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 Polygamy: Not a Sixth Pillar of Islam and Can Be Avoided

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Obedient Angel

Join date : 2011-04-30
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Polygamy: Not a Sixth Pillar of Islam and Can Be Avoided Empty
PostSubject: Polygamy: Not a Sixth Pillar of Islam and Can Be Avoided   Polygamy: Not a Sixth Pillar of Islam and Can Be Avoided Icon_minitimeSat May 11, 2013 6:23 pm


I've heard from many scholars that polygamy has rules and restrictions, and that it is not for everyone, and not recommended either because the Quran says to marry only one. However I recently came across an Islamic web site and this is what they said on polygamy: "According to the hadith narrated by al-Bukhaari from Ibn ‘Abbaas, the best of this ummah are those who have most wives." Sorry, but I've NEVER heard that hadith before in my life. What is the reliability of this hadith? And are Muslim men really encouraged to take more than wife? I live in Canada, and if I tried to apply this principle it would be against the Law. What do you advise Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to do in such cases?

Salam Ali,

Thank you for your question.

Let me first clarify that the Hadith you referred to in your question is actually a saying attributed to `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him). Sa`id ibn Jubair is reported to have said: Ibn `Abbas said to me: “Did you get married?” I replied in the negative. So Ibn `Abbas said: “Then get married, as the best of this Ummah (Muslim nation) had the most wives.” (Al-Bukhari)

According to Ibn Hajar, the famous Hadith commentator, Ibn `Abbas refers to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he had multiple wives. And this Ummah means the Muslim nation which followed the Prophet and not previous nations as Prophets David and Solomon had more wives than what the Prophet had. (Fath al-Bari, 9:114)

Therefore, Ibn `Abbas’ saying cannot be interpreted to be a general rule that the best Muslims are those who have the most wives. Ibn `Abbas was just encouraging Ibn Jubair to get married. This is what al-Muhallab said on his commentary on this hadith. (Ibn Battal, Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:164)

This is the Islamic stance on marriage in general. It is highly recommended to get married in order to have a family that can contribute greatly to the progress of the community. Marriage is not an invention. It has been practiced by Islam by all people including Prophets themselves. We read in the Quran:

{And verity We sent messengers (to mankind) before you, and We appointed for them wives and offspring…} (Ar-Ra`d 13:38)

Marriage is a sacred bond which must be based on love and respect. Muslim men are highly urged to be fair with their wives and never abuse them. Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said:

"The best among you are those who are best to your households; I am the best among you to my household." (Al-Bukhari)

Muslim scholars view that marriage is subject to the five categories of Islamic rulings. It can be obligatory, recommended, permissible, forbidden, or prohibited according to the circumstances of each case.

As for the issue of polygamy, I am not going to delve into why it is permitted. This is because there is no clear answer to this question in the Quran, which Muslims believe is the word of God, or the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Whatever reasons people give are just human interpretations which might be accurate or inaccurate. But it is important to state that the Quran is the only divine book that tells its followers to marry one wife and the reason for that. This is when one cannot establish justice among more than one wife. In this case, he is recommended to marry only one woman.

We read in the Quran what means:

{… but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then (marry) only one.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:3)

All other scriptures give man the right to marry as many women as he wishes. Recently, some religious groups restricted the number to one wife.

Polygamy is there in the Shari`ah. It is an option. It is not a sixth pillar of Islam that every Muslim has to practice it. Polygamy is not the norm; it is the exception. In no way can it be said that a man with two, three, or four wives is better in the sight of Allah than a man with one wife only.

Given the above, polygamy is not an issue that you should busy yourself with. It is not a priority in Islam. It falls within the category of the permissible things in Islam. You will not be asked on the Day of Judgment why you did not marry more than one woman.

What is more important is to integrate in the Canadian society and be an active member. Act as an ambassador for your religion. Be a role model for your neighbors, colleagues, friends, etc.

We thank you, Ali, for your concern not to break Canadian laws. This point takes us to a very crucial issue which should be given due attention. This issue has to do with the duties of Muslims living in a non-Muslim context. Muslims should be law-abiding people, and they should give a good image of Islam. Muslims have to cooperate with other community members and work for their welfare.

At the same time, Muslims should keep their identity and should not give concessions on core issues. Muslims have to take care of their families and raise their children according to the teachings of Islam.

I hope this answers your question.

The Prophet's Marriages and their Reasons

If a man promises his wife and her family that he will not marry a second wife, is he obliged by his promise even if the condition is not explicitly stated in the marriage contract? What if it is implicitly understood at the time the marriage is contracted that the man may not marry a second wife? Does this implicit understanding have the strength of an explicit condition in the contract?

Sheikh Muhammad al-Qannâs

The Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited `Ali from being married to his daughter and the daughter of Abû Jahl at the same time. He said: “The daughter of Allah’s Messenger will not be together with the daughter of Allah’s enemy.”

It can be understood from the context of this hadîth that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had placed a condition on `Alî not to marry any other woman beside Fâtimah. We can deduce this from what the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) said about his other son-in-law keeping his promise not to marry a second wife: “He spoke to me and he was truthful and promised me and fulfilled his promise.”

Ibn Hajr observes in Fath al-Bârî (7/86):

The words “He spoke to me and he was truthful” could be that he made a promise on himself not to marry another woman beside Zaynab. And the same was done by `Alî. Otherwise, it could be that `Alî had forgotten that condition and that is why he proceeded with that engagement to the second woman. Or, it could be that he assumed the condition did not apply to him since he did not pronounce it himself. However, he should nevertheless have respected this condition as something understood, and that is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) blamed him.

Ibn al-Qayyim writes 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.

It is mentioned in the hadîth that what took place is hurting Fâtimah and therefore hurting him. It is known for sure that the Prophet (peace be upon him) let `Alî marry his daughter Fâtimah on the condition that he does not hurt her or her father, even if that is not mentioned in the marriage contract. The Prophet (peace be upon him) brought up mention of his other son-in-law to incite `Ali to do the same.” The Prophet’s reproach of `Ali was on account of `Alî’s heedlessness of this condition.
And Allah knows best.

Types of Conditions in the Marriage Contract

I am a young man who is engaged and is going to get married. I've heard that at the time of the marriage contract, the wife can stipulate conditions in the contract. My question is: what are the limits of these conditions? What happens if the conditions are broken? Is it possible to give the wife herself the right to divorce (talaaq) if I break these conditions? Is it possible for the condition to be, for example, that I will not take another wife and in the event that I do take another wife she will be divorced from me?

I hope you can advise and explain this matter in detail. May Allah reward you with good.

Praise be to Allaah.

The basic principle with regard to the conditions stipulated by both partners in the marriage contract is that it is a valid condition that must be fulfilled, and it is not permissible to break it, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The condition which most deserves to be fulfilled is that by means of which intimacy becomes permissible for you.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2721) and Muslim (1418).

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The basic principle with regard to conditions in the marriage contract is that they are valid, unless there is proof to show that they are not valid. The evidence for that is the general meaning of the evidence which speaks of fulfilling covenants:

“O you who believe! Fulfil (your) obligations”

[al-Maa’idah 5:1]

“And fulfil (every) covenant. Verily, the covenant will be questioned about”

[al-Isra’ 17:34]

and in the hadeeth narrated from the Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) it says:

“The Muslims are bound by their conditions, except a condition that forbids what is permissible or permits what is forbidden.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1352). And he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever stipulates a condition that is not in the Book of Allaah it is not valid, even if he stipulates a hundred times.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2155) and Muslim (1504).

To sum up, the basic principle with regard to conditions is that they are permissible and valid, whether they are to do with marriage, buying and selling, renting, pledges or mortgages, or awqaaf. The ruling on the conditions that are stipulated in contracts, if they are valid, is that they must be fulfilled, because of the general meaning of the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Fulfil (your) obligations”

[al-Maa’idah 5:1].

End quote.

Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 5/241 (Egyptian edition).

For examples of that ,see the answers to questions number 20757 and 10343

With regard to the woman stipulating that the husband should not take a second wife, the opinion of some scholars is that this condition is permissible, and if the husband breaks it, the wife has the right to annul the marriage and take her dues in full.

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

If he stipulates that he will not take her out of her house or her city, or that he will not travel with her or will not take another wife, then he is obliged to fulfil that, and if he does not do so, then she has the right to annul the marriage. This was narrated from ‘Umar, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas and ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with them). End quote.

Al-Mughni, 9/483

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

If she stipulates that he should not take another wife, this is permissible. Some of the scholars said that it is not permissible, because it is restricting the husband in something that Allah has permitted to him, and it is contrary to the Qur'aan in which it says (interpretation of the meaning): “then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four” [al-Nisa’ 4:3]. It may be said in response to that that she has a reason to ask him not to marry another wife and she is not transgressing against anyone. The husband himself is the one who is giving up his right; if he has the right to marry more than one, he is giving it up. So what is to prevent this condition being valid?

Hence the correct view with regard to this matter is the view of Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), which is that this condition is valid. End quote.

Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 5/243

It should be noted that if the husband breaks this condition, his wife does not become divorced as a result of that, rather she has the right to annul the marriage, and she may either annul it or give up the condition and accept what her husband has done, and remain as his wife.

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) said:

Among other conditions that are valid in marriage is if she stipulates that he should not take another wife. If he fulfils the condition (all well and good), otherwise she has the right to annul the marriage because of the hadeeth, “The condition which most deserves to be fulfilled is that by means of which intimacy becomes permissible for you.” Similarly, if she stipulates that he should not separate her from her children or parents, this condition is valid and if he breaks it, she has the right to annul the marriage. If she stipulates that her mahr should be increased or that it should be in a specific currency, the condition is valid and binding, and he has to fulfil it, and she has the right of annulment if it is broken. In that case she has the choice and may decide any time she wants and may annul it whenever she wants, so long as there is nothing on her part to indicate that she accepts it if she knows that he has gone against what was stipulated; in that case she would no longer have the option.

‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) said to the one who he ruled was obliged to fulfil what his wife had stipulated, when the man said, “Divorce us in that case,” ‘Umar said: It is a must to fulfil the conditions, because of the hadeeth, “The believers are bound by their conditions.” Al-‘Allaamah Ibn al-Qayyim said: It is obligatory to fulfil these conditions which are the most deserving of being fulfilled. This is what is implied by sharee’ah, reason and sound analogy, if the woman did not agree to become a man's wife except on these conditions, and if it were not obligatory to fulfil them, then the marriage contract would not be based on mutual agreement, and it would be making something obligatory upon her that Allah and His Messenger have not made obligatory. End quote.

Al-Mulakhkhas al-Fiqhi (2/345, 346)

And Allah knows best.

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