Society and Culture

Why is Polygamy Allowed in Islam?

One of the most frequently asked questions about Islam is — why does Islam allow polygamy?

I recently read about an American singer who decided after reverting to Islam to have multiple wives. He kept doing everything that is forbidden in Islam, and he used Islam as an excuse for his polygamous lifestyle. Question is, why do people misuse Islam to hide their flaws and justify their actions?

Does Islam allow polygamy? The answer is yes, but it is allowed only as an exception. Monogamy still the preferred form of marriage, and if you ask me: does Islam encourage polygamy? I will say no.

Islam did not invent the system of polygamy. In fact, polygamy came into existence even before Islam! Hinduism allows men to have multiple wives, and the father of Hindu god Rama had three wives, whereas Hindu god Krishna had over a hundred. To be honest, Islam was the first religion that had the courage to tackle the issue of polygamy and limit the number of wives one can have.

Islam has put stringent conditions on a person who wants to have more than one wife. One of these conditions is to treat them equally and not to favor one woman over another, in order to ensure justice and equality between wives. The Quran says: [1]

But if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one.

Islam is a practical religion; and it intends to protect the women and preserve their dignity. The value of polygamy becomes very clear in times of war when the husband dies and the woman can’t take care of herself and her children because of lack of material resources. Instead of forcing such women to resort to prostitution, a man can marry her to give her a better life. In other words, Islam plays a big role in providing protection and dignity to widows and safeguarding the future of such children.

Islam is also the world’s only religion that gives women the right to ask for divorce and marry another man. As such, Islam forbids adultery and offers two alternative solutions: divorce or polygamy.

Lastly, it goes without saying that nowadays not many Muslims actually practise polygamy. Agreed, polygamy has some disadvantages, but it is still a better option than adultery or prostitution. After all, societies where polygamy is a taboo face maximum incidents of adultery and other similar crimes.


  1. The Quran 04:03 (Surah an-Nisa)

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