Polygamy and Istikhaarah

Muslim_woman_in_YemenA married woman writes to a muslim forum to get advice. She has fallen in love with a man who also loves her. He wants to marry her. The woman is already married, happily so, and she is feeling confused. She obviously loves both men.

The woman and her new love have both prayed istikhaarah. 

They have both felt that the answer to their prayers have been favourable, that Allah approves of their love and marriage.

As I see it, the solution is simple. She should avail herself of the permission given to muslim women to become polyandrous that we can find in 4:24 Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess. If a woman gives herself in marriage so that she becomes what the man possesses, the quran clearly permits her to have plural husbands – in fact she is not restricted to only four the way men are.

Is this the piece of advice she gets? 😀 Oh no:

To explain further: if a Muslim woman prays istikhaarah about marrying someone other than her husband when she is still married to her husband, then in fact she is praying istikhaarah about wrecking her home and family, and praying istikhaarah about hurting her children, and praying istikhaarah about hurting a husband who is treating her well and taking good care of her. So she is praying istikhaarah about betraying him and stabbing him in the back by tearing apart his family, so that his home and hers will be destroyed at her hands. She is praying istikhaarah about responding to great kindness and good treatment with a great wrong and denying the rights of one who has treated her well.

All of these factors and many others apply to the istikhaarah prayer that you offered.

As for the positive result that you say your friend got, undoubtedly this is a case of the shaytaan making following one’s whims and desires appear attractive.

A man with a similar problem however gets this advice from the same site:

It is permissible for a man to marry one or two wives, up to four, if he is able for that both financially and physically, and he thinks that he will be able to treat his wives fairly.

It is not essential for him to have the first wife’s permission in order to take a second wife. Most women would not agree to plural marriage and they think that it is impossible to live with it.  This is due to many reasons, including the biased media which regards plural marriage as a crime and an action that will make the first wife feel that there is something wrong with her.

The wise man must look at his family and how prepared they are to accept a plural marriage; he must weigh up the settled life that he has now and what may happen in the future, and think thoroughly – without emotion – about whether he needs a second wife, and how able he is to take care of two households and two families. He has to pray to Allaah for guidance (istikhaarah) before making any move towards marriage, and he has to make a good choice, so that he will not feel regret. (Source: islamqa)

That a man is only allowed polygamy if he is sole guardian of orphans and failing in caring for their wellbeing is not mentioned here… Nor the fact that women hurt just the same as men, that mens’ polygamy ruin their families just as bad, that mens’ betrayals are stabs in the back and just as horrible…. No.

Men have rights, women have duties. Men are allowed to twist the words of the quran however they please. Man’s every desire must be fulfilled and woman must pay the price. That is what this islamic website preaches.

Read the quotes above and tell me, how many of you believe that islamic misogyny is created by men, how many of you believe that islamic misogyny is shaytaan making following one’s whims and desires appear attractive?

37 thoughts on “Polygamy and Istikhaarah

  1. Greetings Fiona and everybody!

    My husband told me some while ago that he wants to marry one more wife. He said it will be good for us all. I could not understand how it can be good for me and my children to loose half of him and I read so many storys of hate between wives and how familys and marriages are destroyed it fills me with so much sadness and fear even when I not include the pain and jealousy I feel ably my husband and another woman. I have been so upset I can’t tell you how much I have cried and hurt. My husband says he is sad I hurt but he says main reason for marrying now this woman is he prayed istikhaarah and felt Allah wants him to marry her. So he says it is not his choice it is Allah. And now when I read your blog Fiona I see all well what is happened and how my husband is fooled by shaytaan. I don’t know what I can do to make my husband see this. If any can give me help on what I can do I will be much grateful JazakAllahu khair.

  2. Astagfir Allah ….. i mean no disrespect to you the owner of this blog but muslim ladies please wake up this blog is by a non muslim and her views are not the view of a muslim and taking advice from her goes againt islam …… to the sister above … your husband isnt being fooled by shyatan you are he is making you believe that all is bad and that you will loose your husband … this doesnt have to be the case … you need to have true faith in Allah and allow him to guide you and your family in the right path

  3. As-salamu alaykum sister Rukwaa
    I am sorry to hear you are saddened by your husband’s decision. It is understandable and your husband will surely do what he can to comfort you Insha’Allah. Please let him. Do not withdraw but remember you should be a garment for each other. He will probably want to do anything for you because he knows you are hurt by his decision. If you let him, you will see how much he loves you and it will heal the pain. Your husband is right in saying we only do what Allah (SWT) decides so you should not blame him but find it in your heart to love him and forgive him. We men admire women because you are stronger in sharing. If you manage Allah (SWT) will reward you with a better marriage and jannah. Ma’a salama

  4. With permission Fiona,
    The verse saying it is allowed to marry a married woman only applies to slaves. Slaves of war. You are not saying women should become slaves to marry many men?

  5. Thank you so much Fiona for pointing out the misogyny that is created by men themselves to suit their own desires and present it as part of Islam itself that people should follow. I am truly ashamed of these male scholars and how much they have affected the minds of men and women alike. I barely see anywhere the concept of orphans or taking into account properly the emotions and mental turmoil the first wives and the children suffer. I am very ashamed and upset myself the sugarcoated misogyny and inequality that exists within the practice of our religion due to these men themselves.

    From my (limited) research so far, polygamy has existed as a cultural norm, not something God has ordained, as did slavery, back in the days long ago. Adam and Eve were created as a one man-one woman married couple. Later on male patriarchy set in, as did sexual freedom for men, and having multiple wives and concubines came in. The advantage on the other hand though was the protection of women and children who needed help and had limited financial and other securities. If equality existed before, perhaps the rulings in Islam would have been different. Islam was already a strange religion back in the day, and completely changing cultural norms would have brought more hostility, so there was some flexibility involved to suit the environm

  6. Welcome Umm Imran,
    You are welcome here no matter what faith you are. I have clearly stated, I am not muslim. I am however a student of islamology and educated to interpret religious texts. What I “teach” here may often go against malechauvinist interpretations of islamic sources and it certainly goes agaisnt any crime against human rights, but it does not go against islam. You state that the sister is being fooled by satan, but not her bigamist husband. How do you arrive at that conclusion? Claiming something without a trace of an argument certainly doesn’t make it true.. 🙂

  7. Ahum… The verse about men being allowed to marry plural wives only applies to men who are sole guardians of orphans and actively failing in caring for them. So if we are allowed to chuck that part in regards to men, aren’t we allowed to give a little license to the interpretation of “what your right hand possesses”?

  8. Oh, I am sorry Mariam – I already approved it and since I’m editing from my mobile, I can’t do anything about it right now! I can rectify it later from my laptop!

  9. My previous unfinished post was also from my mobile and I accidentally pressed comment lol. But yeah, thank you so much Fiona for pointing out the misogyny that is created by men themselves to suit their own desires and present it as part of Islam itself that people should follow. I am truly ashamed of these male scholars and how much they have affected the minds of men and women alike. I barely see anywhere the concept of orphans or taking into account properly the emotions and mental turmoil the first wives and the children suffer. I am very ashamed and upset myself the sugarcoated misogyny and inequality that exists within the practice of our religion due to these men themselves.

    From my (limited) research so far, here is my current opinion. Polygamy has existed as a cultural norm, not something God has ordained, as did slavery, back in the days long ago. Adam and Eve were created as a one man-one woman married couple. Later on male patriarchy set in, as did sexual freedom for men, and having multiple wives and concubines came in. The advantage on the other hand though for the good men practicing polygamy as a cultural norm was the protection of women and children who needed help and had limited financial and other securities. If equality existed before, and women had more opportunities for themselves as today, perhaps the rulings in Islam would have been different. Islam was already a strange religion back in the day, and completely changing cultural norms would have brought more hostility, so I would say there was some flexibility involved in the religion to suit the environment back then.

    But then, slavery got abolished later on, in majority of countries, so the buying and selling of slaves has become illegal. So having sex with them is also illegal nowadays. To me forced polygamy needs to go the same way. Complete abolishment in all countries thoughout the world. Only consensual polygamy or polygamy where both spouses have equal rights should be made legal, that too depends on conditions. Having written permission from the first spouse to allow their other spouse to perform polygamy as one of the conditions. If these are put to place, we can breathe a better air as we see more equality in the world, and the pain of misogyny and cultural interpretations of religion evaporating more. Other than that monogamy being the norm in society of still the best for everyone involved. What do you think?

  10. Hi Fiona, perfect reply! Do you have a special post dedicated to explaining these verses. If not I request that whenever you have time please write about it so that when people search about Islam and polygamy they get that 1,2,3 r 4 wives verse in context with mention of orphans.
    I am not a muslim and polygamy isn’t affecting me or a family or friend but my heart goes out to all the women Mormon or Muslim who are brain washed into accepting this abuse. Thanks for all you do for those women!

  11. yes i know your not muslim and you may have studied islamology and believe you know islam … but the fact is you are still and non muslim and allah hasnt opened your heart to the true meaning of islam … as for the sister being fooled by shyatan i stand by this … no matter wither we agree or dont agree on the fact that allah does allow the man to have more than one wife as along as he is just … wither we accept it or not as a muslim we cant go against the law of allah …we can like it or not but in the end for every little action we do we are held accountable for ..as you as a non muslim will not understand this … the shaytan is their to lead us astray form our deen and placing ideas in our head that it isnt fair and men should only have one wife and so on and he will continue to do so till the end of times …i myself am very pro polygyny and i am a first wife i have been married for nearly 18 years and have teenage kids and i’m also a revert i grew up in ireland and never knew about islam or polygyny but my belief is my belief and as a believer i have no rights to question why allah place such situations in my path ….. i have had a few times where the other wife has tried to cause problems i know very well the working of the shyatan as my hubby is a raqi (someone who make ruqya) but my faith in allah will win every time

  12. Well, if the true meaning isn’t in the quran but somewhere else, then fine – it may be out of my reach. Is that what you say? So your husband is polygamous? Was he sole guardian of orphans, and not able to care for them and their property? Because that is the explicit condition for polygyny as stated in the quran. So if he wasn’t, he has committed a grave sin. Or do you deny that the quran says: “You shall hand over to the ORPHANS* their rightful properties. Do not substitute the bad for the good, and do not consume their properties by combining them with yours. This would be a gross injustice. If you fear that you will not be equitable towards the ORPHANS*, then you may marry their mothers or women of your choice, two, three, or four.”Do you hold that the quran contains only the few words about 2,3 or 4, or is there an “if” mentioned before? Please let me know if you deny the fact that the permission to marry plural women is preceded by the statement about orphans, and the “if”. You see Umm Imran, the truth is there for anybody to read. The interpretations however are manmade. MAN made. But I do see how agonizing it would be to admit, to yourself and others, that your husband has been committing a grave sin all this time, and you too in aiding and abetting him. Especially since, as you say, we will all one day be held accountable for what we do.

  13. I agree also.I also think that any woman who agrees to marry a man should tell him her conditions of marriage just as he has conditions & they should sign a contract .”Forsaking all others “……means no polygamy. If he agrees then marry him .If he does’nt then don’t marry him.I know it’s not that simple if you are Muslim……because they use Allah as their mandate to take any rights or decisions for your life away because you are female not male.Yes it is man not God who created polygamy.If it was God himself then all woman would get a very twisted view of who God is & think that he created woman to be inferior to men.That men are of more value then a women.That train of thought has caused the death of many female babies in China.That thought is from the pit of hell because it is a lie from the devil who is the father of all lies.

  14. Umm Imran, Please pay attention to Fiona’s reference to Quran. If you don’t believe her because she is non-muslim then read Quran yourself and try to understand these verses. There were wars and many children becoming orphans at that time and these verses are related to the Orphans. Women did not go out of house to earn living so women and Orphans needed men to protect them and provide for them. Polygamy isn’t a rule its an option given to allow men of that time to be able protect and provide for orphans. Not reading and following what Quran says and just listening to the Men’s interpretation of Quran isn’t a good practice. If you are a true Muslimah try to understand what is written in Quran.

  15. Hie Fiona!!
    Well as I have probably stated I am not muslim and being in my early twenties have no experience compared to you all wise and Lovely Ladies here but born and brought up in a very religious family I would just like to say regarding Destiny:

    If you believe in DESTINY and ASTROLOGY then undoubtedly Stars and Planets can incline us but cannot compel. Many a times it might happen that even our feelings are not in our control and we might not be responsible for what we are feeling, but we are always responsible for the actions that we undertake. Also even if pain is inevitable suffering always is optional….


  16. We women also admire men who can share their wives because it makes them stronger than what many of us women can endure. Let me tell you, men and women have no difference in terms of the pain they suffer seeing their spouse take on another person who have the same equal rights and status as them. The world is just well accustomed in seeing women suffer and enduring pain, that is why such suffering is associated with a woman. Even we women are many times fooled into believing enduring such pain is part of being a woman, when in reality it is not. And also, no amount of sweet words and ‘appreciation’ will alleviate the pain of such suffering nor change the reality of what is happening. Especially to men, we women want and need you to understand this.

  17. I still don’t get why a man would want to cause this amount of hurt and pain to the one person he is dedicated to for the rest of his life and promise to love and cherish and treat as special, because of his whims and desires, and instead of taking away the pain immediately after seeing her suffering emotionally, instead tell her to be ‘patient’, ‘steadfast’, ‘you will be rewarded’, ‘polygamy is a responsibility for which he will be rewarded’, ‘this is Allah’s will’, all this is said. How does he know it is Allah’s will? Allah has given us a great deal of free will, and the ability to make conscious decisions. It is in our genes to want exclusivity and faithfulness from our partner, regardless of gender. People even seem embarassed to admit they really want and desire this exclusivity from their partner for their own mental peace and freedom. I guess many of these male misogynic minded scholars, ancient misogynic and male superiority teachings in society, and behaviour of real life people justifying their actions in improper behaviour have contributed to this misled thinking of people.

  18. Umm Imra مع الاحترام Assalamu alaykum

    I hear you. But if I turn to imam they will say the things that please men. And in forums on the internet is the same. You can never find the truth. I too read tha Quran and I know Fiona is telling the truth and the words she says are there are there. It is the truth. But I never hear this from the imams. Why not? Why you say you are pro polygyny? Would not your children have had more of a father if he had not chosen to guve half of his time with them up and half of his heart to somebody else? And again with all respect Umm Imran, would you not find the thought of ontimacy every other day with another man disgusting? (aasef Fiona no disrespect) Why is it not disgusting when your husband shares intimacy with different women? I don’t understand it and I believe Allah has given us instincts for good reason and reason is tha heart and instinct say what is right and wrong and now Fiona is right and you are wrong. I am not afraid to loose my husband. I am afraid to have him bring another woman’s disgusting presence into our bed, marriage and family. I will tap to my husband now and maybe make him understand InshAllah! Pray for me.

  19. Rukwaa,
    I believe you will find people who will help you find the courage to take steps on your path. There may seem to be fewer of them, and more of those who repeat ideas that are destructive to you. Finding like minded people takes work, commitment, and perseverance.

    You are not alone; I see quite a few readers on this blog who are on a similar path. I wish you the best.

  20. Sister Rukwaa, ask your husband if he believes in Quran and discuss these verses with him. If his intentions are good he will listen and give up idea of 2nd marriage. My very best wishes to you and family. I hope things change towards a better understanding and love between you and your husband.

  21. And yes will pray for you sis. I don’t pray 🙂 but I will for you and all women who are hurting and trying to fight against patriarchy and male dominance.

  22. Yes, there are many women out there trying to find their way, and some of them come here. Whatever we can do to help you here, we will do.

  23. All i hear is about men wanting a second younger wife just for his pleasure. What about men who need to have children and his first wife is not able to give? What does Quran say then?

  24. This is one of the arguments that always arise when polygyny is debated. Well, any conservative muslim would say that this is the main reason why men are allowed plural wives. But as men marry younger women, the risk is much higher a woman marries a man who can’t have children. Now with prostate cancer rapidly increasing the ratio will go up. And men of course don’t only get infertile, they get impotent. So what about women who want children and can have children, but are married to impotent/infertile men? It’s a stick with two ends remember!

  25. Shams:
    “What about men who need to have children and his first wife is not able to give? What does Quran say then?”

    That is interesting phraseology. You are concerned about the men. Why? (I already know why.) You talk about children, and a wife not being able to “give”. That’s what children are for? To be “given” to men? And the woman who cannot ‘have’ children? You’ve expressed no concern for her feelings, nor interest in options to address her loss, and no interest in the possibility that a man may be sterile, which would impact a woman’s life similarly.

    You asked what the Quran says, but only insofar as it may address male needs. And what does the Quran say about the needs of women? Do women have no needs in your own mind? Or are you just repeating the thought patterns of others?

    I read some of your later responses, where you clarified your thinking a little, which is helpful. But the statement above, to which I am responding, is a perfect example of the game of Monopoly that women play. And this is for the same reason so many Muslim men come here; to tell the blog owner to stop thinking. Men know what the light of awareness is like, and that when women reside in darkness their own light seem brighter.

  26. Good luck Rukwaa! I sincerely hope you are able to make through this emotionally disturbed time. And I am relieved you are listening to your natural instincts and your heart and reading what the Quran says. That is the best I would say, instead of relying on people who make you feel worse and talk without proper knowledge on polygamy or understanding of the Quranic verses on it. We are all rooting for you. And I go along with Dale Arthur, Fiona and Laila’s words. I will pray for you in this matter too. Please keep us updated if you can.

  27. Great reply Dale Arthur. You have a lot of original thinking in you. It is amazing how similar we women are, with our instincts and mindset, despite living in different areas of the world. I wish this age-old oppression of one gender by another by fooling them and misleading them and even threatening them would stop. Of course that is a broad idea, but still. The world today is better though than the world generations ago. Replies like these are ways to reduce male patriarchal thinking one step at a time. Both men and women get educated by these. By the way I wish some of these chauvinistic minded men would stop their strutting around with their power, thinking themselves as attractive, when in fact, it is just that, strutting around making themselves look superior and the other inferior. So yeah.

  28. Shams, I am curious to hear what you have to say in response to Fiona and Dale. Your comment indicates that you support Islamic polygyny if its done by men to have children when their first wife is unable to give them children. What do you personally think and suggest for a woman if she wants to have children but her husband cannot give her any because of his impotency.

  29. I am very curious to know about Umm Imran’s personal experience since she is a first wife? Was it hard in the beginning? How was the marriage before he took a second wife? Did you deal with alot of jealousy, depression?? How where you introduced to the co-wife?etc. Why are you pro-polygamy?

  30. I really wish one of these pro-polygyny men would answer this. Truthfully I myself being a born-Muslim never really questioned polygyny, considering it something I would never understand. I was just disturbed about it like every other Muslim women. Even many Muslim men are disturbed by it, particularly the parts about sleeping with a different woman every few days or so and saying he loves them, without having a big valid reason why he would choose polygyny. The reasons justifying polygyny were never satisfactory, because the other half of the spectrum, that women could also need a second husband under similar reasons, were unanswered. I was also blind to the Quranic ayahs dealing with multiple spouses. Reading Fiona’s blog have opened my eyes a big deal. I plan to study Islam further, and if possible raise this question and explain my concerns and arguments clearly and openly to some well educated and broad-minded scholars who aren’t simply following culture.

  31. Umm Imran
    You came here and made some serious allegations. You pretended to give advice to a poor woman in need. But when you were asked questions, and confronted about the discriminative claims you made and the lies you told, you went quiet. I can tell by the blog stats that you’re still here reading. But we get no answers from you. It is so typical of brainwashed liars and women suffering from stockholm syndrome that when they have to face facts and own up to their falsehoods they break down and hide. Fine. But if that’s the kind of coward you are, could you please at least refrain from making other poor women suffer by lying to them and forcing your misogynist falsehoods on them? Thank you.

  32. Mariam,
    The most important thing you said is, “I plan to study Islam further,” I don’t know where your study will lead you, none of us know where we are headed, except those who are convinced they are right, and in their case their blindness is only visible to the people around them. But the commitment itself belongs to you, and no one can take it away from you.

    The weakest things you said is; “I really wish one of these pro-polygyny men would answer this” Mariam, why do you need men to answer anything at all about what they do? If you need anything from men in the subject matter of polygyny, then your search for understanding will be truncated by responding to what others say. And I warn you that what men say in response to your research is going to be terrible.

    FIrst, nobody, woman or man, can answer truthfully something they can’t face. But on this topic, anything a man says, about polygyny, will only disable you, and weaken you, that is their whole agenda.

    Umm Imran said, on Apr 13, …”I have no rights to question why Allah placed such situations in my path”…

    I don’t believe that there is any religious canon that tells people they have no right to think in an open ended fashion. But her statement is typical of how people interpret and use inspired writings, and it is the method women have used to accomodate polygyny, which is basically slavery. If Umm Imran chooses and wants to be a first wife, fine. If she doesn’t really like it, but thinks it’s the right way to live because Allah ordained it, fine. But if she thinks she has no right to think about it outside the parameters of her interpretation of Islam? Delusory.

    .Happy Saturday, Mariam, Niqueness, Laila, Fiona, et al,

  33. Hello Dale, thank you for your response. Sorry for answering late, I should have answered earlier. Your words sure did touch me and felt as though you were directly speaking to me, and I am very much grateful for that.

    I wonder though, it is the men who are the majority of scholars, I could try to talk to female scholars, they are more reasonable since they can understand issues related to women better. But somehow it seems the power belongs to the men at the end. I wish to know though how they can keep such a plot against women and feed women onto it by saying ‘This is for your benefit, to help single women’, ‘Women are diamonds and pearls, and we respect them’, ‘Women will be rewarded for their sacrifice to help other sisters’. Even if these were true, they would have married older and more aged women with children who are struggling, to help them. Even then, his wife would most likely want no part of this, and might at best suggest to help them financially, or get upset and tell him not to bring it up at all again. If in case she is pro-polygamy for helping women, then after consulting with his wife, they should come on mutual terms on the topic and decide the best course of action for all of them. And they shouldn’t feed this course of action on other people encouraging them about it. Better yet keep it as their own private business and their own personal decision, and take it as a unique case aside from today’s society’s norm, that’s all. They should enter into polygamy with their eyes open, knowing they are disrupting a natural family structure. This is my opinion. But apparently, we see things are happening differently in the world, of men with their own mindsets, brainwashing men and women alike on the matter.

    Men talking about wanting multiple sex partners, having children and so, only leaves the other side of the spectrum unanswered, that women could also require a second husband under similar situations. Nowhere in the Quran is need for sex or children mentioned as reasons for wanting polygamy. So far I see in the Quran in Surat An-Nisa on polygyny, it talks about taking care of orphans in one line, in the next line if the man in charge of orphans is having fear in being unjust to them, he can marry more women two or three or four (such as the widowed mother of children, who are helpless without a father). And if he cant be equitable between his wives, then just one, which is better for him, so he doesn’t get deviated from the right path.Then it keeps talking about the well-being of orphans he has and to take care of them till they reach marriageable age, and if after testing them he sees they have sound judgement, then he hands over their property/money back to them.

    Hence we see the norm being married to just one, unless the one very exceptional circumstance mentioned. By the way the concept of justice is not on money and time matters only, but also emotionally. Being just on material possessions while ignorant on what is going inside of her is not being just. As in if he married again without the permission of his wife or disregarding her feelings he is being unjust to her. since he is emotionally harming her. His other wife is happy at the cost of his first wife, which is not just. Also in the Quran there is a line:

    “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Quran 30:21)

    Obviously there is no tranquility between a husband and a wife if he disregards her feelings and thoughts this way, and no affection and mercy.

    So apparently we see men who go marries another disregarding the Quranic conditions on actually taking multiple wives is committing a grave sin. He is doing so purely for self-gratification and expecting the wife to follow through his whims, which is sinful. All other people who encourage and preach this behavior are sinning as well. And putting a bad name on Islam. I still have a lot of research left on my part though.

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