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Why does Islam prohibit a woman from having more than one husband?

3008 2012/05/07 2024/05/30
Article translated to : Español


some people question the logic of allowing muslim men to have more than one spouse while denying the same "right" to women. while almost every society has supported the concept of a man having more than one woman, seldom has any social order ever supported the concept of a woman being married to two or more men at the same time.

the foundation of an islamic society is justice and equity. god created men and women equal as human beings but not identical in nature. they have innate differences physiologically and psychologically, and have different capabilities. hence, their roles and responsibilities may differ, but they serve to complement one another.

feminists might object to the male's right to more than one wife by insisting that women should also be able to practice polyandry.1 however, the following few points should be considered:

  1. as mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of polygamy is that it deals with the problem of women outnumbering men. conversely, polyandry would only add to this problem if several men, who are already in shortage, were to marry one of the women who are in abundance.

  2. in general, men are more polygamous by nature than women and have greater sexual needs.

  3. islam assigns great importance to the recognition of both parents. when a man has more than one wife, the parents of children born in the marriage can easily be identified. but in the case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children would be known. how would a child of such a marriage know who his father was without resorting to laboratory tests? would he accept his mother identifying the father by some chance method? although recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified through genetic testing, for a married woman to have to inquire who the father of her child is in order to register him in school or get medical care seems impractical, to say the least. in addition, psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, the father in particular, undergo mental disturbances and trauma, and often have unhappy childhoods.

biologically, it is not difficult for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. but a woman having several husbands would find it very difficult if not impossible to perform all her duties as a wife to each one of them. complying when each husband desired intimacy with her at various times, keeping house for each one, and looking after all of their children would undoubtedly be problematical.

these issues become obvious with a bit of reflection. moreover, it has now been medically proven that one of the major causes of the serious diseases which have become so widespread is women having intercourse with more than one man and the mixing of seminal fluids in the womb. hence, the qur'an has prescribed a waiting period for the woman who has been divorced or widowed so that enough time passes for her womb to be cleansed of any traces of the former husband before she marries again.

1 i.e., marriage to more than one husband.



the quotations from clear your doubts about islam have been uploaded by permission of the publisher, dar abul-qasim, jeddah. no part of their book may be reproduced or translated, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise – without written permission from the publisher.



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