Polygamy Explained, Part 2: Rules of Engagement

Written by Theresa Corbin

Part I here

Many people have an emotional response to the thought of polygamy.

It only makes sense. When you ask someone to think logically about their emotional relationships, it can be difficult.  The ugly emotional center of the brain rears up and goes into attack mode, bullying the more logical frontal lobe into submission.

polygamy explained part 2

It is hard to separate the emotional and the logical. Add that fact to the fact that we live in a culture that is emotionally attached to believing Disney fairy tales are true … and happen in real life … makes it very difficult to have a logical conversation about polygamy. 

But we can logically conclude that if a bird has never flown in your window and helped out with your laundry, it is less likely that a good looking, well-mannered, charming, respectful man or woman from a royal line and tons of money and super good looks will swoop in and solve and/or save you from every problem you have.

And you will most likely not live happily ever after just because you have faith in love. To my mind, this leads to alcoholism. Sorry to break the news. We are all just people and we all screw up and break each other’s hearts.

In the previous post our good friend Gracie touched on the topic of polygyny (Polygamous marriages where a man marries more than one women) and gave examples of when it is advantageous for women.

And she pointed out that, while we live in a society and a time where women have many opportunities to be educated and independent, not everyone has this system or these opportunities. And even those who do have these opportunities, may still choose polygamy for other reasons.

For some people polygamy works (but if you are in a country where it is illegal and you want to get polygamous, you have two options 1-don’t do it, or 2-leave). That is not to say it is for everyone. It REALLY isn’t.

A tip for the sisters: No one should make anyone be a part of a polygamous relationship against their will.

Muslims didn’t start the party

Some non-Muslims base their opinion of Islam solely on the practice of polygyny. But can we please, just for today, remember a little further back than the American media recommends? 

Islam was not the initiator or promoter of polygamy. Polygamy was being practiced long before the existence of Islam. Jews, Christians, and many other [religions and] cultures practiced polygamy, and some still continue to do so. Famous prophets practiced polygamy, such as David, Solomon, and Abraham. In fact, Islam was the only religion that restricted and regulated polygamous marriages. 

And, we at islamwich do not advocate polygamy outside of the strict Islamic guidelines.

THAT never works, because it can so very quickly become oppressive. The way some communities practice polygamy is rather reprehensible. I have heard of men marrying pairs of sisters and even mothers and daughters (you are just asking for drama in those situations) and all women are sleeping on the floor of one room. That is called greed and neglect, not polygamy.

Even within some Muslim families polygamy is not practice in compliance with the Islamic guidelines. I have seen it a hundred times, some lazy piece of $#!+ brother marries a nice religious sister, who may not have a lot of Islamic knowledge, but she tries. And this brother convinces her that it is his right to marry another woman.

The problem is he isn’t taking care of the first wife. She works, does all the chores, and is raising their children. I am sure he is bored with no way to expend his energy besides sitting around playing video games and talking about how women don’t wear hijab properly. And I am sure she is exhausted from all her responsibilities. His “logical” answer is to get another one. WRONG!!!!!

Another tip for sisters: You get to write a contract when you get married. If you aren’t down with getting polygamous, put it in your contract. And YES, it is allowed. Just ask Ibn al-Qayyim who wrote in Zâd al-Ma`âd (5/117-118):

If a man agrees to the condition that he will not marry a second wife, he is obliged by that condition. If the man breaks his promise, the woman will be entitled to terminate the marriage contract.

And there is a precedent for it in the Sunnah

The rules of the road.

[..] marry women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them) then only one. (Quran 4:3)

1-      Polygamy is not an obligated rule; it is a permissible act.

In truth, not many men can stand up to the test of polygamy, but they still want to fail trying because they believe it to be their “right”. But:

Polygamy is not a right, but a responsibility to ensure social justice […] What Allah has granted is in fact a restriction on an existing practice of that time when men could marry as many wives as they wanted.- 

2-      It’s all about the Benjamins-

It is the man’s responsibility to provide for his family. He must, to the best of his ability, provide his wife and their offspring with an appropriate standard of living. If the wife decides she would also like to earn money, it is hers to keep, entirely (this is not to say that couples cannot make different arrangements for financial means. They can but only if both partners agree). 

So, if you cannot afford one wife and your children with her, you absolutely cannot go looking for another wife you cannot afford to provide for. To be clear, wives should be given separate accommodations. So, if you can’t afford two house or even apartment, shut up about another wife. 

3-       Allah says in the Quran that men are not capable.

You will never able to be fair and just between women even if that were your ardent desire. (Quran 4:129).

In this verse, just treatment means so much more than a man’s financial capacity to support more than one wife. We have seen it before, men with money are very capable of showering their loved one’s with things, but seem incapable of doing the same showering with time or affection. 

A husband must give equally to each wife his time, support, and companionship. 

4-       It ain’t no fantasy, folks  

Polygamy in Islam is not an orgy as it has been too long thought of in the Western men’s lust fulfillment fantasy. Polygamy in Islam is taking on the responsibilities of another family. It is a man giving his respect to all his in-laws. It is dealing with the good, the bad, and the ugly from multiple women. It is working as much as you have to, so you can support your wives and all your children financially, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and so on.

It is hard enough to be man enough for one woman and family; imagine having to work two to four times as hard.- My husband said in an interview after he did the dishes: an effort to live up to the Prophet’s (PBUH) example of being man enough to do housework.

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5 thoughts on “Polygamy Explained, Part 2: Rules of Engagement

  1. Sister Corbin, this post is simply Mind blowing. ………………….I’m really impressed, in fact, Im mesmerized by the presentation ! its one of the bestest posts i have ever read. ( Masha Allah)
    Your tips for the Sisters will be very helpful indeed…….
    I think the Best part of this post is—–” A tip for the sisters: before you get married, ask the brother if he is now married or does he ever want another wife. And if he says yes to either questions, and that is not your thing, don’t marry him. Avoid “trying to change his mind”- seriously- move on. No one should make anyone be a part of a polygamous relationship against their will. Another helpful hint- for whatever reason he gives you- if he refuses to marry you legally–RED FLAG–run away on the beautiful legs God gave you. There are other men, lots and lots of them. Did I mention that there are a lot of brothers who want to marry Western women? “..
    I agree with you that there are a lot of Muslims who want to Marry western women just for a better life in Western countries. Its Sad but a reality. So a western Muslim Sister Must try to choose who is religiously committed, Practicing, and of good character . If a Muslim sister /brother really wants a good husband/ wife , Allah will help him/ her to Find . Insha Allah.

    May Allah (SWT) bless My sister Corbin today & every day! Aameen


    1. Walaikum Asalam, brother. Thank you for the compliments but it is truly from Allah. Alhamdulillah! And that bit of advice was given to me before I go married and it has served me well. I am happy to pass it along to young sisters who wish to get married. Sisters need to use what Islam has given them in order to protect themselves, that is the purpose. No one should be forced into a relationship style they are not comfortable with. Thanks again for reading and your kind words. Jazakallahu Khair. May Allah bless you and you family.


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