at the end of this post. Sometimes (although your explanation of this issue is concise) we do not understand all of the reasons God has decreed what he has decreed according to the Qur’an or the sunnah of the prophet Muhammed (may peace and blessings be upon him), but we follow it because we know the Qur’an was sent to us from God as a guidance for all people.

    This is off the subject, but I wanted to ask you a question as a fellow convert: Is it difficult for you to explain this reasoning to others? About following the Qur’an because we know it is from Allah and that Muhammed is the last and final prophet? Like, what I’m getting at is that in the past I was of the belief that “to each his own” and that any one religion someone followed was not “better” so to speak than another. I understood that each follower of any particular religion believes that religion to be the true religion (or else they wouldn’t follow it.) But now, after learning about Islam, I now understand that ISLAM really is the one true religion! So it seems hypocritical of me to be like, “Mmm, that’s nice that you think that about Buddism, but this is actually how it is…”

    And I never would ever present it like that, I mean, I would never tell someone, “hey, you’re wrong -” but in reality, that IS what I believe. The prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) showed us to respect other religions and to create dialogue based on that respect, and I adhere to that in all of my interactions with others (or at least I strive to.) But I just wonder if you have the same issues with the dichotomy of that, where you may have believed something different in the past, but now you know that you know the truth?

    I laugh to myself because for some reason this just seems funny to me in that I feel NO ONE else can understand that except a convert (or perhaps someone who did not follow Islam they were raised with but discovered it later maybe.)

    Sorry for the too-long comment – I know there is a standard of protocol with the length of a reply, but I totally threw it out the window.

    1. LoL there’s no standards here. It’s really an interesting question. It all just depends on who I’m speaking with. Usually, I say, “in Islam….” which is both correct and is a means to open up the subject to that person without pressure. Allah says in the Quran, “there is no compulsion in religion. Truth stands clear from error” (sorry, I’m paraphrasing in English so might not be 100% word for word). Accordingly, I think presenting our beliefs should be enough. And, He is the Merciful One so who know if it is true or not.

      When I speak to other people and do dawah, I just remember how I felt when other people spoke to me about Islam. I hated when I felt pressured and I loved when they described it to me broadly. So, that’s what I try to do with others. Whether I know it’s the truth or not, I can’t force the truth on them. It will be clear to them. Plus, I’m obviously quite a weirdo so my tone and playful nature might help a bit 😉

      May Allah guide us all.

      Honored to be your sister in Islam ❤

      With love,

      1. Also, P.S., for me it’s a bit different because I never believed something that contradicts with Islam (even before I knew Islam was) – I just never knew the word for it…. if that makes sense?

  2. man can marry multiple wives. yeah, cause more homos than lesbians,
    ps: if you are the 2nd wife or u are the 1st wife and ur husband is about taking the 2nd wife, ask him to take another 3rd and 4th wives.
    if he cant,,,, u gotta worry about that.

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